Oh boy! Another youth sensation

By Chen Nan | China Daily Africa | Updated: 2017-03-10 07:34

All-girl version

Even as Yue Hua Entertainment prepares to put a girl band together, Nook (Beijing) Culture Media Co, which publishes the fashion magazine Xin Wei - whose target readership is college students and young female office workers - continues to seek the next Chinese female pop stars through a competition called China Girl.

The annual competition, which began in 2010 as a beauty contest, sends its top 10 winners to Japan, first for training as models and later given a chance to be presented as a pop idol.

Xin Wei is the Chinese-language version of the Japanese magazine Vivi, one of Asia's top-selling fashion magazines. Editions localized for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Thailand are also published.

Zhu Guangrui, publisher of Xin Wei, says that when China Girl was first held, the winners' main job was modeling for the magazine and attending fashion events in China and Japan. Over the years the competition has expanded so that successful entrants take part in TV shows, movies and video games.

Jia Qi, 28, from Inner Mongolia, was selected as one of the top winners from China Girl in 2010. She learned traditional Chinese folk dance starting when she was 7 and later graduated from Minzu University of China in Beijing.

She is now a TV presenter and trains others who have been successful in the China Girl competition for careers in the entertainment industry.

"Unlike in South Korea, where pop groups' managing companies keep a very tight rein, in China we have a lot of freedom," Jia says.

"The lines between various industries, such as TV, movies, online broadcasting and modeling, are blurred. Competition is fierce, and these days, young people are much more hungry for fame than they were when China Girl began. From a very early age they want to become a star."

More than clones

Zhu says she is keen to create stars with something special, rather than just South Korean-Japanese pop star clones. This month her company plans to open a school in four floors of an office building in Tianjin that will recruit young people who hope to become pop idols.

One of the hardest tasks in creating a pop group is coming up with something that is highly distinctive and adaptable to the individual styles of members, thus setting the group apart from other pop acts.

"Content is crucial," Zhu says. "We will design courses tailor-made for each student. Some will be good singers and others good dancers. If you want to attract fans you have to make maximum use of your own specialty."

Any young person keen on an acting or music career once required a talent agency - or had to impress somebody enough to want to record them or stage professional performances, she says; but now, by virtue of the internet and social media, a person can attain overnight fame simply by posting a video online.

Besides looking for newcomers to the scene, Zhu is also interested in young performers who already have an online fan base.

"With a fan base, and us giving them training, they are highly likely to strike success in the market," Zhu says. "For attractive young men and women, the idea of being in a pop group seems glamorous, but it involves extremely hard work, and you really need to enjoy what you are doing. Yes, you may look fabulous on stage, but behind the scenes you have to go through a heck of a lot physically and mentally."

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