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Local a capella group nabs second place on The Sing-Off China

Published on Sep 9, 2012 12:20 PM
Singers from MIcapella (top row, from left to right) Lee Ein Ein, 30, Eugene Yip, 30, Calin Wong, 26, Peter Huang, 30, (bottom row, left and right) Goh Junyi, 26, Ng Wei Jin, 30. Singapore group Micappella was placed 2nd in TV singing competition The Sing-Off China. -- ST PHOTO: JOSEPH NAIR

Homegrown a cappella group Micappella have come in second on Chinese television singing competition The Sing-Off China.
They lost the title of champions and a recording contract to Beijing’s Free Men.

As runners-up, Micappella received “a very heavy plaque with our name on it”, says Calin Wong, a member of the sextet.

The 26-year-old adds: “Well, the plaque is the tangible thing that we got. But what we really got in terms of experience and the exposure is not measurable.”

The results were announced last Saturday, when the final episode of the show – a spin-off of American TV competition The Sing-Off – was broadcast online and on Chinese TV.

The Singaporean team, which comprise four men and two women aged between 26 and 31, are “very proud” of their achievement even if they did not walk away as champions.

Goh Junyi, 26, one of the members, jokes to Life! that they “did even better than how the Singapore players did at the Olympics”, referring to two bronze medals that the Singaporean table tennis players received at the London Olympics this year.

He says: “We joined the show not even thinking that we would be in the top 10, so to get second place is a huge surprise, and better than anything we expected.”

He and his teammates add that the winning team is “very deserving”. Vocal percussionist Peter Huang, 30, says: “Free Men are a team of music professors, and in fact, they formed many of the other competing groups that we were up against. They were just really too good, so even if we had gotten first place, I think we would have thought something was wrong. Getting second place is really the best we could ever imagine.”

The Sing-Off China was filmed in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, where Micappella had stayed the last two months. Other than Goh, who is in public relations, the group comprise financial analyst Ng Wei Jin, and full-time musicians Huang, Wong, Lee Ein Ein and Eugene Yip.

At the final, they performed three songs: Circus by Britney Spears, Peter And Mary by Mayday and Princess by Jam Hsiao.

On that last number, Goh forgot the lyrics, which might have cost them some points.

He says: “We chose this song because it fits our group’s style well, but it’s not an easy one because of all the complicated lyrics.

When we told the other Chinese groups before the show we were performing it, they were like, ‘Wow, good luck.’

“Then on stage, my mind just went blank at one point and I had no choice but to mumble something up or start repeating lyrics.”

Interjecting, Huang adds: “Even though that happened, the judges all said that the song was one of our best performances, ever.”

The 11-member judging panel are Chinese-language music professionals, including Hong Kong lyricist Wyman Wong, powerhouse singer Weiwei and Heinan, a former judge of hit singing competition Super Girl.

According to Micappella, their fan base has “increased significantly”.

Huang says: “We first went to China where no one knew of us, but as the competition went on, we started seeing Chinese fans cheering for us in the audience. They would bring balloons and signs, and really showed that they cared for us.”

Lee, 31, says “even the pizza delivery guy who brought us our pizza one day, recognised us”. “And another time when we were having steamboat at a restaurant, the people at the table next to us told us that they knew who we were,” she recalls fondly.

Now that the group have returned to Singapore, they already have several private gigs lined up.

They are also busy organising Akafest, an annual a cappella festival here that will see more than 10 groups perform. The event is now in its seventh edition.

The ticketed event will be held between Sep 22 to 30 at the National University Of Singapore’s University Cultural Centre.

Huang says: “We love what we do, and we want to continue to help give other a cappella groups a platform to perform, and also give some advice and build a sense of community for a cappella groups in Singapore. It’s going to be fun.”

Background story

Book It
Where: University Cultural Centre, National University Of Singapore
When: Sep 22 - 30
Admission: $25 to $50, available from Gatecrash (call 6100-2005 or go to www.gatecrash.com.sg)