A couple of TV/ stage performances that I’ve enjoyed lately, mostly from Youth With You and The Treasured Voice.Continue reading
It was the Lunar New Year holiday last week, so our seven favourite singers have wandered off for a bit (happy new year to all of Cfensi’s wonderful readers, by the way).
Jane Zhang is in Beijing, not wearing make-up but still looking pretty, and preparing dinner. She says she hasn’t cooked in a long time. That’s probably why she holds her knife like she’s ironing a shirt. But I imagine she hasn’t ironed for herself in a long time either.
Sun Nan is in Sanya on Hainan Island, the “Hawaii of China,” where he demonstrates everything wrong with the Chinese entertainment industry today.
1) That’s a very wrong way of doing push-ups (Chinese celebrities don’t work out enough)
2) Vertical filming (there aren’t enough good cameramen working in Chinese television)
Tan Weiwei, like Jane, is in Beijing, drinking vegetable soup and munching on a carrot from a cardboard bowl. Her manager complains that she needs to eat more than just vegetables so she can put on weight.
The One is back in Korea, bringing Xiao Wu with him. They’ve ordered a whole stack of bento-like, dosirak takeout boxes, and The One is doing an awful lot of talking with his mouth full. You’d think all these celebrities would get nice fancy meals, but not so much.
A-Lin is in Taiwan, where she bumps into unsuccessful I Am A Singer challenger Li Ronghao. “Hey, you’re back?” he asks, reasoning that A-Lin must have been eliminated.
“I’m back!” she replies, perhaps not really getting that. She then bumps into Karen Mok, who says nice things to her, but is very clearly aware of who is the real A-lister between the two (it’s not A-Lin).
We don’t get to see Li Jian or Han Hong’s Spring Festival outings. Mysterious.
The I Am A Singer green room has a Chinese New Year tree with presents underneath it. I hope this doesn’t become a thing. I’m probably getting to that age where people feel comfortable about not getting you presents, so there’s no way I will benefit from this.
Oh, and Sun Nan takes over as host from Leo Ku, thus answering the question I’ve been asking for the past two weeks. But now who will host when Sun Nan leaves?
Olive Tree 橄榄树 by Chyi Yu
This episode is spending a lot of time on the introduction to this performance. Firstly, Tan Weiwei discovers that Han Hong is singing Olive Tree by Chyi Yu. “People always recommend that I sing this song, but I don’t dare to,” she says, citing the rhythm and timing of the song. “It’s really difficult.”
Meanwhile, Anson is helping out Han Hong with the arrangement. It’s probably part of his secret plan to get as much screentime as he can now so that the audience will vote him back in in the comeback round. Isn’t that the plot of the Chicago?
Han Hong tells the story of how her father died when she was young and her mother remarried. After that, she ran away to Beijing to find her grandmother, and hasn’t been with her mother since then. When her grandmother passed away, Han Hong was by herself, with no direction and no roots. Despite all this, there is still an olive tree in her heart, she says. That raises some horticultural questions.
Fellow Tibetan-ish singer Yangjima sang this song on Chinese Idol, where Han Hong is a judge. The performances are completely different so it’s hard to compare, but Han Hong’s is vocally more impressive. I can’t tell if her shoes are gold, or if they’re silver and it’s just the lighting that makes them look gold. The timing of the pause at the end is slightly off when the band starts playing before Han Hong starts singing. Tan Weiwei totally saw that coming. Continue reading
I Am A Singer recaps are back by popular demand (and because, when you put “blogging for Cfensi” on your CV, it’s probably a good idea to publish something recent—hello there, prospective employers!).
If you’ve been out of the I Am A Singer loop, here’s all the interesting stuff you may have missed since the first recap:
- Kit Chan was predictably eliminated. Bye bye, Kit Chan~ Sorry, Singaporeans.
- Li Ronghao 李荣浩, the guy who supposedly looks like Jay Chou but sings like Eason Chan, was brought in to replace Kit Chan. He came sixth and so didn’t get to continue in the competition. Bye bye, Li Ronghao~
- Li Jian 李健 was brought in to replace Li Ronghao. He’s stuck around since then.
- Anson Hu was eliminated. Bye bye, Anson Hu~
- Mongolian stuff was popular for a while.
- Han Hong sang in Mongolian. (You never hear her sing in Tibetan, but Mongolian she can do…) But to quote my Mongolian friend: “It seems like Mongolian. But I don’t understand her accent.”
- And Sun Nan sang with a Mongolian singer, Amguulan 阿木古楞. Pretty sure Amguulan is a boy’s name, but who am I to judge?
- Jane Zhang sang, and rapped, in English (Bang Bang by Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj). It was okay. But she should have brought in Zhang Jiaojiao 张娇皎 to do Nicki Minaj’s part.
- Someone in the audience called Han Hong a pretty-boy stud-muffin 小肉鲜, and I have no objections to this.
And now you’re all up to date! More or less.
This is Who You Are 你是这样的人
This faux-operatic number was written as an ode to former premier Zhou Enlai to commemorate the centenary of his birth. So, 1998. A lot of Chinese classics aren’t as old as you would think.
“Red songs,” as they’re known, haven’t been very popular on I Am A Singer. After all, this is Hunan TV, and rival CCTV is all the way in Beijing. In season two, “Madonna of China” Wei Wei was booted from the competition after singing Reddest Sun, Dearest Chairman Mao 太阳最红毛主席最亲.
Han Hong does better, slightly, in sixth place. She’s not classically trained in the Western tradition, and she sounds a bit poppy at parts, but you can’t deny that she is expressive. She should have been ranked higher.
Imagine you have a time machine. Now imagine, using your time machine, you went back to 2008, kidnapped the four best singers in China under the age of 40, brought them back to the future, and then pit them in a 14-week-long singing competition against each other. Tada! You have the third season of I Am A Singer. (You’d also have a time machine, which—not gonna lie—is also pretty impressive.)
If you’re just here for the videos, feel free to skip ahead. If you want insightful commentary so you can make informed bets on who’s going to win and profit from your friends with gambling problems, you’re probably a bad person, but continue reading anyway.
This is the first episode of the season. First episodes usually aren’t the best for various reasons. For most of the singers, it’s their first time on the I Am A Singer stage, so nerves and inexperience kick in. Most of all, the first episode is the only episode where the singers are allowed to perform their own songs. So they do. And it’s boring because we’ve heard them all before, except now they come with a slight pause before belting out the big note. The structure of the show, at least, often allows the singers to give the best performances of their careers.
The four-person Mainland contingent of this year’s I Am A Singer represents some of the best voices in the country. And I don’t mean that in a Dancing with the “Stars” kind of way. Han Hong, Jane Zhang, Sun Nan and Anson Hu really are among China’s top vocalists. That being said, I don’t necessarily find Sun Nan’s voice is very pleasant…
This is the first year that Hunan TV’s official YouTube channel is posting video titles and descriptions for the show in English. The English is not great, but at least they’re starting to appreciate their international fans [waves].
Okay, that wasn’t very insightful. On with the show!
Leo Ku 古巨基
Love and Honesty 爱与诚
Is he wearing a tie? Isn’t he wearing a tie? Leo Ku is emceeing this year’s I Am A Singer, as Yu Quan and Phil Chang did in previous seasons. I don’t know why they get contestants to also host, but I guess it saves us from someone Seacresting the show.
Leo Ku is famous for his falsetto, which still glimpses through, despite his voice sounding heavier in the decade since he first recorded this song. The arrangement diverges from the original, slowing and stripping it down to a ballad. It works, but it doesn’t sound as good. Of course, this is a singing competition, and ballads are the easiest way to show of one’s vocals, but there aren’t really any big notes here that justify the change. He sings it well, but it’s nothing spectacular. Continue reading
I am a Singer 3 has revealed its initial cast of singers – Jane Zhang, Anson Hu, A-lin, Kit Chan, Sun Nan, Leo Ku, and Han Hong. I’m upset they still haven’t invited Tan Weiwei, but Anson was a pleasant surprise since he’s been on a number of other similar shows. The show begins airing next Sunday. Who are you rooting for?
On a completely unrelated note, here’s Jane Zhang and Zhang Jie’s cover of Yang Mi’s The Palace theme, as if the two of them haven’t taken over every theme song since then.
Remember when I said that the I Am A Singer 我是歌手 finale was going to be good? Well, I lied. It was pretty awful. In almost three and a half hours of airtime, we got about 24 minutes of good music. Proportionately, that’s like taking out all the main parts of a Pitbull song and just listening to the featured artist.
The first segment of the finale invited musical guests to duet with the seven finalists. Turns out, that wasn’t a great idea. And most of the finalists probably would have done better without their partners. Take a deep breath, here’s a rundown. Continue reading
Another brand new year is almost upon us… which means a brand new Take Happiness Home (把乐带回家) microfilm, AKA Pepsi Annual Cpop All-Star New Year Commercial. You can watch the touching microfilm from previous two years here and here. Below is the theme song for this year’s microfilm, featuring Harlem Yu (庾澄庆), Huang Xiaoming (黄晓明), Ai Fei (艾菲), and Pepsi’s newest spokesperson Momo Wu (吴莫愁).
I just want to take a small poll of Music Monday. I know there aren’t many cpop focused sites out there and Cfensi mostly concentrate on mainland entertainment. But since TW and HK cpop is a huge part of cpop, would you guys like me to cover some TW and HK cpop in next year’s Music Monday? I don’t follow HK music scene at all (mostly because I don’t speak Cantonese), but if you guys want I can look into it once in a while…
Music Monday will probably be a biweekly post in the new year. (15 videos in this post)
Almost 20 years since her passing, is Teresa Teng still the best Chinese singer?
Last week, Liang Huan 梁欢, who is probably a man, compiled a list of Chinese singers on
her his Weibo, allocating points in increments of five, alongside some brutally honest criticism (e.g., Jolin Tsai: “dance moves accompanied by bad vocals”). Since then, her his post has been retweeted—or the Weibo equivalent—tens of thousands of times. Some fans, notably those of Han Geng, have derided the low scores of their idols.
How do your favourites stack up? Continue reading
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!
The bad news is that Xue Zhiqian‘s upcoming album is actually a compilation album. Which means Incomplete Song and My Athena are the only new tracks, whereas the 12 other tracks are old. But for him it’s probably better that he doesn’t put out all that effort into composing for an actual album.
Because there’s too many new releases and too much competition.