BEIJING - I Am A Singer 4 crowned Chinese-American pop star CoCo Lee the winner, but booted Hong Kong singer Joey Yung off after the first round of the finals last Friday night, surprising viewers who accused producers of rigging the competition.
Lee won the night with songs including A Love Before Time, the theme from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon that took her to the Oscars stage in 2001, said Sina website.
Revisiting that career highlight last Friday, she belted out that song while wearing the same red dress she wore to the Academy Awards.
She also sang Michael Jackson's Earth Song with American R&B singer Ne-Yo, in a duets round that was unexpectedly star-studded, international or plain mind-boggling.
Hong Kong's Hacken Lee played the nostalgia card, performing with husband-and-wife veterans George Lam and Sally Yeh, said NetEase website. Taiwan's Lala Hsu sang with Singapore's JJ Lin.
South Korea's Hwang Chi Yeul performed You Are My Everything, the theme from the year's hottest K-drama, Descendants Of The Sun, with the original artist, Gummy.
Taiwan's Jeff Chang teamed up with the United States' Akon for a disco-flavoured version of Chang's Love Is Like The Tide.
Although Yung brought the house down, singing, dancing and slithering around the stage with her junior, William Chan, she ranked seventh and last in the duets round, and could not move to the second round.
Netizens wondered whether her performance was too sexy for the show, and how she could have ranked lower than Chinese singer Lao Lang, who sang out of tune, said NetEase.
The show denied that it had been rigged, however. Hunan TV's I Am A Singer, which is adapted from South Korea's MBC variety show of the same name, is voted on by the studio audience.
In an interview after the finals, producer Hong Tao said he was as surprised by the results as the viewers, reported NetEase. He said he found Yung's duet with Chan "okay, very healthy, a performance with a whiff of youth and hormones". In his mind, she should have been in the top three in the duets round, he said.
Lee, who is active in Hong Kong and Taiwan, is the first singer from outside China to win the competition. In previous years, mainland Chinese acts from rock duo Yu Quan to singer Han Hong won, despite the buzz of excitement surrounding Taiwanese and Hong Kong contestants including Aska Yang and G.E.M.
Kit Chan, who joined the third season last year, was the first Singaporean star on the show. Hong said he had been actively inviting another Singaporean, Lin, to the show since a few seasons ago.