Nathan Hartono on Sing! China final: 'I was smiling like crazy'
Sing! China runner-up Nathan Hartono thrilled to perform at Bird's Nest
In the end, Singaporean singer Nathan Hartono did not manage to break the curse of Jay Chou's songs.
The Mandopop star and Sing! China mentor and judge said after Hartono's performance last night: "Those who sing my songs usually don't do very well and are eliminated. But I hope Hartono can break this curse."
For a while, it looked hopeful as the 25-year-old's performance of The Longest Movie garnered him 35,577 audience votes.
He was the third to perform - after Malaysian singer Jeryl Lee from Na Ying's team and Shenyang's Xu Geyang from Chinese rocker Wang Feng's team - in the second round of the final held at the National Stadium in Beijing and took the top spot.
After Hartono, Guangzhou's Wang Chengrui from Na's team and Jilin's Yang Meina from Harlem Yu's team failed to topple him - until Jiang Dunhao, 21, from Wang's team came up.
Jiang glided to the top with 39,962 votes from the audience following his performance of Wang's River.
Hartono and Jiang then went on to compete in the final round.
First to perform, Hartono sang a medley of Singaporean Mavis Hee's classic Moonlight In The City and Hong Kong diva Anita Mui's Woman Flower.
Jiang sang mentor Wang's Window Sill.
Wang, who is married to actress Zhang Ziyi, said later: "Dunhao has fulfilled my dream because I have not sung it at my concerts."
While it was repeated several times during the show that votes from a panel of 81 professionals would make 50 per cent of the final result, the scoreboard showed 45 for Hartono and 47 for Jiang after the round.
Not that it seemed to matter to anyone as vote counts from the audience were announced immediately and Jiang emerged champion in the first season of Sing! China with 59,882 votes, compared with Hartono's 45,613.
Right after the press conference, Hartono sent a WhatsApp voice message to The New Paper: "It's an amazing feeling, it's a great weight off my shoulders. While I'd been pretty relaxed throughout this entire process, every song tonight was a big challenge for me.
"There was a new obstacle in every song and I'm happy I got through them."
Hartono added that "people might think coming in second is disappointing for me, but it really, really isn't".
"I am happy for Dunhao, he is an amazing musician, he really knows how to communicate to an audience through music," he said.
What mattered more to Hartono was to be among "the final six to perform in 'niao cao' (bird's nest)", he said.
"That was already mind-blowing to me. I don't know if you could see it but I was smiling like crazy throughout the entire process because I couldn't believe I was there."
And now, he just wants to "go back and pass out".
"I cannot wait. It has been a long week, it's been a long few months."
But not before thanking everyone in Singapore.
"Thank you very much to everybody in Singapore, your support meant the world to me," he said.
"It made me feel less lonely here. It really made me feel like I was doing something much bigger than myself.
"It gave that extra kickass to do better on stage."
Thank you very much to everybody in Singapore, your support meant the world to me. It made me feel less lonely here. It really made me feel like I was doing something much bigger than myself.
- Singaporean singer Nathan Hartono (above)
Hartono's first claim to fame was in 2005, when he won the Teenage Icon talent contest.
At 15, he scored his first major gig in 2005's ChildAid, a concert that raises money for The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund and The Business Times Budding Artists Fund.
He took the stage for ChildAid the following year.
In 2006, the Anglo-Chinese (Barker) alumnus released his debut album, Let Me Sing! Life, Love And All That Jazz.
He went on to release two more albums - Feeling Good With Nathan Hartono (2007) and Realise (2009) - and was featured regularly at national events such as the National Day Parade and the Youth Olympics.
Hartono's first acting stint was with Pangdemonium Productions' play, Spring Awakening, in 2012.
He made his television debut three years later playing a musician on HBO Asia's dark fantasy series Halfworlds.
Hartono took part in Sing! China after the show's producers approached him.
He made history on Sept 30 when he became the first Singaporean to make it to the final of Sing! China.
LOVE AND HATE
While Hartono, who studied music production and engineering at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, received much love from Singaporeans, in China, netizens were more than eager to sling mud at him. There was even a conspiracy theory that he pulled strings to get into the final.
It was a big deal to Hartono to perform at the Beijing National Stadium and the duet with mentor Jay Chou was the icing on the cake.
The possibility of collaborating with the Taiwanese superstar after the competition is high, too.
Hartono will be back in Singapore to perform at the StarHub TVB Awards on Oct 22 at Marina Bay Sands.
- Kimberly Lim