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.
You Raise Me Up by Secret Garden
Allow me to be critical here. This is the exact same performance The One gave on the Korean version of I Am A Singer; from the musical arrangement to the choir’s oddly choreographed hand gestures, and even down to the oversized, fluffy, white boutonnière. I’ll accept that there wasn’t much time to prepare over the holidays (even the guy who normally does the cover images for the YouTube videos seems to have gone on break). But to do the exact same thing? It’s lazy and disrespectful to the show. Zero points from me.
No Regrets 执迷不悔 by Faye Wong
Sun Nan goes for the loose tie, unbuttoned top collar look again this week. I don’t think he likes ties very much. Tan Weiwei gives her token, “This song is really hard to sing,” comment and we’re good to go. Sun Nan strums on his acoustic guitar as he hums out the first few lines. Is it just me, or does this song seem really easy to sing? He stands up towards the end of the song, relenquishing his guitar to belt out a few big notes. Surprisingly, there are a few moments where his upper register doesn’t sound really nasal. Why can’t you sing like that all the time, Sun Nan?
A Fire in Winter 冬天里的一把火 by Frankie Kao
In the early 1980s, Irish girl group The Nolans were explosively popular in Japan, with their single I’m In the Mood for Dancing reaching number one on the Oricon charts. A Chinese version of their follow-up single, Sexy Music, was recorded by Frankie Kao in 1982, bringing the song to Taiwan. And later, Kris Phillips performed this song at the Spring Festival Gala in 1987, spreading the song to Mainland China. Go on, watch that Kris Phillips performance. It’s really bad.
Given that every iteration of this song has been cringeworthy, it’s not entirely clear why Jane chose this song. To stick it to this year’s Spring Festival Gala organisers who cut her from the show, maybe?
Her outfit doesnt make much sense either. The song, the dress—it’s like a mix between Tom Jones and an ancient pre-Columbian American civilisation.
The performance is very Jane. It even has the part where she dances and the director cuts to people’s reactions of the dancing rather than Jane actually dancing. She sings it really well, especially the end, but at this point, we already know she’s going out tonight. Sad face.
Watch Alan and Chae Yeon prove that there is no way to look good while singing this song.
Maybe Tomorrow 也许明天 by A-mei
Tan Weiwei has a new hairstyle, which sort of makes her look like Li Xiaolin, the daughter of Li Peng, the former premier of China. It’s not a flattering look. Her knitted trousers—if you can call them that—droop all the way down to the floor, in a Grinch-who-stole-Christmas sort of way.
Tan Weiwei is singing another A-mei song, making this the second week in a row. Who’s taking bets on another Tan Wei-A-mei performance next week? Tan Weiwei’s rendition of Maybe Tomorrow is not great. She nails the big note but sounds shrill through most of her upper register. It’s not as good as A-mei. And it’s not as good as Yao Beina, who auditioned for The Voice of China with the same song. Rest in peace, Yao Beina. You would have rocked this show. Remember to regularly check yourself for breast cancer.
Forget Hugs 忘记拥抱 by Wilber Pan
If you’ve been following this season’s I Am A Singer recaps, you can probably already guess what I’m going to say.
“This is not bad. But it would have been better if she had belted out that note in full voice instead of switching to falsetto.”
Yep. A-Lin has a style of singing that you either love or you hate… or you find completely adequate but also completely unsatisfying. It’s like going to Subway because you know you shouldn’t be having your third Big Mac of the week, but then feeling a bit listless about it all because now you’ve missed your chance to get that last McDonald’s Monopoly token you need to win that Subaru SUV, and all you have is Subway to make up for it.
When You Are Old 当你老了 by Zhao Zhao
Li Jian seems like the cool uncle you’d want to have growing up. Your mom’s younger brother who buys you lots of stuff as a kid—even though your mother disapproves—because he has no children of his own. And you get a bit older and he still doesn’t have any kids. Which you’re totally cool with, of course. But then something happens, and he stops coming to the family reunions. And the next time you see him, he’s with some guy named Terry. I dunno. Li Jian just seems like fun.
Anyway, you may recognise this song from last year’s Sing My Song. (Have you been following emsterz’s Sing My Song recaps?) Li Jian helped write the lyrics. The arrangement is a bit different to Zhao Zhao’s, featuring an instrumental La Vie en rose interlude. And this is probably the second time Li Jian has removed the harmonica from his performances. If you hate the harmonica so much, Li Jian, why do you keep picking songs with harmonicas in them?
The song isn’t very challenging, vocally, but he captures the sentiment of the song well.
1. Li Jian
3. Han Hong
4. Sun Nan
5. Tan Weiwei
6. The One
7. Jane Zhang [ELIMINATED]
So Jane is gone, which wasn’t too unexpected, but is still sad. Apart from maybe Anson, she was the only singer who consistently stepped out and took risks with her song choices. And, sure, those risks haven’t always paid off, but kudos to her for trying, especially when you consider that many of the other contestants are simply recycling songs they’ve already done before (looking at you, Han Hong, The One). Vocally, she didn’t have anything to prove. She could have sung every one of A-Lin’s songs and probably done it better every time.
In the next episode, Jane is rumoured to be singing an English song for her encore performance, and Malaysian singer Jess Lee will challenge the singers for a place in the competition.
Watch the full episode here.