The Cowboy Has Arrived! Jay Chou

He’s been super busy, and we can guess why! After one directorial debut, three movies, eight albums and numerous accolades, indisputable prince of Mandopop JAY CHOU is back to conquer all as he prepares to invade the Indoor Stadium(Singapore) with his third ever world tour. By Bang Wei Tin

It is an open secret that the mandarin pop industry is one cutthroat buisness. Not only are there Machiavellian music honchos to contend with, there is also a continuous flow of new acts looking to displace established A-list veterans. Then, there’s the blood-thirsty paparazzi intent on wrecking havoc in a celebrity’s private life.

Facing this, of course, is all in a day’s work for Jay Chou, arguably the biggest star in Asia. Since exploding onto the music scene with his brand of “Jay-style” sound, the 28-year-old has quickly risen to the top of the game. The talented singer-songwriter not only outsells all of his peers, he’s also ventured into movie acting, directing and artiste management among many other endeavours. But the man clearly isn’t one to rest on his laurels.

Back from a one-year hiatus to pursue an acting career, the megastar is making headlines once again with a brand new album and an all-conquering world tour that spans several cities, including Taiwan, Shanghai, Tokyo and even Los Angeles!

Jay Is Busy
Indeed, the last year proved to be a banner year for the industrious entertainer who capped the year with the release of his eighth album, I Am Busy(On The Run). Having been penned by critics for churning out run-of-the-mill Jay-style album after album, the music prodigy made a dramatic 360 degree turn this time around, by abandoning all previous Italian mafia and Chinese opera references for a new spaghetti western-inspired sound!

And the experiment has clearly paid off, judging from the phenomenal album sales as indicated by Taiwan’s G-Music chart. Thanks to the catchy tunes and irrevelant lyrics found in first single, The Cowboy Is Busy, I Am Busy(On The Run) reached number one on the charts, outselling peers like Vic Chou and Jolin Tsai in its first week of release. It also cemented Jay’s position as one of the best selling artiste in recent years. Indeed, it was also reported that the all-rounded entertainer is the fourth highest earner of the year, making a cool NT$243 million, just after girl group S.H.E, veteran Emil Chau and diva A Mei.

Interestingly, the cheekily-titled album, which ended the good year on a good note for the star, was so named because Jay was simply tired of telling journalists and friends that he is, well, really busy!

Jay In Control
And no wonder the multi-tasking star laments about his lack of time. He has completely immersed himself onto movie making! To date, the budding actor has starred in no less than four films since he debuted on the silver screen with 2005’s Initial D.

But Jay, the serious thespian? Despite his win at the prestigious Golden Horse Awards for Best Newcomer, critics have tsk tsked the golden boy for his non-existent acting and severe lack of facial expressions. Faced with mounting criticism, Jay’s next foray was the art house flick The Curse Of The Golden Flowers. While the movie gave him street cred as a serious actor, detractors again weren’t particularly impressed with his wooden interpretation.

It is apparent that Jay’s larger-than-life persona and cool demeanour are getting in his way of being taken seriously as a credible actor. But it looks as if the perfectionist is determined to change all that with his new outing. Next up? A blockbuster production that allows Jay to showcase what he does second-best: basketball.

With a budget of US$10 million, Kung Fu Dunk is reputed to be the biggest production in Taiwan’s film history, clearly a testament to the megastar’s star power. Slated to open in the theatres this February, Jay plays Shi Jie, a young boy brought up in a Kung Fu school. Because of his excellent martial arts background, he became unexpectedly good at slam dunking.

Not only does Jay get to flaunt his nifty basketball moves in the movie, he has to win the heart of his lady love, played convincingly by Twin’s Charlene Choi at the same time. Intrigued? Well, so are we!

The Prodigal Son Returns
The good news is, you dont have to wait that long to see Jay in action. The Taiwan Superstar is back in Singapore for his third world tour, simply named Jay Chou World Tour 2008, which will fall on the 18th and 19th of this month!

This performance will mark his return to the Indoor Stadium after nearly three years, and the wait has been a long-anticipated one for Jay’s Singaporean fans. In fact, it has become the fastest-selling show ever in Singapore’s history as over 80% of 8700 tickets were snapped up within the first day. As expected, tickets have since been sold out. The last we heard, black market tickets were going for a whopping S$1800!

This unprecedented showing is not unexpected though. Its been reported that ht performance will be a huge visual spectacle, and if judging by Jay’s recent show in Taiwan, fans will certainly be in for a treat, with a concert complete with 13 different costume changes. At one point during the 2.5 hour set, Jay even transforms into an armoured-suited prince while singing Chrysanthemum Terrace!

With an exciting line up that includes ivory tinkling, guitar strumming and even a spot with a traditional Chinese zither, Jay’s comeback show sure is gearing up to be THE event of the year!

The Guy Can’t Help It!
Dashing, ridiculously talented and oozing bucket loads of charisma, it’s the wonder Jay has earned the rep of being a majoy lady’s man! He’s been linked to numerous female artistes but doesn’t let on much than to say they’re all friends. Tsk tsk… So many “good friends” eh, Jay!

Good Friend #1: Jolin Tsai
He wrote some of her biggest hits like Say Love You and Prague Square. She is also one half of the famous “Double-J Romance”
Verdict: 5 stars! Scandal-licious.
Were they or weren’t they? Even after 2 years of their alleged rumours, then breakup, the media obsession still hasn’t stop, and with good reasons! In a recent entry on her official blog, Jolin revealed that she once had her heart broken by an ex-boyfriend who not only 2-timed her, but left her to initiate the breakup as he was too nonchalant to do so. When quizzed if “he” is in fact Jay, Jolin refused to comment. Whether it’s peace of war between this duo, one thing is certain: we’ll ALWAYS be intrigued.

Good Friend #2: Patty Hou
She is the pretty TV host and only girlfriend Jay has admitted to having, albeit most unwillingly (they were photographed hand-in-hand while shopping in Tokyo)
Verdict: 5 stars! Scandal-licious.
After a tumultuous year-long relationship, the couple called an end to the romance, citing personality differences as the reason for the breakup. Well, we could have predicted that ourselves! The 2 go together like ice cream and onions- one’s sweet and intellectual, the other’s broody and emotionally distant! While the relationship has ended, the scandal hasn’t. Friends of Patty was so distraught by the breakup, she broke out in tears while recounting the experience!

Good Friend #3: Kwai Lun Mei
She is the lead actress in his directional debut: Secret
Verdict: 3 stars! Almost a Scandal.
It’s only natural for a director to find a muse in his lead actress(Think Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman), but is it absolutely necessary to include her favourite slang in your album as well? Jay did just that! In The Cowboy Is Busy, Jay included the line “don’t trouble youreelf” in the chorus, which apparently is Kwai Lun Mei’s preferred slang. They’re not the most compatible couple, but hey, she’s his muse, so there’s always a chance there!

Good Friend #4: Hebe Tian
She is one third of popular girl band S.H.E, which Jay has written songs for.
Verdict: 2.5 stars! Hardly There
What’s so suspicious about a well-sought after producer writing songs for a successful girl band? well, nothing actually. Just because Jay’s written and performed a couple of tunes for S.H.E doesn’t really tell us much. Besides the alleged romance between Jay and Hebe has since gone flat despite their high profiles.

Good Friend #5: Charlene Choi
She is his co-star in Kung Fu Dunk, slated for release in Feb 2008.
Verdict: 2 stars! It’s just platonic
Naturally, any collaboration between the two would invite rumours seeing that both Charlene and Jay are pure goss magnets. But while we don’t exactly mind seeing the two hit it off, we seriously doubt they’ll ever go further, than being work partners and perhaps, very very good water-swigging buddies.

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