Monday, August 28, 2006

Pop Idol

There is a suggestion bubbling about that the company I work for, and a neighbouring firm should have a 'Pop Idol' competition.

Now, we've had a singing competition before, with the results being decided by anonymous voting but this suggestion was to do the whole 'Idol' thing. Now, I've no problem doling out criticism where it's due (possibly my Mother's assertion that we are related to Simon Cowell is true...) but to do Idol properly means being nasty and, in China, I'm not sure that's going to work.

There's an American program called 'Famous for 30 Seconds', not unlike the old 'Gong Show'. People come on and do their party pieces - singing, dancing, juggling, acrobatics, etc. and the odd lame act, animal impersonations, poor comedians. Part of the gig is for the audience to vote these guys off.

There's a Chinese equivalent and it doesn't quite work the same way. Oh, there's the singing, dancing, juggling, acrobatics - all the 'real' acts, but the joke acts - people that can't sing, an old lady that came on stage and danced about like someone's drunken auntie at Christmas - they got the full on audience support. Support for the underdog, appears therefore to be a given.

I was actually prompted to write this after YY was going mad with panic that her favourite star (she likes him because he has a long face) wasn't going to win in some talent show or other on Shanghai TV. I watched the final round - longface sang a passable rendition of one of the dozen or so songs that Chinese bar singers always sing - his competition was in the form of a guy who came on in traditional costume and twirled around waving a flag. Apparently this was marvellous because he's deaf. Fortunately longface won the day (after an impressive build up where both candidates disappeared into the floor, a fountain sprang up to obscure the sage from view, the hosts counted down from 10 to 0 and then, nothing happened. Whilst the unlikely-looking presenters chatted amongst themselves, longface suddenly appeared from the stage. Hopefully the stage manager was swiftly dispatched...).

Unfortunately (!) I missed 'Supergirl' but have seen other singing talent shows in China and it seemed very much that people would come on, wail out some tuneless dirge, and then 3 out of 4 judges would give them the green light to the next round and tell them how beautiful they were, lovely hair, etc. and avoid mentioning that their singing made a noise like a kitten stuck in a garbage disposal.

If that's the way people like it, then the idea of doing a competion like this with one's own employees sounds incredibly dangerous. I can only imagine trying to play the Simon Cowell role and telling someone that "I can't imagine why they ever thought they could sing as they sounded like a wounded seal walking over hot coals" only for the whole audience to be looking at me open mouthed thinking "She was trying her best and he's said these horrible things. What a total git!".

Unlike Simon Cowell, the worst thing that could happen to me is that 50 people resign the next day because of the combined loss-of-face and loss-of-faith in me and the company. That wouldn't happen to Simon Cowell! Although I guess the possibility of being stalked and shot by a disgruntled singer is worse for him.

Think I'll stick to our Softball competition!


pete said...

I’m not sure about supporting the underdog as a general rule – it certainly wasn’t happening during the world cup. The mood of the crowd in the pub tended to be support the team you thought was going to win – even if that meant changing sides part way through a match. In fact I had a conversation with a few people about it and the common British attitude of supporting the underdog was, erm, difficult to explain.

JP said...

If you need somebody to be up front and honest you can put me forward for the judges bench.

Are we not over the football yet?