Jay Chou releases first album in six years

Source: SupChina (7/22/22)
Jay Chou, king of Mandopop, releases first album in six years, immediately shattering records
The six-year wait for new music by Taiwanese pop superstar Jay Chou is finally over. His latest album and promotional activities have become bona fide cultural phenomena in mainland China, rejuvenating Mandopop listeners’ interest in the singer-songwriter’s decades-long career.
By Zhao Yuanyuan

The past month has been a big one for Jay Chou (周杰伦 Zhōu Jiélún), one of the best-selling artists in the world of Chinese-language pop music. From casually teasing upcoming projects in a travel vlog on June 19 to shattering records across the board with his newest music, the mega pop star’s road to his 15th studio album Greatest Works of Art (最偉大的作品) has been a mix of suspense, excitement, and nostalgic fun.

With such an eventful month for the superstar — and, undoubtedly, one of the biggest moments for Mandopop this year — here is a complete timeline of Chou’s activities this summer so far:

June 19

周杰倫2022年專輯前導 . 巴黎創作紀錄片

In a behind-the-scenes video posted to his YouTube channel, Chou revealed that a new album was on the way. Filmed in Paris, the 11-minute video sees the 43-year-old singer looking for inspiration while roaming around the city and trying out vintage instruments.

In the final segment of the clip, Chou can be seen performing and recording music at the Palais Garnier opera house. “Amazing as it is, this is perfect for filming a music video. But you can also record music here with such beautiful surroundings,” he said.

The video concludes by revealing that Chou’s highly anticipated new album will be released on July 15.

The surprise announcement arrived nearly six years after Chou’s last studio album, Jay Chou’s Bedtime Stories, came out. But that didn’t mean Chou was completely out of the public eye when he went on a hiatus from creating full-fledged albums.

Since Jay Chou’s Bedtime Stories, the pop star has become a big NFT enthusiast, selling algorithmically generated digital avatars connected to his fashion brand, and working on music NFTs based on his old releases. In April, Chou made headlines after his Bored Ape image — from one of the most prestigious NFT series in the world — was stolen in what appeared to be a phishing attack. The stolen image was worth over $500,000.

July 6

周杰倫 Jay Chou【最偉大的作品 Greatest Works of Art】Official MV

Chou debuted the music video for “Greatest Works of Art,” the first single off his new album with the same name. Directed by Chou himself, the video features the musician disguised as a security guard while sneaking into the Samaritaine department store in Paris, where he finds a magic piano and embarks on a time travel journey.

An homage to some of the world’s most acclaimed visual artists and their works, the music video is full of cameo appearances from paintings by Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, Claude Monet, and Cháng Yù 常玉. In the video, Chou also meets an actor resembling Chinese poet Xú Zhìmó 徐志摩, and faces off with Lǎng Lǎng 朗朗 at the piano.

Cultural references are abundant in the song’s lyrics, too. “I pass through the timeless 1920s with my piano. Ah, obsession was the apple I showed Magritte,” a line reads. “Boats travel quietly along Matisse’s shore. Let Van Gogh light up this starry night,” Chou sings at another point, before making his own declaration as an artist. “In this wild era, as the king of music, I think I do not need a picture frame. My musical notes are all about the future of art.”

Just hours after the release, the hashtag “Greatest Works of Art” garnered more than 230 million clicks on Weibo and was played more than 2.66 million times on Bilibili, an enormously popular Chinese video-sharing and -streaming website.

July 15

周杰倫 Jay Chou【還在流浪 Still Wandering】Official MV

Chou’s 15th studio album, Greatest Works of Art, finally arrived — his first full-length one in six years. The 12-track record includes a piano intro, six new songs, and five previously digital-released songs.

Within hours of its release, the 12-track record, priced at 30 yuan ($4.40), sold nearly 3.5 million copies on QQ Music, the biggest music-streaming service in China. More than 10 hashtags related to the album trended on Weibo, with Chou’s fans flooding the platform with memes celebrating the release. As of press time, Greatest Works of Art is now the best-selling album of all time in China, with a whopping 6.1 million copies sold.

Along with the release of the album, Chou also dropped a retro-themed music video for track No. 3, “Still Wandering,” a mellow anthem about a lover from the past. The visual switches between Chou walking along the streets of Las Vegas, lounging at home, and eventually packing his belongings in a suitcase.

July 18

A new album is big business for Chou himself, but also for the many companies in his orbit. Eager to capitalize on the hype, Chinese short-video app Kuaishou, with which Chou has an exclusive livestreaming deal, announced a live broadcast featuring the superstar on July 18.

With a “Save the Time” campaign being pushed across the internet, over 10 million Kuaishou users set up a stream alert for Chou’s channel, which, according to Kuaishou, created a new Guinness record for “the most-booked livestream.” Later that day, a peak of 6.3 million viewers tuned in to watch Chou performing new songs and answering questions about his album.

Chou closed the 40-minute livestream out by teasing the releases of “a few” new music videos and an interactive virtual concert in the near future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *