I Am a Singer—China’s Real Voice Show-Downs

Editor:Viola tricolor,Gaines Post


In 2013, are you looking forward to the next much-anticipated talent show of contestants drafted from everyday people? No! The best sort of reality show on television today is a sing-off between professional singers!

“I Am a Singer” is the kick-off event of China’s Hunan TV’s “Lead SHOW2013.” It was inspired by the top-notch singing competition reality show of the same name from South Korea’s MBC television network. From a pool of talent ranging from seasoned singing artists to up-and-coming new stars, the point of the show is to pick the strongest singer while giving music-loving audiences a unique new reality show experience. Since the program first aired in January of 2013, it has already enjoyed a surge of popularity, and ratings for the finals shot up to 13.24, causing the show to rank first in the nation. It is said that the American television network FOX has also purchased franchise rights from Korea for the show, and that it will be shown for viewers’ enjoyment there in autumn of this year.

What is the reason behind the craze of popularity over “I Am a Singer?” It seems not so much that it is a singling battle between seven vocalists as that a few previously famous stars who have not shown their face in a while participate in the show. In today’s restless era of “eye-candy” singling idols getting together, this show has provoked a sense of nostalgia among Chinese audiences.

Back in the 1980s, the female vocalist Huang Qishan began her career in Mainland China. However, she was slow to gain recognition. She recalls that during live performances at the time, before she had even appeared on stage her voice, at times tender as a leaf and at times majestic and strong as the wind, would already have left the audience breathless and thinking that it must be an extremely gorgeous diva singing the notes. But when she appeared, they would be greatly disappointed with her physical appearance. Because of a bad rap in the media, even though she later went far away to Taiwan, for more than ten years she has just been “the person who hid behind her music,” and even her marriage was declared to have ended. With the advent of “I Am a Singer,” Huang Qishan’s incredible Whitney Houston-like voice and jazz singer-like facial expressions have won her several standing ovations, and twice she has won the weekly sing-offs which sent her straight into the finals. This has caused her social status to soar to twenty-five times what it had been prior to the show. Though her high-pitched voice is still criticized by some viewers and internet users as merely a flaunting of technique, without a doubt “I Am a Singer” and Huang Qishan have brought out the best in each other.(Greatest Hits of Huang Qishan)

Shang Wenjie is yet another controversial singer participating in “I Am a Singer.” Different from the “old one-hit-wonder” status enjoyed by Huang Qishan, this new generation female vocalist from the Y generation made a splash back in 2006 on Hunan TV’s talent show for non-professionals, “Super Girls” but soon became entangled in a contractual dispute. After switching over to a new label, she suddenly “turned a new leaf” and became “China’s Lady-Gaga,” and because of this her stupefied fans completely ignored her true potential. Returning to Hunan to participate in “I Am a Singer,” Shang Wenjie has finally redeemed herself. She has toned down her exaggerated get-up and has thrown herself into the fray as an original singer by fusing elements from traditional Chinese folks tunes and Western-style techno music into a unique new style. Add to that her husky sound that includes the occasional word or two of French as well as her extreme aggressiveness, and you get a singer who in a single leap has become China’s “queen of techno” spanning both genres. It is reported that Shang Wenjie, due to the popularity she has enjoyed since participating in “I Am a Singer,” has endorsed an online game for a sum to the tune of eight figures.(Greatest Hits of Shang Wenjie)

The champion title of the first season of “I Am a Singer” was taken by Yu-Quan. Chen Yufan and Hu Haiquan, a pair of male singing artists popular since the ’90s, might not have had the strongest voices when compared to the other contestants; however due to their frequent satirizations of contemporary song lyrics and their humorously exaggerated reactions whenever they read a word incorrectly, over and over they caused the audience to stand and sing along with them at the tops of their lungs. These are probably the most well-loved “sentimental singing kings,” who stole the audience’s hearts with their charm.(Greatest Hits of Yu-Quan)


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