The Popularity of China’s Live Music Interactive Show: How “Come Sing With Me” Is Designed To Be A Hit

Complete with the requisite hilarious and frenetic over-the-top sequences of emoji and meme-based cuts of hosts’ reactions and slow-mo sequences of TV shows in China, “Come Sing With Me”, a live music show was launched by Hunan TV in 2016. Its popularity helped it spread to Charming China TV channels available on DirectTV in the U.S.

The premise of “Come Sing With Me” is an interactive music variety show where ordinary people have an opportunity to sing together with celebrity pop singers. First, the celebrity pop singers featured in that episode (there are usually three total) are shown singing one of their well known songs in the studio. Fans are shown singing along simultaneously in UGC clips showing people singing into their computers or mobile phones from wherever they are. Some are shown singing into their headphones from their offices, others from airport tarmacs.

Next, some of the contestants who joined in the first singalong submission are invited to the live show. During the show, mini biographies of contestants are shown and some with interesting skills are asked to come on stage to perform briefly as part of the “variety” portion of the show. Finally, we get to the real draw — the actual singing. Three contestants are “randomly” selected (aka pre-selected based off of their singing ability and overall story) to enter into the actual contest.

Each of the three stand on illuminated pedestals and sing the song of featured celebrity pop singer in that show, with the guest pop singer and a panel of celebrity judges observing them. At the end of the song, the judges weigh in on their votes but ultimately the celebrity pop singer picks the contestant that they wish to duet with.

In the last round, each celebrity pop singer duets with their chosen contestant in performances of jaw-dropping quality to the panel of judges and live audience, most of whom are shown wiping tears away from their eyes from awe at the sheer talent of both the actual celebrity and the everyday Joe with disarmingly incredible vocals.

The show is brilliantly engaging in several ways:

#1 It’s fueled by a trifecta of star power

The structure of the show itself relies on celebrities on three levels: 1) the hosts, who are Ryan Seacrest type figures 2) the panel of judges which usually features 5–6 different celebrities 3) three featured celebrity pop singers per show. With that amount of star power, it’d be impossible for the show to fail.

#2 It‘s a flywheel for user-generated content

Each show features 3 celebrity pop singers, which means each show gets 3 chances to attract 3 groups of diehard fans who then can submit their renditions of their favorite pop singer’s song. The show is structured to be widely shared by individual people because it features hundreds of fan-submitted clips of themselves singing on giant curved screens in the show, with close-ups of individual fans in split-screen views with the celebrity pop singer. Because fans aren’t sure if they’ll be featured or if someone they know might be featured, they tune in just in case they may catch a glimpse of themselves or someone they know— even for a second.

#3 It’s a meme machine

Like the rest of the highly popular variety shows in Asia, “Come Sing With Me” liberally sprinkles emojis, cartoonish animations, memes, and gifs throughout the show, highlighting and even interpreting the emotions from the celebrity pop singer, the contestants, judges, hosts, and audience to create moments out of any conceivably interesting exchange. The show then becomes a meme-machine, pumping out scenes that can easily be screenshott-ed, gif-ed, or sticker-ed like wildfire through Line or WeChat.

#4 It fulfills every fan’s dream

Finally, the premise of the show itself — being able to meet and duet with the celebrity pop singer of your dreams on stage in a performance — taps into the dreams of fans around the world. This fundamental seed of fandom is brought to life in picture perfect production on this show, making it inherently a happy-ending that is elevated with top-notch performances, complete with perfectly choreographed lighting and backdrops.

Hunan TV nails this show format and secured the star power to boot, making this a surefire hit. Check out an example episode from the show on YouTube here. This is obviously not their first rodeo though — HSTV has been the number one most viewed satellite television channel in the provinces of China for 4 years now and appears to be smoothly continuing their streak.

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