Update, 12/2: Stop everything — Nathan Hartono has just dropped not one, but two videos for 爱超给电 (“Electricity” in English) and we’re obsessed. The 26-year-old Singaporean released his debut Mandarin pop single in China last week, and the accompanying music films see him first jamming in an art space before bringing the eclectic “exhibits” to life, while the second reel takes the energetic performance outside to the sun-drenched plaza of Tokyo’s La Cittadella entertainment centre. P.S. He takes off his shirt in one of them so you best watch both for a real treat.
Original post, 7/2: More than a year after singer-songwriter Nathan Hartono emerged as the runner-up in the popular regional singing show Sing! China in 2016, he is finally about to drop his debut Mandarin single.
The perky pop tune, Ai Chao Gei Dian (loosely translated to “love gives you energy), is an updated version of his 2016 English single, Electricity, and it will be the first music he is putting out for the China market.
He will release it there on Wednesday and the rest of the world two days after.
So what took him so long?
“I definitely didn’t strike while the iron was hot,” the 26-year-old admits.
He explains that he needed time to reassess his career path and come up with a proper game plan.
“I knew that pursuing a career in China would be no small shift and I wanted to make sure I surrounded myself with a good team and have well-thought-out content. If I had rushed this process just to capitalise on the buzz and fame, I may not be satisfied with what we put out.”
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He is also very much aware of the fickle nature of the pop music world and knows that the number of fans across the region who had rooted for him in Sing! China might have waned over time.
Still, the prospect of trying to win back the fans, and gain new ones, gets him excited.
“We’ll be opening up the possibilities of completely new fans, independent of the singing programme. I see this as a pretty fun challenge.”
It is not as if he has spent the past year slacking either. In fact, he describes 2017 as the most hectic year of his life.
“There was a lot of work following the show and, at the same time, I was trying to sort out a good working environment in China. It was pretty non-stop for most of the year, so at the tail end of 2017, I took some time to step back and take a breather, to really get back to my centre and jump back into the process of creation.”
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In Singapore, at least, his face was everywhere. He fronted advertising campaigns for DBS Bank and became an ambassador for the Ministry of Education’s Committee to Promote Chinese Language Learning.
There was also his joke in an interview with The Straits Times about buying everyone iced Milo if he won Sing! China, which led to him officially endorsing the chocolate malt drink’s new bottled product, Milo Peng.
He was also a brand personality, together with Mandopop star Stefanie Sun, for the Singapore Tourism Board’s Passion Made Possible campaign.
Somehow, he found time to squeeze in some acting, playing the male lead in Glowtape Productions’ musical The Great Wall: One Woman’s Journey, as well as appearing in a Web series for DBS alongside veteran actor Adrian Pang.
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Still, his priorities are clear. “I’m a musician before anything else and I want to be able to have my music speak for itself as much as possible.”
More new music is coming. A Mandarin EP is scheduled to be released sometime this year and he says his command of the language has improved, although he still has help from lyricists and producers in China for the self-composed tunes.
He will also continue to release music in English, which he has been doing since he made his debut as a teenage jazz crooner.
And while he has not been in touch with his Sing! China mentor Jay Chou, he hopes to work with the Mandopop superstar again in the future.
Thanks to the show, his fanbase went from being mostly local to one that numbered in the millions and stretched across the region.
Hartono adds: “My post-Sing! China experience has been more about reconciling with the new status quo and having a good perspective of it.
“I didn’t want to get lost in all the craziness, so I’m happy I had the time to sort those things out. But I can’t be more excited to jump back in again.”
This article originally appeared on The Straits Times.