Thursday, September 8, 2011

My ‘TVB Rant’ # 11: TVB Grooming Their Own Crop of Singers / Musicians – Good or Bad??

I’ve noticed a recent trend at TVB in the last 2 years or so….they are relying more heavily on developing the contestants that have come out of their singing contest, “The Voice” (or, as I like to call it, the TVB copycat version of Hollywood’s “American Idol”). Ok, to be honest, I’m actually not surprised in the least that they would focus on pushing out “The Voice” contestants (which I will refer to as the Voice newbies in this post going forward) because, quite frankly, so many things have happened in the past 2 years that TVB really does not have a choice. Just to ‘recap’ and jog people’s memories, here are some of the ‘challenges’ that TVB has faced the past 2 years, a lot of which most likely played a huge part in their decision to promote the Voice newbies:

.— TVB’s ongoing royalty dispute with the Big 5 record companies -- Universal, Warner, Sony, EMI, BMA (also collectively known as the HK Recording Industry Alliance or HKRIA). In December of this year, it will be exactly 2 years since the royalty dispute began and with both sides still standing firm on their “requirements” and refusing to budge, there does not seem to be any sign of the dispute ending any time soon. This means that all of the Big 5 singers (which is pretty much half, if not more, of the HK music industry – including many of the biggest names in music) will continue to be “banned” from any appearance on TVB whatsoever (including on non-music programs such as Entertainment News segments). This also means that audiences will continue to see the same singers (primarily those from EEG, though there are others as well) on TVB over and over again….as if 2 years of seeing the same singers wasn’t already enough, it looks like we have another few years to ‘look forward’ to…GREAT! (I’m being sarcastic here).

.—The music awards “controversy”. More specifically, I am referring to all of the arguing / bickering amongst the various HK record companies and the 4 leading Media stations (TV station TVB and radio stations Metro, CRHK, RTHK) over the fairness / unfairness and credibility / lack of credibility of their respective awards shows, with TVB’s JSG Awards Show bearing the brunt of the criticism. Within this “issue” is also the argument (from mostly the veteran HK musicians / singers) for a single combined awards ceremony utilizing one consistent set of criteria / standards to determine the award winners, which some of the record companies (as well as the 4 stations themselves) are opposed to because it would mean fewer awards (and therefore less opportunity and less money) for their singers…ironically, most of the record companies that have been “vehemently opposed” to a combined ceremony (or any sort of change in award ceremony criteria for that matter) are those that don’t belong to HKRIA – especially EEG and EA (aka the TVB Supporters).

To be honest, I could care less about the HK music industry nowadays because it has already dropped to the “beyond salvageable” point for me and is really not worth paying much attention to anymore (in fact, I can’t even remember the last time I actually watched an HK music awards ceremony in its entirety – I would venture to guess that I haven’t watched one in almost a decade!). Plus we all know that the majority of the awards ceremonies in HK (especially TV and Music) are “rigged” in some fashion anyway and is not a true reflection of “the best” in the industry, so there’s really no point in arguing over this anymore. Who cares?!?! Let TVB do whatever the hell they want to do with their award ceremony – at least the discerning audiences who “know the truth” will see them for what they truly are!

.—The departure of A LOT of talented artists from TVB in the past few years (and the imminent departure of even more), primarily because of frustration over the way they are being treated (amongst other reasons). On the surface, this does not seem to have much to do with the music side of things, but in reality, it definitely has an impact, as the massive shrinking of TVB’s talent pool in recent years has made them “desperate” to get their hands on any artist they can get (even if only for a brief moment). Of course, I have my own opinion with regard to the subject of TVB artists “leaving the nest” (or, more accurately, terminating their management contracts with TVB), but I’m not going to get into that here (believe me, you don’t want to hear about that right now…LOL). Just note that this ‘factor’ is an important one in driving TVB’s decision to promote their own singers.

.—TVB’s unsuccessful attempts at pushing their own (contracted) actors/actresses into the music industry. Ok, quiz time – how many TVB actors / actresses have ‘officially’ added the title of ‘singer’ to their resumes in the past few years? The answer – a lot, but here are the most ‘popular’ ones (in no particular order): Raymond, Bosco, Myolie, Cho Lam, Linda, Ron, Kate, Fala. Many people may disagree with me on this (which is perfectly fine, since everyone is subject to their own opinion), but honestly, how many of these ‘actors/actresses turned singers’ can TRULY SING (meaning actually carry a tune)?? Um, very few of them in my opinion…not only that, some of them already can’t even do their main job (acting) properly, and instead of focusing on honing their skills in acting, they are now trying to enter the music industry and do the same ‘mediocre’ job there? Talk about torture!! (Yea, like the HK music industry isn’t suffering enough already – we really need TVB to break that last straw and push the industry over the edge to oblivion!)

.—The overall negative press that TVB has received in the past 2 years. I’m sure many people have noticed that TVB has been “in the news” a lot in the past few years (and no, I’m not talking about the standard coverage of their series and artists that we see every year) – I’m referring more specifically to all the negative publicity that TVB has gotten due to their internal “dirty laundry” being aired. For example: the criticism over the declining quality of their series and the lack of talented artists, the unending accusations of ‘plagiarism’ and ‘copying’ (a reflection of the lack of creativity in their scripts), the debacle over their handling of the HKFA broadcast, the various complaints from former (and current) artists over low wages, long hours, and just overall crappy treatment, the Stephen Chan corruption case (which confirmed a lot of the internal politics and infighting that exists within the company), and some well-known (and popular) artists blasting TVB because of blatant favoritism (I could come up with way more examples, but I’ll stop here, since I know you probably get the picture by now…). Overall, the number of STUPID MOVES that TVB has made over the past few years is enough to make them the laughingstock of the entertainment world for decades to come!


Ok, so now that I’ve laid out the background, let’s go back to my point about TVB trying to ‘groom’ the Voice newbies to become ‘the future’ of their company (from a music standpoint).

First off, we’ve got a few of the contestants from Season One singing themesongs and sub-themesongs for various TVB series – a few examples: Tang Siu Hao’s theme song for the sitcom “Some Day”, Ryan Lau’s theme songs for “When Lanes Merge” and “The Truth”, Super 4 (Ryan Lau, Alfred Hui, Auston Lam, Victor Chen)’s theme song for “Gun Metal Grey”, Alfred Hui’s subtheme for “Gun Metal Grey”, Cherry Ho’s theme song for “Only You”…..etc. The reason why this is significant is because ever since TVB created their own music division – TVB Music Limited – in 2003, they’ve been having their own actors and actresses sing the theme songs / sub themesongs for their series instead of hiring professional singers to perform the songs (as was the practice back in the 80s and 90s). This move was primarily to save costs – they would only hire professional singers to perform the theme songs in a few select instances (i.e. a grand or important production or if the singer happens to be the star of the series).

As a side note, in addition to singing theme songs, TVB has also been placing various Voice contestants in their TV series (most notably, the twins Daniel and Adrian Chau as well as a few others). This move I question, as I don’t really feel it’s necessary unless the contestants actually have talent in acting – but then again, it’s TVB – if they are ok with putting talentless MHKs into their series, then no surprise that they would do the same thing with the Voice contestants.

And then of course, you’ve got Mag Lam (whom we all know is the winner of Season 2’s competition). Almost immediately after she won, Mag was heavily promoted, with appearances and performances at various big TVB events, a TV series, a movie, an album in the works, and more series in the works (all in less than a year). Oh and who can forget the ‘surprise’ move that TVB made when they placed her in the front row (usually reserved for TVB’s most popular first-line fa dans and siu sangs) for the group picture at last year’s Light Switching Ceremony? Talk about ‘heavy promotion’…..


So is TVB’s action of grooming the Voice contestants a good thing or a bad one? Well, it really depends on the way you look at it….

On the one hand, at least the Voice contestants went through a year of participating in a rigorous singing competition and had the benefit of receiving some good advice from various professional judges (singers, producers, etc.) regarding their singing. So at least they do have some skill (or at least by now they do, even if they didn’t have any before) – though admittedly, some of the contestants aren’t quite there yet. Given these factors, I would much rather have one of the Voice contestants sing the theme songs than to have the TVB actors / actresses do it because at least the Voice contestants are considered ‘actual’ singers (albeit non-professional ones, but singers nonetheless). In THAT sense then, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

On the other hand – well, given that this is TVB we’re talking about, I do feel bad somewhat for the Voice newbies being promoted right now because we all know how aggressive TVB’s promotional tactics can be – the ‘stick them in the audience’s faces 24-7 so there’s no way the audience can forget them’ method -- it can definitely reach the “overkill” level really quickly and even though the audiences may not “forget” them (because of constant exposure), they will probably grow tired of them very quickly. And of course, that could mean “bye bye” to their fledgling careers fairly quickly….(looks like they are already going down that path with Mag Lam – I’m already sick of seeing her and hearing about her…and it’s only been a year…).

Also, are these contestants really ‘ready’ for a career in the complicated entertainment industry? I mean, most of them are still fairly young (some haven’t even finished school yet) – with their lack of experience, do they really want to subject themselves to the pressures of the industry at this point in their lives? Better yet, how many of them truly have what it takes to ‘make it’ in the industry? Some of the contestants were actually quite ‘mediocre’ in their skill – seriously, I don’t think the entertainment industry needs more ‘mediocre’ artists, as the industry is already ‘overflowing’ with them….


I pretty much have to conclude that I really don’t know the answer to whether it’s a good or bad thing for TVB to groom its own crop of singers because there pros and cons to both sides – plus it depends upon the caliber of the contestants for that particular year. I can tell you that the ‘quality’ of the contestants has seriously deteriorated over the past 3 years – Season 1 had some really high caliber contestants, Season 2 ‘s were lesser caliber, but there were a few standouts….Season 3 however – well, let’s just say that it’s been torture sitting through the first 3 episodes so far – none of the contestants really stand out and some of them are actually ‘really bad’ (meaning ‘cringeworthy’).

I’m definitely ‘on the fence’ with this topic – at least for now….


  1. i agree with u on mag... i do think she's quite a sweet girl personally but tvb is overdoing it with the front row at the lighting ceremony...the viewers who never watched The Voice must be so confused lol. and i rmb in the voice 2 graduation show or something, they invited Jeanie back (who PK-ed mag before in the show) and both of them sang a part of If I Ain't Got You.. it was so obvious Mag doesnt rlly have the skills.

  2. I never think highly of Mag but I think she can shape herself up to be a better singer had she don't sign to TVB/EEG. In a recent stage performance of hers in Macau, Mag somehow let out that she's tired of doing social and commercial appearances and express that being a singer is tiring, because she sings less than making commercial jobs. After hearing this, I feel a bit sorry for her. I think she's just a young teenager that wants and likes to sing, yet TVB and EEG is making her a commercially valued idol.

  3. @Snow: Exactly! I have nothing against Mag personally (in fact, I didn't even know her before the Voice), but I just don't feel that she is all that people make her out to be. Ultimately, I blame TVB for the way they are 'using' her, but in a way, I was sort of disappointed that Mag didn't stick to her guns more (i.e. she gave up on school to pursue a career in the entertainment industry -- not very smart, especially given she is nowhere near star material yet)...

    Now that you mention Jeanie -- ticks me off even more because as I said in one of my other posts, it was so obvious that the judges were giving Mag sympathy points due to her nasal issue...Jeanie sang better than Mag each time they "PK'ed", yet she ended up losing to Mag...

    And with the front row thing (which I also talked about in another post / rant) -- I really felt sorry for her fellow Voice colleagues because all of them (even those who came before her from Season 1 and therefore have more tenure than her) were like way in the back, to the point that people could barely even see them -- yet she got put in front row? Goes to show what TVB thinks of the other Voice contestants....

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  5. @zzxyz: Totally agree with you -- and that's one of the reasons why I absolutely can't stand TVB and EEG nowadays. All they do is exploit young people and try to turn everyone they find into idols without regard for talent. The biggest problem though is their promotional tactics -- I mean, is it really necessary to push the artists so hard, so aggressively, so quickly? Just look at Mag's situation -- less than a year after she won the Voice 2, TVB was already pushing her to become singer / TV actress / movie actress...she has barely gotten started in the area of singing and still needs major work on her skills -- so how in the world does TVB feel that she is "ready" to now become an actress too when she never received any training in that field? That's just ridiculous and doesn't make any sense logically...which is why I say that TVB is exploiting her -- trying to milk as much out of her now while she's still "fresh" so that in another year or two when people start seeing through the crap and no longer pay attention to her, they can just throw her by the wayside, since they got what they want out of her already! (Sorry for the mini-rant...sometimes I get too worked up for my own good...)

  6. llwy12, if only the so-called journalists would put in just a modicum of your effort and thoughts into their articles as you instead of their usual drivel, HK ET journalism would be all that much more respectable. But then again, such indepth analysis would lose most of their readers.

    Don't know much or care about HK music industry but I like the way you presented your argument.

  7. @tamaya: Thank you! Definitely very encouraging to hear this type of feedback!

    Unfortunately, it's hard to find "decent" journalism in HK nowadays...very sad...

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  9. Of all the ones listed, I could only clap for the 5 record companies still going strong and NOT budging. Sure, that means no seeing their faces on TVB, BUT DO WE CARE TO WATCH TVB anymore? They need to stand firm and show TVB up one AND to set some standards right into the music again. Seriously! Put that ‘art’ back where it belongs. Not to mention how the ‘dodging’ thing has been quite annoying in the past. It’s time they join forces and do something about it, and show TVB they’re depending on TVB to survive – OR something like that.

    And regarding the thing about TVB pushing their ‘actors/actresses’ to become singers, maybe they wanted to be like Andy Lau? Since he could juggle so they thought they could succeed too? I WAS SO KIDDING HERE. THAT WAS SARCASM. You know I was kidding, right?

    Regarding how TVB had their artists sing the themesongs/sub songs AND whatever, did ATV do it first or TVB? Just wondering since ATV does it too but I can’t remember exactly when, but I almost thought ATV had done that for a long time now. But I seriously think ATV artist could sing better for the theme songs. At least they had chose the correct ones most of the times to perform the songs. (Of course they had some pros who done the singing for the songs when appropriate.) SO off-topic but I had to ask, lol.

    And to be honest and ignorant at the same time (roll eyes), every time someone mentions ‘The Voice’, I thought it was the American version of the ‘The Voice’ that has been airing on NBC (which was based off of a Dutch show with the name slightly different). SO I was surprised that TVB has one too. It was until like awhile back (possibly last year) that I realized my error, LOL! Hey, it’s not totally my fault that TVB names the show ‘The Voice’ too. BUT ironically (YES, it shows how much I pay attention to TVB stuffs recently) TVB’s ‘The Voice’ came out first? NICE or what?

    Regarding talented or not to stay in the industry, I’m being repetitive here since it has somewhat to do what I said in the other comment regarding the Michael post. But it takes endurance AND ironically, sometimes those talentless ones have enough stubbornness to stay behind and perverse to the end. (And think skin too, LOL!) Even if they DO NOT have talent, but do half of the ones who are still in the industry now have it? The pissed off, talented ones leave SO the remaining small numbers who are talented are still staying behind, fending for themselves – and got overshadowed. So, everyone’s fending for themselves really. (GO back to the beginning when I said I only clap for the 5 companies who are joining forces. They get more things done by joining forces, not leaving in a gruff. If they care so much for the upcoming fate of the current generation and so on, they wouldn’t leave BUT would fight until the end.)

  10. I'm tired of all EEG artistes..

  11. @DTLCT: Totally agree with you -- and I definitely applaud the Big 5 for standing firm...they actually had a chance earlier in the year to 'reconcile' with TVB, but the one 'sticking point' was the whole interviewing with other stations in Cantonese thing -- the Big 5 insisted that even if their artists sign with TVB, they should still be allowed to interview with other stations in Cantonese -- TVB of course refused, so Big 5 pretty much said 'screw you then'...that's why the 'dispute' has dragged out so long...Hats off to Big 5 for sticking to their guns! (And to be honest, the royalty dispute has affected TVB more than it has the record Big 5 has a huge advantage right now in terms of the criteria they want to set...)

    Haha...yea, I know you were kidding with the Andy Lau thing -- but on second thought, I wouldn't put it past TVB to do such a thing....after all, they are truly 'shameless'...

    Hmmm...I wouldn't be surprised if ATV started it because they were really the pioneers in the industry long before TVB even existed -- I don't follow ATV as closely, so I'm not 100% sure...but I don't doubt that ATV's singers are better -- given the caliber of actors / actresses that they have (almost all of the ATV artists that have jumped ship to TVB have been talented in my opinion), I wouldn't be surprised if the same caliber exists on the singer side as well...

  12. @DTLCT: You bring up an excellent point in the last part of your comment -- the joining forces things....that's actually one of the biggest differences with why the HK entertainment was able to be so successful during the "Golden Age" and why things are so dismal now....back then, the industry was alot more united and companies were willing to sacrifice their own gain and join forces for the greater good -- but the companies now are not willing to do that -- it's all about the politics now and the bickering / arguing over every little thing....and of course, all of them put their own best interests ahead of everything else and are unwilling to budge on anything...and forget the greater good -- they could care less about that nowadays...(hey, sort of sounds like our federal government, huh? LOL!)

  13. @zzxyz: OMG, tell me about it! I've been tired of them for years now and honestly can't stand anyone from that company (except for like 1 or 2 people whom I liked prior to them joining that company)...basically, when I hear those 3 letters (EEG) nowadays, I cringe...

    One thing's for sure -- I can absolutely understand why they are a 'sister company' with TVB -- there are so many similarities with the way they operate (and both are just as corrupt), it's sort of scary...well, as the saying goes, "it takes one to know one"....

  14. @llwy12 - Sadly YES, it sounds like our federal government. What in the world happened the 'united' part? Get it?

  15. A little late on the ball I am again, but your post prompted some thoughts in my head:

    TVB have always promoted their own artists in the past but the difference back then was that these artists were talented. But I don't think TVB has the capability to groom and look after an artist who was superstar material, even if they hit them in the face. (Not anymore, anyway).

    I mean if you look and listen to the songs and music videos of today, you'll see that TVB has pretty cheap videos - nowhere near the high-quality, slick videos shot in the 80s-90s. This is that whole technology getting better but the actual quality of the music and the videos getting worse debate, even though we can shoot videos with HD clarity.

    I'm all for getting new talent but it seems a dire hope If we look for new artists on shows like The Voice, TVB tends to play favorites and ignores or neglects those that could be groomed to become great artists (imagine if Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk hadn't been looked after and given a platform to 'train' - but, of course, talent is still needed. That's why she could transcend from the small screen to the big screen - film.).

  16. @TAQ: First of all, welcome back! I always appreciate your comments, so definitely 'better late than never'! LOL.

    I absolutely agree with you (and it's pretty much the same point I've been trying to get across for ages)....that's why I always get ticked off whenever I hear people try to argue that many of HK's biggest 'stars' got their start at TVB -- as though TVB should get all the credit for the stars' success...back then, TVB pretty much didn't do crap except promote the hell out of people (similar to what they do now...their tactics really haven't changed much in 40+ years) -- those artists back then got so popular because they were truly talented...if TVB didn't promote them, they still would have become popular anyway (though might take longer)...

    And the whole thing with the MVs and TVB being cheap...well, that's another thing that pretty much hasn't changed in all these years...the management bascally run that company as though they were still in the 70s or something!

    Lastly, the thing with TVB 'grooming' artists is that, well, frankly, I don't trust TVB's 'judgment' on choosing who to groom because as I've always said, they wouldn't be able to recognize talent if it were staring them in the face!