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Singers fine-tune their appeal

Updated: 2024-06-14 06:29 ( China Daily )
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American singer-songwriter Adam Lambert performs on the music competition show Singer 2024. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Show's live performances up the ante, proving a hit with viewers, Xing Wen and Wang Yu report in Changsha.

The "Catfish Effect" describes how the presence of a strong competitor can invigorate and revitalize a complacent group. This phenomenon has been vividly illustrated by the Chinese music competition show Singer 2024, which features a mix of international and domestic singers competing in live broadcasts on Hunan Satellite TV and online video platform Mango TV.

The program is known for its strict standards, requiring performances to be completely live with only one take.

The "catfishes" include American diva Chante Moore and Moroccan-Canadian singer-songwriter Faouzia Ouihya, who are among the show's initial lineup, as well as American singer-songwriter Adam Lambert, who was invited to perform his hit single Whataya Want From Me in the third episode.

This phenomenon has made the show, well, phenomenal.

Its first episode on May 10 sparked heated debates because the only two foreign singers in its initial lineup — Moore and Ouihya — took the top two spots, while Chinese veteran vocalist Na Ying ranked third, with the other four Chinese singers trailing behind.

Since then, the program has broadcast live performances every Friday night, with new competitors joining each week. Every episode has sparked hot discussions on Chinese social media, making it a sensation in China.

Chinese internet users have expressed disappointment, suggesting that Chinese singers have been relying too much on postproduction edits instead of honing their authentic vocal performances. Some say that Singer 2024 is a wake-up call for the Chinese music industry, exposing it to international standards.

The show has even stirred nationalist sentiments among netizens, who are calling for truly capable Chinese singers to participate and represent China.

Chinese singers including Han Hong, Jiang Yingrong, Ji Minjia, Wang Xi, Li Jiawei, Luo Qi, Liu Meilin and Huang Xiaoyun have all expressed their desire to participate in the show on their social media platforms.

Music critic Lu Shiwei believes that the use of live broadcasting in the program sets a good example for the domestic music industry.

"Some may mistakenly think that singers just need to get on stage and sing directly but in reality, it takes coordination among various departments such as accompaniment and lighting to present a perfect performance. The widespread discussion brings the focus back to the essence of singing, which is a good thing," he says.

Lu believes that, physiologically, Western singers differ from Chinese singers, especially in their natural execution of vocal techniques like transitions and glissandos (gliding from one pitch to another). Western singers often have a more open and grand musical style, immediately projecting a strong presence and energy onstage. In contrast, Chinese singers tend to convey more restraint and delicate emotions, requiring deeper audience engagement to fully appreciate.

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