Wednesday, April 21, 2010


November’s Chopin
(2005, Alfa)

You may not understand Chinese, but don't let that stop you from listening to this record from Taiwanese pop star, Jay Chou.

Most Australians have probably never heard of Jay Chou.  He is renowned as one of the most popular singers in Eastern Asia, noted for his talent in music composition, as well as playing an array of musical instruments, including piano, violin, cello, guitar and drums.  In 2000 Chou released his first album, Jay.  Since then he's released nine studio albums, each selling several million copies and winning more than 20 awards each year. Jay created the 'Chou style', which combines cross-cultural music such as R&B, rap and rock, while singing in a signaure relaxed tone.  He incorporates everyday noises into his music such as ping pong balls, dripping rain and touch tone phone dialing to transform low art into high art and give meaning to ordinary encounters.

The album, November’s Chopin, released in 2005, is a vivid display of Chou's musical talent. In the album, there are three standout songs which I find most impressive; 'Nocturne', 'Hair Like Snow' and 'Besieged From All Four Sides'.  'Nocturne' is a R&B track featuring a combination of piano and acoustic guitar with a bluesy feel.  The lyrics describe the death of a lover and are relatively poetic, showing emotion by using black crows as a metaphor for loss.  Another standout, 'Hair Like Snow', is in the typical format of “Zhongguo feng”, utilising traditional Chinese instruments, including the pipa and yangqin, at a moderately slow tempo with a R&B beat.  The vocals are sung softly and, towards the end, it is revealed to be a tragic story.  The last song, 'Besieged From All Four Sides', is rapped and expresses his resentment for the paparazzi who he labels as 'dogs' and features a favourite lyric of mine, "They bite an apple in their mouths and hold a camera in their hands”.

Upon releasing the album, Chou received negative feedback, with some saying November's Chopin lacked change compared to his earlier works.  Chou fought back, refusing to alter his style, saying, "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”.

Upside: Every song has character and different feelings.

Downside: The rapping is sometimes difficult to understand.

Best lyric:"For you [ I ] play Chopin's Nocturne to commemorate this deceased love of mine."

Sounds Like: A unique 'Chou' style which combines different genres like pop, R&B, rap and rock.

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