Help My Brother Win the Random Chinese Top Idol Competition

Hey friends!

Apparently online voting counts for 50% of judging in the singing competition moving forward, so to help my random-Chinese-speaking-white-guy-brother move forward, follow any (and as many) of the instructions below before 4pm on August 7th:

Vote by Website

1. Go to
2. Click on "VOTE" (upper right)
3. Register your email address
4. Confirm your email registration by clicking the link emailed to you.
5. Vote for Jimmy Hales!

You can vote 5 times per day, per valid email address, so feel free to do it a few times!

Vote on Facebook

1. "Like" the "ETTV Top Idol" Facebook page
2. "Like" Jimmy Hales's contestant photos/videos (each like counts as 5 votes)
3. Share Jimmy Hales's contestant photo/videos (each share counts as 10 votes)

Like/share votes are only valid through ETTV's Top Idol Facebook page, so make sure you like/share it from there!

Vote on Instagram

1. Follow "ETTVAmerica" Instagram page

You can always unfollow their Instagram after the competition is done.

Vote via App

We've figured out how to vote on the app, and it's actually pretty easy and fun (you literally shake your phone).  This method allows for UNLIMITED voting, so if you get a chance, shake away!

1. Search your Apple or Android app market for "ETTV America," and install the free app:

2. Tap the "X" in the upper right corner to exit out of the ad:

3. Select the drop-down menu in the upper left corner:

4. Choose the long Chinese phrase with the exclamation mark (toward the bottom -- no idea what it says):

5.  Select Jimmy Hales's contestant photo:

6. Click "Vote" in the upper right hand corner

7. Shake your phone until it counts a vote (yes, literally shake your phone around), and keep doing it until your biceps are as big as basketballs -- vote as many times as you want!


Tip:  Take your phone on a walk or run with you, 'cuz every natural arm swing counts as a shake!  

Click here for more voting instructions, or to contact ETTV if something goes awry.

Thanks for voting!

Top Idol - Round 2

My phone buzzed. It was a message from my brother:

"I have no voice. I'm sick."

In just two days, my brother James (known as Jimmy outside of the family) would be back in California for the second round of "Top Idol," a Chinese singing competition.

Because apparently randomness is normal in our family.

How did he join such a competition?  The same way anyone would. By learning fluent Mandarin on a two-year mission for the LDS church, and then accidentally stumbling upon the final minute of an audition in the middle of a mall 350 miles away from home.


Ok, weird.

You can read the full hilarity of his first audition here.

Anyway, two days before the next "Hollywood Round," James was sick with a hoarse voice, like a runner who sprains an ankle a couple days before the Olympics.  But not really, since the Olympics are kinda a bigger deal.  

More like... spraining an ankle before a state track meet.

Regardless, James cheerfully shrugged his shoulders, hopped on a plane, flew from Arizona to Southern California, and the next morning he drove up to ETTV's LA studio and hung out with a bunch of Chinese singers.  Thanks to his contracted illness, he was drained, sniffly, and quieter than usual, but he smiled and had fun because that's what James does.

There were 20 singers there, and after being lined up, given instructions, and then fed a nice Chinese lunch, each of them had a chance to sing one Chinese pop song before the judges decided who was eliminated.

James went third.

He sang... something in Chinese.  That's pretty much all I can tell you.  I do not sing in Chinese.

He texted me right afterwards -- "I sucked so bad, lol!"

Losing even part of your voice as a singer is tough for two reasons.  

First, there's the obvious -- it's difficult to get the sound out.  You have to push your voice much harder than usual, which can feel like lighting it on fire with a blowtorch.  

Having a hoarse voice myself a few weeks ago, I basically screamed "Defying Gravity" at a group of church teenagers, sounding like a witch being boiled in oil.

Not so comfortable.  Especially for the audience.

But then there's the second reason that a hoarse voice is all the less bueno. 

When your voice is hoarse, it becomes a totally different and unpredictable instrument.  All that control -- all those melismatic runs (when pop singers jump all round different notes at the speed of light) and sustained high belts a singer works hard to perfect, occasionally pop out of your mouth going in directions totally different than where you tell them to go.

Like shooting lasers in a house of mirrors.  Bpew bpew!  (Those are my laser noises.)

Imagine practicing for years to master the violin, only to wake up on the morning of a performance and find your violin has turned into a banjo.  You can probably still kinda play it, but all the sounds come out sounding different and less predictable -- almost always in a bad way.

At Saturday's competition, my brother had banjo voice.

No offense to banjos.

Here it is:

In contrast, here's his first audition, which he didn't know he would be participating in until thirty seconds prior (singing starts at 0:54):

And here's a sample of one of his original softer songs, that as his sister/fan club, I think is under-viewed:

After he sang and cuts were made, James was surprised that he was moving on to the next round, despite his occasional-lasers-in-all-directions performance.

The show's main judge and producer pulled him aside into another room.

"How do you feel you did?" the producer asked in Mandarin.

"Not very good. I'm actually sick," James responded in like language.

"Oohhhh.  Yeah, it was terrible." the producer said, emphasizing only the word 'terrible' in English.  "And wear some less complicated clothes next time."

Hahaha!  I love the honesty.

Apparently the black button-up shirt with a gray front pocket was too difficult to comprehend.  Surprising advice coming from a guy who wore sunglasses indoors at the first audition.

But then again, he might have been worried James was going to show up in another race tank and medal.

When James walked in my door at the end of the day, he was laughing that he "miraculously didn't get cut" from the competition.  And he was thankful that the next song he was asked to learn is a light, softer song -- much easier to sing for a voice in recovery.

I'm especially excited because it means he'll be back in California yet AGAIN this Friday!  Hooray!!  This is the best competition ever!!

Even though it means another flight on US Airways, which so far out of his four recent flights with them, has managed to deny him boarding on one that was oversold (I don't know how that's legal), dramatically delay two, lose his bag on one, and then transfer him to a Spanish-speaking phone operator who accidentally hung up on him when he tried to renew his $200 voucher from the original denied boarding.

But that's another entertaining story entirely.

What I love most is that my brother is just an all-around awesome person.  For those familiar with his backstory, I think he lives a challenging life, and somehow pulls out of each trial with a smile and desire to make others happy.  Just the other day he sent me an inspirational video link of people giving random surprise Christmas gifts to those in need, with the message, "I want to do this."  And he probably will.

I love seeing good things happen to him.

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