The Appeal of Chinese Singing Competitions & Survival Shows

A bit of information about me: In 2018, I was invested in Singer 2018, which is a singing competition for professional and well-established singers. It took place in China.

Earlier this year, I was super invested in Chuang 2020, a girls trainee survival show that took place in China. The 7-member group, BonBon Girls 303, was formed. I voted every day when it aired.

I’ve also watched a boys trainee survival show called Chuang 2019. The 11-member band, R1SE, was formed. I’m currently watching Super Vocal Season One, which is a singing competition for opera and musical singers.

Each episode is around two hours and the finales are around four hours. Two hours for one episode is not enough, by the way. There’s so much content that gets left out. You can probably tell that I like these types of shows.

Why, though? Note: A lot of these reasons are applicable to non-Chinese singing competitions.

1) TO WATCH THE CONTESTANTS WE LOVE

A lot of the contestants already have established fanbases. I watched Singer 2018 for Hua Chenyu and I watched Chuang 2020 for Chen Zhuoxuan, Nene, and Joyce Chu. I’m watching Super Vocal for Zheng Yunlong and Ayanga.

2) TO DISCOVER TALENTED ARTISTS

I became a fan of Zhao Lei, Zhou Zhennan, and Liu Ye after I watched Chuang 2019.

3) FOR THE FRIENDSHIPS

Although these are competitions, there are moments of beautiful friendship between the contestants. In Chuang 2020, Nene cried because she was afraid that Wu Yalu was going to be eliminated. Nene had a secure ranking but the one she was worried about was her best friend. Liu Xiening and Xu Yiyang’s friendship was touching, too.

In Super Vocal, Zheng Yunlong and Ayanga’s friendship started from when they were roommates during their university years.

4) TO FEEL INSPIRED

The contestants are hard-working and determined to achieve their goals. I know I felt inspired when I watched this scene in Super Vocal:

The contestants have to face a lot of challenges during the show, too. Although it’s challenging for them and entertaining for us, it pushes them to learn and grow as artists.

5) FOR THE MUSIC

All the contestants are talented! Since these are singing shows, there’s obviously beautiful singing involved! Sometimes there’s rap, dance, and musical instruments too, depending on the show. Not only do they sing, they sometimes rearrange the music (Singer 2018, Super Vocal), write the music, and create the choreography (Chuang 2019). The art of performing in front of an audience is important as well as selecting the right song.

It’s entertaining!

6) TO APPRECIATE NEW MUSIC GENRES AND SONGS

Prior to watching Singer 2018, I didn’t really appreciate Chinese folk music. I changed my mind after I learned more about it and saw the hard work behind the scenes.

7) TO LEARN NEW THINGS

I’ve liked songs from musicals and opera for many years, but I didn’t know the meaning behind some of the songs. In Super Vocal, they explain the story behind the song.

8) YOU GET TO PARTICIPATE

This one is for survival competitions that involve voting. It’s exciting to support your favourites. There’s a reason to vote for them: So that they can debut (This depends on the show).

When Chuang 2020 aired, I had something to look forward every week.


Do you see why I like Chinese singing competitions now?

My Favourite Songs & Performances by R1SE

R1SE is an 11-member boy band that was formed at the end of the Chinese trainee survival show, Chuang 2019. The 11 members secured the most votes and thus, R1SE was created. They are popular in China but they aren’t as well-known internationally. I suspect this has to do with the lack of translated content. The Chuang episodes on YouTube don’t even have English subtitles. They deserve more recognition!

Since R1SE is a temporary group, they have less than a year left. I still think this is worth writing about because they have some amazing performances.

You’ve probably listened to their songs if you have watched Mo Dao Zu Shi, The King’s Avatar live-action, or Scumbag System.

R1SE Photos (3 of 5) | Last.fm

1. R1SE – 少年如故《魔道祖师 Mo Dao Zu Shi》

This is the third ending of Mo Dao Zu Shi. Five of the members sing it. They are Zhao Lei, Ren Hao, Liu Ye, He Luoluo, and Zhai Xiaowen.

2. R1SE – 荣耀的战场 《全职高手 The King’s Avatar》

Most of their videos on YouTube are in Chinese.

3. R1SE 赵磊 Zhao Lei – 忘言歌 Song of Words Unsaid《Scumbag System》 

Zhao Lei is one of my favourite members. Scumbag System is actually airing right now. You can watch the episodes legally on YouTube. They have English subtitles! The CGI rubbed me the wrong way at first but I quickly got used to it. The story is by the creator of Mo Dao Zu Shi. I recommend it.

4. R1SE – 曜

This is their live performance of . They’re amazing in this one! The chorus is catchy.

5. R1SE – 中国话

The original song is sung by the Taiwanese girl group, S.H.E. In this live performance, they added Chinese opera and rap. It’s cool that they combined these different genres. This is one of my favourite performances of theirs. At the end of the performance, they pulled out nunchucks like?? Wah.

I love Zhao Lei’s opera in the beginning and Zhang Yanqi’s rap @2:57.

6. R1SE – YOU

This is the practice video version of YOU. This song is more focused on vocals. I love Liu Ye’s vocals the most in this one. He’s also my favourite member.

7. R1SE 翟潇闻、赵磊 – Forever Young

This is Zhai Xiaowen and Zhao Lei’s live performance of Forever Young. The original song is sung by another singer but I actually prefer their cover. They are the main vocals of the group.

8. 创造营2019(宝藏男友、蜕变、滨河东路、EMP、Fireman、敢、青春纪念册、创造101)- 蜕变

This is a performance from Chuang 2019. Only two members of R1SE are in this one (Zhou Zhennan and Zhao Lei). This is my favourite performance from the show. Zhou Zhennan, the one who secured first place in all the episodes, is amazing in this one. Not only is his rap great, but his vocals are perfect @2:50. This song isn’t really his style either, which makes it even more impressive.

9. R1SE+SNH48 – Y’all Don’t Touch It

I like this performance but I think R1SE does a better job than the girls… I think Ren Hao, Liu Ye, and Zhou Zhennan’s visuals pop out in this one. Ren Hao is the one in the beginning and Liu Ye appears at @1:40.

Runner-up songs and performances: 梦在黎明破晓时 and Blue Bird (Yes, the Naruto opening).


I hope that you’ll check out R1SE’s songs. It’s a shame that they aren’t promoted to international audiences. That’s why us fans are pulling our weight in hopes that someone out there will be interested!

My Top 5 Songs by Yutaka Yamada

I was surprised to read about Yutaka Yamada’s works because I realized I liked his music from different anime but didn’t know it. Suddenly, it all made sense.

1. Glassy Sky (Tokyo Ghoul)

Tokyo Ghoul gets a lot of hate for being a bad anime adaptation. I like Tokyo Ghoul a lot but I’ve realized it’s because of the soundtrack.

Glassy Sky helps me fall asleep. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve listened to it.

2. Promise (Death Note: Light Up the New World)

This is from the live-action film, Death Note: Light Up the New World. I watched the film in June 2017. This song inspired me to draw this:

3. On My Own (Tokyo Ghoul)

I rarely listen to English songs too.

4. Licht und Schatten (Tokyo Ghoul)

5. Great Pretender Opening

This song is a very different from what you would hear in Tokyo Ghoul. I was surprised to learn that it was composed by Yutaka Yamada. He’s insanely talented.

Great Pretender is an amazing anime, by the way. You can read my impressions post here.


I was also surprised to learn that he did the soundtracks for Babylon, Vinland Saga, and the Inuyashiki live-action. I’ve been listening to his music on Spotify. Maybe I’ll have an updated list in the future. 🙂

Chuang 2020: My Thoughts on the Final Ranking

I’m very happy that Curley Gao won C position! She deserves it!

I’m also happy that Chen Zhuo Xuan and Nene made it in the final group. While they didn’t make the top 3, I’m glad that they still made it. I didn’t have any worries about Curley, Zhuo Xuan, or Nene not making the group because their rankings have always been within the top 7.

Still, I think that Zhuo Xuan and Nene deserve to be in the top 3. Zhuo Xuan’s performances in the final were amazing. She showed us a different side of her that we have never seen before. If she didn’t face so many setbacks and was able to show her full potential during the show, I believe she would have placed higher.

CHUANG 2020" Debuts 7 Member Girl Group, "BonBon Girls 303" | 三八姐姐

Ranks 1-6 were stable, but I was worried about rank 7. One moment it was Xu Yiyang and then the next moment it was Zhang Yifan. In the end, Yifan was rank 7 and Yiyang did not get to debut. There’s a lot of outrage on platforms everywhere: Weibo, Facebook, YouTube, etc.

I hear the difference between the votes was very small, so Yiyang had a chance. I personally voted for Yiyang. In terms of vocal and dance ability, I think that Yiyang is better.

There were also a couple of things that were off-putting about Yifan prior to the final. 1) Yifan saying that the group will carry her to victory and 2) Yifan saying that she cannot do it (yell a song lyric) and Yiyang encouraging her to do it. From these scenes, it looked like the group was babysitting Yifan when everyone had a lot on their plates already.

However, I also feel sad for Yifan for all the hate she is getting. A lot of netizens are saying that Yifan made it in the group because of her rich mom and because her company is huge. I don’t know if this is true or not. Even if she did win because of money, it’s not fair to direct the hate at her. Yifan still worked hard. It was others who voted for her.

I am sure that Yiyang will be successful, even though she didn’t make it in the group. I’m also sad that Liu Xiening is separated from Yiyang.

While Nene didn’t get to stay with Wu Yalu and her other close friends, she has the opportunity to become closer with Curley and the other girls.

Songs I’m Listening to This Week

In addition to flumpool songs, here are more songs I’m listening to this week.

I’ve been described as “living under a rock” but I don’t think this is true. I think that “living under a rock” implies that you don’t know any of the popular stuff. It’s true that I don’t know any of the popular stuff in Western pop culture, but I know what’s popular in China and Japan. Maybe I’m just above a different rock. I would say that I listen to Chinese songs the most and then Japanese music.

只是太在意 Just Cared Too Much – 宁桓宇

This is my favourite song right now. It’s from the Guardian OST. Guardian is a Chinese drama I’m watching right now. The song is sad, but so are all of my favourite songs.

初心 Chu Xin – 张赫宣

This is also from the Guardian OST. A comment said that this song is like a response to “Just Cared Too Much” and I like to view it as such. (Shen Wei’s POV in “Just Cared Too Much” and Zhao Yunlan’s reply in “Chu Xin.”)

There’s an English version of this song but the lyrics are different. It’s sang by a different singer and it’s a more powerful version.

追 Chasing – CORSAK

Chasing was released a day ago! CORSAK wrote the song while thinking about his “little foxes” (fans). I really like the lyrics. Basically, the song says that life is mundane but life is worth living because of his “little foxes.” He sings that everybody is concerned with numbers (likes, comments, follows) and popularity, but it doesn’t matter to him as long as his “little foxes” like the song. We like it!!!

If you like this song, I recommend listening to Reverse (LIVE) and Timelapse.

就只看了你一眼,就已确定了永远 – 李袁杰 & 李俊佑

I love Chinese songs from this era that incorporate traditional Chinese instruments. At 2:40, we hear Chinese opera. It’s cool that the song mixed the two styles together.

時間飛行 Time of Flight – 白宇 & 朱一龍

The two main leads from Guardian sang this song together. I think you can tell that I’m in love with drama right now. 😛

答案 – 倫桑

This is a cover of 答案 but I like this version more than the original.

My Favourite flumpool Songs

flumpool is a Japanese band. I’ve liked them since 2009! They did the theme songs for the 2008 Jdrama, Bloody Monday. In 2010, they did the theme song for Bloody Monday Season 2. flumpool’s new songs are still amazing. I love them soo much! I especially love Ryuta Yamamura. He’s the vocalist.

Another thing I like about flumpool is that they have songs in Chinese. I don’t know any other Japanese band or singer that have songs in Chinese. Ryuta recently posted a lot of videos of him speaking in Chinese and practising Chinese. He even asked fans to help him learn. T_T

Over the rain (2008)

This is the theme song for Bloody Monday.

残像 / Zanzou (2010)

This is the theme song for Bloody Monday Season 2.

花になれ / Hana ni Nare (2008)

I love the violin in the beginning! I can’t believe this song is from 2008.

証明 / Akashi (2011)

Ashin from the Taiwanese band, Mayday, wrote this song. This is one of flumpool’s Chinese songs. There is also a Japanese version. It’s so beautiful. T_T

HELP (Chinese ver.) (2020)

This came out just a few weeks ago! The Japanese version was released in 2019. I love it.

君に届け / Kimi ni Todoke (2010)

This was the theme song for the Japanese film, Kimi ni Todoke. It’s based on a shojo manga. I think this is one of their more popular songs.

素晴らしき嘘 / Subarashiki Uso (2020)

This is a new song from 2020. I love it.

明日への賛歌 / asu heno sanka

I think this is from 2014. I love the music video so much.

OAOA (2013)

flumpool sang a Japanese cover of Mayday’s 2011 song, OAOA.


These are my favourite flumpool songs. Please give them a listen, their songs are so good.

My Favourite Trainees in Chuang 2020

Chuang 2020 is a Chinese trainee survival show. There are 101 girls in the beginning. The remaining seven trainees will form an idol group. Tao, Luhan, Victoria Song, and Mao Buyi are the mentors. Kris Wu was a guest mentor for one episode.

My friends and I are so invested in this show. We remind each other to vote every day. We can only vote for two girls per day on the WeTV app so I rotate my votes. Here’s a list of my favourite trainees:

1. Nene

คลิปแรงไม่หยุด! NeNe เนเน่ พรนับพัน สาวไทยหนึ่งเดียวบนเวทีระดับ ...

Nene is from Thailand. She started learning Chinese a month before she came to the show and her Chinese is really, really good now. I knew Nene from the Thai drama, 2gether, so I actually liked her before Chuang 2020.

Nene had a rough life because she had to support her family. She even lifted bricks in Thailand. I can tell that it is her dream to become famous and that she is passionate about performing on stage.

Nene has consistently ranked #3 for a while. She’s really liked by Chinese fans and fans everywhere.

2. Chen Zhuo Xuan

chen zhuoxuan | Tumblr

One of the reasons why I started watching this show was to support Chen Zhuo Xuan. She played A-Qing in the Chinese drama, The Untamed. In the first episode, she sang a cover of Wu Ji and it sounded so beautiful. I love her voice.

Chen Zhuo Xuan has consistently ranked #2. In one of the previous episodes, she was really brave and asked the sponsors why she had not gotten commercials while other girls did. This was controversial but I’m on her side. She’s ranked so highly yet she is being treated unfairly. She’s been cut out of advertisements because of her boldness. WE NEED TO VOTE FOR HER!!!

I know a good amount of people started watching Chuang 2020 because of Chen Zhuo Xuan. This is how the show is treating her?? I’m so mad.

3. Joyce Chu

Joyce Chu performs new self-written song on “Chuang 2020 ...

I liked Joyce Chu before Chuang 2020 because she’s a successful singer from Malaysia. She writes her own songs and she’s really good at guitar and ukelele. I like her friendship with Nene. Her ranking is not that high, so we need to support her!

4. Curley Gao

Xilinnayi Gao | Produce 101 Wikia | Fandom

Curley Gao has consistently ranked in first place. There’s no doubt that she has a strong voice. She participated in Sing! Sing China Season 2 in 2017, so you know she’s good at singing.


I also like Zhong Feifei, Wu Yalu, Xu Yiyang, Xie Anran, and Jiang Zheng Yu. It’s kind of hard to put a number order to them because I like them all.

The full episodes with English subtitles are on WeTV and YouTube. New episodes come out every weekend.

Unwrapping: Your Name (album)

Your Name. | 君の名は。| Kimi no Na wa. by Radwimps (2016)

soundtrack for Your Name

Anyone else still listen to CDs? This just arrived in the mail.

One of my favourite things about CDs is the cover art booklet. The cover art booklet for this one is gorgeous.

My Favourite Thai Songs

I recently shared that I got into Thai dramas. I confess that my Thai music knowledge is extremely limited since most of these songs are from the dramas I’ve watched.

TEMPT – Be With Me Tonight

TEMPT is a group made up of the actors from the Thai drama, Love By Chance. Love By Chance is my first Thai drama and it’s the drama that got me into Thai dramas. My favourite Thai actor is Perth and he’s in this group.

Bright Vachirawit – Kan Goo

This song is sang by the main actor of an ongoing Thai drama called 2gether The Series. It’s part of the OST. 2gether The Series is the Thai series I’m looking forward to the most every week.

Three Man Down – Team Ror Tur

My favourite Thai actor, Perth, performed a cover this song and I really liked it.

Scrubb – Everything

The main character in 2gether The Series loves this song because it makes him feel happy. I agree, it’s a really nice song that brightens your mood.

MEAN – ทำไมต้องคนนี้? WHY R U?

This song is from the Why R U? OST. The drama has a really catchy soundtrack.

Kaew x Tomo – นี่คือรักใช่ไหม WHY R U ?

This is the Why R U? opening song.

Pause – Dao

Perth covered this song. It’s a really nice song.

Kaownah – Be Mine 

The singer played the character Llong in TharnType.


To be honest, I am surprised at myself because I’ve kept my interests pretty “narrow” for most of my life. For example, only anime. I guess I’ve expanded my horizons, or something like that.

Songs That Inspire Hope During This Challenging Time

I’ve been feeling quite jaded with society lately re: panic buying due to the coronavirus. I.e. fights at the stores, stocking up baby wipes because hand sanitizers are sold out and leaving nothing behind for families with babies. I’ve lost some faith in humanity because of those people who resell toilet paper, face masks, and hand sanitizers. When I read the news, it feels like an animal world. Every man for himself.

I’ve always been interested in human nature. I have a Psychology degree but I thought it wasn’t enough. I’ve examined portrayals of human nature depicted in novels, plays, textbooks, manga, dramas, films, music and video games. I think that I was secretly hoping to find something that said, humans are not selfish. You can believe in people.

Unfortunately, the recent news has not helped hahaha. Instead, I felt more pessimistic than I already was!


Then I came across two songs by Chinese artists I love. The first is my favourite singer, Hua Chenyu. I’ve written about him multiple times. The second is Wang Yibo, who starred in my favourite Chinese drama, The Untamed. Their songs inspire hope and give comfort for everybody around the world regarding the recent events. Their songs are on Spotify.

Hua Chenyu 华晨宇 – You Have To Believe This Is Not The Last Day 你要相信,这不是最后一天

This is a powerful song. Hua Hua writes about believing that this is not the last day and that better days will come. [English translation lyric YouTube video link here]

Wang Yibo 王一搏 – We Stay Together 因为我们在一起

Yibo has a calming singing voice and he makes you feel less anxious about everything. [English translation lyric YouTube video here]

Thanks Hua Hua and Yibo for using your talents and influence to instil hope in people (like me).