Jay Chou, Karen Mok Win Top Golden Melody Awards in Taiwan
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- It's been a milestone year for Jay Chou. The Asian pop sensation marked a decade in the music business with his 10th studio album, which became the latest in his recent string of best-sellers. He also made his Hollywood debut by playing Kato in the hit action film comedy The Green Hornet.
The Taiwan singer-songwriter added to an already decorated year on Saturday by clinching the top awards at his home island's 22nd Golden Melody Awards - Chinese pop's answer to the Grammys - picking up the best Mandarin album and best Mandarin male singer trophies for his recent release Cross-generation.
Industry veteran Jonathan Lee also had a strong showing, sweeping song of the year, best composer and best lyricist for his single Jonathan's Song. The soul-searching look at a man's love life was a product of his "Super Band" collaboration with fellow Chinese pop standouts Emil Chau, Lo Da-yu and Chang Chen-yue, which yielded a year-long tour and two albums.
The award for Best Mandarin female performer went to Hong Kong's Karen Mok, who showcased her jazzy and laid-back vocals on the CD Precious.
Chou, who has won 13 Golden Melody trophies over his career, was playful in his acceptance speech after clinching best Mandarin singer, joking about his superstitious belief that he tended to win when he didn't attend the awards ceremony.
"The Golden Melody jury is different every year. I like the one this year," he said. "I've always debated whether or not to attend the awards ceremony. Usually when I skip it I win the big prizes. Thanks to the jury for changing my mind."
Chou's logic seemed to apply to Lee. The veteran singer-songwriter missed the Saturday night ceremony at Taipei Arena because of work obligations.
He said of Jonathan's Song in a statement published in the ceremony's official booklet: "This isn't just a song. This is the cry of the soul of everyone who is in love."
Mok, who was also named best female singer in 2002, was emotional when her win was announced, raising her trophy aloft in celebration. She wrote all the songs on the album, a collaboration with famed Chinese producer Zhang Yadong, who oversaw several of Hong Kong diva Faye Wong's albums.
"I can't believe I've won this award the second time. The more I win this prize, the more I want to win it again. I am addicted to it," she said.
Taiwan's Eric Hung was named best producer for the album Flower of Love, which drew inspiration from the classic songs of his father, legendary Taiwan singer Hung I-feng, who passed away last year.
A smaller version of the massive Japanese girl band AKB48 -- which has 58 members -- was guest performer. Dressed in identical blue scarves, ruffled white dresses and white boots, 16 members of the group waved their hands and swayed their bodies through two fast numbers and thanked the Taiwan public for their donations to Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief.
Three AKB48 members also joined Calvin Chen and Jiro Wang of Taiwan boy band Fahrenheit as presenters for the best lyricist and best pop group prizes.
Taiwan pop diva A-Mei Chang anchored a tribute to late Chinese pop composers, singing a medley of their works with orchestra backing.
Organizers also presented seven awards to musicians performing in Taiwan's aboriginal, Min and Hakka dialects, in a nod to the linguistic diversity of the country's music industry. Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou announced the best aboriginal album and congratulated the winners.
Aboriginal musicians also crossed over in the main categories, with aboriginal reggae group Matzka taking home the best rock group honors.
Best pop group went to Da Mouth, the Taiwan-Japanese hip-hop group that has drawn comparisons to the Black Eyed Peas. Da Mouth also prevailed in the same category in 2008.
The winner of the lifetime achievement award was Huang Min, a veteran composer and producer of Mandarin and Min dialect pop. Huang was also honored with a medley performance of his classic songs.
The Golden Melody Awards recognize outstanding achievement by singers, songwriters and producers mostly from Taiwan and Hong Kong.