After over two months of speculation, it seems Zhang Liyin is no longer in the running to appear on this year’s I Am A Singer.
Rumours began mid-October last year when producers at Hunan Television began publicly brainstorming on the cast for the 2015 season of its highly popular singing competition show I Am A Singer. After the immediate success of Hong Kong singer G.E.M. Tang and Malaysian singer Shila Amzah, Zhang Liyin’s name was frequently talked about on Weibo. Chinese netizens made note that Liyin’s singing style is similar to both G.E.M. and Shila Amzah, and remarked that Liyin should be able to achieve a similar level of success from the show should she make an appearance.
As for Zhang Liyin herself, the SM Entertainment artist has been a fan of I Am A Singer since its first season. In March 2013, Liyin posted a photo on Weibo of her watching the show on a friend’s laptop. The caption read, “That sort of stage, I wonder if I’ll ever have an opportunity…” The Weibo post then ended with a direct mention to I Am A Singer‘s official Weibo.
Last year, Liyin shared a selfie of her posing next to a I Am A Singer promotion sign. At the time, she was in Changsha doing promotions for SM The Ballad’s “Breath” at Hunan TV’s recording studios. The Weibo post read, “I have always enjoyed watching the show I Am A Singer, so I took a photo of it today!”
Despite these posts, Zhang Liyin was never confirmed to appear on the singing show, though Hunan Television staff insiders certainly did their part to fuel rumours.
Hunan’s first recognition of Zhang Liyin’s interest on the show was in late November when one of their staff insiders announced that they had followed Liyin on Weibo. Fans speculated the intention of the follow – whether or not it was just to fuel hype and interest for the show – but regardless, Liyin quickly followed back the Hunan TV staff insider.
Then in mid-December, prior to Zhang Liyin’s appearance on Hunan TV’s New Year’s Eve concert, another verified Hunan TV Weibo account helped generate discussion online when it was leaked that one of the confirmed I Am A Singer guests had the initials of “ZLY”. It would be confirmed later that month that the initials belong to popular Chinese artist Jane Zhang.
The singing competition’s new system this year offered a new way for up-and-coming singers to showcase their talents on I Am A Singer. Hunan Television used this method to their advantage near the end of January when they showed Zhang Liyin as among seven artists who have registered to be on the show. The list was displayed during an episode of I Am A Singer. Seeing that one of the seven artists was confirmed, netizens quickly jumped onto the speculation that two of the more well-known singers Zhang Liyin and Hua Chenyu would also become future guests on the show.
More recently, a reliable Weibo user furthered speculation by stating the television network had audio tested Hua Chenyu’s and Zhang Liyin’s songs at their I Am A Singer studio. Previously, the Weibo user correctly announced the recruitment of Chinese singer Tan Weiwei onto the show.
However, as of last Thursday, it seems all speculation on Zhang Liyin’s appearance will finally come to an end. It is rumoured that Taiwan-based female soloist Jess Lee will become the final up-and-coming singer to test their talent on the show.
For fans of the artists who have been rumoured to be in the running the past few months – celebrities including Zhang Liyin, Hua Chenyu, Lu Han, and even Wu Yifan – the announcement of Jess Lee’s participation created a backlash against Hunan Television’s publicity tactics.
Many online voting polls were created by Hunan TV’s marketing team the past few months to stimulate interest and discussion from fans on Weibo. In one particular poll, both Zhang Liyin and popular male idol Wei Chen received over 4 million votes; Hu Xia with 3 million; Lu Han and Hua Chenyu with over 1 million. At the same time, Jess Lee received only 170,000 votes. For Hunan Television staff, the poll may have only been created to fuel inconsequential discussion, but for fans, they complained that the online polls were a waste of their time, especially if artists were already decided on behind-the-scenes.
At the same time, while Zhang Liyin had been following both I Am A Singer and the show’s lead director on Weibo throughout the past few months, she unfollowed them at the end of January, possibly confirming her status on I Am A Singer – that she is no longer in the running to appear on the show.
So far, SM Entertainment has not made any announcements on whether or not Zhang Liyin will be on the show. For all their intentions towards the Chinese entertainment industry this year, the Korean agency has made little effort to promote one of their only three Chinese-speaking female artists.
We would like to hear from you: What are your thoughts towards Zhang Liyin appearing on I Am A Singer? Would you like to see her on the show? What do you think SM Entertainment should do to promote Zhang Liyin this year?