The judges flanked by the two hosts Alan Wong (left) and Justin Bratton.

The hit show Asia’s Got Talent is forging forward into its second season. What are the qualities the three judges are looking for in contestants?

AFTER two years, Asia’s Got Talent (AGT) will return to Asian TV next month. The record-breaking series set new ratings records for the English general entertainment genre during its run in 2015.

Over the course of 10 captivating episodes comprising five judges’ auditions, three semi-finals, the finale and results show, contestants will battle it out for the grand prize of US$100,000 (RM426,750).

While Melanie C and Vanness Wu are not returning to sit at the judges bench, both David Foster and Anggun will resume their roles. They will be joined by international pop sensation and multi-platinum recording artiste, Jay Park.

Asia’s Got Talent may reach a lot of people but mostly it unifies a lot of countries and that’s what I’m most excited to see — the people. I’m looking forward to being amazed, shocked, motivated and inspired,” says Park who is no stranger to discovering and developing talent.

“I’m excited to be a part of the show, and I’m looking forward to joining David and Anggun to discover the next generation of Asian stars.”

Commenting on his return to the show, the world-renowned producer and hit songwriter Foster says: “Asia really impressed me in the first season. The talent was truly world-class. However, this season, I set my sights even higher and I expect to find the next Asian international superstar. I’m also excited to team up with the gorgeous Anggun again and to work alongside Jay.”

Anggun, who recently completed over 30 sell-out concerts in France and Belgium, recently received a gold sales award for her latest French-speaking album in France. “I may live in Paris, but my heart is in Asia,” she says. “ I love seeing emerging talent from this part of the world. I wish every act all the very best for a great performance, and I hope that Asia’s Got Talent can be the launching pad for their dreams to take flight.”

Last July, when AXN revealed the three judges for the second season of the talent show, Groove was also in Singapore to interview the judges.

The three revealed more about the new season.

ANGGUN

HOW WILL YOU SELECT FINALISTS AND WINNERS THIS YEAR?

It’s really not up to us because the public is going to vote on that. But as judges, our criteria is talents who actually touch us because they have something amazing, skills that are incredible, beautiful and moving.

I would love to find someone who just blows me away. An act that I can say: “This is Asia, this comes from here, this needs to be seen worldwide.” We’re looking for something like that.

WHAT IS NEEDED TO PRODUCE A GLOBAL TALENT? It’s more of everything.

I’m extremely proud that El Gamma Penumbra (Filipino shadow play group) is universal. It’s really the kind of act that don’t need a specific language. It is really telling stories in such a beautiful way. And its skills are amazing!

So, for me, that kind of act is perfect. And I think people all over the world are waiting to be touched. As judges, we don’t know who’s going to walk onto the stage, we don’t know what kind of act we’ll see. So, we’re discovering the same time as you (the viewers).

YOU OBVIOUSLY ENJOYED THE FIRST SEASON AND IS THAT WHY YOU RETURNED?

I had a lot of fun. I had one of the best moments on stage without being on stage. It was a privilege to be able to witness the first season.

IF YOU’RE A BUDDING TALENT, HOW DO YOU REALISE YOUR DREAM?

We used to say the world is big — but now it’s getting smaller and smaller. We used to say, one day I can dream of having a career in that country — now it is possible.

Now, you post a video on YouTube and it can be watched by someone from Thailand or Finland. The world is in your hands and the only deciding fact is how bad you want it and what it is that you have to offer.

Talents must work on their craft, work on their individuality because that is what makes us, us. It’s great to be Asian, we have to embrace it. We have to embrace our accent, face, hair, colour and, most of all, our culture. Use culture. If you include culture into your craft and make something out of it, that’s much more interesting than say, being the next Beyonce.

Be proud of who you are and use what you have and work on it.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF JAY PARK?

I just met him a half hour ago! But I knew of him and I’ve watched his videos. He has achieved so much at such young age. He will bring a lot of excitement into the judging panel. I’m really curious to see the interactions between the two males because David can ask hard-hitting questions. There will be some ping pong moments (between the two). And being the only female, I’ll be a bit uncomfortable about it, so we’ll see.

DAVID FOSTER

ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS HIGHER THAN BEFORE?

Way higher. I’m looking for the next Whitney Houston, that’s what I’m really looking for. And she is in Asia. I got really close with Charice from the Philippines a few years ago. She’s an amazing singer.

HOW HAS SOCIAL MEDIA CHANGED THE DEFINITION OF “TALENT”?

The Internet is both good and bad. The thing that annoys me about social media is the people that sit in their bedroom and they don’t really do the work. They learn to sing then put the video on social media and expect to become famous.

You see this 19-year-old being interviewed and she goes, ‘Oh my God, if I can’t make it to this show, I don’t know what I’m gonna do. My life is over.’ Really? But you’ve only just begun.

So because of the shortcut, a lot of these singers are missing the very important experience of playing in clubs for a few years to get boos, people throwing up on them. It’s in the club scene where you’ll really learn your craft, get the experience, get the feeling of raw audience.

A lot of these contestants, they don’t have it — they come right from their bedroom, which is why they haven’t really made it.

YOU’RE A FAN OF FILIPINO ARTISTES. ARE YOU EXCITED TO SEE MORE FILIPINO PERFORMERS THIS SEASON?

Well, I don’t know what’s in the water they drink over there in the Philippines but there are a lot of great singers there. I saw this girl, Elha (Nympha), on the Steve Harvey show, Little Big Shots. She’s singing Chandelier at 11, 12 — Oh my God, she’s incredible! I’m hoping we’ll get some young singers like that.

But singers in the Philippines need to find their own way. They can’t just keep copying and singing other people’s songs. When you sing I Will Always Love You, the song is already a star. So you’re just halfway there. You can fool the audiences, but you won’t fool me.

IF YOU DON’T PRODUCE A GLOBAL STAR ON AGT, HAVE YOU FAILED AS SOME PEOPLE THINK?

No, if somebody has a potential for global talent, he or she has to audition, find their way to the stage. It’s not our job to get them to the stage. Our job begins once they’re on stage.

WHAT’S THE NEXT STEP FOR AGT WINNERS?

I don’t want people to just come and perform on the AGT stage. I want them to come and play at clubs, get dirty and get more experience. I’ve often wondered at what point does a singer give up? Well, I have a friend, he’s 50 and still singing. Nothing is happening but it’s still his job. It’s passion that should keep you going.

JAY PARK

WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION WHEN YOU LEARNT YOU’LL BE A JUDGE ON AGT?

I was excited. It’s not just singing and dancing — it can be a mix of talent. There are different talents on the show and I’ll be able to see all that first-hand.

WHAT KIND OF JUDGE WILL YOU BE?

I can’t tell you now because I’ve never done this before. I’ve done shows where I judge dancing or rapping but I’ve never judged (such diverse) talent. My standards are pretty high.

But I’m very respectful. I don’t feel I’m better than anyone else because of who I am or my career. I’m going to be honest but respectful at the same time.

DO GOOD LOOKS CONTRIBUTE TO TALENT?

It depends on the kind of talent. If they’re models, of course. If they’re going to be a pop star, the focus is on their act. This show covers all of Asia, so you don’t know what you’re going to see and from where.

WHAT TALENTS ARE YOU EXCITED TO SEE ON THE SHOW ASIDE FROM DANCING AND SINGING?

Magicians.

SINCE YOU’VE BEEN EXPOSED TO BOTH AMERICAN AND ASIAN MARKETS, HOW DO THEIR TALENTS DIFFER?

Previously, in terms of rapping and singing, there was a big gap. But now Asian people have closed that gap. The playing field is level.

DO YOU THINK A TALENT MUST SHOW HIS CULTURE IN HIS PERFORMANCE OR ASPIRE TO BE A GLOBAL TALENT?

It can be both. They can show their culture but attract more global audiences. A balance is important.

FAST FACTS

Presented by Traveloka, Asia’s Got Talent Season 2 will premiere on Oct 12, at 8.30pm on AXN. It will be a two-hour special. The finals will be held at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.

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