Getai Challenge is a TV contest featuring a number of top getai performers, including Marcus Chin and Hao Hao. But the trophy went to dark horse contender Desmond Ng.
Last Thursday night, the 28-year- old beat five other finalists - including the veteran Chin, who was first runner- up, and the wildly popular Hao Hao, who placed third - to win $20,000 cash.
Ng sounds more shocked than anyone else when he talked to Life yesterday. "I haven't slept all night. I am still letting the information sink in that I won," he says in a mix of English and Mandarin, seemingly as pleased as he is tired.
"When they called my name, I was stunned into silence. Maybe it was because I chose to sing the right songs, which moved the judges."
The contestants were judged on a number of factors, from singing ability to audience interaction and show outfit. The results were determined by a panel of five judges: getai veterans Liu Lingling and Wang Lei, actor Chen Hanwei, composer Jim Lim and singer Eric Moo.
At the finals held at Resorts World Sentosa, Ng sang Jay Chou's rousing hit Fearless, as well as the ballad Father by the Chopstick Brothers. Earlier in the competition, he also performed JJ Lin's Sign Waves and Leslie Cheung's Quit Playing Games.
His song choices are reflective of his youthful take on the traditional getai scene, which he has been a part of for the last six years.
In fact, with his floppy hair, stylish get-ups and pretty-boy face, he looks more like a product of K-pop than getai, an industry more closely associated with campy artists.
"I've always tried to make things more attractive to the young since I joined getai and audiences have gradually been more accepting of it. It's nice that younger people are following getai too," says the bachelor.
Ng, a freelance singer, was introduced to getai after his former lion dance troupe manager invited him to perform at a show.
Getais are free concerts traditionally held to entertain spirits that are believed to be roaming Earth when the gates of hell open during the Hungry Ghost Festival. This year, the month-long event, which started yesterday, will run till Sept 12.
As in previous years, Ng will perform an average of five nights every week during the festival month this year. But he reveals that his fee has already gone up by about 20 per cent since he joined the TV contest.
"I'm very cheap lah, but the biggest benefit of the show is that more people know who I am now. They recognise me and can remember my name, so that's nice."
•Follow Yip Wai Yee on Twitter @STyipwaiyee
•Getai Challenge: The Ultimate Battle airs on Channel 8 tomorrow at 7pm. A behind-the-scenes special airs on Monday at 8pm.