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.
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.
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.
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.