On March 8, China Blue held its seventh Annual Singing Contest in the SAC Auditorium. With an audience of about nearly 200 people judging their fate to go to the second round, ten Stony Brook University students hoped to go home with the prize that night. It was sort of like American Idol…except not.
According to the club’s website, China Blue is “an undergraduate student organization that runs a Chinese radio show broadcasting in Cantonese and Mandarin.” The club aims to promote Chinese culture on campus through various events. Last semester, they hosted the Mid-Autumn Festival.
As soon as the audience poured into the auditorium, China Blue members handed out glow sticks and a program of the night’s events. While the guests chatted with each other, East Asian music blasted from the speakers, including music from the South Korean band, Super Junior M.
The event began with a short video made by China Blue entitled “Sh*t Stony Brook Asians Say,” a parody of the viral Youtube video, “Sh*t Girls Say.” It poked fun at the stereotypes of Asian students: going to the Wang Center for Chinese food, doing homework twenty-four seven and ordering green tea frappes at Starbucks. It greatly amused the audience, the majority of whom were Asians. Then, they were shown another video: a glimpse into rehearsal. It highlighted the contestants, who were either serious with practice or goofing off with each other. It even pictured friends who came to watch with green tea frappes in their hands.
The contest was hosted by China Blue member Susie Moy and the three gors (the Cantonese word for “brother”), Mark Yam, Zi Hao He and Eric Cheang. The three gors are also radio personalities of WUSB, Stony Brook 90.1 FM.
Additional guests included the three judges, were Frank Tan, Huan Wei, and Gary Sun, who would decide the fate of the contestants for the second round. All three had participated in last year’s singing contest. In fact, Sun was the winner, and Tan and Wei were finalists.
Out of the ten contestants, eight were native Chinese speakers. During the first round, seven sang in Chinese, including freshman Alaska Butterfield, who was not a native Chinese speaker but attempted a Chinese ballad anyway. Meanwhile, junior Margarita Lungin and sophomores Ying Zong and Timothy Yuan sang in English. Like Butterfield, Lungin is a non-Chinese speaker.
“The diversity has changed a lot over recent years,” said Crystal Lee, a senior and the China Blue President.
Despite some minor issues with the sound and lights, all contestants sang beautifully as the crowd waved their glow sticks and cellphones to the songs. It was tough for the audience to pick a favorite. Some clearly had fan clubs in attendance, who chanted their names in unison. But in the end, only five made it to round two: Alaska Butterfield, Timothy Yuan, Ying Zong, Martin Shin, and Hong Xi Wang.
After singing “Na Pian Hai,” a Chinese ballad, in the first round, Butterfield chose “Someone Like You” by Adele as her second song. Judges Sun and Tan said that her performance was good but “lacked emotion.” Meanwhile, Judge Wei said that because the song was challenging to sing, she loved how different and original Butterfield’s rendition was. The song won her third place.
Meanwhile, native Chinese speaker Wang, who sang the Chinese ballad “You Are My Eyes” in the first round, returned with another ballad, “Zero.” Wei loved his stage presence and relaxed composure. Tan praised the emotion while Sun thought he was “very cool” and that it was the perfect song. All these positive comments on his performance earned him second place.
Lastly, Zong sang “Hero” by Mariah Carey in the first round, despite some difficulty with English. After making it to the second round, she switched to the comfort of a Chinese ballad, “New Endless Love.” Tan liked how she had good control of her voice, Meanwhile, Wei felt like she was in a movie and Sun thought her swaying was old-fashioned but beautiful nonetheless.
“I can’t imagine that I could be first,” Zong said, happily. She had participated as well last year but did not make it to the second round. This year, she not only made it to the second round, but also took home first prize. It was a Cinderella-dream come true.
Although the remaining finalists did not get the prize, it was clear that they were genuinely happy for their fellow contestants as they hugged and patted each other on the back.
“We’re competing, but it was more of a friendly competition, which I think it should be,” Butterfield said. “Because then it’s like you’re pushing each other to the best that each can do instead of trying to tear the other people down.”
At the end of the event, Lee thanked everyone involved, including those who dealt with lights and audio. She also thanked the staff and members of the club who were all present to support and make the night happen.
“The turn-out was really good, because normally, people don’t go to singing competitions. So I’m pretty happy,” Lee said.