In what may potentially be the biggest turning point in Joey’s career since 2003, Joey joins the fourth season of Hunan Television’s hit reality show and singing competition, ‘I Am A Singer’ (我是歌手). For those unfamiliar with the show it is China’s version of the South Korean reality show of the same name, and for the past few years has been one of mainland China’s highest rated television programs. While in recent years many Chinese reality show singing competitions have come and gone, Singer’s high popularity comes from the fact that it pits established singers from mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea against each other. Well known singers that have competed in the show include Paul Wong of the legendary Hong Kong band Beyond, Aska Yang, Gary Chaw, Han Hong, Sun Nan, A-Lin, Leo Ku, Kit Chan, and more. Perhaps the biggest testament of the show’s ability to propel a singer’s popularity to stratospheric heights is the success of Hong Kong singer GEM. When GEM joined the second season of Singer she was virtually unknown in mainland China. In fact, it is reported that GEM’s manager had to purposely fly the show’s producer to Hong Kong to watch GEM’s concert in order persuade them into letting her join. After a successful run however in season 2 including a final second place finish, GEM has now become one of mainland China’s most popular female singers.
This season, Joey joins the competition in the third round as a ‘replacement singer’, competing against established veteran singers like Coco Lee and Jeff Chang, up-and-coming Taiwanese singer Lala Hsu, and Joey’s good friend Hacken Lee. Unlike GEM when she first joined, Joey is already well known in mainland China as the current ‘queen of Cantopop’ and thus news of her joining was met with much anticipation. According to Joey’s manager Mani, Hunan Television has been trying to persuade Joey to join for years and some reports say that Joey is being paid over 1.5 million RMB an episode to join this year. Joey’s first performance aired last Friday (February 26) where she sang Hacken’s classic hit 月半小夜曲.
Joey’s performance earned her a very respectable third place finish in that episode’s audience-voted final results, as well as an impressive second place finish within the competing singers’ internal vote in which the singers vote amongst themselves. If the response from Joey’s first episode is any indication, the next few weeks may see Joey’s popularity skyrocket in the Mandarin-speaking world. While having been on only one episode, Joey has already become one of the show’s most talked-about contestants. When the episode aired, Joey was the fourth top trending topic on Sina Weibo (used by over 30% of internet users in China, a market penetration similar to Twitter in the United States, with over 500 million registered users). As of February 29, Joey was the top most searched for female singer on Baidu (China’s largest search engine) as well as the seventh most searched for celebrity overall. Meanwhile the audio recording for Joey’s live performance of 月半小夜曲 became the top song on popular Chinese music streaming site NetEast Music.
Watch the full episode (including quite a few funny moments from Joey) here.