The final round of the Sao Mai Diem Hen (Morning Star – Rendezvous) singing contest will be held in the central city of Hue for 10 nights from Saturday. Le Thi Huyen Thanh, head of the organising board, was asked for her comments.
Many contests are looking for new musical talent for television. After four seasons, how has your show changed?
We have made many changes to make it more interesting. This requires programme makers to do a lot of thinking and to be very determined. Music contests are pulling good audiences and there is a lot of competition. As viewers are quickly distracted from one channel to another, it is imperative that their attention is held once they tune in.
To heat the contest up, we now change details in every show. Contestants not only listen to the comments of the jury after finishing their performances but, like in many overseas competitions, the audience can also interact with them.
All competitors regard competition nights as their own show.
There is a view that the quality of the contest drops each year. What's your idea?
Sao Mai Diem Hen was inaugurated in 2004. At that time, it was the first Vietnamese show of its kind displaying unknown musical talent. The format was highly appealing to viewers and the show became a big success.
However, over the last five years, several other similar competitions have started to try and cash in on the phenomenon. These include Viet Nam Idol, Do Re Mi and Viet Nam's Got Talent. However, this means that there are many more shows, but still the same audience being shared around. This means fewer people watching Sao Mai Diem Hen.
Every season starts like a fishing contest. The organisers have to try and net top performers so that they can also net the biggest audiences.
This year, what do you expect Sao Mai Diem Hen will contribute to Vietnamese music?
The Vietnamese music market has been fiercely competitive, but there are signs that it is in recession, like some other businesses. However, I hope our contest will survive to support new stars every season. We are determined to do this.
Our expectations are rewarded with listening to and watching past contributors make their mark in the local music scene. Often, when you see banners advertising a musical show on the streets of the city, you will see the names of singers who have grown up from Sao Mai Diem Hen. This makes us happy and proud.
What are the criteria for a real rising star?
The criteria for contestants on Sao Mai Diem Hen are not the same as a much older show with a similar name, Sao Mai (Morning Star). Sao Mai is also a singing contest but it has no scheme to help train and develop promising artists like its younger rival.
Those competing in Sao Mai Diem Hen are required to have great voices, good performance style and especially have original personalities. Besides, we care a bit about their appearances because they are likely to join showbiz after the contest.
In your opinion, what are the outstanding points of the contestants this season?
The final 12 contestants this year are very beautiful. They have potentiality, good voices and are trained basically in specialist schools, such as Viet Nam National Academy of Music and Ha Noi College of Art. Some competitors from the Foreign Trade University and Viet Nam Commercial University train at outside musical centres. — VNS