Written by: Adrian Chia
Edited by: Adriel Leong
If there is any event that truly distinguishes KEVII Hall from the other halls on campus, it must be XQRJ. An annual event organised by a group of dedicated KEVIIans, their unwavering pursuit toward unearthing new talents in Chinese song writing is truly remarkable. Over the years, XQRJ has morphed into a competition with regional outreach, attracting participants from Chinese-speaking communities beyond the shores of Singapore.
The 13th edition of its Grand Finals was successfully held on 13th February 2011 at the University Cultural Centre Hall. 10 final entries did battle – where they were judged on the originality and popularity of their compositions, lyrics and live performances. For the participants, catching the attention of the judges, who are prominent figures within the music industry, would certainly stand them in good stead in their quest towards making their mark on the Chinese music scene. The intense competition that transpired certainly provided the feast of music and entertainment for the audience.
A live band performance by Bubble Tea gave the event a rousing start. Chun Leck, a DJ from renowned local radio station Yes 93.3, was the host for the evening. Before long, the competition began with the first pair of contestants 王陈阳 and 李慧敏performing “冬天的雪花”, their maiden effort in song writing when they were 13-year old. They captivated the hearts of the audience with their voices blending superbly with the melodious tune. 张金国with his song “时光”was next up on stage. The fun and lively song was about the sweet and happy moments of a couple in a theme park. 罗展斌, the third and youngest contestant for the evening, performed his rendition of “Sunny Day”. With a simple guitar accompaniment, he sang with great style and confidence. While watching his performance, one could not stop feeling as though it was truly a bright sunny day!
Marking a break from the previous performances, 刘雨晴’s “Break Free” was unique in many ways. A fellow student from NUS, the home-ground advantage was obvious as she had a large group of light-stick waving supporters seated amongst the audience. At the start of her performance, she surprised the audience with scenes reminiscent of an exorcism complete with vampires and dark, mythical characters. There were also well-choreographed dancers dancing throughout her Gothic-themed song, which made her entire performance more like a musical than anything else.
Watching the fifth item of the night, “晴天娃娃” by 杨书荣, was like having an overdose of honey. Two lovely female vocalists sang his song with their sweetest and cutest voices. Not to be outdone, 吴秀媚’s “天天”, also brimmed with sweetness, but of a different kind. Hers was a duet between a guy and a girl. Their comedy-like performance sent the audience into repeated spasms of laughter as the guy fumbled again and again while asking his girlfriend out for a date.
Having listened to a number of love songs, 吴启豪’s “Just Leave It Away” was a refreshing change of theme. The gist of his soothing song was “if you do not like what you are doing, just leave it away”. The following piece was a solo performance by 姜宏川, runner-up of the same competition two years ago. His entry “星期天的下午”was a simple and relaxing song resembling the mood of a lazy Sunday afternoon. The next pair of contestants 杨荣勤 and 黄春义 adopted a fast tempo and pop style for their song. Unfortunately, their song “廿一”did not go down well with the judges as they received scathing remarks for the deficiencies in their vocalist and band.
方韦国, an aspiring full-time song writer, was the last contestant with his entry “一个人的旅行”. His song portrayed the emotions of a heartbroken, lonely traveler, who is trying to get over his depressing past. With the song writer playing the guitar accompaniment, he had a vocalist who successfully captivated the hearts of all the judges and the audience with her perfect interpretation of the song through her powerful and piercing voice. The applause and cheers they received were so long and thunderous, with one of the judges even calling their performance ‘perfect’!
While the judges adjourn to deliberate on the results, the audience was kept entertained by the live band Azure, which presented several adrenaline-pumping and ear-deafening pieces. However, the highlight was certainly the performance by 李志清, one of the judges of the night! An established song writer, he showed his humerous side as he tickled the hearts of the audience with some witty jokes before he performed three very popular songs for which he was the song writer. What a rare opportunity to watch the original song writer performing his own songs!
Finally it was the time to announce the results. 方韦国’s “一个人的旅行”, which was an instant hit with the judges and audience alike, was obviously the overwhelming favourite with repeated calls from the audience for almost every prize! The song eventually won the Best Performance, Best Song Composition and Most Popular Song awards, as well as the most important Grand Prize! The runner-up and second runner-up were 刘雨晴’s “Break Free” and 罗展斌’s “Sunny Day” respectively.
In an interview by the host immediately after the prize giving, the biggest winner of the night admitted that he was really surprised about winning as he did not expect such overwhelming support from the audience. In fact, he felt that winning was no longer the most significant matter as he had successfully wrote a song which resonated with the audience.
With that, the event came to a closure amidst more cheers and applause. Congratulations to all the winners as well as members of the XQRJ committee for the resounding success of the event! We certainly look forward to next year’s edition!
*pictures to be up shortly!