Celebs who shot to stardom after defeat

Who said winning is everything?

Who said winning is everything?
Who said winning is everything?
12 May 2015

Who said winning is everything?

Photos: Toggle, TPG, various

What do Adam Lambert, Jennifer Hudson and One Direction have in common?

They’re all losers. And by that, we mean they took part in various star-scouting programmes and did not manage to come out on top, forfeiting the champions’ titles on American Idol 8, American Idol 3 and The X Factor UK 7 respectively.

But hey, look where they are now! In fact, it’s even safe to say that they’re a lot more successful than the folks whose names were actually called during the big winners’ announcements: Adam has managed to churn out hit after hit while Kris Allen’s chart performances have been rather disappointing; Fantasia Barrino may have been inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame, but J.Hud has an Oscar; while we’re sure more of you have heard of 1D than Matt Cardle.

The Asian showbiz scene has seen its fair share of runners-up outrunning the actual victors of talent search shows as well. Click through our gallery to see who they are:

Carrie Wong
Carrie Wong
12 May 2015

Carrie Wong

Lost to: Alfred Low in Hey Gorgeous 2013

While we wonder where Alfred has gone since being crowned champion of the Channel U show two years ago, Carrie has been getting chummy with local A-listers, picking up double nominations at this year’s Star Awards (where she scored her first Top 10 trophy) and securing her status and one of the fresh faces to look out for on the Hill.

Despite her young age, the 21-year-old was quick to impress viewers with her acting chops in Against The Tide and The Journey: Tumultuous Times. Even her co-star, respected veteran thespian Chen Hanwei, had words of praise for the young lass, dubbing her “smart and up-and-coming”.

Lesson learnt: It is better to let your talent – and not just your voters, no matter how many there may be – do the talking.

Romeo Tan
Romeo Tan
12 May 2015

Romeo Tan

Lost to: Jeffrey Xu in Star Search 2010

Okay, so Jeffrey isn’t doing too shabbily (remember his Best Supporting Actor win at the 2013 Asian Television Awards?), but compared to fellow duke Romeo, he does fall a wee bit behind in terms of the meatiness of his roles and on the popularity polls.

Just look at the latter’s track record: a Rocket Award in 2013, two Top 10 Most Popular Male Artistes trophies, lucrative endorsement deals and all-around leading hunk status. With that under his belt, we’re still left wondering how he managed to place fourth after Jeffrey, Peggy Lin and Adeline Lim – not that it matters now, anyway: it’s life after these competitions that really counts.

Lesson learnt: You may have lost the battle, but you can still win the war.

Christopher Lee
Christopher Lee
12 May 2015

Christopher Lee

Lost to: Ix Shen in Star Search 1995

The fact that Fann Wong’s hubby managed to secure a Star Awards Best Actor and Top 10 Most Popular Male Artiste accolade just two years after emerging as the first runner-up of Star Search honestly makes us wonder how he lost in the first place.

Ten years on, he’s still going strong, with more trophies under his belt (including a Golden Bell Award thanks to a successful foray into the Taiwanese market) and undisputed ah ge status, while, sadly, Beijing-based Ix seems to have faded from the limelight after attempting to take his career to China.

Lesson learnt: You may do well in one place, but that doesn’t guarantee success in another (and vice versa).

Yvonne Lim
Yvonne Lim
12 May 2015

Yvonne Lim

Lost to: Florence Tan in Star Search 1997

Other than the brief career renaissance she experienced with her role as a cunning concubine in 2012’s Chinese period drama Mystery in the Palace, Florence has been lying low after leaving the industry to tie the knot in 2006, almost completely dropping off the local drama radar while remaining quite active in China, where she’s currently based.

On the other hand, Yvonne, who didn’t even make it past the Star Search finals, has been a very busy gal. She has appeared in an average of two to three programmes every single year since 1997 (including a few Chinese productions as well), and only recently slowed down after giving birth to her first son, Alex Junior. In that amount of time, she amassed loads of accolades, including Best Actress at the Star Awards 2007, and landed some sweet endorsement deals.

Lesson learnt: Winning is just the beginning – it takes hard work and consistency to keep the victory going.

Lee Hi
Lee Hi
12 May 2015

Lee Hi

Lost to: Park Ji Min in K-Pop Star 1

The fact that Lee Hi (real name Lee Ha Yi) debuted as a solo artiste and Ji Min was placed in duo 15& is enough to convince us that their differing levels of success – the former has already amassed a bunch of awards and #1 hits while the latter has not – isn’t that big of a surprise.

Plus, Lee Hi signed on to YG Entertainment (home to the likes of BIGBANG and 2NE1), which, like it or not, has a proven track record of better artiste promotion compared to Ji Min’s JYP Entertainment, which goes to show that in the land of showbiz, making it big is about a lot more than just raw talent.

Lesson learnt: You need someone who knows how to put you out there for the world to appreciate.

Leon Lai
Leon Lai
12 May 2015

Leon Lai

Lost to: Pui Ling Man in New Talent Singing Awards 1986

One has been a respected figure in both music and film for decades, while the other released just two albums before bowing out of showbiz in 1992. In fact, we don’t blame you if you’ve never even heard of Pui Ling, who also beat Andy Hui in the same competition, before.

Despite a slow start (he did not make any records for four years), Leon’s self-titled debut album went gold upon its release in 1990, and his continued accomplishments led him and three other singing heavyweights (Andy Lau, Aaron Kwok and Jacky Cheung) to be dubbed the Cantopop Four Heavenly Kings, a title that holds a sense of prestige even to this day.

Lesson learnt: Better late than never.

Sammi Cheng
Sammi Cheng
12 May 2015

Sammi Cheng

Lost to: Patrick Tam in New Talent Singing Awards 1988

Being crowned the champion did not come with automatic success in the real world for Patrick, whose musical career was so poorly-received (thanks to a failed dabble with a non-mainstream sound) that his label dropped him in 1992.

While he has since picked himself up by making it big on film, it will be difficult – if possible at all – for him to live up to the legacy of second runner-up Sammi, who lives on as one of Cantopop’s reigning queens and boasts an impressive, award-nominated acting resume to boot. Her forms of experimentation, mostly in terms of her image, were also a hit with audiences and cemented her status as a fashion icon (instead of, y’know, killing her career).

Lesson learnt: You can venture out of the box but not everyone will like it – not even if you once at number one.

Special mention: Jam Hsiao
Special mention: Jam Hsiao
12 May 2015

Special mention: Jam Hsiao

Lost to: Yoga Lin in One Million Star 2007

What makes Jam’s story even more amazing is that he wasn’t even a contestant on the Taiwanese talent scout show – he was recruited as a challenger to the existing contenders for a series of “Point Kick” style singing matches.

To say that his brief appearance made an impact would be an understatement: he singlehandedly propelled the show’s ratings to an all-time high and dominated search rankings. Today, Jam is the highest-earning One Million Star alumnus, raking in over $30 million in his first five years in the industry – twice the amount Yoga made in the same time period.

Lesson learnt: It is not about how long you are in the spotlight, but what you do with your time in it.

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