This is a recap of the third episode of The Voice of China season three. Yes, I know, I know, we’re up to episode five now. But if you’ve seen episode four, then you’ve probably been disappointed by it and will want to come back and relive episode three. Tada!
Don’t worry. Recaps for episodes four and five will be coming soon.
Let’s begin with the extra segment streaming on The Voice website featuring Zhao Wanting 趙婉婷 and Voice of China alumni, Ding Ding 丁丁 and Huang He 黄鹤, dancing with a team of cheerleaders to a Zac Efron song from High School Musical 3. It’s every bit as bad as it sounds.
The trio appear on My Youth Octave 我的青春高八度, which has been described as the Chinese version of Glee. That’s every bit as bad as it sounds, too. The girls then transition into I.O.I.O by S.H.E, which is a cover of a Bee Gees song funnily enough. It looks like they’re lipsyncing, but I think they were dubbed over for broadcast because they just aren’t very good.
Yay, useless two-minute musical number is over. Now onto the real show.
Chen Bing 陈冰
Eternal Summer 盛夏光年 by Mayday
The first contestant of the episode is actually quite pretty, which means all four judges will probably turn for her regardless of her singing. Maybe it’s the 320p resolution, but her mother looks ridiculously young. Her father, on the other hand, looks like the dry-cleaner who altered my coat when I lived in Korea. He did a really good job of it, so if you’re ever in the Gangnam area and need a coat tailored, let me know. Still, I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had said her father was her boyfriend and her mother was her sister.
As it turns out, Chen Bing is actually a really good rock singer. I was just thinking the other day that I would like to hear a Chinese singer sing Alone by Heart, the second-greatest girl band in history after Destiny’s Child. I hope she sings that in the next round. All four judges turn for her. She gets a standing ovation, the first of the season.
Na Ying commends the contestant on her rock growls, saying that it doesn’t sound artificial. It’s a good point. A lot of “rock” singers on these shows sound like they’re putting on a voice. With Chen Bing, it seems to come naturally.
“So you’re one of those people who love to sing but who have never studied music before,” Wang Feng says, delivering an obviously scripted, expositional question.
“No, no,” Chen Bing replies. “I’m a graduate from the Sichuan Conservatory of Music.” Some of the China’s top singers have studied at Sichuan Conservatory: Chris Lee, Tan Weiwei, Wei Chen, Zhang Liyin. Alan. Classical pianist Li Yundi, and acclaimed opera singer Liao Changyong, too. (Though, for such a prestigious institute, its Wikipedia page is awfully empty.)
Na Ying tells Wang Feng that Chen Bing is a more powerful singer than the other girl on his team. The only girl on Wang Feng’s team is the powerhouse vocalist Zhang Dandan, my favourite singer in the competition so far. That’s a big call, Na Ying.
“Yang Kun’s team already has a lot of girls,” says Wang Feng, suggesting that Chen Bing won’t receive as much attention from him as a mentor.
Yang Kun counters, saying that his army of Amazons lacks a flagbearer. “If you join my team, you will be my Mu Guiying,” he says, referencing the legendary Song Dynasty female general.
Na Ying claims to be the only woman on the panel. As far as I can ascertain, this is probably true. “I know how to mentor female singers,” she says.
Chyi Chin flips it around, suggesting that because she is a girl, she should have a male mentor for balance.
Chen Bing chooses Na Ying and then prances off stage.
Kai Kai 开开
26, Xiamen, Fujian
The Love You Want 你要的爱 by Penny Tai
The next contestant is Kai Kai, a comic book artist whose girlfriend sort of looks like a female version of him. He carries a backpack on stage with him like a little boy. That’s kind of strange, but I’m sure we’ll find out the reason for this soon enough. He sounds like he sings from the back of his throat a lot. I don’t think he’s remarkable, but all four judges turn for him.
“Hi, everyone. My name is Kai Kai. Double Kai.”
“Your name is really easy to remember,” notes Na Ying. She says he gave a soothing performance that he has a great voice. Chyi Chin says the same thing. The word “relaxing” is used a lot.
“When you sing soft, delicate notes, they’re really delicate,” says Yang Kun. “And when you sing big notes, they’re really big. You’re someone who really knows how to sing.”
The judges are giving him the usual compliments. Get to what’s inside his bag already. I am ever so curious.
“Is that a bag behind your back?” Yang Kun asks. Yesss, finally.
“This is a present I prepared specially for the four of you,” Kai Kai replies.
“What is it?” the judges ask curiously.
“They’re T-shirts with cartoon versions of the judges that I drew.” He unveils a Na Ying T-shirt with the words “listen to me” written on it.
“Hey, why am I cross-eyed?” Na Ying complains.
Kai Kai doesn’t answer her question. “I’d like to give one to all of you. They’re drawn chibi-style.
Yang Kun gets his shirt next. “It looks a little bit like you,” Na Ying remarks.
“Let’s see what I look like,” says Wang Feng. He doesn’t seem very enthused.
“This one doesn’t have any eyes, just glasses,” Na Ying says as Kai Kai unfolds the next T-shirt. It’s chibi Wang Feng. “Ah, it looks just like you!” Na Ying exclaims, giddy with excitement. “It’s exactly the same!”
Chyi Chin is the last judge to get his T-shirt. The skin tone is way off. Kai Kai explains that Chyi Chin’s character is in charge of physical labour. “He’s always taking everyone to go clean the playground, so that’s why his skin is so tan.” His cartoon’s skin colour is not any different from the other judges, however.
Kai Kai eventually chooses Yang Kun. Wang Feng needs to be more proactive in forming his team. He only has three singers so far. Yang Kun and Chyi Chin both have five, while Na Ying, Queen of Enthusiasm, has collected seven.
Rocky Chan 陈乐基
29, Hong Kong
Halfmoon Serenade 月半小夜曲 by Hacken Lee
The next contestant walks into the Voice of China studio wearing three-buckle boots, a scoop-neck T-shirt, and a denim jacket, with his hair gelled back. His name is Rocky Chan, and his younger brother has bleached blond hair. I think this must be the Hong Kong version of wearing the American flag.
Rocky is singing in Cantonese, which I’m not sure that we’ve heard before on this show. He’s very good, almost like a male version of Chen Bing. All four judges turn for him.
Rocky introduces himself. He says he’s a lead singer of a band. Let me do a quick Google search. Oh, hey, so he is. KillerSoap. They’ve been around since 2004. And here they are performing on China’s Got Talent. Remind me to rant about the plethora of professional singers appearing on Chinese singing contests some time.
Na Ying says he’s the very first contestant in three season of The Voice to sing a Cantonese song. “Cantopop has had a big impact on the entire Chinese music industry,” she remarks, and commends Rocky for his song choice.
“I don’t understand Cantonese,” says Wang Feng. “But I’ve been the lead singer of a band before, and you have that special kind of energy that lead singers should possess. Excellent.” Wang Feng asks Rocky how long he’s been in the band.
“We started when I was 18, so about 11 years,” he replies. “My little brother is in the band, too. I forced him to join because there is this legendary Hong Kong band-”
“Beyond,” Wang Feng interjects.
“-and the younger brother played bass.”
Na Ying attempts to court Rocky with her Hong Kong connections. “I go to Hong Kong all the time,” she says. “I have a lot of good friends there, you know that.”
Chyi Chin, who hasn’t been especially talkative so far, says that Rocky is the future of Hong Kong music. “And I’m the-” he pauses to look for the right word. “Senior,” he says, “of Taiwanese music. So I hope you can join my team so that we can collaborate.”
Rocky says he wants to ignite a new era of music for Hong Kong. “Start from here,” Wang Feng says.
“Can you speak Cantonese?” Na Ying asks Wang Feng mockingly, in Cantonese. I did not know she could speak Cantonese. She turns back to address the contestant, still in Cantonese. “You see, I can speak Cantonese, and the others can’t.”
Unfortunately for her, Rocky chooses Wang Feng as his mentor. He had the whole rock band thing going for him, after all.
Liang Dongjiang 梁栋江
22, Qiqihaer, Heilongjiang
Radiance 光芒 by Jane Zhang
The next contestant has immaculate eyebrows. Where do you think he got them done? He’s a music student at the China Conservatory of Music, where China’s first lady Peng Liyuan studied. He says his favourite mentor is Na Ying and he hopes that she will turn for him. Now that he’s said it, I will feel terrible for him if she doesn’t. He hops on stage where a keyboard is waiting for him and begins tapping away at the keys.
His vocals are a bit shaky. Maybe it’s because he’s playing an instrument and singing at the same time. You can tell he’s nervous. But his vocals pick up as the song progresses, revealing a bigger voice than I was expecting.
Oh. My. Goodness. The song is about to end of none of the judges have tapped their chair buzzers yet. The audience applauds as the last notes of the keyboard fade out. No? Nobody? Wow. This is the first person to have not made it through the auditions this season.
“That’s a shame,” Na Ying says as the judges’ chairs automatically swivel forward at the end of the performance.
“It really is a pity,” adds Yang Kun.
The judges offer their criticisms. “Your voice is too breathy at the start of the song,” Yang Kun says.
“I really like his voice there, though,” Na Ying counters, perhaps out of sympathy.
Wang Feng says his nerves, or maybe excitement, affected his pitch. Liang agrees. “Yeah, I’m a bit nervous today.” A bit.
“What’s your major at the conservatory?” Wang Feng asks.
“I’m studying to be a composer,” he replies. A pause follows. “And then…”
Wang Feng cuts him off. “Western composition?”
“Right,” Liang replies. “Traditional composition. And a little bit of pop music. I really like pop music,” he adds. That seems like a strange choice. His school is more well known for its courses on Chinese music.
“What aspirations do you have for the future?” Yang Kun asks the contestant.
“Actually, I have one for the very near future. But I don’t really have the courage to say what it is,” he replies. “I wrote a song a while ago,” he continues, apparently finding the courage after all, “and when I finished, I always imagined Na Ying singing my song.”
Na Ying looks as if someone just punched her in the heart. “I bet you regret not turning now,” Yang Kun teases. Na Ying is not in the mood for jokes, however.
“I know this is an unrealistic dream, but-”
“This is a very real one,” Na Ying interrupts confidently.
“She didn’t turn for you, so don’t let her sing your song.” Yang Kun continues with his jokes.
Wang Feng suggests that they let him sing the song. She agrees. “I feel ashamed,” she says.
Liang plays his song, How Many People Have You Made Cry? 你为了多少人哭. His lyrics are pretty good, and he’s a better writer than he is a singer. But don’t worry. Thanks to the sheer amount of recycled talent on Chinese television, we’ll probably see him on the next season of Sing My Song 中国好歌曲.
“My name is Liang Dongjiang,” he says in closing. “But you can call me soy milk!”
I don’t know.
Geng Sihan 耿斯汉
21, Xuzhou, Jiangsu
Orphans of a Beautiful World 美丽世界的孤儿 by Wang Feng
Remember that artificial rock voice that came up earlier? Ladies and gentlemen, Exhibit A. The contestant, Geng Sihan, is singing a Wang Feng song. Normally I would assume that this means Wang Feng will be buzzing around for him, but after Mr. Na Ying No-Turn just before, now I’m not so sure.
He gets really excited as the judges turn for him. Like, Ryan Lochte levels of excitement. There is a lot of fist pumping and chest thumping going on.
Na Ying says he gave her goosebumps. Wang Feng invites Geng to his concert at the Bird’s Nest Stadium on, well, it was a while ago now. He promises him a VVIP ticket so he can personally experience the angst behind the song.
Na Ying says that he can’t just keep singing Wang Feng songs. She thinks he can do better than Wang Feng and suggests that Wang Feng and Geng Sihan sing off against each other. The audience cheers excitedly as Wang Feng makes his way on stage. Wang Feng plays the guitar and the two duet.
After their performance, Chyi Chin takes to the stage. “You can sing rock really well, but let’s let the audience hear you sing something more polished.” Chyi Chin begins singing The Moon Represents My Heart 亮代表我的心 with Geng joining in soon after. They hold hands romantically as they serenade one another. How many of you are shipping these two right now?
Na Ying tells Geng that if he joins her team, she’ll turn him into the next Liang Bo 梁博, Na Ying’s season one protégé and first winner of the Voice.
“There’s only one Liang Bo,” counters Wang Feng. “There’s no need for another one.”
“The moon represents the The Moon Represents My Heart that we just sang on stage together,” says Chyi Chin. You’re married, Chyi Chin. You have a wife and a kid.
Geng chooses Wang Feng. That’s not a surprise.
Li Qi 李琪
24, Luoyang, Henan
Love Me, Don’t Leave Me 爱我别走 by A-Yue
There is no personal introduction for this contestant. She hobbles on stage with her left foot in a brace. Li Qi was to audition for The Voice of China last year but suddenly fell ill and had to pull out. Her voice is surprisingly deep but incredibly soothing. Wang Feng leans over to Na Ying and mentions that the contestant sings like Yang Kun. Yang Kun is the first judge to turn. Then Na Ying. Her voice swells, and the cracks in her voice are genuinely heartfelt. She is an amazing singer.
The other two judges press their buzzers just as the song ends.
“Why?” Yang Kun says, exasperated, in English. The other two turning for her has made it all the more difficult for him to win her for his team. “Why do that? I really hate you guys.”
“Great singing!” Na Ying shouts. “That was a perfect match for your voice.”
Li Qi seems flustered, fanning herself as Na Ying talks. “You don’t seem happy that we turned for you,” Na Ying remarks. “Your expression doesn’t seem happy.”
“I… I feel like I’m gonna throw up.”
The judges laugh. That’s not very compassionate of them.
“Out of excitement, right?” asks wang Feng.
“Calm down a bit,” offers Chyi Chin.
Wang Feng speaks to Yang Kun. “This is the only singer I’ve heard on The Voice of China who can handle the nuances of a song as well as you,” he says. “You two are a perfect match.”
Yang Kun gets up to shake Wang Feng’s hand, flattered and hopeful.
“But,” Wang Feng adds, “actually, there were some parts where she did it better than you.” Yang Kun shakes his head and returns to his seat. “You know, I hesitated to turn because I thought for sure that she would choose your team,” Wang Feng adds.
“Do you know what the strongest weapon in your arsenal is?” asks Yang Kun. “Your tone. It sounds amazing. It really is amazing. I have no words to describe it.” The other judges all nod in acknowledgement. “Let me ask you, why did you come back to this stage?”
Li Qi begins to speak. “I’m really grateful to you four.” Her speech is slurred. The left side of her face doesn’t move. She explains that nobody outside her friends and family really supported her singing. “My dad looked for a music teacher for me. They’d give me one lesson and tell my dad not to teach me. ”
“Like it’d be a waste,” adds Na Ying.
“‘She has no talent,’ they’d say. ‘Find her something else to do. Something that isn’t singing.'” Her father wipes a tear from his eye. “You’re like a broken gong,” she continues, remembering what others told her. “You’re not a masculine girl, you’re just a man.”
“No,” Chyi Chin says.
“I had an identical experience to yours,” says Yang Kun. “The first itme I entered a singing competition, I came last. But in this decade, your tone of voice is really popular. Our time has come!”
Na Ying laughs at the insinuation that Yang Kun and Li Qi are of the same era. “She’s a 90s kid!”
“It’s the same thing,” Yang Kun retorts.
“My nickname used to be Female Yang Kun,” Li Qi explains.
“I feel as though, if you don’t choose me,” Yang Kun says, “it would be a great injustice.”
Chyi Chin remarks that if Li Qi already sings like Yang Kun, then there’s nothing she needs to learn from him.
Li Qi turns to address him. “Chyi Chin, you gave me life. Twenty-five years ago, when my dad was trying to win over my mom, he sang your song Maybe in Winter 大约在冬季 in front of all their friends. After that, my mom accepted his marriage proposal. If it weren’t for your song, I wouldn’t exist.”
Na Ying remarks that Li Qi is cute. Super cute, she thinks.
Despite owing her life to Chyi Chin, however, Li Qi chooses Wang Feng. Li Qi is my new favourite.
Zhao Qi 赵祺
40, Chengdu, Sichuan
You Are So Beautiful by Joe Crocker
Next up is another one of those already-singers. Oh, don’t think I don’t remember you, Mr. Zhao. I’ve watched every single video of Jane Zhang on YouTube, and you’re in a couple of them. They sang together a few times when she was just starting out.
Zhao Qi is singing in English. His pronunciation is better than any other contestant so far. He sounds like a native speaker.
This song is very repetitive. I’m beginning to think that these are the only words in the entire song. His control, especially in his upper register, is really quite special. Na Ying and Wang Feng turn for him.
Zhao Qi notes that he’s now 40 years old but still single. “Your mother must be getting anxious,” remarks Na Ying.
Zhao Qi tells of how he hasn’t been able to find someone who understands him. They don’t understand why he chooses to sing for a living. “You have to stick your own principles,” Wang Feng says.
While telling the story of his hypothetical partner, the subtitles refer the person as “she” or “her” 她. I think whoever is subtitling this show is being deliberately obtuse.
Zhao Qi chooses Wang Feng as his mentor. Wang Feng is on a roll.
Liu Ke 刘珂
20, Nanchang, Jiangxi
I Know You Are Sorry 我知道你很难过 by Jolin Tsai
No pre-performance interview for this contestant; we jump straight into the singing. He sort of looks like a poor Kim Soohyun. Not a poor man’s Kim Soohyun. Just Kim Soohyun if he had no money. Why isn’t he wearing any socks? He’s probably too poor to afford them.
Chyi Chin turns first for Liu Ke. Then Na Ying, who leaps to her feet and squeals when she sees the contestant. I hope this isn’t one of those “the female mentor’s backup singer is auditioning” type scenarios again. Yang Kun taps the buzzer with his forehead.
As the song ends, Na Ying shouts, “Dou Minjun 金秀贤!” at the contestant, referencing Kim Soohyun’s character from the popular Korean drama My Love from the Star.
Yang Kun compliments Liu Ke’s range and high notes. Na Ying compliments his ears. His ears are rather distinct.
Chyi Chin reminds the contestant that when Na Ying and Yang Kun started singing, he had already been in the industry for about 15 years.
“I can help inspire you to unleash your potential,” declares Yang Kun.
“I could do that,” Na Ying scoffs. “Because I’m a woman. And he likes women,” she declares. Liu Ke awkwardly looks around at his feet at the suggestion.
He ends up choosing Yang Kun.
32, Urumqi, Xinjiang
How Can You Let Me Be So Sad? 你怎么舍得我难过 by Huang Pinyuan
Parhat is Uyghur, thoug he has an unusual look to him. He says he usually sings Uyghur songs, but today he’ll be singing in Chinese. He begins strumming his guitar. His voice is like gravel. Cowboy gravel that’s being stabbed with broken shards of glass after a fight with an outlaw in an Old West saloon. I don’t like it. Wang Feng, Na Ying and Yang Kun all hit their buzzers in quick succession. Na Ying shouts to Chyi Chin, encouraging him to turn. He doesn’t, though.
Yang Kun says that he has the most unusual voice in the show. “He has absolutely no technique whatsoever. But he draws you in.”
Wang Feng notes that he’s not like the other singers. He doesn’t have a beautiful voice. But he has his own sound and attitude, which is his strength.
Yang Kun asks how old he is. He says he’s 32. Yang Kun is pleased.
“What has that got to do with anything?” asks Na Ying.
“Thirty-two is an especially mysterious and powerful number,” Yang Kun replies.
Parhat says he chose the song because singing it reminds him of his older brother, who has passed away. Two years after his brother died, his father died too. And five years later on, his mother as well. The judges sigh. Sigh, indeed.
Wang Feng says that Parhat’s interpretation of the song isn’t about lovers. It’s about blood relationships.
“You know how to write songs,” Wang Feng guesses.
“I’ve written a lot of them,” admits Parhat.
“Is there a song that, deep down inside, you most want to sing?” asks Wang Feng.
“Sing it for us,” says Na Ying.
He sings in Uyghur for his parents. You can tell its heartfelt. The judges are enthralled. Parhat chooses Wang Feng as his mentor. I still don’t care much for his voice, though.
So much for Wang Feng being behind; he recruited an additional five singers for his team in this episode. He now has the biggest team with eight altogether. Chyi Chin, on the other hand, picked up absolutely nobody this episode and remains on five. Na Ying has seven after scooping up Chen Bing, and Yang Kun sits on six.
Oh, incidentally: Hi there, Mr. Kevin Lee! Yes, that’s right, you. Oh, there must be thousands of Kevin Lees in the world, you think. This person can’t possibly be talking about me. No! I am talking about you, very specifically! You’re always on this blog, but you never post. So leave a comment! Oh, don’t make me go over there…
Grr. >: (