Universe Best Song

With many shows like (Insert nation) Idol, X-Factor, and (Insert Nation)’s Got Talent, it’s no surprise that Mongolia has its own unique take on the talent competition. I think it’s rather interesting, and a wonderful idea: Universe Best Song.

The premise of the show is simple: You must sing a song in a foreign language. It’s a large, national foreign language singing competition, and everyone knows about it (and watches it, considering how much I hear about it). Mongolian people sing Korean Pop, Japanese Pop, and American Top 40 hits in order to be declared the best.

An interesting dimension then springs up from the rules: If you’re American, you can’t sing in English, but you can sing in Mongolian! Two Peace Corps volunteers in the last few years have sung their hearts out in this competition: Clifton and Vinh. Clifton competed last year and won the Fan’s Choice award, despite not winning one of the top slots. This year, Vinh crooned to Mongolian classics and made his way through the fourth round before getting cut. They continue the proud Volunteer tradition around the world of impressing locals with their own renditions of traditional melodies. I asked Vinh to talk about his experiences singing on television, and here is a brief summary of what he told me:

Vinh performing in the third round. Photo courtesy of UBS.
Vinh performing in the third round. Photo courtesy of UBS.

Vinh is also an English Teaching volunteer out here in Monoglia. He saw that his students were unmotivated because they felt they weren’t good enough, and told Vinh to focus on the “good students.” He tried to get them to try, but to no avail. He made a promise with them: since he felt his Mongolian wasn’t that good, he decided to try out for Universe Best Song to show his students that they should at least try. He was hoping to get a few laughs and maybe inspire a few in the process. He made it to the fourth round, and got to sing at a large gala concert a few weeks ago in the capital for the show’s finals. His students saw all of this, and are now trying a bit harder to improve their own language abilities. It was also good for Mongolians to see that not all Americans are white, with Vinh representing Vietnamese-Americans. As a result of Vinh’s new-found Mongolian stardom, he got the meet the president of the Ulaanbaatar Broadcast System (UBS) and he wants to work with Vinh more in the future!

It’s just like Vinh wanted to teach his students: Trying something you may not be good at can sometimes bring great things into your life!


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