January is the music awards season in Hong Kong. They were big deals back in the days when Alan Tam Wing-lun was in tense competition with Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing in the 1980s and the Four Heavenly Kings – Andy Lau Tak-wah, Jacky Cheung Hok-yau, Aaron Kwok Fu-shing and Leon Lai Ming – ruled the 1990s. But ever since these super stars went tired of these games, and those who could barely sing the right notes became the new stars in the early 2000s, Canto-pop was dying. Few people care about these music award shows in the past five years or so.
Strange enough, attention to music award shows has resurfaced this year. It’s not just because Eason Chan Yik-shun shocked the crowd when he looked to his iPhone screen for lyrics and gave a performance that was worse than karaoke upon receiving the top awards (best male singer, album, etc) at Commercial Radio’s Ultimate Song Chart Awards Presentation on January 1. At the height of political debates over universal suffrage and Occupy Central, people began to compare these pathetic music awards shows with the political status of Hong Kong.
For those who aren’t familiar with the music awards shows (well, I never attended or covered them as, unlike the Hong Kong Film Awards, which is organised by an industry association and voted by the industry, these music awards have little credibility), Hong Kong has four major music awards organised by four media companies – Metro Broadcasts, Commercial Radio, RTHK and TVB. Every year, Metro Broadcasts hands out over a hundred awards to almost anyone in the showbiz. Commercial Radio’s awards have better reputation as it claims the awards are based on airplay but this means DJs and station management have a high chance to manipulate the results. RTHK...I don’t know what the criteria are. Just like how Hong Kong is run, these are simply no transparency. Perhaps they don’t need to as the awards are just another show, and they don’t have to be accountable to the audience.
TVB’s Jade Solid Gold Best Ten Music Awards Presentation, on the other hand, attempted to be accountable to the public but at the same time, many netizens argued that the TVB show was a preview of what 2017 universal suffrage might look like.
This year Jade Solid Gold followed Miss Hong Kong and The Voice of the Stars to bring public voting on board. Those who pre-registered with TVB online could vote for a number of awards, including most popular male and female singers as well as the song awards.
The game was “universal suffrage” in principle – you were allowed to vote as long as you have registered. But the problem is, many netizens argued, there weren’t that many choices available.
It turned out that only singers who have contracts with TVB (and turn up for the night) were allowed to participate in the race. This meant singers like Eason Chan, who is currently the best loved singer in Hong Kong and has won almost all the big awards at other awards shows, got banished from entering the TVB race. The remaining contracted male singers who fulfilled TVB’s requirements were either too inexperienced irrelevant – seriously I cannot name one single song by Raymond Lam Fung (but he won the most popular singer award with 30 per cent votes). Joey Yung Cho-yee won the most popular singer award for the ninth time in a row with 58,815 votes (well, 85 times more than CY Leung’s 689 votes).
TVB might have played transparent, but the screening process made the awards an unfair race by squeezing out the capable ones who deserved to win. If the Jade Solid Gold award is the blueprint for the 2017 so-called universal suffrage for Chief Executive, be prepared to struggle with choosing among a range of B to C-list candidates if you are stuck in Hong Kong by then.
Meanwhile, G.E.M. Gloria Tang Tsz-kei simply couldn’t care less about the stupid Hong Kong showbiz games and ventured into China. The young Canto-pop singer became an overnight singing sensation on the mainland after appearing in mainland reality show I’m A Singer, winning some 200,000 new followers on her Weibo after the first show. Hong Kong? Forget it. The real fame and cash on mainland matter more to some people.
Video: Hong Kong singer G.E.M.’s performance in I Am a Singer wows mainland Chinese audience