[Album] Jay Chou – Jay

Jay Chou initially started as a songwriter before making his own debut in 2000. With his strong songwriting skills, he became an overnight success and has since become one of the most popular and influential pop artists in the Chinese-speaking world. Jay is his self-titled debut album.

Released: November 7, 2000
1. Adorable Lady (可愛女人)
2. Perfectionism (完美主義)
3. Starry Mood (星晴)
4. Wife (娘子)
5. Bullfight (鬥牛)
6. Black Humour (黑色幽默)
7. Istanbul (伊斯坦堡)
8. Old Indian Turtledove (印地安老斑鳩)
9. Tornado (龍捲風)
10. The Counter-clockwise Clock (反方向的鐘)

Adorable Lady was the biggest hit from the album and opens in a midtempo ballad kind of way. I quite like the odd beat mixed with the piano foundation. The melody isn’t bad, but it is quite repetitive and the mixing sort of causes it fade into the background. It’s not a bad starter, but the music is definitely stronger than the melody. Perfectionism is a bit more dramatic as it has some hip-hop elements to it. It’s definitely stronger than the last song, but I don’t think Jay’s voice really elevates the song. It’s a catchy tune and there are some really clever aspects to the melody and it can be quite unpredictable at times. Starry Mood is a laidback R&B/pop tune. It has a gentle beat and relies a lot on the guitar and background vocals. The melody is the type that’s easy to sing along to, although I don’t think its the most engaging of songs. The song focuses on that melody because the music is a bit lackluster. It’s still not bad though. Wife sort of follows the laidback guitar vibe of the last song. It isn’t bad, but Jay’s voice just doesn’t quite bring the song to the next level for me. He does struggle hitting some notes at times and it does come off a bit odd to hear. I do like one section of the song where the background vocals come in and become the focus. Also, the instrumental breakdown with the more “Chinese” style is a nice inclusion. Not bad. Bullfight has some stronger R&B elements to it and I do like it more than the last few songs. It has some really interesting musical aspects that really give it an edge. Also, Jay sounds much better here and his voice fits the laid back R&B style more, especially when he brings in a bit of rapping. Up to this point, it’s the strongest tune. Black Humour is surprisingly the first full-fledged ballad. I was actually expecting something a little different considering the name of the song. It does start off a little messy as Jay’s voice sounds shaky, but he does get a bit more confidence during the chorus. There are a few struggle notes though. The melody is quite charming and sounds much better with the fuller instrumental at the end. Istanbul brings back that laid back R&B vibe. It really sounds like an early 2000’s C-Pop song. I think Jay’s singing sounds better in this kind of song and while he does struggle to hit some notes, the chorus is definitely smoother and catchier. I just wish it had some more energy to it as it comes off quite forgettable in the long run. Old Indian Turtledove is the most popping song up to this point. The music has some spice to it and some cooler jazzier elements that it brings in. I don’t think the song is really that catchy though and I feel like it relies a lot on the music. Tornado is quite nice though. It’s more on the ballad feel despite having a steady beat and piano. I especially enjoy the pre-chorus and chorus as these parts have some of the catchier parts of the album. This is the type of song I was hoping to hear from this album because it is that laid back R&B vibe but with the kind of melody with some impact. I love how The Counter-clockwise Clock starts off with the piano and slowly brings in a beat and odd synth-line. It has an eerie, but cool quality to it. The verses feel a bit held back and the pre-chorus is really odd, but the chorus isn’t bad. I don’t think the music totally fits with the melody, but it sort of reminds me of a J-Pop song.

Overall: This isn’t a bad debut album, but I think I was expecting a lot more considering Jay’s capabilities as a songwriter. Maybe it is because this was his first, but I had two major problems with this album. The first was that there was some really great arrangements, but the melodies were just forgettable. The second was that Jay’s voice just didn’t elevate the songs. I understand he has his own style of singing, but in this album he was either giving very low energy or he was struggling to hit high notes. With that said, there were definitely some good tunes. I don’t think they were the best, but the potential was totally there and some of the music was quite beautiful.