I Am A Singer Ep. 7: A pun about The One being number one

Tibetan Buddhist monks join Han Hong on stage in this week's I Am A Singer.

Tibetan Buddhist monks join Han Hong on stage in this week’s I Am A Singer.

I Am A Singer, this year, is sponsored by Honda and Oppo. So the singers drive up in their Honda cars which totally look like the Jeeps from Jurassic Park, and unbox their new Oppo smartphones. They watch the introductory video for the newest contestant, Korean singer The One, but none of them know who he is. Obviously they didn’t watch the first season. For shame.
The One’s “manager” on the show is Xiao Wu, the Korean member of Top Combine. He does most of the interpreting for him. Let’s hop straight into it.

Don't worry. The dinosaurs don't start eating people until after Newman shuts down the park's security system.

Don’t worry. The dinosaurs don’t start eating people until after Newman shuts down the park’s security system.

Jane Zhang
If 是否 by Julie Su

Earlier in the competition, Jane performed Legend of a Hungry Wolf 饿狼传说 by Jacky Cheung. Everything about it was eerily similar to G.E.M’s performance of Lady Marmalade on last year’s show (especially the part where it actually segued into Lady Marmalade). Jane came second, but people were a bit iffy about it.

This time, Jane is singing a song that G.E.M recorded back in 2013. The similarities stop there, however. While G.E.M’s version was a demure, piano-only track, Jane’s arrangement features the whole band. Her voice harks back to her time on Super Girl. It’s powerful and free. It’s everythi- oh… and now it’s been jazzed up with trumpets. So not only did she not watch the first season of I Am A Singer, but she didn’t read my comments from last week’s episode either.

Besides almost ruining the song by turning it into a breezy jazz number, Jane actually did sing it really well. Nobody else has performed yet, but we have a strong contender for best vocal performance of the night.

Sun Nan
Shower of Petals 花瓣雨 by Angus Tung

Sun Nan is wearing his shirt collar unbuttoned with a tie loosely draped around his neck. If you don’t know how to tie a tie, Sun Nan, there are diagrams on the Internet.
This was actually pretty good, and less nasal than past performances. Sun Nan’s natural voice sounds like it’s been autotuned. People pay T-Pain a lot of money for that.

Li Jian
Today is Your Birthday, Mom 今天是你的生日,妈妈 by Zhong Lifeng

Li Jian takes to the stage with his guitar-playing entourage. There’s no harmonica at the start like there is in the original, but he is singing it better than Zhong Lifeng. Not that that’s hard to do.
Li Jian’s performance morphs into a cello-led version of the Puccini aria, O mio babbino caro. (Puccini is super famous in China because his opera Turandot, which is based in China and borrows from Chinese melodies). Oddly enough, the aria is being sung to one’s father, so the theme is wrongly gendered, but it still sounds pretty.

Tan Weiwei
Straight to the Point 开门见山 by A-mei

Jane thinks Tan Weiwei’s outfit looks like fun. I think it looks like she’s been trying to solve crimes on a windy day.
idarklight gets her wish and Tan Weiwei is singing a rock song. It’s a risky move because, other than a few changes, the arrangement isn’t tremendously different from the original, which is only going to invite comparisons to A-mei, one of the top voices in Chinese music. But Tan Weiwei sings it better. She does things with her voice that A-mei simply can’t.

But you know who could probably sing this even better? Chen Bing from The Voice of China.

Leo Ku
Star 明星 by Mary Cheung

So, when I asked the question of whether or not Leo would still be hosting the show after his elimination, I guess I meant to ask if he’d still be hosting after his encore performance after his elimination.
Anson arranged the song for this performance, but it’s hard to hear elements of Anson in it. It’s a good performance, but the crying seems a little contrived.

Han Hong
Return to Lhasa 回到拉萨 by Zheng Jun

Han Hong likes her suits. Here, she’s wearing one festooned with colourful Tibetan motifs. It’s pretty, but she’ll be kicking herself when she has nothing to wear at next month’s CPPCC meeting.
Even though this song is about Lhasa, it’s not a very Tibetanny song. Musically, it’s straight up rock. Han Hong, who is Tibetan herself, changes things up a bit, incorporating Tibetan vocal styles and even two dungchen—large Tibetan horns—played by what appear to be Buddhist monks. The captions give their names as Master Treasure and Master Celestial Dragon, which sounds more like a couple of Dungeons & Dragons players cosplaying as their monk class characters.
Han Hong isn’t the best traditional Tibetan singer, but she’s still better than most, and hits the high notes with zero effort. Tan Weiwei, who studied under famed Tibetan music teacher Langa Dolma, looks on, as if questioning Han Hong’s vocal technique.

Afer the performance, Li Jian comments that Return to Lhasa is a difficult song to sing.
“Really difficult,” adds Tan Weiwei, even though she does it better.

She Says 她说 by JJ Lin

A-Lin has totally sung this song before, a few years back, at the Golden Melody Awards. But that was part of one of those award show medleys, so this is the first time we’re hearing her sing the full song.
Hey, it’s an accordion. Accordions are oddly popular instruments in China.
A-Lin starts off well, and it’s an enjoyable performance, but it’s not a great end. The last notes needed to be more powerful. If Taiwan is to stay relevant in the Asian music scene, it needs to adopt a more international vocal sound, rather than the typically unchallenging, softly-softly approach it’s stagnated on over the past two decades.

The One
That Man 那个男人 by Aska Yang
그남자 by Hyun Bin

The One was in the second season of the original Korean version of I Am A Singer, where he sang this same song. All the Korean-drama fangirls in the audience squee as they recognise the melody. The One’s Chinese pronunciation is not great, and he switches to the Korean version after the first verse.
He sings it well, but it’s uncanny how Korean baritones all kind of sound the same. The One misplaces his voice on the big note and it sounds slightly garbled, but he recovers quickly.

After the performances, The One meets the Chinese singers backstage. Predictably, a few seumnidas 습니다 are heard in the conversation. He professes to be a fan of Han Hong’s and sings a few lines of her song, That Part of the Sea 那片海. The singers erupt in applause. Chinese people are always impressed when foreigners sing in Chinese.

Since this is the last episode before Chinese New Year, why not have a party?
They have a party.
They eat hotpot, they drink baijiu. A-Lin drinks from a tiny little glass. The One does not like baijiu. He wears an earpiece for simultaneous translation. That’s pretty nifty.

A Chinese distilled spirit, baijiu can exceed 60% alcohol by volume. The most popular brand of soju hovers around 19% ABV.

A Chinese distilled spirit, baijiu can exceed 60% alcohol by volume. The most popular brand of soju hovers around 19% ABV.

1. The One
2. Han Hong
3. Li Jian
4. A-Lin
5. Tan Weiwei
6. Sun Nan
7. Jane Zhang


  • Except for the very first episode, Jane has come last in every non-elimination round. She’ll almost certainly be eliminated next week. Sad face.
  • The One will do well, but only if he sticks to theme songs of Korean dramas. He doesn’t speak Chinese, so he’ll have a harder time endearing himself to the audience. Even Shila, last year, tried speaking Chinese instead of relying on an interpreter.
  • A-Lin is overdue for a number one performance, and so is Li Jian. Sun Nan is too, but he has too many fifth-place rankings stacked against him, so he’ll probably never get there.

Watch the full episode here.

11 thoughts on “I Am A Singer Ep. 7: A pun about The One being number one

  1. um Star 明星 was written & composed by James Wong not Mary Cheung and you need to know the background of the song to know/understand why Leo was crying. I felt the crying wasn’t contrived in the least because you see others in the audience & A Lin tearing up too. The original singer was Leslie Cheung ( a HK legend) and Leo’s a huge fan of his so adding the emotion of the song plus Leo’s feelings about his departure equals tears. The song is about remembrance as in will you remember me after i’m gone which suits/mirrors the title as James was a brillant composer/lyricist so when he passed away the world lost a great talent imo. So in conclusion, not everyone will get the song or the emotion within it. Leslie and James are dearly missed.

  2. Tan WeiWei was amazing here and ended up the fifth place. I really wonder why she could get that ranking as with that kind of voice and song, she was supposed to be the best that night. :(

    The One was pretty good too, but he was too nervous and that showed pretty obviously.

  3. Tan Weiwei was amazing! I looked forward to A-Lin because she sang JJ Lin’s She Says but I didn’t really liked it.

  4. The One is not a baritone though, he is a Full Lyric Tenor with great vocal expertise. There are rarely any baritones in popular Korean music, so people often think the deeper-voiced ones are baritones. John Park, Kim Dong Ryul and JK Kim Dong Wook are baritones. The One excels in resonating high notes and exaggerating his performance haha. I wonder how the audience will find it in future episodes. Although he is one of Korea’s best vocalists, some netizens hate him for doing exaggerated covers of famous ballad songs lol.

  5. I actually expected TWW to fare higher based on previous seasons or even the current season. Audience usually like a fast number since everyone else did slow numbers. The one grabbing first was also a surprise. It wasn’t bad..but it didn’t struck me as a spectacular performance..he was still rather nervous. Personally I’ve always liked A-lin’s performances, it’s the music arrangement that sometimes let her down. Speaking of that, I’m actually voting for Jane to be out. Gawd she can’t stop messing up the songs. But I do feel bad to see how she always look during results time. But if she can see it coming surely she knows there is something wrong with the way she approaches her songs. Contrast that to Li Jian who always feel like he doesn’t need to work as hard but totally does pretty well. Ambivalent about the rest but anticipating good performances all around.

    By the way, I think Leo Ku’s rendition wasn’t the best but I can definitely feel his sincerity and genuine sadness at having to leave the show.

  6. Tan Weiwei’s ranking this time is so low when it’s so much better than Amazing Grace :(

    I want Sun Nan eliminated because I don’t like his voice.

    Lol at Dungeons & Dragons.

    For her comeback song, I hope Jane will sing a non-jazzed up Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina that she said she was suggested to sing but didn’t. It will make up for all the weird arrangements she’s had in the past few weeks.

    • I think she’s singing All Of Me by John Legend as her encore performance (which pretty much verifies the rumours of her elimination next week). But I’m not sure if it’s the best song for her voice…
      Where are all the Mariah Carey songs?! > <

  7. When I first started this season I was most looking forward to Jane but to be honest she hasn’t really stood out at all and some of her song choices/arrangements have been dissapointing. :(

    My favourite performance of episode 7 was Tan Weiwei. Finally bringing some excitement to the stage.

    • Me too! But Jane hasn’t really lived up to expectations… :(
      She said at the beginning of the series that she doesn’t want to do the same things she always does, or only sing English songs like she’s famous for, so I guess she’s succeeded in that regard. And I have a lot of respect for her for experimenting and taking risks, where so many of the other contestants are playing it safe and just singing songs that they’ve performed before.

      Tan Weiwei is a breath of fresh air. I’m so happy she’s on the show~

  8. Ack Huang Ma messed up The One’s season one appearance by going off tune at the end… So glad he has another chance to perform.

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