United States weekly magazine Time Asia once featured Jay Chow as its cover story in 2003, in which the article asked "How did a kid with an overbite, aquiline nose and receding chin, who did not take drugs and make trouble, become Asia's hottest pop star?"
Starting as a contract lyrics writer, Jay Chow understood that it was music and revolutionary ideas that mattered, more than looks, dance moves and image.
Since the release of his debut album, Jay, in November 2000, which delivered brooding, soulful, surprisingly sensual ballads and quiet pop tunes, he stands up, takes notice and now ranks as Asia's top pop star with six albums in five years.
This composition writer casts away traditional vocal principles of pop music, stumbles over to the keyboard and transposes those nocturnal audio-sounds onto sheet music and demo tapes.
Inarticulate or R&B?
Not a single singer in the Chinese music industry has pronounced lyrics as unclearly as Jay Chow does. Though this has aroused much criticism from his seniors and even linguists, Jay conquered the music scene by incorporating his experimentation with Chinese language and R&B back in the studio.
Compared with English or Cantonese, the pronunciation and tone of Chinese mandarin does not transfer well into melody. Jay gave up the established pronunciation and created a unique and ambiguous pronunciation to go with R&B or Rap. Nobody understood what he was singing at first, but that actually drew our attention, and now, more and more people are imitating him.
No Vincent Fang, No Jay Chow
Jay Chow could never be Jay Chow without his loyal partner, lyric writer Vincent Fang or Fang Wenshan. His fragmented, inconsistent, and even anti-text lyrics probably do not make sense to some, but the vagueness instead allows the possibility of exploration. This type of lyrical pronunciation has been regarded as an experimentation, which happens in both modern art and drama as well. The wisdom lies in the perfect match of fragmented lyrics and the singer's unique pronunciation. Most importantly, the teens love it.
Rhythmical or not?
Chinese pop music emphasizes more on melody than on rhythm. Jay Chow's music is an exception.
He adopted multi-tunes from varied music genres, like R&B, Soul, Rap, Classical, and Metal Rock and reconstructed them to his own music.
Rebelliousness or a Disguise of Vanity?
Music is a way of expression. The novelty of music demands rebellious spirit--- shake down established principles and voice the present era with brand new music elements.
Big names like Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Sex Pistols, and Tayu Lo all have left their mark on music history. Jay Chow cannot compare with them yet, but his music has similar characteristics.
About the New Alum
The new album Chopin in November hit stores on November 1. Many critics say that it is only a continuation of Jay's established style, though the publisher boasts the album's concept walks the line of "being temperamental".
Rock and symphony elements mix in the song Ni Lin, which is quite expressive. The electronic phone ringing and a man's voice in the prelude of the song Blue Storm inject heavy metal rock elements into this popular song, making it less commercial.
While, the widely applauded song Fa Ru Xue (literally meaning hair likes snow) has a similar rhythm with one of his former smash hits Dong Feng Po(A name for one genre of an ancient Chinese poem), which has been one of the hottest KTV songs. This is the only other song to update the KTV song list.
Jay expresses his anger and dissatisfaction of paparazzi again in the song Si Mian Chu Ge, in which he describes the paparazzi as the speaking dog. There have been many unpleasant conflicts between him and the media over the years. However, one critic says that the act does not match his status and tolerance as Asia's top star.
Whether you adore him or could care less, the singer is still making history in the Chinese music scene with a high profile status.
(CRI November 4, 2005)