Asian reality stars go overseas in search of fame

Like many Chinese girls her age, Qi Ji enjoys singing and dancing and dreams of becoming a star. But rather than trying to make a start in vast and crowded China, she is pinning her hopes on Taiwan.

The 18-year-old is the first of many Chinese contestants expected to enter a Taiwanese reality show aimed at creating a girl band that producers hope can rival supergroups such as Japan's AKB48 or South Korea's Girls' Generation.

With such televised contests now a major part of the global music industry, in Asia they are spurring a migration of talent between countries as performers and producers look to crack domestic, regional and global markets.

For Qi, who grew up in northeast China and attended a performing art school in Beijing, this could offer a once-in-a-lifetime chance for a fast track to stardom in China's market of 1.3 billion people -- and perhaps beyond.

"Many young Chinese people like me dream of becoming a star," Qi told AFP prior to a recording session for "Asian Idol Group Competition" aired in mid-May.

"I hope to start in Taiwan and eventually have a career both here and in China."

Growing numbers of young Chinese performers are coming to Taiwan in search of a big break, reversing a trend that saw famous Taiwanese performers such as A-Mei and Jay Chou focus on China.

The show's producer Lee Fang-ju, the mastermind behind reality shows both in his native Taiwan and in China, is holding auditions in several major Chinese cities this summer to select more contestants to come to Taipei.

"Taiwan has a special allure as many young Chinese idolise Taiwanese singers. They think that making a mark here could turn them into pop divas such as Taiwan's Jolin Tsai and Elva Hsiao," Lee said.

"We hope to combine Taiwan and China's strength to create a pop idol group so that our idols won't be replaced by the Japanese or South Koreans," he said.

The most successful case so far is arguably Hu Xia, a 22-year-old from Guangxi in southwestern China, who was signed by Sony Music Taiwan after winning the "One Million Star" singing contest in 2010.

His latest record "Flame of Love" hit number one on Taiwan's G-Music chart in March.

"Winning a title in Taiwan is a big boost for a young Chinese performer since it has a leading role in Mandarin pop music," said Hsieh Tsung-han, a music producer and lecturer at China University of Technology in Taipei.

A-list Entertainment, which is based in Taipei and offers courses for those aspiring to become singers, models and show hosts, is meanwhile getting plenty of interest from China.

Last year, it recruited about 100 Chinese nationals aged between 14 and 35 from as far as Mongolia to take performing lessons in Taiwan for an eight-day programme at a cost of 15,000 Chinese yuan ($2,380).

"Many Chinese youth follow Taiwan's TV programmes closely and they are attracted by Taiwan's colourful, diverse and free entertainment scene," said A-list publicity officer Stella Teng.

"China is huge and so you are less likely to get discovered."

While many Chinese acts look to get noticed in smaller markets first, one English-speaking Asian act has looked to use their ethnicity to do the reverse and crack the United States -- despite a history of such attempts falling flat. "Blush" is made up of five women from the Philippines, India, China, Japan and South Korea who beat hundreds of other pop star wannabes during a talent search across Asia in 2010 called "Project Lotus".

Based in both Hong Kong and the US, Blush have opened for Justin Bieber on the Hong Kong leg of his 2011 tour, recorded with US hip hop star Snoop Dogg and are supported by an A-List of Los Angeles-based producers who have worked with the likes of Lady Gaga and Beyonce.

"Asian singers have not crossed over although many attempts have been made," said Project Lotus producer and Blush manager Jon Niermann in Los Angeles.

"What we've tried to do is take artists from the region, but develop them in a very western style with western producers, western songs and a western way of sound and that's what is helping give Blush the recognition and some initial success."

In February the band's single "Dance On" hit number one on the Billboard dance club chart, above Rihanna and Kelly Clarkson. The band's debut EP "The Undivided" was released in May.

"We're in it for the long run and we are serious about our music," said Blush's Victoria Chan, who is the band's Chinese member. "We have been waiting for this for a long time."

"You lead with the music and the rest of it becomes a public relations angle as to who this group is to set them apart, which is important," said Niermann. "But it ultimately comes down to talent.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Philippines accuses China of turning water cannon on its fishing boats

    Filipino activists denounced China's coast guard on Tuesday for turning water cannon on Philippine fishing boats in disputed waters, near where hundreds of Filipino and American Marines landed on a beach in a mock assault. The presidential palace in Manila said China's coast guard used water cannon on Monday to drive away a group of Filipino fishermen at Scarborough Shoal, damaging some of their wooden boats. …

  • U.S. says if China used water cannons on Philippine boats, would be provocative'

    The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday that if reports that China used water cannon son Philippine fishing boats in disputed waters are accurate, it would be a provocative step. Filipino activists have accused China's coast guard of turning water cannons on civilian boats in the disputed area on Monday. …

  • Pacmania sweeps Philippines ahead of Mayweather clash
    Pacmania sweeps Philippines ahead of Mayweather clash

    Manny Pacquiao's face is on shirts, dolls and postage stamps, his life story is playing in movie houses and millions are getting ready to party as the Philippine boxing hero's "fight of the century" nears. Pacmania is sweeping the Southeast Asian nation of 100 million people ahead of the May 2 Las Vegas bout against unbeaten Floyd Mayweather to decide who is the best boxer of their generation. Of course, it's the fight of the century," Manila film producer Lucky Blanco told AFP. …

  • ‘Racist remark vs Pinays not reflective of HK sentiment’
    ‘Racist remark vs Pinays not reflective of HK sentiment’

    The Philippine consulate general in Hong Kong believes that the “racist” statement of legislator Regina Ip against Filipina domestic helpers in Hong Kong is not reflective of the general sentiments of the Hong Kong community. Hong Kong is home to more than 173,00 Filipinos working mostly as household service workers. “They have left their loved ones back home to earn a decent living taking care of Hong Kong families. This, in turn, has engendered positive impact on both the quality of life …

  • SWS: Gov’t rating sinks to record low
    SWS: Gov’t rating sinks to record low

    “The Aquino administration is firmly determined to carry on and complete priority programs in all five pillars of the Philippine development plan, to ensure that reforms will be sustained by strengthened public institutions, to tread the righteous path and ensure that good governance becomes the norm at all levels of government, and to sustain and make permanent the gains from the transformation of mindsets and institutions,” Coloma added. Lawmakers expressed belief yesterday that the Aquino …

  • ‘Pacmania’ sweeping the nation
    ‘Pacmania’ sweeping the nation

    Manny Pacquiao’s face is on shirts, dolls and postage stamps, his life story is playing in movie houses, and millions are getting ready to party as the Philippine boxing hero’s “fight of the century” nears. Pacmania is sweeping the nation of 100 million people ahead of the May 2 Las Vegas bout against unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr. to decide who is the best boxer of their generation. …

  • House committee to put Bangsamoro police under PNP
    House committee to put Bangsamoro police under PNP

    The House ad hoc committee on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will put police forces in the envisioned new autonomous Muslim region under the Philippine National Police (PNP), and not under the regional chief minister. “We will delete the provision in the draft BBL giving the chief minister operational, administrative and disciplinary control over police forces in the region,” Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, committee chairman, said in a television interview. He said under …

  • Phl to seek more US military aid
    Phl to seek more US military aid

    The Philippines said yesterday it would soon ask the United States for more military equipment and training to build its defenses, as it faces Chinese “aggressiveness” in disputed waters. As hundreds of Filipino and American Marines simulated an amphibious assault to reclaim territory from invaders during annual war games, Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang said he was drafting a “wish list” for US aid. Catapang said the Philippines would ask for “equipment and training” when …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options