Oh, Chinese Idol is over and we have a winner

Chinese Idol, Li Xiangxiang.

Chinese Idol, Li Xiangxiang. (Prepare yourself for a angst-ridden piece of writing).

Chinese Idol 中国梦之声 debuted as one of the most promising reality singing contests of 2013, but suffered from poor formatting during its live performance rounds and everybody lost interest as abruptly as this opening sentence.

Sunday’s three-hour finale, which featured performances from the Idol judges (including a bearded Huang Xiaoming), Show Luo 罗志祥, and international guest star Lionel Richie, saw Li Xiangxiang 李祥祥 upset heavy favourite “Goddess” Yangjima 央吉玛 to become the first Chinese Idol.
Li Xiangxiang, who is kind of handsome but probably not handsome enough to justify his being called handsome so many times on the show, will sign a recording deal with Universal Music Group as part of his winnings. Runner-up Yangjima, an ethnic Monpa folk singer from Tibet who is not actually a real goddess, is also expected to score a record deal in the Idol aftermath.

And if you thought that this reality TV singing contest would only have two finalists in the grand finale, well, you’d be wrong. Entirely reasonable in your assumption, but wrong. At the beginning of the episode, six singers were still in contention for the Idol crown.

Kazakh singer A-lai 阿来 was the first to be eliminated, singing 在那遥远的地方 (In That Distant Place). Kazakh singer A-lai was also the most proficient musician of the group and the best male vocalist. Poor A-lai…

Next to fall was James 杨永聪, whose sort of good looks and endearingly poor Mandarin made him an early fan favourite. Apparently not too fussed about Han Hong’s warnings that a Chinese Idol should sing in Chinese, James performed One Republic’s Apologize as his mother and grandmother sat in the audience.

An old fashioned rocker of sorts, Hou Lei 侯磊 was eliminated on his performance of 山丘 (Hills). His two backup dancers’ routine seemed to consist mostly of walking up and sliding down a ramp with various arm movements.

Thus finalising the top three. Why is there even a top three? What is the significance of three people? Honestly, this show…

“Queen” Effie 艾菲, who I did not know was nicknamed “Queen” until a few minutes ago, was eliminated with a very respectable rendition of Beyoncé’s Listen. Once she gets into it in the second half of the song, this is probably the best live version of this song from a Chinese singer.

For the final showdown, Yangjima performed a song titled 央吉玛 Yangjima, presumably about herself.

Li Xiangxiang sang Wang Leehom’s 落叶归根 (Falling Leaves Return to Their Roots)

A short intermission brought the Malaysian winner of Asian Wave 声动亚洲, Shila Amzah, on stage with the Top 12 Idol contestants to sing the Mandarin version of Kelly Clarkson’s A Moment Like This, which doubled as the show’s theme song.

Oh, and then Li Xiangxiang won. And that’s it!

37 thoughts on “Oh, Chinese Idol is over and we have a winner

  1. I like Yang Ji Ma’s finale song. It was her own written song about herself. The song would have been perfect had she let the chorus run and expanded it for another 20-30 seconds.

  2. Just found a youtube video of Yunggiema singing with a man in yellow pants. Can anyone tell me his name? That was one of the most beautiful duets ever performed. The stage background, the musicians, the guy in yellow, and Yunggiema all came together to create something magical. Most replies to the video are in Asian dialect so cannot interpret them but seems only Yunggiema is getting any love. While her voice is angelic and she is quite beautiful, with the exception of that duet, she sounds the same in everything else, very average. That duet was extrordinary, with both singers reaching into my soul and elavating me to another level of consiousness for 4mins. I would pay to see the two of them singing together. Congratulations to both for being immortalized.

      • Lulupony, your the best. That’s him and I found some of his videos online. Much appreciated. If you have a moment, were all of the contestants professional singers? The quality of music was very high for an amateur contest? And, the one lady judge with long hair, very interesting to watch her listening, do you know her name. Thanks so much Lulupony.

        • Not all of the finalist contestants were professionals, but the trend these days is for similar shows to feature at least one semi-professional singer.
          The judge is Coco Lee. She sang the theme song to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon back in the day.

    • Here is another video of him singing a classic Mongolian folk song, Grand Goose (the title sounds a lot better in Chinese), which happens to be one of my favorites.

          • I just finished listening to several songs I found online by 相逢在草原. While looking I found other songs I enjoyed as well so now building an easy listening folder. Thanks Lulupony for all your help!

  3. Yunggiema for me! She is the best and now am hooked to her music styles. Its like taking me to other dimension when she sings.:)

    From Manila, Philippines.

  4. I just discovered Yangjima by chance, and I am glad I did. I am not from China and I never knew there was a Chinese Idol last year. But during one of my random browsing episodes on Youtube I just happened to come across the Beautiful and Ethereal Yangjima singing a wonderful rendition along with another male contestant whose name I don’t Know, since then I have been hooked. I dont understand chinese nor the dialect which Yangjima sometimes seem to sing in, but I just now started to believe that music transcends boundaries and languages. I do have to agree with some of you people here and confess that Yangjima has that endearing persona about her and her voice and singing just some how makes me feel like I am connected to mother nature, everytime I hear her divine voice I feel like i am being transported to a different world filled with only peace. Well, I must admit she certainly is angelic and out of this world. I have just decided that if there is anything that I would really want to one day would be to sit in front of this beautiful angel and hear her sing for real. And by the way my Chinese friends I am from India and I am glad to make your acquaintance. Peace.

  5. the fact is Yang Ji Ma is from Tibet. and it’s a ‘Chinese’ idol competition. You should know the feud between the Chinese and Tibetan. To me, Yang Ji Ma is an absolute winner she lost for the fact that shes a Tibetan ! Xiangxiang is just average honestly.

    • I think Benji and other commentors have already showed that the conspiracy theory just doesn’t hold. Purba Rgyal won My Hero in 2006, Quniciren won Dragon Angels in 2009. And then there’s Zhaxi Dunzhu from My Hero in 2007 (also Tibetan), He Jie from Super Girls in 2006, Fu Mengni in 2009, Li Sidanni in 2011, etc.

      If anything, the statistics would seem to show they have a higher chance of winning. Take the 2009 Dragon Angels for example -1st, 3rd, 6th, 9th and 11th were all ethnic minorities, including two Tibetan, one Uyghur, one Hui and one Korean. The latest season of Super Boys saw in the top “ten” an Uyghur, a Kazakh, a Hakka, and a Hui( I think?). Considering that ethnic minorities take up only 8% of the overall Chinese population, I definitely don’t see any discrimination against minorities in the pattern of choosing singing competition winners.

    • It’s always good to do some research before saying something. If that’s not possible, try making your statements less forceful. You hurt less people and leave some room for yourself if you are proven wrong.

      In my personal opinion, most Chinese people that I know are extremely sensitive to ethnic issues, more than the typical people I talk to. They carry this out to the point of even sometimes being criticized in the Chinese community for “reverse discriminating” against their own kind. This is something that I have seen few other groups be able to accomplish, especially when it takes place on a more personal level.

      If you are going to make an argument, you should be able to address all sides of it and have some knowledge of what you are doing. Just for reference but being proven that you are just carelessly throwing around accusations is extremely damaging to your reputation in Chinese society.

  6. My sincere thanks to Benji and Idarklight for enlightening with some facts on ethnic minorities in China, points taken. Forgive my ignorance I am from England,
    Politics aside……..I know its a sore point
    So you do agree that the judges are being told who to vote for, even if its for TV commercialism. You don’t care if the public is taken for a ride?, the producers manipulating and deceiving the contestants and public. You are happy with that?
    My heart goes to those contestants who sing their heart out and then being told they are not good enough, crying with emotion and later found out its their face do not fit and not because of their talent.
    In competition everyone remember the winner. Nobody and nobody remember who came second .How would you feel if its you?
    I do feel aggrieved for Yangjima , I feel she’s being robbed
    Same for Jike Junyi (Summer) She’s being robbed too
    I am converted, I am massive fan of both of them
    and I don’t write chinese or speak mandrin

    • I think you’re taking singing competitions too seriously. Chinese Idol isn’t even big enough for anyone to remember who won. Heck, I don’t even remember who won the Voice of China and that was pretty big. If you look at the Voice of China, the one who’s the most successful is inarguably Wu Mochou, and it’s because she has a company that promoted her afterwards, not because of what place she got or didn’t get.
      For Yangjima, given her style of music, unless she a) joins the PLA or b)can write her own songs, she’ll never find a company that will be able to produce songs that fit her style and are good. If you’re not marketable and have no company to support you, then even if you won you’ll never make it.

    • If the judges weren’t told who to vote for directly, they were at least being told to skew their comments to favour certain contestants.That’s long been a staple of the Idol franchise.
      But I think you’re placing too much emphasis on winning the competition. American Idol runnerup Clay Aiken was much more successful than Ruben Studdard, the ultimate winner. Jennifer Hudson came seventh and won an Academy Award. Fourth-place Chris Daughtry is much more successful than any of the Idol finalists from his season. In China, third-place Super Girl Jane Zhang is tremendously popular. Jike Junyi is also doing reasonably well for herself now that you mention it.
      Based on overall talent, A Lai was probably most deserving to win this season. And, two years on, I’m still really bothered by Zhang Jiaojiao 张姣皎 not winning Blossoming Flowers 2011.
      But, you know, all these shows are designed to elicit this kind of a response. Passionate viewers create buzz for the show, which brings in more eyeballs and more advertising revenue. But don’t worry. Given the recent trend in Chinese reality television, we’ll probably see all of these contestants back on different singing contests next year anyway~

    • benji and idarklight bring up good points. There is definitely some skewing in this competition but don’t think too much about it. The judge Wang Weizhong runs the competition “Xing Guang Da Dao” and the way he acts in this show is really different so… yeah…

      As idarklight mentioned and many people are coming to realize now, these competitions are just an opportunity to put yourself out there. They are trying to find people with good voices. However, if you want to really be successful in the industry, you need a lot of other things such as a person who can write good music if you can’t do it yourself, a good agent who will fight to get you the opportunities to be successful, a good company, etc. You really can’t be lacking in any of these areas. The whole reason why Aska Yang wasn’t that famous until he went into “I am a Singer” and got Faye Wong talking about him was because he got held up in a dispute with his agent after he came out in the Xing Guang Da Dao singing competition.

      That’s why I’ve never really liked watching singing competitions to begin with. They are never a really good predictor of success. They only select out good voices. In order to be successful, you really need so much more than a good voice such as the ability to improvise in case nobody wants to throw good music your way. Also, opportunities after the competition are not always distributed in order of competition results.

      That’s why I’ve been watching “Wo Yao Dang Ge Shou” instead. For one, the formatting is really different and refreshing and I also feel that it is a bit more “fair”… maybe…

      Basically, for every episode, you have 6 new peoples and 6 old peoples from the previous episode who PK one-on-one, new person versus old person. 6 “winners” advance the the next episode and 5 “losers” are dropped (The audience gets to vote and pick one “loser” to save and bring back for the next episode. That “loser” becomes part of the 6 new people pool next round.). If you are able to stay in the competition long enough and gather enough points based on what the judges give you each round, you will eventually “graduate” from the program and be able to release a single. However, if you are kicked off, your points convert to cash in some way so at least there is some compensation… dunno… just seems fairer to me but… meh…

    • Sorry. One more thing, tom30. It’s not that we don’t care about how the competition is run. It’s just that singing is a very subjective art. There are so many different types of voices and ways to sing and express yourself that it really comes down to preference when everybody can perform at a very high level. When things come down to preference, there will always be some favoritism and and skewing taking place. It’s almost part of the fabric of the art. If the people running the show are able to keep it in check, that is a godsend to the competitors. If not, well, bear with it and keep grinning. I am sure there are some examples of this everywhere, no matter where you go, not just because this is China and we kinda get a bad rap from the Western media for it. People like throwing up airs. I mean, even in the work place, there is politics and favoritism at play when it is simply assessing effort, much less something so subjective. It’s just the bad formatting made things so apparent here. Think about it. It is also possible that many of the competitions that we watch normally also have similar things playing underneath. It’s just that we aren’t able to see it.

      What is important is that these people have been given the opportunity to put themselves out there in order to attract possible opportunities. I mean, if you really look at singing competitions, how many singers actually come out and start a career smoothly after competing? It’s really rare. What’s important is that they got their names out there in case anybody has an opportunity at hand and wants to find somebody.

      Also, people do remember seconds and even thirds and all the way down. This is evident from The Voice of China, Xing Guang Da Dao, Super Girl, and other competitions. Maybe this is because this is Asia and the culture is a bit different but …meh… they got their names out there. Let’s see what life brings them.

  7. As I predicted politics at it again, how else can you explain as in all the previous round after round all 4 judges have been heaping praises on Yangjima calling her voice of an angel from heaven, she is beautiful, charismatic and sexy(not provocatively dress dance or posing) the complete package. Normally you will have judges preferring one to the other but to have all 4 voting for the same contestant its definitely smell fishy. The audience who voted got it right because there are so many of them they cannot be told to vote against it. This same 4 predicted superstardom for her not very long ago and in a matter of weeks voted against her, I only hope they will put hand on heart and come clean, tell the truth. Did you notice none of them were interview why they vote against her.
    Yangjima is ethnic menba from Tibet and politics dictate she will not win , a Hun(majority) will win the most popular show in China .Yangjima is buddhist and she sing buddhist mantra and hymns.
    with her band.
    In case you are wondering I am Hun and not other ethnics. All I want to see is a fair contest and may the best person win.
    The audience voted and through popular feedbacks we know the right person did not win and all because the 4 chicken shit so call judges were too scare to carry out their duty

    • I agree that the judges might have been told to favour a certain contestant. This happens in every Idol series because the contestants are essentially the cast of the show, and the producers want a certain lineup to keep the narrative interesting. But I don’t see this being a matter of ethnic politics at all.

      There are plenty of popular singers in China who are Buddhist and sing Buddhist-themed songs: Sa Dingding, Alan, Faye Wong, Li Na before her retirement (to become a Buddhist nun no less), just to name a few. Even more, Han Hong, one of the judges, is Tibetan, from Tibet, and also arguably one of the most famous singers in China.
      Nor does China have a problem with non-Han people winning talent shows. Given that they make up around 8% of China’s population, ethnic minorities in China are already vastly overrepresented on Chinese television screens. This is even more true for Tibetans, who make up less than half a percent of China’s population. Purba Rgyal and Tashi Dhondup are both examples of successful Tibetan reality TV contestants. And if you look at those two, they fit the same mould as Li Xiangxiang, being young, handsome(ish) and marketable.

      That being said, Yangjima coming second was probably all part of the producers’ narrative for the show. The show needs contrasts. So the finale should ideally be between a boy and a girl with different singing styles. The top six contestants were all really different from each other, so that’s ticked off. But they also needed a winner who will be successful and carry the legacy of the Chinese Idol franchise. So Li Xiangxiang it was.
      This is all part of the Idol format. Not everything in China is politics. Sometimes people just want to watch TV.

      • I am not very sure i agree to what you have said. After listening to Yang Ji Ma singing La Shak, i really have the sudden urge to book a tour to see this place. She has used her voice to portray this beautiful land and is a true embassador for China. The fact that makes people really unhappy and puzzled is that for every round, the 4 magnificent judges praised Yang Ji as Goddess and one who has perfect vocal variety and range and yet at the last round, all four unanimously voted agaianst her !! It really make the ending suck !!

    • To add to Benji’s list, also Quni Ciren from Dragon Angels. In fact, if you look at the history of Dragon TV’s reality “singing” competitions, a disporportionate of them have been Tibetan given that they’ve had two Tibetan winners over the four years they’ve done such competitions (five if you count this one).

  8. I have to say, Li Xiangxiang is the person I least expected to win but now that I look at it, it does make sense for him to win, he seems like a very marketable artist. Does anyone else find it funny now that when they interviewed Show Luo at the beginning of the show they asked him who he thought could win and “be like him”? Hehe cause people always say that LXX looks like Xiao Zhu

    I really wanted Ai Fei to win, and I thought her rendition of Listen was really good, especially towards the end. And her singing showed a LOT of improvement through the competition. I completely agree with Huang Xiaoming, China does lack Beyonce-esque artists.

    Tbh, this might be an uncommon opinion but I really thought Yangjima should’ve been eliminated earlier. There were a few performances in the middle where she completely fell flat and it really made me cringe watching her. I feel like she sounds really good whenever she’s singing with other people but then on her own… It just doesn’t win me over as well.

    Oh, and I completely agree. The format ruined the show omg. I wanted to throw tomatoes at the tv every ep cause it just pissed me off.

  9. I lost interest after the top 16….and switched to watching The Voice instead, since the format is more interesting and quite different. At least in the Voice, all of the mentors/judges are singers (heck, they have A-mei on the mentor team) and the blind auditions part is always fun to watch. After top 16, there’s just too much drama on the Idol series :/

  10. Just out of curiosity, could anybody who was following this show explain to me how Deng Xiaokun jumped back into the competition? I thought she was eliminated but after a while she was back in. I never really followed this show but gleaned a bit about it from time to time so my understanding may be… meh…

    • There was a “counterattack” round after the Top 12 where eliminated contestants had a chance to return to the show. An online vote brought back the most popular eliminated contestants to sing against the finalists, and a contestant who could beat two of the finalists in a row would be reinstated in the competition.
      At the end of it all, Sun Ziyou was eliminated and Deng Xiaokun was brought back in.

      But the whole show was kind of strange because they’d eliminate contestants, and have them come back the next week to perform, anyway. This show… formatting issues…= _ =

      • … REALLY?!? Bringing people back is a major no-no for competitions in general… since it leaves lots of people dissatisfied and even the people who made it this far feel like their efforts are being put down. It also seriously detracts from the reputation of the competition in the eyes of the general public… ugh….

  11. I thought that this show was a pretty high budget one but I was not interested in it. The show is a bit too “fake” which I’m really sad to say since I like Huang Xiao Ming. I think they chose the wrong judges. HXM is not suitable to be a judge. In 最强音 Zhang Ziyi is a girl and a pretty flower vase so it is still bearable to watch her.

    I have only been watching it for Yang Ji Ma even though I was getting a bit bored with her songs which are pretty much the same as pointed out by Wang Weizhong at the beginning. But she has a very special aura and singing style that just keeps me wanting to see how far can she go.

    The final ep was pretty weird in the sense that some of the songs are sang by them before. For example, Gan Lan Shu and another by Hou Lei if I’m not wrong??

    • In my opinion, I like Yang Ji ma’s connection to music more than her vocal. I actually think her voice is kind of thin and the range is limited. But when listening to her, I feel the bond with the Earth’s warmth, fresh breeze blowing through endless fields, I see the majestic mountains, and people who are pure in their hearts. Don’t know how to express it, but it seems to me that I feel the connection with nature more than ever.

  12. Yangjima won me over with her unique voice and singing style :-) Her new get-up is so modern compared to her loose hair and gown/robe attire before

    Li Xiang Xiang is only alright looking-wise, I remember seeing a video of his earlier performances but didn’t think he would be the eventual winner!

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