[Album] Jay Chou – Fantasy

Fantasy is the second album released by Jay Chou. This album cemented him as an established artist and contains some of his most well-known tracks. It was a huge hit in Taiwan and other Mandarin-speaking countries.

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Released: September 1, 2001
1. Love Before BC (愛在西元前)
2. Dad, I’m Home (爸,我回來了)
3. Simple Love (簡單愛)
4. Ninja (忍者)
5. I Find It Hard to Say (開不了口)
6. Shanghai 1943 (上海一九四三)
7. Sorry (對不起)
8. William Castle (威廉古堡)
9. Nunchucks (雙截棍)
10. Silence (安靜)

The album opens with Love Before BC, which is a lighthearted mid-tempo pop/R&B tune. This is the type of song I quite enjoy from Jay because the music is relaxing, but the melody still has enough energy to give a bit of punch. My only gripe is Jay’s vocals, which sound really lazy during the verses. Things get a little better for the chorus as this drowsy kind of style works nicely with the smooth melody. It’s a pretty decent opener anyways.

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Dad, I’m Home is another R&B/hip-hop song, but with a darker quality to it. I do quite like the inclusion of the strings to really give it that haunting sound. Unfortunately, I’m not a bit fan of Jay’s rapping songs (although that’s largely because of the music videos). This song definitely sounds better without the video, but it’s still not as intoxicating as the last song. The raps are really hard-hitting while the choruses are sung in that mumbling style and it creates a really odd contrast. It’s not as good as the last song, but it’s not bad.

I still think Simple Love is Jay’s best song. It has the light-hearted R&B touch, but has a stronger pop sound to it. Also, Jay’s voice is more active here and it works really well with the bouncy music. The chorus is also really catchy and sounds quite sweet. Everything works so nicely with the cute lyrics that talk about the feelings of being in love. Great!

Ninja is a bit ridiculous sounding with its odd hip-hop style. It tries to grab some elements from other world genres, but I’m just not a fan of this song. The chorus isn’t that bad, but for me it isn’t really that memorable. There are some fun parts to the song though like the weird sound effects that come popping up in the background. At least Jay’s rapping is better here.

Luckily, we swing right back to I Find It Hard to Say, which is a sweet-sounding ballad. This is one of the album’s biggest hits and it’s no surprise why. The song has a really nice build-up and while there are some weird sound effects again, the melody is really sweet and works really well with the combination of strings, guitar and light percussion. It’s definitely one of the album’s stronger songs and one of the best in his discography.

Shanghai 1943 is another gentle pop/R&B tune, but I don’t think it’s as strong as the last song. The verses are a bit drowsy and his singing just makes it sound like a drag to get through. The chorus is a bit better, but the melody just isn’t as memorable as the other songs that are similar to this one. The lyrics are pretty nice, but suffer from a weaker execution of the song.

I much prefer Sorry just because the beat and the guitar sounds really nice. It reminds me of American R&B from the early 00’s. I feel like the song would have benefited more without the rap for the pre-chorus, but it doesn’t detract too much from the song. It’s still a pretty cool tune and I feel like the layered vocals in the chorus help to bring an interesting edge that works nicely with the music. The breakdown in the middle is just strange though.

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William Castle starts off in a pretty haunting way and it instantly made me realize that this will be one of his R&B/hip-hop songs. The beat is really heavy and an odd contrast to the piercing organ-like refrain. I was thinking this song might be surprise me and it does get better as it goes along, but the verses are just not good. The chorus has a pretty cool idea with the background vocals sounding “ghost-like”, but Jay’s voice is just too mumbly that it ruins the energy. I’m on the fence with this one.

Nunchucks is a really big change in sound and sticks out like a sore thumb. It has a fast-paced pop/rock sound while Jay raps in the verses. It just doesn’t fit together. The music feels too lackluster in the verses and then the chorus comes along and it is just a bunch of messy chanting. This is the album’s worst song.

Luckily, things end well with Silence, which is a ballad. I love the piano at the start as it sounds really beautiful. Jay also sounds pretty good here and his tone does fit nicely with the sweetness of the tune. The chorus isn’t that strongest on the album, but the melody stills works nicely with the music. It really brings up the emotion. My biggest gripe is the ending though as Jay really strains to hit the notes.


Overall: This album is certainly better than his first. I quite like that the melodies were much stronger here and there are some stellar tunes, which I felt his debut lacked. With that said, there are some songs that are just boring or unneeded. Sometimes, the songs just lacked energy because of his voice and other times it just felt like the melodies were lackluster. Still, I feel like there were quite a few nice high points here.

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[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.

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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.

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