Both the hottest figures in the young Chinese pop generation, Jay Chou and Nicholas Tse actually have few things in common: the 24-year-old Taipei native Chou is a practical, disciplined Capricorn, whose sensual ballad and quiet pop tunes once even left Grag David in thrall, while the Hong Kong-based Tse, 19 months younger and a shy Virgo, has thrilled millions of teen fans with a rebellious type featuring a signature guitar-smashing on-stage style.
No matter how they differ from each other, the two idols-of-the-day reach unanimity this time as they will respectively hold a solo concert within one week in early December. "Nicholas Tse 2003 Live Shanghai" is his first solo after a grand comeback ceremony was held in Hong Kong on January 23, which marks Tse's return to the entertainment circle since he was convicted conspiracy in a highway car crash cover-up scandal last March and was ordered to a 240-hour community service.
In addition to the "face-off" trial, his love affair with Hong Kong pop diva Faye Wong, 11 years his senior, is always the cover story on entertainment publications. However, Tse said at a recent news conference that music is the only thing he wants the media to focus on about him.
"I have put all my understandings of life in my music and I'm sure you will be impressed if you come to my concert," said a smiling Tse when someone asked if he likes Wong's latest hit "To Love" which is dedicated to him.
Jay Chou, a practical, disciplined Capricorn
The upcoming Shanghai concert features a collection of more than 20 songs from his 11 albums in last four years, including household pieces like "Thanks For Your Love," "Because of Love" and "Jade Butterfly." During the performance, Tse will wear a suit of white costume with a giant pair of wings, stretching at nearly three meters, on his back to indicate that he's just a fallen angel who is about to revive his life and career. Tse's best friend, pop singer Eason Chan, will appear as the only guest performer, which is another treat for most Canto-pop enthusiasts.
Compared with the fine-looking Tse, Jay Chou's existence and popularity in an industry where transient pop stars and prepackaged icons abound is really a wonder. Chou began to capture public attention in November 2000 when he composed all the 10 songs for his debut album "Jay," through which all his fans were fascinated by his unique R&B style. Although David Tao and Lee-hom Wong have both been around for a while, it was Chou's debut that waves of Mandarin rappers and R&B singers to take over the Chinese-speaking market.
"I am fed up with those pretty boys who could barely carry a tune or those bands only good for dance steps," says Yang Chen, a 22-year-old marketing assistant of an advertising company. Chou's "Never By Rules -- Jay Chou Live Shanghai" concert will be a "music carnival" as he put it. He will feast the city with more than 30 of his most famous productions, including "Tornado," "Love Before the Century," as well as a bunch of the latest hits from his new album "Yeh Hui-mei," which is named after his mother.
"It is the music that really matters, more than the appearance, the moves and the images," notes Yang, who is among the 50,000-strong fans to attend the concert. Face versus talent still remains a core issue in the pop industry. No matter which is to take a lion's share, the concert season is greeting a new high tide.