Jay Chou

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About Jay Chou

He’s the undisputed emperor of Mandopop, and in 2003 Time magazine dubbed him the king of Asian pop music. But even those honorifics don’t quite capture Jay Chou’s significance: The Taiwanese singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has become the standard-bearer for an entire generation who wanted to embrace globalization without turning their backs on their Chinese traditions. China mainland’s economy and culture had been gradually opening since the 1970s, but the early 2000s witnessed a massive flowering of fashion, entertainment, and other creative industries. Jay Chou was perfectly poised to seize the moment, thanks to his early musical training. Born Chou Chieh-lun in Linkou District, Taiwan, in 1979, Chou learned to play music from his mother, a music teacher who recognized his talent early and sacrificed her savings to give him an education in classical piano and cello. After his parents divorced when he was 14, Chou turned to music for solace, learning to sing, write songs, and play multiple instruments. A stint in a production studio honed his skills, and in 2000 he released his debut album, Jay, which became an overnight sensation thanks to its emotive pop-rock and deft incorporation of rap and R&B—and Chou’s romantic vocal delivery. He proceeded to release an album a year through 2008, only slowing that frenetic pace somewhat in the 2010s as he turned his attention to acting and directing, including an appearance in the 2011 Hollywood blockbuster The Green Hornet. Though Mandopop has not enjoyed the global stature of K-pop—in part due to a lack of overseas marketing—Chou remains a massive figure in China mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and beyond. His every move commands attention, and he continues to innovate musically, as with his Cuban-inspired viral single “Mojito” in 2020.

Linkou, Taiwan
January 18, 1979

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