Back in 2005, we were first introduced to Derrick Hoh when he made his showbiz debut in Project SuperStar, but did you know that he very nearly got cut from the top 24? We found out that and more from Derrick himself at his Back to 19 LIVE session yesterday evening, where he wore his heart on his sleeve for the hundred fans gathered.
“I don’t think I’ve ever said this, but my boss James (of Play Music, currently Warner Music Singapore) told me that he was the only one who thought well of me after the top 50 contestants performed. I didn’t do well on that day, and the other judges were keener on the others,” he confessed.
Thankfully, with a stroke of luck, things turned out right for Derrick. “There were a stack of photos of each of the contestants on the table, and while the others were arguing over their picks for advancing to the next round, he snuck my photo into the pile,” he grinned. “If not for that split-second, I might not be standing here today.”
Despite being unexpectedly booted out of the final round, Derrick took things in his stride and enlisted in the army shortly after the contest ended, heading to Taiwan after he completed his service. “At the time, I was really poor, but I was also really happy,” the 31-year-old shared. “My label had to pay a large fee to terminate my then-contract with Mediacorp, and I only had about NT$100 (S$4.50) a day to spend.”
With that amount of money, Derrick let on that he’d treat himself with a sweet treat from famed Taiwanese dessert chain Xian Yu Xian whenever he saved up enough money. He would also look forward to earning himself 10 stamps on the loyalty card, because that meant that he’d get one extra dessert on the house. He said, “I didn’t have much money, but back then, I could really appreciate the small things in life.”
In between these candid confessions, Derrick also presented the fans with songs from his extensive discography, including his viral hit ‘Forever’, unreleased tracks ‘My Turn To Love’, ‘Shine On’ and covers of songs that have special meaning to him, among which were A-Mei’s ‘I Hate I Love You’, Khalil Fong’s ‘Love Song’ and Jam Hsiao’s ‘Forgive Me’.
A particularly emotional moment came just before he sang ‘Change’ off his similarly-titled second studio album, which was released in 2010. “I’m sure that all of you know that I’ve always been very private about my love life. It’s not that I don’t want to share such things with you, but it’s just that I wanted to be able to be in a relationship where we could focus on each other,” he shared.
“Sometimes, the songs that you write become a self-fulfilling prophecy (…) last year, I broke up with my longtime girlfriend, and I realised that like in ‘Change’, sometimes people can really change in the blink of an eye,” Derrick continued.