Tan Kee Yun
The New Paper
Saturday, Jan 10, 2015
Homegrown singer Kit Chan's journey on Chinese reality singing competition I Am A Singer 3 came to a premature end last night, when she became the first contestant to be booted out of the show.
She delivered a stirring rendition of Jacky Cheung's sweeping ballad Heart Pierced With A Knife, but it was not enough to keep her in the game.
For two consecutive weeks, the 42-year-old came in last of the seven contestants, a strong pool that includes Chinese powerhouse vocalist Han Hong, Hong Kong singer-actor Leo Ku and Taiwanese aboriginal pop diva A-Lin.
Chan performed Shino Lin's classic ballad Tempting Heart last Friday, and managed to dodge the axe. That debut episode was a non-elimination round, but she was not so lucky in last night's second episode.
I Am A Singer, which has enjoyed high ratings, is in its third season in China. It pits professional singers against one another.
The show famously boosted the careers of Hong Kong's G.E.M. Tang, Taiwan's Terry Lin and Malaysia's Shila Amzah. Contestants, who join the show by invitation, are ranked each week entirely based on votes cast by a 500-member live audience. There are no judges.
The Hunan TV show, which takes its format from South Korea's MBC network, is pre-taped in Changsha.
Chan, the first Singaporean to appear on the show, took defeat in her stride.
In an official statement sent to the local media via her publicist, she said:
"Starting at ground zero, every new person I made a connection with through my performances is one more music fan won.
"What have I got to lose? I (wasn't) playing to win, but I wanted to make sure I've used this platform to showcase who I am now, what I do best, as well as what I believe in at this point in my life as a person and performer."
Referring to herself as a "hermit", she added that the best thing she took away from the competition was "being on stage with many great singers" whom she would "otherwise never have met".
"It has been both a humbling and uplifting experience, something I am truly grateful for," she said.
Initially, Chan had reservations about joining I Am A Singer 3.
In an interview with The Straits Times last month, she admitted that she had been biased against the reality show genre, until her former public relations manager Sandy Chi convinced her that the show was a chance to reach a wider audience.
Narrowly escaping elimination last night were Chinese crooner Anson Hu and Taiwan's A-Lin, who came in 5th and 6th respectively. Sichuan-born songbird Jane Zhang came out tops with her powerful delivery of Legend Of A Hungry Wolf, an energetic Jacky Cheung number.
Despite her early exit, Chan can take consolation in the fact that many netizens on Sina Weibo, China's popular social network, are on her side.
Her Weibo account, set up on Jan 1 this year, now has over 125,000 followers.
After the show's debut episode, her Weibo account has been flooded with positive comments, such as "She sang so well! How can she be last? It's so unfair!", and "If Kit Chan is eliminated, I will stop watching I Am A Singer."
Chan's publicist said she has returned to Changsha this week to participate in the third episode, where she is slated to perform a special, non-competitive number.
As with the show's past seasons, there will be a subsequent "revival" round, where eliminated contestants are invited back to the show for a second chance. But Chan's publicist said that it is uncertain at this point if she will be joining that round.
Chan's good friend, local fashion stylist Jeremy Tan, 50, was part her entourage when she sang in the show's first episode.
He said: "I would be lying if I said I was not upset (about her elimination). Along with her other crew members, of course we had hoped she would make the Top 3."
He recalled Chan's state of emotions after the announcement of her last-place finish: "Kit didn't look disappointed at all. I knew she felt no pressure, as she wasn't concerned about winning. She simply wanted to do her best."
"Also, she is not the outwardly-expressive type."
Tan, on the other hand, was caught on TV holding back tears after Chan's performance. "It was extremely emotional for me, because I have worked with Kit since her first album in the early 90s," he said.
"The mere fact that she was representing Singapore on such a huge stage and going up against some of Asia's best singers, I felt so proud of her."
Local industry experts chime in
"I'm not surprised at all. It's very important to understand why Kit participated in I Am A Singer 3. She wasn't in it for the objective of winning, I believe she just wanted to be part of the whole 'China music experience'.
"In China, the first thing people vote for is familiarity. Regardless of how you sound, relatability is most important to audiences there. It was never going to be easy for Kit to be more popular than the Chinese artists.
Still, this is definitely very good exposure for her. She took steps to do things she has never tried before."
- Ken Lim, director of record company Hype Records and Chan's fellow judge on local reality singing contest The Final 1
"Although I Am A Singer is a competition of sorts, it's actually an entertainment programme. It's not about who is better. It's more of a platform for Kit to present her style to Chinese audiences.
"I read some news reports that said Kit didn't choose the right songs for competing. But if you look at this competition as a variety show, it's a great showcase of different types of singing.
All seven contestants are professional singers. When it comes to judging who is better, it's a matter of personal taste."
- Lim Sek, chief executive of entertainment company Music & Movement
"Chinese singing competitions are all about power vocals, so in a sense, Kit doesn't fit the mould. However, that could be her strength. I think audiences were surprised by her elegant style and unsure of how to vote. I understand they are starting to see otherwise. If audience interest in her grows and they start searching for her on the Internet, I think they will be more familiar with her style and start voting for her (in the wildcard round). People have a tendency to support the underdog.
"China has so many competitions and too many winners, many of whom are indistinguishable from one another. I think they are ready for something new. Even though Kit's style is classic, she is a breath of fresh air in the market today. I'm rooting for her big comeback and rebirth."
- Dick Lee, veteran local musician who performed iconic National Day theme song Home together with Chan at the recent Celebrate SG50 countdown show
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