The organizers decided to name the competition using the English word 'Journey' because it sounded extra impressive and they intended to create an image of an ultimate battle.
The first stage of the competition was split into auditions, preliminary round, top 300 and top 100, and utilized the most ruthless method of elimination. There were no second chances or other arrangements. Which meant, only those in the top 100 had the privilege to find out about the next stage in the competition.
Starting from the preliminary rounds, the competition would be broadcasted live at 6pm every Saturday. And it was expected, within one month, the top 100 would be decided.
The competition was fast-paced; within the short span of a few days, the contestants were expected to be ready for the next round of fierce rivalry. This was the reality behind the ruthless 'journey' that they were on.
"A frightening number of people passed the auditions, so don't let your guard down by assuming that there are a lot of spots available for the next round. It's OK for you to relax, but you need to understand how important this competition is to you," Lin Qian reminded after escorting Xing Lan home. While she was there, she took the opportunity to scan over her apartment. "This place won't do, it's too basic. You need to move."
"But, won't that attract suspicion from my sister?"
"Don't worry, from the moment that you signed with Superstar Media, your private matters were made confidential, that is, unless you reveal it yourself," Lin Qian guaranteed. "Your sister will simply think that you are quietly being a teacher at music school."
"OK, I'll follow the agencies arrangements."
"In that case, I'll take you to dinner first and we can come back to pack your bags after." Lin Qian ended up taking Xing Lan to a hotel for dinner. However, not long after they sat down, they began to hear people talking about the competition. It was, after all, a big production that only took place once every few years, so it naturally started conversations.
"You entered the competition too, did you pass the auditions?"
"Who do you think our Nana is? She's pretty and has a great voice. She's born to be a star."
Hearing the conversation from their neighboring table, Lin Qian shook her head and looked at Xing Lan, "Remember that girl named Nana. I bet she'll be eliminated in the next round."
"No way! She's so pretty." The woman was dressed in a long white dress with a sweet and beautiful appearance. No matter how one looked at it, she was bound to get a good result.
"Did you think that this is a beauty contest? Trust me, a piece of disgusting news will soon surface."
Fame and fortune was a huge temptation. Once one got hold of an opportunity to gain it, they would not be so silly as to let it go.
"Don't worry. The way you've been keeping a low profile is perfect." Xing Lan wasn't a threat for anyone. At least for now, she wasn't going to attract any trouble. Lin Qian was proud of this, but of course, this was all thanks to the guidance from Tangning.
In response, Xing Lan revealed a smile.
The next round was due in six days. However, unlike everyone else, Tangning was in no rush to train Xing Lan, nor did she hire any experts to perfect her singing technique. Instead, she instructed her to relax. Xing Lan wasn't any less talented than anyone else. All she was lacking was a stable mindset and confidence.
Soon, the next round took place inside the Beijing Stadium. As usual, Lin Qian accompanied Xing Lan to the competition.
This time, it was also an elimination round. The contestants were split into groups of 5, but only one survived from each group.
The two women spotted the beautiful Nana in the stadium, and as usual, she was dressed to the nines. When one looked at her, it was impossible to take their eyes off her. But, according to what Lin Qian said the other day, this woman was going to be eliminated today.
"Go draw a number," Lin Qian reminded Xing Lan. After drawing a number, the contestants split up, found their respective groups and waited patiently.
However, after Xing Lan found her group, the other girls simply looked at her with disdain. In fact, their expressions showed that they didn't think much of her and didn't view her as a threat because she did not stand out at all.
At this time, Xing Lan finally understood why Lin Qian wanted her to look so countrified. If one didn't appear to pose a threat...their enemies would overlook them.
"What's the tactic this time?" Xing Lan asked beside Lin Qian's ear.
"Sing something that you're comfortable with and keep your true abilities hidden. It's not time to dazzle everyone yet."
So, while the other contestants gave their all on stage, singing until tears almost flowed from their eyes, Xing Lan's performance was extremely steady.
Just like during the auditions, she maintained her simple and basic image. However, this time, there was an experienced judge on the panel that was also present at the auditions. So, as soon as he saw Xing Lan, he was quite interested by her.
However, he did not mention it to the other judges because he needed time to confirm her abilities. If he mentioned it now, it would merely increase everyone's expectations for her.
"Child, you can start," a judge initiated.
This time, Xing Lan did not sing a children's song. Instead, she chose to sing a warm and comforting song. After hearing the other contestants singing their lungs out, the judges eardrums were in pain. So, a comforting song at a time like this, was the perfect remedy for their tired ears.
As usual, Xing Lan's voice was clean. Coupled with her warm and sweet smile, she sang in much the same way that Tangning acted; she simply let the song flow naturally and the meaning was automatically portrayed.
If one was to critique her singing technique, there wasn't much to say. But, when it came to the quality of her voice, it was stable and extremely comfortable to listen to.
Out of the five women, only one could pass to the next round. That was a one in five chance or 20%.
The probability wasn't considered high or low, but if they lost this chance, it would be forever.
Soon, the five women made their way onto the stage. It was time to determine their fates.
The other contestants didn't even consider for a moment that the common-looking woman on the left would have any chance of advancing.
Were they kidding? This was the entertainment industry. It wasn't a place where a non-stylish country bumpkin could enter.
But, contrary to their expectations, the judges actually announced Xing Lan's name.
"Congratulations, Xing Lan, you received the highest score in your group and will be advancing to the next round. Get ready for next week's competition."
Xing Lan bowed thankfully at the judges, while the other contestants were left in shock.
"What just happened?"
"Why is that country bumpkin advancing?"
"Something unfair must have happened!"
Meanwhile, Xing Lan did not need to care what the others were saying. With her chest held high, she left the stage and returned to Lin Qian's side, "I successfully got into the top 300. But now, I need to prepare for next week's competition."
"The day that you get into the top 100, is the day that you will meet your mentor. That is when the real competition starts."
That was also when Tangning planned to tell everyone that she was back!
The media's expressions at that time...
...was bound to be hilarious.