SG Music: Joanna Dong 董姿彦 on Sing! China 2
Last season, <Sing! China 中国新歌声> – renamed after 4 seasons as <The Voice of China 中国好声音> – kicked off stunningly with Singapore’s Nathan Hartono 向洋. He swept all 4 judges off their feet and finished an eventual 2nd. Incredibly, this season’s first episode again featured a Singaporean: Joanna Dong 董姿彦! Watch her inventive take on 恋曲1990 here:
I must say I was quite surprised! Her sultry swing rendition is reminiscent of two particular performers I liked last season. First, the playfulness – especially in the climax – reminds me of Guangdong contestant 姚希, whose transformation of over-played 小苹果 was nothing short of magical. Second, the showcase of her vocal trumpet is instantly reminiscent of Hartono, who had provided a spectacular mid-song mishmash.
Three judges turned, deservingly. All the best in the competition, Joanna!
PK Round across Teams
After the blind auditions, the contestants had to face off against other teams in the first PK round. Joanna Dong received a lot of airtime – as did fellow Singaporean Olinda Cho – as Jay Chou’s team was whittled down (by Eason Chan’s team in particular). When Joanna Dong finally took to the stage, she did not disappoint anyone.
Decked in a luscious green dress, she delivered a remarkably luscious performance in less than 3 minutes. What an effective 3 minutes! Like 小苹果, this classic’s melody has a earworm quality, thanks to its sequence of 我…我要…我要你…我要你的…我要你的爱… Joanna followed 1-2-3-4, but went on a croon of 1, before taking the sequence to its fruition. In doing this, she satisfied tradition while making the classic her zesty own.
Of course, that was only half the song. The Mandarin classic is aptly complemented with I Want You to Be My Baby, a jump blues song originally recorded in 1953. Her vocal trumpet made its appearance again – sharp listeners noted it was a take on Jay Chou’s song 龙卷风 – as did the Idol-esque ending.
Up against Liu Huan’s fascinating duo 川虎, Joanna wins her PK round convincingly, 47-4! Well done!
While Joanna Dong may not have the most powerful or heartrending vocals, she radiates the best of jazz and her delivery is impeccable. Really 收放自如! Her years of unnoticed effort is paying off handsomely.
Semi Final & 3rd Place
Joanna did not showcase her vocal trumpet for the remainder of the competition. Her best performances, for me, actually came in the semi-final, in which she faced off with her fellow top 4 contestants from Jay Chou’s team, including Singapore Idol 1 second runner-up Olinda Cho.
Both of them had duets with Harlem Yu 庾澄庆, ex-judge of 中国新歌声. Joanna and Harlem proved a perfect match as expected. Harlem’s graft blended with Joanna’s breeziness to produce an innovative rendition of 老实情歌 that did justice to both of their reputations. I thoroughly enjoyed the ending.
Joanna won her PK convincingly and in the final PK, took a massive gamble by not playing to her strengths. Here’s her performance of Open Arms.
If her dexterous face distracted you, as it did Eason, then listen without watching. I did, and it sounded so gently beautiful.
The live finale tends to disappoint a little – it did for me in the past 2 seasons – at least partly due to the poorer acoustics in a large stadium. While Joanna did not appear as assured vocally in 掌声响起, it was a refreshing remake of 凤飞飞’s classic.
She had the calibre – if not the environment – to make the top 2, but her eventual 3rd-placed finish is certainly remarkable. Let’s hope she goes on to greater heights from here!