The king of Mandapop
FOR over two decades now, Jay Chou’s music has been the soundtrack to the lives of millions of fans around the world. Ever since his debut in 2000, the Taiwanese singer has composed and produced some of the best Mandarin songs in the industry.
Whether it be an upbeat or emotional track, Jay Chou has captivated audiences with his music. And his impressive 30 million records worldwide sales are proof of his tremendous star power. Hence, it is almost impossible for us to pick a favourite Jay Chou track.
But since his upcoming 2023 Carnival World Tour marks his 20 years in the industry, we think it is a good idea to revisit some of the older tracks from his distinguished catalogue. Here are six songs that we personally feel that best capture his essence and artistry.
1. Chrysanthemum Terrace
Written for his 2006 drama movie, Curse of the Golden Flower, Chrysanthemum Terrace is a soft ballad that infuses ancient Chinese style music with contemporary pop music. To correlate with the movie’s message, Jay Chou uses the chrysanthemum flower as a symbol of sadness and farewell.
The lyrics of the song reflect the sense of hopelessness and despair that the royal characters in the movie experience. Upon its release, the track with the movie became a favourite among audiences and critics alike.
It not only earned Jay Chou the Best Original Film Song award at the Hong Kong Film awards in 2007, but also gave songwriter Vincent Fang a nomination in the Best Lyricist category at the 18th Golden Melody Awards.
Album: Still Fantasy
Released date: 2006
A slightly happier tune, this romantic summer number captures the feelings one gets from a sun-kissed summer fling. In the number, Jay Chou, as usual, incorporates his poetic techniques to describe the strong romantic feelings he has for his female love interest.
In fact, he compares her to a pretty Odora that intoxicates him with her fragrance. He is so infatuated that he writes I love you at the end of every poem he composes for her. Its heartfelt lyrics and gentle melody have made this among the most romantic tune Jay Chou has offered to date.
Album: Common Jasmine Orange
3. Not Good Enough For You
Speaking of romantic, Jay Chou takes the romance up a notch in this haunting ballad, Not Good Enough For You. As stated in its title, the ballad talks about the insecurities a partner experiences after a romantic relationship ends.
But contrary to his other love songs, this track beautifully analyses the situation from the framework of his life as a pop star. From the music video, for instance, viewers get to witness how a pop star’s fame can make their romantic relationship fail.
This realistic perspective is a breath of fresh as it shows that a relationship with a celebrity is not all it’s cracked up to be.
Album: On the Run
4. Dao Xiang
If you think Jay Chou can only pull off love songs, think again! The Taiwanese native shows off his chops and range as a lyricist and composer with Dao Xiang. But what makes this track extra special is its purpose. Jay Chou wrote and dedicated the tune to the victims of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
Hence, it features inspiring and motivational lyrics that encourage listeners to be grateful for what they have. These lines in particular were inspired by the unfortunate 2008 event – “I ask you to turn on the TV and see, how many people bravely do their best to continue walking for life/Shouldn’t we be content with what we have? You should cherish everything even if you don’t possess it.”
Apart from its humanitarian message, Dao Xiang also resonated with listeners well due to its wisdom and nostalgia.
Here, Jay Chou sings of the connection between contentment, success, and one’s roots – one can only be truly happy and at peace when one learns to appreciate their roots and the little things in life.
5. Listen to Mom
One of Jay Chou’s most personal songs to date, Listen to Mom sees the Taiwanese star honouring his mother. As many fans are aware, Jay Chou was raised by his single mother who worked very hard to support him.
Therefore, he penned this tune to chronicle how her advice and sacrifices over the years have made him who he is today. Jay Chou demonstrates this by featuring two versions of him – the adult version, and his younger self.
And throughout the song and music video, the adult Jay Chou is seen advising his younger self to listen to his mother and follow her advice. The track over the years has become the go-to tune to celebrate mothers, especially during Mother’s Day.
Album: Still Fantasy
Another soundtrack from Jay Chou’s discography, Fearless was the theme song for Jet Li’s 2006 martial arts film, Fearless. Its fast melody and lyrics definitely reflect the film’s intense plot. In fact, Jet Li was so impressed by the tune that he joked it may be even deadlier than his punches.
“I think that getting the chance to have a young idol make a song for my movie makes me feel very proud. Actually, I was kind of worried earlier because his singing speed is faster than my fist,” joked Jet Li in a 2006 interview.
But for us, Fearless makes the list not only because of its catchy melody but also for Jay Chou’s vocals. This was among the first few times the artist truly experimented and pushed the limits vocally.