Monday, September 13, 2010

Review of "The Voice 2" Finale

After 17 weeks, “The Voice 2” is finally over. The finale just finished airing yesterday and the winners have been determined. Not surprisingly, I don’t agree with the results this year and once again, I tend to agree with the sentiment out there that perhaps TVB ‘rigged’ the show to allow their ‘favorite’ to win (more about this later on in the post).

Below are my thoughts regarding the finale and the results:

The episode already didn’t start off well for me because the first thing I noticed right off the bat – why was Teresa Carpio not part of the judging panel for the finale? I had truly thought that she would be there because she had returned to do the judging for the previous 2 episodes after being gone for so long….but yet, she only returned for those 2 episodes and not the most critical one. WTH?? I don’t get the logic behind that at all, especially given the controversy surrounding her departure and the ‘hype’ over her return. So yes, for me, I pretty much already knew the judging would go downhill because of the lack of balance on the judging panel -- Miss Chan Chan, Anthony Lun, and Hanjin are all pretty lenient when it comes to the scoring, Ruth Tsang is pretty consistent and fair, but she's only 1 person and so won't be able to sway the scores too much, and Danny Summer is just plain odd plus his scoring is all over the place…the only ‘strict’ judge on the panel is Chiu Cheng Hei, but then there have been times where I’ve wondered what he’s thinking.

Teresa’s scoring has been consistently fair and appropriate and her comments are always spot on -- she’s pretty straightforward with her judging and from what I can see, she doesn’t give any ‘sympathy’ points to people (which is the way it SHOULD be so that it’s a fair playing field for everyone). Between her and Ruth, they would have been able to balance out the scoring for sure.

So obviously, I was disappointed with the judges (more to come on this later, as I have a lot to say about the actual scoring/judging of the performances).

On to the hosts….in my opinion, Krystal and Sammy talk WAY too much – it’s like, who really cares what they have to say? They aren’t the ‘main characters’ in the finale, the contestants and the judges are, so their (the hosts’) opinions don’t matter to me. I would much rather hear more comments from the judges critiquing the performances rather than all the lame gibberish from the hosts….to me, a lot of time was wasted listening to the hosts talk – time that could have been better spent hearing comments from more judges (we only got to hear the comments from 2 judges, which was not enough, especially for such a critical episode as the finale). Oh, and it was extremely annoying how the hosts (Krystal especially) kept interrupting the judges (not only in this episode, but in previous ones as well) and inserting their own comments / thoughts / reactions – once again, who the hell cares what the hosts think? They’re not the judges for one and two, an effective host – especially in these types of ‘major professional’ shows -- should always be neutral and keeps their own opinions out of it – so by continuing to insert their opinions in each episode, it goes to show the lack of ‘professionalism’ in their hosting.

Now that I got that out of the way, let’s move on to the actual competition itself – the ‘singing battle’ between the 6 contestants who ‘made it’ to the finale. The first part of the show was on determining the top 3 contestants with the highest scores who would be able to move on to the final battle for #1. In part 2, only the 3 highest scoring contestants sang and it was basically to determine the standings (1st, 2nd, 3rd place).

Part 1 – Performances from the Top 6:

First up was leader of the group, Penny Chan. He performed Aska Yang’s song “洋蔥” and ended up scoring 82.8, which was the lowest score of the night. Even though the judges thought he did a good job (at least based on their comments, which again was not in line with their scoring – a common problem throughout this entire season), I really have to disagree. Penny was a bit shaky throughout the performance, though some parts – mainly the chorus – were okay. I don’t know why the judges said they felt that Penny had a lot of emotion in the performance and was very ‘moving’ because to be honest, I didn’t get that feeling at all...perhaps it’s because the original singer (Aska Yang) is REALLY good and is known for putting a lot of emotion into his singing (to the point where he moves fans and audiences to tears with his performances) so since I’m used to hearing his version of this song, Penny’s version just didn’t cut it for me. One thing I will agree with though is that Penny did seem to be a lot more ‘open’ with this performance and less ‘stiff’ than before. I think his score was fair.

Next up was ‘high score king’ Hubert Wu, who performed one of Jam Hsiao’s songs (forgot which one) and received a score of 87 (the second highest of the night). Hubert’s performance was actually pretty good – he was consistent, steady, and barely made any mistakes (except for that 1 part where he went slightly off-key, but it was barely noticeable). I don’t listen to Jam Hsiao’s songs, so I have no clue how Hubert’s rendition compares to the original, however just on its own, I was pretty impressed – Hubert definitely did everything he needed to in terms of singing and skill and he sounded good. In my opinion, he definitely deserved the high score that he received (though it wasn't enough to clinch the #1 spot).

Sheldon Lo performed next – he very bravely performed a song he wrote himself called “Speechless” and also played the guitar while singing. He was REALLY good – the best performance of the night in my opinion. I really like the song – it was very well-written and well-performed (I definitely agree with what judge Ruth Tsang said). His performance sounded really natural and effortless (well, that could be because he’s probably performed this song many times and since he wrote it himself, the familiarity definitely helps). In a nutshell, his performance was pretty much right on – no mistakes made and the song was moving. I also was personally impressed by the fact that he chose to play the guitar while singing the song, especially in such a critical competition because not everyone is cut out to do that (playing an instrument while singing can get distracting for some people because need to keep track of the playing as well as the singing at the same time) – unfortunately, he didn’t get any bonus points for this though (nor did he get extra points for writing the song himself). Throughout this season, Sheldon has pretty much been the only contestant that I actually liked because unlike many of the other contestants, he doesn’t come across as arrogant to me – plus his singing always sounds very natural and carefree…I’m sure he feels a lot of stress and pressure from the competition, but he must have a good way of handling it because it never shows and he doesn’t let it affect his performances. Sheldon’s score was 84.5, which in my opinion, was way too low considering how well he performed. But Sheldon didn’t seem to mind – he was so happy with his score that when the hosts asked him to react, he started talking in English because he was so excited (it was kind of cute and funny at the same time) – now THAT’s the right attitude to have!

Mag Lam – the ‘favorite’ going into the competition – sang next. She performed Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This” and received a score of 87.8 – the highest score of the night (obviously she gets to advance to the 2nd part). I will reserve majority of my comments about Mag’s overall performance for later, as I have a lot to say about it obviously. In terms of this particular performance, well, it was obvious that Mag wasn’t at 100% -- she actually had a vocal cord infection, which affected her performance. I, for one, found it even more difficult to understand what she was singing – the vocal cord issue made the already ‘nasally’ rendition even worse…plus she was very apparently off-key on a few parts. Some people may say that her performance was ‘touching’ but I personally did NOT feel or see it – I got too distracted by all the other stuff to be ‘moved’ by her performance. It was very obvious even to the judges that Mag’s performance was not up to par, as Miss Chan Chan even said so herself….so I guess my question is why did she still manage to get the highest score out of the 6 performances? (She received 2 scores in the 90s and the rest in the high 80s, which is why it averaged out to 87.8 in the end.) I would have really liked to hear from all the judges – especially the ones who gave her the highest scores – to understand the reasoning behind it.

Some people may feel that it would be unfair to Mag to score her lower for her performance just because she is sick, since she’s been getting high scores throughout the entire season. My argument against this -- it’s even more unfair to the other contestants who gave their all in their performances but weren’t rewarded with the appropriate scores because Mag has an ‘excellent track record’ and let’s not blemish it by giving her a low score despite her performance not being up to par. If the winners are supposed to be determined based on their past performances rather than by their performances that night, then what’s the point of having them sing in the finale? Mag having consistently high scores should not have anything to do with the finale or whether she wins or not because the scoring is not cumulative – the high scores in the previous episodes allowed her to pass and not get eliminated so she could be in the finale and possibly get a shot at winning – it should not be the determining factor for winning….

Also, once again, I question what the point is for the hosts to mention Mag’s illness – is it to gain sympathy points from the judges? I can understand if the judges asked why she performed so poorly and the answer given was because of illness – but mentioning it before the performance? Why? To extract sympathy from the audience and judges from the get-go so they can be lenient on the scoring? Well, that’s the way I saw it – and it annoys me to no end. With regard to Mag’s vocal cord infection and how it affected her performance -- this may sound mean, but I will say the same thing I said about Vivan when she performed while she was ill -- TOO BAD....if the contestant happens to get sick prior to the competition, it's unfortunate and I hope they get better soon, but that doesn't mean he/she should get sympathy points from the judges for it, especially not in a 'supposedly' professional singing competition.

Ok, enough about Mag (for now). The next person to perform was James Ng (also known as Kwan Gor). He sang Na Ying’s “夢醒了“ and scored 83.3, which was the second lowest score of the night. I actually don’t know what to make of his performance….he wasn’t bad, but I didn’t really feel it was a ‘wow’ type of performance either. But at least he didn’t make the types of mistakes that he did mid-season when he sort of ‘lost his way’ and struggled with finding direction. I heard today that a lot of netizens and Kwan Gor supporters are upset that he didn’t get into the top 3 with his performance and that he should have – can’t say whether I agree or disagree…his performance overall was ‘okay’ to me.

The last performer of the night was Brian Tse (aka Station One Leon Lai) who did a song by Taiwanese artist Fan Yi Chen and scored 84.1. He pretty much came in fourth, as Sheldon beat him out for the 3rd place spot by 0.4 points. I’m actually okay with his score this time around because even though he sang well, I really wasn’t as moved by his performance as I was with Sheldon’s. Also, Brian has the same problem that Penny does – the ‘stiffness’ that perhaps just comes with nervousness and limited stage experience. I definitely think that Brian could have done better, as I’ve seen more emotion from him in a few previous performances – but overall, it wasn’t too bad.

So based on the above scoring, Sheldon, Hubert, and Mag advanced to the final (part 2).

Part 2: Top 3 singing one song ‘Unplugged’

Sheldon performed first and sang “Apologize” by One Republic. Then Hubert performed one of Fish Leong’s songs. Lastly, Mag performed Elton John’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”.

Instead of scoring the second part separately on the show, they ended up combining the totals from the first round and whoever had the highest total score was the winner. Even though they didn’t announce the score for the Unplugged round, based on calculation, Sheldon received a score of 86, Hubert got 84.3, and Mag got 83.7. Okay, I have to say that Sheldon definitely deserved to win this round and Mag rightfully got the lowest score (did the judges finally wake up or what?) – but of course, since her score from the first round was so high, she ended up winning (though she only beat Hubert by 0.2 points overall).

Final Thoughts:

In a sense, I’m not too surprised that Mag won (though whether she deserved it or not is another story) – since it was clear from the beginning that Mag was slated to be ‘the one’ this season. She’s been getting consistently high scores on every single episode, even for performances where she was so-so…and the judges seemed to have completely ignored both her consistently unclear pronunciation as well as her nose condition that causes her singing to sound deep and ‘nasally’. Actually, to be honest, as I was writing this post, something clicked in my head and I realize now why Mag is so popular despite her singing being so-so (plus her nasal and pronunciation problem) -- IMO, she manages to pick songs where she can sing one part extremely well that leaves an impression with the audience so even if the rest of her performance is average (or difficult to understand), that one part is what people remember and the rest forgotten. For example, with the A.I.N.Y performance last time (which is what made her such a Youtube sensation), the only part that I remember about the entire performance is the "yeah yeah yeah" part, which she did sing quite well -- the rest, I can't remember (probably because I couldn't even understand anything she sang the rest of the time due to her pronunciation problem). I don't get the hype over the A.I.N.Y song either, so I can only attribute it to the above theory. Same with her "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" performance from the finale -- the only part she did well with that song was the chorus, the rest of it was so-so....I actually think that Sheldon and Hubert sang much better than Mag, yet they lost out to her....

(As a sidenote: I read in an article last week where someone said that the fact that Mag's A.I.N.Y. video got so many hits on Youtube proves that her performance was good -- that's just a bunch of BS -- just because a video has alot of 'hits' doesn't mean the performance was good -- there could be alot of reasons why there are that many hits -- for example, some people who missed that particular episode of V2 may have wanted to watch it, so dug up segments on YT, or it could just be the curiosity factor -- people could have read about it and were just curious to see what the hype was about...)

I actually think that Sheldon did REALLY well with both of his performances and actually outperformed Mag big-time.....but since the judges and TVB favor Mag, of course they were going to make her the winner...I feel that the judging was way too biased towards Mag -- well, it always has been, but this time it was VERY obvious because Mag's performance was not good at all (I actually cringed listening to her sing and kept wishing for it to be over) -- yet, she got the highest score for that poor performance??? Most of the other contestants sang better than she did, yet they got lower scores than her! It's no wonder that all the rumors are circulating right now that TVB 'rigged' the show so Mag could win....


  1. Okay, we sort of talked about it on MSN about stuffs so I won't repeat that part.

    Another reason why the YT hits are so high is that some people listen to it again and again. Refresh the page, another hit. OR the next day, they open up the page again, there you go, more hits.

    When singing competitions are unpredictable, it's fun to watch BUT when you know who's going to be the winner at the end, it's like not much to look forward to. (I totally felt that one with the show I was watching.)

  2. Thanks for commenting!

    Regarding the YT thing -- agreed! That's why when I read that comment in an article, I couldn't help thinking how stupid it was...I don't remember who made the comment, but that person must be super lame and super naive (I know, it's mean, but still...).

    I'm all for excitement in terms of shows and competitions, but there's a difference between generating excitement and being unfair. If the 'excitement' or 'hype' is at the expense of people who are truly deserving, then that's totally wrong -- which is what pisses me off about TVB because they do that kind of stuff all the time.

  3. That's what I mean regarding 'predictable' and 'unpredictable'. When you know there's a 'conspiracy' going on, it's hard to enjoy it. It's like playing with the rest of the contestants' mind, putting them through so much AND then they're winning. Whether they suck or not, they still put in their efforts. (Though I do know some put in less effort or arrogant as you mentioned.)

  4. If you want to know why Teresa wasn't there, please read 9 Sep 2010 快週刊 or

  5. Anonymous: Thanks for the link. Unfortunately, the website won't let me read the article unless I subscribe. That's ok though...I'm sure Teresa probably had a good reason for not being there (unless TVB was the one who wouldn't let her go on again)...

  6. You pointed out that the contestants from the first season of The Voice also had more talent - this is something I felt too. Even though I rattled on about Stephanie Ho looking like a little girl playing dress up in Liza Wang's costume, I must say she did some very good renditions of some English songs. I still don't think that she has the makings of a Cantopop star though since she doesn't do very well when she sings in Cantonese. There were also some good performances from the first season, a notable one for me was when 鄧小巧 sung an arrangement of Beyond's song "海闊天空".

    Singing competitions really used to get me all excited but now they're just really kind of dry now. You'd think that TVB theme songs would be a really exciting theme for song week but unfortunately, I can't say it was.

    But like Bonnie Tyler, I'm still holding out for a hero (or heroine), though. I'm sure they exist but I just may never have the privilege of ever seeing that time.

  7. @The Archival Queen:

    Yes, I definitely liked the contestants from Season one much better -- I feel that overall, their attitudes were better (for one) and they were more willing to accept constructive they were definitely more talented and had better singing skills.

    I guess a part of me is a little pissed at TVB's overpromotion of Mag Lam -- I mean, just look at the Season 1 contestants -- it took them almost a year of honing their skills before they were able to be promoted and have the privilege of singing themesongs, releasing an album, etc. Yet, immediately upon winning the competition (like barely a few months), Mag is already everywhere on TVB (movies, TV series, etc.) and even landed in the FRONT ROW (usually reserved for TVB fa dans and siu sangs) at the Lighting Ceremony! And her skill is no where near as good as most of the contestants from Season one!

    I agree with you regarding the 'dryness' of singing competitions nowadays. From the choice of songs to the contestants to the poor judging...just overall disappointing! The only reason I continued watching The Voice season 2 at the time was because I had already started watching it, so might as well finish, and also because I wanted to have something to write about (plus make fun of /

  8. @llwy12: Yeah, I felt that the contestants from the first season were more accepting of the judges comments too. And it also seemed that they were more hard-working (you know, taking the judges' feedback and trying to apply it to their next performance). And yes, they actually had some sort of singing talent, unlike some of the contestants in the second season, as you and I know.

    Although I don't hold anything against Mag, I feel that she's being overpromoted too. The poor contestants in the first season are just unlucky - being promoted much too late and not enough. I didn't get to watch the Lighting Ceremony last year but hyn5 said it was really boring so I didn't bother to catch up on it anyway.

    I mean, not all singing competitions are like that, but the ones in HK seem to be like that. For example, Taiwan's "Super Star" is generally a good one.

    We pay good money for those broadcasts, so I don't blame you. I watched the series even though I didn't like it overall.

    Well, that's really all we can do, can't we? We can't really control TVB but what we can do is complain and criticize them for their stupid decisions and crappy filler-in 'dramas', so that's what I'll continue to do.

  9. Did you guys watch The Voice 3 this year. I find it to be the most enjoyable and balanced out of the 3 seasons. I actually enjoyed season 3 the most.

  10. @Anonymous: Yup, I watched The Voice fact, I wrote a post about the finale episode too (see below).

    Definitely agree that the 3rd season was the best one!