A fun, warm and gentle Jay Chou
This Mandopop superstar has changed from cool guy to doting dad
Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou kick-started his career 16 years ago with the personality of a cool cat.
Unlike cookie-cutter balladeers in the industry, he was effortlessly insouciant.
While others sang earnestly, he rapped as if he was mumbling, in a lackadaisical fashion.
Today, Chou - a 37-year-old father to a one-year-old girl - is a changed man.
With the recent release of his 14th album, Jay Chou's Bedtime Stories, and his current stint as judge-mentor on Sing! China, he has shown the public a fun, warm and gentle side.
In a recent episode of the reality TV singing competition, he started waxing nostalgic after a contestant sang Hong Kong superstar Aaron Kwok's 90s hit, Should I Leave Quietly.
Chou said he loved it as a 12-year-old, and proceeded to sing a few lines, imitating Kwok's raspy vocals and Cantonese-accented Mandarin, making the audience laugh.
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Since his wife, Taiwanese-Australian model Hannah Quinlivan, gave birth to their daughter Hathaway in July last year, he has been living in a blissful daddy bubble.
During interviews, Chou's answers are markedly funnier and more candid than before.
SHE LOVES IT:Jay Chou's country-rock anthem Let's Go is his daughter's favourite. PHOTO: SONY MUSIC
He recalled his maiden diaper-changing experience to Sina.com, saying: "It's quite scary. The first time I saw Hathaway's poop, I felt like handing over my kid to my friends.
"Babies' poop smells like tea leaf eggs."
When asked at what age he would allow his daughter to date, Chou joked: "Of course only when she's 60."
Even the overall concept of Jay Chou's Bedtime Stories is partially inspired by first-time fatherhood - the idea of Chou as a masterful storyteller dishing out 10 colourful, fantastical tales in the form of songs.
He told Taiwan's Liberty Times that out of all his new tunes, Hathaway adored country-rock anthem Let's Go the most.
He said: "The minute I play this track, she jumps up and down on the sofa."
Last month, Chou held a free four-hour autograph-signing event at Taipei's bustling Ximending shopping district, resulting in pandemonium.
According to Taiwan's Chung T'ien Television, the weather was particularly hot that day. A few fans even suffered from heat stroke and had to be treated at the on-site medical booth.
Chou's caring side was on full display. At one point, he reportedly walked down from the stage and over to his fans seated in wheelchairs to sign autographs for them.
Despite being a huge star, his demeanour was down-to-earth and humble.
CROWDPLEASER: (Left) Chou at an autograph signing in Taipei. PHOTO: SONY MUSIC
When the Taiwanese media asked if he felt it was unfair that veteran Hong Kong singer Jacky Cheung had managed to book the coveted Taipei Arena for an upcoming concert while Chou's management was still trying to secure it, he shook his head.
Said Chou: "No, no. Jacky Cheung is the God of Songs. It is only right that he receives priority when it comes to concert venues. I'm a fan of Jacky's too and I'm very happy for him."
Even the hottest celebrities in the world - remember Chou's six-pack abs phase? - cannot escape from aging and slowing metabolism.
In a recent interview with China's QQ.com, he revealed he has piled on 13kg.
CROWDPLEASER: Chou’s visible weight gain. PHOTO: SONY MUSIC
"When I was promoting my album Opus 12 in 2012, I was 62kg. Now, I'm 75kg," he said, jokingly adding that "thankfully, nobody could tell" he had grown fatter.
In fact, his weight gain was quite visible, especially in the publicity photos for Shouldn't Be, his duet with Taiwanese singer A-mei, where he wore a sleeveless black leather top.
Casting his once-hunky image aside for now, Chou professed to be "greedy" with "a weakness for desserts". It also doesn't help that Quinlivan is great at baking.
At a promotional event for Jay Chou's Bedtime Stories in Beijing last month, some Chinese fans in attendance even held banners that read: "Jay, time to go on a diet!"