This post was inevitable – I should have done it sooner but I didn’t get a chance to.
This past week’s episode of Glee focused on duets, and it gave an opportunity to Harry Shum Jr. to show us viewers his singing skills as Mike Chang – the “other Asian,” or as I like to call him, “the silent Asian who only dances.” In a little bit of meta, he argues with Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) that he can’t sing, only dance. He’d rather if she do the singing and he dance around her. But honestly – a little date night to a nice restaurant (for high schoolers’ standards) is quite a good motivator to have him step up and speak.
Now, if you haven’t seen the episode yet, I won’t spoil it for you. I’ll only discuss Mike and Tina’s segment – which honestly isn’t the whole episode, but is surely the highlight of it. I’m pretty sure all of America didn’t care about Kurt’s gay woes (which were handled in such a way that I can’t agree with) or about Rachel’s plans to be-kind-to-others-while-really-being-self-serving or about Sam’s debut in Glee Club. Nuh-uh. It’s all Mike and Tina – and Mike made a staggering record of more than 20 spoken lines in this episode. (I didn’t really count – but I estimate it to be so.)
The thing you can argue about though is whether Mike Chang really sings. Because he kinda does…and doesn’t. I’m a tad disappointed, although I loved his performance. He and Tina sang “Sing”, which comes from the musical “A Chorus Line.” Basically, Mike talks-sings about not being able to sing, while Tina does all the musical singing. At the same time, they dance a difficult but insanely fun choreography that just shows off how rhythmic he is. But he’s not really singing, which makes me wonder if he joined the cast because he was such a good dancer and the show had to be politically correct (since it insists on confronting all sensitive issues with such heavy-handedness that is unbecoming for the show). I had hoped that he can actually sing instead of being a “Lance Bass” (that’s what I call every pretty boy who can sing in a group, but never or rarely has a solo bit because he can’t hold it on his own.)
I asked a friend whether his voice cracking at the end was intentional or not. I don’t think it was – I mean, I think his voice is supposed to crack because the point of the song is to showcase that the main singer can’t sing. However – I wonder if he would just generally crack when he reaches such a high note. I want another Mike-song so I can better judge this!!
But in general, he’s so cute and charming that it’s hilarious – even Tina looks like she’s having fun filming. Everyone else is enjoying it because hey! Mike is singing! And I think that’s a good thing, because it helps turn around his image as just the “dancing Asian.” In this episode we see more of a glimpse into his life – he seems to be a mama’s boy (since he and Tina always eat out at a dim sum place with his mother. Stereotypical [dim sum] but funny [chicken feet salad!? Not quite as disgusting as it sounds!]), and he is really insecure about his voice talents. But it’s sweet that Tina is there for him. I was a bit miffed when she was ready to give up on Mike and go back to Artie as a singing partner (and perhaps get back together with him in general) just because Mike wouldn’t sing with her. As stereotypical as it may seem, this episode just really made me want Mike and Tina to get together.
A fun behind-the-scenes interview shows off what the two actors and a few other cast members think about Harry Shum Jr. finally singing.
I really hope he brings Sexy Back.
Oh and on another random note – I just realized that Mike is waaaay older than I thought. I mean, I knew he was in his mid to late twenties (almost everyone in the cast is), but this time – I could really tell his age because of the numerous close-ups this episode. You know how it’s usually hard to tell how old an Asian because they generally look younger than they really are? It’s kinda true – but I could really tell with him this time.