Michael Bolton is looking for a talented singer to perform with him on his Asian tour next year when the COVID-19 pandemic blows over.
The singer is conducting his search on Asian Dream, the singing competition premiering on AXN tonight (Aug 6), where six musicians — from Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines and Hongkong — vie for the coveted spot in a series of challenges. The winner will also be named an ambassador for auto-maker Subaru, the show’s sponsor.
Singapore is represented by 23-year-old fitness influencer Tyen Rasif, whose sister is DJ and YouTube personality Jade Rasif.
This isn’t the first time Bolton is headlining at a talent show. In 2017, he anchored Bolt of Talent on Star World (which was later renamed Fox Life).
For Bolton, the chance to share factoids about his greatest hits and mentor the contestants allowed him to reflect on his four decades in showbiz. “It took me back in time to my beginnings,” Bolton, 67, tells 8days.sg over the phone from Connecticut in the US. “It reminded me of what it was like walking in a studio and not having any idea of what to do in a recording studio.”
Bolton was just 16 when he signed his first record deal, 22 when his debut album (released under his birth name Michael Bolotin) came out, and 34 when he finally scored a hit with 1987’s power ballad ‘That’s What Love is All About’. And the rest, as they say, is history.
“It took me 18 years of struggling and raising a family on very little money, and sometimes having eviction notices, while trying to make in the business,” says Bolton, who has three daughters. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, he’s in a position where he “can listen to [the aspiring performers], judge them, critique them, and guide them.”
Here, Bolton tells us more about Asian Dream and what he's been up to during the COVID-19 lockdown.
1. Asian Dream was shot in Singapore last year.
In Bolt of Talent, Bolton had to travel to various cities to audition the contenders. For Asian Dream, however, he got to stay put in Singapore and it’s the contestants who would be flying in. “If I am in one place, it’s less wear and tear,” says Bolton. “As it got towards the end, the work got more gruelling and [the pressure to meet the filming] got more pronounced.”
He adds, “It’s not that I won’t travel, but it’s a format that was developed and I was all for that. At night, I got to return the same room, same bed, with the [vegetarian] food they know I would eat prepared there — basically, all I have to think about is the show, the contestants and what we are going to do on any given day, and declare the right person the winner of Asian Dream.”
2. He tried to make the contestants feel more relaxed.
Bolton likens his job on Asian Dream to “a record producer in a studio with a young, unestablished artiste” “Part of your job as a producer is not just to make sure the music is right, but also to create an environment that will be conducive for the artiste to give their greatest performance,” says Bolton. One way to remove the pressure from the singers is to remind them that “they don’t have to nail it 100 per cent on the first performance.” At the same time, he would also tell them that “if they can completely focus on what the song is about, what are the strengths of the song, they have a better chance at winning the competition.”
3. He has been busy during the COVID-19 lockdown.
“I’ve started writing and recording an albim with some very young writers, producers and artistes who were fans of mine when they were very, very young," says Bolton. "What I’ve tried to do is create an album that is very fresh, that feels fresh, young, and vibrant but does not feel like it’s trying to be something else.”
Bolton is also launching a podcast series Michael Bolton's Big Sexy Podcast, a collaboration with comedy group The Lonely Island’s Akiva Schaffer. Bolton will play a self-absorbed show host with a tendency to ask his celeb quests bizarre questions.
The crooner’s ties with The Lonely Island, which also features Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone, dates back to 2011’s Saturday Night Live digital short ‘Jack Sparrow’, which showed Bolton’s rarely-seen comedic side. They also worked together on Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping and Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Day Special.
4. He can’t wait to get back to touring.
Because of the COVID-19 crisis, Bolton has to move 20-30 concerts to next year. “That was really tough on my band,” says Bolton. “It’s tough psychologically especially if is what you’ve been doing for many, many years. I tour a lot, my band is used to being on the road — they’re like a bunch of travelling gypsies who love being on the road. Most of the shows are postponed to next year. We are able to get a lot of the same venues and hopefully we would be able to perform there when it’s safe.”
Asian Dream premieres Aug 6, AXN (Singtel TV 304 Ch & StarHub Ch 511), 7.25pm. You can also catch it here.
Photos: TPG News/Click Photos; (c) 2020 KC Global Media Singapore Pte Ltd.