Nathan Hartono chosen by Jay Chou again despite losing voice a week before

28 August 2016 / 1 month 3 weeks ago

Tracy Low
The New Paper
August 27, 2016

Nathan Hartono is the first Singaporean to make it past the "battle" round of the popular reality TV singing competition Sing! China, which is a rebranded version of The Voice Of China.

The 25-year-old local singer and songwriter first made his mark on the show by sailing past the blind auditions on July 15, after which he chose Mandopop star Jay Chou as his coach.

He appeared on yesterday's episode of the show, which airs over Zhejiang TV and featured Chou's team of 10 battling it out in pairs.

Chou ended up choosing Hartono - who performed Cantopop singer Eason Chan's ballad We Are All Lonely - over China opponent Huang Junjie, thus cracking the top five of Chou's team.


In the next round, Hartono will be pitted against contestants from other teams helmed by Sing! China's three other coaches, Harlem Yu, Na Ying and Wang Feng.

Speaking to The New Paper on Thursday over the phone from Jiaxing, China, where Sing! China is being filmed, Hartono, who is Indonesian-Chinese, said: "I was a little terrified because I had lost my voice and was completely unable to sing the week prior (to the actual performance)...

"Thankfully, on the day itself, everything kind of fell into place.

"I had my voice, I didn't forget the lyrics, which is a huge deal for me as it's in Mandarin, and I did what I set out to do on stage.

"(Huang) had a very different (musical) style, so it was hard to make a direct comparison (between us)...

"It's a very cool experience to know that the whole of Singapore is behind me and I'm very happy to have come this far," said Hartono.

For the "battle" round, Chou did not give him many pointers during the rehearsals - which took place the night before the live recording - and only advised him on hitting the right notes.

Hartono was initially worried about having Chou as his mentor, as Chou is the busiest of all the four judges.

And during the beginning stages of the competition, he did not get to see Chou very often.

"The first interaction I had with him was on FaceTime and Skype because he was on tour," he said.

"I was a bit apprehensive at first because I wondered if (our sessions) would be like this the whole time. But once things really got rolling, I got to see him more often."

Hartono described Chou as "obsessive", as the latter had done thorough research on social media about each student on his team before meeting them face-to-face.

"He was trying to get a better handle of how he could help each of us and to find out our strengths and weaknesses," he said.

"It was great to see him care so much. He's the kind of coach who doesn't try to impose a style, song choice or idea on the student.

"He's very collaborative. He would always ask for my opinion first and he would make song suggestions. But if I disagreed, he would be cool and try to cater to me based on my choice."

They didn't make the cut

Read also: S'pore singer Nathan Hartono impresses Jay Chou and other judges on Sing! China

Back in June, five finalists - Olinda Cho, Ng Chee Yang, Elizabeth Low, Zhang Zhi Ling, and Curley Gao - from the China Super Vocal Singapore audition were sent to Shanghai to represent Singapore at a closed-door audition for Sing! China.

Ng got to sing at the blind auditions but did not have any judges' chairs slide down for him.

He told TNP: "Of course there's a tiny bit of disappointment, but I think most importantly it's a good experience. After all, a reality TV show isn't life or death.

"It's what I do with my music after the fact that matters."

Ng, 26, said even though there will be revival rounds later on in the show, he did not stay on in China as he wanted to return to Singapore and focus on his a cappella group The Apex Project.


Cho, who was crowned the champion of China Super Vocal Singapore in May, did not even get the opportunity to sing in front of the judges at all.

She only made it as far as the "prepping stage", which consisted of back-and-forth discussions with the directors and producers of the show about her song selections.

Cho, 36, said: "At one point, I was feeling the pressure and I had self-doubt... and thought that maybe (music and singing) isn't my calling."

Both of them are rooting for fellow Singaporean Nathan Hartono and are hoping that he can take down the rest of the competition. Cho said: "He has a good chance of winning because of his charming personality."

This article was first published on Aug 27, 2016. 
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