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Launch of Hyrul Anuar’s “Mata” Music Video…

Music videos (MVs) are part and parcel of the entertainment industry. Normally the ones in the West and those with very established music industries would come out with quality MVs, with amazing props, technicolour and CGI effects thrown into the mix. Closer to home, not many are able to say the quality of MVs are closer to or on par with the others outside our South-East Asia region. There is a saying that with big money comes better quality MVs and the fact remains, we do not have this luxury in our small industry. But I personally feel that in recent times, with Revalina‘s “Menanti Cintamu” and Awi Rafael‘s “Pulanglah” being prime examples, we are able to see that quality MVs can be produced with perhaps limited budget and very creative people working behind the scenes to make it happen. In summary, it can be done.

Hence I had the same hope that Hyrul Anuar‘s music video for his single “Mata“, taken off his album “Sesebuah Perubahan“, would be of a respectable standard when I first received the invitation to attend its launch. Truth be told, I have never heard of a music video launch before this, especially in our local context. Correct me for my probable ignorance, but this was perhaps the first in our local Malay music industry to have such an event. Positive memories of Hyrul‘s album launch last year are still fresh in my head till this day, from how it was planned and executed, to the number of local personalities who turned up to support the event. Even though the venue of the MV launch (The Arts House @ Old Parliament Building) is considered much smaller than the ballroom at Hotel Re!, I was still looking forward to a memorable event.

The day of the event (23rd September 2011) was a special day and landmark for Hyrul Anuar. Not only was it the day he launched his MV, he also celebrated his 26th birthday on the same day. I had initial fears when I realised the event was held during the Formula One Race competition right smack next to the racing track. Walking along the road leading towards The Arts House only heightened my fears as the sounds from the race cars were terribly deafening and I was afraid that they would spoil Hyrul‘s event. But thankfully, the building is soundproof and those who attended enjoyed an F1-free event in the Screening Room of The Arts House. It also helped that Hyrul‘s event was during the break between the first and second practice sessions for the F1 drivers.

The MV launch was hosted by Imran Ajmain, the man who helped produced Hyrul‘s album. I will not delve much on what happened during the MV launch as you are able to watch it in the video that I have uploaded. But just to give you a quick information on the MV. It was shot in NTU and Tuas in the space of five days by a group of students from Nanyang Technological University’s School of Arts, Design and Media who call themselves “ShadowPlay Studio“, under the astute direction of Ridwan Madon. The K-Pop inspired MV has an angsty theme to it and with choreography by Fantastic Crew, make-up by Daen A. Ali and costumes sponsored by ATZU and Dress Sense, the blend and mix was simply perfect. Even though I will not upload the actual video in this entry due to respecting its exclusivity, you can view it when it’s up on Singtel‘s website in the coming future as Hyrul is a Mio Singtel ambassador. Hyrul had also stated that the MV will not be uploaded on YouTube.

On a day Hyrul Anuar celebrated the launch of his music video and creating a milestone of sorts on his birthday, it was also launched and aired on Suria, Sensasi and Astro Ria that night. Personally I feel that the music video has raised the standards of local MVs. At first glance, it reminded me of some of KRU‘s music videos and the group were known for being technologically advanced in creating their own MVs even way back in the late 90s. Let’s hope that more local acts will be inspired to produce their own quality videos and lift the standards of our local industry to a new level. If Hyrul Anuar can do it through his own perseverance and hard work, I think anything is possible if we were to put our hearts, minds and soul into it. Congratulations to Hyrul Anuar on the launch of his “Mata” music video!!!

Snapshots of Hyrul Anuar’s “Mata” Music Video Launch

Guests were encouraged to hold these props up and take a photograph… 

Host of the event, Imran Ajmain

The man himself, Hyrul Anuar

Hyrul with local actress Shasha Ya’kob

RIA 89.7FM‘s Aura Shai was in attendance…

So too was television personality, Rilla Melati Bahri

The beautiful model in the music video, Noor Artika…

Introducing Hyrul Anuar‘s proud parents…

Some of the guests in attendance…

Local singers Roze Kasmani and Hydir Idris were also in attendance, as well as talented lyricist Fadly Ahmad (right)…

Surprise birthday celebration for the birthday boy…


Simfoni Lebaran Revisited…

I know this blog has been dead for the past month or so. It was meant to be deliberate that way since I did not attend any entertainment-related events of late. We are already into the last few days of Syawal. Goodness how time flies. Hope that your respective celebrations with family, friends and loved ones have been joyous and happy occasions so far. Before I move on and I hope it’s not too late to take this opportunity to wish all my Muslim readers Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri. I am also taking the opportunity to apologise from the bottom of my heart if my reviews or entries have been misunderstood or if I had angered and disappoint anyone through the words, tones and vocabulary used to express my thoughts. I’m not perfect, but I am also not holier-than-thou, so if I had come across as such, then I am truly sorry for potraying it.

Since this entry is a warm-up before I start being active all over again, it’s just going to be a short one with a compilation video of Simfoni Lebaran snapshots I took some two months ago. Yes, you guys might have watched the show on the eve of Hari Raya but the actual recording of the event was done on 8th July 2011, a week before the Anugerah Planet Muzik event. For those expecting me to post a review of the recent Wings concert, no I did not attend it. I would have gone if Search was part of a Double Trouble concert but not Wings alone. I’m also not going to review the upcoming Zain siblings’ (Ziana & AnuarPesta Raya concert, even though I am attending the event solely for Anuar Zain, so hopefully no one’s expecting me to post photographs, video clips or reviews concerning the show. Last but not least, enjoy the video…


Imran Ajmain 100 Hari Acoustic Tour Reminisced…

(Graphics poster courtesy of imranajmain.com)

I did say in one of my previous entries that this blog will be on hiatus during the blessed month of Ramadhan. As in years past, it has been that way, as I normally do not attend any functions or events related to the entertainment scene during this month. But I know I owe the readers of my blog this particular entry, which is why I decided to dust the three-week old cobwebs away and return for a short update. We are already halfway into the fasting month and we’re left with another two weeks. I hope that each and everyone of you are doing well, in the pink of health and grabbing every possible opportunity that Almighty Allah have bestowed upon us this month. Such is the beauty of Ramadhan, that I wish it could be a daily occurrence.

Anyway back to the event that I attended a few days after Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 was held here in Singapore. Imran Ajmain‘s “100 Hari Acoustic Tour“, was a celebration to commemorate him quitting smoking for good. It all began with him doing the countdown to 100 days on social networking sites Twitter and Facebook back in February 2011, without telling anyone what he was counting down for. By the end of it, he achieved his mission and the acoustic tour was one that he wanted to share with his ardent followers. The last I attended Imran‘s showcase was back on 26 February 2008 at the Arts House @ Old Parliament Building. I did attend the launch of his second album “Punca Dan Tindakan” a year and a half after that at Rendezvous Hotel, but it did not quite count as a showcase, even though he sang a majority of the songs found in the album that night.

This showcase featured the likes of Dr. Fazley Yaakob, eternally remembered for the hit “Asmara Ini” and Hydir Idris, a semi-finalist of Anugerah 2009, who in my opinion was one of the favourites to win in that year’s competition. I dunno if it was secretly planned or was it impromptu, but our talented local act, Roze Kasmani, who was in the audience was also roped in to sing with Dr. Fazley and Imran himself. This was a feel good (and not to mention, sold-out) event shared by everyone who came. This was evident from the smiling faces that left the venue, Badoque Cafe, feeling extremely satisfied. With good company, excellent service, great entertainment and of course the tantalising menu, what more could we have asked for??? It was a night to be remembered and even if Dr. Fazley did not sing some of my personal favourites like “Cerita Asmara“, “Hujan” and “Sesaat Kau Tiada“, I have no complaints and went home a happy man…

Snapshots of Imran Ajmain’s 100 Hari Acoustic Tour in Singapore

Imran welcoming us to the showcase…

Hydir Idris opened the show with three songs…

He surprised yours truly for having the gift to play the guitar…

Most importantly, Hydir is more composed and at ease performing as compared to two years ago…

I last watched Dr. Fazley performing live at Anugerah Planet Muzik 2002…

He has lost none of his charisma and stage presence… The trademark moustache is gone though… Hahahah…

An Imran Ajmain showcase is never complete without his interesting anecdotes…

I guess that’s what the fans missed, besides his presence on stage to entertain us with his soulful voice…

The night’s performers with their accompanying sessionists, Ucop (left) and Syazwan (right)…


APM2011 After-Thoughts & Post-Event Reception Photographs…

This entry will be the last on Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 and I have to admit, it is getting a bit stale already, as a fortnight has passed since it was held at Max Pavilion Singapore Expo on 15 July 2011. I did say in my review that I would be putting up photographs of the post-event reception as well on a later entry, so this is basically it. I’ve even managed to interview several personalities during the reception to get their thoughts on the show, to share with us what are their upcoming plans, and for the award winners to say a word of gratitude to family, friends and supporters which they might not have been able to do so when they received their awards on stage. Indeed this was something new I have value-added on to this blog as I have never / seldom done any interviews other than the usual promos / greetings. Guess there is always a first to everything huh???

Post-Event Photographs

Actually this shot of Sarah Aqilah and Rahayu Ridwan was taken during one of the commercial breaks…

Elly, Renni & Reela of local girl-group DyndaVega had to leave the show early to attend to a private matter. They were nominated in the Artis Singapura Paling Popular award category…

 Always a pleasure to meet Linda Onn (seen here with the wife), one of my favourite DJs from across the Causeway

Tujuh, with Nazri of Aryan Band (right). The group was also nominated in the Artis Singapura Paling Popular award category…

The present and the future of our local Malay entertainment scene – Alyph (SleeQ), Azzah Fariha, Malaque Mahdaly & Syarif (SleeQ)…

Some of the Top 18 contestants of Anugerah 2011 not wanting to miss out on the glamourous night. From right: Syazani Rahim, Faziz Taufiq, Azhar Raz, Erlina and Shikin Imran. They are joined by Mediacorp Suria‘s Budi Iskandar Sa’ad (left), Elly of Dynda (second from left) and Netty Fiona Othman of Eaglevision (third from left)…

Lagu Terbaik Singapura nominee Faizal Isa (right), with Janz Abdullah, the composer of his hit debut single “Maafkanku (Oh Cinta)“…

Aliff Aziz looking smart in his outfit. I think what was missing was a tall hat and a walking stick. He would have looked like an Englishman from the Victorian age…

Fauzie Laily, Hazlina Halim & Khairudin Saharom – Multi-talented individuals in our local entertainment scene…

Talented director Adi Yadoni with wife, local actress Wahyu Rahman. She is also the manager of up-and-coming local talent Awi Rafael, former frontman of Bhumiband

My favourite couple, Huda Ali and Den Sabari. They celebrated their first wedding anniversary that night…

Attending an awards show is never complete without taking a photograph with Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza

The living, breathing Barbie-doll - Amanda Imani

The two Idris-es (Ize and A’Trez) who make up X-Clusive

Smokin’ hot Farah Asyakin

Nity Baizura and Fiza O looking all glammed-up…

Hyrul Anuar (left) never fails to don something stylish to a prestigious event. He is seen here with renowned choreographer Eddy

Hady Mirza sharing his thoughts with yours truly…

Hyrul is flanked by Faizal Isa (left) and Farhan Shah. It took a lot of courage for the latter to attend the event as he was on crutches after recently undergoing an operation on his injured knee due to a freak accident. Speedy recovery bro!!!

Another one of my personal best shots of the night, this time with SleeQ and Amanda Imani, as my subjects of focus…

No matter what the online critics might say about the show, I believe Aura Shai as the producer of APM2011, has done a stellar job…

After-Thoughts By Guest Performers, Award Winners, Host & Invitees

Thank you to everyone featured on this clip…

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Side-Issue

Source: Gua.com.my

P.S. – I actually want to comment more on this article I have included above and I have to admit I felt so tempted to rebutt in full glory, but I guess I will not run the risk of a lawsuit, even if I were to tell the probable truth. It is afterall between him and the organisers. I already said in my review that the reason his performance began late was because his keyboardist’s PC had to hang at the wrong moment. It was something neither him nor the organisers could have envisaged nor do anything about. Anyone seated near the centre that night like myself would have noticed how his keyboardist was frantically trying to get things going and as a viewer, I sympathised with her and hoped that viewers at home would be able to share my feelings as well. Nobody would want such a thing to happen on a live show. It was just bad luck that it had to happen that night.

As a professional artiste, I believe one should know what award category one is being nominated for, or what is going on during the show. Even if a person is stationed backstage, I believe it is the norm to have monitors at the back to prompt performers and stagehands on the proceedings or at the very least, the sounds are loud enough to inform what is going on onstage. To have an idea of the sequence of events during a particular show, that is one of the reasons why rehearsals are done. In his case, he was only nominated for two awards and the Most Popular one is always given away towards the end. Was it too difficult to remember??? I might be wrong again but based on my observations, I did not see him seated amongst the nominees throughout the whole show nor did he walk the Red Carpet. Even celebrated performers as big as Dato’ M. Nasir and Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza were seen seated amongst the audience. I do hope success has not gone to his head cos as a performer, I still love him to bits and not many have stage presence and charisma like he does. Attitude, a positive one, also plays a part in the likeability stakes…


Performances @ APM 2011

Apologies for the delay in posting this entry. I have been quite busy of late so this entry might be a bit stale to some or most of you. For those of you who are linked to me in Facebook, you might have seen my collection of photos of Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 which I had uploaded this past Sunday. For the benefit of those not linked to me, this entry will be based on the various performances on the night. Hope you like the photographs I had snapped for your viewing pleasure…

Orkestar Trio

Bloco Singapura

Opening Act – “Senyum”

Sezairi Sezali

Hady Mirza

Taufik Batisah

Sarah Aqilah

Alyph SleeQ

Syarif SleeQ

Rahayu Ridwan

Didie Alias

Amanda Imani – “Selamilah Cinta”

Sezairi Sezali – “Matahari”

Sandhy Sondoro – “Malam Biru”

Ana Raffali – “Tolong Ingatkan Aku”

Sleeq – “Untuk Dia”

Atilia & monoloQue – “Kekanda Adinda”

SleeQ, Ana Raffali, Atilia & monoloQue – “Kalau Berpacaran”

Shylla Amzah & Ajai – “Lagu Teman”

Sarah Aqilah – “Seikhlas Cintamu”

Hafiz AF7 – “Awan Nano”

3 Suara – “Di Mana Di Mana”

Ning Baizura

Jaclyn Victor

Shylla Amzah

Aryan Band – “Azura 2011″

Afgan Syah Reza – “Terima Kasih Cinta”

Afgan Syah Reza – “Dia Dia Dia”

Dato’ M. Nasir & Taufik Batisah – “Hey” & “Bukalah Hatimu”

Hady Mirza – “Angkasa”

Hady Mirza & Rossa – “Ku Menunggu”

Rossa – “Ayat-Ayat Cinta”

Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza & Jaclyn Victor – “Menghitung Hari”

Melly Goeslaw

Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, Melly Goeslaw & Jaclyn Victor – “Jika”

Faizal Tahir – “Hanyut”

Faizal Tahir – “Selamat Malam”

Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza – “I’m Falling In Love”


Award Presenters @ Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011

Ning Baizura & Afgan Syah Reza

RZ, Sarah Aqilah & Dyn Norahim

Syazwan Zakariah & Scha Alyahya

Dato’ AC Mizal & Huda Ali

Winnie K & AB Shaik Ahmad Banafe’

Puan Zakiah Halim

Linda Onn & Halim Othman

Nity Baizura & Ady Putra

Hafeez Glamour & Nora Danish


Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 Review…

Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 returned to these shores last Friday night after a four-year absence, venturing in Kuala Lumpur in 2008 and Jakarta in 2009, before taking a break last year due to the economic slowdown. 2010 also saw the birth of our very own AnugeraHitz.SG, so it was understandably taxing for Mediacorp Radio‘s Warna 94.2FM & RIA 89.7FM to organise Anugerah Planet Muzik, moreso in Singapore where we do not have the privilege of having mega sponsorships from big companies as what is being enjoyed by our regional counterparts. As such, we have to lower our expectations on seeing more of such big events being organised here. Unless of course if our mainstream media organisations can pool their resources together and give what the consumers would want to see. Anyway, the event celebrated its tenth year in existence, a long way since its inception in 2001 held at the now-defunct Harbour Pavilion. I still remember that 20 January 2001 event like it was yesterday.

Judging from last Friday‘s attendance at the Max Pavilion Singapore Expo where the event was held, I think a working collaboration of such magnitude is still far away from getting materialised. Just imagine, we had one of the best line-ups in Anugerah Planet Muzik history, yet the venue was only about half full. Who should we blame this for??? The economy??? The organisers??? The consumers??? The event venue??? The promotions team??? I’ve said it before and I say it again, we here in Singapore are suckers for free shows, no thanks to the monthly exhibitions at Singapore Expo where we can watch guest artistes performing without paying a single cent. The timing of the event could also have played a small part in not enticing people from attending it. It was only a month ago that we had Maher Zain performing here to a sell-out audience, and tickets to his concert did not come cheap, especially for those who came in big groups or as a family.

I find it extremely odd that even with the likes of Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, Afgan, Rossa, M. Nasir, Hady Mirza and Taufik Batisah just to name a few in the stellar line-up, it was difficult to attract bums to seats. Not only that, it is a mystery to me that the event felt more like a Singapore-Malaysia affair with mostly Singaporean and Malaysian artistes in attendance. The Indonesians had their host in Daniel Mananta and performers in Afgan Syah Reza, Rossa, Melly Goeslaw and Sandhy Sondoro, but other than them, only Judika was seen sitting behind Aliff Aziz amongst the audience. No one can deny that the Indonesians produce good music and good talents, but I hope it doesn’t breed a sense of pompous attitude that they do not support an event such as this. At least accept the invitation of the organisers to come and make the effort to meet their fans over here. We already have a sizeable number of Indonesians working or attending school here and it would be nice to meet their fellow countrymen.

Taufik Batisah, Hady Mirza, Sezairi Sezali, SleeQ, Sarah Aqilah and Rahayu Ridwan opened the show with “Senyum“… Not forgetting Orkestar Trio and Bloco Singapura before that…

Speaking of the venue, I had major reservations when I first heard that it was gonna be held there back in April. Unsavoury memories of APM2006 were still fresh in my mind and to tell you the truth, I had not stepped foot at that event venue since then till last Thursday afternoon, when I dropped by to watch Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza and Jaclyn Victor rehearsing for their tribute segment with Melly Goeslaw. I did not attend any concerts or shows held there for the past five years, for the sole reasons that I was sceptical of the poor sound system which I experienced back in 2006. There were also other factors that made APM2006 the least enjoyable or to put it harshly, “the worst”, in my opinion. I would not want to bring it up here as I had already done so back then, also in this domain. But I’m sure the organisers have taken into account the shortcomings and strived to make it a better experience for those who had paid to come and watch the event as the years go by.

As a whole, I personally feel that this year’s Anugerah Planet Muzik event is probably almost on par with the ones held back in 2002 and 2004, the years I felt were the better-produced ones in its history. Coincidentally both editions were also held at Singapore Expo, though at Halls 6 and 3 respectively. Ok some of you might say that I’m saying this just because I have finally gotten what I wanted, which is getting official media accreditation, something which I had fought hard to attain all these years and that I had to say nice things so as to get future invitations to such events. I’m sorry to disappoint my haters and dissenters, but what I observed live was very much different than couch potatoes at home. And I have a strong feeling that those who bothered to come, some even dressed up to the nines, would say that it was all worth coming and paying every single cent to watch it, no matter if they had sat nearer to the stage or way at the back.

Malaysia‘s Didie Alias introduced her hosting colleagues with a modified version of Lady Gaga‘s “Bad Romance“…

Yes, I know just by reading my Twitter timeline, Facebook wall, as well as online reports on the event, commenters out there did not paint a rosy picture. It is Anugerah Planet Muzik (APM) afterall, and what is being organised by our local Malay radio stations or even by our own Suria channel, will never be good for those watching at home, especially those who were watching from outside this country. This show has always received flak from the foreign media, who have too high expectations given that it is a regional event, so it was not a surprise for me to read the negative commentaries. I attribute some of these bad press to the fact that most of the foreign media did not turn up due to the lack of invitation and were not granted transportation & lodging as well by the organisers. I didn’t know that such practices are the norm in entertainment journalism, at least across our shores. I certainly learnt something new here cos I thought it was the job of their respective employers to provide these sort of arrangements to cover events. I’m still a newbie at this, so please forgive me for my ignorance.

Anyway I have to admit hand to heart, the show has its niggly flaws to contend with (which show is perfect you tell me???), but if you look at it in the bigger picture, would anyone else from Malaysia or Indonesia bother to do a similar show or even give our own local acts their due recognitions on stage??? Already from my Twitter timeline I read how so many people from outside this country have not heard of our local artistes, other than those who have made a name for themselves there. This is one of the reasons why Anugerah Planet Muzik is held, for artistes in each country to be introduced and known to the region and for the established ones to maintain their positions. If you ask me before this event was held, I have never heard of the likes of Amanda Imani, Aisya Hasnaa, Zivilia, Blackout, Astrid, Govinda and Febrian before this, just to name a few of the region’s newbie acts, but thanks to APM, I now know that even though they are new to the scene, they do not lack in quality.

The awesome foursome who lit the night up with their antics…

Likewise I hope that people outside this country would get to know our acts better and who knows, their presence on stage would open more doors for them across our shores. The problem with viewers outside Singapore is that they are too nationalistic in their views over their respective music scenes and think they have the bigger and better industry. Of course they do, that I do not deny, but isn’t music meant to be shared and enjoyed universally??? No matter what the foreign media or entertainment bloggers or even general viewers might say about APM, it is an event such as this that brings the region together and for the musicians, performers, producers, lyricists and composers to build a working network, so as to bring up the quality of music in this region through the proliferation and exchanging of ideas. In this respect, the words of Gigi‘s front man, Armand Maulana, – “Keep the peace, love & respect for music” - rings true.

Though I had said that this is probably one of the better APMs in its history, the best was still the one in 2005 held at Suntec City Convention Hall where it was a sold-out event and it had a proper Red Carpet event, complete with artistes coming in limousines and the fans lining up the passageways to clamour and jostle for photographs. Now that’s what a Red Carpet event should be about. Not that this year was not good, but it could have been done slightly better. I heard and I saw for myself how fans were coming forward to grab the artistes or stepped forward on the Red Carpet themselves when it was supposed to be exclusivity for the artistes to walk on. Why they were allowed to do this was because there were no barricades separating the artistes and them. Some who had grabbed the artistes or stepped foot on the red carpet only served to slow down the smoothness of the proceedings. Still, I thought it was much better than in 2006 where the artistes had to “do the catwalk” on stage to be introduced to the audience. My other gripe would be more artistes should have walked the carpet even if they were not performing or presenting awards. Quite a few of our nominees were in attendance. At least give them their deserved spotlight on their big night.

The suave Adi Rahman

In any awards show, the host/s have a responsibility of keeping the interest of viewers going. I like the make-up of this year’s hosting line-up, especially the introduction of Malaysia‘s Lady Gaga, Didie Alias, and Indonesian MTV VJ, Daniel Mananta. They brought a new and more creative element into the mix, a breath of fresh air no doubt. Didie‘s over-the-top antics stole the show, while the rest looked more than happy to play the supporting role. However, some of what was written on their scripts and planned antics were unnecessary, like the dig on Malaysian actress Rozita Che Wan and her reported beau, Shahir, for instance. It’s like a recycled joke when Adi Rahman used to profess his love for Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza in previous APMs that he had hosted before. I was just amazed the Lady Gaga segment at the beginning of the show passed by without any hoo-ha, given the fact that her “modified” songs brought so much consternation over the past week on this island, due to the furore surrounding the National Day Parade‘s “Fun Pack“.

The opening segment comprising an all-Singaporean affair, which had never been done before in the history of the show, was a fresh idea and one that had the audience cheering right from the start. It gave an impression that our local acts, acting as our ambassadors, were the ones who did the welcoming to their regional counterparts and the audience watching at home to the show. Everyone looked as though they were enjoying themselves, most notably our newly-crowned Anugerah 2011 champion, Rahayu Ridwan. However, I personally feel that it would have been better had a song by any one of our local acts be sung instead. Looking at their comfort on stage, whilst rapping is the forte of SleeQ, our three Idols are more known as crooners rather than rappers. Part of the lyrics to the song “Senyum” also related more on the original performer’s (Malique) life, which does not really reflect much about welcoming us to the show. Some of their voices were also inaudible at times or drowned by the live music, due to technical problems with the microphone volumes.

The affable Fiza O 

I will of course, not describe each and every single performance per se, as you can view all of them on YouTube, thanks to the people who have uploaded them. Personally I enjoyed a bulk of the performances that night and three hours went by a little too fast for my liking. From the various solo and group performances, to the teaming up of regional acts on stage, APM 2011 delivered in its live entertainment value. I was extremely proud of our local acts, each and every single one of them, who showed that they were able to stand tall along with their regional counterparts. There was no inferiority complex whatsoever, just confident performances throughout. Aryan Band, is one that needs a special mention as most people in Singapore have also not heard of them before this, yours truly included. Just by their name, I thought they were from Indonesia. Their rendition of “Azura 2011” had the hairs at the back of my neck standing by the end of their performance. No wonder Luncai Emas Sdn Bhd have signed them up under their label. This group is certainly about to go places in the upcoming future.

Other local acts that need to be given props are Sarah Aqilah (“Seikhlas Hatimu“) and Sezairi Sezali. The former has certainly grown and improve from her Anugerah 2009 win and I do hope she would go on to build a proper singing career once her studies are over. Sezairi on the other hand, impressed with his soothing vocals when he performed “Matahari“. Other notable performances that I enjoyed that night were Amanda Imani (“Selamilah Cinta“), Afgan Syah Reza (“Terima Kasih Cinta” / “Dia Dia Dia“), and the tribute to Anugerah Khas Planet Muzik recipient, Melly Goeslaw, by Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, Jaclyn Victor and Melly herself. 3 Suara, which comprises Ning Baizura, Jaclyn Victor & Shylla Amzah, was another that grabbed the attention with their sultry showmanship. Even though I also loved Ajai and Shylla‘s duet, performing The Lion Story & Zahidah‘s “Lagu Teman“, it would have been nice if the original singers were given their dues and opportunity to perform on the night.

Daniel Mananta is definitely a hit with the ladies…

Surprisingly, I did not quite enjoy two of my favourite performers’ performances and I’m sure you can more or less guess who. Though I love Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza and Faizal Tahir to bits, I thought their performances that night did not quite work out as it should be. The former’s song “I’m Falling In Love“, which is a new single in her upcoming English album, is a bit too identical to Kylie Minogue‘s “Can’t Get You Outta My Head“, along with the dance steps. As for the latter, I’m sure you know what happened when he went flat and off-key when performing “Hanyut” and “Selamat Malam“. The delay to his performance was caused by the hanging of his accompanying keyboardist’s PC. But he should have saved the day by engaging the audience with his witty quips, which he is known for, rather than keep quiet and let the seconds and minutes go by.

From what I read online, a lot of people were blaming the organisers and production team for this particular boo-boo and this also included the four-minute loss of transmission towards the end, which I felt was quite unfair, since most of these comments were made by people who did not watch the show live. The loss of transmission was due to the heavy storm which descended outside the event venue just before Dato’ Siti was awarded the Most Popular Regional Artiste Award. Acts of God like these are unavoidable and there is no way you can prevent if such a thing were to occur. Some went so far as to comment they demand an explanation from the organisers, even if they have to wait till the end of time. Be realistic, don’t be ridiculous!!! As for Mr Superman himself, I hope he had done enough sound checks beforehand to know what could possibly go wrong on the night. That’s the reason why you have sound checks and rehearsals leading up to a show.

Other unsavoury bits of news I heard were some artistes smoking in the waiting room and throwing their cigarette butts on the carpeted floors. I dunno if this is plain stupidity or ignorance or simply a lack of common sense on their part, but they could have caused a fire to break out as a result and more damage to the show. Basic etiquettes like not chewing gum when you’re on stage performing or even when accepting an award, should also be drummed into the heads of wannabe artistes out there. Not only is it rude with millions in the region watching your every move, it reflects badly on the country you represent. There is a time and place to enjoy that puff or chew the gum, but don’t ruin your newly-built reputations when the media is ever ready to pounce on your flaws and bring you down. If you are a Singaporean artiste, you will count yourselves very lucky the media here are very much forgiving and always giving the benefit of doubt. Malaysian or Indonesian artistes do not exactly enjoy that liberty.

Looking at the winners, I don’t think eyebrows need to be raised with most of the choices, even though many people have been questioning the wisdom in crowning the Lagu Serantau Paling Popular Award to our Asian Idol, Hady Mirza. No doubt his win in that category was a bit surprising. I also did not expect any of our local acts to win in that category for the sole reason being our population size, as compared to our regional counterparts. If voters from other countries are crying foul, then it’s their fault for not working hard or having the presence of mind to vote for their respective favourites, given the fact that they were already told via the official radio stations in their respective countries on how to go about voting for their favourites. Either way, the tech savvy ones simply did not bother to vote nor having the initiative to find out how to do it. No point calling it a farce when other sets of fans have worked hard to make it possible.

But the crowning of Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza as the Most Popular Regional Artiste (Throughout The Decade) was the one that surprised me in terms of what it meant for her in future. By virtue of winning this award, and what the television viewers did not get to see due to the loss in transmission, it was announced that she is automatically exempted from being nominated again in upcoming Anugerah Planet Muzik events in this particular category. I dunno if this was an executive decision made by the organisers or one that the diva herself had agreed upon beforehand, but I hope for her sake, she is not “banned” from being nominated again and that it was in agreement that she would give way to others, just like what she did with Anugerah Juara Lagu and Anugerah Bintang Popular Berita Harian back in her home country. This win was very much expected given the fact that she is well-loved by people from the three countries. Ten in a row, it will take someone equally special to top that feat and may never be repeated in our lifetime.

I also would like to go on record to say I like the delectable mix of award presenters that night, even though it also has to be said that a constant complain at every APM is the “recycling” of performers and them backing up as presenters as well. I think the ones that were most enjoyable that night were Dato’ AC Mizal & Huda Ali as well as Halim Othman & Linda Onn. Their banters were off-the-cuff, natural and showed uncanny chemistry between them. Linda certainly impressed me with her natural usage of Bahasa Baku, something that even most of us do not practice every day. The only downside to the scripts were the sexual innuendoes which I felt were a bit unnecessary or the jibes on their fellow presenters’ private lives. There is a place for jokes like that, but not when the show is watched by millions of viewers of all ages in the region.

I have a niggly issue with the finale though and I need to do a bit of complaining about it. I thought it could have been done much better by having a final rousing performance by any of the acts to end the night, but it was not to be. Instead, it ended with the hosts thanking everyone and the sponsors and it was left to them to dance along to the accompanying music and waving to the audience in the hall and at home. For most of the good things that happened that night, it had to end off with an anti-climax like that. I think the one in 2007 where the show ended with Kris Dayanti, Hady Mirza, Diddy and the late Yanie (May Allah bless her soul), was an example of a good finale. I really hope that the organisers would think about this aspect the next time they stage APM anywhere in the region, as it would be a waste to end off a good show with nothing more than what was displayed, plus the traditional showering of confetti upon everyone seated at the front and on stage.

Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 was, in my humble opinion, a generally enjoyable event. A pity then that the arena was only about half full when it should have been a sell-out. The line-up was great, the performances were mostly excellent. Yes I detected a few technical problems when I watched it again on YouTube and that is something that the organisers should take heed and note for the betterment of future productions. Given the economic climate, I feel that if it were to be organised here again, it should be held at a smaller venue where the acoustics would lend justice to the performers as well as those watching in the arena and at home. Kudos to those who paid f0r and dressed up for the event. The ones who enjoyed themselves were those who were in attendance. It was two different experiences soaking the atmosphere live and watching from the comfort of home. And that is where we get the accolades and flak from different sets of viewers. Anugerah Planet Muzik 2012 if it is to be staged, God willing, will probably be held in Jakarta, though I hope that it would be in Kuala Lumpur instead.

P.S. A big thank you to Mediacorp Radio Warna 94.2FM & RIA 89.7FM for the kind invitation to the event. Thank you also to my outfit sponsor Jatt’s Collezione for the top I wore the other night. In case you are wondering why there are no photographs on the performances, award presenters as well as post-event reception, I have planned to upload them in subsequent entries so you need to come back soon…


Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 Roll of Honour

Sandhy Sondoro

Vokal Terbaik (Artis Baru Lelaki)

Amanda Imani

Vokal Terbaik (Artis Baru Wanita)

Ana Raffali, Suhaimi Meor Hassan & Altimet

Vokal Terbaik (Duo / Kumpulan Baru)

Lagu Teman – The Lion Story & Zahidah

Lagu Terbaik Singapura

Awan Nano – Hafiz AF7

Lagu Terbaik Malaysia

Cintailah Aku Sepenuh Hati – Ari Lasso

Lagu Terbaik Indonesia

Sayang – Dayang Nurfaizah & Marcell

Kolaborasi Terbaik

(image credits: Dayang Nurfaizah’s blog site)

Faizal Tahir

Artis Lelaki Terbaik

Rossa

Artis Wanita Terbaik

3 Suara – Jaclyn Victor, Ning Baizura & Shylla Amzah

Duo / Kumpulan Terbaik

Awan Nano – Hafiz AF7

Lagu Terbaik

Energi – Kotak

Album Terbaik

(image credits: Bagaz.Minang)

Melly Goeslaw

Anugerah Khas Planet Muzik 2011

Hady Mirza

Artis Singapura Paling Popular

Lagu Singapura Paling Popular

Lagu Serantau Paling Popular

Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza

Artis Serantau Paling Popular (Sepanjang Dekad)


Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 Pre-Show & Red Carpet Segment…

Nope this is not a review of Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011. Not so soon and definitely not my style. Cos I would love to take my time to read what the foreign media and entertainment bloggers would have to say before I come out with my own thoughts and also to agree with them or to defend the organisers and production team as and when I deem fit to do so. But I know most of you entering this domain would want to see photographs or clips I took during the event. Fret not, cos I have planned to split up my entry into several parts so it does not have to come out as too long-winded for you to digest. For starters, I’ll begin with the Red Carpet event as well as several photos I snapped of our local acts already seated amongst the audience, which most of you did not get to see at home. Enjoy viewing the pics and clip!!!

Roze Kasmani (right), with manager Raudha Ismail and Shah Shamshiri, the lyricist to her debut single “Harum“… 

Revalina looking spiffy in their outfits…

Mediacorp AMU artistes Komrad and Yanie from the girl group EVE

Warna 94.2FM‘s AB Shaik and RIA 89.7FM‘s Nity Baizura were the hosts for the Red Carpet segment…

First up on the red carpet were SleeQ and Sezairi Sezali, Singapore‘s 3rd Idol

Sarah Aqilah making her debut at APM 2011

Anugerah 2011 winner Rahayu Ridwan also made her debut fresh from her win a fortnight ago…

Surprised to see Hady Mirza in this new style, breaking away from the boy-next-door image we’ve been so used to seeing, but it was fresh nonetheless…

Love this shot of Taufik Batisah and Rossa

Good looks, soulful voice, no wonder the gals go gaga over Afgan Syah Reza

Stunning outfit worn by Winnie K that night. I initially thought a bride was on the loose…

Our very own Huda Ali wearing an Ashley Isham creation…

He might be a Dato’, but AC Mizal (with wife Emilia Rosnaida), is still the spunky and sporty fellow that we know…

Dato M. Nasir (with wife Datin Marlia Musa) is still very popular and well respected on these shores judging by the cheers he received…

Prolific composer Ajai, walked the carpet with Aisya Hasnaa, one of the nominees for Vokal Terbaik (Artis Baru Wanita)

Atilia flanked by MonoLoQue

Aryan Band, one of our local acts signed by Luncai Emas Sdn Bhd

Hafiz, Akademi Fantasia 7 winner was a crowd pleaser not only with his voice, but his infectious smile and not forgetting, the hair…

Suria FM‘s Halim Othman with Nora Danish, who was a hot favourite with fans clamouring to take photographs with her…

The gorgeous and tall Amanda Imani. She could easily be a supermodel with the height she has…

An example of a local act who has flown the flag high across the shores, Ady Putra

Farah Asyikin, winner of Vokal Terbaik (Artis Baru Wanita) back at APM 2008

The gal with the trademark baju kurung / kebaya, Ana Raffali

Sandhy Sondoro looked glum throughout, but his voice has made the region take note of his abilities…

Shylla Amzah looked as though she was loving every minute on the red carpet…

One word to describe Ning Baizura: Stunning!!!

Jaclyn Victor, a vocal powerhouse in her own right…

No surprises to see so many people clamouring to take photographs of Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza by the side…

Always a pleasure to see Linda Onn back at the place where she spent her childhood. Am sure she felt the same way too…


Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 Predictions

Ever since Anugerah 2011 ended, this blog has since quietened down with no entries to show for, when I had an entry or two published almost every week during the period of competition. This blog will continue to be quiet as it embarks on its annual hiatus come the months of Ramadan and Syawal. But before it goes into its traditional hibernation mode, let me just fill the spaces of this domain with my own predictions on the possible winners of Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011, which makes its long-awaited return on Friday night at Singapore Expo‘s Max Pavilion. Yes, the regional awards show is finally coming home and I am so looking forward to it, moreso as this year will be the first time I will be attending the event as part of the media brigade. So out of sheer boredom and something to anticipate the event, I present to you my own personal picks for the various awards up for grabs. My picks will be the ones I highlighted. Disclaimer: This is just for fun so don’t sue me if I get it wrong in the end…

VOKAL TERBAIK (ARTIS BARU LELAKI) / BEST VOCAL (NEW MALE ARTISTE)

Aris – 1000 X Maaf

Febrian – Cinta Itu Gila

Igo – Kemenangan Cinta

Sandhy Sondoro – Bunga Mimpi

Sezaire Sezali – Matahari

VOKAL TERBAIK (ARTIS BARU WANITA) / BEST VOCAL (NEW FEMALE ARTISTE)

Aisya Hasnaa – Lagu Mahu Kamu

Amanda Imani – Selamilah Cinta

Ana Raffali – Tolong Ingatkan Aku

Mytha – Seperti Yang Kau Minta

Roze Kasmani – Harum

VOKAL TERBAIK (DUO/KUMPULAN BARU) / BEST VOCAL (NEW DUO/GROUP)

Ana Raffali, Sohaimi Meor Hassan & Altimet – Kalau Berpacaran

Azlan & The Typewriter – Kelibat Si Penyair

Govinda – Bawa Aku Lari

Projek Pistol – Wanita Seluruh Dunia

Zivilia – Aishiteru

KOLABORASI TERBAIK / BEST COLLABORATION

Amarah – Siti Nurhaliza & Kris Dayanti – Composer: Audi Mok, Lyricist: Siti Nurhaliza

Berteman Rindu – Didicazli & Giselle – Composer: Didicazli, Lyricist: Didicazli

Harus Bagaimana – Atilia & Maliq & d’Essentials – Composer: Widi Puradiredja, Lyricist: Widi Puradiredja

Kalau Cinta – Aliff Aziz & Joanna – Composer: Panji, Lyricist: Panji

Sayang – Dayang Nurfaizah & Marcell – Composer: Omar K, Lyricist: Nuur Iman

ARTIS LELAKI TERBAIK / BEST MALE ARTISTE

Faizal Tahir – Adrenalin

Glenn Fredly – Lovevolution

Hady Mirza – Sang Penyanyi

Hafiz – Masih Jelas

Judika – Setengah Mati Merindu

ARTIS WANITA TERBAIK / BEST FEMALE ARTISTE

Agnes Monica – Sacredly Agnezious

Ana Raffali – Ketika Aku Kecil

Astrid – Lihat Aku Sekarang

Rossa – Harmoni Jalinan Nada & Cerita

Sarah Aqilah – Sarah Aqilah

DUO/KUMPULAN TERBAIK / BEST DUO/GROUP

Andra & The Backbone – Love, Faith & Hope

D’Masiv – Perjalanan

Kotak – Energi

3 Suara – Jaclyn, Ning & Shila – 3 Suara

6ixth Sense – + – x /

Ungu – 1000 Kisah 1 Hati

ALBUM TERBAIK / BEST ALBUM

Cari Jodoh – Wali – Producer: Sujana

CTKD – Siti Nurhaliza & KrisDayanti – Producers: Aubrey Suwito, Audi Mok, Charly ST12, Siti Nurhaliza & KrisDayanti

Energi – Kotak – Producer: Pay BIP

Ketika Aku Kecil – Ana Raffali – Producer: Aidit Alfian

Sang Penyanyi – Hady Mirza – Producer: Hady Mirza

3 Suara – Jaclyn, Ning & Shila – Producers: Irwan Simanjuntak, Paul Morrison, Kevin Chin & Aylwin Santiago

LAGU TERBAIK SINGAPURA / BEST SONG (SINGAPORE)

Harum – Roze Kasmani – Composers: Imran Ajmain & Alyph SleeQ, Lyricist: Shah Shamsiri

Ku Tetap Kan Menunggu – Hady Mirza – Composer: Hady Mirza, Lyricist: Hady Mirza

Lagu Teman – The Lion Story Feat. Zahidah – Composer: Haramain Osman, Lyricist: Haramain Osman

Maafkan Ku (Oh Cinta) – Faizal Isa – Composer: Janz Abdullah, Lyricists: Aina Azizi & Khairul Anwar

Matahari – Sezaire Sezali – Composer: Haramain Osman, Lyricist: Haramain Osman

LAGU TERBAIK MALAYSIA / BEST SONG (MALAYSIA)

Awan Nano – Hafiz – Composer: M Nasir, Lyricist: Buddhi Hekayat

Hanyut – Faizal Tahir – Composers: Audi Mok & Faizal Tahir, Lyricists: Audi Mok & Faizal Tahir

Kalau Berpacaran – Ana Raffali, Sohaimi Meor Hassan & Altimet – Composer: Sohaimi Meor Hassan, Lyricists: Sohaimi Meor Hassan, Ana Raffali & Altimet

Kekanda Adinda – Atilia & MonoloQue – Composer: LoQue, Lyricist: LoQue

Noktah Cinta – Hafiz – Composer: Ajai, Lyricist: Sheikh Qalam

LAGU TERBAIK INDONESIA / BEST SONG (INDONESIA)

Cari Jodoh – Wali – Composer: Apoy, Lyricist: Apoy

Cintailah Aku Sepenuh Hati – Ari Lasso – Composers: Sandy Canester & Pay BIP, Lyricist: Ari Lasso

Karena Ku Cinta Kau – Bunga Citra Lestari – Composer: Dewiq, Lyricist: Dewiq

Pelan-Pelan Saja – Kotak – Composers: Pay BIP & Kotak, Lyricist: Dewiq

Rindu 1/2 Mati – D’Masiv – Composer: Rian d’Masiv, Lyricist: Rian d’Masiv

ARTIS SINGAPURA PALING POPULAR / MOST POPULAR SINGAPORE ARTISTE

SG1 Aliff Aziz

SG2 Didicazli

SG3 Diorama

SG4 Dynda

SG5 Faizal Isa

SG6 Farhan Shah

SG7 Fauzie Laily

SG8 Hady Mirza

SG9 Hyrul Anuar

SG10 Imran Ajmain

SG11 Rancour

SG12 Revalina

SG13 Roze Kasmani

SG14 Sarah Aqilah

SG15 Sezaire Sezali

SG16 SleeQ

SG17 Syed Azmir

SG18 Taufik Batisah

SG19 The Lion Story

SG20 The Sallys

LAGU SINGAPURA PALING POPULAR / MOST POPULAR SINGAPORE SONG

LP1 Angkasa: Hady Mirza

LP2 Biar Hati Mencintai: Sarah Aqilah

LP3 Dunia Yang Fana: Zaibaktian

LP4 Harum: Roze

LP5 Hingga Ke Akhir: Urban Sensation Feat. Rauzan

LP6 Janji: Tujuh

LP7 Kali Pertama: Chosen One

LP8 Kesuma Jiwa: Boy Raven Feat. Man Toyak

LP9 Maafkanku (Oh Cinta): Faizal Isa

LP10 Matahari: Sezaire Sezali

LP11 Menanti Cintamu: Revalina

LP12 Tiada Dua: Taufik Batisah

ARTIS SERANTAU PALING POPULAR / MOST POPULAR REGIONAL ARTISTE

AS1 Afgan

AS2 Agnes Monica

AS3 Aliff Aziz

AS4 Faizal Tahir

AS5 Hady Mirza

AS6 Hujan

AS7 Rossa

AS8 Siti Nurhaliza

AS9 Taufik Batisah

AS10 Ungu

AS11 Wali

AS12 Yuna

LAGU SERANTAU PALING POPULAR / MOST POPULAR REGIONAL SONG

LS1 Aishiteru: Zivilia

LS2 Angkasa: Hady Mirza

LS3 Baik-Baik Sayang: Wali

LS4 Berteman Rindu: Didicazli & Giselle

LS5 Cerita Kedai Kopi: Malique Feat. Salam

LS6 Join Kopi: Blackout

LS7 Khatimah Cinta: 6ixth Sense

LS8 Ku Pinjam Satu Bintang: Alyah Feat. Riz AF

LS9 Masih Di Sini Masih Denganmu: Goliath

LS10 Menanti Cintamu: Revalina

LS11 Tiada Dua: Taufik Batisah

LS12 Tinggal Kenangan: Saleem


Anugerah 2011 Grand Finals Review…

(Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

Anugerah 2011 came to an end this past Tuesday night, amidst feelings of general discontent with the competition as a whole and its direction, from the masses. We have heard and we have read how the public had commented about the performance levels, lacklustre displays, potentials or lack thereof of each contestant and the overall quality of the competition on various online platforms notably Facebook and Twitter. Myself, not withstanding, had also voiced my thoughts and what I have been feeling on a weekly basis, culminating in those comments I made in Berita Minggu, two Sundays ago. Truth be told, if vocal abilities were the only prerequisites and being the traditionalist that I am, discounting physical appearances and marketability factors, then Shalyza Rosly (Shalyza), Baby Sulastri and Siti Norulhuda (Norul) would have been my personal top picks who should have graced the Grand Finals.

Guest-of-honour Mr. S Iswaran enjoying the night’s proceedings…

For the first time in Anugerah’s history, we saw an all-female affair in the Grand Finals, a fair reflection of how the competition this year had progressed with the male contestants sorely lagging in many aspects, though it has to be said that I would not mind seeing Ace get his shot at stardom had he progressed till the end, by virtue of his gradual improvements weekly. The two-hour grand finale this year was graced by Mr S Iswaran, Minister from the Prime Minister’s Office, 2nd Minister for Home Affairs and 2nd Minister for Trade and Industry, a welcomed return after also gracing the 2007 Grand Finals edition.  All the three finalists walked away with MediaCorp Artiste Management contracts, recording contracts with Luncai Emas, R Records & Putrivision Empire, as well as holiday packages with Prestige Tours and Travel.

Some of the guest artistes and eliminated contestants of Anugerah 2011 

The champion also walked away with $10,000 cash and the opportunity to work with the legendary and highly respected singer-songwriter-composer-producer and Managing Director of Luncai Emas Sdn Bhd, Dato’ M Nasir, who was also one of the three guest judges of the night. Reshmonu, another one of the guest judges, is a singer-songwriter from Malaysia and the founder of record label, R Records. He will be producing the single for the 1st runner up, while the 2nd runner-up will be releasing her single with Putrivision Empire.  The night saw Reshmonu performed his hit single “Oh Anok Anok“, with Anugerah 2007 and 2009 Champions Aliff Aziz and Sarah Aqilah. There were also subsidiary awards for challenges in choreography (won by Epul), hosting (Norul), media (Shikin) and lyrics-writing (Rahayu Ridwan) throughout the course of the competition. These are challenges that the top 12 contestants had participated in. Winners of each challenge received a trophy.

Our resident hosts welcoming us to the show for a final time this season…

Observing the semi-final round, my personal picks who should have graced the Grand Finals would have been Shikin, Ace and Baby Sulastri by virtue of who performed better during that round. But of course that is not the name of the game, as general voters had their say to go along with the judges’ judging criterias. What the judging criterias are till this day, are still a mystery to me, but I believe looks and marketability factors are part of them, like it or not, for those who have a vested interest in these kind of competitions. Though traditionalists like myself would frown upon the looks above talents factor, on the flipside of it, you cannot deny that you need a looker to keep your interest on the google box going if you’re watching a particular programme. Or for the fact that looks sell in the industry, be it in endorsement deals or clinching coveted roles. Harsh as it may sound, but that’s the reality of the entertainment world. Just look at what’s happening in the West or in Korea where artistes are clamouring to look better by going under the knife, for popularity’s sake.

I thought the girls looked stunning in their outfit…

I know I have been harsh with my comments and reviews throughout the eleven weeks of competition. But I still approached the Grand Finals with a clear mind and starting everything on a clean slate. Well that has always been my approach in every episode. If I did not adopt it, I would not have attended the penultimate episode and just watched it from the comfort of home. Deep down, I still held on to the belief that one, if not all three finalists, would justify their rightful places and make it a truly grand final. My hopes were slightly raised when I saw encouraging words on Facebook by people who have been working closely with the finalists, to give them their opportunity to shine and let them do their thing on the night for they have been working hard for the past fortnight. Though I did not expect to be floored, my only hope was that the night would not end up as a total disappointment or an anti-climax. This is the grand finals afterall and that certain standards need to be met, since these are supposed to be the creme de la creme of the competition.

The show began with all three finalists singing the theme song “Anugerahku Gemilang” along with 2009 winner Sarah Aqilah. While I have to applaud all three of them for a rousing start, I only liked the first and the last part of their performance. They started off well but perhaps due to jitters and the pressure weighing upon them, all three seemed to have gone off-key in between. I did not exactly get to hear them going off-key clearly that night, as their voices were drowned by the cacophony of noise by the audience. Listening to them a second time at home brought out the negative part of their performance clearly. I felt the highest note in the song need not have to be done as none of them have showed their prowess in that particular aspect so far in the competition. They should have just stuck to their comfort zones as they were not judged on that performance. Still I thought they did quite ok overall and felt their positive energies, leading to a feeling of confidence that the rest of the night would not be so much of a disappointment as I had initially expected it to be, such is the pessimist that I am.

Round One – Finalist’s Song Choice

By virtue of being code number “1″, Shikin kick started things off with Jaclyn Victor‘s “Tiada Lagi Indah“, a song that needed her to control her vocals well and hit the high notes at the right moments. I agreed with judge Eddy Ali when he said she started off slowly but finished the song quite well. She sounded a bit bland in the beginning and went off-key slightly as she entered the chorus. But I simply loved her ending, so much so that for the first time in the competition, my hairs finally stood. Regular readers of this blog would note that I always use that as a gauge on whether a singer would impress me or not. By the end of the song, my goosebumps were clearly seen. For that I have to thank Shikin for making me forget momentarily of how disappointing and poor the standard of competition had been so far.

Erlina was up next performing “Takkan Pisah“, a song made famous by Eren of Kangen Band. While the song is beautiful, I could not help but feel that it was a wrong song choice, for the fact that the song was not challenging enough and not testing Erlina‘s vocals to the maximum. Still when she had it quite easy, Erlina did not quite performed to expectations. As had been the norm in the competition, her low notes were found wanting and she sounded as though she was shivering from the experience of gracing the final stage. She was pitchy almost throughout the song and it bothered yours truly so much that I thought, one of the earlier eliminated contestants would have done much better had they progressed and had their voters supported them well enough.

Rahayu Ridwan was next and she was another who had something to prove to the audience and viewers at home that she deserved to be in the Grand Finals over someone as vocally-accomplished as Baby Sulastri. Though she was not as bad as Erlina‘s earlier performance, it was not as controlled as Shikin‘s. I detected quite a few loose notes and parts that were pitchy when she performed Salma of Mentor 5 fame’s “Aku Permata“. However, to her credit, there was a degree of maturity in Rahayu‘s performance, in that she seemed to have slowly mastered the art of understanding the song that she sang and expressing all her emotions into it. Still, I was not entirely convinced even though I know and I heard that she was the favourite to win that night. The first round to me was won by Shikin.

Round Two – Group Performance

This was supposed to be the performance that should have salvaged Erlina from the brink of obscurity from this competition and also for the fact that she seems to be more at ease whenever she performs in a group. Somehow this performance was remembered more for their nifty footwork than their vocal prowess and this was very much reflected from the comments made by judges Ann Hussein and Reshmonu. I dunno if it was the song choice, or jitters, or having to balance their dance steps and singing, but it did not quite work out for me. Of course credit should be given for their dance moves but the basis of this competition is singing afterall. It was ordinary by standards and I was surprised that at this stage, Shikin who is considered more accomplished vocally as compared to the other two, could make the cardinal mistake of going off-key. In terms of showmanship, Rahayu won this segment hands down but like what Ann Hussein and Reshmonu had said, they would prefer to hear her sing, diplomatic but yet cryptic in their assessments.

Round Three – Lyrics Writing Challenge

This whole competition saw the contestants being put under extra pressure having to go through various challenges like hosting, choreography and facing the media. The most daunting task was saved for the Grand FinalsLyrics Writing. The three finalists were given only three hours during the recorded boot camp programme to come up with the lyrics to the melody composed by local musician Mansor Mohd. Being novices in the industry and raw to such a challenge, I did not expect much from them as I personally felt it was not fair to burden them with this sort of obstacle, without going through the basic foundations beforehand. There is only so much they can learn within those precious minutes during the boot camp and having to listen to the melody and putting them into words. But I’m sure the experience of learning from respected lyricist and guest judge Hartinah Ahmad was one that the finalists savoured and would put to good use in future.

As I was not expecting much from this segment, what I was looking out for was who would give a better account of themselves in terms of expressing their feelings into the song and how the lyrics would connect with the audience. Whilst Shikin (“Indahnya Kisah Kita“) and Erlina (“Perasaanku“) chose a more upbeat approach with the themes of “friendship” and “teenage love” respectively, Rahayu (“Pesan Rindu Buat Ibu“) stuck to a more sombre mood with “mother” as her inspiration. I dunno about you, but I felt that the lyrics to Shikin and Erlina‘s songs seemed like they were left hanging in the air with no proper continuity and in judge Sheikh Haikel‘s words, “phrasing”, which were left wanting. I also did not feel as though their songs were telling the audience a story.

Rahayu on the other hand, I thought came to the fore this time and made me forget her performances in the previous two rounds. Something special about her song was that the tempo and melody were slightly different and downbeat as compared to Shikin and Erlina‘s. I didn’t know they could change the tempo of the song, as I thought that everyone was given a standard template to sing from. Though Rahayu‘s low notes were still suspect, credit should be given to her for her attempt at lyrics writing. Not only did I feel a certain connection to her song, I felt the genuine sincerity that she put into her effort and that translated into her giving off an emotional performance. This was the start of her redemption for the night.

Round Four – Singing With Mentor

This particular segment has been quite a mainstay in recent years. The last edition in 2009 had the finalists singing with established singers like Nana, Iskandar Ismail (Eiss), Maman (Teacher’s Pet) and Azyza, whereas this year, the finalists were required to team up with those who have extensive backgrounds and experiences in music composition as well as in album production. The mentors this year were singer / producer Jaliboy, Razak (Ajaq) Bajuri who was a bassist with the uber-popular 90s group, SLAM, and Mayuni Omar, no stranger to local music lovers for his hit compositions, most notably Hazrul Nizam‘s “Kaulah Segalanya” and Nurun Nuwarrah‘s “Kau Ingin Ku Miliki“. The finalists were tasked to sing with or being accompanied by their respective mentors.

Shikin got things underway with Jaliboy when they performed “Kalau Berpacaran“, one of the current hits on our local airwaves and Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 nominee for Best Vocal (New Duo / Group) and Best Malaysian Song. Though I love the original version immensely, this new arrangement did not go down too well with my tastebuds. It was rearranged to make it into a rockish song but there was nothing rockish about the performance other than the melody. Shikin I felt was playing second fiddle to Jaliboy instead of the other way around. I dunno what happened to Shikin, but this song certainly did not suit her at all judging by the fact that her voice cracked on quite a few instances during the song, especially when she tried hitting the high notes.

Erlina was up next with Rossa‘s “Ku Tetap Menunggu“, accompanied by Ajaq. I finally got to see the positive aspect of Erlina‘s performance in this round, but it was a little too late to have any bearings in the minds of the judges. Though she did not do much wrong and gave her best performance of the night, she still kept to her comfort zone and sang a song which did not challenge her vocals at all. I believe this kind of song is not competition-material and only retained a certain degree of feel-good factor to those who listened to it. It was too safe, when at this stage, you are supposed to wow the judges and audience watching. I thought at this point, Erlina‘s spot as the one in third place was finally sealed and it did not help when earlier we saw how the public votes were not enough for her to mount a serious challenge.

I said that the earlier round for Rahayu was the start of her redemption for the night. If that was her redemption, this performance, singing Radja‘s “Takkan Melupakanmu” accompanied by Mayuni Omar was more or less the signal that showed she was about to walk away as the champion in this year’s competition. Rahayu maintained her consistency at understanding what she was singing and putting all her emotions into it. She was also consistent at maintaining eye contact with her accompanying mentor on the piano even when she was drifting away from him. I felt that of the three finalists, Rahayu was the most fortunate to have Mayuni Omar as her mentor, as his strictness would have done wonders to her composure, showmanship and performance as a whole and it certainly showed. Finally saw the aura of a star in her, even though her singing still did not resonate in my head.

Round 5 – Jury / Producer’s Choice

I was inclined to switch off by the time this round came about, as I felt anything they do henceforth would not hold much bearing on the results. Scheming through my Twitter timeline, as well as taking in the atmosphere at the Mediacorp TV Theatre, it was clear in the air that Rahayu was about to be crowned champion. This was more or less confirmed when I saw the latest public vote standings, as at this point, Rahayu was merely lagging Shikin behind by about 4%. Taking in the judges’ assessments of the finalists so far, and what we would get would still be a win, unless Shikin‘s supporters worked harder by voting more for her. Still, I went through the motions and observed what the three girls had in store for the audience and viewers at home.

Shikin performed a classic hit “Cahaya” (anyone out there knows the original singer??? Is it Khatijah Ibrahim???) with a cabaret-styled arrangement. Deep down I was hoping for her to up her performance as the only one that stuck in my head was her very first one. But it was a little too much to ask for. There was nothing special about Shikin‘s performance here as surprisingly her low notes were found wanting. The dancer in her at least made up for it and saved this segment for her, but I was pretty convinced that Shikin would be the first runner-up.

The first thought that flashed across my mind when host Fauzie Laily announced that Erlina was about to sing Sherina Munaf‘s “Pergilah Kau” was, another safe song for her. Still I do not understand why when given a safe song, Erlina contrived to make things difficult for herself by not giving off a better performance than the last or at least maintaining that same level. I wondered if she had given up the competition by then and thought that no matter what she did, it would not matter at all. The whole performance was pitchy at best. A pity really as it only enhanced the feeling that she would come in third place.

Melly Goeslaw‘s “Risau” was the jury / producer’s choice for Rahayu to perform. What more can I say about her performance other than the fact that she has somewhat mastered the ability to put forth her emotions into a song and expressing them with such intensity that it momentarily makes one forget that her singing still needs lots of improvement to be worked upon in terms of pitching and other technicalities. Though I know most people who were watching have not heard of the song, yours truly included, at least she made the effort to tell the story of the song through her expressions and emotions. What was telling was her focus and this reminded me of what Ajai said about her performance during the Wildcard Round, that she was focused, she put her emotions into the song and what we had was a singer.

Anugerah 2011 Recap

Rahayu getting emotional when her name was announced the winner of Anugerah 2011

By the fourth round, it was no longer a mystery as to who would walk away as champion of this year’s Anugerah competition. Rahayu might not be the winner in some people’s hearts or the purists for that matter. She is also not the most vocally-accomplished in this year’s cohort, but she did the best out of what she possessed, and that is the ability to inject emotions and sincerity in her delivery, something which was sorely lacking in most of the contestants this year. Based on my observations and my approach to the competition, that is those who performed on the night deserved to go through, I thought Rahayu was the one who displayed more hunger and will to win as compared to the other finalists, even though Shikin was my favourite to win.

Sarah Aqilah was tasked to handover her mantle to the new winner…

The challenge for Rahayu now is to work on her singing and I’m sure a lot of people would agree that she has some way to go when compared to her predecessors who have won before her. No doubt her commercial value is her plus point, but that needs to be substantiated with what she has been introduced into the industry for – singing. My hope for her is that she would not disappear like past winners before 2005. Though I am not entirely impressed by her singing, I certainly do not begrudge her on winning as I personally felt she did better than Shikin and Erlina on the night. The song dedication to her mother was one that tugged the heartstrings and one that brought out the best in her, which throughout the competition, I did not see. I’m not ashamed to say I was slightly moved by her delivery on that song, as I felt the love and sincerity she put into it.

A very pleasant performance by Sarah & Aliff Aziz singing “Kalau Cinta

However looking at the bigger picture, the whole competition was a major disappointment and to readdress what I had mentioned before that this is the worst in its edition. The fault does not lie solely on the contestants and I feel it is extremely unfair for them to shoulder this blame alone or the bulk of it. The fans and supporters who voted relentlessly week in and out should shoulder a major part of it as they were the ones who had the power to vote, or did not do it for the other contestants who were much better than those who had progressed. A case in point was the Wildcard Round. So many of the better ones had to go through the ordeal and mental torture of that round just to prove themselves all over again, that they deserved to progress when their earlier rounds have showed us their true capabilities.

An energetic performance by Reshmonu with his hit “Oh Anok Anok“… 

I read comments from my Twitter timeline that guest judge Dato’ M. Nasir was being haughty and arrogant with his assessments. I beg to differ. I think he was trying to be very diplomatic and not kill the confidence of the finalists. How else can I explain his hemming and hawing during the first round, trying to find the right words to express himself nicely, and when he commented on Erlina‘s singing in the third round saying, “You are here because there is something good about you…“??? I certainly think he was using reverse psychology to express his disappointment and boredom at the quality on display. Just ask any body language teachers out there and they will tell you that when a person speaks with his hands resting on his cheeks and shrugging, it shows his complete boredom on what he’s observing, and can I blame him???

Ace and Baby Sulastri performing the first verse of “Bintang Yang Bersinar“…

Certainly not, since he is the one who is supposed to produce an album for the winner. Definitely he was not impressed with what he had seen and it was only the first round and we all know that first impressions last. Reshmonu was another one who was not impressed entirely but at least he was tactful enough to bring out other positive points in the finalists. As for our resident judges, I can safely say that having been on the journey with the contestants, it was just not right for them to slate the finalists on their grandest stage, as this might affect the public votes swinging against or for them. Any negative comments against them would surely result in sympathetic votes for them. We saw how this year’s competition have shown that the voters are irresponsible and this was what happened when they contributed to such a poor competition for their blind faith on some of their favourite contestants.

They were followed by Epul and Shalyza

Looking at the smses that appeared during the programme as well as comments made online by those who followed the competition, also highlighted and questioned how come the better ones were eliminated. The answer was in the hands of the public who voted. Nothing the producers or the resident judges could do to save the better ones when they are being audited by professional auditors. I also personally feel that it is not fair to Shahridzuan Selamat and Zaharian Osman who had composed the lyrics to the theme song, which till this day is still stuck in my head for its catchiness. The quality of the competition and how it panned out did not lend credence to the lyrics of the song which said, “Anugerahku nan gemilang, Anugerahku nan terbilang…” It felt more like “Anugerah kurang gemilang, Anugerah kurang terbilang…” as was stated by someone on Twitter.

The Top 12 performing “Aku Bukan Superstar“…

Anyway, the competition is over. Whatever negativities that was brought up by the public should be taken into consideration for the next edition, whenever that will be. The system should be set such that we do not allow our good talents to fall by the wayside and this can only be done when the public votes are limited to a certain percentage or scrapped once and for all. Only with that, can we then perhaps hear more truthful comments by the judges and not diplomatic ones. I think the one who was very consistent, upfront, blunt and honest was Rilla Melati. The judges, resident and guests, no matter how much I love some of them, either need to change or should learn to brush up on their usage of the Malay language. We want to produce contestants who speak good Malay, we should also have judges who have that capability as well and not struggle to find the right words to use whenever the cameras start to pan on them.

Rahayu singing “Aku Permata” once again after her coronation…

The various challenges introduced into the competition this year were good and refreshing ones. However, in the search for the all-round entertainer, the competition lost its way and the very basic from which the entertainer should be good at, and that is singing. I also feel that too little time was given to the contestants to work on their lyrics writing skills. It’s what we Malays like to call “Bidan Terjun“, the finalists were heaped added pressure to produce something that they have not done before and somehow it made them looked silly on stage during the Grand Finals, and this I feel is not fair on them on their most memorable night in their lives so far. I think all the contestants should have gone through a workshop right from the start and not confined to just the finalists. Many of them could learn from the experience. Who knows if they are not cut out to be singers, they could at least be good lyricists in future???

With the pressure off, she certainly sang much better than the first round…

No matter how much some of us still feel aggrieved by the elimination of certain contestants or not agreeable to the winner, let’s close ranks and continue supporting the local music industry, Rahayu being the winner, as well as Shikin and Erlina who have gotten themselves the opportunity to record singles with R Records and Putrivision Empire. They are still very young. Given time and ample opportunities, they would want to prove that they are not flashes in the pan. What we saw last Tuesday night could have been much better but the girls gave off everything they got in those two hours, performing seven songs, something which they have not done before during the competition, a test of their stamina and mental resolve. Just that I was surprised the last segment involving the Top 12 contestants was quite an anti-climax with them miming, and certain contestants singing over the lines of others as they were not at the recording.

Introfucing the new winner of AnugerahRahayu Ridwan

Yes there were few hits and many misses in this year’s competition, but there is still hope yet for the vanquished to improve themselves and come back better the next time round. They should look no further than resident host Fauzie Laily who is a stunning example of one who did not give up, and look at how he has progressed since then. Congratulations once again to Rahayu Ridwan!!! It has to be repeated that no one should take that away from her nor begrudge her on winning. I sincerely hope that she would carry our flag high and do a good job when she takes the stage alongside other big names in the industry on the night of Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 in less than a fortnight away. I already know the segment she will be in but I will not disclose it to you, as it is meant to be a surprise for viewers out there. All I can say is that I am looking forward to that particular segment and so should you. I end this entry with Rahayu thanking her supporters for their votes and undying support for her…


Konsert Ramuan Reminisced…

I know that most of you entering this site would expect to read something on the Anugerah 2011 Grand Finals this past Tuesday night. While it is tempting to type on something which is still so fresh in my head, it is not something that I do immediately after a show on a regular basis. Yes I was at the show live, but I always make it a point to watch it again via the Catchup site to listen to the contestants’ vocals once again for clarity sake. So you guys coming in here would have to wait till at least the end of the week before I put up my entry and share what I feel, with regards to the Grand Finals. First up is Konsert Ramuan, which was  successfully held at Goodman Arts Centre on 19th June 2011. The concert, as was mentioned in my promo a couple of weeks ago, was a fundraising affair in support of “Ramuan Rahasia“, a locally-produced film directed by award-winning director, Sanif Olek.

Hosts for the day – Junaidi Sali & Effandy Idris

It has been quite awhile since I last attended an event of such magnitude, which brought together an array of local acts to grace the stage with their different sets of styles, genres and ensembles. I think the last one I had attended was RIA‘s Birthday Bash in February 2010 where a cast of strictly local acts had graced the Republic Polytechnic’s Convention Centre stage. Even then the number of acts were not as many as this one. Here, all the acts, a total of twenty-five of them according to Sanif himself via his Twitter, came together for a common cause, a bond that unites them, a shared vision to see through a mission of realising the dreams of finally seeing our first true local Malay film on the silver screens. Oh how heartening it was to see everyone, from the mainstream to the indies, joining forces for one goal – To raise funds for the making and completion of Ramuan Rahasia.

Sanif Olek, the film director of  “Ramuan Rahasia” addressing the audience…

The timing of the event (11:00am) till evening (I had left at around 4:45pm not to know what time the whole thing ended) felt like a Malay wedding event. Besides being entertained by stellar acts, the event became a reunion of sorts amongst people who have not met in ages, just like a Malay wedding scenario. A lot of happy faces were seen, tired but satisfied looks by the organisers and people who had worked hard behind the scenes to make this event a success. Though the turnout could have been better, it was still a good start and I sincerely hope that it would have gone some way to ease the funding burdens. The event reminded me of the local music festival “Melayu Ada“, which was also organised by Cokelat Events & Production. This time round, they joined forces with Sanif‘s “Reeljuice” company and a number of good friends in the local industry.

Due to family and other commitments, I could not be at the event throughout and only reached the venue slightly before 3:00pm. By then, I had missed out on the performances of several artistes like Anugerah Planet Muzik nominee SleeQ, Projek Rentak 2010 winner X-Clusive, former Bhumiband vocalist Adha, and acts like Tujuh, Revolusi, Yunos Erksan and Asnida Daud amongst others. As I had planned to join up with the rest of my family members who were at City Square Mall for the Anugerah Finals Roadshow, it meant I missed out on watching acts I’ve not seen in a long while, most notably Roze Kasmani, Imran Ajmain, Klutz and Kraton. But I’m sure everyone who came enjoyed themselves and I was no exception. I enjoyed watching Dinodi making a rare live appearance and belting their haunting hit “Cinta Tragika“, but most people forget / do not know that they did record an album with excellent tracks other than that hit.

For $10 / $12 entrance fees, and watching so many acts performing under one roof, it was certainly value for money and proved that Singapore do not lack quality talents. They just lack the support from locals who are more in tune with what is across our shores and beyond. Or from my personal observations, the regular monthly wedding / halal food exhibitions at Singapore Expo have somewhat contributed to the decline in interest of watching paid concerts / shows / gigs amongst local entertainment lovers because they can watch them for free at these events. The only way for our local music industry to grow is if we make the time and effort to come down and watch them, regardless of entrance fees or buying their singles / albums and not downloading them illegally. It was heartening to see local acts, singers, bands, actors coming together and show their solidarity. It certainly bodes well for the local industry to have people fighting for one another. I leave you with a song specially composed and written for this fundraising effort and performed live during the concert by Anugerah 2004 winner, Aqmal. A lovely song for a noble effort. I hope you would help to contribute too as efforts are still ongoing. For more information, do drop by www.ramuanrahasia.com

Snapshots of Konsert Ramuan

One half of the wacky hosts – Junaidi Sali

 The other half – Effandy Idris

The supporters of local music…

Some of the items being sold at the flea market outside the event hall…

A new face on television thanks to the Kopi Bujang series – Raimi Liandy Safari (right) – manning the ticketing booth…

This hip-hop duo who call themselves “A-Phat“, reminds me of 90s group Nico from their dress sense and having a group member’s moniker as the name of the group…

Anugerah 2004 winner, Aqmal, never fail to wow me with his voice…

I did not understand a single word that the lead vocalist of A.U.M. sang that day (or should that be screaming???), but their music is infectious, I felt like headbanging along…

A comeback long-awaited – Dinodi

Shafyre‘s showmanship is top-notch. Like a true rocker…

Izzat Yusoff, lead vocalist of Shine, was another who did not disappoint. Another group that made me want to dance along to their reggae beats…

Zaibaktian came on stage to join Dinodi in performing the former’s hit “Dunia Yang Fana“. This song collaboration was made into a soundtrack for the “Mimpi Mekah” programme which aired on Suria last year…

Zax entered the earlier rounds of this year’s Anugerah 2011 competition. Though he was quite decent with his delivery, I just felt his rendition of “Seroja” was too similar to how Ace had performed during the recent semi-final rounds…

Sanif with Sani Hussin and Aidli “Alin” Mosbit, two actors who are part of the “Ramuan Rahasia” film…


“Chickchickaboomz” Book Launch…

I know that I owe local personality, Nura J, this entry for more than a month now. The delay in posting this entry was very much deliberate for personal reasons and partly also because during the period of the book launch event, my home PC was down. Now that I’ve gotten a new one and have more or less settled down with the new system (along with designing a new watermark logo to boot if you guys had noticed over the past fortnight), I can now sit down and share this simple but beautiful event with my readers. Before continuing, first and foremost I would like to thank Nura and husband Esman for inviting me and family to the event and to soak in the atmosphere of the joyous occasion. My kids had a fun time and not even the wet weather that day could dampen their moods.

The “Chickchickaboomz” book launch event was held at Jurong Bird Park, a place I have not been to since I was still a swinging bachelor. Not only was it a book launch event, it was also an advanced birthday celebration for Nyla, Nura & Esman‘s offspring, whose birthday falls on every 24th May. So it was a maiden visit by my children to the event venue. Somehow the wet weather that day meant that we could not walk around the park and let them see the beautiful and varied species of birds found there. But that was not the main agenda of the day. The main attraction was of course the star of the event, Nyla, who at six years of age have shown what a genius she is by being the mastermind behind the launch of two books already, “The Big Good Wolf” on her 5th birthday last year, and now “Chickchickaboomz” a year after.

At her age, most kids are usually contented with learning through reading or trying to perfect their handwriting. This girl is different. She is blessed with a creative mind and with parents like hers who are very much into learning and reading, it is a positive combination that encourages and inculcates a reading culture amongst young children, no matter what age or community they belong to. I’m sure as parents we want the best for our kids and the best is always through learning and reading. Nura‘s colourful experiences as an educator certainly provided her with all the necessary tools to make this book production a reality. I can only marvel and be in awe of this family’s achievements and best of all, they are still the same humble people I’ve known for half a decade now.

Though I will not relate from A-Z what transpired during the event, I think the photos that I will put up henceforth and the short video clip at the end of this entry would more or less tell the story that unfolded - the birthday celebrations, the sing-along and book-reading sessions. The whole event was excellently done and was well supported by the good people at Julia Gabriel Centre for Learning, of which Nura used to be a part of some years ago and continue to maintain a good working relationship with them. “Chickchickaboomz” is now available on sale at a net price of $14.00 and interested buyers can get the book as well as Nyla‘s first book “The Big Good Wolf” if you were to click on “Nura J” from the link column on the right of my blog. I’m sure your children would love the book as much as my children have experienced…

Snapshots of the Book Launch

The lovely cake, made up of several cupcakes & depicting the “Chickchickaboomz” character…

Nura welcomed us to the book launch…

Nura showing how Nyla had sketched the storyline of the book…

The children were entertained by Shane & Frances of Julia Gabriel Centre…

Nyla signing autographs on her newly-launched book…

Nyla says, “Please get my book, you won’t regret buying it…”


Maher Zain Concert Review…

I believe this has been one of the most anticipated concerts on our shores for quite some time. For the past year, rave reviews on his music and inspirational songs have filled our ears and injected a newfound love for the Nasyid genre, especially to those who were initially not inclined or have never gotten themselves acquainted. With the emergence of Maher Zain in the international music scene, Nasyid songs have suddenly become hip again, like the time the likes of Raihan and Rabbani amongst others, have successfully found their ways into our hearts back in the late 90s and early 2000s. His rise in the international scene has been nothing short of meteoric and dare I say, phenomenal as his music has transcended upon different lands and cultures across the globe. Stopping short of calling him a Messiah, I believe his music and songs have the ability to unite Muslims together as well as inspire us to better ourselves as servants of Allah and followers of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Along with positive response to his music and humble character, the clamour for his presence on our shores for a concert grew louder as the days in 2011 went by. Finally on the ninth day of March 2011, the news was confirmed that Maher Zain would be coming to town for his first solo concert. Such was the fervoured anticipation of his maiden concert here that when the day of ticket sales began on 1st April 2011, the SISTIC website slowed down and a lot of people found it hard to book the best seats possible, yours truly included. I had heard a lot of good things prior to the concert, on his previous performances around our region, and I had hoped that Singapore would also be able to witness it first-hand. The anticipation heightened further when the official radio station of the concert, RIA 89.7FM, did a stellar job in promoting it and by playing songs from his album on a regular basis, an initial move which caught me pleasantly by surprise, as radio have not played songs of an outright religious nature for quite some time due to Media Development Authority‘s strict guidelines.

Irfan Makki from Canada… 

And so when the day came (Saturday 18th June 2011), I attended my first concert with my kids in tow, when normally it’s just the wife and myself. It is not uncommon for children to be heard singing songs by Maher Zain these days and my kids are no different. They always pester us to play his songs every day, so it was only natural that we brought them along for their very first concert. We were one of the early birds to enter the concert venue (Singapore Expo Hall 3) at around 7:40pm. It was heart-warming to see people of all ages entering the event venue all wanting to savour the soulful voice that has captured our imagination and perhaps brought us closer to appreciate the beauty of God and HIS creations. It was even more heartening to note that no matter how early some of the concert-goers were, they were seen at quiet spots on the second level of the Singapore Expo building performing their obligatory responsibilities.

Just to sidetrack a bit. Out of courtesy, I had applied for media accreditation for this concert, mainly to use my own camera to snap photographs but my request was turned down by the organisers, Offshore Entertainment Production. I was told to use the photographs taken by their official photographers and to credit them once they are up on their official website. I thought it was no big deal as I have had to experience this kind of arrangement when I covered the Pesta Raya showcases involving Hujan and The Fabulous Cats at the Esplanade – Theatres By The Bay back in October 2010. The positive point was not having to lug my camera bag along with two active kids in tow. However, a concert which was supposed to begin at 8:00pm ended up starting only at 9:05pm. I dunno what was the cause of the delay but I had heard and seen from various complaints online that quite a number of people had to queue up a long time just to get into the event venue.

The multi-lingual Mesut Kurtis who hails from Macedonia. He speaks as many as five languages fluently…

I dunno if this was due to the various exhibitions happening at the same time last weekend, but I had anticipated the place itself would have been swarmed by about 10,000 odd people attending various events in the area. That was the reason why we chose to come earlier to get good parking spots and also because we were informed that prayer areas would be provided. But I certainly did not expect the wait to be so long. Even when it was 8:30pm, the concert venue was only about half full. I’m not sure who is to blame for this delay, the organisers or the people who came to watch the concert. I just feel that the organisers should have just started the concert right on the dot or at the very latest, half an hour after the stipulated timing printed on our tickets. This is afterall a concert of an Islamic nature and our religion certainly did not teach us about flawed promises.

It was slightly after 9:00pm that the host of the night’s event, none other than RIA 89.7FM‘s Hafeez Glamour, came on stage dressed just like Maher Zain himself and began to warm up the audience. He had three passes to give away and asked for three members of the audience to come on stage to claim it but somehow, the instructions got lost along the way and about twenty people of all ages ended up on stage. Each took turns singing Maher Zain‘s songs and those justifiably eliminated missed out on their chance either because they couldn’t sing as well as those who ended up getting the passes, they were impatient and rowdy or they were not able to pronounce simple words like “Allah” properly. Yes, it was a surprise to me and perhaps those seated watching the proceedings as well. I will reserve further comments henceforth regarding the matter and hope that we take the time to perfect our pronunciation on words found in our Holy Qur’an, as reciting them wrongly would give rise to different meanings.

Maher Zain – An image of serenity and tranquility…

Irfan Makki from Canada came on stage to open the concert with four songs (or was it five??? I lost count). Though I like the songs he sang that night namely “Mama“, “Waiting For The Call“, “I’m Sorry“, and “Mabrook“, I could not help feeling a little shortchanged as I had a feeling that Irfan did not perform live. I was seated near the speakers and I could hear the stark difference in the clarity of his voice as compared to when Mesut Kurtis, the second act of the night, and Maher Zain himself came on stage later on. I could be wrong about the part on singing live, as Irfan sang without the accompanying live band, relying instead on minus one / recorded tracks, while the other two singers of the night performed with the band. Due to the poor sound system, the music emanating from the accompanying live band drowned the richness of Mesut Kurtis and Maher Zain‘s voices throughout the night.

A song that left an indelible impression on me during Irfan Makki‘s set was “Waiting For The Call“. The song was accompanied by a video montage of scenes from the two holy cities of Madinah Al-Munawwarah and Makkah Al-Mukarramah. I felt a lump in my throat seeing the footages and clips of people performing the Umrah and Hajj rituals. Though I did not cry like some in the audience, I felt tears welling up in my eyes as I recalled the times spent in the two holy cities during my honeymoon back in June 2006. I did not enjoy Mesut Kurtis‘ performance, not because it was not good, but I was already feeling bored that the main concert itself was late and it was close to 10:00pm, almost two hours of wait for Maher Zain to come on stage. But I have to say I like the old classic “Thala Al-Badr” sung by Mesut. Though the concert had its shortcomings, I tried to find positives out of it and listening to evergreen songs in praises of the Almighty and also to our beloved Prophet more or less made up for it. I felt that it was not a bad decision afterall to bring my kids as they were exposed to these kind of songs, which for Syahindah is like a refresher course as some of the songs or zikir found in the songs have been taught to her in school.

I will not describe Maher Zain‘s performances per se as I am sure you would have viewed them via YouTube. All I can say is that the boredom, the impatience and anger I felt earlier at having to wait for his arrival on stage disappeared when he came on. And what a way to start his concert with the blast of pyrotechnics. I certainly did not expect it even though I saw the nozzels being lined up on stage. I thought they would shoot confetti instead. Maher Zain is a phenomenon that no matter what he does on stage, the audience would love it. Just that I felt the audience was kinda dead when the man himself asked us to sing and clap along. Actually it was not a surprise at all to me as Singaporean audience in general are known to be dead watchers of most concerts anyway. It was just unfair to the man that a 7000 strong crowd, a sell-out one for added measure, failed to display why his first concert here was an anticipated one.

Maher sang all but one of his songs from his debut album “Thank You Allah“. Not quite a surprise as the song could possibly have political implications attached to it and seeing that we’re not an Islamic country to begin with. But in any concert, you don’t expect the artiste to sing every single song in his / her album anyway. What he did not sing, he made up for it by singing twice for “Insya-Allah” and “For The Rest of My Life“, both songs he sang in English and Malay. It was impressive that he managed to sing the Malay versions without any promptings, especially “Sepanjang Hidup” which was released as a single quite recently,  a mark of professionalism on his part. It was also heartening to note that he addressed the audience by throwing in basic vocabulary from our language. He did not have to win the audience that way, but it truly showed his utmost sincerity, humility and honesty in sharing his happiness at performing for us and we were all satisfied with it. What was dissatisfying was of course the bad sound system. It was difficult to appreciate his voice and performances as a whole because of that.

After the concert ended, I joined several lucky winners from the Singtel and radio contests in meeting him backstage but my dissatisfaction returned once again when from being one of the earlier batches of people queueing in the line to meet the man himself, myself along with several others were whisked away by security to another side and we ended up being the very last to go in. Even though I tried reasoning with the security guys that we were all part of the Singtel and radio contest winners, they said that since we were wearing VIP passes, the instructions they received were for VIP Pass holders to join in the other queue outside the event venue, when we were all already queueing up backstage. Major cock-up on the organisers part and it is no surprise that I see quite a few people already venting their frustrations with them online, some going as far as saying they were treated like dogs. Though I would not go as far as to say I was treated like a mutt, the whole system itself was a major catastrophe which had no standardised uniformity.

I appreciate the fact that the organisers have done all they could to allow as many people as possible to meet and take photographs with Maher Zain, but the way we had to queue and wait and then queue again and ending up being the last was a bad experience as a whole as a lot of time was wasted. Even when we met him in person, we were not allowed to take photographs with him using our cameras and instead take as a group with complete strangers via the official photographers on standby. Being the last, I thought I could at least make small talk with the guy, but we were rushed through by his minders and I ended up just greeting him with the salam, shook his hands and taking that last photograph. But take nothing away from the guy, just by that few seconds of looking into his tired eyes, he was a picture of calm and serenity, his sincerity and aura of tranquility just shoots right through you. The anger I felt at being pushed down to the very last in the line disappeared when I saw his patience at entertaining his ardent fans, even when he was clearly tired.

Those who got to meet Maher Zain in person received these premiums as mementos…

True, there were hits and misses at the concert. Me being my natural self, my patience was severely tested that night as I am naturally a stickler for time. I felt a lot of time was wasted that night on waiting and waiting. But the concert itself, if you were to take away the waiting time, the bad sound system and the “dead” audience aside, was what I came to see and expected from a man who has been quite the music phenomenon in the Islamic world. I know some of you reading this entry might say that I am being ungrateful with my complaints when I had the opportunity to meet him in person in the end, while most could only wish they were in my shoes. I paid for the most expensive seats for myself and my whole family, it is only natural I expected the best out of the experience. I’m sure for those who paid less, they too would have complained on how far they sat from the stage etc. To some extent, I did enjoy the concert but I’m sure it could have been much better had what I listed above been realised. Hopefully the organisers could learn in kind and take in all the feedbacks received and make it a better one the next time. Still, thank you Offshore Entertainment Production for bringing in Maher Zain for his maiden concert in Singapore.

P.S. The photographs featured in this entry belong to a renowned caricature artist, the original “Mat Tocang“, who has been contributing his art works for a long time in our local Malay papers. He has strictly given the instructions that his photographs are not to be downloaded. So I hope you guys would respect his decision. Thank you brother for letting me share the photos you have taken that night in my blog entry. Appreciate it much. I simply love the caricature you made and gave personally to Maher Zain. What a stroke of genius!!! Thank you also to bro Hafeez Glamour for giving me the opportunity to meet Maher Zain in person via your radio contest.

This is the caricature that Mat Tocang had made for Maher Zain. Beautiful isn’t it???


Reflections of My Comments in Berita Minggu (Anugerah 2011)…

This entry is not exactly on the Anugerah 2011 Final Roadshow which is happening later today at the City Square Mall (the one at Farrer Park MRT station, not Johor Bahru), but more to the comments I made and that was published in today’s Berita Minggu. For the benefit of those who have not read it, I quote from what was written in the papers, “Anugerah 2011 merupakan edisi yang kurang memuaskan. Rata-rata hampir kesemuanya memberi persembahan yang lemau dan kurang bertenaga. Nada suara mereka juga sumbang. Di tahap separuh akhir ini, seharusnya kita melihat satu tahap kualiti yang boleh kita banggakan untuk dipasarkan sebagai artis yang dapat mengharumkan nama negara. Namun sehingga kini, masih belum kelihatan lagi aura seorang bintang…

This is not a damage limitation exercise that I’m embarking upon but I strongly believe my comments were not expressed in full length. As such I felt as though I came across as the baddest guy on the planet, even if I know many people out there shared the same sentiments as what was published in the papers. Putting myself in the shoes of average readers, what I will believe by reading an article, will be based on what is being put forth in print wholesale. Like it or not, what is written in mainstream media is the gospel that one should subscribe to, the politically correct truth. But sensationalism in media in general, is one that the common laymen always fail to look at.

Regular readers of my blog know that I do not mince my words when I type, sometimes at the expense of my reputation and character. If I see a spade, I call it a spade. If something is good, I say that it is good and if it is otherwise, I jolly-damn-well say it sucks. But over the years I’ve been trying to perfect the art of being brutally honest without being too blunt. I’m sure and I do hope that people would have taken note how much I give people, most notably the contestants from any reality competition that I review, the benefit of doubt as much as possible or to correct whichever flaws that needs to be done. For those who had read my Anugerah 2011 reviews for the past nine weeks, you would note that I did praise several contestants while also pointing out the shortcomings of others.

What was printed in Berita Minggu today was not a fair reflection of what I had actually typed in its entire glory in their Facebook page. Granted, the message was typed a day after the semi-final results were announced and emotions were still running high. But I know I did give a fair account in my previous entry on the results shows and stand by what I felt throughout the competition. This was truly reflected in my comments in Berita Minggu‘s Facebook page as well as my previous blog entry where I went all guns blazing hitting out at tone-deaf supporters. But somehow, the message in its entirety was edited to suit the column spaces and the true essence to what I had said became somewhat distorted. For the benefit of those who do not follow the Berita Minggu Facebook page, I present to you what I had said in its full glory and then you be the judge whether I was being too critical in the papers or the one I said originally was much better. One thing is for sure, I’m no longer sharing my thoughts with mainstream media anytime soon and will stick to what I do best – Blogging…

Anugerah 2011 merupakan edisi yang kurang memuaskan dari segi kualiti peserta mahupun pemilihan para pengundi. Lihat saja episod yang baru lepas ini dan bagaimana para peserta membuat persembahan di atas pentas. Rata-rata hampir kesemuanya memberi persembahan yang lemau dan kurang bertenaga. Nada suara mereka juga sumbang walaupun mereka tidak dibebani dengan bayang pertandingan kerana segala markah telah dirangkumi sebelum rancangan bermula. Di tahap separuh akhir ini, seharusnya kita melihat satu tahap kualiti yang boleh kita banggakan untuk dipasarkan sebagai artis yang dapat mengharumkan nama negara. Sehingga kini, masih belum kelihatan lagi aura seorang bintang yang dapat digilap dari potensi yang ada sekarang ini. Para pengundi juga harus dipersalahkan kerana terlalu memilih mengikut kehendak hati mereka tanpa memikirkan jangka panjang bahawa pemilihan mereka sedikit sebanyak bakal memberi impak pada industri hiburan tanahair. Kalau kita bandingkan dengan artis-artis baru serantau, akan banggakah kita untuk melihat mereka berdiri sama tinggi dan duduk sama rendah walaupun pada hakikatnya, mutu dan tahap piawaian yang ada ibarat langit dan bumi???


Anugerah 2011 Episode 9 (Semi-Final Results) Recap…

Faith” and “Hope“. These two words kept my interest going in this year’s Anugerah 2011 competition. I had faith that besides our astute and well-respected resident judges, the voting public would contribute to the betterment of our local Malay music scene by voting for someone who could be one we can be proud of, to carry our flag high when they are representing us overseas in future assignments / showcases. I also had hoped that for all the misgivings and shortcomings that the contestants have shown in the early stages of the competition, that they would display marked improvements to justify why they deserved to progress ahead of perhaps more deserving ones who have been eliminated.

Somehow, when the results of the three finalists were announced last night, both sets of beliefs I had seemed to have been thrown out of the window. No, I’m not bitter at the results, even though two out of three of my original picks as finalists were eliminated. I’m just left baffled by how things have worked out right from the start. As early as Episode 3, I wondered if this was the best we could offer from our local pool of talents. However I thought it was unfair to come to such a conclusion at such an early stage given the fact that most of them do not have experiences performing in front of a live audience before. And so I persevered and continued to hold on to a belief that with each passing episode, I would see improvements being made by the contestants.

Yes I observed improvements being made in every remaining contestant, but there was also a consistent tendency for them to take a step forward and two steps back. When they have improved on something, they tend to undo the good by doing something that we do not expect them to do whilst performing or by repeating an old mistake again. A competition of such magnitude demands each contestant to get better and better than their last performance and with each episode, they should be gaining in confidence and stature. Somehow I do not quite understand why this current batch seems to hold back a lot and seldom letting it all out. Even in an episode where there was no pressure on them to perform well like last night, their performances as a group left much to be desired. I was squirming at my seat watching them sing Glenn Fredly & Dewi Persik‘s “Hikayat Cintaku“. Though above average marks could be given to their dance moves, their vocal harmonies were haywire and they went off-key on many instances. This was not what I had expected from semi-finalists and at this stage of the competition.

What left me stumped and gazumped throughout the competition was the way the voting was made by the public. I’m sure people out there will be quick to discredit the resident judges and their respective choices. But this show is audited by a respectable and renowned international auditing company in KPMG Pte Ltd. Any discrepancies will be subjected to legal proceedings. Even when I spoke to judge Eddy Ali after last night’s show, he expressed his disappointment at the choices of the voting public and lamented the fact that they (the judges) are always to be blamed for the better contestants being kicked out and not doing enough to save them from the jaws of elimination. There is only so much they can do to judge and say who performed well on the night. The rest is up to the voting public to dictate who they think deserves to go through. Sadly, the better performing ones do not get enough sms votes to add on to the good marks they received from the judges.

As the competition has shown, the better ones seemed to get knocked out one after the other. There are no conspiracy theories to begin with, they simply did not attract enough votes to keep them in the competition. Coupled with the fact that the lesser performing contestants are blessed with ardent and generous followers, what you get is a competition that is very much skewed and lost its zest in quality. I accept that this is the name of the game and the reality of this sort of competition, but I make no apologies when I say some of these so-called loyal voters are irresponsible and voting on blind faith. Is this the standard you feel is worthy to stand side by side with other artistes from the region??? You are supposed to contribute to the betterment of the local music industry, to help raise our standards in the eyes of the region but what have you done so far??? This year’s competition only proved that we are not yet ready to progress to a system whereby the voting public is given 100% power to choose who progresses and who gets eliminated. Already giving them half the reins to judge and what you get are unexpected results, can you imagine giving them 100% free reins to dictate???

Syed Azmir performing his latest single “Jangan Kau Lupa“. It was understood to be his last television performance but I think we will not see the last of him just yet…

I did rant on Twitter last night that I have lost faith in the system of the competition, most notably this voting mechanism and the power enjoyed by these voters. There is a grudging respect in their undying loyalty towards their respective favourites but at the same time, I have disdain for their apparent tone-deafness. This show of blind faith has contributed in one way or another, and to me at least, the worst Anugerah competition in its history. No disrespect to all three girls who have made it this far, but being finalists, they are expected to perform beyond their comfort zones and prove why they deserve to be in the Final. I still retain a little ounce of hope that they will rise to the occasion given the fact that they have two weeks from now to get their acts right. They need to and they must, as their future employer, a certain Dato’ M. Nasir, will be one of the guest judges. This guy is meticulous and I’m sure he demands a certain standard from his soon-to-be protege. Can the girls do it??? For their sake and for the sake of our local Malay music scene, I really hope they do themselves justice.

Introducing the finalists of Anugerah 2011: Rahayu Ridwan, Shikin & Erlina

History was made last night when we have for the first time, three female finalists. Not quite a surprise really, as the girls in general have shown that they have been the better performers, though it has to be said that Ace and to some extent, Epul, Firdaus Haridan and Syazani have done commendably in proving that the guys have something to show for as well, though their best were still not enough. Somehow I felt last night’s episode was a waste of one hour and should have just lasted for half the time slated. Too many redundant segments were done just to kill time before the announcements of the finalists were made. Even the contestants were lacklustre in their performances and it showed too glaringly. I think the competition needs some serious tweaks beginning with its judging system. I’m all for an absolute judging system whereby the voting public is redundant or only contributing a maximum of 30% of the total marks.

The finalists being interviewed by Diana Amran and sharing their thoughts on the results…

The judges, with all due respect, should also be changed, some if not all. We cannot have judges blatantly showing their favouritism towards certain contestants, just because they used to come over to the judges’ homes when they were younger. That kind of remarks are too personal and somewhat unprofessional in my opinion, and only discredits the judges from being fair towards other contestants, even if their favourites are justifiably good. I also hope that in future, there will be some form of transparency in the announcement of results, like how much the judges had assessed the contestants and how many votes from the public contributed to their total tabulations. This is to avoid feelings of discontent by the masses and questions on whether the results were fixed or was it too good to be true…

The gorgeous newscaster, Hazlina Halim, dropped by after the show to congratulate the finalists. Here they are joined by Mediacorp Suria‘s Promotion Executives Budi Iskandar Sa’ad (left) and Siti Zuraidah Taib (right) as well as Eaglevision‘s Netty Fiona Othman (second from right)

P.S. Can somebody please inform a certain Top 18 contestant not to make an ass out of himself weekly by displaying his childish and boisterous antics, be it at the Mediacorp TV Theatre or at the Mediacorp reception area??? If you want to make a name for yourself in this industry, please learn to behave like a human being and not act like a buffoon shouting at the top of your voice and making a fool of yourself. Oh, and grow up please!!!


Konsert Ramuan Rahasia Promo…

KONSERT RAMUAN is a music festival that brings together various Singaporean artistes, performing in solidarity to raise funds for Sanif Olek’s yet-to-be-completed feature film, RAMUAN RAHASIA. A total of 24 bands and solo acts will be sharing stage on Sunday, 19 June 2011 from 11am to 6pm at the Goodman Arts Centre (90, Goodman Road, S439053). Together, fascinating flea market with vendors selling eclectic products will add colour to the event!

KONSERT RAMUAN is only the first of a fundraising project series that hopes to create awareness about the film appeal for funds. Following this concert, a monologue ensemble, entitled MONOLOG RAHASIA, featuring established theatre/TV actors is already in the pipeline.

KONSERT RAMUAN tickets are already on sale @ $10 via Paypal (sanif.olek@gmail.com) and Zax (81137883). Tickets will also be available at the door on the event day at $12. Free entry for children aged 12 years and below.

For those interested to rent a table at the flea market, they may contact Zio at 90214934.

All proceeds from the concert will be channeled to the RAMUAN RAHASIA fund appeal.

ABOUT THE FILM

RAMUAN RAHASIA is a feature film, directed by Sanif Olek that has abruptly stalled since late 2009 due to insufficient funds. To date, only 60% of its filming has been achieved.  The project is now racing to be completed.

 It is an endearing tale of hope blending spicy food, classic Nusantara Malay songs and love into a digestible contemporary platter. It boasts a stellar cast from Dato’ Rahim Razali to Aidli ‘Alin’ Mosbit, Rafaat Haji Hamzah, Keagan Kang, Aaron Aziz, Sani Hussin, J A Halim and many more.

Principal Cast:

  • Dato’ Rahim Razali
  • Aidli ‘Alin’ Mosbit
  • Rafaat Hj Hamzah
  • Asnida Daud
  • Keagan Kang

Supporting Cast:

  • Aaron Aziz
  • Marina Yusoff
  • J A Halim
  • Sani Hussin
  • Keatar H M
  • Shah Iskandar
  • Khalid Baboo
  • Aryati Tyeb Papar
  • Nina Halim
  • Aminah Ahmad
  • Hashimah Hamidon
  • Norsiah Ramly
  • Dalina Jaapar
  • Roslan Kemat
  • Abdullah Ahmad
  • Nurul Aini

Original story by Sanif Olek

Screenplay by Gene Sha Rudyn and Sanif Olek

For further details on the concert, please contact Azizah Zakaria at 94248514.

[For more details about the film, please visit www.ramuanrahasia.com]


Update on Maher Zain’s Concert in Singapore…

Tickets to this concert

are sold out!!!


Be A Star in X-Clusive’s Music Video…

X-Clusive

X-Clusive is an independent music group. The group consists of three musicians, A’Trez, a rapper, composer, songwriter as well as main producer of the group. Nora Rahman & Ize Suliman complete the trio as vocalists. They are gearing up to infuse a new flavour of music and creating a unique identity for themselves. They have recently launched their debut album “FENOMENA” at City Beach Resort on 19 March 2011. The debut album is distributed by Life Records and the group have also signed a publishing deal with Bedsty Bedrock Publication.

X-Clusive have set the target & vision to attain sound standards as per other established groups in the region, such as The Fabulous Cats, Soul ID and AhliFiqir. They envisage in making X-Clusive a household name. X-Clusive is collaborating with a number of producers from Singapore, Malaysia & Indonesia. They wish to raise the awareness of the community on the existence of unknown talents that exist here. With the advent of New Media technologies, X-Clusive is exploring the sphere of music knowledge through their social online presence at www.x-clusiveonline.com.

X-Clusive, was formerly known as “Verbalize Flo“. Their unique musical flavour places them as class acts to be watched out for. Their first radio hit single, “Yok Goyang Yok“, got them accredited on radios in Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei. It was listed in RIA Chartz for 17 weeks and on Kristal FM (Brunei) charts in the Top 3 for a duration of three months. They have also been collaborating with high profile artistes and producers from the surrounding region. X-Clusive, in recent months, have had a major revamp in the make-up of their group members. They have now settled down with two vocalists in Ize Suliman and Nora Rahman, two individuals of unique vocal capabilities and personalities, the former more known for his involvement in Suria‘s singing competition Anugerah back in 2009 and also providing back-up vocals in entertainment and variety shows organised by the television station.

Their hard work has been bearing fruits with support from editorial, broadcast and organisational entities such as Selebriti Magazine, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), MTV & Sensasi, Bedstymusic, Purplenotez Publishing, Malay Artistes Association and Mediacorp. Apart from making live appearances on OKTO Live and Suria, X-Clusive is expected to swarm the region with their anticipated flow and flavour in their recent recording of programmes by major television stations from Malaysia: Galaxy on TV9 and Melodi on Tv3. Of note and in recent times, the group clinched the First Prize at “Projek Rentak“, the annual songwriting competition organised by Mediacorp Radio‘s Malay stations, Warna 94.2FM & RIA 89.7FM for their single “Kau Inspirasiku“.

For more information on X-Clusive, you can go to the following sites or contact the group via A’Trez at:

*Email: Atrez@x-clusiveonline.com*
*Myspace: www.Myspace.com/verbalize.flo*
*Twitter: www.twitter.com/Atrez*
*Website: www.x-clusiveonline.com*


Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 Press Conference…

(Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Radio)

After a break of two years, Anugerah Planet Muzik makes its long-awaited return to our shores. The last time the premier regional awards show was held in Singapore was in 2007, when the Singapore Indoor Stadium played host to honour the best in the region’s music industry. Long-time readers of this blog would note that I’m very much a regular attendee of this event, in fact I have been going to each and every single one from 2001-2008, except for the last one when it was first held in Jakarta in 2009, due to my favourite team, Manchester United playing  a pre-season friendly with the Malaysian team in Kuala Lumpur on the same day of the event. I think had the team not played there, I would have made the trip as well, but you don’t get to meet your favourite team in the flesh that often unless you’re residing over there. The event returns this year and will be held at the Max Pavilion Singapore Expo on 15 July 2011 at 8:30pm. The last time this event was held there was in 2006.

This year marks a special milestone for me with regards to this event, as this was the first time I received a personal invitation to attend the press conference to announce the final nominees of Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011. This was possible thanks to the good people at RIA 89.7FM and Warna 94.2FM, the organisers of this prestigious awards show, most notably the producer herself, Aura Shai. I felt honoured to be a part of the media brigade, being possibly the only local entertainment blogger at the event. Though I have attended several media conferences before this, somehow attending this particular one gave me goosebumps and a nervous feeling, probably sharing the same feelings being felt by the local artistes who came to grace the event.

This media conference, which was held last Wednesday 8 June 2011 at 3pm, was unlike the one that was held concurrently in Kuala Lumpur. Based on news reports and photographs I’ve managed to see, that event was held at the Hard Rock Cafe. Here in Singapore it was held at the humble surroundings of the multi-purpose room at Caldecott Broadcast Centre. Some might wonder about the exclusivity of the event venues of both countries, but to me and to most people who attended, I think the venue is quite secondary. What was paramount in the minds of those who came were who made it to the final reckoning, bearing in mind that they were up against artistes and production teams of higher standards and quality from our regional counterparts.

These are the coveted trophies to be won on the night…

During the media conference itself, we were introduced to the hosts of this year’s Anugerah Planet Muzik, none other than Adi Rahman and Fiza O of RIA 89.7FM, no strangers themselves to hosting the same awards show in the past. I could have missed out on this piece of information during the event, but I found out much later that both hosts that I had mentioned earlier, will be joined by Malaysia‘s Didie Alias, a first for the lady who has earned the reputation of being our neighbour’s very own Lady Gaga. I had expected the usual suspects like Sarah Sechan and Aznil Nawawi to return, but apparently I think the organisers wanted a fresher outlook, hence the choice of Didie, no slouch herself from what I had seen when she hosted Anugerah Bintang Popular Berita Harian as recently as a few months ago. I can’t wait to see Adi reprise his role as the perennial “bully” and see how he spars with Didie on stage. Maybe Fiza could also play the “baddie” this time round, we shall see.

Two of the three hosts of APM2011: Adi Rahman and Fiza O

Before the event kicked off in earnest, we were all treated to a special video presentation of past Anugerah Planet Muzik (APM) events. Looking at some of the footages, especially those that were circa 2007-2009, brought back a lot of fond memories, even if some of them had not exactly been spectacular by standards, but still each and every single APM had its share of story to tell and memory etched to it. This year being its tenth year in existence, the event has come a long way in its progress, having gone through a lot of ups and downs. I would like to think that this year will be a good one and I have strong vibes about it, just by looking at the line-up of stars slated to perform at this year’s show. Just to refresh your memories in case you have forgotten what went on for the past nine APMs, I’ve managed to record the short yet entertaining video presentation courtesy of the organisers:

I will not describe in detail what the organising committee panel which comprised of Ms. Zakiah HalimVice-President of Malay, Indian & Expatriate Programming (Radio), Mr. Hassan Salleh, Senior Programme Director of RIA 89.7FM and the producer of Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 herself, Aura Shai had shared during the media conference. However, just to summarise, Singapore contributed 129 nominations of the 523 that they received in total from the three participating countries, one of the most since its inception. This was a marked increase when compared to only 48 nominations being put forward from Singapore back in 2009. While the number is very much heartening by standards, this rise in the submission of nominations could also be partly attributed to the fact that there was a void last year when APM was not organised. Nonetheless the numbers have proven that Singapore is capable of producing good talents and also good musical compositions from our local acts. Indeed over the years, with APM‘s existence, it has paved the way for more acts to come forward.

The panel consisting of Mr. Hassan Salleh, Ms. Zakiah Halim and Aura Shai

Of course when it comes to quantity, there might not always be an equal nor substitute in quality. This was reiterated by Ms. Zakiah that some, if not most of our local acts, still lag behind in terms of song production quality. However, as organisers, they have to maintain the quality that has been set and that we have to accept the fact that the other two countries are miles ahead especially with strong backing from sponsors, unlike our music industry. She said that even though radio do not have all the answers to the problems being faced by our local talents, she would not mind working closely with all parties to find feasible solutions that could help the industry grow. As a radio listener, I agree with her that radio has done its part in promoting local music, contrary to complaints that radio do not support local acts enough. Look at RIA Chartz to see the number of local songs in the list and listen to the radio station every day and you will note that there are at least four local songs being played every hour, if not more. At one point of time, the Top 10 songs in RIA Chartz were all local songs, a significant increase in the listeners’ preference for local music. To listen to what Ms. Zakiah had to say, I’ve recorded her speech for your viewing pleasure:

The final list of nominees certainly threw up several surprises as well as names which most of us have not heard of on our shores and most likely in the other two countries as well. But as a Singaporean, I am extremely proud of our local acts who have been nominated along with others from the region. It shows that we have made good progress and that we can be pleased to have artistes of a standard which is on par with our regional counterparts. However, I do feel a bit confused with some of the categories like for instance, why was Sarah Aqilah nominated in the Best Vocal (Female) Category and not Best Vocal (New Female Artiste) Category since she is considered new in the scene. There was also a slight tweak in the Best Collaboration Category. Previously, this category allows acts from the same country to collaborate with one another. This time, in the spirit of regional unity, they have changed the rule and set the category such that acts from different countries (for instance, Singapore and Malaysia) must collaborate and then send in their nominations. I had high hopes for our local rap duo, Komrad, who had recorded singles with Malaysia‘s Zain Hamid, Malique and DJ Salam before, but they were not in the final list. This new rule somehow increases the prospects of our local acts to get nominated in future.

SleeQ listening attentively to the speech…

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all local acts who have made it into the final list. I think they know and they are realistic enough to understand that to get into the final list is already a huge achievement. Anything more would be a bonus. To the rest who have not made it, please do not lose heart and to continue producing good music and who knows, even if you do not get your recognition in a regional show like APM, your works and compositions might be honoured when the next AnugeraHitz.SG show comes around. Before I end this entry, I’ll present to you the final list of Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 with Singaporean nominees marked in red as well as the slated performers who will grace the event. Just to note that the Lagu Terbaik / Best Song and Anugerah Khas Planet Muzik / Planet Music Special Awards are not listed but will be made known on the night itself. For more details on how to vote in the popular categories, please refer to details at the official Anugerah Planet Muzik Facebook page. This year will be the first that you will be able to vote via Internet so do keep a lookout for it…

Haramain Osman (centre) could be pleased that he has three nominations to his name and group (The Lion Story)…

Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 List of Nominees

VOKAL TERBAIK (ARTIS BARU LELAKI) / BEST VOCAL (NEW MALE ARTISTE)

Aris - 1000 X Maaf

Febrian – Cinta Itu Gila

Igo – Kemenangan Cinta

Sandhy Sondoro - Bunga Mimpi

Sezaire Sezali – Matahari

VOKAL TERBAIK (ARTIS BARU WANITA) / BEST VOCAL (NEW FEMALE ARTISTE)

Aisya Hasnaa – Lagu Mahu Kamu

Amanda Imani - Selamilah Cinta

Ana Raffali – Tolong Ingatkan Aku

Mytha – Seperti Yang Kau Minta

Roze Kasmani – Harum

VOKAL TERBAIK (DUO/KUMPULAN BARU) / BEST VOCAL (NEW DUO/GROUP)

Ana Raffali, Sohaimi Meor Hassan & Altimet – Kalau Berpacaran

Azlan & The Typewriter – Kelibat Si Penyair

Govinda – Bawa Aku Lari

Projek Pistol - Wanita Seluruh Dunia

Zivilia – Aishiteru

KOLABORASI TERBAIK / BEST COLLABORATION

Amarah – Siti Nurhaliza & Kris Dayanti - Composer: Audi Mok, Lyricist: Siti Nurhaliza

Berteman Rindu – Didicazli & Giselle - Composer: Didicazli, Lyricist: Didicazli

Harus Bagaimana – Atilia & Maliq & d’Essentials – Composer: Widi Puradiredja, Lyricist: Widi Puradiredja

Kalau Cinta - Aliff Aziz & Joanna – Composer: Panji, Lyricist: Panji

Sayang - Dayang Nurfaizah & Marcell – Composer: Omar K, Lyricist: Nuur Iman

ARTIS LELAKI TERBAIK / BEST MALE ARTISTE

Faizal Tahir - Adrenalin

Glenn Fredly - Lovevolution

Hady Mirza – Sang Penyanyi

Hafiz - Masih Jelas

Judika - Setengah Mati Merindu

ARTIS WANITA TERBAIK / BEST FEMALE ARTISTE

Agnes Monica – Sacredly Agnezious

Ana Raffali - Ketika Aku Kecil

Astrid - Lihat Aku Sekarang

Rossa – Harmoni Jalinan Nada & Cerita

Sarah Aqilah - Sarah Aqilah

DUO/KUMPULAN TERBAIK / BEST DUO/GROUP

Andra & The Backbone – Love, Faith & Hope

D’Masiv – Perjalanan

Kotak - Energi

3 Suara – Jaclyn, Ning & Shila - 3 Suara

6ixth Sense – + – x /

Ungu - 1000 Kisah 1 Hati

ALBUM TERBAIK / BEST ALBUM

Cari Jodoh – Wali - Producer: Sujana

CTKD – Siti Nurhaliza & KrisDayanti – Producers: Aubrey Suwito, Audi Mok, Charly ST12, Siti Nurhaliza & KrisDayanti

Energi - Kotak – Producer: Pay BIP

Ketika Aku Kecil – Ana Raffali – Producer: Aidit Alfian

Sang Penyanyi - Hady Mirza – Producer: Hady Mirza

3 Suara – Jaclyn, Ning & Shila – Producers: Irwan Simanjuntak, Paul Morrison, Kevin Chin & Aylwin Santiago

LAGU TERBAIK SINGAPURA / BEST SONG (SINGAPORE)

Harum – Roze Kasmani – Composers: Imran Ajmain & Alyph SleeQ, Lyricist: Shah Shamsiri

Ku Tetap Kan Menunggu - Hady Mirza – Composer: Hady Mirza, Lyricist: Hady Mirza

Lagu Teman – The Lion Story Feat. Zahidah – Composer: Haramain Osman, Lyricist: Haramain Osman

Maafkan Ku (Oh Cinta) - Faizal Isa – Composer: Janz Abdullah, Lyricists: Aina Azizi & Khairul Anwar

Matahari - Sezaire Sezali - Composer: Haramain Osman, Lyricist: Haramain Osman

LAGU TERBAIK MALAYSIA / BEST SONG (MALAYSIA)

Awan Nano - Hafiz – Composer: M Nasir, Lyricist: Buddhi Hekayat

Hanyut – Faizal Tahir – Composers: Audi Mok & Faizal Tahir, Lyricists: Audi Mok & Faizal Tahir

Kalau Berpacaran - Ana Raffali, Sohaimi Meor Hassan & Altimet – Composer: Sohaimi Meor Hassan, Lyricists: Sohaimi Meor Hassan, Ana Raffali & Altimet

Kekanda Adinda - Atilia & MonoloQue – Composer: LoQue, Lyricist: LoQue

Noktah Cinta - Hafiz – Composer: Ajai, Lyricist: Sheikh Qalam

LAGU TERBAIK INDONESIA / BEST SONG (INDONESIA)

Cari Jodoh - Wali – Composer: Apoy, Lyricist: Apoy

Cintailah Aku Sepenuh Hati - Ari Lasso – Composers: Sandy Canester & Pay BIP, Lyricist: Ari Lasso

Karena Ku Cinta Kau - Bunga Citra Lestari – Composer: Dewiq, Lyricist: Dewiq

Pelan-Pelan Saja – Kotak - Composers: Pay BIP & Kotak, Lyricist: Dewiq

Rindu 1/2 Mati – D’Masiv – Composer: Rian d’Masiv, Lyricist: Rian d’Masiv

ARTIS SINGAPURA PALING POPULAR / MOST POPULAR SINGAPORE ARTISTE

SG1 Aliff Aziz

SG2 Didicazli

SG3 Diorama

SG4 Dynda

SG5 Faizal Isa

SG6 Farhan Shah

SG7 Fauzie Laily

SG8 Hady Mirza

SG9 Hyrul Anuar

SG10 Imran Ajmain

SG11 Rancour

SG12 Revalina

SG13 Roze Kasmani

SG14 Sarah Aqilah

SG15 Sezaire Sezali

SG16 SleeQ

SG17 Syed Azmir

SG18 Taufik Batisah

SG19 The Lion Story

SG20 The Sallys

LAGU SINGAPURA PALING POPULAR / MOST POPULAR SINGAPORE SONG

LP1 Angkasa: Hady Mirza

LP2 Biar Hati Mencintai: Sarah Aqilah

LP3 Dunia Yang Fana: Zaibaktian

LP4 Harum: Roze

LP5 Hingga Ke Akhir: Urban Sensation Feat. Rauzan

LP6 Janji: Tujuh

LP7 Kali Pertama: Chosen One

LP8 Kesuma Jiwa: Boy Raven Feat. Man Toyak

LP9 Maafkanku (Oh Cinta): Faizal Isa

LP10 Matahari: Sezaire Sezali

LP11 Menanti Cintamu: Revalina

LP12 Tiada Dua: Taufik Batisah

ARTIS SERANTAU PALING POPULAR /  MOST POPULAR REGIONAL ARTISTE

AS1 Afgan

AS2 Agnes Monica

AS3 Aliff Aziz

AS4 Faizal Tahir

AS5 Hady Mirza

AS6 Hujan

AS7 Rossa

AS8 Siti Nurhaliza

AS9 Taufik Batisah

AS10 Ungu

AS11 Wali

AS12 Yuna

LAGU SERANTAU PALING POPULAR / MOST POPULAR REGIONAL SONG

LS1 Aishiteru: Zivilia

LS2 Angkasa: Hady Mirza

LS3 Baik-Baik Sayang: Wali

LS4 Berteman Rindu: Didicazli & Giselle

LS5 Cerita Kedai Kopi: Malique Feat. Salam

LS6 Join Kopi: Blackout

LS7 Khatimah Cinta: 6ixth Sense

LS8 Ku Pinjam Satu Bintang: Alyah Feat. Riz AF

LS9 Masih Di Sini Masih Denganmu: Goliath

LS10 Menanti Cintamu: Revalina

LS11 Tiada Dua: Taufik Batisah

LS12 Tinggal Kenangan: Saleem

The local artistes who came to grace the media conference…

Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 Performing Acts

Indonesia – Melly Goeslaw, Sandhy Sandoro, Afgan, Rossa, Aryan Band

Malaysia – Atilia & Monoloque, Amanda Imani, Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, Dato’ M. Nasir, Shila Amzah, Ning Baizura, Jaclyn Victor, Ana Raffali, Hafiz, Faizal Tahir

Singapore – Hady Mirza, Sezaire Sezali, SleeQ, Taufik Batisah, Rahayu Ridwan, Sarah Aqilah, Bloco Singapura & Orkestar Trio

Award Presenters: Linda Onn

The list of performing acts and award presenters are by no means the end and more names will be confirmed later…

Details on how to get your tickets to Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011..


Anugerah 2011 Episode 8 (Semi-Final Round) Recap…

I did not realise how fast the weeks have gone by till I looked at the number of episodes this series has gone on. Take away the first two which was televised on the same night, and we would have had seven weeks of competition already. Last Tuesday night, the Top 6 semi-finalists continued their respective journeys in this competition to see who amongst them, would be clinching the three final slots come 28th June 2011. With some of the apparently more deserving ones already eliminated, it was up to the remaining six to prove that they were worthy of their spots in this round. This week, the contestants were required to sing whilst being accompanied by the strains from the piano played by Syawal Kassim, who is also the husband of local singer Norazela Rosli. Not only that, they had to sing as a duet pairing in the last quarter of the show and having to face the panel of media representatives in a separate recorded session last Friday as their designated challenge for the week.

I did point out the fact that they had more or less lent some credibility to their current standings in my last entry on last Saturday‘s Anugerah 2011 Roadshow at Nex Shopping Mall, but that was in a relaxed and non-competitive setting. As such all gloves came off and what I observed were performances which had the contestants smiling instead of looking tensed. This past Tuesday night, it was up to them to prove why they deserved to be on stage with all the pressures and expectations weighing down on their shoulders once again. One thing has to be said, they certainly looked more refined, more presentable, a bit more matured and outstanding in physical appearances after going through an image makeover over the past week, as shown from the video montage at the beginning of the show.

Solo Performances

Shikin – She was first off with Agnes Monica‘s “Teruskanlah“. I thought Shikin did not do much wrong other than the fact that she shut her eyes a bit too much for my liking and that she could have expressed more through her gestures and facial expressions. Her voice control was impeccable but it lacked feel. The gentleman seated to my left had his hairs standing listening to her, but I did not experience that for the fact that I did not feel her soul in it. Judge Eddy Ali was right, she could and should have done better as we all know she is capable of.

Ace – The wife had remarked earlier that Ace‘s voice is suited to sing a Jamal Abdillah song and she was proven right when he performed “Seroja“, which Jamal had covered in recent years and gave the song a fresh outlook. Ace also gave, what I felt was his best performance throughout the competition. He made the song his own by delivering it with his own style, even if one can detect his tendency to sound like a Tok Juara in a Dikir Barat performance. But alas, just like Shikin, he did not inject a bit more emotions to go along with his vocal execution. That would have been absolutely perfect.

Erlina – She was another one who sang an Agnes Monica song, “Matahariku“. I was not entirely impressed with her performance as she was pitchy almost throughout. The transition into the chorus was also not smooth as I could detect her going slightly off-key. This performance showed that Erlina‘s high notes are very much suspect as what I had feared all along, when she attempted songs of such nature and I had commented how I feared for her voice breaking in my previous entries. She took the easy route this time and did not hit the high notes towards the end of the song, opting instead to keep it low. Not good enough at this stage of the competition.

Baby Sulastri – I felt this week’s theme was chicken feed for a power balladeer like her. And I was proven right when she sailed through seamlessly, giving an excellent performance in delivery and control. Add a bit of emotions and what we got was another flawless performance to erase the memory of last week’s debacle, at least from my own personal perspective. Just that when Baby Sulastri sang Filianti Vlee‘s “Bila Cinta“, taken off the Lagenda Budak Setan official soundtrack, and when she knelt down, memories of Sarah Aqilah‘s dramatic performance singing Rossa‘s “Hati Yang Kau Sakiti” in the Grand Finals in 2009, flashed across my head. A bit of originality could have been better.

Epul – I can’t help but agree with host Huda Ali (from our conversation afterwards) that Epul looks more suave after he went for his makeover. How I wish I could say that his performance, singing Republik‘s “Hanya Ingin Kau Tahu” was equally suave but it was not. He looked as though he was in a daze, his voice tone was monotonous, and when he was about to break into chorus, he was caught out sounding flat. But to cut him some slack, the second half of his performance was much better and what I felt was an example of how to put one’s emotions into a song. I heard he shed a tear as well though I could not see it from where I sat.

Rahayu Ridwan – I feel that as the weeks go by, Rahayu seems to slowly gain in confidence and more focus in portraying her emotions. Singing Kris Dayanti‘s “Aku Wanita Biasa“, the song has its up and down moments which I felt Rahayu did not quite exploit to its fullest. Her low notes are still suspect and her voice during the chorus gave away her feeling of nervousness. But I have to say that her singing style, especially when she pronounces the letter “S“, reminds me of Indonesian singers. She can sing as was pointed out by judge Sheikh Haikel, but at this stage of the competition, a lot more is expected from each contestant and she should be pushing herself more to sing even more challenging songs. I personally felt the song was a bit too comfortable for her.

Duet Performances

Shikin & Ace: The song that they were supposed to sing, Iskandar Ismail & Eka Mairina‘s “Cinta Abadi“, required them to harmonise and strike the perfect balance when they hit the high notes. Definitely not an easy task given the original singers are vocal powerhouses. But I thought they did alright vocal-wise, not to the level of the original singers, but sufficient enough to do justice to the song. My only grouse was their lack of chemistry together, they should have brought out the essence of the song even more by singing closer to each other, look into the others’ eyes a bit longer etc. I am still wondering what the surprise was when they mentioned in the video montage prior to their performance as obviously I did not see any.

Erlina & Baby Sulastri: Continuing where she left off, Baby Sulastri was a picture of confidence and in this performance singing Kris Dayanti and Melly Goeslaw‘s “Cinta“, it definitely showed. Erlina on the other hand improved on her earlier performance which brings me to say, this girl is more at ease performing if another person is by her side or if she performs in a group. As the judges had pointed out, they had it easy without the need to harmonise till the very end. I still feel very much uncomfortable watching Baby Sulastri speak to the cameras as proven by the video montage before their performance. While her singing is flawless, there is a lot that she needs to work on in terms of her oratorical skills and the way she speaks cos it does come across as fake. One just needs to remember how she fared during the hosting segment a few weeks ago to get a good gauge. However, time is on her side for her to brush up on her shortcomings.

Epul & Rahayu Ridwan: Epul seemed more composed this time as compared to his earlier performance and this confidence rubbed on his duet partner Rahayu. A much better chemistry displayed between the two as compared to the first pairing of Ace and Shikin, though I still feel they stood quite far from one another at the start of Raffi Ahmad & Ayushita‘s “Jangan Bilang Tidak“. I understood where judge Sheikh Haikel was coming from when he said he was giving the higher marks to Epul as he allowed his partner be the standout voice during the chorus. Rahayu again showed her discomfort at the low notes and I wonder if this could set her back in the long run cos so far she has shown this consistency throughout the competition. A note of caution to Epul who said he has not heard of this song before during the video montage and to all contestants. Start tuning in to your local Malay radio stations to know what are the latest songs being aired. You are afterall aiming to achieve something in the industry. You need to do your homework and not come across as ignorant.

Media Challenge Comments

I will not discuss the media challenge at length as I was not there to witness the interview session between the contestants and the media panel which was made up of Mr. Hassan SallehSenior Programme Director for RIA 89.7FM, Ms. Hanim Mohd Saleh, Entertainment Correspondent for Berita Harian, Ms. Ruslina Affandi, Head Editor of Manja Magazine and Mr. Daud Yusof, Producer / Presenter & Broadcast Journalist with Mediacorp News. I will just recap what Mr. Hassan Salleh had said that night when he appeared in the last five to ten minutes of the show summarising what the judging panel had on each individual contestant.

Shikin – The judging panel unanimously agreed that she was the best during the interview session. Her answers were matured and they had a lot of substance. Her words were also well-crafted. Certainly her day job as a nurse, communicating with different types of people paid off, in terms of her interacting skills.

Ace – He was a picture of calmness, confident and also had substance in his replies. But he was cautioned for being a bit too direct and insensitive with his replies and to mind his answers in future, so as not to hurt himself and others.

Erlina – She admitted to being shy and showed that quality during the session. However, Mr. Hassan encouraged her to come out from her shell as she is afterall a singer who performs in front of a wide audience. As such, she needs to shed her inhibitions and open up a bit more.

Baby Sulastri – Her experience as a child talent in the past, more or less helped her to open up during the session. However she was told that she was too honest with some of the things she said and this could backfire on her in the long run. She needs to be more calculative and think of any possible repercussions or backlash that might befall on her through her honesty.

Epul – He came across as quite a relaxed person, too relaxed for the panel’s liking. He needs to be mindful not to fall into the trap of not being taken seriously by the media and ultimately the fans in his quest to achieve stardom or standing in the industry.

Rahayu Ridwan – The judging panel felt at ease talking to her, giving them a sense of tranquility, to the point that they likened her to Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza when she first came into the music scene, but the difference between Rahayu and Dato’ Siti was, the former is too long-winded in some of her replies and needs to cut down on that.

Personal Thoughts

Like the previous week, I do not have much to say except that to the watching audience at the TV Theatre, I hope you guys have some decency and decorum when attending the live recording of the show. No matter how much you disagree with some of the comments made by the judges, you do not have to voice your displeasure in the middle of their comments. It’s plain and downright rude. Yes, I am referring to some of Ace‘s supporters who cut off Ann Hussein twice when she commented on his solo performance. It’s a pity that for such a good and I must say, a humble contestant, his supporters left much to be desired. The same can also be said with Erlina‘s group of supporters who have been quite boisterous on an almost weekly basis. Please do not jeopardise your respective favourites’ reputation by your unruly, uncouth and uncivilised behaviour. It does not reflect well on your personality, what more your upbringing.

And so the voting public have until 6pm on 14 June 2011 to vote for their favourite contestants. For the sake of the competition, I really do hope the three deserving ones get to grace the Grand Finals on 28th June 2011. Again I have to say I have no particular favourites though some might speculate I like so-and-so, but I do hope the ones who performed well or have been doing so on a regular basis, would progress as we do not want our local industry to be a laughing stock when we compare it with our regional counterparts. This programme has produced Anugerah Planet Muzik nominees as well as an AnugeraHitz.SG winner in Sarah Aqilah. The level of quality produced should be maintained and the contestants who would go on to create a career out of this path must also sustain that level and improve as they go along. For more information on how to vote, do drop by Anugerah’s Official Facebook page.


Anugerah 2011 Roadshow Revisited…

Last Saturday 4 June 2011Anugerah 2011 ventured out from its usual surroundings and gave the semi-finalists the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the public in an outdoor setting. As the event venue (Nex Shopping Mall) is situated about ten minutes away from home via MRT, it was also a chance for my family to watch it live, as normally I would be the only one attending the weekly episodes at the Mediacorp TV Theatre. The show was hosted by the show’s resident host Fauzie Laily and roving host Nity Baizura, who took over the duties of Huda Ali, who is away in Kuala Lumpur due to her work commitments.

The event was further graced by the guest performances of rap duo Komrad (J-Boy & Fariq), Anugerah 2007 1st runner-up Maiya Rahman and Singapore Idol Season 3 alumnus Faizal Isa. Each guest performance was special in their own right. Komrad introduced their new single “Aku Masih Cinta“, Maiya wowed the watching crowd with her rendition of Beyonce Knowles‘ “Listen” and Faizal mesmerised with his take on Bruno Mars‘ “Just The Way You Are“, but with a slight twist. He injected Malay lyrics into the song and named it “Puncak Angkasa“. 

I must say, the song did not sound out of place at all. I imagine it could rise up the local charts if he dares to record it and send it to our local radio stations for airplay. I mean, if you can have the Chinese music market with a host of cover songs from English artistes, it wouldn’t hurt to have them in Malay, provided they do not kill the essence of the songs. We used to have quite a few of them, massive evergreen hits back in the 70s, in case the critics out there are quick to denounce my suggestion.

The event was in every word, a good way to expose the six semi-finalists to the public and also for them to gain the experience of performing outdoors. It was an opportunity for them to live the dream, mingling with their fans and signing autographs as well. They basically sang songs which they had performed during the qualifying rounds as well as the recent quarter-finals. I was interested to see how they would perform in a non-competition atmosphere and I must say if last Saturday was a good gauge of their respective potentials, then every episode should be approached in a non-competitive mindset.

All of them performed much, much better than what you have been watching on television weekly. I was also surprised that they seemed to have all the fears in the world come Tuesdays, yet they shed their inhibitions away on an outdoor event like last Saturday. I hope from this experience, they will go on to enjoy their subsequent performances and not think too much about the competition. As the judges have drummed this into them, they should start thinking as singers and not competitors. I’ll let the photos I took do the talking henceforth…

Anugerah 2011 Roadshow At A Glance

 

Fauzie was every bit a joker, teasing his fellow host, audience, guest performers and the contestants…

Nity did an excellent job covering for Huda

Three lovely ladies – Norhayati Samad, Raudaa Razak & Wati Kasim manning the merchandise booth…

The day’s roving host, Anugerah Skrin 2010 runner-up, Diana Amran

Salut to the guys from KomradFariq & J-Boy

Nity looked on as both Anugerah alumni members Fauzie & Maiya took turns taking the mickey out of the other…

Maiya reminded the audience what a vocal powerhouse she still is…

Faizal Isa looking buffed from his National Service commitments…

Belting out his first hit single “Maafkan Ku Oh Cinta“…

Followed by a cover of Bruno Mars‘ hit “Just The Way You Are“, a mix of English & Malay which was titled “Puncak Angkasa“…

Shikin kicked off the semi-finalists’ segment with Adibah Noor‘s “Terlalu Istimewa“…

Bunkface‘s “Revolusi” was Ace‘s choice of song…

Erlina sang the song which she performed in the quarter-finals, Nurun Nuwarrah‘s “Kau Ingin Ku Miliki“…

Baby Sulastri brought the house down with Ayu‘s “Hanya Di Mercu“…

Epul‘s choice of song was Aizat‘s “Lagu Kita“…

Rahayu Ridwan reprised the song she sang in the quarter-final, Roze Kasmani‘s “Harum“…

One of the lasting images of the day’s event, the semi-finalists mimicking Ace‘s trademark gesture, when he sang Shahir‘s “Kebahagiaan Dalam Perpisahan“…

Another lasting image was of Erlina adding a bit of nifty footwork when she performed Agnes Monica‘s “Tak Ada Logika“…

Getting acquainted with life of being a pop star…

Wifey got to take a shot with Shalyza Rosly who was there with some of the contestants who were eliminated earlier…

My daughters wanted to take a photograph with Shikin

And Baby Sulastri, who is Syahindah‘s favourite contestant


Anugerah 2011 Roadshow Promo…


Anugerah 2011 Episode 7 (Results Show & Wildcard Round) Recap…

Last night, Anugerah 2011‘s seventh episode which was also its Wildcard Round, threw up several surprises for the watching audience and to those who have been religiously following its weekly journey. The first four of six semi-finalists were announced in the first quarter of the show, followed by the selection of six who were given a reprieve to redeem themselves and grab the last two remaining slots from the remainder of eight eliminated contestants from the Top 12. The show was given a massive injection of wisdom by the presence of renowned award-winning Malaysian composer, Ajai, who took his place as part of the judging panel. Surely his presence just raised the stakes a little higher and pressure on the Wildcard contestants to perform beyond their comfort zones. Last night was also the only round that the judging was solely based on the esteemed selection of the judging panel.

 

Announcement of Semi-Finalists & Wildcard Round Contestants

The night began with the announcement of the first four who made it to the semi-final rounds. From the combined percentages of the judging panel and the voting public, Epul, Ace, Shikin and Erlina were given the night off. Looking at the way they have been performing over the past few weeks, I think the most deserving of the lot would have to be Shikin. Not to belittle the achievements of the other three who also made it, but they definitely have to show in the weeks to come, a certain level of consistency to justify their places in the semi-final next week, as previous weeks have shown they are gullible of giving good performances one week and not-so-good ones in another week. For the likes of Norul, Baby Sulastri, Syazani and Firdaus Haridan, my own personal picks who should have gone through,  not to have progressed, it served as a damning reminder that for all the good and sometimes flawless performances that they could have produced before this, the public’s votes have a way of swinging against them.

The six who were given a reprieve…

But it was not all doom and gloom as along with Rahayu Ridwan and Shalyza, Norul, Baby Sulastri, Syazani and Firdaus Haridan were selected by the judging panel to be the Wildcard contestants. Now this came as a bit of a surprise to me and perhaps the watching audience, as most of us thought that three male and three female contestants would have been chosen from the possible eight who were initially eliminated. As it is, the selection of more female contestants over their male counterparts was a true reflection of the standard of competition this year, whereby you could see the gulf in class between both sets of genders. My only gripe was, the selection of certain contestants for the Wildcard Round clearly showed who were the personal favourites of the resident judges. We’ve all seen how they have reserved the niceties towards these contestants over the past few weeks and personally selecting them only proved what regular viewers have felt all along. Though I do not disagree with their choices and approved wholeheartedly, they could have made it less blatant so as to avoid unnecessary claims of biasness.

Wildcard Round

Norul – Singing Dayang Nurfaizah‘s “Hilang“, I felt that it was a bit of a step down since Norul gave an energetic performance the last time out. Though it was not spectacular as I had expected of her, Norul still maintained her level of consistency by keeping things under control. Guest judge Ajai praised her for her perfect pitching at the very first note, her understanding of the song and the emotions projected. I tended to observe slightly differently as though something was bothering her, judging by her somewhat disturbed facial expressions. Nonetheless, she still did well as we all have grown accustomed to week in and out.

SyazaniST12‘s “Jangan Pernah Berubah” was his choice of song. Ann Hussein called it his best performance, but I tend to disagree. I felt his previous one which he sang Merah‘s “Cintaku” was much better. He sounded a bit monotonous at the start and when he had to hit the high notes, I felt that he was left wanting. At this point of time, it was evident that the contestants were under a lot of pressure to perform and it seemed to have a heavy burden on their shoulders. I thought I was alone in my observations but Ajai echoed my personal sentiments, advising Syazani that his low and high notes should go hand in hand.

Baby Sulastri – This was the first time that I observed Baby Sulastri cracked under the pressure of expectations when she had been so consistent and flawless throughout the competition. Though she had been advised to steer clear from her comfort zone of ballads, she stuck to her strengths and sang Sharifah Zarina‘s “Langit Ketujuh“. The pressure on her showed when she started the song slightly later and had to chase after the tempo of the song. Her nervousness was also evident judging by how we could hear her taking deep breaths in between the song. If one had noticed, when she broke into the chorus, her voice actually cracked but she managed to compose herself well without missing a beat. And for the first time in the competition, I felt Baby Sulastri was human afterall, and that she is also susceptible to the odd mistake. Not her best performance and perhaps I think she knew it too.

Firdaus Haridan – Amongst the male contestants, his voice has been a standout as it has the most soul and sincere in his delivery and execution. So I had expected him to continue where he left off and wow the judges further with another R&B or ballad number. Instead, he went out of his comfort zone and sang a song with an upbeat tempo, Imran Ajmain‘s “Sudah Tu Sudah“. Though his bravery was applaudable, it was a disaster as a whole, totally killing his own chances of progressing into the semi-finals. He tried to follow Imran‘s style of singing the song and was very pitchy right from the start, even before he broke into the song proper. At times he could be heard being breathless as he chased the tempo of the song. By now, it was safe to remove Firdaus out of the equation for the semi-finals.

Syaliza – I was not pleased  when Syaliza was eliminated a few weeks ago, as I felt she was a dark horse to contend with and could be in the running when the semi-final round beckoned. As it is, she was eliminated early and had to prove herself once again. She did not disappoint and was easily the best performer of the night. Her tone, voice control and pitch were perfect and flawless when she sang Mila‘s “Persis Mutiara“, a song composed by our guest judge, who was seen waving his hands like a music conductor when she was singing on stage. Her only downside was she looked extremely tensed, probably weighed down by pressure to give off her best. At this stage, I felt that if Shalyza, who was last night’s best performer still could not make it into the semi-final rounds, then I fear for the standards and quality left in this year’s competition. I have to admit I almost gave her a standing ovation but stopped myself and instead applauded as loudly as I could.

Rahayu Ridwan – For some reason, Rahayu did not seem focused and looked as though she was in a daze throughout the night. However, when it came down to her performance, I saw a different Rahayu from weeks past. Gone was the contestant who was trying too hard to impress. Gone also was the sex appeal. Instead, what I observed was someone who thought that perhaps she could not make it to the next round, but chose to give off her best so that she could probably bow out in a blaze of glory. If that approach had been the case, then her reverse psychology paid off big time. Rahayu picked a song that most people on these shores had not heard of, Adira‘s “Ku Ada Kamu“, but that did not deter her from giving off her best performance to date, though it has to be said certain notes towards the end were still left wanting. Sheikh Haikel was extremely pleased that both his selections (Rahayu and Shalyza) were rightfully justified.

Wildcard Round Results

Throughout the competition, I have been asked who are my personal favourites. The fact is, in every Anugerah competition I have no favourites whatsoever and I tend to be neutral and it is reflected in my weekly entries. Whoever performed well for that particular night to me deserved to progress further. Likewise for last night, I had my own personal take on who deserved to go through based on their respective performances. I had Norul and Shalyza as the deserving ones to progress. I had also hoped that the judges would spring another surprise and add on another slot in the semi-finals for a third deserving contestant and had that been the case, then by virtue of her performance alone, Rahayu was my choice. But it was not to be and they still stuck with the choices of having just two to progress.

In the end, it was Baby Sulastri and Rahayu Ridwan who were the picks of the judges. I’m sure it was not an easy choice to make for the judges but it sort of left a slightly puzzling thought at the quality of the semi-finalists as a whole, with very few standouts and none at this stage actually looking like future stars. I wondered if there had been any conspiracy theories or reasons as to why the better performing ones did not make it, like perhaps looks and marketability factors for instance. Speaking to credible sources from the back, why most of the good ones are eliminated was because even though they scored well with the judges, their downfall proved to be their lack of votes from the voting public. But I wished the judges could have explained why they chose who they had chosen to progress so as to allay the questions being asked.

The semi-finalists…

Shocking… That’s one word that I could use to describe what happened at Anugerah 2011 last night. Not only was it a shock but I was left feeling stumped by the choices of the voting public as well as the judges. I certainly did not expect the consistently good ones to be looked over in favour of the lesser deserving ones. But then again this is the name of the game in a reality competition and we’ll have to live with the choices of the people who voted. Judging by the way they voted, I guess Singaporean viewers are still a long way away from being responsible enough to contribute to the progress of our local music industry. They would rather choose the people they are closely associated with than looking at things in the bigger picture, even if the people they voted for did not produce the goods as well as they should have.

Based on my observations throughout the past seven episodes and seeing them up close, I have a small problem with the contestants not smiling when they’re standing in a group or when the cameras are not focused at them. Most of the photographs I took, showed them either frowning or in a forlorn state, no matter if they had just survived the ordeal of having to hear their names being announced as progressors or when they are listening to the comments made by the judging panel. This reduces their likeability factor. I hope they will make the effort to smile a bit more, cos when they do not, some of their facial expressions do come across as arrogant. And they would not want this factor to prevent them from getting more votes by the audience or turn any possible voters off.

To the six semi-finalists, my personal hope is that they would maintain their level of consistency for those who have been doing well, and for those who have not, to justify their rightful places. In the 2009 edition of the competition, at this stage, it was extremely difficult to gauge who deserved to grace the four final spots, such was the high level of competitiveness amongst the contestants. Out of those who have made it this far this time round, I can more or less see two who deserved their places and the rest making up the numbers. No disrespect and certainly no offence towards those who have progressed, as they have displayed a good level of performance thus far, but more is expected from them. The challenge now is to see them better their current standards, to continue smoothening the rough edges and eradicate whatever flaws they have. Yes, I do have fears for the standard and quality of the competition based on what I have observed the past few weeks, but I also maintain some belief that through time, these young upstarts could yet improve and show why they could be the future of our local music industry.


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