Finalists from both seasons of I Am A Singer return to the stage to duel it out, with a surprise twist.
Finalists from both seasons of I Am A Singer return to the stage to duel it out, with a surprise twist.

Have I just not been paying attention all this time, or are those sponsored beverages a lot more prominent in this episode? I don’t even know what they are. But I want to drink them.

This special episode pit the finalists of the first I Am A Singer 我是歌手 season against the recently concluded second season finalists. Season one finalist Huang Qishan, who appeared in last week’s finale, was absent in this episode and was instead replaced by Laure Shang. (Oh, I’m sure she had a very good reason for not being there.)
Just to note, some performances have not been uploaded onto HunanTV’s official YouTube channel. We’ll try and work our way around that.

The format differed slightly from previous I Am A Singer episodes. Instead of the usual free-for-all sing-off, season one and season two singers were paired together and went head-to-head in solo rounds. Some match ups were good. Some could have been better. The show started with a good one.


HAN LEI vs TERRY LIN

Terry referred to Han Lei as “younger brother,” which surprised a bunch of people since Han Lei, at 45, looks a lot older than the 48-year-old Terry Lin. Some netizens said he looked 60. Poor Han Lei. It’s those eye bags of his.

Han Lei 韩磊
Scent 味道

Han Lei hadn’t done a non-folk song in a while, so his take on this Winnie Hsin classic ballad was a pleasant change of pace. If I had been 17 in the mid-90s, I totally would have slow danced to this song at some high school dance. In a good way. This was a good performance. It kind of made me want to watch the Sabrina the Teenage Witch movie… the original one, before Caroline Rhea got involved.

Terry Lin 林志炫
瞬间永恒 + I Can Wait Forever

I spent half of the first season hating Terry Lin. His voice are boring. All his performances sound the same. He looks like an Asian Steve Jobs crossed with a barn owl. I don’t know. I just never liked him. So, as much as I hate to admit it, this was pretty good, too.


JULIA PENG vs GARY CHAW

A slightly unusual pairing, but some good vocal chops between the two.

Julia Peng 彭佳慧
Little Town of Lukang 鹿港小镇

For those curious, Lukang is a town in Taiwan famed for its temples and small town charm. Julia Peng is not from Lukang. She did manage to pull off a commendable performance, however. Despite her strong vocals, Julia was overshadowed by Huang Qishan’s even bigger voice in the first season. This performance was powerful enough to thrust her back into the spotlight.

Gary Chaw 曹格
剪爱 + 听海

(audio only)

Gary high fives everyone in the green room before taking to the stage. “Boleh!” Shila yells in encouragement, meaning “you can do it” in Malay. Or something to that effect.
What’s with Gary’s suit? I think I’ve seen that floral pattern before. My octogenarian neighbours use it on all their upholstery.
Gary sang two, awkward-to-translate A-mei songs. Cut Love? Listen to the Sea? You probably already know them, anyway. Gary was accompanied on the piano by his mentor, Tu Huiyan 涂惠源, which might explain the absence of his ex-wife Huang Qishan. Gary usually performs well when it’s just him and a piano, but the slightly edgier rendition of Listen to the Sea could have been better. He’s always singing that song, after all, and he usually nails it.


SHILA AMZAH vs ASKA YANG

Taiwan vs Malaysia, round two. They couldn’t have done Julia versus Shila, and Gary versus Aska? That seems more logical to me. But, oh well.

Shila Amzah
The Only One 唯一

Shila sings a lot of Wang Leehom 王力宏 songs, and this performance was very typically Shila. Which means her fans will think it’s the best thing ever, and I will think it’s a glaring display of her vocal limitations. Still, she didn’t do too badly this time.

Aska Yang 杨宗纬
True Love 底细

All right, so “底細” doesn’t really translate to “true love,” but that’s supposedly the official English name. Aska is one of a few first season singers who scored a judging role on a reality singing contest after the season’s run.
G.E.M sips something from her thermos lid during the performance. It doesn’t look like any of the green or red drinks plastered behind her or on the table in front of her. The sponsors are probably sad.
After the performance, Aska and Shila semi-hug and walk off together, relieved for it to be over. The host asks them if they knew each other before the show. They didn’t. But they sure get along chummily.


LAURE SHANG vs ZHANG JIE

Despite being eliminated in last season’s run and therefore not qualifying as a finalist, Laure Shang is back to perform, replacing Huang Qishan. Super Girl vs Super Boy. A challenge between Super Girls Laure Shang and Bibi Zhou would have been much more satisfying, though.

Laure Shang 尚雯婕
Empire State of Mind

This was an unusually flawed performance/fashion show for the Super Girl champion. Actually, the fashion show was all right. Models catwalked on the stage during the performance, showcasing a range of labels that quickly scrolled across the bottom of the screen. Some of the outfits were worn by Laure in the first season of I Am A Singer.
Despite being a fluent English speaker, her pronunciation was weak at points, and major pitch issues wasted the second half of the performance. Still, a couple strong lines offered glimpses of what could have been a great rendition of an otherwise promising song choice. A studio recording with all the kinks ironed out, perhaps.

Jay Z’s rap was also absent, with Laure performing the Alicia Keys solo version. Remember when she rapped the Black Eyed Peas last year?
Three people walked alongside her to carry the frills of her mermaid dress as they walked backstage to take pose for some photos. Look at all the white people. It’s like the opposite of a Gwen Stefani video.

Zhang Jie 张杰
He Doesn’t Understand 他不懂

(audio only)

Hey, I think I’ve seen this suit on furniture, too. An ottoman, I think. Zhang Jie performed his own ballad. It was powerful, emotive, and overall much better than Laure Shang’s performance. Superboy is, after all, one of the strongest characters in the DC Universe.


G.E.M vs YU QUAN

Another moment that makes you wish Huang Qishan was back on stage. G.E.M and Huang Qishan both earned the nickname “Lungs of Steel” during their runs on the show. Alas, that vocal showndown was not to be.

G.E.M 邓紫棋
Imagine

I imagine this is what it would have sounded like if the song had been performed at the opening ceremony of the 1996 Summer Olympics. For those too young to remember, the 1996 Summer Olympics were held in Atlanta, and Celine Dion sang the theme song, The Power of the Dream. It was pretty good.
But with the I Am A Singer stage not being an Olympic opening ceremony, it was just a bit too much. G.E.M’s vocals lacked the legato and fluidity that would have made this performance great.
Beijing and Zhangjiakou have entered a joint bid to co-host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Maybe G.E.M is just auditioning for a shot to perform at the opening ceremony. G.E.M would be good. Or at least not Sarah Brightman again. Man, do I hate Sarah Brightman.

Yu Quan 羽泉
Roaming 走四方

(begins around 1:30)

It’s weird when an emcee can introduce himself onto the stage that he’s already on. Last season’s winning duo took on one of the songs that won Han Lei this year’s title. They’re an oddly dressed group. It’s poppier than Han Lei’s version. Everyone is out of their seats. The audience is singing along. What ever happened to power pop, anyway?


Is it just me, or does this audience member look like a Chinese Oprah?
Is it just me, or does this audience member look like a Chinese Oprah?

Within seconds of completing the song, half of Yu Quan and I Am A Singer host, Hu Haiquan, invites the other contestants back on stage. These guys are really segregated by season. Not only were they in different green rooms for the entire show, but they even stand on different sides of the stage. The director comes on and gives a rousing speech about how talented the singers are, and how they sing from their hearts. Yes, yes, we know, we did watch the show (or at least clips of it on YouTube). He brings out Terry Lin and Han Lei, the first pairing of the night. They bow and shake hands. “I know you’re all dying to see who of these two is the winner,” he begins. This goes on for a while, really. “And the winner is…” he announces after several minutes of monologue, “…going to be revealed after this short break!”
Unfortunately for us YouTube viewers, there is no break, and we cut right to the announcement. Where’s the suspense?

Anyway, the guy talks more about touching our hearts and how great the audience has been, and apparently there is not going to be a winner. And then we all shuffle our kids into our SUVs after soccer practice and tell them how they all did a great job and how it’s not about winning, it’s about trying your best and having fun. Let’s get ice cream on the way home.

Watch the full episode here:

Tell us who you think should have won in the comments and in the polls above! Which singers would you like to see on the third season of I Am A Singer? I’m gonna go out on a limb and say Fish Leong 梁静茹 is going to be in it.

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14 thoughts on “I Am A Singer All-Stars: Season One vs Season Two”

  1. I never watched Season 1 before I watch this episode but I started watching Season 1 after I watched this. At first, I mean before they start singing, I was supporting the singers from Season 2. But, after I listened, I found out that I actually prefer Season 1’s singers more than Season 2’s. I liked Laure’s singing style, Terry’s voice and Yu Quan’s song selection. Really, some of them are better, but I still like Season 2’s singers’ performance such as Zhang Jie’s and GEM’s. Their songs really made me feel relax and comfortable. Overall, everyone of them did a great job! :)

  2. Lol, I really liked your ending about soccer.

    Really disappointed by Laure’s performance. Not only was the English surprisingly terrible (especially for her, who usually has pretty good pronunciation), the arrangement was just boring. The should’ve at least changed the lyrics to make it about Shanghai or something. Zhang Jie’s was actually one of the few performances by him I liked on the show.

    I actually really like Terry Lin’s voice, so everything he sings sounds good to me even if they all sound the same. :D In general, though, I feel like song choices and arrangements were boring across the board and the only highlight of the show was Yu Quan being adorable throughout, but that just comes with them being Yu Quan.

    Also, WHERE IS BIBI’s AI DE GONG YANG. That would’ve made the show twice as fun, and would’ve been perfect advertising for the new Palace drama.

    Tan Weiwei! Tan Weiwei! Why wasn’t she on Season 2?!

    Also, the show’s lead backup singer aka mainland Let it Go film singer Hu Weina recently signed with Linfair (Fanfan, Angela Zhang, Claire Kuo, Huang Yali, who all sound the same but not like her). Maybe if she becomes established enough in a few years, she could go on the show and it’ll be a master comeback story from the lead backup singer to the winner.

    1. Terry is kinda stuck in that one style… and I personally think that part of the reason why he is “stuck” is because he likes it… but he does has a bit more musical experience and flexibility knows how to mold songs so you have to give that to him. I guess the thing is that he’s stuck more in that general range of styles as opposed to some singers who are stuck in just one style. Pretty good for somebody who works part-time at his parents’ company >.<

      Maybe Laure didn't have enough time to work on the pronunciation for this song. I guess this just shows how much work she usually puts into her English songs behind the scenes. Also, why on earth did she pick THAT song?!? O_o It isn't exactly in the general "crowd pleasing" category that you would have to pick from if you are going into an audience-judged competition. Even if you're going into a professionally judged competition, there are so many different musical styles and you really have to gauge it to who is listening and what they probably prefer… Oh wells. She probably figured she might as well picked something she liked since that song is kinda similar to her general style. :/

  3. Hey, I just started following your blog recently. Thanks for the write-ups!

    I also just started watching this show recently (lol) so I haven’t had time to catch up on all of the first season. However, I’m a bit confused as to why there is such a fuss over Huang Yishan. From the performance clips I watched of her, she has a good range and “rich” voice but her voice is also quite weak when she’s not belting, and she goes off-key quite a bit… plus her duet with Shila was terrible in my opinion.

    From this season I like G.E.M. the best, even though her voice is also a little thin. But she’s young and I’m sure she’ll only continue improving. “Imagine” is a rather weird song choice for her though, it’s a song that is meant to be sung lightly/simply and I think she overdid it with the vocal acrobatics… still good though. And I enjoyed Zhang Jie’s performance a lot.

    It would be amazing if Fish joined next season!

    1. Hello! Glad you could make it to cfensi, and thanks for commenting~! (Keep it up!)

      Hmm… I suppose Huang Qishan benefited from her age and appearance. The Susan Boyle effect, basically. Here was a relatively unknown, middle-aged singer who certainly didn’t look like a popstar, but she could belt it out with the best of them, and perhaps the audience were a bit more forgiving because of that. Plus, she had a bit of a Cinderella story where, after two decades, she was finally being recognised for her talents. Her “story” seemed to resonate the most strongly with the public, and nobody really wanted to stand in the way of that.
      I agree that she does have her vocal issues, though. Her singing in English is virtually unintelligible—the placement of her vowels in English is almost entirely incorrect. And she has a shaky lower register at times. But as with a lot of singers, and with the songs she chose to sing, the big notes always overshadow the little ones. Her rendition of ‘I Will Always Love You’ was otherwise awful, but she pulled off the money note, and that’s what the audience focused on.

      Loved her performances of 回来 and 离不开你, though. You rarely hear a voice like hers in the Chinese music industry. I could probably count the number of Chinese singers who can deliver a proper belt on my fingers. (And half of them are from Sichuan…) Bring on the belters, I say!

      I agree with everything you said about Imagine, as well. It’s not really ‘that’ kind of song. And G.E.M’s performance made it obvious that Christina Aguilera is her favourite singer. = _ =
      But G.E.M is crazy talented, especially for her age, and she is a tremendous breath of fresh air into the Chinese music industry. I’m glad she’s finally getting recognition abroad after her kind-of-flop in the Taiwanese market.

    2. I think part of her appeal is that she’s widely recognized within the industry as one of the best female vocals, if not the best, in the Chinese music scene. She’s just not widely recognized by the public.

      IMO, she’s a bit inconsistent since she’s easily affected by emotions, and fame may have came too quickly last season that affected her heart into the song choices, and her voice this season didn’t seem to be in top condition.

      As for her lower notes, I found that there is a lot of strength in her lower notes if she is in good condition. One of her most famous songs, “Only You,” showcased her vocal skills in both the lower and higher registers, and this song is widely recognized as the pinnacle in vocal achievement within professional pop vocalists. You can watch here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNoXTSFBYN4.

      1. Very much agree with the fame may have come too quickly argument. I think she had kind of already accepted her level of popularity and then suddenly, kaboom! I think she really needs some time alone to sit down and re-assess herself completely and what she wants to do… but then again, lots of people in these kinds of situations become paranoid that if they do sit down for too long, the recognition they finally received may start to disappear. >.<

      2. Huang Qishan is actually lipsyncing in that performance.
        She has a superb instrument in her voice—her range and tessitura are huge—but she doesn’t use it to the best of her ability all the time, a bit like Sohyang in the original Korean I Am A Singer. She just needs a bit more control over her voice, especially her lower register.

    3. Huang Ma isn’t the singer she was a decade ago-that’s for sure–but I wouldn’t say her voice is weak when not belting. It’s a light voice, but it’s not weak, and she has an absolutely beautiful head voice.
      She has a range from about C3 to F#6~G#6, and I’ve heard her support everything from E3 up at some point (only seen the C3 once in a more recent performance, and while it was supported, it wasn’t entirely resonant or projected). She has pitch issues when singing in English and sometimes now in Chinese, but in her early career, she demonstrated a masterful control of her instrument.

      Also, while that performance of “Only You” may be lip-synched, there are several early performances that are not.

    1. Aw, yeah, I was expecting a bit more as well, given how “epic” this episode could have been. I mean, theoretically, you have some of the best singers in the industry right there on stage. It could have been better… = _ =

      But there is a suggestion going around that the singers knew ahead of time that there wouldn’t be a declared winner and that it was more of a showcase rather than a competition, so they didn’t really treat it as such.
      Plus, I guess there would have been much less time to prepare. Rehearsals for ten singers instead of seven, with only five days to prepare instead of six. It’s no wonder that most of the singers chose to sing their own songs or songs they had performed before.

      1. yeah, I feel like they didn’t choose songs that flattered them. Like Laurie Shang especially. I ended up liking GEM the most but I didn’t like her song selection here and last week.

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