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Jay Chou is a Taiwanese singer, songwriter, rapper, record producer, actor, film director, businessman and magician. Dubbed the “King of Mandopop”, and has sold over 30 million records, Chou is one of the best-selling artists in the Greater China Area and is known for his work with lyricist Vincent Fang, with whom he has frequently collaborated on his music.
In 2000, Chou released his debut studio album, Jay (2000), under the record company Alfa Music to moderate success. Chou rose to fame with the release of his second studio album, Fantasy (2001), which combined Western and Eastern music styles. The album won five Golden Melody Awards, including Album of the Year. He has since further released twelve more studio albums, spawning a string of hit singles and gaining significant prominence in Asian communities such as Taiwan, mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. Chou has embarked on six world tours, performing in cities around the world to more than 10 million spectators as of 2019.
In 2007, Chou established his own record and management company JVR Music. Outside of music, Chou has served as the President of his own fashion brand PHANTACi since 2006. As an actor, Chou made his acting debut in the film Initial D (2005), followed shortly by a starring role in the epic Curse of the Golden Flower (2006). He has since starred in a number of movies, becoming known to Western audiences when he made his Hollywood debut in 2011 with The Green Hornet, starring alongside Seth Rogen and Christoph Waltz, followed by Now You See Me 2 (2016).
|Net Worth||$100 million|
|Profession||Singer, Actor, Producer|
Jay Chou was born on January 18, 1979( age 42 years) in Taipei, Taiwan. Both his parents were secondary school teachers: his mother, Yeh Hui-Mei, who was a music teacher, taught fine arts, while his father, Chou Yao-Chung, is a biomedical researcher. His mother noticed his sensitivity to music and took him to piano lessons at the age of four. During his childhood, he was fascinated with capturing sounds and songs with his tape recorder, which he carried everywhere with him. In the third grade, he became interested in music theory and also started cello lessons.
He was an only child and loved to play the piano, imitate TV actors, and perform magic tricks. His favourite composer was, and still is to this day, Chopin. His parents divorced when he was 14 and he was teased by his classmates, which caused him to become reclusive and introverted. He had no friends and preferred to be alone, listening to music, contemplating and daydreaming. At Tamkang Senior High School, he majored in piano and minored in cello. He showed a talent for improvisation, became fond of pop music and began to write songs.
Chou was conscripted for mandatory military service after graduating from high school with inadequate grades for university. However, severe back pain triggered by sports eventually led to the diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis (HLA-B27), and he was exempted from military service. Meanwhile, he found a job as a waiter.
Chou’s mother initially inspired Chou to become a music teacher, while Chou remained relatively clueless on what to do with his life. Without his knowledge, a friend registered both their names in a talent show called Super New Talent King in 1998. Chou played the piano accompaniment for his friend, whose singing was described as “lousy”. Although they did not win, the show’s host, Jacky Wu – an influential character in Taiwan’s entertainment business – happened to glance at the music score and was impressed with its complexity.
Wu then asked who wrote it, discovered Chou and hired him as a contract composer and paired him with the novice lyricist Vincent Fang. for his then record company, Alfa Music. Chou then spent most of his time in Wu’s studio learning music producing, sound mixing, recording and writing songs. Although he was trained in classical music, Chou combines Chinese and Western music styles to produce songs that fuse R&B, rock and pop genres. However, Wu told Chou that he would help Chou release an album after he wrote 50 songs and he would pick 10 from there.
Chou already had an arsenal of songs he wrote for others but had been rejected, so among those, he chose 10 for his debut CD album, Jay, released in 2000. The album established his reputation as a musically gifted singer-songwriter whose style is a fusion of R&B, rap, classical music, and yet distinctly Chinese. His fame spread quickly in Chinese-speaking regions throughout Southeast Asia.
In 2000, under the recommendation of JR Yang, Jay Chou began to sing his own songs. Chou launched his debut album, Jay, under Alfa Music in 2000. Chou arranged the compilation, harmony, and production of all the songs. The album combines R&B, hip-hop, and other musical styles. Among them, the hit song won the 24th China Top Ten Chinese Gold Songs. The album was promoted heavily by Jacky Wu in the entertainment shows he hosted. Chou himself also appeared on a few television programs to promote the album. Chou was marketed as a talented singer-composer with a unique tune. His collaboration with Vincent Fang and Vivian Hsu on the release brought about a few hits.
After promoting his debut album, Chou returned to the studio for the next twelve months to record and produce his next album, Fantasy, which helped him become an established star. This album was released in September 2001 and became a big hit, selling an estimated two million copies in Taiwan alone. Fantasy helped Chou secure ten nominations and five wins at the 13th Golden Melody Awards 13 in 2002. R&B hits such as (Simple Love) (Love before BC), which won Chou the Best Composer award, and (Can’t Express Myself) are considered Chou’s signature songs and are still sung in concerts today.
Chou’s music has been a much-discussed topic across Chinese regions because it differed greatly from mainstream popular Chinese music released at that time. His pieces combine ancient themes with futuristic ones, including things like space ships, all while employing graphic storytelling skills to evoke vivid imagery in his audience.
His enunciation, or lack thereof, whether rapping or singing, was also critiqued when listeners often found that they could not decipher the words sung until they looked up the lyrics. Critics referred to his singing as “mumbling”. This garnered a lot of attention and reporters often quiz Chou on his singing style. Chou defended this as his signature style to infuse the vocals with the music and “make it blend” well together. Chou also stated that he wants the listeners to look at the lyrics stating the lyrics written by Vincent Fang are very deep.
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Chou’s third album, The Eight Dimensions, became another commercial success and is similar in style to his second. Another collaboration with Fang, The Eight Dimensions included songs that invoke imagery, Chou’s “mumbling” style and mainly R&B tunes. The singer has sold over 750,000 copies of Fantasy as of 2002, throughout the region. In the same year, Chou held his debut concert tour The One. There was also more crossover activity between Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as steadily increasing activity by Japanese acts in the region.
In 2003, Chou released his fourth album Yeh Hui-mei named after his own mother. After the release of this album, he attended the Golden Melody Awards for his previous album’s nomination. The album The Eight Dimensions was nominated for 5 categories but won none. Chou didn’t take this too lightly, as he wrote on his next album the song (Grandmother) that he actually takes the Golden Melody Awards too seriously. Ironically, his then-current album Yeh Hui-mei would go on to win a Golden Melody “Best Album of the year” award in 2004.
Yeh Hui-mei was both a commercial and musical success. The album features songs on Mafia and drug lords (In the name of the father) which at first hearing was very unorthodox but displays Jay’s creative writing and producing ability. This album can be seen as Jay’s second milestone because it gained an extremely positive reaction from both critics and supporters of his music.
Jay also wanted to prove that he is a versatile artist and does not only write R&B songs, but he also ventured into more rock-flavoured tunes such as which was one of the most played songs of the year. This song gained widespread popularity and high school students started learning guitar to play the drift of the song’s intro.
In 2004, his album Common Jasmin Orange, released by Sony Music, excelled in the Greater China region. In 2004, his album Qilixiang, or Jasmine, released by Sony Music, excelled in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China Mainland. Despite overwhelming piracy in Taiwan-which has reduced the recording industry to 5 to 10 per cent from its heyday as a Taiwan singer, Jay produced an album that sold a record 300,000 copies.
In Hong Kong, his album surpassed local albums with sales of 50,000 units. In China the official figure reached 2.6 million units, a figure no other Chinese artist has attained. The World Music Awards in September 2004 held in Las Vegas acknowledged him as the most popular Chinese singer based on sales.
In 2005, his album 11 Chopin of November continued this record of success with sales of 2.5 million units in Asia. He recently made his chart comeback after a three-year hiatus with his long-awaited new single “Won’t cry”. The song, which features Mayday vocalist, Ashin, was released on 16 September 2019, and its music video has since been viewed over 22 million times on YouTube. In fact, the song was streamed so many times that it was reported to have caused QQ music – China’s biggest streaming platform – to crash on the day of its release. He published his new single “Mojito”. It caused a sensation on the Internet. The song, which effuses amorous feelings of Cuba, was released as a single album on June 12, 2020.
Chou’s compositions are loosely categorized as pop music. While many of his works fall into contemporary R&B, rap, and rock genres, the term “Chou Style” has been popularized to describe his trademark cross-cultural music and insistence on singing with slurred enunciation. Taipei Times once described the meaning of “Chou Style”: “In what has become the archetypal Chou style, Taiwan’s favourite son blends pop, rap, blues and a smorgasbord of esthetic elements of world music to create his dream-like never-never land…”
Chou regularly fuses traditional Chinese instruments and styles with R&B or rock to form a new genre called “Zhongguo Feng”, which literally means “Chinese Style Music”, some of which are written in the Pentatonic Scale as opposed to the more common seven-note scale (Diatonic scale) to accentuate an oriental style. Besides his own culture, he also incorporated Spanish guitar in “Red Imitation”, American techno/electronica in “Herbalist’s Manual”, rap with subtle classical music undertones in “Reverse Scales”, Blues style in “Free Tutorial Video” and Bossanova style in “Rosemary”, to name a few. Sound effects from everyday life are frequently woven into his music, such as bouncing ping pong balls, touch-tone phone dialling, helicopter blades, dripping rain, and radio static noise (Musique concrète).
His formal musical training is evident by the use of classical textures in his compositions. For example, counterpoint was used in “Perfection” and “Sorry”, while polyphony can be found in “The Wound That Ends War” and “Twilight’s Chapter Seven”.
Chou’s albums have been noted for the lack of change compared to his earlier works, yet he firmly stated that he will not alter his style: “They say I’ve been standing still … but this is the music I want, and I don’t see what I want by moving ahead.” To demonstrate his point, he named his 2006 album Still Fantasy after his 2001 album Fantasy. His use of relaxed enunciation has been criticized as “mumbling” which he also insisted will not change; however, recently he has adopted clearer pronunciation for certain songs, particularly more traditional Chinese style songs, such as “Faraway” which features Fei Yu-ching and “Chrysanthemum Terrace”.
Chou is considered more of a singer-composer than a lyricist. Several “regulars,” write the lyrics for most of his music, but the content and style is unified with his own personality and image, covering a diverse range of topics and ideas. Vincent Fang accounts for more than half of the lyrics in his albums, helping to establish an important element in Chou’s music: the use of meaningful, imagery- and emotionally rich lyrics, sometimes written in the form of ancient Chinese poetry with reference to Chinese history or folklore. In addition to writing romantic hits, he also touches on war, the Bible, sports, and martial arts. Vivian Hsu is a singer herself and has helped with Chou’s earlier hits.
Chou himself has written lyrics for many ballads, but has also discussed societal ills such as drug addiction in “Coward” and loss of the rural countryside to urbanization in “Terrace fields”. Domestic violence discussed in “Dad, I am back” received a great deal of commotion since he was the first to bring up this taboo subject in Sanscript music.
Chou’s parents divorced when he was 14 years old. According to Jay’s accounts of his childhood in interviews, his father had subjected his mother to daily verbal and physical abuse, often witnessed by traumatized young Jay. Once grown and starting to realize fame among southeast Asian singers, his difficult childhood experiences influenced the young artist’s penning of songs like “In the Name of Father” detailing the cruelty and brutality of the domestic violence he’d witnessed at his father’s hand.
Chinese cultural elements
Jay Chou leads a new trend of music that combines western musical elements and Chinese literature terms. Because of this unique combination, he makes distinctions between himself and other musicians by leading a “Zhongguo Feng” in Asian music history. The success of his Western-Chinese musical combination is built on his marketing strategies and the musical elements involved in his works.
In the early 21st century, the People’s Republic of China was in an economic transition model. The new generation was looking for a consumption pop culture that would reflect individual uniqueness in the social circumstance.
Jay has successfully generated airtime on CCTV by fitting in with the mainland’s political and cultural agenda and celebrating traditional Chinese values.
The traditional Chinese cultural elements involved in Chou’s music contribute to his status in Asian popular music culture. The blowing in his music leads to a new trend of Chinese pop music which involves a vast amount of traditional Chinese components, rather than simply following Western music format. Chou’s Zhongguo Feng is highlighted in his lyrics and the use of traditional musical instruments in his music. Lyricist Vincent Fang has worked with Jay Chou since 2000. Fang’s work is featured by addressing Chinese traditional elements, such as poetry and Confucianism.
His representative work “Chrysanthemum Terrace”, released in 2006, shows a vast amount of cultural elements. In this work, Fang puts images that indicate certain traditional ideas to build an ancient monarchy setting. He uses chrysanthemum as a metaphor of love. In the line “Chrysanthemums broken, scattered across the floor, your smile has Faded as well with “Blue and White Porcelain” and “Orchid Pavilion”.
He performs in a rhythm and blues style, but within this western form, he has inserted Chinese melodies, themes, and rhythms. His song Dong Feng Po (East Wind, 2003) features a typical Chinese melody performed in R&B style; its instrumentation also creates a Chinese atmosphere with the pipa. In the lyrics, Jay expresses sadness and loneliness subtly, similar to traditional Chinese poetry.
Jay Chou began as a songwriter for other singers and continued this area of work even after he debuted his own career in singing. He has composed frequently for Jolin Tsai, Landy Wen, and occasionally for other singers such as Coco Lee, S.H.E, Vivian Hsu, Leehom Wang, Will Liu, Valen Hsu, and Hong Kong pop stars Edmond Leung, TPE48, Jordan Chan, Edison Chen, Karen Mok, Leo Ku, Eason Chan, and Joey Yung, as well as a one-time collaboration with Howard Su. He has also written for singers outside of his generation – over one dozen songs for his mentor Jacky Wu, later also for Taiwanese singer Jody Chiang, and Hong Kong singers Jacky Cheung, Andy Lau, Aaron Kwok, and Kenny Bee.
He initiated the band Nan Quan Mama in 2004, selecting band members and overseeing their album production. The group has been noted for sounding too similar to their mentor; as a result, Chou has reduced his involvement in the band but continues to help increase their exposure to mass audiences by inviting them as guests performers for his own concerts and music videos.
Besides working with singers, Chou’s longest-running collaboration is with lyricist Vincent Fang, as they both started their careers in the music field in 1998. The compilation album Partners featured 12 songs, each consisting of Chou’s musical and Fang’s lyrical compositions. Fang has written the words to more than 40 of Chou’s songs, was the chief editor of Chou’s book Grandeur de D Major, and is now Chou’s business partner (together with Chou’s manager JR Yang) for the record company JVR Music.
Jay Chou collaborated with Kobe Bryant on “The Heaven and Earth Challenge in order to “promote youth creativity, as well as an upcoming slam-dunk competition in China.” The song was released at a press conference before the NBA All-Star Game on 20 February 2011.
Jay held his first series of five solo concerts, titled Fantasy Concert, with the first stop on 11 January 2001 at Taoyuan Arena, Taiwan. Followed by two shows at the Hong Kong Coliseum, one in Malaysia and ended in Singapore on 10 February 2002. His second concert tour, The One Concert commenced on 28 September 2002 at Taipei Municipal Stadium, followed by 11 stops and ended at Shenzhen Stadium, China on 3 January 2004.
Two more series of world tours followed: Incomparable Concert in 2004 and Jay Chou 2007, Las Vegas, Toronto and Vancouver. In 2010, to celebrate Jay’s 10-year career in the entertainment industry, he embarked on his fifth series of concert tour titled, New Era World Tour, with the first stop of three concerts from 11 to 13 June 2010 at Taipei Arena, followed by 40 stops ending from 17 to 18 December 2011 at Kaohsiung Arena.
He has kicked off his World Tour, “Opus Jay World Tour” starting with Shanghai as its first stop from 17 to 19 May 2013. Due to the success of his “Opus Jay World Tour” concerts, Jay Chou announced a sequel to the concert, titled “Opus II Jay World Tour”. The first stop of this new world tour opened in the same city as its preceding world tour (Shanghai) on 2 May 2014, with more shops opening in the same destinations. His seventh World Tour, “The Invincible Concert Tour” also held its first concert stop in Shanghai on 30 June 2016, and ending in December 2017. Similar to his previous World Tour, “The Invincible 2 Concert Tour” also had a sequel that had its first stop in Singapore on 6 January 2018.
To celebrate his 20th year in the entertainment industry, the eight World Tour “20 Carnival World Tour” held its first concert in Shanghai on 17 October 2019, with more stops to be announced.
Jay Chou formally entered the film industry in 2005 with the release of the movie Initial D. He has since acted in three other movies, directed one film and more than a dozen music videos. Chou, who once said “I live because of music”, ventured into movies because he felt the need for a new challenge. As fans have grown concerned that movies will compromise his music career, Chou has repeatedly reassured that movies are a source of inspiration and not a distraction; at the same time, he realizes the need to balance both careers and maintain his place in the music field to garner the continued support of fans.
Entry into acting was an unexpected move for Chou. His high school English teacher thought he was capable of very few facial expressions, and the director of Hidden Track (2003, a movie in which Chou had a cameo role) said that his strong individualistic personality will not make him a good actor. In 2005, Chou’s first role as the lead actor in D Initial D served two purposes: to launch his acting debut and to increase his exposure to Japanese audiences. This film is based on the Japanese comic Initial D, where Chou played Takumi Fujiwara, a gifted tongue racer who is quiet and rarely shows expression. Some reviewers criticized his bland acting while others felt he performed naturally, but only because the character’s personality closely mirrored his own.
His performance in Initial D won him Best Newcomer Actor in Golden Horse Awards and Hong Kong Film Awards. Chou’s second film was Curse of the Golden Flower (2006). As a supporting character, he drew much of the attention of Chinese reporters; Chou’s involvement in this movie was announced in its own press conference, separate from the meeting held for Chow Yun-fat, Gong Li, and the other actors. Chou portrayed Prince Jai, the ambitious second eldest prince and general of the Imperial army whose personality epitomizes Xiao, the Chinese virtue of filial piety.
In this internationally released film, North American audiences saw Chou for the first time. According to Chinese movie critics, comments about his acting ranged from “lacks complexity” to “acceptable,” but was critically praised by Western reviewers. His performance in Curse of the Golden Flower was nominated Best Supporting Actor in the Hong Kong Film Awards. In the 2008 film Kung Fu Dunk, Chou portrayed a kung fu student and dunking prodigy, and the film earned over ¥100 million (US$14.7 million).
Chou portrayed Kato in The Green Hornet, directed by Michel Gondry and released in January 2011, after Hong Kong actor Stephen Chow withdrew from the project; the film grossed over $228 million worldwide. MTV Networks’ NextMovie.com named him one of the “Breakout Stars to Watch for in 2011”.
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In May 2011, Chou started filming for a new movie, The Viral Factor directed by Dante Lam and starred various well-known artists such as Nicholas Tse. The movie was released in theatres over Asia on 17 January 2012. With most of the scenes shot in the Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian countries, the earlier filming process has been slightly disrupted due to political conflicts in the Middle East. Chou co-starred with Daniel Radcliffe in Now You See Me 2, which was released in June 2016.
In 2018, it was announced that Chou joined the cast of Vin Diesel’s fourth xXx film. In 2021, Chou was briefly starred in Nezha, where he was the executive producer for the film. With a budget reportedly up to more than 400 million yuan ($61.8 million), the film used some expensive racing cars for the action sequences, accounting for about 80% of the entire content. Directed by Chen Yi-xian, the film also stars Tsao Yu-Ning, Van Fan, and Alan Kuo. Chou and pop idol Wang Junkai show up in the film in cameo appearances.
Jay Chou acquired his first directing experience in 2004 through music videos. He initially experimented with a song by the group Nan Quan Mama titled “Home” where he was involved throughout the entire process from research to editing. After learning the difficulties of being a director, he refused to direct again even at the request of his record company. However, his interest resurfaced again as he directed music videos for 4 of the 12 songs in his own album November’s Chopin in 2005, and later television advertisements.
By 2006, he had taken responsibility for the storyboard, directing, and editing of music videos for all his songs. It is unclear how the public appraises his work since music videos are rarely the subject of critical review; however, director Zhang Yimou said that Chou’s directing abilities may surpass his own in the future, after viewing several of Chou’s music videos.
In February 2007, Chou began directing his first film Secret. The script written by Chou was inspired by his relationship with a high school girlfriend, with a plot focused on music, love, and family. He stars as the lead actor of the film with Gwei Lun-mei as the female lead, and Hong Kong veteran actor Anthony Wong as Chou’s father. Despite previous experience in filming music videos, Chou admits that movies are more challenging due to storyline and time constraints. This movie was released in July 2007.
Jay has been the spokesperson for “Angel Heart Foundation” since 2012, a non-profit charity for children with intellectual disabilities. In 2013, he hosted a voluntary concert for them.
In 2014, Jay accepted the Ice Bucket Challenge from Andy Lau, and also donated NT$100,000 to the Taiwanese ALS Foundation, and also donated NT$2 million in the aftermath of the 2014 Kaohsiung gas explosions. He also attended the charity event from Fubon Charity Foundation and has been the ambassador for the charity, which helps school children with disabilities, hardship or giving children living in poverty a scholarship for their education.
He had already donated NT$970 million in the last 5 years, sponsoring over 300 of the thousand benefactors, and would extend the offer by 5 years, and opened 300 more scholarships, and donated a lump sum of NT$10.8 million in the next 5 years worth NT$2.16 million each year. In June 2014, he also went on tour with Will Liu to visit many schoolchildren in remote areas of Taiwan. Jay’s second tour is scheduled in August 2015, two months after he officially became the spokesperson for the scholarship plan.
In 2016, Jay Chou bought the eSports (League of Legends) team Taipei Assassins and renamed it J Gaming. Chou only serves as an investor and owner, and despite holding the title of a ‘captain/leader’, he will only play in celebrity matches, and would not involve in the day-to-day operating and coaching of the team.
In 2017, Jay Chou spent about 18 million RMB to build a Jay eSports building in Shenzhen, which provided updated computer devices and the streaming areas for eSports players in China. More importantly, Jay decides to hold more and more eSports events in the Jay eSports building, which is helpful for the development of eSport industry in China.
Jay Chou is currently married to Hannah Quinlivan. However, He was rumoured to have a relationship with Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai with the former being featured on Tsai’s song “Can’t Speak Clearly”, which appeared on her fourth studio album Lucky Number (2001). In December 2001, Tsai and Chou were first spotted dining at an izakaya in Shinjuku, Japan. Although they did not admit to their relationship, their romance was an open secret in those years. However, in February 2005, Chou was spotted shopping intimately with Taiwanese news presenter Patty Hou in Shibuya, Japan. Since then, Tsai deliberately avoided meeting Chou and Hou during public events.
In June 2010, Tsai and Chou finally made amends, and Tsai appeared as a special guest at Chou’s concert in Taipei and shocked the public. In July 2013, when being interviewed by Taiwanese TV host Matilda Tao, for the first time, Tsai admitted she used to be in love with Chou. In addition, Tsai said that since Chou cheated on her, she felt disappointed and broke up with Chou.
In November 2014, Chou confirmed his relationship with model Hannah Quinlivan. The pair had been dating since 2010, but Hannah first met Jay when she was 14 and had been working as his employee as a clothing shop assistant since 2007. In December 2014, Chou announced that he would marry Quinlivan on his 36th birthday. The couple has two children: daughter Hathaway (born July 2015) and son Romeo (born June 2017).
Sarah Haywood planned their wedding in the United Kingdom. It took place in Selby Abbey in Selby, England on 17 January 2015, one day before Chou’s birthday. A private wedding ceremony open to friends and family occurred on 9 February in Taipei. A third reception, this time in Australia, was held in March. According to Chou’s official Facebook page, the couple has been registered for marriage since July 2014. The couple has two children: daughter Hathaway (born July 2015) and son Romeo (born June 2017).
Jay Chou net worth
How much is Jay Chou net worth? Jay Chou net worth is estimated at around $100 million as of 2021. He is one of the richest musicians in Asia. Chou successful career has earned him some luxurious lifestyles and some fancy cars. He became an Evangelical Protestant Christian as his wife, his mother and some of his friends, including Will Liu and Vanness Wu, are Protestants. In 2012, he was baptised.