Saturday, December 1, 2007

Jane Zhang: China's Mariah Carey?

One thing I've noticed in my travels is that every country seems to have its own American Idol type TV show. China of course is no exception which has its incredibly popular Supergirl show which started in 2005 which was reportedly watched by more than 400 million Chinese fans. Apparently, the show has since suffered some problems (see this article).

One of the problems for Chinese singers in developing any recognition and success in the U.S. and elsewhere is of course the language difference. Jane Zhang (Zhang Liangying - 张靓颖), one of the Supergirl Season #1 contestants may have a good chance of doing so due to her Mariah Carey-like voice, attractive looks and ability to sing in English. Ironically, although her choice of English songs and a Spanish-language song in addition to Chinese during the Supergirl competition impressed the judges, it may have alienated some of the Chinese voters who voted (by text messaging) for Li Yuchun.

Zhang's first album, The One, includes 3 songs in English as well as 7 in Chinese. I've listened to it and although its good, it may be a bit overproduced and doesn't seem to show off her vocal talents fully. On her 2nd album, Update, Zhang takes some risks by veering a bit away from tandard Chinese pop and experimenting with R&B and a little jazz.

Zhang is known, among other things, for her vocal range - from D below middle C to G above soprano C, as illustrated by her performance of Minnie Riperton's 1974 hit Lovin' You on the Super Girl show (see video below)




Here's a video of a live medley performance including Don't Cry For Me Argentina.




And, a Chinese song with a little hip-hop flavor:




One thing I can say for sure is that Ms. Zhang has more talent than anyone I've seen on that annoying America's_Got Talent/ show that they play here in Hong Kong. If that's really the best talent America's got to offer, I'd vote for Jane and I'm moving to China.