The last episode 5 ended with the elimination of 3 participants – Chen Hui, MC Jin, Liu Duan Duan. Then… the production team brought back MC Jin! New teams are formed with 4 main teams led by Jordan Chan, Vincent Zhao, Nathan Lee and Max Zhang.
With slight changes to the line-up of teams, the dynamics change a little but the focus is really on the performances. In episodes 6 & 7, 2 teams are pitted against each other, with Jordan vs Max and Vincent vs Nathan. The losing team loses one of their members each.
Episode 8 focuses on solo performances of Terry Lin, Jordan Chan, Zhang Qi, Yin Zheng while Episode 9 redirects to group performances, and boy! The group performances are really great. Way more enjoyable than the solos. By the end of the 9th episode, 6 more participants are eliminated ie with just 24 participants left. Link to review of earlier episodes 1 to 5.
Favourites Songs from Episodes 1 to 6
Da La Beng Ba 达拉崩吧 – Nathan Lee, Liu Jia, Zhang Qi, Paul Wong, James Lee, Ricky Rui, MC Jin
What can I say? This is my overall favourite of the group performances. And such a difficult piece to perform. Originally a Zhou Shen’s piece, his original feat is one performed by an extremely talented artist. The play of words is already difficult to pronounce, the fast-paced song with change in octaves is a really difficult piece to sing.
BUT the team totally re-arranged the piece to an amazingly wonderful piece. Instead of the focus on the difficult vocal, the performance is re-focused to a mix of musical, dance, rap, vocal singing. Once I started watching, I could not take my eyes off the performance. The feeling is exactly the same when I first watched my first musical many, many years ago. Your eyes are fixated on stage, not wanting to miss anything on the stage. All your senses are heightened and fully absorbing everything that you can each second. I am so afraid that I will miss out all the great things in the performance.
Starting with a slight variation of Swan Lake’s theme song, followed by Zhang Qi’s storytelling in his signature deep raspy voice – an introduction to a story of possibilities of a happily ever after, or the start of a nightmare. Liu Jia’s smooth dance moves, and Paul Wong’s classic deep rendition and the rest slowly coming on-board. With MC Jin’s powerful rap in the middle, Paul even returns as the drummer at a later stage, whoa! The ending is full of energy and fire, after a false end. The whole performance feels like encasing the audience in a dreamlike exciting story. I felt like swinging my head along with the singers!
Off-stage, there were differences in opinions especially with Zhang Qi insisting on his views in terms of performances. Personally, I do not think this is out of the ordinary as talented artists are mostly perfectionist and have high demands & expectations on any performances. Hence, differences & conflicts in views during direction of performances & production are normal. Without positive conflicts, it is difficult to push people to test their boundaries. I thought Nathan handled the situation well, bringing up the issues for discussion with Zhang Qi whereby both were accepting of the differences and discussed them like any mature individuals would.
Dang Nian Qing 当年情 – Jordan Chan, Chilam, Michael Tse, Jerry Lam, Edmond Leung, Bridge, GAI
Leslie Cheung’s classic in Cantonese is a familiar tune for most of the members herewith. BUT the group performance still surprises. I love that each box represents the member’s own past, with the end each of them coming back to the centre stage near the end. The opening is very nice with the whistling & instrumental accompaniment. Chilam’s smooth voice is a great opening, loving it very much. The classical accompaniment is well-paired with the song, with a bit of re-arrangement reminiscent of Morricone’s cowboyish songs. Bridge’s rap rhymes so well in the middle. The whole performance gives great vibes, like watching a band of brothers meeting to reminisce the great past.
Hua Kai 花祭 – Paul Wong, Zhang Qi, Nathan Lee, James Lee
An earlier group performance, the song somehow tugs at your heart. I believe this is the emotions from Paul Wong and Zhang Qi’s voices – deep & so sad. Totally mesmerising & heart-wrenching, perhaps sung from real life experiences as surely these kind of emotions in the voices cannot be staged. My only annoyance comes from James’ performance as his pronunciation is still a little off and his appreciation of the emotions are not as deep as the other 3 veterans. Some room for improvements.
Of special mention is Hao Chun Guang’s opening scene with the drum – showcasing both Max Chang and Li Xiang’s dance moves. Li Xiang’s dance moves is so graceful, where his bones are as if floating on water. A dancer’s moves are definitely graceful and peaks at a younger age, really limiting the performance of a great dancer as they age. It will be great if Li Xiang can expand his other talents, as his peak as a dancer may be at the end soon.
The solos are good but just do not move me in the way compared with the group performance. BUT of special mention is really Jordan Chan’s solo – Suan Ni Hen. It is very original and the use of Joker’s slightly manic expression, he nails it down – between love and hate, there is only a thin line.
Another solo that I thought is a great variation is Yin Zheng’s One Plum Blossom. The classic is ripped to its core!
New Discoveries And Other Muses
A few observations on Li Yun Di’s performances – really shy & a total introvert, losing so much weight! Over the episodes, Li Yun Di’s performances really improved as I believe he tried new areas eg singing, rapping, dancing. He fits in very well with the team from HK who are very willing to provide guidance especially in stage presence. He loses so much weight, and so funny when Hu Hai Quan compares his own weight loss of 2 kg vs 15 kg. Vincent Zhao gives his honest input that the differences lie in discipline & the really oily food stuff that Hu Hai Quan eats. 😀
Although very sad that he is leaving, am also glad that he has gained experiences and looking forward for his further improvement to the next stage of his life as an artist, expanding beyond his professional life as a pianist. He is also so sporting when he says goodbye to the rest of the brothers.
Zhang Qi’s disappointment when his solo is placed last is so apparent, and showcases all the pressure he feels. It is indeed very warming for Nathan Lee to comfort him, totally understanding his feeling. Nathan Lee also worries too much, but he is really very responsible and has great communication skills. A people-person, he focuses on making sure all members are comfortable and understand their perspectives.
Kido Gao has too much energy, so does MC Jin! Combining the trio – Kido Gao, Bai Ju Gang and MC Jin can really bring down the house. Paul Wong’s Mandarin & English are impeccable, he can switch from Mandarin, to Cantonese to English quite effortlessly. Jerry Yan is really a kid at heart, with a really sensitive soul. He cries too easily!
I really like Liu Tao as the host, I am glad the producers decided to drop all the other younger female hosts from the first episode as they are just not natural & doesn’t fit into the overall production.
Episode 7 – Eliminated Li Yun Di & Henry Prince Mak
In the elimination round in episode 7, Jordan and Vincent have to face the difficulties to manage the communication to the person eliminated. The method both choose to manage the elimination is very different, and I guess reflective of their manner of managing relationship. Vincent chooses to speak separately with Henry Prince Mak, and drops in hint on his elimination while Jordan chooses to speak to the whole team as a whole, providing the results for them to read themselves.
Episode 9 – Eliminated Owodog, Shawn Huang, Liu Cong, Bridge
All the teams are extremely affected during this elimination round as a lot more were at stake. However, the selections are indeed reflective of the less popular artists. Shawn Huang as the more mature veteran, really has great talents – ability to play a few instruments – guitar, cello, piano. And his voice is really nice. Bridge as the younger more impulsive rapper has a great future as he is a great orator – very natural & rhymes so easily with his raps. Liu Cong seems like a straight-talking rapper, and his reverence for Vincent is so cute.
Based on the group performances, ALL of the participants have tried new skillsets and most have made new discoveries about themselves and improve. And the attraction of this particular reality show is really the efforts and genuine relationships of the participants. Looking forward to more surprises from the participants. To be continued…
Final review Episodes 10 – 12 with the grand finale & ranking (contains spoilers)
While waiting for the continuation, there are other related interviews and short sketches featuring each of the participants. You can check them out here if you are missing the participants, and perhaps just to get a little bit more tid-bits on their personal lives, personality and preferences.
Call Me By Fire Plus : ~ 30 – 40 minutes of additional clips not in the main content
Afternoon Tea with “Ge Ge” 哥哥的下午茶 : Host having afternoon tea with each participant, answering common questions and specific questions from fans. Light-hearted with revelations of likes and dislikes of each ge ge.
Boyhood : Participants attending class with 5 other youngsters, performing funny tasks and playing games.
Destination 2021 定义 : Heart-to-heart talk with a straight-talking (and probing) host, sharing their personal preferences & personality. Actually, I thought most of the participants were a bit wary of the host, who seems to be a little serious and probes very personal matters. 😀