Since his debut as a fresh-faced 21-year-old back in the year 2000, Jay Chou has cemented himself in the Chinese music scene as the King of Mandopop.
But with a career spanning over two decades and 15 studio albums to boot, could the Taiwanese superstar possibly pick his best work?
In an interview with Vogue Taiwan, the now-43-year-old chose his first two albums, the self-titled Jay and Fantasy, as well as his latest album Greatest Works of Art, as his favourites.
“It’s the memories, and those memories add points in favour of them,” he said.
He gave Hong Kong singer Jacky Cheung as an example, citing his hit song Kiss Goodbye, adding: “It’s hard for something written now to become a classic, but after more than 10 or 20 years, it may be hailed as one, because classics have to go through time.”
This is why Jay understands his long-time fans and doesn’t disparage them for liking his earlier works more.
“Many fans will say 'his old songs are better' and I actually don't reject the sentiment, because they know best after such a long time,” he said.
“The songs that belong to each generation of fans are different; what the younger generation may listen to now is Greatest Works of Art, while older fans may listen to Her Eyelashes.”
‘Why can Hallyu and K-pop do it?’
Though he may be a household name in Mandarin-speaking circles, Jay has ambitions to expand his appeal to the Western world as well.
“I feel that it would be a pity if my songs are only heard in Asia, so I hope to open Chinese songs up to overseas markets,” he said.
“‘Why can Hallyu and K-pop do it?’ ‘If you don’t sing in English, can you make Westerners accept your music?’ These are things I have been ambitious about in recent years.”
For his latest album Greatest Works of Art, Jay filmed each music video in different locations and collaborated with US dance crew Jabbawockeez to appeal to a wider audience.
He said: “The Western world isn’t fluent in Chinese, but music and dance are a common language, so I hoped to cooperate with Western dance troupes in a Chinese-style song like Cold Hearted, combining Chinese and Western elements.”
An added bonus to meeting Western artistes is that Jay, an avid art collector, gets to duck out and head for exhibitions as well.
“There are too many artists and there are always new works, so I spend a lot of time looking at artworks,” he said. “On my last trip to Paris Fashion Week, I went to the British Art Fair to talk with the artists.”
He joked that he was “very dedicated to art, and may not be so serious at work”.
It comes as no surprise then, what the subject matter of Greatest Works of Art is.
He said: “Everyone knows that I am keen on collecting art in recent years, so I integrate songs with my life and share with the audience my thoughts on art over the years.”
This isn’t the first time Jay has incorporated his love for art into his songs as well, as he “began to describe Dali's works in the lyrics” of his 2016 single Bedtime Stories.
He added: “I feel like I have lessons to teach, but I use music and music videos to express them, so that everyone can easily digest them, instead of just talking about it.”
Jay returns to Singapore for his Carnival World Tour on Dec 17 and 18.
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