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….