Baby, this song is for you: Chou
IT'S CHAOS. A doorman has his hand on the handle of a closed door behind which people are waiting anxiously.
The crowd outside stare at the door hoping to get a glimpse of what is happening inside.
As the music gets louder, people, both inside and outside the room, start screaming.
This is what happens when Mandarin pop's big star Jay Chou makes an appearance.
On July 11, the Taiwan singer-songwriter was at a five-star hotel in Beijing to release Jay Chou's Bedtime Stories, his 14th Mandarin album, and to mark his 15th year in show business.
With his mixed style of R&B, love ballads and rap, which saw him include classical music and traditional Chinese instruments in his work, he has revolutionised the music business and influenced a generation of musicians.
With Bedtime Stories, the 37-year-old shows a humorous side of his music.
"I've written a lot of sophisticated stuff in the past but now I rarely write such songs or songs dealing with heavy issues," said Chou.
He added that he owes this change to his daughter, Hathaway. Married to model Hannah Quinlivan two years ago, they welcomed their first child in June last year.
"My daughter inspired me to do this album. I like putting her to sleep. I often play my songs for her before she falls asleep, which works even better than reading her a bedtime story," he said.
The opening song of the album, Bedtime Stories, is not as soothing and slow as people might expect.
Working with his long-time friend, lyricist Vincent Fang, the song has fast rapping and dark humour.
To mark his daughter's first birthday in June, Chou dedicated a song, Lover From A Previous Life, to her, in which he uses some sounds his daughter made on her toy piano.
"When my wife showed me a video of our daughter playing with the piano, I was taken in by some of the sounds," recalled Chou.
"She may not be a musician when she grows up.
"But I will give her a pink piano some day, and I hope that music will play an important part in her life."
Fatherhood has also influenced his songwriting style.
"In the past, I wrote songs just to entertain or express myself. But now, I want to write songs for my fans.
"When I listen to them singing my love ballads at concerts, I am touched," he said.
Chou, a classically trained pianist, was spotted in 1998 by Taiwan TV host Jacky Wu, who asked him to join his record agency as a composer.
In 2000, the shy musician released his debut album, Jay, featuring songs that he had written for other singers but were rejected as "they were not considered mainstream pop material".
The album earned him idol status across Asia.
Even his unclear singing and rapping style is imitated by his fans.
Chou has also ventured into acting, notching his first big Hollywood break in 2011 when he featured alongside Seth Rogen in Green Hornet.
This year, he starred with Daniel Radcliffe in Now You See Me 2. He also wrote and performed the song, Now You See Me, for the sequel.
The track is in the new album.
"When I sat in the cinema at the movie's premiere in the United States, I felt so proud that my song, a Chinese one, featured at the end of the movie," he said.
"That's my goal, to take Mandarin songs abroad. It is so cool."
ASIA NEWS NETWORK