Chapter 650 Why'd you get an old man here for?
A contestant finally passed the audition?
Everyone in the program team were stunned by Qian Pingfan's voice, but at the same time, were even more stunned by Director Zhang's decision.
Qian Pingfan also felt the same!
He was so surprised he asked, "What? I qualified?"
Zhang Ye smiled and said, "Yes."
Qian Pingfan pointed to himself, eyes wide. "Really? Me?"
"Yes, really, you," Zhang Ye replied.
"This, I, I...I thank you, thank you, Teacher Zhang. Thank you, teachers!" Qian Pingfan was speaking incoherently due to his excitement. He had come to the audition because he wanted to change his life and had a dream of becoming a star. With the hopes of giving it a try, he downloaded a singing app onto his phone and recorded a short demo that was just average in quality and sent it to the program team via email. Who could've guessed that they would inform him the very next day of the auditions, and right now, he was even told by the famous Zhang Ye himself that he had passed the audition. This excitement was simply indescribable with words!
Zhang Ye asked, "Did you bring your ID?"
"Yes, I brought it!" Qian Pingfan quickly replied.
Zhang Ye called a staff member over and got him to take Qian Pingfan to register himself and then brief him on the preparations for the show. After doing that, Zhang Ye was also unable to conceal the joy he felt. Having held auditions for almost half of the contestants for the first day of open calls, none of them were satisfactory to him and lot of time was wasted. But just the appearance of Qian Pingfan alone was enough to make up for it all. This was exactly the type of good voice he was looking for!
However, Ha Qiqi was unsure of what was going on. She said, "Director Zhang."
"Yes?" Zhang Ye looked at her.
Ha Qiqi said, "About this, he doesn't have any professional music training and has never been onstage before. He's just a bicycle repairman. Will it be fine to put him onstage and on television?"
Zhang Ye replied, "Our program's motto states that we don't judge looks or occupation."
Because of how several of those music consultants were chased away earlier, Ha Qiqi was also very careful with her words. She delivered, "But I personally feel that even though Qian Pingfan's voice is very unique, wouldn't it also be considered a little odd? He's a man who sings in a woman's voice. Will the audience accept that? Of course, even though I think it's acceptable, we do not know if the audience will accept it. That voice will be too controversial."
Wu Yi added, "It's literally unheard of."
Another female editor also nodded. "Yes, that voice is truly an odd one."
Zhang Ye smiled and explained, "That's exactly what I'm looking for in the contestants. It's good that Qian Pingfan has appeared. Using him, I can finally show you all a live example of what I'm looking for. In terms of voice uniqueness, emotions put into singing, and the irreproducibility of it all, Qian Pingfan demonstrates all of those characteristics quite well. That is the type of contestant we should be looking for. I am not afraid of controversy, in fact, I'm afraid we aren't being controversial enough. Something all audiences can agree on and accept does not exist at all." Then he reaffirmed his decision, "Regarding Qian Pingfan, we will put our focus on him from here on out."
Ha Qiqi could only nod at this. "OK."
Zhang Ye said, "Next contestant."
Little Wang went out to call the next contestant in.
Another six contestants in a row were eliminated.
When the next person after that came in, everyone was left confused for a moment. It was a young man in his twenties, with rather tanned skin and a very tall build. He was a burly man who couldn't be described as ugly, but was just normal-looking and a very average person.
That person went to the microphone and spoke into it, "My name is Sun Daxuan and I am a train driver."
Ha Qiqi asked, "What song will you be performing today?"
"It's called 'Please Fall In Love With Me,'" Sun Daxuan answered.
When they heard the title, everyone's expressions turned strange. "Please Fall In Love With Me"? This was an old song from more than a decade ago. It was one of the famous songs by a Greater China1 celebrity. Although this celebrity was no longer popular due to his works not catching on, and also hardly appeared on television and entertainment news anymore, the song's popularity was still very widespread. Even now, this song would be a default choice when people went to sing at a karaoke box. As it was meant to be a slow and soothing love song, none of those present at the audition expected such a burly man to choose it as his performance piece.
Zhang Ye said, "Begin then."
Sun Daxuan cleared his throat and narrowed his eyes, then lightly began his singing.
Sometimes it sounded gentle. Sometimes it meandered. Sometimes the vibrato was strong. And, sometimes, it was deeply soulful.
If this song were sung by any other pretty boy or a younger looking man, the image would surely be beautiful, with young love an especially harmonious scene. However, with the looks of this Sun Daxuan who was a train driver, it was a total mismatch to the lyrics of the song. Although his singing was very emotional and flawless, the image that they were looking at gave them a really odd feeling. It didn't match, or maybe it couldn't be said to not match but rather was too much of a contrast! The only thing worth mentioning was that this person was really owning it today. When they listened to his demo, they only felt that his singing was very soulful and emotional. But when he performed it live in front of them, those feelings intensified. Along with his confidence in performing, he even looked quite comfortable standing there in the center of the room, though they didn't know if he was exceeding his usual performance levels or if he had always been at this level.
He finished singing.
Sun Daxuan looked on at the judges helplessly.
Ha Qiqi looked to Zhang Ye and asked, "What do you think of this person?"
Zhang Ye returned, "What do you all think?"
Ha Qiqi laughed, "Should I speak the truth?"
"Then would you rather tell some lies?" Zhang Ye was tickled by this.
"Well, I think it's fine. There's not much of a stage presence, no celebrity feel, probably not someone who would become famous. Although, I do think that the love song was performed very well," Ha Qiqi answered.
Wu Yi said, "Not too bad."
A female editor said, "It's OK."
They were actually quite hesitant of Sun Daxuan, knowing that it wouldn't matter whether they passed or failed him. If they compared him to Chang Si or Hu Liangyi's level, they would definitely not let him pass. At least, if they were the judges, they would choose Chang Si and Hu Liangyi rather than him. The reason for that was because their mindset was still stuck in the traditional thinking. If a person's looks passed and they had the X factor, then even if their voice was average, as long as they could sing well enough, those would be the points they used to judge. For someone like Qian Pingfan who was male but sang in a female's voice or this burly train driver's gentle and emotional love song, they still could not quite accept it.
But somehow, for whatever reason, Zhang Ye's views always differed from theirs. He only said one thing, "Being able to sing a love song is not easy in and of itself. Sometimes, a man compared to a woman, a burly person compared to a pretty face, when the former of each sings well, they carry much stronger emotions across to the listener. So I'll let him pass."
Ha Qiqi, "..."
Fine, whatever, you're the executive director anyway. If you say so, then so be it.
The program team staff were already feeling helpless about Zhang Ye's decisions. They gradually understood Zhang Ye's routine, which could be summarized into two words-seeking novelty.
The more they believed a contestant could not make it?
The more Zhang Ye thought they could!
Following that were another series of auditions.
One after another, contestants entered the room, performed a song, and left the room, over and over again.
A couple of times, when Ha Qiqi and the other program team staff thought they had spotted a promising contestant, Zhang Ye rejected them all. This left everyone unsure of what to say as it seemed like Zhang Ye specifically preferred those who worked blue-collar jobs, did not have good looks, or had odd voices. He didn't look for any other qualities than those?
For other talent shows, the preliminary auditions had a good passing rate as they still weren't the televised auditions yet, so it shouldn't be too stringent. As long as a contestant was average, they would be let through to the next round. When they got to the next round where the blind auditions were held, the difficult decision of whether they were good enough or not would be left to the four coaches. At most, they would have to edit out any footage of those contestants who were really terrible but somehow managed to sneak past the preliminary auditions. Why would they need to be so strict in the preliminary auditions round? They could not understand it. As they were nearing the end of the day's auditions, they knew that if this were any other singing talent show, more than a dozen contestants would have already passed, yet what was the number for them? They had only let two contestants through! And they were even the extremely odd ones!
But Zhang Ye still went about doing things his own way and did not lower his selection criteria. Actually, he understood clearly that they needed to find some contestants who were good-looking and could sing well or others who were not as outstanding, just to make up the numbers. But at the same time, Zhang Ye also knew that such contestants were not difficult to find at all. For example, you could throw a brick into a crowd and easily hit someone like Chang Si or Hu Liangyi, so his main task right now was not to search for these "green leaf" contestants who could easily be found. Since he was spending time here at the scene of the audition today, he prioritized finding those contestants who would serve as the red flowers of the program. The program team staff thought that Zhang Ye was being capricious and lacking consideration, but little did they know that he considered much more than any one of them had. He already had it all planned out!
Time was ticking away.
Finally, at around 3 PM in the afternoon, other than Luo Yu who was brought here by Zhang Ye, there was only one last contestant for the day's audition.
Ha Qiqi said, "The next person is the last one."
Zhang Ye nodded in acknowledgment.
The door opened and the last contestant entered.
The moment they saw this person, everyone had a vision of ten thousand lines of "what the f**k" flying in front of their eyes. When the program team requested for the contestants to submit their demos when applying for the auditions, they were told to include their self-introductions as well. But if they did not write it or forgot about it, there was nothing the program team could do. This was why the program team was quite clueless about some of the contestants' details, just like how this last contestant for the day turned out. No one could have expected it at all!
The person who entered the room was an old man!
It was an old man who must have been around sixty years old!
Half of his hair was already white and combed all the way back. He was wearing a rather fashionable leather jacket and a pair of jeans full of holes. His jeans weren't torn from age, rather deliberately styled that way.
Ha Qiqi gaped, flabbergasted. "Grandpa, are you a contestant too?"
The old man answered in high spirits, "Yes, my name is Zhou Danian."
A female editor asked dumbfounded, "May I ask how old you are?"
"Haha, I'm 59 this year, still young, still young, Zhou Danian chuckled.
Wu Yi nearly fainted at this, wondering how 59 years old was still considered young. My father's only 58 this year! He already has symptoms of cerebral thrombosis and struggles to walk around! You're even older than my father by a year!
Ha Qiqi could not believe it. She asked, "Was the demo sent in by you? Did you sing that?"
Zhou Danian replied with vitality, "That was me alright."
"But the demo was for a rock song." Ha Qiqi could not accept it. When she had a look at the contestants waiting room earlier, she remembered seeing him, but did not think of him as one of the contestants. She just thought that he was a family member of a contestant who might have been underage and felt that he might have been a father or a grandfather. But who knew that this old man who was almost sixty had indeed turned out to be here for the audition!
However, Zhou Danian only laughed and spoke, "The song I will be performing for you all is a rock song too, may I start now?"
Ha Qiqi said, "Sure, sure, please go ahead."
Little Wang felt a little bad for him, so she offered, "Grandpa, why don't I get you a chair?"
"No need. I'm still strong and healthy." Zhou Danian held the microphone, and without even preparing, suddenly roared into it!
Everyone was shocked at the opening. The loud and hoarse voice had set the entire venue on fire as the female editor pressed her hands over her ears while Ha Qiqi and the others started in their seats. It was not because they were shocked by the loud voice but because they were afraid that this old grandpa would get a brain hemorrhage or a heart attack from his own shouting! This was a rock song! Can an old man like you take it? Don't risk your life like this!
But Zhou Danian was just getting into the mood!
"Gusting all around!
"Squalling till it's gone!
This was a little known song barely any of those present had ever heard. It could be considered an older rock song, one that carried a bit of heavy metal in it. It was basically a rock song that depended on the vocalist to employ screaming2 to sing the song. It could be seen just how hard Zhou Danian was trying. In just a short while, his forehead was dripping with beads of sweat!
Ha Qiqi was already in no mood to listen anymore. She wanted to go up to call a stop to it as she was worried that, before The Voice could even start broadcasting, news of a contestant dying of cardiac arrest would make the headlines first!
But somehow, Zhang Ye was listening to it in a most serious manner. Not only was he serious, his eyes appeared increasingly brighter by the moment. This old man really sang very well. Although his voice sounded somewhat dry and the high notes cracked at certain parts, it didn't matter since it was rock and voice cracking was allowed! Other than those points, the old man did not have any other problems in his singing and was even quite remarkable. His outburst of emotions was full on and almost every verse of the song poured his feelings out. Of the song's rhythm, it might not seem difficult to a younger person nor was there anything to pick on, but for a 60-year-old man, Zhang Ye was more particular about the contestant's sense of rhythm. He felt that this contestant had done very well in this area and was definitely comparable to the young ones. In fact, parts of the lyrics and high-pitched singing, if sung by a younger person, would have just been that. But when it came out from the mouth of a 60-year-old man full of life experience and wisdom, it sounded particularly different. The impact of those lyrics was much greater! It was more intense!
What a surprise!
This was really another unexpected surprise!
This rock song sounded better and better as they listened!
When the performance was over, Zhou Danian was panting heavily, though he looked to be fine and still in high spirits. He said, "Teachers, did I do well? Do I qualify?"
Zhang Ye suddenly asked, "How is your condition and health?"
Zhou Danian answered, "No problems at all."
"Don't try to brush it off. I want to know the specific conditions you have," Zhang Ye said in a serious and firm voice.
Zhou Danian replied honestly, "I do have slightly high blood sugar, but other than that, I'm doing well. My blood pressure is stable and I've been jogging everyday to increase my lung capacity."
Ha Qiqi didn't know how to react. "Grandpa, you're already so old, why do you still think of coming to take part in this talent show? If we had known you were already at this age, we wouldn't have asked you to come to the auditions."
Wu Yi was already thinking of getting him to hurry back home. Seeing him rocking to a song like this, they were all trembling with fright that he would just faint right there and then!
Zhou Danian was having none of it. "So what if I'm at this age? I'll tell you something, young lady. Why don't we compete on our lung capacities? I believe that many of you here would not be stronger than me in terms of our lung capacities."
Ha Qiqi did not know how to react to this, she just knew they had to reject him. Have you ever seen any other talent show with a 60-year-old contestant before? Wouldn't this be crazy? Although their program did say that age didn't matter, it was possible to be too old as well. Someone in their forties would have been fine, someone in their fifties would be pushing it, but you're already close to sixty now and half your hair has also turned white. Who would risk letting you compete in their talent show? No matter how you put it, it was still ultimately a stage for the youngsters!
How should they reject him?
He's already at such at advanced age, so would it be alright to tell him as it was?
But he looks so confident. If they straight told him, would it deal a blow to him? He had better not get a heart attack from the rejection! Whatever, the dirty work of rejecting the old man should just be left to Zhang Ye to handle. He's the executive director anyway.
Ha Qiqi kept quiet.
The other program team staff all looked at Zhang Ye.
Sure enough, only Zhang Ye stood up to say something. He told the old man, "Grandpa, you're much older than my father and our competition is really quite physically demanding too. I think you'd agree you can't handle it?"
Ha Qiqi nodded inside her head. Right, just refuse him mildly and not be too direct with the rejection.
Zhou Danian immediately responded, "Physically demanding? It's no big deal to me at all. I'm still going strong, and whatever a youngster can do, I can do it too. I have never once thought that I'm older than any of you, so no matter how intense the competition gets, I can get through it. It's not a problem at all!"
Oh come on, you're still refusing to take our advice?
This old man was being too stubborn.
Ha Qiqi and the others were all wondering, if Director Zhang's mild rejection did not get through to him, then how should it be handled? Was it better to just put it plainly to him?
As expected, Zhang Ye gave it to him very plainly.
Zhang Ye stayed standing and said with a smile, "Grandpa Zhou, since you claim that your body is fine and that you can get through this intense competition, then I have nothing else to say. I hereby formally announce: you've passed the auditions and I insist that you join our competition, The Voice of China! On behalf of our program team, I welcome you!"
Zhou Danian stumbled back a bit and immediately broke out into a big smile, "I've qualified? Hahaha!"
However, the program team staff were all astounded. They were so shocked they felt like just laying down on the ground under the tables!
The old man qualified?!
What the f**k!
Ha Qiqi nearly vomited blood!
Wu Yi and the other staff's eyes shrank!
Director Zhang, weren't you going to refuse him politely? Yet it turned out that you were not going to reject him! It turned out instead to be that you were only asking the old man to be clear about his condition and health issues before allowing him to proceed to the televised blind auditions round? But...but this is an old man who's 60 years old! Have you ever seen an old man taking part in any singing talent show before? We're holding selections for The Voice of China, not The Old Man of China! What sort of mess are you trying to create by getting an old man to join the competition!
1. In the context of this chapter, it is used to refer to a singer who was from Taiwan/Hong Kong ://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_China