Initially, I did not plan to write a review of Jay Chou’s Singapore “Invincible” concert as I am struggling to complete my Mayday reviews and most importantly, I did not wish to incur the wrath of my friends who are huge fans of Mr Jay.
However, I thought maybe I should write a little since I have written quite extensively about him in the past (my thesis Star and Stardom: The Iconicity of Jay Chou, The Opus 2013 Singapore Concert and The Rooftop Movie Review) some people have asked me about the concert. Like Mayday’s music, Mr Jay’s songs accompanied quite a number of Generation Y folks during their journey through youth to adulthood. For many people, some of Mr Jay’s songs have become “fate tunes” which evoke vivid memories associated with different chapters in life. Some songs like 星晴 and 简单爱 expressed the innocence of first love, 黑色幽默 and 安静 echoed the pain of failed relationships, 双截棍 and 龙拳 converted some into Chinese rappers-wannabes, and 东风破 and 青花瓷 motivated some to pay more attention to Chinese culture and language.
At first, I was not keen to attend Mr Jay’s new concert as I was not that satisfied byThe Opus 2013 Singapore Concert and not inclined to pay so much for a show in a-not-concert-friendly venue – the Sports Hub. But somehow I found myself at my 9th Mr Jay’s concert on 3 September 2016.
The “Invincible” concert started energetically with a series of fast-paced songs: 英雄 from the new album 床边故事, 无双 from 我很忙 and 她的睫毛 from 叶惠美. The first love song of the night, 开不了口, slowed down the tempo of the concert and the classic love ballad had everyone in the audience singing. However, before the crowd could soak in the emotions of the song, the rhythm of the concert switched abruptly with the dramatic performances of 威廉古堡 and 床边故事. The gothic elements of both songs complemented each other and added great entertainment value.
Next, Mr Jay showcased his signature musical versatility with a smorgasbord of musical styles like rap, paso doble and tango in 窃爱 and a hybrid of hip hop and italian operatic forms in the iconic 以父之名. Mr Jay’s concerts are usually visually spectacular and the stage was transformed into a somewhat Finding Nemo/Dory set. This segment also included a short interlude of 水手怕水 and 美人魚 from one of the newer albums 哎呦,不错哦.
Finally, after a marathon of 9 songs, Mr Jay finally spoke to the audience. He mentioned that he had put on quite some weight. I guess his fatherly duties have interfered with his gym time. He also cheekily declared that fans will not grow old if they listen to his songs. Well, obviously the fans have aged but they probably felt younger during the concert as they danced and sang along to the songs of their youth.
Mr Jay did not banter much and quickly moved on to sing a 屋顶 duet with fans. While the idea of singing with the crowd was interesting, the execution was quite awkward as the song required vocal harmonizing which could not be done in a huge stadium (especially one that has a less than desired sound system – check out the petition for ticket refund here).
Then Mr Jay introduced his new protégé, Patrick Brasca. Their performance of Try, the theme song of Kung Fu Panda 3, reminded me of the nineties boyband era infused with some hip hop elements. Mr Jay seems to enjoy being a mentor and he has tried groomed a few singers who failed to make much of an impression. Let’s see if Mr Jay will finally hit jackpot with Patrick!
The piano segment was probably my favorite. Mr Jay, with his background in classical music, shines the best when he sings and plays the piano. Unfortunately, the short segment of the popular 晴天, 稻香 and 白色风车 was over too quickly.
During a costume change break, Mr Jay’s composer-friend Gary sang patches of 3年2班 while Devon (弹头) sang 将军. Dressed in brightly colored clothes, Mr Jay returned to the stage and belted out 爸我回来了. However, I felt that the soulful rendition, which talks about tragic family violence, was shortchanged by the sudden transition to the comical 鞋子特大号 with vibrant set and playful props. The inconsistent selection of songs was shown again by an emotive performance of one of my favorite songs,半岛铁盒, which was intercut by the light-hearted 印地安老斑鸠.
Just like the short piano segment, the medley of 大笨钟, 暗号, 伊斯坦堡 and 龙卷风 was squashed into brevity of one song that did not do any justice to each individual song. Each song started as fast as it ended and fans had no time to enjoy some of this old time favorites.
Mr Jay spent much more time promoting his new songs like 土耳其冰淇淋 and Now you see me which are catchy tunes but probably do not resonate so much with most of the concert-goers. Most people have not really listened to his latest lackluster albums that did not manage to achieve the past successes of his older albums. Songs from the earlier stage of Mr Jay’s career like 给我一首歌的时间 from 魔杰座 and爷爷泡的茶 from 八度空间 commanded more attention and participation from the audience compared to new songs.
Not all the songs from the newest album are weak. Some newer songs like 告白气球 and 说走就走 are easy to listen to but they are similar to Mr Jay’s older songs. For example, 告白气球 sounds like the usual trope of love songs like 星情, 暗号, 浪漫手机 while the upbeat 说走就走 bears some resemblance to 简单爱, 麦芽糖, 甜甜的.
For the last 16 years, Mr Jay has been replicating his successful formula of “Chou Style” and producing popular Chinese songs. In my research paper, I used the term “Chou Style” to describe his unique brand of music which consists of an innovative hybrid of musical styles. During the early stage of his career, Mr Jay experimented with a wide spectrum of musical styles and created a new genre of music in the Chinese popular music industry. However, in the recent years, he has not been making much breakthrough in his music and the newer albums contain a mishmash of songs which sound similar but not as good as his older songs.
Despite his mediocre output lately, Mr Jay is still undoubtedly the reigning pop star in the Chinese entertainment industry based on his past achievements. One of the main appeal of Mr Jay is his charisma and it was on full display when he engaged the crowd, especially four lucky fans who were given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to select a song of their choice and sing with their idol. A love-struck fan had a dream duet of all time with 屋顶; a brave fan tried to sing in tune to 甜甜的; a fan club president chose 妳听得到 and a pretty fan sang a new song 前世情人. Overall, it was an entertaining but time-consuming segment. While Mr Jay was very spontaneous to interact with these fans and fulfill their wishes, some fans felt that the time could be spent singing more songs to satisfy the rest of the audience.
The concert lasted for close to 2.5 hours and concluded with the crowd-pleasing 七里香 which had everyone singing in union. After the concert ended, some of my friends and I felt rather disappointed. In spite of the efforts invested in the props and sets, the concert was marred with problems like uneven pacing, lack of a cohesive concert theme, weak/limited selection of songs, and a glaring absence of Mr Jay’s signature “China Wind” songs. Mr Jay definitely has great showmanship and talent but these elements cannot salvage a concert that failed to live up to its potential and was ultimately forgettable.
Will I pay to attend another Mr Jay’s concert again? Hmm maybe I will just live in my memories of the past concerts.
最美的爱情 (演唱会) 回忆里待续
Jay Chou Invincible Singapore Concert Review (3 Sept 2016) Song List
水手怕水 (short interlude with projection)
10. 屋顶 (duet with the audience)
11. TRY (with Patrick Brasca)
12. 我的时代 (Patrick Brasca solo)
3年2班 (short interlude by Gary)
将军 (short interlude by 弹头)
16. 爸 我回来了
20.大笨钟/ 暗号 / 伊斯坦堡 /龙卷风 medley
夜的第7章 & 前世情人 (piano)
22. Now you see me
27. 屋顶 / 甜甜的 / 妳听得到 / 前世情人 (karaoke with fans)