The Voice, a popular reality singing competition from the US, has recently announced that it will be released in the second quarter of the year. Co-produced by Singapore companies mm2, Starhub, and Malaysia’s Astro, the search for competitors are already well underway.
Although they’ve assured that they’re “on the search for true talents with good voices regardless of their appearances”, and have now opened entries to determined singers from these two countries – there seems to be one rather odd catch that’s causing a stir: contestants must be able to sing in Mandarin.
According to a statement on the FAQ page on their official website, it states that “There is no restriction on race as long as you have a good voice, are fluent in Mandarin, and are able to perform Mandarin songs”.
This rule alone has caused a sensation among social media users, raising questions over the show’s language exclusivity, with the show clearly aiming to reach the similar level of success of The Voice of China, which was later renamed as Sing! China that included finalist Nathan Hartono in 2016. The show will not be allowing entrants to sing in Hokkien or Cantonese.
Sing! China finals became of nationwide success when it broke viewership records in China and it is well intended that The Voice for Singapore and Malaysia by mm2 is an attempt at replicating that success. One of show’s highlight include some of the hottest and popular stars in the music industry in China such as Jay Chao and Harlem.
‘The Voice’ franchise has attracted more than 500 million viewers worldwide and although post as a rival to other reality singing shows such as The X Factor, its focus on the Chinese speaking medium has been gaining a fruitful result. The Voice and The Voice Kids have garnered close to 8 billion YouTube views and over 12 million subscribers worldwide.
The partnership with Astro, one of Malaysia and South-east Asia leading digital media group, means that the show will reach an extensive viewership.
VP of Chinese Customer Business at Astro – Wong Siah Ping commented: “In Malaysia, 20.5 million individuals, or seven in 10 homes enjoy … content with Astro on any screen, on the go and on demand, be it TV or mobile devices.”
Will the show gain nationwide popularity and viewership due to the language restriction? We’ll just have to see.