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Man, talk about a throwback-future album.

Jay Chou’s last five albums (since 牛仔很忙 – On the Run) have been varied in their style, experimentation and general feeling. Although every album almost always delivers one classic Jay, and one classical Chinese-inspired track, overall, fans who have been following him since his early days noted a strong departure from the consistent overall vibes of the earlier (pre 2007) albums.

With this album, however, I almost feel like he had to make the last five albums in order to get to this particular one. You can hear all the experiments of the last seven years melded back into his original sounds and the result is a variety of 12 different tracks with a cohesive and familiar vibe.

Notably, 方文山 penned the lyrics for over half the songs in this album. Track 12 聽見下雨的聲音 is also a cover of the 主題曲 for 方文山’s movie of the same name that was released in 2013. The lyrics are half a level up from the mandopop generics, but the melody keeps it firmly as that accessible, mandopop classic sound, and therefore less memorable.

鞋子特大號 – Jay’s first single misleads you to think that this album will be similar to the last five. Even that intro is reminiscent of the speaking excerpt of 魔術先生 from his 魔杰座 album. In typical Jay style, he takes on a more life-lesson approach with the track’s topic and presents it through exaggerated, visual-heavy tracks, using Charlie Chaplin as an inspiration to talk about the importance of a sense of humour and happiness in life.

陽明山 is just silly, and continues the trend of tricking everyone into accepting Jay Chou’s new direction in sound. MV reminds me of 比較大的大提琴.

算什麼男人 is the third single released for his album. MV guest starring Ariel Lin and the currently trending cafe-love environment. The lyrics written by Jay himself are relatively generic jay chou, quite simple and straightforward and full of love-angst. It will definitely be a KTV hit for all those wanting to impress by performing Jay Chou.

怎麼了 features a super mega familiar intro, almost like you’ve heard it somewhere in every album he released, ever. The way he sings it is throwback too, featuring a very classic mandopop-ish duet with 袁詠琳, where their vocals chase each other around in circles. It’s kinda cute, but even if this was released in 2008 no one would think it progressive either.

手寫的從前 is the classic acoustic. 方文山 typically delivers one extremely strong piece per album, and this one is a serious contender for that position. Lyrically very tightly woven, in classic 方文山 classical-contemporary Chinese hybrid style, reminds me of  千紙鶴 by Khalil in its verses, but the chorus is trademark Jay, and so is the rap(like) insert between Verse 2 and Chorus 2. The MV features… a lot of product placement HAHA. But the song is solid.

天涯過客 is the other contender for heavy-hitting lyrics. This one is pretty much a classical chinese track, except musically they went for the subtle sound. It’s everywhere though – strings heavy with highlighted singular sequences of notes that emote water landscapes.

我要夏天 will definitely make its way into my summer playlist. lol. too much fun. it’s on par with 陽光宅男 in terms of catchy dance-on-the-bed-shamelessly-at-age-23 vibes.

I include 一口氣全念對 only because I will learn it purely for bragging rights.

The title 聽爸爸的話 is a nod to his famous 聽媽媽的話, but also a fantastic alternative within-Jay-Chou-universe approach to talk about the struggle to love. He’s got enough fame, albums and tracks now to do self-referential tricks… I’m kinda loving the whole slightly narcissistic, self-indulgent tone of the album though, many people have been slowly thinking Jay Chou is unwinding, becoming an artist so obsessed with the need for re-invention that he’s throwing what he does best out the window as well.

I always thought he was just trying to break his own creative molds and that self-exploration has really produced some legitimate ear candy now.

Jay Chou’s album formulas haven’t changed. He’s smart about demographic and has staple sounds in every track, albeit in varying degrees of experimentation. There’s always classical chinese, one or two silly, fast tracks, a smattering of rap-sing combinations, and at least two mandopop mainstream songs. The rest of the album really is what helps put together the entire vibe for the album, so it depends on his theme and creative journey.

Overall this is an A+ album, which I am quite happy for, since nobody has produced a standout album this last half year.

Agree? Disagree? Why? Let me know your thoughts! 🙂

Posted by:jasmine

Jasmine is an editor, poet, and community arts organizer. She comes to poetry by way of Chinese music. This blog is a mapping of ways.

One thought on “Music: Jay Chou  周杰倫 - 哎呦,不錯哦

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