Let me say at the outset that I am no fan of reality TV, but when someone like a Susan Boyle, a Paul Potts or a Connie Talbot turns up, I imagine I am as much a sucker for a good story (and a great performance) as the next guy. I would normally not devote a column to this, except that Lin Chu Yun started out in Taiwan, and Asian singers always make more of a splash in Asia than anywhere else, so there is a slight possibility that this is the first you will have heard of him. Think about it; when was the last time an Asian singer, from Asia, made even a ripple in the West? The only one I can remember is Japan’s Kyu Sakamoto, whose tune “Sukiyaki” topped the charts for three weeks back in 1963.
Lin Chu Yun is a chubby-cheeked fellow of indeterminate age; I would guess somewhere in his late teens, but information on him is thin on the ground in Japan. He wears his hair in a bowl cut, and doesn’t radiate the image one might expect from an “Idol”. But the guy can sing, no doubt about it. He turned up a short time back on a Taiwanese version of American Idol, which, if the Japanese newspapers have it right, is called YouTube. He sang what is arguably one of the most difficult pop tunes to cover, as anyone who has ever attended a karaoke night can tell you: Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You”. If you close your eyes, you’ll swear it was Whitney (and if you open them, you will see her image over his shoulder, displayed prominently on the monitor behind him). But don’t just take my word for it. Check out the video:
As Whitney fans may notice, Lin Chu Yun sings the song in her key, matching her note for note even in the high register. Anyway, last night I was wandering around Japan’s YouTube site, and came across this mashup video, with Whitney Houston and Lin Chu Yun singing together, sort of. It is a little shaky at the beginning, but well worth listening to in its entirety: