After a long hiatus due to COVID, it’s once again music competition season! Taiwan’s 聲林之王 Jungle Voice is back with its third season and I’ve been following along with great interest.
As with most singing competitions, every subsequent season draws out stronger talent. This show is no different, and the starting pool of contestants already are showing variety in skill, range and style that’s more seasoned and competitively advantageous compared to its first season.
After the initial knockout rounds, the remaining contestants are paired up and then paired with a professional singer to perform together. After their performance, the singer picks the winning contestant and the unpicked participant heads to the waiting room, and can only potentially return by being saved through staff voting at the end (5 top scoring contestants are saved), or if the performance they delivered is picked to win the MVP award of the episode by the collective group of judges.
This performance of 身騎白馬 Riding A White Horse featuring 徐佳瑩 LaLa Hsu, one of S3’s main judges, performed alongside contestants 同理 TongLee and 阿蘭 A-Lan was one of the most exciting interpretations. Both TongLee and A-Lan have producing abilities and remade Lala’s song, infusing contemporary elements and unique variations of their own styles.
A traditional mandopop ballad that features a Taiwanese-language chorus, 身騎白馬 references a legendary story of a general who, separated from his beloved through war, wins battles in order to reunite with her. This remake expands the scope of the song to include more than one perspective of longing – creating dialogue between the one waiting and the one returning, and also fusing contemporary confessional language that riffs on the original classical story.
Lala released 身騎白馬 in 2010, and expressed a strong desire to have a different version of it made for the now. If anything, the time that has passed between the first version of the song and this performance only demonstrates what 10 years on stage has done to Lala’s ability to command presence with her vocal performance. TongLee and A-Lan both deliver solid contemporary interpretations of this song but Lala really steals the show.
This performance was picked as the MVP performance and so both contestants made it through to the next round.
You can listen to the original here:
Another group that demonstrated superb chemistry was led by 亂彈阿翔 Luantan Ascent, who performed 良心 Conscience with Hong-Kong born 李拾壹 Li Subyub and Canadian-Taiwanese contest 九九 Jiujiu. This is significant because Conscience is performed entirely in Minnanyu (Taiwanese language), a language neither contestant was familiar with. This means the lyrics for this song were performed through pure memorization of sound. The remake was also produced by Li Subyub who used the bass as the base track for the new version, although ultimately JiuJiu’s vocal performance snagged her the win.
What’s great about this performance is that all three singers generally have quite distinctly different styles of singing, and yet there is a huge amount of chemistry sparking on stage. They’re also having so much fun, which really carried not just energy, but demonstrated their comfort with musicality and performance. Luantan Ascent is a very powerful and charismatic performer (his mane of hair definitely helps) and usually he takes the spotlight quite easily, so it’s really awesome that JiuJiu’s vocals hold more than their own, and Li Subyub’s awesome dancing provided a cherry-on-top effect for the entire thing.
Luckily, contestant Li Subyub scored the most staff votes at the end of the episode and was the first contestant to be saved!
You can listen to the original here: