When a woman from Wuhan fell into a coma last year her unexpected route back to consciousness came courtesy of the music of Jay Chou.
The 24 year-old patient, who had remained unconscious since last November, started moving her legs after a male nurse sang songs to her every day, says Wuhan Evening News. “I listened to Jay Chou’s songs growing up, so I thought maybe she’d like them, too,” recalled Peng Keling, the nurse. “Doctors all came to her bed while I kept singing the songs she liked.” After the patient came out of her coma the nurse asked how well he had sang. “Not bad,” was her response.
Chou’s newest song If You Don’t Love Me, It’s Fine has proved a less welcome jolt for his fans around the country. Last week the ballad about a girl leaving her boyfriend was one of the most talked-about topics on social media. On streaming site Miaopai, the music video was viewed over 16 million times on the first day of its release.
However, netizens mostly took offence with the lyrics, calling them “tacky” and “cringing” owing to some fairly coarse sexual innuendo. The chorus of the song, for instance, has a line about leaning on his chest where one of the words has the double meaning of an expletive.
“If Jay Chou released this song 10 years ago, people would definitely say this song sucks because the lyrics don’t rhyme, it’s so blunt, and there is no subtlety. Today, we will simply describe the lyrics as ‘poor taste,’” comments Jiemian, a portal.
Other fans took to Sina Weibo to plead with famous lyricist Fang Wenshan, a long-time collaborator of Chou’s, to do a makeover. “Teacher Fang, how much do you charge for writing lyrics? We are happy to crowd-fund the project for Jay,” one wrote.
“Wenshan, you need to put a stop to Chou’s ‘casual’ songwriting style,” another urged.
Chou’s album sales have been in decline since 2008, when they regularly surpassed five million. Although Bedtime Story was the biggest digital album of 2016, with two million downloads, that was far less sales than his earlier releases.
Of course, album sales in general are declining due to streaming but popular review site Douban notes Chou’s latest records were rated 7 out of 10, compared with 8.5 out of 10 for his earlier work.
“For most people, Jay Chou [who started his musical career around 2000] defined our youth. He wasn’t just a music legend but a symbol of our youth. He represents the spirit of the post-80s generation: their courage to rebel and their sensitivities. His music has become a collective memory, a certain kind of nostalgia,” wrote one blogger. “But this time, when we put on our headphones ready for a trip down memory lane, the song failed to strike a chord with us. In fact, the song was such a massive disappointment we all felt compelled to unleash our wrath on social media.”
Other critics went on to question whether his happy home life – the 39 year-old singer is married to actress-model Hannah Quinlivan, 24, with whom he has two children – is prompting a creative drought.
“The greatest cost of happiness is probably the loss of creativity,” advised NetEase Entertainment, a portal. “It is like a soft cloud that lifts you up so gently, so you don’t have to think about the pain and misery of common people. He can no longer write the songs that once made him famous.”
Chou was unfazed by all the criticism, writing on his personal Instagram: “Listen to the music with an open mind, because what matters is that the song makes you feel good. I’ve written a lot of songs with thought-provoking lyrics, so I decided on a more light-hearted song this time round. Like the title of my song, if you don’t love me, it’s fine.”
© ChinTell Ltd. All rights reserved.
Exclusively sponsored by HSBC.
The Week in China website and the weekly magazine publications are owned and maintained by ChinTell Limited, Hong Kong. Neither HSBC nor any member of the HSBC group of companies ("HSBC") endorses the contents and/or is involved in selecting, creating or editing the contents of the Week in China website or the Week in China magazine. The views expressed in these publications are solely the views of ChinTell Limited and do not necessarily reflect the views or investment ideas of HSBC. No responsibility will therefore be assumed by HSBC for the contents of these publications or for the errors or omissions therein.