I wasn’t initially impressed by The Voice franchise. The US version seemed to be too much about the judges’ egos and the UK version tried to be fresh but often fell flat.
But then I stumbled on The Voice of China and I have become gloriously obsessed with it. That’s a big deal for someone who ordinarily gives television a miss in general.
Never mind that I know like 10-20 words of Mandarin; the show draws me in with its combination of funny, down-to-earth judges and really good talent.
The judging panel has some real heavyhitters and together, they’re a winningly enthusiastic team. There’s Taiwan ‘God of Music’ Harlem Yu (庾澄庆) who first officially injected rap into mainstream Chinese music way back in the 80’s. China’s singing darling and music veteran Na Ying (那英). Mr “I sang at the Olympics” and “THAT Water Margin theme” Liu Huan (刘欢) and my personal favourite the adorable Yang Kun (杨坤).
Yang Kun’s my favourite because he’s just hilarious, pulling some funny stunts like in the video I posted at the bottom at this post. Him and Harlem provide plenty of comic relief throughout the show though I must say the judges as a whole are truly a welcome contrast to the US and UK panels.
The Chinese judges seem a whole lot more sincere and less self-involved. You get the feeling the judges are really rooting for their charges and want them to succeed.
Sure, there’s the inevitable soap opera back story drama interspersed here and there but overall the show stays close to its heart: voices. And some of the voices on display are excellent.
My current favourite contestant is this guy, Guan Zhe. His emotional cover of Sandy Lam’s 领悟 (Ling Wu) made the judges teary, me even despite my not understanding more than 1-5 words in the whole song.
The song itself is one of those desperately sad Mandarin ballads. Not that I’m not a sucker for Mandopop. I love sappy Mandarin ear candy. This particular tune is one of those ‘We Broke Up And I Want to Hate You But I Can’t Because I Love You And Am Trying To Be A Bigger Person’ songs.
Have a listen to Guan Zhe breaking your heart in a million ways.
领悟 (Ling Wu)