The Search for China’s Next Big Boy Band is Emphasizing “Social Responsibility” Over Sexiness


Photo: Idol Producer Season 2’s 99 contestants

China hasn’t been immune to the wave of pop idol-producing TV shows that have swept across the globe in the past two decades — far from it. But as the authorities get increasingly nervous about the rise of the “Fan Economy” and the influence of the stars at its center, show creators are having to come up with new ways for light entertainment to meet the heavier demands of the widely-touted “New Era”.

And so, with virtually no heads up, the second season of iQIYI’s hit show Idol Producer began airing on January 21 under a new Chinese name, 青年有你 Youth With You. As indicated in the pop-star-minting reality show’s slogan, “Work Harder, Be Better”, the new season emphasizes hard work, social benefit, and “positive energy” much more than last year’s debut season, which has been viewed over 2.8 billion times.

iQIYI seems particularly adept at, or perhaps sensitive to, meeting the demands of China’s complex censorship system. When hip hop was supposedly “banned” on mainstream Chinese TV, the platform’s flagship reality show The Rap of China seemed doomed. Instead, iQIYI launched a street dance show (using aspects of hip hop culture but without any actual rappers) and retooled The Rap of China to emphasize “repping Chinese culture” over fast cars and drugs.

So, how is the show formerly known as Idol Producer grappling with the new idol-phobic censorship environment? Read the full article on RADII.


– This article originally appeared on

About the author RADII (rā’dē-ī’) is an independent media platform uncovering a side of China that’s rarely explored. We are dedicated to understanding and sharing vibrant stories at the core of the world’s most populous nation. The China of copycats, corruption, and smog still exists, but it’s changing – fast. A new generation is ready to transform the country. From unwavering environmentalists and ethnic dialect rappers, to visionary entrepreneurs and sage healers, there are people across the country from all walks of life, all poised to make waves. In changing, challenging times, we need mutual understanding between China and the outside world now more than ever. RADII views China honestly, critically, and humanely, from the inside out. Our hope is that the truth becomes obvious: our commonalities are greater than our differences.


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