How did Nathan Hartono, Joanna Dong recover from their stage blunders?

They might be the ambassadors of SPOP SING!, but they’ve also had a fair share of slip-ups when they first started performing

How did Nathan Hartono, Joanna Dong recover from their stage blunders?
How did Nathan Hartono, Joanna Dong recover from their stage blunders?
18 May 2018

How did Nathan Hartono, Joanna Dong recover from their stage blunders?

From May 21, a new wave in the local music scene will begin as the very first audition for the nationwide talent search, SPOP SING! begins.

Before auditions kicks off next week, all three ambassadors – Boon Hui Lu, Joanna Dong and Nathan Hartono – along with the three hosts Bonnie Loo, Lee Teng and YES 933 DJ Gao Meigui, told us more about what to expect from the competition, at the SPOP SING! press conference held yesterday (May 17).

Aspiring contestants take note: The auditions will be held in several institutions around Singapore and other public places, with the exact dates and locations to be revealed in the coming weeks. Those who wish to audition will not need to sing in front of a live audience too; instead, they can choose to step into egg-shaped karaoke capsules (which will be found at several public places) to perform a song of their choice. The list comprises of 200 local compositions and the full list is now available on Toggle.

For first-timers keen to make a stab at the singing industry, we fished out several helpful tips from the ambassadors and hosts during their interviews with Toggle where they shared with us their personal experiences with their first singing competition, and how they handled emergency situations they have faced throughout their respective careers.

Read on for more.

Nathan Hartono
Nathan Hartono
18 May 2018

Nathan Hartono

First singing competition: When he was in Secondary 2 (at 14 years old)

As it was the first time he performed in public (it was at Junction 8 shopping mall), Nathan admitted that he was “really, really terrified. I think I’ll feel really awkward if I watch the video today. I kept looking at the floor and at my feet because I didn’t want to look at the audience.” Despite his stage fright, he walked away as the champion (well, he’s Nathan Hartono after all).

Most memorable stage blunder: Singing the wrong song

Before you go up in arms, hear us out: this blunder wasn’t Nathan’s fault, as he had both ear monitors on and couldn’t hear what was going on outside. “The song that was played to the audience was completely different from the one that was being transmitted to my in-ears,” he said. “I started singing but it seemed like there was something wrong – people were clapping to a different beat to what I was  hearing. After singing for five to six seconds, I took out one side of the ear monitor and realised what was happening.”

From that day onwards, Nathan developed a tiny phobia when putting on ear monitors, but at the time, the 16-year-old Nathan took it in his stride and sang according to the song being played to the audience, even though he was “pretty afraid, and I didn’t know what to say, so I just sang”. As they say, the show must go on.

Lesson learned: Be prepared for anything to happen while on stage and treat every situation calmly

Joanna Dong
Joanna Dong
18 May 2018

Joanna Dong

First singing competition: When she was “5 or 6” years old

Her mum, who Joanna declared as her “first teacher”, signed her up for a community centre contest when she was a little girl, and she went home the champion on her first try. “My mum is really smart. She knew that there would be marks awarded for costume, so she prepared a really beautiful one for me; she picked the song I would sing and even ensured that I pronounced the lyrics properly so that I could score more points in those departments,” she shared.

Most memorable stage blunder: Having a then-boyfriend rush on stage with a bouquet of flowers – when he wasn’t supposed to

Well, this blunder wasn’t Joanna’s fault per se, but it was pretty mortifying anyway.

When she was competing in Singapore Idol, her then-boyfriend ran on stage with a bouquet of flowers in hand, all while jumping over barricades and dodging security. He went on stage and got caught on camera. Thankfully, it wasn’t a live broadcast and that entire part got edited out.

“At the time, I thought it was pretty romantic but my mum was really angry and told him off (because he wasn’t supposed to leave the seating area allocated to the audience members). I thought it was really nice that he tried so hard just to give me those flowers, and it was really sweet,” she grinned.

Lesson learned: Brief your die-hard fans (read: your significant other, your parents, or your BFF) that there are certain rules to abide to when filming lest a broadcast accident occurs and you get famous for all the wrong reasons

Boon Hui Lu
Boon Hui Lu
18 May 2018

Boon Hui Lu

First singing competition: When she was still in school

Having participated in competitions big and small from a young age, Hui Lu admitted that she “always gets nervous when it comes to competitions and I can’t approach it with a calm mindset – I don’t know why either!”

“Perhaps I really wanted to win from a young age; it’s easier to control as I got older, but the first word I think of when it comes to competitions is the word ‘nervous’.

Most memorable stage blunder: Blanking out while singing Taylor Swift’s ‘Blank Space’

Hui Lu chuckled that the most common blunder that she makes is forgetting the lyrics, and the most memorable one was when she literally entered a blank space while singing Taylor Swift’s hit song. “I don’t know why I forgot the lyrics, but I ended up humming almost two entire verses!” she shared. “I naturally started smiling when that happened to try to ease out of the awkwardness, but I got eliminated (from the contest) after that because the judges probably thought I wasn’t serious about the competition.”

Lesson learned: Sometimes slip-ups happen on stage, but take it in your stride and go with the flow

Bonnie Loo
Bonnie Loo
18 May 2018

Bonnie Loo

First singing competition: When she was 10 years old

The singer-actress had her fair share of experience even before she stepped into the battle ring that was Campus SuperStar Season 4. “I saw my classmate wearing a really pretty dress for a contest and thought to myself, ‘Why does she get to wear such a beautiful outfit and perform on stage?’ I was a kid after all. I pestered my mother telling her that I wanted to learn how to sing, and my teacher asked me to go for a competition three months after I started lessons,” she shared. “I got a consolation prize, because I kept singing while looking at my feet during my performance. After I went off stage, I burst into tears because I was so nervous! I was shivering throughout my performance.”

Most memorable stage blunder: Falling off stage

If you, like us, are having a hard time trying to imagine how Bonnie fell off stage, here’s how the story goes:  “I was participating in a competition held in a large sports field and they had to build a temporary stage there. When it was time to give out the prizes, we were waiting for our turn and I saw a chair there, which I sat on. I didn’t know that the temporary stage couldn’t be leaned on so I fell backwards, and everyone saw me fall off. The stage was pretty high, maybe a storey high, but thankfully I escaped with minor injuries.” Phew.

Bonnie also experienced a problem when she wore heels on stage once, as her heel got stuck and she had to awkwardly stand at one spot throughout the song. Thankfully, after the song ended, the heel magically freed itself and she managed to scurry off stage without anyone noticing.

Lesson learned: Try to get a sense of your surroundings during rehearsals and be really careful on stage

Lee Teng
Lee Teng
18 May 2018

Lee Teng

First singing competition: When he was in Victoria Junior College

Surprise, surprise: Lee Teng confirmed that he has competed in an inter-school talent competition before, but instead of singing, he and his good friend decided to take on a rap battle instead. They sang Jay Chou’s ‘Nunchucks’ and ‘Dad, I’m Home’ and the audience reacted really well to their performance as well.

“When the results came out, we weren’t shortlisted!” he chuckled. “But it’s fine, because we had a lot of fun. After that, I never participated in another contest again. I realised singing isn’t my forte and I should focus on what I do well instead.

Most memorable stage blunder: Forgetting his dance moves mid-performance

When Lee Teng was in university, he and his buddy were in the middle of a performance of Show Luo’s ‘Jing Wu Men’ when he snuck a glance at his friend, who somehow forgot the dance moves and froze. Seeing his friend in that position, Lee Teng also ended up forgetting his dance moves and the two of them awkwardly bopped to the music till the end of the song.

Everyone in the audience was still very supportive, “which felt really good”, he grinned. “Performing is how I slowly built up my confidence to eventually performing for a living.”

Lesson learned: Keep calm and sing or dance on

Gao Meigui
Gao Meigui
18 May 2018

Gao Meigui

First singing competition: Campus SuperStar in 2006, when she was 16

Campus SuperStar was the first formal competition that this YES 933 DJ participated in, although she took part in “one or two” contests within her school previously. “It was the first time I went on TV, but I got kicked out of the competition pretty quickly, so that’s why it left a lasting impression on me,” she explained.

After she got kicked out of the competition, she broke down in tears when she saw her mother and older brother as she felt that she didn’t manage to perform up to their expectations.

Most memorable stage blunder: Having the music stop halfway through the song – twice

“I was singing at the Esplanade when halfway through the song, the song stopped,” Meigui recalled. “Once the music stopped, I was shocked and decided to introduce myself and the song that I was singing. The music started again and I sang it from the stop. When I was about to finish singing, the song stopped again, and once I went off stage, I started crying, and I cried so much that my falsies fell off.”

At this point, Hui Lu chimed in, “That was a really good opportunity to sing a cappella and show off your singing chops!” However, Meigui shared that she was too nervous to think of it at the time, and didn’t have the experience to think on her feet. She did, however, say that the audience was very supportive of despite the boo-boo, which made her feel a lot better.

Lesson learned: A stage accident could very well turn into an opportunity. Carpe diem!

WATCH: Bonnie Loo tells us about her unforgettable memory of falling off stage!
WATCH: Who’s the best at recalling song lyrics?

Visit the official microsite of SPOP SING! for more information.

Audition highlights from SPOP SING! will be available exclusively on Toggle from June.
SPOP SING! Prelude will air on August 9, 8.30pm on Channel 8 and Toggle.
SPOP SING! quarter finals will be aired every Monday from September 24, 8pm on Channel 8 and Toggle.
SPOP SING! semi-finals will be aired on October 28, 10pm and the grand finals will be aired LIVE on November 4, 7pm pm Channel 8 and Toggle.

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