Youth With You Season 3 Recap – Episode 2: Fair and Balanced

Chris Lee, Lisa, Will Pan, Ronghao Li (L-R)

Watch here for English subtitles (with a VPN if you need to):

Welcome back for the EP2 recap. I appreciate all the attention! The deluge of comments were like fresh manna in my time of need. To address a few concerns:

  • Seems the consensus here is that CHUANG2021 is the better show so far. I’ll watch more! Maybe even write about it. If it gets good it gets good, and if YWY gets bad it gets bad. Folks, it’s about the journey, not the destination.
  • Re: my biases, just a friendly reminder (not the “Follows you” part jeez):
  • Addendum: If you’d like to purchase one (1) article’s worth of my bias in regards to Chinese Reality TV, we can negotiate. I accept ETH or PayPal. Can I NFT-ize my integrity?
  • Aerodynamic trainee Liang Sen is not Malaysian, he’s born in Shandong. I thought I saw that a while ago but no idea where I sourced it from. Probably did get it mixed up with Liu Jun on a trainee list. Apologies to all affected.
  • I also genuinely apologize if the scandals of individual trainees are triggering, I’m personally trying to not read a lot of the extra content/spoil myself so these thoughts are mostly off-the-cuff and ignorant of whatever rumors are being brought up on the side. Allegations such as assault, both physical and sexual, are serious and if the show deals with it accordingly good for them, but if not then I suppose we have something to talk about (i.e. what is actually the just thing to be done in these cases).

Anyways, first up in EP2 is Dream (not to be confused with fellow contestant The Dream (not to be confused with R&B artist The-Dream)) plus SoNeX vs Drrchen. Dream/SoNeX go for a Spring boy vibe while Drrchen goes edgier, singing through a megaphone.

The Spring boys feel the pressure of live singing during their routine, the result being pitchy and inconsistent. Drrchen, who rearranges the song with an alt-rock feel, passionately delivering high notes and giving that troubled alt-boy stare he has built his identity on.

All three get ‘N’ ranks, Drrchen for being cliche and Dream/SoNeX for being not good.

So let’s talk for a second about live vocals. In China, there’s a new set of government-issued Celebrity guidelines, regulations that, much like the hip-hop “ban” and the idol “ban” (one of the reasons why the show changed it’s name from ‘Idol Producer’), are meant to curtail what the Chinese government sees as illicit behavior. Some rules are designed to prevent Fan BingBing-type scandals (such as not adjusting performance contracts after the fact), drugs, drunk driving, as well as maintaining a baseline of patriotism.

But there is also a line directed specifically at idols: No Lip-syncing. As we know, idol performances and lip-syncing are like sandwiches and bread, almost baked into the definition. The document calls it “deception,” a Weibo commenter comments “I can’t tell if these new rules are supposed to punish the artists or their audiences.” Thusly, we can see these shows now installing and enforcing this specific rule (note the “Full Open Mic Live” overlay on all these performances). These rules are also influencing the show’s narrative, with charismatic idols who can’t sing getting “exposed”. But the end results may not be so clear-cut. Drrchen, who can definitely sing live, is tossed into the Newbie pile for reasons, but more to show the viewers ‘it’s not all about singing well’. This might also be a primary reason why the evaluations seem all over the place for now.

We’ll see how this strategy pans out through the rest of the show.

Next up are two social media heavyweights, IKELILI and RADiANT PiCTURESLiam, an actor branching out into the world of idol-dom.

Oh yes and also Wei Hongyu from BF (Big Face) Entertainment. *crickets*

IKELILI talks about his leaving the Douyin/TikTok world to become a singer. His performance shows a lot of… effort. But at least he gets to use the Thai he practiced.

Liam is all limbs and lank, scorpion tailing his way through a somewhat awkward performance. Even Esther must cringe.

Wei Hongyu, even after shown crying with a mouthful of sushi backstage, surprises everyone with a deft vocal performance, showing both vocal & rap chops. Li Ronghao asks him to perform a second song, and Hongyu covers his hit “Quit Smoking” to great effect. Wei Hongyu is definitely heads above the other two. He gets the first ‘A’ on the show. Liam gets an C, IKELILI a B, which I think is pretty generous.

Chris Lee addresses this up-and-down voting baseline and says she wants to encourage those who exceed expectations, so while Drrchen had a high, yet unmet expectation, IKELIKE exceeded his near-zero preconception and thus got a higher grade.

Next is top dog Liang Sen vs EP01 shaky-boy Rimiko + Banana Entertainment’s S.Titch. As they warm up backstage together, the show’s editors immediately apply a Seme vs Uke filter to the scenario. I expect this to last all season.

Rimiko and S.Titch give Lil Milk‘s “Moonlight” the cutie/sweetie treatment to little effect. Liang Sen gives a charismatic solo performance with an A+ dance break to boot. Lisa admires the chrome dome, Liang Sen admits to polishing it right before the stage. Lisa asks for another dance performance and he obliges. Liang Shen obviously has a flair for the stage, and has a good amount of dancing skill/training. S.Titch gets an N, Rimiko gets a C, Liang Sen is our second A.

We speed through some more unremarkable performances (“Nuclear Fire Media”? lol). N. C. B. N. C. C. Etc. “MONICA” will forever be a capital-J JAM, RIP Leslie Cheung, the king of cool.

But fear not, the next group includes some real heavyweights battling it out with show alum Xiao Gui‘s song “Tiger”, including my guy Kachine.

If you haven’t seen much of Kachine yet, my god.

It also helps that he’s friends with Lin Fan, one of my favorites from YWY2.

Anyways, all three teams battling this round seem competent. First up are the “noble” tigers from B/G Entertainment, including a trainee named “Joker“, who will no doubt have his revenge on society. Opera-style singing, nunchaku-flinging, yet somewhat lukewarm performance. NYC-raised Krystian stands out with his confidence.

Next is Youhug Entertainment with a rearrangement. The energy is more palpable here throughout but there’s some deer-in-the-headlights moments that sneak in. The live singing is definitely affecting the quality/confidence of these early stages. Luo Yizhou‘s dance is indeed spectacular but like the previous performance, these solos don’t mesh well with the overall performance.

Finally we have Kachine and the boys. The moves here snap more, especially from X/Kachine. The ribbon surprise made me laugh out loud. iQiyi did a good job of editing this segment here, emphasizing exactly the look and feel of an A-performance squad. The judges comments back this up.

Even the OG Produce 101 had this problem sometime, showing a stage then rating it waaay above or below what it felt like it should be. I think “Rumor” from PD48 is one of the more egregious examples of this. YWY2 did a better job with this dissonance, at least towards the beginning of the season (some of those revenge stages, though). YWY3 has already had some sus evaluations, but sometimes the performance, editing, and narrative all comes together. We’ll see how this bodes for the rest of the season.

The top dancers in the group square off in a extra battle for the judges. X’s beastly “Yes OK!!” cover is fun as hell. Kachine is all feathers and teeth and hair and perfect skin. He could have probably just stood there and gotten a standing ovation (at least from me). Luo Yizhou’s athleticism is undeniable. Krystian comes with an original track and shows all-rounder capabilities.

Finally the rankings. No N class. C’s are given to all of B/G and YouHug, except for their solo dancers (sorry Joker). A’s are given to Kachine, X and Yizhou. B’s are for the rest, including Krystian. Again, this seems consistent with the editing. Kudos. I’m prediciting a “chip-on-the-shoulder” character arc for Krystian.

Finally Tony and Sun Yihang (from Episode 1) get their ranks too, A and B respectively.

Big group of rappers coming through. Will is giddy to finally have input. I’ve heard that “Ayo Everybody” song before. The trainees here are Simply Joy‘s Russell and Ailizati, JS Entertainment‘s River (Xiao He, not to be confused with River/Huang He) (these names, am I right?), Chase Lee who made a good impression during the media test, “Ayo Everybody” WD who just keeps going and going, and G.G Zhang Siyuan, who kind of has a Lay thing going on.

Russell and Ailizati show potential, especially for fresh trainees, scoring an N and C. Xiao He showcases a style that is taking off all over Asia. Will doesn’t get it. I wonder if he has a SoundCloud account. No score is shown.

G.G. is next, who has a little BewhY in his style. It goes over well with the crowd. WD chads his way to the stage impresses the mentors with equal parts performance and bars. But expectations are high since he’s a known quantity, having ranked on Rap of China before coming to this show.

Chase Lee is next. He appeals with a more emotional performance, a soft rap-pop ditty about bullying that really sets Kachine off. The judges applaud his vulnerability.

Finally the rankings come out: G.G. and Chase Lee get B’s, and WD gets a C. Chris Lee wasn’t a fan of his chad energy, and Will Pan doesn’t seem to give a damn about the initial rankings anyways (lol).

Our last group of the episode is “Newbies from Big Companies”. This includes Kingston and Jayden from YG, Tommy and River (Huang He, not to be confused with Xiao He (we’re all confused already)) from Super Idol**, and Yuehua Yi Hua Entertainment‘s Zhang Jingyun, Liu Qi, and big nerd JOJO. They’re all performing songs by their senior’s groups: TREASURE, NINEPERCENT, and UNIQ respectively.

**Super Idol aka Idol Century, the management group of NINEPERCENT and constant target of the fans ire regarding NINEPERCENT’s lack of promotions. This should be fun.

Jayden and Kingston do their best with “BOY,” it’s a little hard for two trainees to fill the stage meant for 12, but I like the Chinese arrangement a lot. Lisa calls them posers. Kingston gets a C, Jayden a B.

Next is Super Idol. They optimize the choreo for “Let’s Dance Together” for a duo and it works. Lisa commends their teamwork and polish, and takes note of Tommy’s style, which gets him all amped up. They both get C’s.

UNIQ’s little brothers get their chance. “Falling In Love” is one of my favorite bad-good songs so I’m glad it’s getting a chance to shine here. The Yi Hua trio are self-admittedly super new at this and it shows; their performance is jittery, out-of-sync, awkward. But the effort is there! JOJO reiterates he’s ready for the trial-by-fire, and asks the mentors if he’s acceptable. They respond with three different answers so as not to influence the voting. JOJO gets an N and his teammates get C’s.

Evaluation Pt 1 is in the bag and we’re on to Episode 3.

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