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The Evolution of Chinese Singing Competitions

July 30, 2013
Translated by Siutan Wong

Since ZJTV (浙江卫视) launched Voice of China (中国好声音) last year, TV talent competitions have sprouted up like weeds.

Singing, dancing and talent shows have become by far the most popular reality programs in China, with singing competitions taking the top ratings. Experts say this is because the audition process is easiest for audiences to relate to.  “The success of grassroots stars can easily inspire normal people,” said Lu Wei (陆伟), publicity director of Voice of China.

Over the past two years, many TV stations have bought the copyrights to successful reality shows from other countries and then localized them for Chinese audiences. Lu said that reality shows have been developing for many years in other countries and have already matured there. So it’s usually easier for Chinese TV stations to copy these programs rather than begin new shows from scratch.  

Lu says that when reality TV programs were originally localized to China, most used celebrities in order to attract viewers, which missed the original point of the shows.  “The core of a reality show is ‘to show,’ not ‘to select,’” Lu said. “Lots of singing shows failed to provide a platform for singers to show their character, thinking that as long as they invited some stars, the show would be successful. That was a big misunderstanding.”

Reality shows now don’t just focus on participants showcasing their talents, but also on presenting their personal stories.  

Zuo Li (左立) was a contestant on a Hunan TV (湖南卫视) singing competition. Since he had no experience, he chose an ordinary pop song and was eliminated in the first round. However, after hearing his romantic story, the director decided to keep him on and have him sing a love song by an obscure musician. Zuo ended up being an audience favorite.

Candidates now also show more interest in classic songs and indie music as opposed to the bubbly pop hits that dominated the airwaves a few years ago. And more people are choosing to remix their songs according to their singing style and personality.

As competition has become fiercer among TV stations, more and more gimmicks have also been added to these shows.  For example, some are now featuring a “revival game,” which lets candidates who were eliminated in earlier rounds re-enter the competition if they’re voted back by viewers.

However, many have complained that these changes have made the shows too complicated and watered down the suspense. And producers are complaining that it’s getting harder to find qualified participants. “Candidates used to come to us,” said the director of a major reality show. “However, that all changed this year. I heard that some TV stations have even paid candidates to go on their shows."

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Beijing News - 真人秀那么多,为什么唱歌最火爆?




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