Who will be the next GEM?

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THIS isn’t only an invite to a reality show that boasts sky-high ratings and fuels raging netizen discussions. It is also a ticket to a multibillion show business industry, a chance to increase your popularity and get closer to endorsement deals.

Welcome to China’s third season of the reality television show I Am a Singer — a duplicate of South Korea’s programme of the same name —  that makes its debut on Hunan TV today (Jan 2). Tongues were wagging among Chinese netizens as to which seven seasoned vocalists would be invited to compete this time, and the list is in.

Singaporean songbird Kit Chan, 42, Hong Kong balladeer Leo Ku, 42, and Taiwan vocal powerhouse A-Lin, 31, are set to pitch their skills against four Chinese talents — Han Hong, Jane Zhang, Sun Nan and Anson Hu — all of whom have their respective strong followings in China. 

Chan, also an actress and a musical performer, is looking forward to bringing her acts to the Chinese audience, saying this to the Singapore’s The Straits Times: “I’m not here to try and win the competition. To me, it is really a performance platform.”

Chan was reportedly reluctant to

participate but was convinced by a long-time Taiwanese good friend. She then realised how deep-pocketed Chinese TV stations are, estimating the station allocates a staff strength of 300 people for the programme alone. 

I Am A Singer shies away from the format of getting laymen to compete in singing onstage. Instead, it involves veteran singers battling it out, live, in front of a selected studio audience. The one with the lowest audience votes gets booted out each week and then replaced by a new singer. 

Previous contestants Terry Lin Zhixuan, 48, from Taiwan, Malaysia’s Shila Amzah, 24, and Hong Kong’s GEM, 22, saw a boost in popularity after participating in the hit show. A handful of Lin’s and GEM’s performances wowed the audience enough to garner a few million hits on China’s video-sharing sites.

Despite losing out to Chinese peer Han Lei in the last season, GEM enjoyed her limelight and saw her Weibo followers surging to eight million from 1.5 million after the show. The young Hong Kong talent subsequently made it into “2014 Forbes China Celebrity 100 list”, which ranks as the year’s most influential entertainment and sports celebrities in terms of media exposure and annual income from Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. 

GEM’s earnings last year were a whopping 10.9 million yuan (RM6.2 million). 


Wanna be the next Super Junior?

South Korea’s largest record label SM Entertainment is launching a worldwide talent search in January to scout for the next “Super Junior” or “Girls’ Generation”. 

News reports say SM plans to hold a large-scale global audition with agency representatives venturing into nine countries (including its homeland) and 28 cities across Asia, Europe and North America. These include Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Canada, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, China and Russia. 

In addition to the star search, SM will host local auditions for singers, dancers, actors, models and composers looking to make a splash in the Korean industry. 

SM — home to some of K-pop’s biggest and most internationally recognised acts like TVXQ and EXO — is taking auditions to Russia for the first time, where K-pop has taken on a life of its own, reports added.


This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on January 2, 2015.