I ‘discovered’ this variety show on TVB this weekend (watched it on DVD) and decided since it involves the 80s/90s era again, it was worth blogging about. The show is actually pretty recent, as it aired on TVB last year (2010) – unfortunately, the show only has 8 episodes, which, IMO, is way too short (I’ll explain more about this later).
In order to understand the rest of my post, it’s necessary to understand what the show is about and the format of it. So here’s a brief summary of the show:
.>> I guess you could consider this show a ‘music variety show’. It’s also a ‘game show’ of sorts because there are groups competing for prizes. Basically, various artists are invited onto the show every week to compete in singing performances and are given points by the audience. The group with the most points at the end wins.
.>> There are 3 groups: The first one is led by veteran singer Lee Lung Kei and consists mostly of veteran singers from the 70s (well, some of the singers were actually active prior to the 70s too, technically). The second group is led by actress/singer Susanna Kwan and consists mostly of actors/actresses who are also singers or who have good singing abilities. The third group consists of contestants from the first and second season of “The Voice” (of course, leave it to TVB to shamelessly plug / promote their ‘own’ singers) and is led by either Mag Lam (for like 2 or 3 episodes) or Ryan Lau (for majority of the show).
.>> The points from each episode are tallied and at the end of episode 7, the group with the lowest score will be eliminated and the other 2 groups will move on to compete in the finale (episode 8)….’coincidentally’ (or not??), all 3 groups ended up in the finale because the 2 lowest scoring groups ended up in a tie (seems fishy to me, but ok).
.>> Every episode, there is a ‘theme’ -- they feature one ‘superstar’ singer from the 70s/80s HK music industry and compete amongst the groups using that singer’s songs.
Here’s a rundown of the singers that were featured in each episode:
Episode 1: Anita Mui
Episode 2: Roman Tam
Episode 3: Sam Hui
Episode 4: Adam Cheng & Liza Wang
Episode 5: Leslie Cheung
Episode 6: Teresa Teng
Episode 7: Paula Tsui
Episode 8: Classic TVB Theme Songs (mostly from the 70s and 80s)
Obviously, the reason why I watched this show was because of its focus on ‘classic’ HK music – otherwise, I would not have even wasted my time (knowing how much I can’t stand the HK music industry in the last decade)!
Below are some 'highlights' and ‘lowlights’ from the show:
.>>The featured singers! Most of the ‘superstars’ chosen (with the exception of Adam and Liza) were great choices, as they were truly icons of the HK music industry and had a hand in defining Cantopop music. And most of the singers have a huge repertoire of awesome songs that are definitely considered classics, even now, 20-30 years later!
.>> Um, maybe it’s just me, but Adam and Liza were definitely out of place in the list of ‘superstar’ singers. I absolutely WOULD NOT consider either one of them icons or superstars in the music industry (not even close!!!). There are so many more stars who are more worthy than them, so why the hell did TVB include them? Well, here’s my theory: 1) since this show was filmed last year, the royalty dispute with the big 4 record companies was still going on, so obviously they could not feature any of the singers from those companies…that eliminates some obvious choices that were (glaringly) omitted, such as Alan Tam, George Lam, Danny Chan, etc.; 2) TVB has a ‘history’ of putting Liza on a pedestal and right now, she’s pretty much one of the few still active artists they have left who still has a connection with the ‘old TVB’ – they probably chose Adam to ‘pair’ with her because to be honest, Liza is an actress more than a singer, so she doesn’t have a whole lot of songs, plus they are good friends in real life and used to be a popular ‘onscreen’ couple.
.>> Btw, TVB was obviously ‘playing favorites’ in terms of Adam and Liza, as their songs were technically featured in 2 episodes (a few of the themesongs that the artists chose to sing from the 70s and early 80s were the ancient series ones that Adam and Liza sang).
.>> The nostalgia! As a long time follower of HK entertainment, of course I was familiar with all of the ‘superstars’ that they featured as well as most of the songs that the artists chose to sing. With the exception of episode 4, I knew almost every single song that was sung (yes, even the ones from the 70s) and was actually singing along almost the entire time (yay – a mini music fest for me…hahaha!!). After watching all 8 episodes (which I did pretty much in 1 sitting), all I wanted to do was just pull out my ipod and listen to all those songs again!
.>> A few of the song choices were a bit obscure – with all the great hits that each of these singers had, some of the artists picked a few relatively unknown ones to sing – which was kind of interesting, but ok, fine, since majority of the songs were the popular hits that most people were familiar with.
.>> Mimi Lo! Mimi was on a few of the episodes competing for the actors/singers group. She was absolutely awesome – her singing skills are excellent and her performances were touching. She was the main reason why the actor/singer team won – each time she performed, the audience voted for her performance, so she racked up a lot of points. (A highlight within a highlight – during the finale episode, right after Mimi’s great performance, the camera panned over to her husband Power Chan, who had come to support her and was watching near the stage – it looked like he was clapping the hardest out of everyone there….awwwww!!!).
.>> Most of the artists who were invited to participate were pretty good choices, as a lot of them had pretty good singing skills. But there were some really ‘bad’ choices in the groups (most notably in the Voice and the actor/singer groups) where the artists who were invited to perform really weren’t that good at all (a few were even ‘cringe-worthy’)! Luckily, each artist’s performance wasn’t too long, so didn’t have to endure for long.
.>> The humor. Though I don’t think the show was meant to be funny, but a few of the episodes really cracked me up. There is one segment where the artist is supposed to mimic the classic costume or image of the particular singer (i.e.: Paula Tsui’s polka dot dress, Sam Hui’s ‘leopard’ themed costume, Teresa Teng’s classic ‘qi pao’ look, etc.) or in the case of the TV themesong episode, dress up in the attire of one of the characters. Some of the costumes that the artists chose to wear just didn’t fit them at all or were just really bad choices altogether and made them look weird – but it was funny though (which I guess is a plus…).
.>> Despite some flaws, this show overall was quite good (in my opinion) – it not only gives viewers a ‘glimpse’ into the ‘golden era’ of the HK music industry, it also was a good opportunity to bring all those classic Canto-pop songs to a new generation of listeners. BUT, unfortunately, the show was only 8 EPISODES! That is way too little considering this is one of the better variety shows that TVB made last year and way more ‘educational’ than some of the other crap that TVB produces – why did TVB only make 8 episodes of this show when other retarded (and borderline raunchy) variety shows such as Super Trio and Fun with Liza & the Gods got a whole year’s worth of episodes? Obviously we know where TVB’s priorities are!!!
.>> I also have another theory as to why this show was only 8 episodes – because the fact of the matter is, today’s younger audiences don’t know how to appreciate classic HK Canto-pop (yup, a lot of them only care about their current ‘idols’ who may look good but can’t sing to save their lives). And since a third of the artists who participated in the show were from the 70s (most of today’s audience’s probably weren’t even born yet), I’m sure they were not ‘familiar faces’ to majority of the audiences. So based on the above, TVB probably felt that the ratings wouldn’t be good, so didn’t bother investing much in it (plus it’s not like any of their ‘favorite’ sons or daughters were part of the show – except for the Voice kids, that is)
To be honest, I didn’t think I would like this show because one of my biggest pet peeves is seeing people do a bad job mimicking some of my favorite artists and ‘butchering’ their songs. There was definitely some of that (of course), but overall, majority of the artists were actually quite good in terms of singing, so there wasn’t as much ‘butchering’ as I anticipated (otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to sit through it).
In terms of whether I recommend this show – well, it depends. If you’re an 80s/90s person like me, then definitely yes, because even if you don’t like the artists who compete, at least you can still enjoy all those classic hits of the biggest names in HK music. For me, this was definitely the case – the trip down memory road was well worth it for me…I didn’t mind enduring a few bad performances as long as majority of the show was worth watching!