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Elit Suria Wildcard Episode

The stage setting pre-show…

This entry nearly did not see the light of day as I have been very occupied the whole week and was away for a short staycation with the family over the past weekend. Why I managed to do this entry at the last moment is because some things that we planned prior did not materialise, so I finally got to squeeze some time to reminisce what transpired during the recent episode of Elit Suria this past Monday 6 August 2018. This was the first episode I finally made my way down to MediaCorp Campus to watch the show live from the studio. Before the show, I was not sure how the contestants would react upon finally meeting me in person after reading my previous two entries, but thankfully all of them were so cordial, warm and friendly, thanking me for pointing out their flaws and where to improve as they do not have the benefit of others telling them how to, or probably were too shy to ask around. I was a bit embarrassed when one by one came up to say “Hi” and “Thank You” to yours truly, that I felt like a mini celebrity that night. I seldom get that from previous reality show competitions because I know some of the past contestants quietly resent and bore grudges against me for my objective assessments, or probably the times they were cordial to me was because I take nice photos of them. Usually once the competition is done, a minority of them will stop following me on social media, which makes me feel used somewhat. Oh well…

The audience which included the eight confirmed semi-finalists, seated at the front row…

The recent Wildcard Round featured all the eight eliminated contestants so far, giving them that last chance saloon to show that they deserved a second chance to still remain in the competition. How lucky it is to be in Group A then, as they had a fortnight off before worrying about the semi-finals tonight. I am sure Haziq Halim, Hans Hamid, Fatin Taha and Hana Rosli will disagree with me, because I know the prolonged days leading up to tonight, only adds on to the tension they are facing at the moment. Last Monday, the show was graced by Akademi Fantasia alumnus, Nurul Rahila Rashun, who performed as the guest artiste and the Wildcard episode’s theme of the week was Culture. Actually it should have been called International Culture since the challenges and questions posed during the episode had something to do with cultures around the world. This was another episode which for me, was an educational eye-opener, because I personally find this particular theme interesting, given my penchant to know useful trivias and stuff, a chance to empower my general knowledge. Prior to the show, the ones I had ear-marked to enter the semi-finals were Fadzli Jani for the guys and between Erna Ellieyana and Nur Mehga for the ladies.

Rahila Rashun performed the haunting hit “Asmaradana“, taken from the box-office hit movie, “Puteri Gunung Ledang“…

I’ve had my fair share of complaints about the Style Round, where the contestants are judged based on their style and confidence onstage. However, I personally like the opening performance between the contestants and Rahila for this particular episode, with all their poses and outfits depicting the different cultures they were portraying. What came as a surprise was the contestants learning to dance and though they are not prolific dancers, they managed to learn their respective choreographies within a short space of time. Not an easy feat when you’re not dancers nor have that hidden talent to begin with. To their credit, the contestants looked like they were enjoying themselves immensely and the ones who enjoyed themselves the most onstage happened to win this segment, Fadzli Jani and Atiqah Hassan coming in at second, though I have to say Fadzli somehow was a bit overexcited during his performance, making the overall balance of energy between the four pairings on stage a bit disjointed. Fadzli and Atiqah also happened to be paired together, as they danced to the style of typical traditional Indian dancers. For the other contestants, they looked more confident and poised than the previous episodes they were in, where I previously pointed out that their lack of confidence from this round alone spelt the end of their journey. But if you ask me who should have won, I would have personally chose Hisyam Salimnor as I found his moves more graceful.

The esteemed judges – Khairudin Saharom, Nuraliza Osman and Najip Ali

Next comes the Personality segment where the contestants are judged on their hosting capabilities. I find Hisyam‘s hosting a bit too cautious since the very first episode he was in, and I repeated it to him when we met post-show. He tends to mouth his words and break them up according to syllables when he does not need to most times. I guess he just wants to make sure that he pronounces them correctly. When I look at him, I cannot help but be reminded of Danish Ashraf, 2016‘s Anugerah Skrin runner-up. The way they speak, their mannerisms, their styles all look similar. For awhile, I thought they were related, but they are not when I asked Hisyam during our short conversation, but they do know each other personally. I actually like Nur Mehga‘s hosting. The only complaint I had about her previously was, she does not smile much when she knows the cameras are not panning at her. When she does smile, I can feel the whole room light up. So it was nice to see more of Mehga‘s smile during this episode and how confident she was. Which was a big disappointment when eventually she came in 5th for this round, even after judge Khairudin Saharom had praised her for being the best of the four for their hosting segment, which also included the other pair, Noh Irwan Amran and Ainur Rosyieqa. I had expected Mehga to have gotten Top 4 at least.

Hosts Fauzie Laily and Nurul Aini

Noh Irwan‘s shortcomings from the time I watched him previously, were his distinct lack of confidence and unsure of himself. If you were to watch his hosting clip again via Toggle‘s Catch-Up TV, you will understand what I mean if you notice his expressions rolling back his eyes as if to remember his lines. He needs to understand the question that he is posing to his interviewee and make it sound across as natural as possible, not as though he is reading directly from a script. The same assessments could also be levelled on Ainur Rosyieqa, though she looked more poised between the two. For their segment, I think the biggest letdown for both of them was their inability to para-phrase their question when their guest did not answer one of their initial questions properly. A good host should be able to listen and grasp quickly, in turn rephrasing their questions for their interviewee to understand, so that they are able to answer satisfactorily. This is what the judges are also looking out for and what Najip Ali meant by the term “Thinking Hosts“. It did not help that their guest personality’s facial expressions and body language showed as though he did not want to be there and struggling to find the words to answer them. For a good interview to work, both hosts and guest personalities should be equally forthcoming. The ending of their interview also felt as though the audience were left on a cliffhanger and this was felt by the audience when the cameras panned at them right after and they had quizzical looks on their faces.

Najip commenting on the performances of the second quartet – Fadzli Jani, Erna Ellieyana, Atiqah Hassan and Farid Azhar

As mentioned in the last paragraph, you need a good interviewee to make your interview look and sound more interesting for the audience, which the second group got in the form of personality Marina Yusoff, whom as I type this entry, is away on her Hajj pilgrimage. This segment saw the other contestants, Fadzli Jani, Erna Ellieyana, Atiqah Hassan and Farid Azhar, performing better as a whole over the previous four. I think for Fadzli Jani, the observations I have, as well as discussing with some others about his performance as a whole, is that he tends to overdo things unintentionally, which when done as a duo, steals away the limelight from his partner. If we are to host as a duo, it should be about complementing one another, or his partner could have also returned the favour in kind and matched his energy. Ellie‘s jovial personality is what makes her a standout and I feel that she is quite the fast learner, a sponge if I might add. Amongst the ladies in the Wildcard Round, I think she probably had the highest level of confidence, fresh from her elimination the previous week and hungry to do better. Not surprising that I had her and Mehga in mind as the probable ones to progress to the semi-finals prior to the show, with either one performing well than the other who would be more deserving. However, I still cannot imagine Ellie hosting a programme which is serious in nature just yet. Put her in a children’s show or a light-hearted info-ed programme, you will see her personality shining through. Even though I did say having both host and interviewee being forthcoming makes a good interview, the role of a host or moderator is even more important to get their guests to come out from their shells with how and what to ask. This can only be honed through time and experience, which unfortunately they do not have and have to rely on natural talent for now.

 

Rahila performed her second number of the night, the evergreen “Penawar Rindu“…

There is something about the way Atiqah mouths her lines which is a source of concern for me, and it’s not about the braces which I said previously that could be one of the factors hampering her. How she reads and pronounces her words has to sound as natural as possible. If the sentence ends with an exclamation mark, her tone should also sound equally excited. If the sentence ends with a question, her tone should also sound as though she is questioning and not putting a full stop to it. It is so much different when I talk to her in person because she sounds so relaxed and natural. Could jittery factors be reasons for her not to do well? Or is it a lack of fluency and confidence in the language? If it’s the latter, then it should be a learning point for all future would-be contestants to brush up on their fluency in speaking their mother tongue language. They should listen to the Malay radio stations more or watch the prime-time news bulletin on television to grasp how words and sentences are being pronounced. It has to be pointed out that for all my criticisms of Atiqah‘s performance, this was her best to date and I can say she has improved from the first time I watched her in the first episode. Farid to me, did just enough without being too extravagant or over in his mannerisms, as compared to Fadzli. However I still have misgivings about his energy level because he can look a bit uptight when it is not his turn to speak and when he opens his mouth to speak, he tries to maintain his cool persona. I think this is one source of frustration I have about Farid, since his time at 2016‘s Anugerah Skrin. He has to come out from his shell and let go at times because he looks like he is holding back most times.

The Top 3 who advanced to the second round of the Bestari segment – Ellie, Farid and Hisyam

The Bestari segment had me shaking my head right from the start, because for the first question alone, all of them got it wrong. Though the judges admitted that the segment was a tough one given the challenging questions, I think had the contestants listened more intently, they would have probably gotten their answers correct. Actually it was a no-brainer who would advance to the semi-finals once the dust had settled and we saw Erna Ellieyana, Farid Azhar and Hisyam Salimnor advancing to the second round, since Farid came out tops in the earlier segment and Ellie coming in second. Like I said in my previous entry, we usually can gauge who will advance to the following week if they perform well in the hosting and quiz segments, because at the end of the day, they are looking out for an all-rounded host, the ability to speak, think and do their respective homework. In this segment, Farid‘s hunger and eagerness to ace it came to light. For the second time in this competition, a lack of listening to the questions being read properly proved to be Hisyam‘s downfall. In his eagerness to keep up with his competition, he not only answered incorrectly but had a lot of people shaking their heads or slapping their foreheads. When I spoke to him post-show about the gaffe, he admitted that it was a grave mistake borne out of excitement and pressure to stay within touching distance of his fellow competitors.

Farid and Ellie atoned for their previous week’s elimination by redeeming themselves and advancing through to the semi-finals…

I’m not sure if it was due to a lack of time or if the show was over-run, but the X-Factor segment felt a bit hurriedly done once Farid was announced as the winner of the Bestari round, which left no room for pauses or breather for the contestants. I had at least expected them to usher in a short commercial break, but the contestants were immediately asked to up-sell themselves one final time before the judges made their final decisions. Given that Farid had topped both the Hosting and Bestari rounds, he could have eased off and just gone through the motions. To his credit, he did not relax and was a picture of calm and serenity when he spoke, which all the more confirmed his advancement into the semi-finals. Noh Irwan again looked unsure of himself, but he had a reason for it which he told me post-show. His initial lines were asked to be changed last minute, which resulted in him scrambling to pen and memorise a newer version. Though he did not delve on why his lines had to be changed, I felt that the producers could have just let him revised or tweaked them a bit and not change it entirely, resulting in him tripping on his words. Body language, eye movements and tone of voice also play important roles in this segment. The audience can easily detect who is not confident and unsure of themselves just by the way they look, they way they walk and the way they speak. For a majority of them, their lack of confidence for this segment proved to serve as confirmation of their elimination from the competition.

The Wildcard contestants sandwiching judge Nuraliza Osman post-show…

By the end of the show, it was merely a formality that Farid and Ellie‘s names were announced as the two whose journeys in the competition are still alive and well, with the other six bowing out with their heads at least held high knowing they have given off their very best. Tonight, we will get to see who amongst the ten will advance to the Grand Finals in a fortnight, with only six spots up for grabs. Even though we are at the stage of competition where it gets even tougher and harder, I would like to implore all of the contestants, even those who are already eliminated, to shed their inhibitions, grow thicker skins and just ask whoever, be it the judges, the hosts or any of the producers where they can improve, which flaws need to be lessened or what else can be done to make themselves better hosts. I am sure these people are approachable and able to share more from their vast experiences. All they need to do is ask, because no one is going to spoon-feed them, such is the harsh nature of the industry. For the eliminated ones, I can only hope they use the experience to improve on their shortcomings and come back for future competitions well-equipped to do better. They should look no further than host Fauzie Laily, who has worked hard to be where he is now, given that he was eliminated early in Anugerah 2003 but was one of the Top 3 for the ensuing competition in 2005. There are grooming and enrichment classes pertaining to the media industry organised by local personalities like Hafeez Glamour and Rilla Melati from time to time. These young upstarts should consider enrolling themselves in these classes to learn, equip and empower themselves so that they can be more confident and sure. Most importantly, their fluency in their mother tongue is paramount if they want to succeed…

Snapshots of Elit Suria Wildcard Round

Elit Suria Episodes 3 & 4 Recap…

(All images in this entry courtesy of MediaCorp Suria‘s official Facebook page and Instagram account)

Back with another review of Elit Suria, this time combining my thoughts from watching the recent two episodes involving Groups A & B once again. Like the first fortnight, the third and fourth episodes saw two more contestants being eliminated each week, making it a grand total of eight contestants seeing their journey halted from progressing into the semi-final rounds. Episodes 3 and 4 also saw a slight twist to the hosting segment, whereby the contestants interviewed special guests and discussing on the particular week’s themes as a duo, and not individually like the first and second episodes. This was a challenge to see how well they worked together and if they were able to capture the essence of hosting as a team. Group A‘s theme of the week was Films, whereas Group B‘s was Travel, two themes which are closely-related to the media industry and ones that attract eyeballs to info-ed shows pertaining to them. If the first two episodes were graced by female performers, the recent two bucked the trend and gave the males centrestage. The third episode saw Rudy Djoharnaen, winner of Anugerah 1999, and the recent fourth episode had Singapore Idol alumnus and Anugerah Planet Muzik 2018 award nominee, Farhan Shah, as the guest performers. I’ll dive straight into my observations on both episodes henceforth.

If I’m not mistaken, Nurul Aini was very ill during this particular episode, but the masses didn’t know the high level of professionalism she displayed to soldier on through the night… Massive respect!!!

It is difficult as a home viewer to assess the contestants in the first Style segment, as the cameras take turn to pan between the week’s guest performer and them. However, from the short time I was able to view, it was easy to see who deserved to top their respective time onstage. Those short 3-4 minutes onstage accompanying the guest performer, needed to be used to its maximum. The caveat, according to the judges however, is not to overdramatise their movements and prancing onstage, even if they had to fully utilise their moment. Judge Najip Ali mentioned in the third episode, what they are looking out for is not a ready-made star, but someone with a huge potential to make it in the industry and eventually become a household name through their natural aura, charisma and aptitude. I still don’t get much vibes from this particular segment, especially when I watched the fourth episode. Other than Asyraf Iskandar and Erna Ellieyana, I dunno how the others, most notably Farid Azhar, connected their style and character portrayals to the week’s theme – Travel. They could have at least substituted that sporty look with an immigration officer’s or a pilot’s or a steward’s or even a cargo handler’s outfit. No surprises that he came off last in that round. Which begs the question, who was responsible for their outfits and character portrayals onstage??? Was it themselves or the producers???

Rudy Djoharnaen performed Dato’ M. Nasir‘s “Bikin Filem“, accompanied by the contestants. Here we see Haziq Halim and Hana Rosli

Onto the hosting segment. If in the last entry I lavished praise on the ones who did well, for this entry, I will focus more on the ones who did not do particularly well in my eyes, most notably Atiqah Hassan and Fadzli Jani for Group A, as well as Faiz Zainal, Erna Ellieyana and Farid Azhar for Group B. I actually sympathised with Atiqah as it is not easy to speak fluently and most importantly, clearly, when one is wearing braces. I think her overall performance was hampered by it and I am not sure what other problems she was facing during the recording of her hosting segment with Fadzli, because her facial expressions and body language showed that something was bothering her. The way she presented was also akin to watching a children’s programme host speaking in a monotonous tone. Fadzli, whose energy and outgoing style caught my eyes the last time out, seemed lost when paired with Atiqah. There was hardly any chemistry between them, making their performance completely flat. I finally bumped into Atiqah for the first time over this past weekend at the Twilight: Uniquely Local flea market expo at Suntec City Convention Centre and managed to ask her what happened during the recording of her hosting segment. Indeed she said that she was bogged down by the braces and having to mouth her words carefully. This is why I prefer to watch the shows live, as I get to talk to the contestants post-show to understand some of their difficulties that may affect their performance, so that I can give a more compassionate and understanding assessment afterwards, rather than watch and whack like some others from the comfort of home.

Judge Najip Ali dispensing his words of wisdom to the contestants…

Faiz Zainal seemed nervous next to Amyrah Mustafa, and somehow his slightly higher-pitched voice made his hosting style looked out of sync when complemented with his more composed partner. There was a reason judge Khairudin Saharom specifically asked them much later on if they felt comfortable hosting with one another. Though they tried to be cordial and complimentary towards one another, somehow their respective answers and hesitancy in trying to find the right words were not convincing enough. Amyrah, whom I personally thought didn’t do much wrong, was told that her energy did not complement that of her co-host and guest personality. Faiz on the other hand, was taken to task for not grasping the essence of his questions and merely stating his lines as it is. Erna Ellieyana, or Ellie as she likes to be called, was reminded by judge Nuraliza Osman to lessen her child-like traits and style a fortnight ago. Though she tried to escape from that, her voice and most importantly, the way she pronounced her sentences resembled that of a schoolkid reading from a book out loud to their class. Farid, on the other hand, was quite static and did not show much emotions, making his performance a bit wooden. I was actually surprised that judge Nuraliza actually complimented Ellie on showing significant improvement from the last time out, but I felt that if there were any, it was only minimal. The only thing I liked about her performance was her trying to liven up their segment with her bubbly personality.

 

Haziq Halim and Hana Rosli were the top performers for Episode 3…

I need to highlight one thing which I found most pleasing over the past fortnight, and that was how much Farahnurmadina probably took my criticisms in the last entry in her stride (or from others in her private circle), and gave a more polished and confident performance when she was paired with Asyraf Iskandar as they interviewed their guest, actress-writer-director-producer, Seriwahyuni Jaes. Though I did not mention names in that last entry, I was specifically referring to her when I brought up the topic of not speaking with an English twang. I was super turned-off when I watched her introductory clip then and thought to myself then, “Girl, why do you need to do that???” It did not look nor sounded good as it came across as made up. Fortunately for the latest episode, she kept that to a minimum, making it barely audible, and gave a very good performance next to Asyraf. It was refreshing to watch them, which had me smiling and nodding away in front of the television screen. It probably helped that they had someone like Seriwahyuni to dispense tips and such prior to the cameras rolling, especially with someone who has bags of experience in front of the cameras and an endearing personality like her, their synergy and energies were just bouncing off one another, making it probably the best of the six interviews between the two groups. So well done to Farah and Asyraf!!!

This was Group B answering questions in the first round of the Bestari segment…

For my favourite Bestari round, I noticed the eagerness, determination and effort in most of the contestants to do well and win that weekly $300 cash prize, judging by how fast they raised their hands to answer. The two who eventually won during their respective week’s episode, Haziq Halim and Amyrah Mustafa, showed how hungry they were to excel in this round, most notably the latter, whom I felt had something to prove after her earlier hosting segment was not given glowing assessments by the judges. I was amazed by their level of knowledge, especially Amyrah, who answered six out of seven questions correctly in the second round of her episode. I was stumped by some of the questions posed during that particular episode where the questions had something to do with travelling and places in the world and could only get about half of them correct. The way Amyrah answered them correctly showed that she is perhaps someone who is well-travelled or probably had done her homework beforehand. It has to be said, that nothing is more attractive than a lady with brains (at least from my personal point of view), and this was the second time in the competition that she has aced this segment. I would like to see the other contestants in the upcoming weeks upping their game and showing the same hunger as their two main rivals.

Farhan Shah performed his hit single, “Istimewa“, along with the contestants…

The last round, which is the X-Factor round, is probably another segment that I still am trying to get used to. This make-or-break round either brings out the best in the contestant or leaves them on the brink of elimination. For some, it either makes them come across as cocky or gives away their feeling of nervousness. However, as I had mentioned in the last entry, this round more or less confirmed who would leave the competition or who would progress. For the third episode, Atiqah Hassan was let down by the way she spoke. When she posed a question at the end, the tone of her voice was not that of someone questioning her audience, but ending her sentence with a full stop. For the fourth episode, I think it was easy to pinpoint who probably had the lowest marks by virtue of the contestant who tripped on his words, Faiz Zainal. He was a bag of nerves and his forced smile tried to hide how nervous he was. Anyway, in this segment Farah reverted back to my earlier grouse about her speaking with an accent, even though it was only momentarily. I am not sure if she has trouble pronouncing the letter “R” or certain words, because I know some people speak with a bit of an accent to hide the fact that they cannot pronounce words containing the letter “R” correctly. However I am sure she will minimise that in the semi-final rounds onwards as she has at least two weeks to work on it.

Judge Nuraliza Osman sharing her thoughts while Najip Ali listened intently…

Other than the eliminations of Atiqah Hassan and Erna Ellieyana whom I felt were more than justified, I found the results slightly unkind towards Fadzli Jani and Farid Azhar, who were also eliminated in their respective episodes. But Group A‘s male contestants were technically strong to begin with and I think Fadzli was let down by his hosting segment. I had expected Faiz to be eliminated as I did not see him doing his best for both the hosting and X-Factor rounds. His only saving grace, and this proved to be very crucial, was him entering the second round of the Bestari segment and answering that one last question which Amyrah probably gave way to her fellow competitors to answer, so as not to make them look bad. Farid on the contrary, did not manage to enter the second round. Hence this is why it is paramount that they do their best for every challenge they pit themselves in, as their consolidated marks from all the segments will eventually be the deciding factors. It is not all doom and gloom for the eight eliminated contestants as they still have the upcoming Wildcard episode later tonight to give off their best. However, only two will advance to the semi-finals. I already have in mind who will progress based on their performances this past month. I just hope the rest will up their game and prove me wrong, even though I will not mention who or if you guys already have an inkling who I have in mind.


Erna Ellieyana and Farid Azhar were still able to smile upon their elimination as they will get a reprieve in the Wildcard episode…

The semi-finalists have all earned their places fairly. Slowly as the weeks progress, I can see their respective potentials and most importantly, their personalities appearing to the fore. In the X-Factor round, I detected that Hans Hamid, Fatin Taha and Hana Rosli could possibly have a future in radio broadcasting or as a newscaster some day, if they are interested as they have the calm, soothing and confident voices associated with those jobs. However, Hana looks and behaves more like a performer onstage, though she should lessen the overdramatisation of her expressions, as well as her emotions at times, cos it can be a bit of a turn-off to look for the average viewer, since she tends to showcase a certain vulnerability by crying in front of the cameras, be it when she’s sad or happy. Haziq and Amyrah, confident and hungry as they are, might want to consider practising in front of the mirror and look at their facial expressions and body language when they smile or speak. There were times when their features displayed a slight tinge of arrogance, so they might want to work on it a bit to up their likeability factor even more with not only the judges but viewers in the studio and at home. Other than that, I think the two of them are quite the clear favourites based on form. As for Asyraf, there were instances where he spoke like an excited kid, so he might want to tone it down a bit, but I love his devil-may-care attitude and principle to just “Go Je!“. He is one person who looks as though he enjoys himself onstage. Farah??? I do not want to sound like a bad record, but I already mentioned her shortcomings and her improvements to be made earlier so I’ll give her a break here. Till the next entry!!!

Elit Suria Episodes 1 & 2 Recap…

(All images in this entry courtesy of MediaCorp Suria‘s official Facebook page and Instagram account)

Surprise, surprise!!! I’m finally back after a two-month hiatus… I know this reality television series currently airing weekly since 9 July 2018 is into its 4th week as I speak, and probably a bit belated for me to start talking about it. I’ve had people I met on the streets asking me if I was gonna do a review on this new competition. I guess I’ve hummed and hawed long enough before finally deciding to do it. For the uninitiated, Elit Suria is the latest reality talent competition series by Mediacorp Suria, in search of new faces to grace the local television screens, mainly in hosting and acting. One can say that it is probably similar to the previous three Anugerah Skrin competitions that we’ve had so far over the last twelve years, but the main emphasis is on hosting, whereas acting is a secondary component. If I can think of a like-for-like talent competition before this on our local television screens, it would most probably be the Juara competition way back in 2002, which introduced us to household names like Fir Rahman, Nurul Aini and Fadhilah Samsudin amongst others. This current reality competition series is hosted by Fauzie Laily and Nurul Aini, whereas the resident judges are none other than Najip Ali, Nuraliza Osman and Khairudin Saharom. From the line-up of judges, we can more or less see the emphasis of the competition, which is to unearth new hosts for our local Malay entertainment scene.

The simple, yet lovely backdrop of the show’s stage…

Even though I received the invitation to attend the weekly live recordings at MediaCorp Campus, in truth to date, I have not had the time to attend so far. Hence why this entry and also the next one will feature photos courtesy of the Mediacorp Suria Facebook page and Instagram account. However, I have been watching the first two episodes via Toggle‘s Catch-Up TV and finally managing to watch the third and latest episode live on MediaCorp Suria this past Monday, to acquaint myself with possibly the newest faces on local television and of course, to keep myself abreast with the competition. I will not touch on the latest episode just yet in this particular entry, but will do a summary of the first two episodes, where we were introduced to all the contestants who were divided into two groups of eight, namely Groups A and B.  My entries for the first four episodes at least, will be from a perspective of a normal television viewer. Hence, I would like to apologise first and foremost, if my words will not be minced as much as if I were to attend a live recording to observe and understand the difficulties faced by the contestants or to get to know them a bit closer. I tend to give benefit of doubt from my observations watching live, rather than from the comfort of home.

Hosts Fauzie Laily and Nurul Aini…

Closed door auditions were held way back in March and April this year. Usually I would be invited to cover the audition rounds just to have a feel of what’s to come in the coming weeks and months, but this time I received none and like general viewers out there, I did not know what to expect, who had the potential to succeed and who were the standouts during the audition rounds. Which was partly why I decided to stay away from attending the weekly live recordings to date, not as a sign of protest, but because I was not prepped enough to learn the competition format nor given the opportunity to observe them much earlier to better understand their personalities and psyche. The contestants are judged weekly through their Hosting, Style, Wits, Personality and X-Factor in a series of quizzes and Q&A rounds amongst others. The segment that I most enjoy watching so far is the Wits (Bestari) round, whereby the contestants go through two rounds of quizzes on their general knowledge of the respective week’s theme. Why I enjoy it is because it is equally challenging for the viewers watching in the studio and at home, a value-added component of the show that provides useful trivia and information for our general knowledge. Kudos to local singer Hyrul Anuar for painstakingly doing the research and coming up with the questions!!!

Khairudin Saharom, cautioning the contestants on what to avoid doing when assessing their hosting performances…

Each week the contestants begin each episode by playing accompanying props, or to put it in nicer terms, stage models, to a guest singer performing on stage. This is where they are judged on style and confidence, as well as their aptitude for acting or performing. The first episode saw Aisyah Aziz in action, whereas Kalysa Aziz performed in the second episode. I have mixed feelings watching this segment of the show actually. Who is supposed to be the highlight, the guest artistes on show or the contestants themselves??? Is it supposed to showcase their acting skills or is it supposed to be a mini runway show for the contestants??? Some looked so out of depth and devoid of confidence from the way they moved and walked, that it was easy to pinpoint who would eventually be eliminated from the first two episodes, and it was only the first segment!!! Talk about confidence building for these young upstarts!!! Then there were some who overdid their facial expressions and actions that it became a little cringeworthy to watch. This was also highlighted by judge Nuraliza when she was asked to comment. There has to be a certain balance in character portrayals, which can only be honed through time and experience. Unfortunately for the contestants, they do not have that liberty and advantage, unless they have prior acting backgrounds and experiences, and to just hope their personalities shine through to win over the judges.


Aisyah Aziz was the guest artiste for the first episode…

Getting acquainted to the young upstarts on show, the audience in the studio and viewers at home were treated to introductory videos of all the contestants during the first quarter of the programme. This was where we learned a thing or two about them, to hear of their motivation and reasons behind entering the competition. This was also where I studied their respective body language, facial expressions and tone of voices to know if they were sincere in entering the competition or probably there to make up the numbers. We have the usual clips where they showed their gratitude and appreciation to their respective spouses and parents. Some made heartfelt tributes to their beloved family members who have departed this world or went through personal hardships, naturally shedding tears for the cameras, even those whose talents have been belittled and questioned before by their peers / educators. Nothing wrong with that actually, but viewers perceptions might vary depending on how they digest the stories told before them, as well as seeing the expressions on the faces of these contestants. Some may think the contestants are fishing for sympathy, or hoping to be judged leniently. A little sad story is ok to be heard, but should be kept to a minimum. Viewers easily warm to jovial, bubbly and positive characters afterall.

The second episode witnessed under-rated singer, Kalysa Aziz, in action…

The contestants must also be mindful of the way they speak. For certain sections or probably most people in the community, it is a major turnoff hearing people speaking with a certain accent especially when you are conversing in your mother tongue. You don’t have to add an English twang to your pronunciation of words. It makes you come off as extremely fake. From drawing people closer to you, you actually serve to alienate them. The one that was every bit confident and gave me the most positive vibes in their introductory clips was Amyrah Mustafa, the only contestant who wears a Hijab and has a passing resemblance to Aisyah Aziz. She shared her hopes to inspire fellow youths watching the show, to uphold, empower and showcase the beauty of the Malay language as well as culture. Big hopes on such young shoulders, but one that I believe is achievable as we see her progress in the competition and I hope she does, because she is a natural and a breath of fresh air for our local scene. She also spoke in calculated and measured tones without trying too hard, unlike some of the others whom I will not name. For the guys, the one that I felt was smooth in his delivery, was Hans Hamid. He has a certain warmth in his voice which will make viewers drawn comfortably to him, even if he is slightly lacking in the looks factor. Fadzli Jani‘s bubbly personality and originality in coming out with his own tagline, “Awak Suka Tak?“, also made me warmed easily to him.

The Wits (Bestari) round pitting the contestants against one another on their general knowledge…

The hosting segment is I believe, the main one that they are being judged upon. From creating their own interview questions as well as their own scripts, with only three recording takes per contestant, this is definitely the most challenging segment from my observations. True, they only had about a minute or two to interview their guest personality from the local fashion and music industries, but the weight of their challenge is immense!!! From posing the right questions, usage of language, tone of voice, eye interactions between them, their guests and the cameras, hosting itself is a thankless job and one that I myself shun from doing, and I personally hate doing normal presentations or public speaking to begin with. The contestants had to be mindful especially those who added rhythm and melody to their pronounced sentences. It made them sound as though they were reading directly from their scripts or like school children reading in a class. Another thing they need to look out for is the excessive hand gestures which can be distracting to the viewers. From this segment, the ones that stood out for me were again Amyrah Mustafa, Hans Hamid, Fadzli Jani and Fatin Taha. The rest either exuded too much energy onscreen or looked uncertain of themselves. A few of them need to open their mouths a bit wider and not speak through gritted teeth, whereas there were some who need to smile a bit more, cos when they don’t, they simply looked aloof.

Najip Ali‘s comments never fail to disappoint, his extensive vocabulary and usage of words simply exemplary…

The third quarter of the show saw the contestants pitting their wits against one another through the quiz segment aptly titled “Bestari” (Wits). Questions asked were related to the particular week’s themes and challenged the contestants on their general knowledge, mostly in the local context. I was left somewhat frustrated watching the contestants struggling to answer the questions in the two rounds they were required to answer them. I won’t say that if I were to enter the competition, I could answer all the questions or ace the rounds, but I dare say I could have at least gotten 75% of the questions right, especially the second episode where the theme was Music. I was extremely appalled that questions pertaining to our local Malay music industry were not answered satisfactorily. If they harbour hopes of being in the entertainment industry some day, then they have to keep themselves abreast of who’s who, listen more to the local radio stations, follow more local personalities and artistes on social media, watch more of the local programmes on television. This is all part of being equipped and informed as a host. Listening to the questions before answering is also an important aspect. I was left stumped when Hisyam Salimnor answered “DragonballZ” when the question that was asked was “What is the name of the popular Japanese fashion trend that depicts Anime and Manga characters?” Though most people found it funny (not me!!!), I just felt that that highlighted his weakness in not listening properly and in turn, comprehending what was asked. Oh by the way, the winner of this segment each week bags $300 for themselves!!! Easy money in my opinion.


Hisyam Salimnor and Ainur Rosyieqa found themselves eliminated from the competition in the first episode…

The last segment of the show, called the “X-Factor“, is a last throw of the dice for the contestants, to upsell themselves literally to the judges and relate to the audience why they should still remain in the competition. This segment can be considered a double-edged sword depending on how one views it. The contestants can come off as confident in how they sell or promote themselves, yet at the same time, their words and facial expressions might be misconstrued as arrogant. Some could be seen as trying too hard, whereas there were some who just forgot their lines and tripped on their words. Being a host is not easy especially during a live show. Usually they have the benefit of holding on to cue cards for reference in case they forget what they should be saying, but not these young upstarts, who had to memorise what they needed to say or at least remember the gist of their presentation content. Here, we got to see who are the naturally talented, calm and composed and who needed lots of polishing. By this round, I more or less guessed correctly who would be eliminated from the first two episodes. The ones who were eliminated were the ones that tripped on their words or did not exude confidence on their faces and overall body language. Too much uncertainty is a recipe for disaster and signaled a death knell on their involvement in the competition.


Noh Irwan and Nurmehga were the next two to be eliminated in Episode 2…

Even though we still have six more episodes (five if we were to discount this past Monday‘s episode) before crowning the winner/s, I dare say, without trying to jinx them, from the first two episodes alone, the ones who will appear in the semi-finals at least, are Fatin Taha, Hans Hamid, Fadzli Jani, Amyrah Mustafa and Haziq Halim. I know that as I speak currently, Fadzli has just been eliminated in the third episode, but he will definitely return for the Wildcard Round and I believe is a strong contender to progress to the semi-finals. Personally, I have high expectations on Farid Azhar, whom I had the opportunity to know when I covered his journey in 2016‘s Anugerah Skrin. His experience should at least put him in good stead to do even better than the last time out. So far, he has remained in his own comfort zone and not gotten out from his shell. I hope he can open up a bit more and not stick to being such a cool cat. There is a reason why the judges picked him and it is definitely not to make up the numbers. For those I had not mentioned as prospective semi-finalists, I hope they will not be discouraged and at least prove me wrong on my observations. They are not by any means, dumb or bimbotic, as some of their respective educational qualifications would testify. They just have to grasp whatever tips they receive from their mentors and judges, do lots of homework, research and study how other hosts work, to ask if they do not know, as I am sure many are willing to help dispense advice to them. My next entry will be another consolidated entry once Episode 4 ends and Group B have appeared for a second time.

Gergasi KRU25 Concert – End of an Era…

I know this domain is basically slanted more towards happenings in Singapore‘s own Malay entertainment scene, but as a self-styled entertainment blogger, I have the prerogative to dictate what content I want to share with my audience. Long time followers of my social media accounts or even those who have known me long enough will know that I am a massive fan of Malaysia‘s evergreen pop-rap group, KRU. Just look at the name of this domain – Da’ KRUsader’s Manor – and it will tell you all about my love for the group and where I drew inspiration from. Since the Abdul Halim brothers – Dato’ Norman, Yusry and Edry – came into the fore in 1992 with their debut hit single, “Hanya Kau“, I have been hooked to their music, songs and albums, challenging myself to memorise every lyrics – the longer or challenging they were, the more pleasure I derived from eventually mastering them. When they announced in a media conference about a fortnight ago that this three-night concert at Istana Budaya Kuala Lumpur would be their swansong in the music scene, what I initially had predicted in private came true.

I will not disguise the fact that I am not sad at the announcement, but it was a matter of when and not if, given they have not been that active musically, save for Edry. The brothers had achieved everything they could over the past twenty-six years of their involvement in the scene. We literally grew up with them, from teenage adolescence till our current status of being married with kids. It has been a joyful journey supporting the brothers through their ups and downs, sticking by through whatever unsavoury controversies that befell them, even sympathised when they were going through several low points in their personal private lives. They outlived all the groups that appeared in the same era as them, built themselves a legacy and empire that many could only dream of or watched with envy. Some may counter and say, it is fine for them as they are real-life siblings afterall for them to have such longevity, but in business, even siblings do disagree to the point of eventually splitting just like two famous sports brands in the world. But no KRU did not fight amongst themselves. They felt the time was right to retire when they have achieved everything.

The brothers have contributed so much to the Malaysian entertainment scene, through music and through film-making. They dared to experiment with heavy CGI effects for their hit films like “Cicakman“, at a time when not many dared to do so because of the high costs that they entailed. Even in music, they continued to reinvent their own sounds as well as churning out hits after hits for other singers and groups. And who can forget how audacious they were to bring Allahyarham Tan Sri P. Ramlee literally back to life by “recording a duet with him” for “Getaran Jiwa“, reminiscent of the late Nat King Cole‘s duet with his daughter Natalie??? I will be the first to admit, that as a huge fan of their compositions, not all of them were music to my ears. They had some songs, an even one particular album (KRUnisme), that were not my cup of tea, but it was no big deal for me as they were in the midst of being current with the times as well as experimenting new sounds and concepts. Even though they had a certain formula to making their own songs a hit, their music also had to mature to reflect their age. Like what Edry once told me, we cannot expect them to be jumping and prancing around onstage like how they used to back in the 90s.

Still, during the concert that I attended last Saturday, all of us were transported back in time. For slightly more than two hours, the audience anti-aged ourselves fifteen to twenty years behind and became youngsters once again, singing with gusto to every song that was carefully selected to perform, all massive radio hits back in their time. Even though not one of my own personal favourites (“Hanya Kau“, “Inikah Ertinya Cinta“, “Go KRU! – TRRG“, “Vendetta“, “Fobia“, “Aneh“, “Salah Siapa“, “Emilia“, “Mahaguru“, “Impak Maksima“, “For You“, “Tribe“, “Girlfriend’s Girlfriend“, “Seperti Yang Ku Jangka“, “Perpisahan Terasing“) was performed that night, the set list which was almost similar to the one performed at our very own Esplanade back in August 2016, was enough to bring us back down memory lane for one last hurrah. The songs too were arranged to suit the trio’s stamina levels, given it was the first time they performed back-to-back for three nights in a row, something which they had never done before this, but I believed they aced it for every one. How could they not, when they admitted getting their energies from the ever-sporting audience who hailed from all over Malaysia and even those from Singapore, Brunei, Australia, Dubai and Europe??? How fortunate also for those who attended the very last concert on Sunday night to have witnessed Joe Flizzow rapping to “Ooh! La! La!” and Jaclyn Victor singing “Di Pintu Syurga” with the brothers. Wished we could have seen them in the earlier performance nights.

For each and every attendee, this concert will live long in our memories for years to come. We can all proudly say we were there when KRU performed for us one last time before riding off into the sunset. All those songs performed during the three nights had their own personal memories for all of us. Some could have been related to our very own personal heartbreaks, some when we were madly in love with our current or probably ex-partners. Whereas others just inspired confidence and a perk-me-up, a certain defiance for us to seize the day amidst whatever obstacles we faced. I remember being teased and ridiculed for being a massive fan boy back in school cos most guys were either into English or rock music. One thing I learned from the group back then was to remain steadfast in my beliefs and principles and that has served me well in life, no matter the criticisms that came my way. Truly, it is difficult to find a true replacement for the group, like in the words to the lyrics of “Janji Tinggal Janji” – “Kata pada diri ini, di mana kan ku cari ganti?“. KRU is a brand name, a label and icon in the Malaysian and regional music scene. Their legacy and empire will continue to live long in the annals of history as a game-changer and trend-setter of their time. This is indeed the end of an era for a group that has contributed so much to the changing face of the music scene in Malaysia. Will we ever get to see their likes again? I am afraid not so soon.

To my KRU brothers, Dato’ Norman, Yusry and Edry – Thank you for 26 years of entertainment and above all, your appreciation and friendship. From the time I first attended your performance in Singapore in June 1994 at Marina Bay, to your first concert here (AWAS Da’ Concert) at the now-defunct Harbour Pavilion on 16 October 1995, countless others in between right down to your final one at Istana Budaya this past weekend, it has been nothing but an honour to have supported your journey and be entertained by your songs as well as your showmanship on stage. Above all, I cherish every single moment we used to hang out at the airport whilst waiting for your flights home, watching Edry in the studio producing Yusry‘s solo album back in 2003, or even hanging out at your hotel rooms to talk about music, the entertainment scene on both sides of the Causeway and our respective lives. For fellow KRU fanatics out there, the group will continue to live on in our hearts and we will continue to listen and sing along to your songs. I wish all three of you the best in your upcoming ventures and endeavours and wish nothing but more success to you and your respective families. I held back tears at least three times last Saturday during the concert, but by the end, I chose to smile and remember the good times we had over these wonderful years of support. Your music journey might have ended, but I hope our friendship will continue to last a lifetime, regardless wherever you are or what you do henceforth.

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P.S. I end this entry by apologising for my last one. Unbeknownst to me till the morning after I had posted it, did I know that the “An Evening with the StarsMothers Day charity showcase involving Anuar Zain, Zamani SLAM and Fauzie Laily, which was supposed to have been staged on 6th May 2018 at Persada International Convention Centre in Johor Bahru, had been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. It is with much regrets that such an untimely occurrence had to happen so close to the date of event. Those who had purchased the tickets are entitled for a full refund by the organisers from what I know from trusted sources who had informed me of the unfortunate turn of events. I will not speculate why the show was cancelled given the upbeat media conferences that were held both in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore recently. I just hope that some day, the same line-up will get to perform together on the same stage. I for one, am gutted for bro Fauzie who had been looking forward to the showcase.

An Evening with the Stars Media Conference & Promo

(Graphics promo poster courtesy of Impact Music Entertainment)

We are three days away from this Mothers’ Day event happening at Persada Johor International Convention Centre and I just realised that I have not had the time to make a proper promo entry for this showcase, even though I had attended its media conference on 2nd April 2018 at Ballroom @ East Coast by A B Shaik. I was kindly invited to the event by the good people at Impact Music Entertainment. Knowing me, I usually do not cover events pertaining to artistes from across the Causeway unless they are the ones I personally love and since Anuar Zain is one of them, it was a no-brainer for me. But the clincher for me to attend this media conference was ultimately seeing our very own Fauzie Laily on that poster, as this domain afterall prioritises featuring of local acts. It is a proud moment indeed to see him about to rub shoulders on the same stage as two legends in the regional music scene, Zamani SLAM being the other slated performer.

Anuar Zain and Fauzie Laily sharing a light-hearted moment with the media brigade in attendance…

Aptly dubbed “An Evening With The Stars“, this Mothers’ Day showcase organised by E & F Event Resources, is geared towards contributing to charity through the Dato’ Rokiah Lace Foundation. This foundation was set up to help the less fortunate, orphans, senior citizens and single mothers residing in Johor Bahru. The foundation is also known to have built schools for would-be Tahfiz and also mosques for the Muslim community in Johor Bahru. Hence if you might feel a little taken aback by the somewhat expensive ticket prices, just think how much you will stand to benefit the number of people through your kind deeds, besides getting the chance to enjoy a night of good quality entertainment by Anuar Zain, Zamani and Fauzie Laily. I understand from the media conference, each artiste will be performing a minimum of three songs each and I’m sure there will be segments where they will be singing together either as a pair or a combined trio, not seen anywhere before this.

The media conference panel (from left): Zell Sazalie (Impact Music Entertainment), Shaik Mohd (Ballroom @ East Coast by A B Shaik), Afendi Hassan (E & F Event Resources), Anuar Zain, Fauzie Laily, Mr. Yusnor Ef (President, PERKAMUS), Dato’ Paduka Hajjah Rokiah Omar (Chairman, Yayasan LACE Dato’ Rokiah), Joyce Yap (Director Sales, Persada International Centre, Johor Bahru)…

Something unique about this media conference was the presence of several local vloggers, a rising trend in this day and age of social media. Though I did not get the chance to interact with any of them, I am aware of their strong following on their respective social media platforms. Hopefully their respective on-the-spot live promos that day would help in the ticket sales for this showcase. I believe if this showcase were to be held in Singapore, they might also get a decent crowd in, given the attraction of the two Malaysian artistes, whom we Singapore fans never seemed to get enough of judging by their rousing receptions at their concerts or showcases before this. I will not bore you with the minute-by-minute detail of the media conference. Like any other, such events are meant to tease us for what is to come on the actual day itself and the two artistes who attended that day, Anuar Zain and Fauzie Laily, kept their cards close to their chest, probably not wanting to reveal much.

Both Anuar Zain and Fauzie Laily are raring to go for this showcase…

Tickets to “An Evening with the Stars” are already on sale via Ticketcharge Malaysia. Additional details can be found in the promotional poster at the beginning of this post or by logging onto the event’s official Facebook page.

Snapshots of An Evening with the Stars Media Conference

“Maya” & “Adakah Dia” Singles Launch…

Some of us might wonder what happened to last year’s Anugerah 2017 winner Mohd Shahfiq or any of the alumnus as we have heard nothing nor seen any new products from any of them, other than see some making the odd appearance on television for various shows or hearing them lend their voices for the official soundtracks of local dramas. This is one of my biggest gripes about this reality singing competition, in that they usually do not strike while the iron is hot. Too many of these past contestants take a long time to come out with an album or even one single, as most of them are constrained by the rules of the competition, where there is a six-months window period where they are not allowed to sign on with other companies or labels not associated with the competition. Anything can happen within this time frame, which might alter one’s passion or interest for the scene.

Shahfiq kicked off the launch by performing “Maya“…

However, to be fair, from the activities of those that I still follow on social media, some of these contestants have not been idle. Privately, some  have been quietly busy improving themselves in many aspects, like trying to be fitter so as to have better stamina when performing and equally looking good, while also performing at gigs and such to improve on their vocals. Others have dabbled in other crafts within the entertainment industry like 3rd runner-up, Nor Shafiq, who was seen in last December‘s SR115 drama series in a mini supporting role, while semi-finalist Elza Rahim has settled down and welcomed her new arrival just recently. Some do not have the luxury of having a proper management team behind them and have to do it on their own. Luckily for last year’s winner, Mohammad Shahfiq and second runner-up, Liwani Izzati, as part of their respective winning prizes, they are signed on to Paranormal Solutions Sdn Bhd, the Malaysian-based company who have the likes of Ayda Jebat and Aisyah Aziz, amongst many others, in their stable.

Liwani‘s “Adakah Dia” piqued my interest at the first time of listening…

A year is probably a short or long time for some of us, depending on events happening in our respective lives. It has been a long wait personally for me, but a year on from Anugerah 2017, we finally witnessed the official singles launch of Mohd Shahfiq, and Liwani Izzati, titled “Maya” and “Adakah Dia” respectively. The event was brought to us by the good people at Paranormal and local-based talent management company, S.Ria Productions. The humble venue where the launch was held, Taste Garden @ Orto, welcomed at least fifty people, more than half of which consisted of family members and friends of the two budding songbirds. The event, held on the scorching hot afternoon of 23rd March 2018, was hosted by emcee Mahadi Mashuri, no stranger to the local scene having had acting stints in the past, but is now known more for his hosting capabilities at weddings and corporate events.

The two singers then treated the crowd to Afgan and Raisa‘s hit song, “Percayalah“…

The whole event was a simple affair, with the two young singers performing their respective singles live to the watching audience, which also consisted of the local media brigade and those responsible for overseeing the making and production of the singles. The guests were also visually treated to the official music videos of the respective singles, both filmed in Kuala Lumpur. While the music video of “Maya” has been around for some time prior to the event, the music video of “Adakah Dia” was officially made available on YouTube on the night of the launch itself and has since garnered more than 10,000 views, a commendable effort for a relatively newbie in the scene. “Maya” was composed by renowned Malaysian composer Kevin Chin, written by Tinta and produced by Irwan Simanjuntak, the latter no stranger to the regional music scene. “Adakah Dia“, on the other hand, was produced by serial Anugerah Planet Muzik award-winning songwriters, Judah Lyne and Haramain Osman, of The Lion Story fame.

Paranormal Solutions founder, Prashan Chitty a.k.a. Melakaboy, sharing his experience working with Liwani and for the two singles…

I have had time to listen to both songs these past three weeks and if you were to ask me to make a comparison between the two singles, I am personally more inclined to favour Liwani‘s “Adakah Dia” over Shahfiq‘s “Maya“. I guess it is a matter of one’s personal choice and over years of listening to music to know what kind of song hooks attract listeners in double quick time. Not that “Maya” is not nice on the ears, but it takes a few times of listening for it to grow on me as compared to “Adakah Dia“. I personally feel that the song is probably too big for a newbie like Shahfiq to shoulder or as an introduction. You would expect more established singers to be able to perform this kind of song, but to Shahfiq‘s credit, he has taken over the challenge to push himself to sing a song of this magnitude. Maybe in time when his vocal technical abilities are more profound, can the song be appreciated better. It is definitely a good effort no doubt about it, and wish that both of them will continue to soar as singers of calibre that we can be proud of.

Liwani and Shahfiq were joined onstage for the group photo alongside MediaCorp Eaglevision‘s Sabariah Ramilan (left) and Suhaimi Jais (third from right), as well as S.RIA Productions‘ Managing Director, Ms. Sabariah Hirma (second from right) and Paranormal‘s Prashan Chitty

“Maya” and “Adakah Dia” are available for sale and download at iTunes, Spotify, Joox and Deezer. Thank you to Paranormal Records and S.Ria Productions for kindly inviting me to cover the event!!!

Eradicate Self-Entitlement Mentality…

I know I have not been active on this domain. Quite a number of events I attended recently that needed to be featured but I’ve put off due to my own personal commitments at work and at home. I did say some time back, I will only blog when time and circumstances permit. Time and circumstances have indeed allowed me to finally post something after this unexpected long break. I will not promise, but I will try to be more active in these upcoming weeks before I go for my annual hiatus again during the months of Ramadhan and Syawal. Those recent events I attended deserved featuring, moreso since I have always pride myself as a firm supporter of our local Malay entertainment scene. But I need to get something off my chest which has been bothering me the past few days. Hence I begin my comeback with this entry, which you can also categorise as a rant.

For those of you who have been silently following this blog, you might remember how I was in my first five years of blogging – I wrote with all guns blazing and very little mincing of words. Subsequent years of knowing many people in the industry and seeing how they go about doing their work has made me become more appreciative of their craft, more forgiving of their shortcomings, giving benefit as much as possible to most doubts. It had come to a point where when I met long-time followers of this blog domain outside, they wondered what happened to that firebrand writer who did not think twice to put others in their place or telling it bluntly with no sugar-coating of words. Something happened last week, which I felt compelled to come up with an entry that would rekindle the days of yore when my words would sting even those who are not directly involved.

For this post only, I am inclined to resurrect that feeling of anger for good reason. This comes as a result of my verbal tete-a-tete with a drummer of one of our local bands on Twitter last week. To recap, I chanced upon his tweet because his band’s official account (which I had followed up till our verbal jousting) had liked it, automatically making it appear on my timeline, even though I was not following him. The content of his tweet basically implied that one of our local radio stations was hypocritical and dumb, did not support local music like they claimed to be, did not have a segment fully dedicated to playing local Malay songs and only prefer to play songs from popular artistes whereas those who are not, require listeners to request for them – all in the name of popularity and ratings. These are extremely strong accusations and unfair, given the station’s stance in supporting local music and giving the necessary platforms for our local acts to thrive.

It struck a raw nerve on yours truly somewhat as I was scrolling my timeline just before I turned in for the night, not least because some of the people who work in the radio station are people I count as my good friends. I also spent a good three-and-a-half months interning for them when this drummer was probably still wet behind the ears. In my first reply to him, I said that there is already a locals-only dedicated programme every weekend which airs 5-6pm called “SG“. Every hour daily, at least 40% of the songs being aired are local songs, whether listeners realised it or not. As much as possible, the station tries to play and include as many local songs as possible, even if their respective quality leaves much to be desired at times. I ended off my first reply to him by saying, if their song is not being requested or aired as much as they would love to, then they should work harder and improve on the quality.

Of course, my first reply was not taken too kindly with the supposed 40% percentage deemed pathetic. I was also accused of not knowing or understanding his point of view since I am not, get this, “musically-inclined” nor played in a band. My reply to him was, if he is really musically-inclined, then he should know better than to rely on one radio station for his band’s exposure. We’re living in an era where social media is now an alternative path to being noticed. How many people actually tune in religiously to the station daily, for how long, and do they really take note of which songs are aired??? Or request for that matter??? There are only two to three song request segments per day, which are either an hour long, or at most, two each time. I have listened to some local songs which I thought were bang average, but the station still airs them and continues to air them. But there is only so much they can air when there are other quality or better songs vying for a spot to be heard.

Anyway, this is not the first time such accusations have been thrown towards the station and their approach. Over the years, there will always be disgruntled voices amongst local artistes as to why their songs are not being aired as frequently as possible. If one does take the trouble to listen, there will be times when local songs will dominate the airwaves for a particular hour, even if that hour is not a locals-only special. I for one have taken note that there were instances when six to eight local songs were aired in an hour, but like I said earlier, these kind of statistics are usually lost on most people. I dare say he lost his argument when he chose to use the age-old reason to back off by saying that I did not get what he was saying, that I am clueless and “fanning the balls” of the radio DJs. This is the standard kind of immature replies you usually associate with those who cannot argue substantially and somehow I kinda regretted stooping myself to his level by replying to him in the first place.

I made the effort to ask Brader Bo, the Executive Music Director at the two Malay radio stations, afterwards with regards to the claims. He pointed out one important factor, in that the radio stations are responsible for maintaining good quality music being played to boost ratings. He has already explained to the local music producers what is expected for a song to be aired. In fact I dare say, at every Anugerah Planet Muzik media conference, the mantra is repeated annually like a bad record. He said even if he listed down 1001 rubrics for others to abide by, at the end of the day, the radio station themselves have the editorial rights to dictate what can be aired or otherwise. Ultimately, the producers and artistes have to respect that. Which I felt was extremely fair and having no bias towards any other artistes who are considered more popular on our shores over those that are not.

Still I feel that it is lost on some people. That feeling of self-entitlement ever since their debut single propelled their name to the fore. You know, it is sometimes easy to hit the heights at the first time of asking, but maintaining that level of quality sometimes can be a hit and miss. If you ask me, there is hardly bias and favouritism being practised. For one, I still continue hearing this band’s songs being aired even after what their drummer had accused the station of being. Up till last week, a day prior to this uncalled-for outburst, Fiza O complimented the band and how good they were after airing their song when I tuned in to the evening programme. Some broadcasting stations across the Causeway might just block them out and decide to ban their songs had this kind of accusation been levelled at them, but it shows the high level of professionalism in our local radio station when they choose to look beyond the trivial and just get on with their daily jobs.

This feeling of discontent, being ungrateful, having self-pity and entitlement need to go seriously. Just because your debut single was a big hit on the local charts doesn’t mean your follow-up songs are equally good. There are other local artistes who have hit the heights only to drop their standards with subsequent offerings. Some of the current household names didn’t exactly hit the big time at the first or second time of asking. Sufi Rashid took ten bloody years to get noticed, Ryan Sufiyan was a constant serial reality talent competition reject before he finally made it (I know because I had covered three of his auditions). Heck, even the golden boy himself, Taufik Batisah, has had subsequent singles which didn’t get much positive response from listeners. Did any of them bitch on it on social media or any of the printed ones wondering why they were rejected or why their songs were not aired??? No, they just kept their heads down and continued working hard to make their next one a better one.

I ended my argument by asking this guy what is the purpose of him making / playing music??? For glamour??? Fame??? Or passion??? Or is it to be recognised and be nominated at Anugerah Planet Muzik??? I told him to correct his intentions first and foremost. Many others before him have come and go. Those still doing it after more than ten years are those with passion, determination and never-say-die attitude, even if for the most parts, they do not get the kind of exposure or recognition their talents deserved. These are the ones who do not rely solely on one or two local radio stations to get their music to be aired. Nowadays, it is all about social media. He and his band should at least take full advantage of it and promote their songs through the various social media platforms, boost their page and posts to get noticed. Who knows, stations from abroad might just get in touch with them and give them an even bigger break. The world is an oyster only if you know how to seize the endless opportunities it has to offer. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a clued person to realise this. One just needs to be informed and if they do not know, to ask. Especially to the radio people and not rant behind their backs. You do not improve nor realise your shortcomings that way.

Am still humoured at the idea of a two-year old newbie in the scene trying to school a 14-year veteran about being musically-inclined and for being clueless to his plight. Privately, I empathise with his and his band’s plight knowing what a talented bunch they are, cos it is hard work after all, and it gives one great satisfaction to hear your music being aired. However, that feeling of sympathy dissipated with the rude language and vocabulary aimed at yours truly, which I have kindly not mentioned in here nor provided screenshots of our conversation as proof. I’m a fair person where I feel if injustice is being dished out at others, I would take it upon myself to help correct the misinformed. The radio station didn’t pay me to write this long-winded explanation and I doubt they would have wanted me to. But I believe some people need to get off their high horses and smell the roses of the reality of being in this harsh scene. Honestly with that kind of language used, I’ve lost whatever last amount of respect I had for them. A sad day indeed when all of us need the support of one another to grow…