Acting? The ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ movie has an open casting call

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Malaysian-born Australian model/musician Josh Kua seems like a shoo-in for the role of billionaire heir Nick Young.

Crazy Rich Asians, the best-selling Kevin Kwan novel, is getting a big screen adaption and director Jon M. Chu (Step Up 3D, Now You See Me 2) is on the lookout for acting talent.

The romantic-dramedy follows the story of Nick Young, a handsome, young, British-educated, Singaporean billionaire, and his Chinese-American girlfriend, Rachel, who only discovers his wealth during a trip together to Singapore.

This may sound like an Asian Fifty Shades of Grey, but I promise I’ve never seen Fifty Shades of Grey before, so I can’t tell you for sure. (Though, I’ve been assured that Crazy Rich Asians is substantially different to the Valentine’s-Day-release-date film trilogy.)

The casting directors are looking for English-speaking actors and actresses who can play Chinese-Singaporean or Asian characters, and are turning to social media in search of the best amateur or professional talent. The Warner Brothers production will be the “first all-Asian cast for an American Hollywood studio in a long, long time,” says Chu.

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I Am A Singer Season 4: Haya Coco Lala… are names of contestants on this show

hwangchiyeol

Hwang Chiyeol does a lot of clapping on this show.

After presumably blowing all of this season’s budget on last years’s A-list lineup, Hunan
TV’s I Am A Singer returns for a fourth year with a stable of more—ahem—”affordable” singers.

The I Am A Singer crown has always gone to a Mainland Chinese act. Yu Quan in 2013, and the Hans Lei and Hong in subsequent years. Of course, that’s not a risky bet to make when five-out-of-seven singers are Mainlanders. This year, things are a bit different. There are only two Mainland performers in the starting lineup, and both tied for last place in this episode. A non-Mainland singer could very well take it out for the very first time, and Taiwanese diva Lala Hsu and Cantopop legend Hacken Lee are both in with a good shot.


Haya
Wolf Earth 苍狼大地 by Tengger

Haya is something of a folksy, Inner Mongolian Nightwish. Lead singer, Daichintana,
plays a Native American flute in this performance. Oh, they’re a very worldly bunch.

Coco Lee waves as the band enters the green room. “Oh, Haya!” Coco remarks (though she might just have been saying ‘hiya’). Continue reading

This 11-year-old girl will make you feel woefully inadequate about your karaoke abilities

Thong Junjin’s performance of “Dawn” has been viewed more than 230 million times.

It seems nary a week goes by without some super talented, small Asian child making me feel deficient as a person. And I was feeling pretty good about myself this month, so this was probably overdue. Enter Thong Junjin 汤晶锦 (I’m about 80% sure the ‘h’ is silent).

Thong, an 11-year-old from Selangor, Malaysia, is a recent ‘graduate’ of China’s top-rating children’s talent show, Let’s Sing Kids 中国新声代, where she belted out Mandarin and Taiwanese hits by some of the biggest voices in the Chinese music scene, including A-mei, Han Hong and Tan Weiwei. If those names don’t sound familiar, Han Hong was described by one leading music critic as the Chinese-Tibetan love child of Celine Dion and Elton.

(It was me. I am the self-described leading music critic.)

Praised for her mature vocals and lyrical interpretation, this pint-sized powerhouse is also a viral sensation. Thong’s rendition of Han Hong’s “Dawn 天亮了” has received over 230 million views in just two months.

And it wasn’t even her best performance.

Watch more performances from the show, including some adorable musical child prodigies, and take part in our readers’ perceptions of adequacy poll, below. Continue reading

Volunteer: Your chance to touch hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars’ worth of Guo Pei’s haute couture designs (and earn college credit for it)

To be honest, they're probably not going to let you touch the masterpieces.

To be honest, they’re probably not going to let you touch the nice things.

Designs by China’s leading fashion designer will feature in the F4D & First Ladies Luncheon charity fashion show in New York later this month, and event organisers Miro Door are looking for volunteers.

Guo Pei is best known in the West for creating Rihanna’s stunning gold cloak at the Met Gala this year, and among Cfensi readers for her mind-blowing 1002 Arabian Nights fashion show in 2009 featuring Fan Bingbing. (Don’t tell them you knew about Guo Pei before the Met Gala in your application, because knowing about Guo Pei before it was cool is pretty hipster, and hipster stuff is so 2011.)

Volunteers will be responsible for preparing garments, and dressing and styling models for the show. Interested candidates with experience in dressing at fashion events are encouraged to apply. Continue reading

I Am A Singer Ep. 9: Jess Lee eats cherry tomatoes

Crab people, crab people. Taste like crab, talk like people.

Crab people, crab people. Taste like crab, talk like people.

Malaysian singer Jess Lee gasps in surprise as television personality, Rolling Wang (not to be confused with annoying viral chicken video songstress Rollin Wang), rolls into her hotel room with a breakfast cart adorned with breads, milk and fruit. Her eyes remain fixed on the food as he greets her and wishes her a happy new year.

Is that a plate of cherry tomatoes? Who eats just cherry tomatoes?

Is that a plate of cherry tomatoes? Who eats just cherry tomatoes?

Li Jian and his manager, Shen Mengchen, are the first to arrive on the I Am A Singer set. He flicks on the TV to inspect the competition. “Jess Lee,” Shen muses, tapping the remote to reveal her song choice. “Suffering.”
“I’ve never heard that song before,” admits Li Jian. “Have you?”
“No, I haven’t. Let’s put it on now.”
This isn’t the first time a Chinese celebrity has claimed not to know Jess Lee.

Meanwhile, in the halls of HunanTV headquarters, Han Hong examines a poster of Jane Zhang wearing a stunning white and gold dress.

Meanwhile, in the halls of HunanTV headquarters, Han Hong examines a poster of Jane Zhang wearing a stunning white and gold dress.

Some of the contestants are taking naps on their sofas. Li Jian and The One, too tall for the furniture, dangle their limbs off the side. Han Hong fits snuggly within the arm rests.


Li Jian
Bonds 尘缘 by Roman Tam

Li Jian is looking rather snazzy. He’s wearing a charcoal suit with a purple crew-neck tee and pocket square. And a watch on his right hand, oddly enough. I am totally going to steal this look for my next business casual event (I think this qualifies as business casual).

Li Jian’s performances tend to be very hit or miss. This one’s a miss. It’s slow, with no real musical or vocal climax. And that’s typical Li Jian. But it doesn’t have that unique “oomph” that makes Li Jian’s good performances good. His better songs usually come when they’re less piano-driven. Unfortunately, this one is super pianoed-up. It’s altogether a bit dull.

Hey, there’s a Caucasian dude watching the show. I bet we’ll be seeing a lot of him tonight.

It's a good thing there's a white person in the audience. Otherwise, we wouldn't know if our opinions are valid or not.

It’s a good thing there’s a white person in the audience. Otherwise, we wouldn’t know if our opinions are valid or not.

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I Am A Singer Ep. 8: Li Tarzan, Shoo Jane

A peculiarly dressed Jane Zhang is eliminated from the competition.

A peculiarly dressed Jane Zhang is eliminated from the competition. Who comes up with these headlines?

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)

Awkwardly humping the sand is not a push-up.

Awkwardly humping the sand is not a push-up.

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?


Han Hong
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 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. Continue reading

I Am A Singer Ep. 6: When gospel music was #1 on Chinese primetime television

Former Super Girl, Tan Weiwei, is the latest veteran vocalist to join I Am A Singer.

Former Super Girl, Tan Weiwei, is the latest veteran vocalist to join I Am A Singer.

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:

And now you’re all up to date! More or less.


Han Hong
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.

Guess who just learnt how to make gifs? This must be what tumblr feels like.

Guess who just learnt how to make gifs? This must be what tumblr feels like.

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I Am A Singer returns with the best voices in China

This year, I Am A Singer is brought to us by 立白 Liby Liquid Soap. This promises squeaky clean, bubbly fun.

This year, I Am A Singer is brought to us by 立白 Liby Liquid Soap. This promises squeaky clean, bubbly fun.

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

Who is this mysterious Russian singer performing with Kim Soo-hyun, Jane Zhang and Zhang Jie?

Who are you, mystery Russian lady?

Who are you, mystery Russian lady?

The II Summer Youth Olympic Games kicked off last night in China’s historically on-again, off-again capital of Nanjing with a special effects-laden, two-hour opening ceremony. More fun than Beijing’s 2008 spectacular, Nanjing featured an upbeat pop song, Light Up the Future 点亮未来, sung by superpeople Jane Zhang and Zhang Jie, and foreign guests Kim Soo-hyun and an unknown Russian singer.

An unknown Russian singer.

Far be it for the organisers to include her name in the program, or for official media sources to refer to her as something other than “a female Russian singer.” Chinese sources give her name as 噶丽娅, transliterated as Galiya. Ah, of course! The famed Russian pop princess, Galiya!

Except nobody seems to know who she is.

Popular South Korean actor Kim Soo-hyun received the biggest applause of the four performers, while the blonde Russian songstress went virtually unnoticed. This is unusual, because Chinese audiences usually love white people singing in Chinese. Continue reading