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The art of finding real talents in talent shows

Updated: 2013-10-10 07:23
By Han Bingbin (China Daily)

According to a survey by Beijing-based Data Topia, the audiences of Super Boy are mainly females born in the 1990s and Shanghai Dragon TV's Chinese Idol is watched by mainly people born in the 1980s. Voice enjoys a much wider audience ranging from teenagers to 40-somethings.

Audience ratings aside, there's a more serious concern about whether these music shows can serve to be a talent pool for the music industry. Since Hunan TV launched its Super Girls series in 2004, China's 10-year talent scouting has provided no more than five sustainable singers who regularly release quality albums.

A rapidly shrinking music market is surely to blame. But is the Chinese mainland's immature pop music capable of producing quality pop stars? There is also the aesthetical concern.

Last year, when rock boy Liang Bo of Na Ying's group won the Voice of China, many people saw him as a reproduction of Wang Feng, Na's friend. That's probably part of the reason why Wang became a judge this year.

Wang gathered in his group many rock singers with noticeable influence from his style. The same thing can be said of Na Ying, who was technically searching for reproductions of herself, or Wang Feng again, by showing preferences for either leather-lunged female singers or middle-aged rock men.

It seems the only judge with a little experimental spirit is Harlem Yu. With an avant-garde music taste influenced by Taiwan's mature music industry, his preference for unconventional singers and creative adaptation of classic songs both proved to be eye-openers.

If indeed the Voice is looking for China's next generation of pop stars, shouldn't they all eye something ahead of current trends?

As Evergrand Music's Wang Yi said, it's after all a TV program that has its own rules to fit and a massive crowd to please. Therefore, Wang said, the contestants are not necessarily as boring and mediocre as seen. Once their crowd-pleasing orthodox performance wins them a position in the music circle, they'll then have the chance to present their unique style.

So it's probably a naive notion to look for a trend-setting voice on a platform that's designed for a certain style.

Just as how Nanjing University's professor of communications Du Junfei sums up the Voice pattern on his micro blog: the color of the tone will lose to the volume of the sound, and singing quality to physical capacity; what talent shows find are bound to be the square type of singer; a heavenly voice can hardly be heard in the hubbub.


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