Singapore's Nathan Hartono makes it to Sing! China final
'It took 5 minutes for it to sink in'
Local singer Nathan Hartono did not expect to make it past the semi-finals of Chinese reality TV singing competition Sing! China.
But not only was the 25-year-old the only member from Mandopop star and judge-mentor Jay Chou's team to get through, he also emerged the front runner of the six finalists named on last night's episode aired on Zhejiang TV.
Individual scores were determined by the 350 audience members and the same 51 industry professionals from the previous battle rounds.
He had 333 votes from the audience and 47 from the professionals.
The four celebrity judges-mentors - Chou, Na Ying, Harlem Yu and Wang Feng - had no say in the results.
The final will be held on Friday at the Beijing National Stadium.
Hartono spoke to The New Paper on Thursday when he was in town to shoot footage for Sing! China.
He said: "I went into the semi-final extremely relaxed because I was positive that I wasn't going to get through, but it wasn't because I lacked confidence."
Hartono was rooting for teammates, China duo Di Diao, to make it to the finals.
"If you asked me if I would rather have me or them, I would've preferred them," he said.
"I was just really surprised because I was extremely relaxed the entire day.
"When the results came up, I started to get nervous. It took five minutes for everything to sink in."
Hartono performed a mash-up of English song Desperado by the Eagles and Mandarin classic Love Without End - decided on by him and Chou's music team.
"We wanted to approach a classic because so far, we've done newer songs, so we wanted to try something evergreen, but make it a bit modern.
"Desperado is also quite a well-known song in China. I've been doing pretty obscure things."
At the finals, fans can expect a solo performance from Hartono, a duet with Chou and a sing-off with another finalist.
He said: "The last time I was in Beijing, a decade ago, the stadium didn't exist yet.
"I'm really excited because I've only ever seen it on TV and online. It's very dream-like to finally get a chance to perform there."
Hartono, who has spent the past two weeks prepping for the finals, said: "The rate of my learning has been kicked up by, like, 1,000 times.
"I used to learn one Mandarin song every two to three days, but these days, I learn Mandarin songs in one to two hours.
"The best thing that I can shoot for is to entertain and to make sure I walk off that stage happy.
"If those two things happen, whether I win, lose or draw, there are no regrets."
He is backing China contestants Jiang Dunhao or Xu Geyang from Wang's team to win.
"They've both got very unique musicianship, especially Dunhao. He approaches songs very interestingly," he said.
After the competition, Hartono hopes to expand into the China market as "it would be a waste not to".
He has already been approached by music companies in China.
"But it's been so busy and kind of hectic lately, I've been ignoring a bunch of offers. I just want to wait for everything to cool down first," he said.
He added that the toughest part about making a name for himself in China so far has been the "language barrier".
"It's inevitable that one gets lonely there.
"It's not like I'm not making friends with the other contestants, but with the communication issue, I tend to hit a wall with the relationships over there.
"I can't have a conversation like I'm having here now. I can convey basic ideas and describe things, but it's missing the nuance, personality and character.
"I always feel like I'm lost in translation and half of me is somewhere else, so I appreciate these short trips home where I can let off some steam."
I went into the semi-final extremely relaxed because I was positive that I wasn't going to get through, but it wasn't because I lacked confidence.
- Nathan Hartono