Recently, Chinese singer Hu Xia claimed first place on the final episode of “Super Star Avenue,” Taiwan’s popular singing contest. He was the first Chinese singer to win on Taiwan’s equivalent of “American Idol” and “Britain’s Got Talent” where contestants compete hoping to win a record deal. Other Chinese performers are also coming to Taiwan to try their luck on another music contest, “Super Idol.”
Hosted by Matilda Tao, “Super Star Avenue” first aired on the Taipei-based China Television Corporation (CTV) in January 2007. Each six-month season works toward finding the next singing superstar. Lin Yu-chun, now considered Taiwan’s “Susan Boyle” rose from obscurity after appearing on “Super Star Avenue.” Even though Lin did not win, this April he was invited to sing on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and Lopez Tonight in the US. He has since signed a contract with Sony Music Entertainment.
In the latest season, a vocal group nick-named the “Three Handsomes” – Mo Sao-srai, Jiang Yifan and Li Guangbo from China’s Shandong, Heilongjiang and Hubei provinces respectively, made it to the finals.
According to the United Daily News, these young Chinese men, with an average age of 20, moved to Taiwan for over six months and stayed in a small motel in Taipei. All the arrangements were made by the production company. Li said, “I was told that Taiwan is a beautiful island. I was eager to come here and see what it is like. But it is hot and humid.” These four singers from China experienced “the warmest ever winter in their lives.”
Living in a place different from their native land and living on very little money was tough. They survived with thanks to a large group of Hu’s fans who supplied them with abundant summer fruits, snacks, Taiwanese specialties, and even stomach and throat relievers. Hu has no regrets, despite a diet of cheap braised pork and rice, and the time-consuming visa process; the men hope to release records in Taiwan. The group even said that they would like to find Taiwanese brides, because “the girls here are particularly kind.”
Another popular talent show is “Super Idol.” Around since October 2007, the show is hosted by Li Chin. The show is less restrictive in terms of the age of its participants, their professions, and does not limit itself to filming only in Taiwan.
A recent contestant was 27-year-old Li Yasa of Shanghai, China, who released an album in Taiwan a few years ago. At that time, she did not come to Taiwan to promote the album. This time around, she temporarily relocated to Taiwan for six months and found an apartment while appearing on “Super Idol.” Since she came from a well-to-do family, her relocation was not a financial burden.
Another contestant was Duan Xuming, originally an actor from Harbin province, China. He married a Taiwanese businesswoman, Liu Si-ling, who runs the well-known bridal salon “Paris, France.” Under her encouragement, Duan participated in the “Super Idol” contest.
Contestants have also included Kim Kiji, an overseas Chinese artist from South Korea, and a freshman in the advertising department at National Chengchi University. He stumbled across the “Super Idol” contest by chance, and he had a hard time getting used to the food and the humid weather in Taiwan. Language was also a big barrier for him. Having a limited Chinese vocabulary, he could not understand what the judges were saying. Nevertheless, he sees Taiwan as a “land full of opportunities. More and more people like Taiwan. I want to be a singer and have albums made in Taiwan,” he said.
Others hoping to capitalize on the popularity of the shows include 29-year-old Zhao Taixiang from Burma. With two albums already released in Burma, he hopes the added exposure will result in an album deal in Taiwan. In the meantime, he is coping with the keen competition in Taiwan and earning a living by working in a pub. Someday, he hopes to return to Burma as a star.
Former overseas Chinese contestants who have shown promise on the shows have included Wong Jinglun, Ai Chen and Fu Chunying. They have all successfully started their singing careers and released albums in Taiwan.
At 28, Ai came from Malaysia in 2002 to take part in “Super Idol.” After several failed attempts, he finally won in January 2010. Another fellow Malaysian, 26-year old Fu also participated in “Super Idol.” She won second place after Ai. Fu noted, “Taiwan and Malaysia are home for me. But it bothers me that laundry takes so long to dry in this humid Taipei weather.” Even coming sixth place can mean a significant break-through. Just ask Wong, who appeared during the third season of “Super Star Avenue.” The 27 year-old Singaporean still signed a contract with Warner Music Taiwan, and has since released two albums in two years. He is now working to build his fan base in China.
- The Press Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in San Francisco represents the Government Information Office (GIO), Executive Yuan, Republic of China (Taiwan). GIO maintains nine Press Divisions in the United States, including the San Francisco office. The Press Divisions are in charge of promoting Taiwan's public relations and cultural exchanges. This blog is updated by the Press Division, TECO in San Francisco.
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