Taiwanese singer Chao Chuan says he performs his own songs best

Taiwanese singer Chao Chuan will be singing his signature songs at his concert here.
Taiwanese singer Chao Chuan will be singing his signature songs at his concert here.PHOTO: BIZ TRENDS MEDIA

Chao Chuan's hit, I Am Ugly But Tender, got listeners fixated on his lack of looks and jokes were made at his expense

Taiwanese singer Chao Chuan has a love-hate relationship with the stirring, heart-on-sleeve ballad I Am Ugly But Tender, one of his signature songs.

The title track of his 1988 debut album introduced audiences to his soaring vocals, but alas, it also got listeners fixated on his non- matinee idol looks.

Chao, 55, tells The Straits Times over the telephone from Taipei: "When I appeared on variety shows, they would be looking to create some talking point and they would use the song to make jokes at my expense. I didn't find it that amusing."

He will not be shunning the song at his concert here on Sunday, how- ever, as he has made his peace with it, saying: "A lot of fans have given me feedback on how the song has touched them."

While Chao, winner of the Golden Melody Award for Best Mandarin Male Singer in 1991 for the album I'm Just A Little Bird (1990), has other hits such as I've Finally Lost You and Silence Of The Lambs, younger audiences probably know him from his participation in the televised singing reality shows in the past two years.

They might not fully understand the story of the song. It's true to life... I think when it comes to expressing the emotions of the song, the original singer is better.

TAIWANESE SINGER CHAO CHUAN on other performers singing his songs

  • BOOK IT / BEST OF ZHAO CHUAN 2017

  • WHERE: Resorts World Ballroom, Resorts World Convention Centre

    WHEN: Sunday, 8pm

    ADMISSION: $48 to $188 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)

"They're pretty challenging as I have to figure out how to interpret songs in different ways and I get the opportunity to show viewers different sides of me," he says of the shows he has appeared on, including Talented Singer, Masked Singer China 2 and I Am A Singer.

His songs, particularly I'm Just A Little Bird, have been covered by others on those music shows on TV and he does not seem impressed.

Even as he acknowledges that their versions do reach a certain technical standard, he says: "But they might not fully understand the story of the song. It's true to life, it doesn't take a small incident and then blow it up. I think when it comes to expressing the emotions of the song, the original singer is better."

While he gives himself a passing grade for his appearance on I Am A Singer, he was the third participant to be eliminated. He plays down the impact of a road accident he was involved in during the recording of the programme in February.

"It was more of a shock. Good thing it was nothing major, so I don't think it affected my performance."

His plan is to include some of the songs he covered on the show for his upcoming gig here, including American rock band Eagles' Hotel California.

As he will be performing on New Year's Day, he spent a quiet Christmas with his children.

He has two daughters and a son and is reportedly separated from his wife.

"I won't be out partying or drinking so I can be in my best condition for the concert in Singapore."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2016, with the headline 'Love-hate relationship with I Am Ugly'. Print Edition | Subscribe