Union of Hearts & New Arrivals…

A quick look at my blog statistics showed that a high number of traffic actually came from my previous Blogspot address. So to my regular readers who have not updated your links, please do so as it would save the hassle of having to go to the previous address and then having to click on it and jump to this domain.

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As we all know, June and December are unofficially wedding months in our annual calendar. These two hot months are favourites amongst couples to get hitched as it is the school holidays and many people are bound to apply for leave. These past few weeks have been no different as we answered invitations after invitations. The good thing was that we only had one to go every week as compared to last December where we had up to four invites on one single weekend!!!

Rozhan Nikah

Sophian Nikah

Notice the tensed look on both grooms’ faces (Rozhan top and Sophian above)??? I always wonder why guys in general are kinda afraid / tensed / stressed during the ceremony. I adopted the “I-was-born-to-perform-on-the-big-stage” attitude. That’s why I was kinda relaxed during my own ceremony… 🙂

Two of my childhood friends, Rozhan and Dr. Sophian Hadi recently got married on 7th and 23rd June respectively to Nurul Fadlun and Dr. Shahidah. Both guys are like brothers to me already, Rozhan being my ex-neighbour for almost 20 years and Dr. Sophian being my best friend in primary school. Each wedding was special in its own rights with the marriage solemnisation ceremonies done at An-Nahdhah Mosque (Rozhan) and the community centre (Sophian), where the bride’s family (Shahidah) held the event. The wedding cars were also kinda posh with Rozhan & Fadlun driven in a Dodge car and Sophian himself at the wheels of the black Mazda RX8.

RozhanFadlun

That cheeky smile says it all… He’s damn happy alright, and who can blame him???

SophianShahidah

Relief and contentment etched on the faces of Sophian and Shahidah

The only difference was Sophian & Shahidah held an additional dinner for family, close friends, fellow colleagues in the medical fraternity and former schoolmates at the Grand Ballroom of Orchid Country Club. In the past, I had envisioned my wedding dinner to be held there but I scrapped the idea as it was too expensive. It would have been fun to replicate the mini-concert I did during my wedding dinner at such a posh place as the ballroom and I could have invited more people as well. There were various shortcomings at the wedding dinner which I won’t elaborate further, but I almost left the event out of sheer frustration, even before it started. Anyway, here’s wishing the newly-weds a smooth journey ahead as they embark on a new expedition together.

SophianShahidahDinner

P.S. Lest I forget, congratulations are in order for another childhood friend, Ma’aruf (Ayub) who got hitched to Fazilah on the 16th of June 2007.

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Of course when you have weddings and union of hearts, somewhere down the road, you’ll also usher the arrival of newborns and share the joy of the new parents. Likewise, I have a few friends who became first-time parents or received an addition to their brood over the past three months. Apologies for not congratulating you guys earlier and being so belated with the well-wishes. Here are the list of people I would like to congratulate:

1) Ilhami & Marlia on the birth of Muhammad Afiq Hakim on 1st April 2007

2) Norazlin & Yusri on the birth of Mohd Izz Dany on 4th April 2007

3) Hartini & Indra Putra on the birth of Irfan Harith on 10th April 2007

4) Muhamad Nizam & Ian Farah on the birth of Ian Qalysha on 11th April 2007

5) Siti Haiza & Norhidayat on the birth of Hermie Aldrin on 26th May 2007

6) Sabrina & Amran on the birth of Arfan Shafiq on 7th June 2007

7) Md Ronzie & Norhafizah on the birth of Afiqah Insyirah on 25th June 2007

8 ) Muhammad Azhar & Farhana on the birth of Nur Aiman on 26th June 2007

That’s quite a list isn’t it??? But all in all, we’re happy to note that the population of Muhammad‘s (Peace Be Upon Him) followers have increased and may these bundles of joy grow up to be a source of pride for family, society and religion. Amin!!!

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Speaking of new arrivals, Aida and I also ushered in a “new arrival” into our lives. It’s just a 10-minutes drive from my parents’ home, where we are based. Being movie freaks, we try to catch a movie once every fortnight ever since the little one arrived. And since we hate going to Orchard area to watch movies because of the ERP and parking fees, we either commute to Tampines or Vivocity to catch the latest movies in town. Granted, Ang Mo Kio already has a cinema (Jubilee) but the selection and timing are sometimes limited. So without further ado, I present you the latest addition to the stable of cineplexes owned by Cathay Organisation:

AMKCinema

The AMK Hub cinema owned by Cathay Organisation

SimpsonsMovie

They greeted us on the way to the cinema hall…

Being suckers for wanting to be one of the first, we went to watch Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer on the opening day of the cineplex (Saturday 16th June 2007). This cineplex at Ang Mo Kio (AMKHub houses eight cinema halls, offers luscious seats and spacious leg-room. With a giant screen and digital crystal clear surround sound system, we felt as though we were watching an IMAX movie . To top it off, the size of the theatres is small enough to make it look as personable as possible. Truly a great experience, especially the seats, which were oh-so-comfortable-one-could-fall-asleep-on-it. Aida would agree, since she fell asleep during the final battle scenes.

F4

Not a bad movie, compact and straight to the point. A pity some people still slept through the show… 😛

Transformers

The show to watch next…

The only downside to watching a movie here is the parking space. AMK Hub only has one level of parking lot. This place is forever crowded and teeming with people doing their shopping at NTUC Fairprice. Even when we watched the movie at 9:45pm and we reached the place at 9:20pm, we still had to wait 10 minutes to enter the carpark because it was full. So we’ve learnt our lesson. Never watch a movie there unless it’s after 9 plus or 11 at night or 11 in the morning. Unless of course if you are taking public transport, then it’s definitely fine.

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Another new arrival: Prima Deli goes Halal!!!

I’m always elated when a food establishment announces that it has gained the Halal Certification from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS). This widens the choice of places we can buy food anywhere we go and feel safe at the knowledge that what we eat is permissible, cos really I cringe when I see fellow Muslims buying at stalls that say “No Pork No Lard” or those that have no pork content in them (Fish & Co. & Sakae Sushi for example) but we still dunno how safe it is to eat them as they are not Halal Certified.

Prima Deli if I am not mistaken, started off as Wong’s Cake Shop in Toa Payoh Central. For older Toa Payoh natives like me, this cake shop was immensely popular for their delectable cakes and delicious pastries. The aroma of the cakes can be smelt from a distance away and I remember the shop being super cold. Why I said that this shop could have evolved into Prima Deli was because when it first opened in 1992, I was surprised to see the previous staff of Wong’s Cake Shop manning the counters of the Prima Deli outlet which had taken over the premises of the former shop. A check on the Net showed that the old shop was indeed incorporated into the franchising scheme by Prima Limited. No wonder when I went to the outlet at Great World City yesterday, I noticed the cakes still had similar designs to those from the old establishment and the familiar smell rekindled past memories to fill my thoughts as a child.

Nope, I have not tasted the cakes or pastries yet since I’m looking after my diet, but I will soon. What’s more, compared to the prices of the cakes and pastries from rival companies, I think it’s one of the cheapest around. Now I just need to taste them before I fully certify that they are worth buying and savouring for…

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Another thing, have any of you noticed lately that the number of 7-11 outlets have increased over the past fortnight all over Singapore??? This is thanks to Shell‘s expanding of the 7-11 franchising. Previously we’ve seen Mobil collaborating with Cheers. There seems to be some kinda war going on between the petroleum companies and convenience stores. As the consumer, I’m not complaining. Just that I need to exercise a greater amount of discipline on myself as my greatest vice is the Giant Slurpee with the Coke flavour… 🙂

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Syahindah: “Ayah… Look what Mummy Julie and Uncle Ezaad bought for me on their recent trip to Hong Kong!!!”

Me: “Yes darling, Winnie will be your best friend just like Willy is Mummy Nurul‘s best friend… Don’t forget to thank Mummy Julie and Uncle Ezaad…”

Syahindah: “Ok AyahMummy Julie and Uncle Ezaad, thank you very much for buying me Winnie. Love you!!!”

SyahindahWinnie

See how happy she looked about half an hour after she received her gift…

Syahindah: “Ayah… I think I want to work at a supermarket when I grow up…”

Ayah: “Why darling??? So you can give Ayah and Ibu discounts when we do our grocery shopping is it???”

Syahindah: “No… I just love the design of the uniforms… Hehehehe…”

SyahindahNTUC

Doesn’t this outfit look as though she’s an NTUC Fairprice staff???

Actually Aida and I want her to wear this when she grows up.

SyahindahHijab

She seemed to love wearing it. Have to train her from young to love wearing it…

A lot of people who’ve known me close or long enough would easily spot the uncanny resemblance between me and my daughter, even if she has Aida‘s eyes and mouth. But for those who said she looks more like Aida, more often than not, they cited her fairness as the factor. Well the photograph below would prove the similarities between father and daughter.

PMBaby

I was very fair as a child, people called me a Korean kid. Even my two sisters are fair themselves. Why I’m tanned / darker is because of my constant playing of football. Maybe that’s why people thought Syahindah looks more like my wife. Father and daughter share the same cheeky smile. I think we’re gonna make a great team in future taking the mickey out of her mother… 🙂

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Today 29th June 2007 is a special day for me and my family. The woman I love the most, more than my wife, my daughter, sisters, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and all the women in my life, celebrates her 54th birthday. May Allah grant her extra years, accept her prayers and deeds, and most importantly good health throughout her life. She’s the best mother one can ever get and I would not swap her with anyone else in the world. She is the woman I’ve loved from the time I saw the world till today. Happy Birthday Ibu… We love you very much and thank you for everything. Nothing we do can ever repay all the deeds and love you’ve showered upon us…

Dearth of Local Female Talents???

The euphoria of Anugerah Planet Muzik 2007 has since died down, but judging from various blogs I visited and also replies I received from my last entry, I felt compelled to touch on one particular topic that one of you had brought up. It definitely is worth pondering upon and I for one agree with most of what one particular visitor, “Ryan“, had to say. Here, I’ll re-publish what he had said:

“Recently, i read in the papers about the male singers dominating the local music scene. No doubt, its true! But HELLO!! WE DO STILL HAVE FEMALE SINGERS! Norazela for example. If they really want to bring out the local singer, why the repeated faces over the years? Similarly, why the repeated songs from the same singer in the radio? Norazela’s album came out way earlier than Syed Azmir but…..hear it, think it and reflect it. Very disappointing indeed.

Where is the responsibility of radio management(whatever you call it) to play their songs? Too much attention on the non-local artist and the male local singers don’t you think? Think about Imran Ajmain. If the radio people can put Norazela’s songs as much as his songs, i do not see the reason why she is not as popular as the 2 singers i mentioned. For Hyrul Anwar, i share the same sentiment as him. Being the winner for Anugerah, where is his share and publicity?

This is not about biasness but is about equal fairness that we have to give to our local artist. When can we give the others to shine? Is it when the one performing being recognize then replaced a new artist, if not they are invited to perform again until they get recognized?

Alright, i write enough. Sorry if i hurt any parties involved but do you it is time we should change? For the better? For the local music industry at least?”

First of all, in case you guys misinterpreted my profile, I’m not working with radio nor have any affiliations with them other than the fact I used to be an intern and that I have always supported their programmes and segments. So this opinion put forth I hope was not meant for me specifically, but for all of us to ponder and reflect. Speaking of misinterpreting, I had a few readers thinking I deemed this year’s APM2007 as “The Worst“. No, if you read my review again, I clearly referred that title to last year’s event. As I had mentioned in it, there were significant improvements this year. Even though there were shortcomings, the organisers still deserved credits for putting up a show of that magnitude cos it’s never easy to bring together artistes from the three countries to perform under one roof.

Ok, on to my thoughts on what “Ryan” had said. Other than Eka Mairina, Rosalina, Salma, Norazela, Lady E, Norfasarie amongst the notable ones who have recorded their own albums, who else do we have??? A jog down memory lane and we seemed to have forgotten Haryani Hassan Bakri, Elfeeza Ul-Haq (she had quite a few nominations at APM2002) and Lela Anjani. I’m not even going to mention that singer who cannot sing for nuts and have since migrated to be with her husband. Quite a number of female singers we have here don’t you think??? But why are their talents not being recognised or received by listeners??? From my own observations, the fault lies with us, the consumers and music lovers.

I am not trying to defend the local radio stations, but I think they are not to be blamed fully for what’s happening. I remembered clearly when Eka, Salma, Rosalina and Norazela launched their albums, the deejays played their songs daily and hoped it would invoke the listeners to request for them in future so that these songs could at least enter the charts. However, the listeners did not deem their songs as hit materials which in turn affected the singer’s popularity and mass appeal. When these things happen, how can they attract people to come when the stations do outdoor shows??? In any business, if something appeals to the masses, it gets sold pretty fast. But I for one think, the radio people have done their part to include local acts, including the female ones, whenever they have shows outside the conty and also play their songs regularly.

As for Hyrul‘s treatment being an Anugerah winner, let me just refresh our memories and refer to Aqmal, Rudy Djoharnaen and the inaugural winner of Anugerah 12 (Apologies as I’ve forgotten his name). I think Suria‘s management have been taking laudable steps since 2005, in not repeating the same mistakes they made with the previous winners. Hence the signing of several talents from Anugerah Skrin and Anugerah itself, for them to be groomed and realise their potential under their Artiste Management Unit. I don’t deny Hyrul‘s vocal talents is one of the best we have but at the same time, I feel intrigued myself at how come Syed Azmir and to some extent, Fauzie Laily‘s stars have been shining brighter than him. No I have nothing against them, in fact I am happy they add more colour and competitiveness to the local scene. Could it be the fact that Hyrul is serving his National Service, thus resulting in a lot of red tape??? Or is it because he still has not recorded a full album??? Other than that, I have no answer to this question other than having to agree that Hyrul is being “overlooked” for reasons best known to the right people. And for the record, we cannot deny the others of their better fortune as this is after all the entertainment industry. In fact in life, everything is competitive and God has dictated each person’s success story according to their destinies.

As I had mentioned earlier, the mistake lies in us, the listeners and music lovers. We have this mindset that whatever comes from abroad is always good, unlike our own local products. If you were to go to outdoor shows or concerts, more often than not, the screaming, shrieks and shrills come from the females – from the teenyboppers to the aunties. You don’t get that from the gentlemen and the guys watching. At the most you’ll hear will be whoops and limited cheers. This was clearly translated in reality shows like Anugerah and Singapore Idol. Look at the two seasons of Singapore Idol and the finalists. All of them were guys. Anugerah 2005 was no different. All 4 finalists were also guys and we all know these reality shows were decided by the masses and I am definitely sure the bulk of them who voted were from the female fans. In general, females as we all know, don’t quite like to support those from their own gender and the guys mostly can’t be bothered with these sort of thing, me included. I guess that’s why this current season of Anugerah was divided into male and female categories, so as to have fairness for both genders competing.

Then there is the issue of looks over talents. In this part of the world, we seem to be very engrossed with looks being marketable over talents. Look at the current season of Anugerah, I won’t mention names, but some who are good-lookers but can’t sing for nuts still go through week in and out while the good ones drop out one by one. Anyway, I have not seen that many outstanding ones that have caught my eye for me to do a review week in and out. Maybe I’ll start doing it after the Wildcard round but really, it’s quite a turn off to see people voting based on how cute the wannabe is rather than how talented he / she is. Call it blind loyalty but these people who vote have no idea that they too have a huge responsibility in shaping the local scene here. Will they be proud to see these guys perform on big stages like Muzika Extravaganza or in future APMs with the kind of quality they possess???

I’m not going to blame the likes of Siti Nurhaliza, Ning Baizura, Ziana Zain, Kris Dayanti etc either for “spoiling the market” of our female talents. In a way, they have set such a high standard for our local girls to follow right from the word “go”, that our listeners seem to prefer them anytime over our gals. Perhaps the saying, “The most popular don’t have to be necessarily the best, and the best don’t necessarily have to be popular” best describes the local scene. This was clearly seen in the popular and best categories at APM2007, save for Siti Nurhaliza. After all of my reasonings, can we now blame our local girls for lack of trying or the radio stations for not playing their songs or Suria for not pushing their appearances further???

If you are hoping for a change, it should come from us, the very core recipients of music. First of all, we have to start embracing our local acts, then we break this wall between males and females and see them equally. Only then can we see slowly, a revolution in the making. Right now, only the male singers have taken huge steps in making that revolution a reality but we all know, this takes a lot of effort and tears along the way and without the girls, the circle or jigsaw puzzle will never be completed. The female singers too have a part to play but at the end of the day, it still goes back to us to make the industry better by accepting and supporting their existence…

To “Ryan“, thank you very much for your comments. Indeed they are thought-provoking and I certainly welcome more of such opinions from my readers. We are all here to exchange ideas and share our thoughts, no matter how diverse or different they are from the other. The best part is that we all put forth our thoughts in a rationale and civilised way, and not just rant and rave for the sake of it. It goes to show that we are all educated and intelligent people who still care for our local entertainment industry after all, which is most definitely heartwarming…

Anugerah Planet Muzik 2007 Review…

Well, here we are… As promised, here I am giving you a lowdown on how I felt about this year’s event. Last year, I started off by saying the event was a “Major Disappointment” followed by a critical review that might have burnt some bridges between me and the good people at Mediacorp Radio unknowingly. But as I’ve always maintained, Anugerah Planet Muzik is our local product and being a staunch supporter of the event for a good 7 years now, I’d love to see it grow and improve or at least maintaining a high standard it has set especially between 2001-2005

I had actually planned to snap a few photographs and film a few clips of the event but somehow I had forgotten to charge my handphone battery so the number of clips I managed to get were few. As for photographs, I only managed to snap just one. Luckily I had my cousin-in-law Julie and her sis Kila, to count on. By the way I went to the event with my beloved wife, the two ladies mentioned earlier and my cousin Ezaad. We were dressed to the nines. Well, when else can we don our best and immerse ourselves in the glitz and glamour of such an extolled event??? 

I’m sure many of you know the results by now and how badly I fared with my predictions last week, as I only got about a quarter or a third right. Last year, my review began with many negative points followed by the positive ones. I’ll be fairer this time round and start off with the positive ones first. You guys must be wondering, what is my take on the whole event this time round and whether it was any better or worse than the previous year, which I dubbed “The Worst APM Ever“. Well, wait no more as I spin my yarn and dissect the various aspects pertaining to the show.

APM2007 Opening Act

The Opening Act: Altimet Featuring Mawar Berduri & the Sriwana Dancers

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Positive Aspects

Venue – A prestigious event to honour the best in the region deserves an arena of international repute and the choice for this year’s event as I had pointed out earlier, could not be any better than the Singapore Indoor Stadium (SIS). If there is one place that could have topped it off, it would have been the Esplanade Theatre. The SIS with a capacity of 11000 people at any one time, had about a quarter of its area marked out for the stage to be set. With a few more tiers closed to the public, this pegged back the capacity to about 6000 people which was still a good number for people to attend the event. Boasting an intimate closed proximity between the stage and the audience, the sound system and acoustics also have a reputation for being crystal clear. Many international acts have graced the stadium in the past, so it was considered a coup by the organisers to have gotten the grand arena for such a reputable event.

Sound System – Compared to last year’s debacle, this year was generally good and clear from where I sat. It was really a far cry from last year, whereby I totally did not enjoy the booming sounds that drained most of the vocals almost throughout. The only times the music got a bit too loud this time and drowned the artistes’ vocals were during the groups’ segments i.e. EstrangedMalex. This was understandable as their music is naturally loud and on the rock-ish side.

Security – Unlike last year, the security I should say was bloody excellent this time round. From the start where they cordoned off the main seating area to accomodate the artistes, the record company representatives, local and foreign media, sponsors and distinguished guests, it was designed to avoid a repeat of last year’s fiasco whereby the paying audience surged forward whenever there was a break in transmission to take photographs with the artistes. There was none of that this time round and the artistes surely had enough privacy to enjoy the night’s proceedings. However, I heard that there were quite a few gatecrashers at the post-event party so perhaps that might be a minus point somewhat but generally overall I felt it was commendable.

Hosts – There’s a positive and negative tune to this particular section. I’ll point out the positives first. Replacing Adi Rahman with madcap Suhaimi Yusoff was a breath of fresh air as Adi had been host for the past 5 years (2003 was an exception as Najip Ali and Syah Ibrahim carried the local flag). Bringing Fika Rosemary up from the hidden realms of Radio Singapore International (RSI) showed that we’re not short of talents from the local scene to carry such a heavy responsibility. But what I’m most pleased about is seeing the continuing improvement made by Fiza Osman. I’m sure some of you remembered my less-than-favourable review of her hosting last year, even though to be fair to her, it was her first major assignment on television. She has definitely grown by leaps and bounds over the past year. Co-hosting the current season of Anugerah has also made her more relaxed in front of the camera. What I like most about her is her confidence. If there was an award for Most Improved Artiste over the past year, I’ll give it to her hands down. Let’s hope she continues to grow and do well for future assignments.

Letto singing their hits “Sandaran Hati” and “Ruang Rindu“…

Award Presenters – They kept it simple and when they had a few witty lines to deliver, they delivered them with enough punch to make the audience laugh along with them. I think the best of them all was AB Shaik and Adi Rahman, who had us all in stitches with their antics. Even a person as serious-looking as Datuk Khalid was caught on camera laughing and grinning away when Shaik made references about Adi looking after Siti Nurhaliza for the past few years before making way this year.

Performances – This is another double-edged category. I personally enjoyed the performances by Letto (“Sandaran Hati” & “Ruang Rindu“), Syed Azmir & Taufik Batisah (“Lagu Tidurku” & “Usah Lepaskan“), Gita Gutawa (“Bukan Permainan“), Siti Nurhaliza, Gita & Taufik (“Biarlah Rahsia“, “Cinta Terakhir“, “Kenangan Terindah“, “Hapus Aku“, “Juwita Citra Terindah” & “Demi Waktu“), Hady Mirza & Zainal Abidin (“Hijau“) and Diddy & Yanie (“Saling Terpesona“). Gita Gutawa showed at such a tender age (she’ll turn 14 in August), with a sweet and pretty face plus a voice trained to sing in a classical tone, she is one star to look out for in years to come. Diddy & Yanie, the two newbies in the entertainment scene, were certainly not overawed by the occasion. Their performance was polished and oozed confidence throughout. Even if Hady & Kris had not performed with them, they’d still look good. As for Hady and Zainal‘s segment, I had goosebumps listening to how Hady sang the song with ease and his own style. Before that, Adi Rahman‘s poetry recital entitled “Bhoomi” was also heart-rendering, recited with gusto and full of emotions. Simply an excellent tribute to Zainal Abidin, winner of the inaugural Anugerah Cinta Planet Muzik (“Love for the Music Planet” award). 

Local Artistes – All the local artistes who performed that night gave a good account of themselves. Compared to previous years when they either got cold feet, overawed by the occasion or simply not good enough to share a stage with the regional artistes, this time they were the talk of the regional audience. Syed Azmir for one has improved tremendously since last year, Taufik stamped his authority further and Hady earned himself a few converts to his ever-growing fan club. Sleeq showed they were no pushovers, Imran displayed confidence and Malex was just spell-binding. The time has definitely come for our local acts and it is up to the rest to pick up the gauntlet thrown down by these guys and step up on the plate. I really hope to see more quality acts from our local scene in time to come.

Audience Ethics – The audience were generally well-behaved, save for a few wisecracks being thrown about as the evening wore on. They knew when to cheer and when to stop themselves from going overboard with the incessant comments about the night’s proceedings. From where I sat, that looked the case. I dunno about other sections of the stadium. Cos I did hear one person saying, “Ok I better not say anything further, afraid to be commented upon.” I had a feeling he was referring to yours truly, who has a history of lambasting overzealous audience and their over-reactions in the past.

Noryn Aziz

Noryn Aziz accepting her Best New Female Artiste Award… Her beauty is astounding…

Post-Event Reception – Granted, I was not invited to the reception and I did not want to gatecrash it as I know my stand. Did not want to look as though I’m kinda hard up about meeting the celebrities. Last year, the foreign media slammed the organisers for the food served after the awards show. I thought, this time surely the food could not be any worse. As I surfed and bloghopped around, I saw that these same people who had done the criticising last year, painted a rosy picture of the food served. Their only complaint was the reception being stuffy with people who are not involved in the entertainment scene and for the fact that the major stars especially the Indonesian artistes, skipped it. So in that sense I guess this particular portion was a resounding success for the organisers.

Not bad… That’s nine positive points so far that I have pointed out. Last year, there was only about four good ones. Certainly we saw noticeable improvements being made and it was very much welcome by me. But of course, it is easy to be lulled into complacency when you receive praises. So henceforth I am about to point out some of the negative points I noticed about the night and also include those that I read in foreign media and feedback from others who attended the event…

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Negative Pointers 

Ticket Pricing – Personally I felt that the ticket prices were fair value, especially for a prestigious place like the Singapore Indoor Stadium. In fact I thought it was one of the cheapest concerts / shows one could enjoy. Siti Nurhaliza‘s concert 2 years ago at the same arena was even more expensive. But you see, not many people would want to fork out money for such an event when they can meet a few of these artistes at a free concert or in conjunction with some exhibition at the Singapore Expo for a minimal price of $2-$5. Blame it on these exhibitions and free concerts like Jom Heboh in Malaysia for spoiling the market value.

Crowd Attendance – Which of course leads us to the attendance of the people who thronged the stadium. For two straight years, APM was not a sell-out event. Even when its total capacity was reduced to about 6000, the stadium was only 1/2 full. Can we blame it on the ticket pricing??? Can we blame it on the so-called “market spoilers” (exhibitions, free shows etc)??? Personally I don’t think so. But come to think of it, even if Siti‘s concert 2 years ago was more expensive, the stadium was still filled to the brim. How come then when we have a star-studded list in the line-up, including one Datuk Siti Nurhaliza in the ranks, the stadium was half-filled??? Is it a question of wrong timing as it was done on a weekday??? I doubt so cos the only previous APMs that were done on a Saturday were in 2001 and 2003 as far as I can remember. Has APM lost its zest then??? This is a question that I’ve been asking myself of late.

Imran singing “Seribu Tahun“, the best I’ve heard from watching him countless time. Seemed that he saved his best version for the big stage. 

Seating Arrangement – It’s no fun having to turn 45 degrees to your right or left just to look at the stage or 90 degrees to view the giant screens. I heard a few grumbles from where I sat on having to shift one’s body. I think since its inception, we have been spoilt by having to watch the whole event by facing the stage, without the need to turn our bodies. The only other time I remembered the same scenario was in 2003 when it was done at Stadium Tertutup Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur. But back then I was lucky to be sitting in the artistes’ area so I had a good view. Not that I’m not used to it but here I’m just reflecting what others around me were grumbling about.

Venue – Actually, I’ve also heard grumblings with regards to the venue as well. Those in the foreign media were complaining about the sound system which was too blaring. Perhaps they were sitting close to the speakers for them to be saying that. I thought it was much better than last year save for the performances by Estranged and Malex, which I agreed was a little too loud and drowned the vocals of the lead singers. Then there is also the issue of limited public transportation leading to the venue. I’m not complaining as I drove to the event. There is also the issue of the air-conditioning not being cool enough. Coupled with the earlier pointers I brought up above, it brings me to wonder whether the Indoor Stadium was a right venue after all??? If there is a better place, the Esplanade is still the one for me. Yes the price tickets won’t come cheap and the capacity is only about 1600 (for the concert hall) and 1942 (for the theatre), but at least there would be a minimal number of empty seats, provided the ticket prices are fair of course. But I doubt so, cos the rental price is too exhorbitant from what I checked (http://www.esplanade.com/download/web/at_centre/venues/theatre.pdf). A big sponsor is needed in this case. In times like these, I sometimes wished I was a billionaire and can afford to donate a substantial amount just to see an event like this prosper. The Singapore Indoor Stadium was still good enough for me, but I guess not for others.

Red Carpet Event – Again they went without this pre-show event for the second year running. Instead we had TG and Zan Sofian, the pre-show emcees, introducing the artistes who were walking towards their seats. Surely a prestigious awards show that honour the regional artistes deserves an event as glamourous as the Red Carpet Event???

Stage & Pyrotechnics – The stage was considered plain by standards, save for the hanging screens that alternate between showing the sky and other elements. For such a big event, I was at least expecting pyrotechnics to appear at the beginning and grand finale. There was not even a sign of confetti. As a result, the opening was bland and the finale felt like an anti-climax.

 Siti Nurhaliza Winning Most Popular Female At APM 2007

Siti Nurhaliza receiving the Most Popular Regional Female Artiste from Ajai and Nana, a DJ from ERA

Pre-Show Event – This has been the talking point since the day itself and spilt over to reports in the local media. I came to know about it a week before APM but no further details were disclosed. I preferred to keep an open mind about it till I watched it for myself. Honestly speaking, I was very disappointed with the whole thing. Yes, people were complaining about why was it not televised live on Suria??? For me, the live televised thingy did not matter. What mattered was our local acts were not given the opportunity to be introduced to the regional audience, even if they did not perform. I accept the fact that the Singapore awards had no relevance to the regional audience but even a mere mention wouldn’t hurt a bit. I surfed around and found out that Malaysian viewers don’t even know who Hady is. How sad is that??? If by performing and people still dunno you, what more if your performances and receiving of awards were not shown for people to have a rough idea of who you are??? I’m sure the regional audience will be asking on what merit did Imran deserve to be crowned Best New Male Artiste???

Hosts – People were complaining why is it always Adi Rahman and Aznil Nawawi who are the mainstays as hosts year in and out. So when they replaced Adi with Suhaimi Yusoff, people were expecting the banter to be more punchy and the jokes more funny. Granted, the regional audience are not used to Suhaimi, so they might have found him entertaining, but I felt the hair jokes have been done before in the past and sounded a bit stale. Aznil for once, I felt was not connecting well with his co-hosts and the audience. He seemed as though he was on his own personal agenda to promote Visit Malaysia 2007 with all the fancy get-up. And I kinda pitied Fika Rosemary as she looked kinda lost listening to Suhaimi‘s jokes. So come to think of it, I kinda appreciated Adi‘s presence in the past as only he could counter Aznil with his own dose of medicine, no disrespect to Suhaimi, who I still have great respect for.

Recycled Performers / Presenters – We saw Gita Gutawa, Hady, Taufik, Irwansyah and Kris Dayanti appearing twice to perform their own songs or / and medleys. Running through the list of nominated popular local singers (and there were about twenty of them), I thought that these guys should have been given the opportunity to shine. If you want to talk about budgeting, I’m sure some of them would not mind not being paid, so long as they get to show off their talents. Like what a local singer told me of his fears for the Anugerah Boyz once the new winners from the current season are announced, I too share that sentiment. Cos right now, only Syed Azmir is making inroads in Malaysia. And why is that so??? Cos he performed at last year’s APM, which was a good ticket for him to be picked and groomed by a renowned producer like Ajai. Imagine if the likes of Didicazli, Hyrul Anwar, Khairil Yusoff and Fauzie Laily were given opportunities like these, they would probably be knocking at the record companies abroad soon. As for the performers who also backed up as presenters, what can I say??? It has been there since 2001. I was amazed people like Ezlynn and Cheryl Samad who were part of the audience, or even Mawi for that matter, were not presenting any awards. Maybe their attendance were not confirmed till much later.

Quality of Performers / Performances – We had the good ones which I mentioned earlier but what about the bad ones??? Irwansyah and his beau Acha Septriasa stuck out like sore thumbs and were top of the list for bad performances. They really proved what I had said in my earlier entry, in that they cannot sing live at all. I was cringing and feeling restless when I heard them sing. Even Taufik and Syed Azmir had to make Irwansyah look good when they performed “Pencinta Wanita“. And to think they were nominated in the Best New Artiste category. It would have been a mockery had they won. I salute the jury for picking the best talents to win those categories. Another one I felt was a bit of a bore was Jaclyn Victor‘s and Noryn Aziz‘s performances. I don’t deny they have excellent vocals but the songs they sang were too melancholic and slow, and since their style is almost the same, hearing them sing was a bit of a drag. Maybe it’s because the songs they sang have not been heard before. The opening act by Altimet and Mawar Berduri, while looking classy with the props and dancers, killed the anticipation I had for the show with its moderate and slow tempo. Rewind previous APMs and I can remember great opening acts with pomp and splendour (2001KRU, 2003Zubir Abdullah, Zainal Abidin, Thaqif, Datuk SM Salim, Duta S07 & Siti Nurhaliza, 2005Gerhana Ska Cinta and 2006V.E. & AhliFiqir). I also felt that the show was a bit draggy and bland during the first hour. It lacked that aura and punch which I find difficult to explain. The pace only picked up when Gita Gutawa and Estranged came on stage with something catchy (“Bukan Permainan” & “Itu Kamu“).

The best performance of the night – Hady and Zainal Abidin performing “Hijau“…

Delayed Telecast – Those of you who had watched the delayed telecast of the show would have noticed the botched-up editing done to it. Jokes made between Adi Rahman and AB Shaik during the pre-show were pre-empted and kept to a minimum. With no head or tail, they suddenly cut to the main opening act. The banter between the hosts were also kept to a minimum and all those Visit Malaysia 2007 promotions by Aznil were edited out as well. In short, it was extremely untidy piece of editing.

So there you have it, eleven negative pointers against nine positive ones, even though some of them were not of the organiser’s direct shortcomings. Still did not look that good but at least there were distinctive improvements made and noted as compared to last year. I felt that this year was slightly better than the last and I have to credit Mediacorp Radio‘s Warna 94.2FM & RIA 89.7FM for putting up a credible show. The awards given out were justified to the deserving ones. It was also a good advertisement for up-and-coming acts from the local and regional fronts to be known. I was especially proud that the Singaporean guys for the first time, carried the flag high and proved once and for all that our local scene is not dead but instead, staging a revolution. So for those of you who are still sceptical about our local scene, please wake up from your slumber and start supporting them…

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Predictions & Final Outcome

Throughout the night, I was basically proved wrong almost time and time again when each result was announced. Goes to show how unpredictable the results can be but I’m not one to complain as like I had mentioned earlier, the recipients truly deserved their accolades and rewards for a good job done over the past year in their respective careers. Let’s do a short recap on how I fared over the predictions and the final outcome.

Artis Lelaki Baru Terbaik / Best New Male Artiste

Initial Predictions: Irwansyah

Eventual Winner: Imran Ajmain

Artis Wanita Baru Terbaik / Best New Male Artiste

Initial Predictions: Acha Septriasa

Eventual Winner: Noryn Aziz

Duo / Kumpulan Baru Terbaik / Best New Duo / Group

Initial Predictions: Samsons

Eventual Winner: Letto

I was especially elated to have been proved wrong over the first two categories. Even though I did not hit the targets, just seeing them performed that night, I felt it would have been a travesty and a mockery to the industry if the awards had been given to them. I did mention that Imran deserved the award more and this was rightly so just looking at his CV over the past year. Noryn Aziz??? Big voice, big talent and some say big boobs… LOL!!! Seriously she deserved it, though the only complaint I have is that she already had an album recorded eight years ago so she does not qualify technically to be a new artiste.

 Kris Dayanti

Kris Dayanti singing her latest hit “I’m Sorry, Goodbye“…

Artis Lelaki Terbaik / Best Male Artiste

Initial Predictions: Iwan Fals

Eventual Winner: M. Nasir

Artis Wanita Terbaik / Best Female Artiste

Initial Predictions: Siti Nurhaliza

Eventual Winner: Siti Nurhaliza

Duo / Kumpulan Terbaik / Best Duo / Group

Initial Predictions: Samsons

Eventual Winner: Dewa 19

Looking at the winners, they truly are deserving and in the case of M. Nasir, he does have that Midas touch. Practically all his albums have been acclaimed. I could have gotten all of them right had I gone for the heart, instead of the head. My initial picks were based on logic and current trends. Felt as though I was predicting the stock market and I made quite a few losses. Pathetic huh???  Only one right guess out of six so far.

Lagu Terbaik (Serantau) / Best Song (Regional)

Initial Predictions: Kenangan Terindah – Samsons

Eventual Winner: Biarlah Rahsia – Siti Nurhaliza

Album Terbaik (Serantau) / Best Album (Regional)

Initial Predictions: Transkripsi – Siti Nurhaliza

Eventual Winner: Naluri Lelaki – Samsons

I got it all mixed up with these two categories. It was a case of switching one over the other. I had put in a lot of predictions on Samsons winning a large slice of the pie, seeing how they have fared in Indonesia and at Anugerah Industri Muzik 14. But it was not to be as the jury that picked the winners saw them fit only to win the Best Album category. Still I’m not complaining as it’s always healthy to have an equal share all around. If one person or group wins a major slice, it would only show how weak the industry would be with one dominating over the rest.

Artis Terbaik Singapura / Best Singapore Artiste

Initial Predictions: Imran Ajmain

Eventual Winner: Imran Ajmain

Lagu Terbaik Singapura / Best Singapore Song

Initial Predictions: Usah Lepaskan – Taufik Batisah

Eventual Winner: Usah Lepaskan – Taufik Batisah

Album Terbaik Singapura / Best Singapore Album

Initial Predictions: Dengan Secara Kebetulan – Imran Ajmain

Eventual Winners: Konspirasi Dunia – Bhumiband

I fared better in this round with only one guess wrong, but it was a pleasant surprise nonetheless. Those of you who are older readers of my blog would know how much I was keen on promoting Bhumiband in the past. No, my interest in the group has not waned, just that ever since my distant cousin Ard and former colleague Kief left the group, the interest level kinda dropped a bit. Coupled with the fact that 2006 was a year in hiatus and when they had shows, I could not find time to lend my support as my schedule did not allow me to do so. I still support them and I always know they are one of the best groups we have in Singapore. Their win proved that their quality have not dropped a notch. In fact if you compare their first album and “Konspirasi Dunia“, the latter sounds better, edgier and less melancholic. As for Imran, I guess I’ve said enough good things about him lately and Taufik‘s win was expected, what more can I say???

Artis Singapura Paling Popular / Most Popular Singapore Artiste

Initial Predictions: Taufik Batisah

Eventual Winners: Taufik Batisah, Hady Mirza & Sleeq

Lagu Singapura Paling Popular / Most Popular Singapore Song

Initial Predictions: Usah Lepaskan – Taufik Batisah

Eventual Winners: Usah Lepaskan – Taufik Batisah, Merpati – Hady Mirza & Dambaan Cinta – Didicazli

Artis Lelaki Serantau Paling Popular / Most Popular Regional Male Artiste

Initial Predictions: Taufik Batisah

Eventual Winner: Mawi

Artis Wanita Serantau Paling Popular / Most Popular Regional Female Artiste

Initial Predictions: Siti Nurhaliza

Eventual Winner: Siti Nurhaliza

Duo / Kumpulan Serantau Paling Popular / Most Popular Regional Duo / Group

Initial Predictions: Samsons

Eventual Winner: Sofaz

Lagu Serantau Paling Popular / Most Popular Regional Song

Initial Predictions: My Heart – Irwansyah & Acha Septriasa

Eventual Winner: Kian – Mawi

Looking at the winners of the popular regional categories, I can only conclude that Malaysians and Singaporeans bothered to send out their votes. Cos really, save for Siti, Indonesians don’t really know Taufik, Mawi and Sofaz. Since the fans had voted, I cannot see any grounds to protest as majority votes won. The winners themselves are deserved, save for Mawi, who I felt was being arrogant with his speech and cocky facial expressions, but it was his fans who picked him so I cannot complain more about that.

Another one of my favourite performances of the night. Taufik, Gita and Siti singing the nominees of the Best Regional Song Award. Notice the “Sh” pronunciation of Gita, which prompted the people around me, and even myself to repeat after her…

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Conclusions 

Thus ends my APM 2007 review. Hope you guys had enjoyed reading my analysis and how I looked at the different angles of discussion. The delay in releasing this review was deliberate as I had wanted to surf around to see what other people thought of the show and watching the delayed telecast and reviewing it from a couch potato’s perspective. It’s always nice to read the views of overseas viewers, just to see how they perceived the show and how they judge our local acts. It’s from these kind of views that I learnt where things were lacking on a more technical aspect.

However, there were also other nonsensical whims by foreign reporters in their articles, complaining about how they had expected the organisers to be organising trips to interesting places in Singapore as well as provide them with airline tickets rather than having to travel here by coach. What do they take the organisers for and who the hell are they to be wanting that kind of first-class treatment??? Have they ever done the same thing to our media people??? As far as I know, if you want to report on something, you take the initiative and go to the scene yourself, and not hope to be treated like royalty. People who report at warzones don’t expect the country to dish out red-carpet treatment for them either.

Views from fellow Singaporean bloggers generally have that feel-good factor and how they enjoyed the show since it’s their first or second time attending the event. At the end of the day, it all depends on the individuals and how they enjoyed the show. To some extent, I enjoyed it and to another, I had my grievances. It’s all to be expected anyway. The organisers can’t please everyone at the same time, but I hope that some of the negative pointers could be improved in years to come as they build on its prestige as a show that the region could be proud of and look forward to year in and out.

P.S. I’d like to thank my outfit sponsor for the night – Datuk Jatt Abdullah from Jatt’s Collezione – for the kind sponsorship. The outfit was excellent and certainly made me receive positive praises from friends who met me that night and commenting that my weight had gone down. 😛 All the hard work at the gym seems to have paid off but I’m not resting on my laurels. I still have a long way to go to slimming down to my desired weight but it’s nice to know that people acknowledged your hard work all these while… 😛 

Julie & Ezaad

The glamour couple: Julie & Ezaad

Group Photo

We did not get to meet the artistes live for us to take photographs with them so we just had to make do with this giant poster…

I’m A “Singapore Stalker”???

Ok, ok I need to sidetrack for a bit. The APM2007 review is currently underway in case you all think I’m procrastinating again. It should be out perhaps by the end of the week or just before they air a repeat telecast of the show on Suria. Heard that there’s a 4-page review of the event in today’s The New Paper. Wonder what they have to say. They normally don’t give such extensive coverage, 3 pages at the most.

I saw something today while bloghopping that made me sit up and almost made my eyes popped out when I saw this line over at SM‘s latest entry (12 June 2007):

*quote* “17. No post party. Balik hotel salin baju dan keluar jalan-jalan survey harga. Mujur tak jumpa Singapore Stalker ! hahaha.” *unquote*

For those who know me, especially Singaporean readers, you guys will definitely disagree with the notion. At first I was also taken aback for the fact that I’ve never stalked someone before in my life. Ok I’m lying, I did stalk a few beautiful gals before but that was way back in school i.e. donkey years ago. I’ve since retired from that scene when I hooked up with my wife. 

I’ve never met him before in my life though I had told him online in the past, that it would be nice to get to know him or meet him whenever he comes to Singapore, since he is afterall a very respected blogger in the Malaysian blogging scene. And I certainly have high regards for his postings as he is much attuned to the music scene over there.

No, I’m writing this not to vent my frustrations but to thank SM for the free promotion to my blog. I know he was just joking when he said that. A naughty reference to his real-life stalker nonetheless. My blog stats indicated a jump in visitorship just from his blog today and there could be more. So in case you, my fellow readers felt a bit taken aback, just so you know, he meant it in jest. I’m not angry, and neither should you be…

As for Malaysian readers who read my blog via SM‘s link, welcome aboard!!!

A New Beginning…

After months of contemplating and procrastinating, I’ve finally decided to shift from my Blogspot account to WordPress, even if in the past I held on to the belief that if something is not broken, then don’t fix it. I hate changes, that has always been one of my characteristics. But sometimes one has to change to improve and with the prospect of having my own domain as a great pulling factor, it was a progression made after many brainstorming sessions with my soul. Anyway Blogger has a tendency to cock things up when you least expect it, I’m sure those of you who still hold on to Blogger accounts would agree and testify to that.

Having a domain of your own means, you’re called upon to update as consistently as possible and not keep your readers waiting and waiting. I realise that I’ve been delaying my entries a bit too long for comfort. Incessant complaints from regular readers came to me saying they’ve waited long enough for the fruit to fall from the tree. So I put it upon myself to warn beforehand that in case such a scenario were to happen again, I’ll put in a disclaimer and a time frame as to how long I’ll be away. I’m still learning the ropes and toggling around, so please give me time to settle down and do the proper housekeeping in here.

No, I have still not forgotten about the Anugerah Planet Muzik 2007 review I had promised last week. I’m currently collecting materials to include them in my review, not to mention reading the views from different people and different media reports. It will be a week or two before I publish it but just to let you know, in general I was not that pleased with the show, even though it was much better than last year.

Thank you for still having an interest in this humble abode of mine…

Mega Update 2…

Ok, I’m back with the second instalment. Actually I had already finished typing all under one mega update but somehow the part on Anugerah Industri Muzik 14 disappeared and I had to retype all over again and add on with my own predictions on who would be the winners at Anugerah Planet Muzik 2007. So without further ado, let’s continue from where I left off…

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Imran Ajmain’s Birthday Showcase

I’ve never heard of an artiste having a birthday showcase before unless someone or his / her fans hold a suprise party. So this was a nice surprise for his ardent supporters, me included. For those who are still sceptical of this amazing performer’s intentions on performing during his birthday when he could have spent it doing other meaningful stuff, no, this event was not about milking the fans off their money through the ticket sales nor badgering for presents. This was a celebration of how far he has progressed over the past year and how much he wanted to share his joy with the fans. And those who attended were there to give him our moral support and show him how much we believe in him.

So on the evening of 25th April 2007, Aida and me went to the Arts House @ The Old Parliament House to savour a great performance from the birthday boy himself. The showcase was due to start at 7:30pm but we were slowed down by the heavy rain that poured relentlessly slightly before Maghrib. We only entered the event area at about 7:55pm. By then it was already packed with the waiting audience but we still managed to get front row seats. The moment we sat down, the showcase started. It felt as though we were the guest-of-honour for them to have waited so long to start the show.


The newly improved “Compromise“, a must listen before I go to sleep…

I’m not going into details as to what actually happened minute by minute. Overall the show showed a lot of positives and improvements in the way Imran connected with the audience and as a performer as a whole. If previously I saw him being a bit laid back and shy to banter with the audience, this time I saw a joker and storyteller who was rich in his delivery and shared a lot of history of his journey in the music world. It was interesting to note how in one photograph taken a few years ago before Singapore Idol started, the likes of Taufik Batisah, Hady Mirza, Mark (B’V Flavor) and Adib (ex-2D, now in The Fabulous Cats) were playing backup vocals to Imran. Fast forward to today, personally I feel things haven’t changed even though 3 of them (Taufik, Hady & Adib) are more well-known in the region than him. Cos through his exceptional songwriting skills, Imran has the edge over the rest and we all know how long a singer’s career can last throughout his life, unless he improvises on other aspects to attain longevity.

A few things were worth mentioning about the showcase. Imran introduced to us a few tweaks he made to some of the songs in his current album, which he will release again in a repackaged version in June. That repackaged album will also include 5 new songs, so it’s gonna be worth the buy. I’m already looking forward to listening to the new version of Compromise, which I can’t stop viewing the clip I took that night, every night before I go to sleep. Then when he sang Siti Nurhaliza‘s “Kau Ku Sayang“, composed by Pot Innuendo, accompanied by a video montage of his niece whom he hasn’t met for quite some time as she’s staying in Holland, I instantly felt the sadness he felt as I thought of my little one waiting for us at home. Imran‘s vocals can lull one into a state of unbewildered sadness if you really immerse yourself in his music.

Imran singing his own rendition of Anuar Zain‘s “Perpisahan“…

I also personally liked the way he switched between “Kata Orang” and Taufik‘s “Sombong” seamlessly. As he and Taufik had written both songs together, there’s bound to be similarities in the melodies and how they both sing their respective songs. He even sang Anuar Zain‘s “Perpisahan” in his own way and flawlessly did not spoil the essence to the song. With such mesmerising showmanship, smooth and soothing vocals, I still find it extremely scandalous and mind-boggling that he is not listed to perform at Anugerah Planet Muzik 2007 tonight.

I’ve heard rumours that he was snubbed due to comments he made in The New Paper last month about our local radio stations should have a rule on playing 60% local music every day. If it’s true that he was snubbed because of this, then I think it’s quite a petty decision though I really hope it’s not. This rule is actually enforced in certain countries and I think if the local industry is to grow, we could have such rules, maybe have a 50-50 or 40-60 amount of local content. It’s not about being ungrateful to the radio stations for playing his songs all these while but I think he has a point somewhat and definitely have the other solo singers and groups in mind. We all want to see our music industry prosper and I think his comments were considerate enough and showed his care for the local musicians. I really really do hope that there are other logical reasons as to why he was not chosen to perform at APM (like they don’t want to jinx him like what happened to Hazrul Nizam in 2004) cos I normally don’t believe in rumours and hearsay until I see or hear it with my own eyes and ears.

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Anugerah Industri Muzik 14

I’m a sucker for awards shows and concerts, remember??? I think this year alone I’ve made a record of sorts attending concerts, awards shows and showcases as compared to previous years. There was Konsert Sinaran Hati, Pesta Perdana 9, Muzika Extravaganza, Imran’s Birthday Showcase, the upcoming APM 2007 and Christina Aguilera concert in June and lastly this event which I religiously attend almost every year – Anugerah Industri Muzik (AIM) in Kuala Lumpur. Since 2001, I’ve been attending like a seasoned professional save for 2004 when I had just started on my current job and last year when Aida got pregnant and was not well enough to go. This year I managed to go because I had another relative’s wedding happening during the same weekend in Subang Jaya so I had very good reasons not to miss this one.

We set out to KL on 27 April 2007 at around 3:00pm, my parents and aunt in my father’s car and my two beloved cousins Ezaad and Julie joining us in my car. We took our time to reach our destination as the weather was a bit fickle as we went along and we took 2 stops along the way. Surprisingly, I did not feel tired at all and drove all the way to Shah Alam where we put up. As it was the May Day weekend, a lot of hotels were booked so we had to settle for Shah Alam. No, we did not stay at the Grand Blue Wave Hotel like the last time. We stayed at Concorde Hotel this time round. It was a case of deja vu for me as I had stayed at this hotel when I attended Anugerah Juara Lagu at Wisma MBSA in Shah Alam in 2000. Since we reached the hotel early, we took the liberty to have an early night, bearing in mind that we were supposed to have a long day the following day.

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A view from my hotel room, slightly different from the last time I went there but still facing the mosque…

After breakfast, we set off for my relative’s place at Subang Jaya for the marriage solemnisation ceremony. We did not spend long there, heck we did not even eat since we were still full from breakfast at the hotel. By noon we (Ezaad, Julie, Aida and me) were off to KL to check into Crowne Princess Hotel. My parents and aunt remained at my relative’s place to help out for the next day’s proceedings. Normally if I were to attend AIM, I would stay at Pan Pacific Hotel (now known as Seri Pacific Hotel), which is just next to the event venue, Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC). But I only managed to secure tickets to the event about two weeks before we set off so I missed out on booking the hotel, which was fully booked. Speaking of securing the tickets, this was another challenging affair. In years past, I had relied on my contacts over there to get them for me. However, some have left the industry while others were not attending the event, so it was difficult to get them. Luckily I managed to contact the organisers (Persatuan Akademi Industri Muzik) and got them via courier. It felt quite satisfying to not rely on my contacts as I always feel bad whenever I asked them to get the tickets for me, cos I didn’t like the idea of knowing them just to gain leverage or enjoy certain benefits.

After dumping our luggage in our respective rooms, the four of us set off for KLCC via LRT. The Ampang Park station, which was opposite our hotel, was just a station stop away from KLCC. I wasn’t actually keen on the idea of going since I had been there just a few weeks before that. But I just tagged along all the same. The moment we reached KLCC, we split up and looked for our own stuff. I just bought a magazine and looked around at Tower Records. My eyes nearly popped out when I saw a particular album cover which had the singer clad in bra and panties. I thought the singer was a Malay but she’s actually a Eurasian. Her name’s Hannah T. Seems that she’s Malaysia‘s answer to Tata Young from the various information I looked up on her. We did not stay long, left KLCC within an hour as I wanted to rest before working out at the hotel’s fitness centre.

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The sign prohibits basking and loitering around, you won’t find these rulings at our MRT stations…

We managed to stop by Manhattan Fish Shoppe and Pizza Hut which was also opposite our hotel, and bought lunch and dinner, just in case we got back late from AIM and the food shops were closed / we’re too lazy to go out. It was considered pay back time for me since I did not get to eat at Fish & Co. the last time I went there and I wasn’t disappointed as the food at Manhattan was to die for. After lunch, I took an hour’s nap and then went off to the fitness centre to workout and then a dip at the swimming pool. By the time I got back to the room at 5:45pm, it was a mad rush to get ready for the event, since we had promised the other couple, we were to leave the hotel at 6:30pm. In the end, we set off at 6:45pm via cab, no thanks to yours truly’s intricate dressing-up.

The PWTC was not far away, just about 10 minutes drive. My decision not to drive to the venue was spot on as there were no more parking spaces left. The PWTC was not only hosting AIM but also an international book fair on the same day, hence you could understand the scarceness of the parking spaces and also the crowd that had gathered there. We quickly moved to the 5th floor where we were supposed to enter the auditorium. In years past, we had to stand in the queue as early as 6:30pm to get a good seat but I was surprised, we were actually the first this time and others soon followed suit when they saw us moving towards the entrance of the auditorium. We did not have to wait long as the doors were opened at 7:15pm. We headed straight to the place where I normally sit, which was to the right when we face the stage.

Once settled at our seats, I excused myself from the rest as I wanted to go down to the 4th floor to soak in the atmosphere at the Red Carpet event. In years past, I did not get to see what transpired at this pre-show event, so this year, I thought why not I see what the hype was all about. I managed to camp at a very strategic spot, slightly after where the press photographers were stationed. It helped that I had an overzealous fan next to me who helped to stop the artistes from walking on and for us to snap photographs of them. It was nice to see the artistes walking along in their full regalia and within touching distance. The only disappointment was not seeing Siti Nurhaliza walking along. During this red carpet event, I also got to meet Abang Bard who works for Suria Records and also part of the AIM organising committee. I have not met him since APM 2005, as he had left the entertainment industry briefly to concentrate on his family business. He thought I did not have tickets to the show but I said I did. It was nice to see him as we exchanged pleasantries and caught up on old times.

Click here to view photographs of the Red Carpet event and the main show itself.

 

Sofaz performing “Janjiku“. Apologies if the backup vocals spoilt the performance…

The main show itself was much much different from years past. Besides the addition of Adibah Noor to the stable of hosts (Afdlin Shauki & Bob Lokman), this year the show took a leaf out of Pesta Perdana 9 by keeping the winning speeches to a mere 30 seconds. Apparently they had to finish by 11:00pm as they normally drag on till way past midnight previously. Which answered the question as to why there were fewer performances this time round. I must say I enjoyed most, if not all of the performances. From the start where we watched M. Nasir dancing to Tujuh Nafas Lagi right through to the finale’s Double Trouble (Search & Wings) performance, I was singing to every song that were sung, as you can listen from the video clips I took that night. It was also good to scout at new talents who were nominated at APM2007 like Noryn Aziz, Farhan and Izwan Pilus. I must say they showed that their nominations were justified. As for the winners, I felt it was evenly balanced and fair. No controversies or grumbles heard and I think that should be the way in an industry which is fierce in its bitching and backstabbings.

 

Here’s the real McCoy singing “Perpisahan“…

After the event ended at about 11:10pm, I dragged the other three down to the main auditorium where the celebrities sat. We were seated on the 5th floor where the paying audience sat. Compared to previous years, this was not a sell-out show. Normally our area would be very packed with people seated on the staircases as well. Even the 6th floor would be full but not this time. The 6th floor only had a handful number of people seated up there. I was looking out for artistes that I liked whom I could take photographs with but none were my favourites. Julie was busy looking out for Awie. She was on a mission to get Awie‘s photograph or better still, a video clip of him for her pregnant colleague who simply idolises him. It wasn’t long before we met him entertaining some fans backstage. Julie got her wish and I bet her colleague must be damn happy about it. But there was something negative about Awie that night which I won’t elaborate further other than his speech was slightly slurred and his eyes were glazed.

 

Noryn Aziz, Siti Nurhaliza, Aishah and Jaclyn Victor performing a tribute to the late Seha of Freedom, singing their massive hit “Mulanya Di Sini“…

I had wanted to go to the post-event reception, just like in years past. Somehow, I did not attend it as the entrance to the event was being blocked by security who wanted to see invitation passes to it. I did not have any so we all ended up walking along the secret passageway linking the Seri Pacific Hotel to PWTC, in hope of seeing any celebrities we could take photographs with, notably Siti who is known not to attend post-event receptions. By 11:45pm, we had to go back to our hotel as Ezaad and I wanted to watch the highlights of the English Premiership games played that night. We did not meet other artistes other than M. Nasir and Sharifah Aleya who walked past us. Later on I found out, Siti did indeed attend the post-event reception. Guess married life has changed her stance towards such events, I suppose.

 

Superb finale by Search & Wings, the original Double Trouble

The next day, we checked out after another round of hearty breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant and headed straight back to Subang Jaya for the wedding again. We spent about two hours or so there before heading back to Singapore. We dropped Ezaad and Julie at Subang Parade, where a cab was waiting to drive them down to Kuala Lumpur International Airport. They had a Hindi concert to catch later on that evening at the Esplanade, hence the need to return home early. For us, we wanted to see our daughter as soon as possible. It was an extremely sleepy journey back home as I felt sleepy throughout. I managed to catch a half-hourly nap at Ayer Keroh and Machap just to keep my eyes afreshed. We reached Singapore at about 6:15pm, some 45 minutes after the other couple had touched down at Changi Airport. I was thinking, had they followed us, we could have reached Singapore around the same time, but I don’t blame them as we could not foresee if there would be a massive traffic jam along the North-South Highway or not. Still I wished we could do this some time together again as it was all fun and laughter throughout, especially with the hubbies taking turns to bully each other’s wife…

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Anugerah Planet Muzik 2007 Predictions

And so, this is it!!! The big day has finally arrived!!! I’d like to gaze into my crystal ball and come up with thoughts of my own as to who would come out trumps. I might sound biased at times, I might be correct and I might be wrong but even if it’s meant to be in the name of fun, I’m taking this a bit seriously, being a fierce critic of the Malay music scene. I’ve already got some juicy news to share about APM2007 from what I’ve heard so far, but I’ll put that in my review of the event later on, as I dunno if they are true or not until I’ve watched the show. So here goes:

Artis Baru Lelaki Terbaik / Best New Male Artiste

Faizal AF4
Imran Ajmain
Irwansyah
Izwan Pilus

Predictions: Irwansyah
Trust me, I hate to pick Irwansyah for the fact he cannot sing live as compared to the other 3 in this category. I think it’s a no-brainer that I would pick Imran above all but I have to be realistic. When it comes to judging, the regional jury would also be looking at how well-known a particular artiste is in the other countries. As it is, through the movie Heart, Irwansyah is a big hit in all three countries, whereas I doubt Indonesia would have heard of Faizal, Imran and Izwan. Just like how Hazrul Nizam lost out to Ferhad in 2004, back then I felt Ferhad was more well-known and recognised in Malaysia while Hazrul was considered a kampung champion. Still I hope common sense would prevail and give the award to Imran. He deserves it more, really.

Artis Baru Wanita Terbaik / Best New Female Artiste

Acha Septriasa
Farhan AF4
Noryn Aziz
Rika Roslan
Terry

Predictions: Acha Septriasa
My opinions are the same as the one above. I wished it could be anyone but Acha. I have not heard of Rika‘s music but after watching Noryn, Farhan and Terry before, I feel they could also be worthy winners, but again there’s that matter of being known around the region. If Irwansyah wins his category then I really believe his real-life girlfriend would follow suit as well.

Duo / Kumpulan Baru Terbaik / Best New Duo / Group

Kerispatih
Letto
Nidji
Reya
Samsons

Predictions: Samsons
They’ve shown what a force they are to be reckoned with, having won numerous awards at Anugerah Musik Indonesia 2006 and lately at Anugerah Industri Muzik 14. Who’s to say they will not add one more to that trophy haul??? But it won’t be easy since the others in the group are equally good in their own rights.

Artis Lelaki Terbaik / Best Male Artiste

Ari Lasso
Glenn Fredly
Iwan Fals
Marcell
M. Nasir

Predictions: Iwan Fals
It’s easy for the average fan to pick M. Nasir, Marcell or even Glenn Fredly as the rest are not that well-known over here, especially the choice of my pick. But Iwan Fals is very much under-rated over here when he has been receiving outstanding reviews and gaining respect over the years for his contributions to the music industry.

Artis Wanita Terbaik / Best Female Artiste

Agnes Monica
Audy
Jaclyn Victor
Noryn Aziz
Siti Nurhaliza

Predictions: Siti Nurhaliza
Jaclyn might have pipped Siti at Anugerah Industri Muzik 14 for Best Female Vocal Performance in an Album but I doubt history would repeat itself. While I also love Agnes Monica‘s vocal range and respect Noryn Aziz and Audy, I’ll go with the heart and pick Siti for the award.

Duo / Kumpulan Terbaik / Best Duo / Group

Dewa 19
Kerispatih
Letto
Samsons
Ungu

Predictions: Samsons
Actually this category is very open and if given a choice, I’d choose Dewa 19. But as I had mentioned earlier, Samsons‘ star and stock seems to be on the rise at the moment and this momentum will spill over to APM2007

Lagu Terbaik / Best Song

Biarlah Rahsia – Siti Nurhaliza
Cinta Terakhir – Ari Lasso
Demi Waktu – Ungu
Hapus Aku – Nidji
Juwita Citra Terindah – M. Nasir
Kenangan Terindah – Samsons

Predictions: Kenangan Terindah – Samsons
Really this is a tough call to make as all the other songs nominated are strong and have a place in the hearts of listeneners. But I have a feeling, through emotions captured and how lasting an impression it made with its simplicity in execution, Kenangan Terindah takes the cake. How else can I explain its haunting popularity in the region???

Album Terbaik / Best Album

Dewa 19 – Republik Cinta
Kerispatih – Kerispatih
M. Nasir – Sang Pencinta
Nidji – Breakthrough
Samsons – Naluri Lelaki
Siti Nurhaliza – Transkripsi

Predictions: Siti Nurhaliza – Transkripsi
No, I’m not choosing Siti cos of my soft spot for her but because Transkripsi is one of the best albums she has produced. Coupled with the fact that the album was chosen to be the Best Album at AIM14, there is a strong possibility that Siti will add one more to her collection.

Artis Terbaik Singapura / Best Singapore Artiste

Bhumiband
Imran Ajmain
Iskandar Ismail
Norazela Rosli
Sound Salvation

Predictions: Imran Ajmain
I think of the 5, he has been one of the most hardworking and known, ever since he released “Sudah Tu Sudah” in April last year. Not only is his vocal range superb, his reputation as a songwriter is fast gaining recognition, so overall as a package, I’m going for him, not only because I am a firm believer of his amazing talents…

Lagu Terbaik Singapura / Best Singapore Song

Goda – Bhumiband
Kau – Merah
Sombong – Taufik Batisah
Sudah Tu Sudah – Imran Ajmain
Usah Lepaskan – Taufik Batisah


Predictions: Usah Lepaskan – Taufik Batisah
I dunno how to explain how I’ve come to this conclusion, but I guess it’s due to its simplicity and haunting tune. Any other way I look at it, a win for Taufik is also a win for Imran as he had co-written both Taufik songs with Taufik himself.

Album Terbaik Singapura / Best Singapore Album

Imran Ajmain – Dengan Secara Kebetulan
Iskandar Ismail – Dengar & Lihat
Norazela Rosli – Di Sini Menanti
Bhumiband – Konspirasi Dunia
Malex

Predictions: Imran Ajmain – Dengan Secara Kebetulan
For me, this is a no-brainer even if the rest in the group should be respected and lauded. Why I picked Imran‘s album is because almost every song in the album has been played on radio and received well by listeners. “Sudah Tu Sudah“, “Ghaibmu“, “Seribu Tahun“, “Apa Salah Beta?“, “Kata Orang“, “Taurus (Penawar Rindu)” and “Malu” have been hits before or currently being hits on the local Malay music charts. Compare this to songs from the others, chances are people will only remember Bhumiband‘s “Goda” and the rest would not even register itself in people’s minds.

Popular Categories

Ok for the following, I will not list out the nominees and instead go straight to my choice of who would win.

Artis Singapura Paling Popular / Most Popular Singapore Artiste: Taufik Batisah
Lagu Singapura Paling Popular / Most Popular Singapore Song: Usah Lepaskan – Taufik Batisah
Artis Lelaki Serantau Paling Popular / Most Popular Regional Male Artiste: Taufik Batisah
Artis Wanita Serantau Paling Popular / Most Popular Regional Female Artiste: Siti Nurhaliza
Duo / Kumpulan Serantau Paling Popular / Most Popular Regional Duo / Group: Samsons
Lagu Paling Popular / Most Popular Song: My Heart – Irwansyah & Acha Septriasa

I underestimated the powers of the FiknatiksTaufik‘s die-hard fans – last year when I predicted that Mawi was going to win the Most Popular Male Award. So this time I am sure his fans are going out in full force again to pick him as the Most Popular Male at the awards show. The only time the other Singapore artistes have a chance is if Taufik and Hady are out of the picture. Personally I feel they are just there to make up the numbers, without disrespecting them. The same goes for Siti. She’s won the award for the past 6 years consecutively and a 7th one beckons even after marriage. As for duo / group, I’m going for Samsons cos of logical reasons. Likewise the choice for “My Heart“. It’s the Song of the Year as far as I know. Got sick of it everytime I switched stations between RIA 89.7FM, Warna 94.2FM, Era 104.5FM and Hot 90.1 FM

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So there you have it, the end of the second instalment of my mega update. I hope it’s been a fruitful wait to listen and read my thoughts on stuff that had happened over the past two months. I hope you won’t have to wait another two months to read my thoughts again. Well you can be sure my next entry would be a review of APM2007, so watch this space!!!

Mega Update 1…

Yes I’m back, still alive, still kicking and still blogging. I’m sure you’ve all been waiting rather impatiently for this lengthy post to be published ever since I said I was gonna report about my Kuala Lumpur (KL) trip 2 months ago. I know I’m way, way overdue and I’ve never been away this long unless I say so. Wished I had blogged at the hotel’s business centre back then, so my posts wouldn’t be so lengthy but time was not on my side. A lot of things have happened over the past 2 months, no thanks to my procrastination and laziness most definitely, so here I’m stuffing them all into one mega-sized update for your reading / viewing pleasure. Apologies for this lengthy wait, you’ve been forewarned!!! Since it’s gonna be a very long one, I’ll be splitting the mega update into two parts. As usual, sit tight, have your chips and colas ready and away we go…

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Kuala Lumpur Trip

Before I move on, I’d just like to clarify how I’m related to Nadia Mustafar, the actress whose wedding I was invited to attend, as stated in the previous entry. Nadia‘s mother and my mother-in-law are siblings so that means the family ties are strong enough to warrant us a wedding invite. Anyway, Nadia herself took the trouble to come to our wedding in 2005, so it’s only natural that we reciprocated the gesture. It was also a good way to get to know Aida‘s family over there.

Aida‘s uncle, renowned actor and host of the infotainment show “SEKsa“, Jasmani Basri, or Cik Jas as we call him, had planned a trip up to Kuala Lumpur via coach along with other members of Aida‘s matriarchal family. Initially I thought it would be good to join in as I could mingle with Aida‘s cousins, uncles and aunts. However, when I got to know that they were going to Cameron Highlands, I felt that it was going to be a big rush and very little time to shop / gallivant around Kuala Lumpur. So I decided against it and instead made plans to drive up with Aida‘s sis, Kak Rashida and her family, with her husband, Abang Yan being my co-driver.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Aida and I spent the night (28 March 2007) at my in-laws in Sengkang before we departed the next morning. My parents-in-law were scheduled to leave on Thursday night with the rest of the family via coach, so they helped to look after our daughter in the day. We were supposed to leave at 7:00am, but when you are driving up with kids in tow (i.e. my nephew and niece. Syahindah stayed behind, being looked after by my parents…), you are bound to be delayed by their never-ending whims. And so, we left home at 9:00am but not before stopping over at my parents’ place where we are currently based, to do some last-minute checks on the car with my father.

We exited Singapore at about 10:45am via the 2nd Link with yours truly helming the driver’s seat. This was my first time driving up to KL and so I was quite excited at the prospect. My only fear was being sleepy, the Malaysian drivers’ overzealousness on the roads and the authorities reprimanding us for minor stuff and then demanding money before letting us go. I was quite worried about the tinted windows problem which has been reported lately in the papers. But I printed out a directive from the JPJ website (Malaysia‘s equivalent to our own LTA), which stated clearly Singapore cars are exempted from the rules, just in case the police tried to be funny. My father had also warned me against driving above 90km/h, bearing in mind the number of people in the car and the 2 huge luggage bags that we brought with us. But knowing the highway there, it was impossible to drive at that speed. I kept my limit at 120km/h, going up to 130km/h at times.

We stopped for lunch at Ayer Keroh at 1:00pm. This is the only stop that I really like amongst all the rest areas along the North-South Highway as it houses KFC and A&W amongst others. As it is, whenever I’m in Malaysia I always make it a point to go to restaurants not found in Singapore or those that do not have Halal certificates over here, like Kenny Rogers Roasters and Fish & Co. I know some people do visit the latter restaurant here since the idea is that they serve fish and seafood, but a Chinese colleague had informed me that 2-3 dishes have wine in them. Wallahu’alam bissawab. That’s why I play it safe and avoid those restaurants that do not have Halal certification.

Since A&W has since disappeared from Singapore, save for the Root Beer cans and bottles, we decided to have lunch there. Didn’t expect to spend so long there. We only continued our journey at 2:10pm. By then I was already feeling sleepy so Abang Yan took over the wheels. I managed to doze off for about 45 minutes and woke up fresh to guide Abang Yan on which way to go once we passed the Sungei Besi toll. Since my last visit to KL was during the May Day weekend in 2005, I was expecting to see some new things done to the city. I did not have to wait long. The road leading to the city centre, where there is a hangar to your left, has been improved, with a tunnel leading to another part of town which I can’t recall to where it heads to.

The view from my brother-in-law’s room…

We reached our hotel (Hotel Grand Seasons, along Jalan Pahang) at about 4pm, a combination of the city’s traffic jam and heavy rain slowing down our movement. I had bad vibes about the hotel, the minute I stepped onto the lobby. Already we did not get the connecting rooms that we asked for, things were made worse when we found out that there was no cable television (Astro) in our rooms. Things went from bad to worse when some of the lights in the room did not work and to iron our clothes, we had to go all the way to the lift lobby where there was an ironing board and iron connected to the wall. To top it off, the room and toilet was infested with baby cockroaches. Mind you, our room was only halfway up on the 17th floor and things were already so bad. So you guys have been warned, never stay at anything less than a 5-star hotel when you are in KL. The only respite was the majestic view of the city centre as you can see from the video clip below.

 

As you can see, to the right is the 2nd tallest building in the world, the Petronas Twin Towers. The Minangkabau-like rooftop building to the left is the Istana Budaya, Malaysia‘s answer to our Esplanade. And that Ferris Wheel which I zoomed to have a better view, is the city’s latest attraction, the “Eye On Malaysia“. Had I stayed at the hotel on New Year’s Eve, I would have gotten an excellent view of the fireworks display they had there. At the extreme left of the clip, had the sky been clearer, we could have caught a glimpse of Genting Highlands. We managed to see it afterwards and at night.

The Hotel Grand Season‘s swimming pool and jacuzzi…

We rested till after Maghrib, then we set off to Ampang Point. During the rest period, I had tried in vain to locate Ampang Point in the map of the book that my brother-in-law had bought yonks ago. No wonder, cos when I looked at the version, it was in 2002. I know my way around KL having spent hours walking around the area in years past but this Ampang area was out of my venture. Thank god, it pays to know people who are natives of KL cos you can always count on them to guide you if you are at a loss. In my case, most of my contacts are those in the entertainment industry. So I contacted Edry of KRU and he was kind enough to direct me on how to get there as well as the landmarks to look out for.

Ok you must be wondering why of all places I was going to Ampang Point. Well I was answering an invitation to sample the delicacies at Linda Onn‘s “My Mom’s Chicken Rice” restaurant by none other than Linda‘s father himself. Remember in the entry I did about my Umrah experience last year I had mentioned meeting him at Masjidil Haram and he had invited me over to the restaurant??? He told me he was normally at the Ampang Point outlet so that was the reason why we went there, so that we could meet him in case he was there. The restaurant is actually outside Ampang Point, along a row of shophouses. I was kinda disappointed to know Linda‘s father was not around, after asking the staff of his whereabouts.

The view outside the chicken rice shop…

Nonetheless, the menu at the restaurant was to die for. I’ve never liked to eat chicken rice on a regular basis here in Singapore, especially when I eat outside. The reasons were because of the sour taste of the sambal, the less-than-juicy chicken parts and the soup that is more watery than being thick. After sampling the chicken rice here, my perceptions clearly changed. All those negative pointers that turned me off from eating it here in Singapore were dispelled. The sambal is hot and sweet, the chicken parts were juicy and the soup was to die for!!! It had taste, it had flavour, which of course increased the fervour to have more. And the taste of the rice was just so right. I strongly recommend you guys to sample this restaurant whenever you are in KL. They have other outlets at Bukit Bintang and Tesco Ampang.

As I was enjoying my meal, I realised a teenage boy at the next table standing and staring at me. When I looked at him, he said, “Eh, macam pernah nampak tapi kat mana eh??? (I’ve seen you somewhere but where did we meet???)” After staring at his face, it dawned on me that he was Linda‘s nephew and I had also met him at Masjidil Haram back then. So I told him where we met and then I went up to make small talk with him. He said his grandfather was resting at home when I enquired of his whereabouts.

A miracle he still remembered this ugly face of mine. Stupid me didn’t even ask for his name. Hahahaha… We went back to the hotel to rest for the night after dinner. Well not exactly, since we treated this as our first real honeymoon and having a room to ourselves as compared to the Umrah experience where we shared a room with my in-laws. Ok I guess I won’t add anymore details as the rest are too censored for a family-entertainment blog like mine… 😛

Friday 30 March 2007

One of the reasons I looked forward to the trip was the fact that I could enjoy the breakfast buffet at the hotel’s restaurant. After first working out at the gym with my brother-in-law, we all went down for breakfast. By then it was almost 10:00am and the breakfast ended at 10:30am daily. Being a 4-star hotel, the menu was quite limited and it’s the same every day (Nasi Lemak, French Toast, fried noodles, pastries amongst others). The fruit juices were pathetic and tasted more like cordial drinks. When I asked for scrambled eggs, they gave me omelette instead. Man, I wonder if they know the difference between poached and boiled as well.

We left for Sunway Lagoon close to noon. We realised when we were at the hotel lobby that there were a lot of Middle-Eastern looking tourists. Felt as though we were in the Middle-East. We reached Sunway Lagoon at about 12:30pm. I was quite amazed the journey was quite fast since the Malaysian Government has done well to build a lot of highways linking the towns to the city centre. In the past, there was only one major highway (Federal Highway / Lebuhraya Persekutuan), which of course resulted in massive traffic jams during peak hours but now there are other alternatives.

After Friday prayers (the mosque was opposite the Sunway Pyramid Shopping Centre), we sampled the water slides at the Sunway Lagoon. Ever since our very own Fantasy Island closed down, our country has been devoid of such water-themed parks. If you guys say, “But what about the ones at Jurong East and Choa Chu Kang???“, I would retort and say I never regard them as water-themed parks. Anyway, we wanted my niece and nephew to enjoy themselves. When you have kids with you, definitely you want to keep them entertained. At the same time, we adults could relive our childhood all over again.

I was surprised there were quite a lot of Middle-Eastern people at Sunway Lagoon and the ladies were certainly letting their hair down with their skimpy bikinis. I mean, can they really wear like that back home??? I doubt so and I even caught some of the lifeguards ogling them. Can’t blame them cos these ladies looked exotic and having shapely figures with ample flesh at the right places.

I was actually more happy for my wife cos finally she’s managed to slide down on the water slides. Knowing our strict rules when it comes to entering the swimming pool or at Fantasy Island in the past, it’s always a disadvantage for the Muslimahs in hijab to equally enjoy them like the rest of us. Since we were in a Muslim country, it was easier for people like her to get up on the slides and experience the adrenaline rush when going down. I think everyone enjoyed themselves there.

We did a spot of window shopping at Sunway Pyramid and bought food (our belated lunch) to eat along the way home. The original plan was to get back to the hotel and leave again for KLCC after Maghrib. But we were caught in a massive traffic jam near Mid-Valley Mega Mall. For your information, this area is always experiencing jams during peak hours so you have been warned the next time you want to pass this route. Speaking of Mid-Valley Mega Mall, I have always yearned to come to this place since yonks ago, but I have never had the time to venture. And this recent KL trip only served to prolong the wait…

Since we were held up along the way, we decided to head to KLCC straightaway. As I had mentioned how amazed I was at the number of highways linking the towns to the city centre, I was even more amazed by the growing number of highways within the city centre. One such highway led all the way into the KLCC carpark. My brother-in-law remarked that he felt as though we were in the Batmobile returning to the Batcave, cos the route reminded him of how Batman returns to his hideout via the secret highway linking the town to his Batcave.

We reached KLCC close to 8:00pm. Did nothing except to window shop cos a lot of things there were bloody expensive. No wonder KL natives prefer to come to Singapore and shop. I noticed quite a few notable changes there like how finally they have a McDonald’s outlet and the A&W restaurant had gone through a makeover. And as per previous visits to KLCC where I used to bump into celebrities like Ezlynn, Zizie Ezzete, Tun Dr. Mahathir amongst others, this time we met the Zain siblings, Anuar and Ziana doing a spot of shopping with their (I presume) manager. We were in two minds, whether to take photographs with them or not, but in the end decided not to cos Anuar was unshaven and kinda sloppy (by standards) and Ziana looked tired. So we tried to respect their privacy and didn’t even go up to them. We retreated back to the hotel at about 10:00pm. By then I was suffering from a bad cold…

Saturday 31 April 2007

We were supposed to bring the kids down to the hotel’s swimming pool for a swim before breakfast but the cold kept me away. After breakfast, we went out again without the car this time. We took the LRT down to Imbi from Chow Kit, which was near our hotel. The Imbi station is quite popular, especially to those who wanna go to the Berjaya Times Square shopping mall. Opened in late 2005, this place is a one-stop centre for entertainment and shopping. What do you expect when you have a theme park, cinema, shopping centre, restaurants, retail outlets all under one roof??? As people would say, one day is not enough to finish everything but we actually did within 5 hours. Even then we did not sample the rides at the theme park as I was too afraid of heights when I saw the roller-coaster going as high up as the 12th floor (which was approximately equivalent to the height of 20 floors of a HDB flat)!

I noticed something weird / fishy / mind-boggling when I was taking a rest on one of the benches in the shopping complex. As the bench I was sitting on was big enough for 6 people to sit on it (3 facing either side), there was a couple seated to my right. I noticed that they were concentrating on the guy’s handphone and the girl was giggling away. Being inquisitive (I’m stopping short of saying I’m a busybody here…), I took a sly peek at what was so interesting on the handphone screen. My eyes nearly popped out when I saw that they were viewing a video clip in the same mould as the now-famous “Papa Jahat” video. And they were brave enough to view it in the open!!! I was too stunned for words and quickly left the bench. It’s a bit saddening to see them viewing something like that in public and with the girl in Hijab, it makes it all even worse. To think I was in a Muslim country. I just feel Singaporean girls, esp those clad in Hijab, are much better and more aware of their responsibilities wearing it. I just feel that over there, wearing a Hijab is more of culture than religious responsibilities…

We then made our way to Bukit Bintang, which was an LRT stop away. It rained cats and dogs the moment we stepped out of the station. Fortunately there was an overhead bridge linking the LRT station to Sungei Wang Plaza and Lot 10, which are on opposite sides of the road. I was so looking forward to eating at Fish & Co, situated at Lot 10. But I was badly disappointed by the fact that it has been replaced by some posh Chinese restaurant. So, the other substitute was to eat at the shopping complex’s basement foodcourt.

Once we finished our belated lunch, we made our way to Sungei Wang Plaza. Abang Yan and me were looking out for shops selling games and I was busy enquiring the prices of Playstation 3. It’s cheaper over there. Here in Singapore, it is selling at $799. If we convert back the price they are selling it there, I would be saving almost $100!!! In the end, I did not buy it cos if it needs to be repaired in future, don’t tell me I need to travel all the way up to KL to get it fixed!!! Again we did nothing except to window shop.

By Maghrib, my legs were aching to no end. I decided to go back to the hotel via cab but as you know over there, getting a taxi driver who does not follow the meter and just quote exhorbitant prices are a dime a dozen. They wanted to charge us RM15 but I said no. But God is fair. There was a driver who followed the meter and when we reached the hotel, the fair was only RM6.20. For his honesty in carrying out his job, I gave him RM13. Aida said it was a bit too much but I told her, I don’t mind paying a bit more for honesty cos he deserved it. If he was God-sent to us, then I hoped we were God-sent to him. Bless that driver…

After bathing and saying my prayers, I decided to walk around the hotel, just to see if their pubs were showing live Premiership football on television since the dumb hotel does not have cable television in our rooms. I was lucky, the moment I stepped out from the lift, I was greeted by a familiar roar only heard when one watches football on TV. They were indeed showing it at the Kasbah, the name of the pub situated on the 1st floor. So I went up excitedly and told my brother-in-law, and we agreed to meet at the pub at 10:00pm. As there was still an hour to go, I decided to take a short nap to rest my tired legs after the long walk I did in the day.

I was surprised to see the pub had no visitors when I came later on, save for the staff and the bartender. I ordered Coke, which was RM9.50 by the way, and Abang Yan did likewise. The staff then beckoned us to their lounge to watch the match between Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers as the seats were lush and more comfortable. The only downside was the television set was small, but to us, it was better than nothing. Beggars can’t be choosers as the saying goes. We of course enjoyed the game since United ran out 4-1 winners. We also entertained ourselves during halftime by playing dart at the lounge. Though the pub was dead, we tried to liven it up with our whoops and cheers. We turned in for the night once the match ended. The rest of the family members who were supposed to come by coach, reached and checked-into the hotel slightly before 10:00pm but I did not go over to see them.

Sunday 1 April 2007

My daughter turned 4 months and we were not there to be with her. We were missing her a hell lot, watching clips of her on my handphone every now and then. We checked out close to 12 noon and made our way to Shah Alam. There, we checked into the Grand Blue Wave Hotel, which was facing Wisma Perbadanan Kemajuan Pertanian Selangor (PKPS), the venue of the wedding of Nadia and Hazil. When we were doing the necessary stuff at the check-in counter, the bride coincidentally called in and reserved a room at the hotel. The receptionist told us that she was going to put the bride’s room next to us. I grinned at Aida and said that we would be able to hear some noisy sounds later on in the night coming from their room.

Plaza Alam Sentral…

I tell you, going from a 4-star to a 5-star rated hotel is like comparing it to the skies and the ground. This hotel is a fine example of what a hotel should be all about, polite and affable staff, clean, posh, having internet connection in the room, lights and aircon having a main central switch and switched on with just a touch on one of the buttons, cable TV and even a switch to indicate whether we want our room to be made up or not to disturb us, replacing the normal signs we normally hang outside on the door handles. To top it all, a room facing the majestic Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque. I’ve always been intrigued by the beauty of this mosque. Even when I prayed there in the past, I remembered being in awe of the ceiling and half-wondered what would happen if it falls on my head. The mosque was so near that one could rely on it to give us a morning wake up call during Subuh.

 

The view from the hotel room…

Since the room wasn’t made up yet (cos we only reserved the rooms just before we left KL), we went out to have lunch at Plaza Alam Sentral, which was a 10-minutes walk away from the hotel. We had lunch at Kenny Rogers Roasters. After lunch, we did a bit of shopping, with me buying games for my Playstation 2. I still didn’t find enough conviction to buy anything else since I feel the prices over here are still much cheaper. We were back at the hotel by 5:00pm, but not before meeting the bride and her entourage waiting by the lift lobby since their rooms were being made up. Her entourage included Sharifah Shahirah, the pretty actress who used to be married to Jatt Ali, the 70s / 80s singer from the famous group Black Dog Bone. Abang Yan and I decided to bring the kids out to swim at the hotel’s swimming pool. Actually I wanted to workout at the gym but the equipment were quite sucky and I wasn’t in the mood anyway, so I swam about 80 laps (the pool was 25m in length) just to burn away the number of calories I’m supposed to lose in a day. The water was icy cold and I took pity on my nephew and niece, as they were shivering when they came out from the pool.

Wisma MBSA: The Anugerah Juara Lagu in 2000 was held here…

It was a mad rush getting ready for the wedding. We had bought new clothes for the event, with a Bollywood theme to it. As the venue was opposite our hotel, we took our own sweet time to get ready. Anyway, since the bride and groom were next door, we knew what time to leave the room. We left close to 8:30pm. When we reached the event venue, the bride’s family greeted us at the door. After the customary greetings with Aida‘s relatives (the Singapore entourage took up about 5 tables), we sat down at our table. It was here that my eyes worked overtime and scanned the ballroom to see which celebrities were invited. It was basically a who’s who in the acting industry – Watie, Hana, Linda & Fiza from Elite fame, Rosyam Nor, Jalalludin Hassan, Ezlynn, Fahrin Ahmad, Linda Onn, Danny X-Factor, Fasha Sandha, Serina (Chef Wan‘s daughter), Fiz Fairuz etc.

I wasn’t paying much attention to the events that unfolded as I was busy planning who to take photographs with. It’s not often you share the same reception as many big names. I was disappointed that Serina left quite early. Didn’t realise it was her till she walked out of the ballroom. I had a lovely time chatting with Linda Onn. I might have been less than impressed with her during last year’s APM 2006 but actually I’ve always admired her hosting talents. Told her how I met her father at Masjidil Haram and enjoying the delicacies at her restaurant. She’s very amiable and had no airs about her. She said that she’ll be going Umrah again towards the end of May and to pray that everything goes well for her and family. Even her partner Fahrin is a suave chap. He looks like the cocky and arrogant type but actually he’s a shy person and quite embarrassed with popularity from my observation. They both make a great couple, down-to-earth, humble and no airs whatsoever. The media should respect their privacy rather than speculate if they are together or not. Since then, I’ve been a regular listener of Linda‘s evening slot on Radio ERA

Well if meeting Linda Onn and most of the artistes were nice experiences to savour, the same could not be said of one particular actress whose star is rising every single day. Over the past 2 years, we’ve seen Fasha Sandha taking the lead actress roles in many movies and definitely this has led to her stock rising, what with the numerous popular actress awards that she received in the various awards shows in Malaysia. You would expect one so popular to be obliging and sincere towards her fans but that was not what I saw that night. Yes, she did take photographs with the other guests but I caught her making unhappy faces at them behind their backs. This is the difference between being genuine and fake. You don’t get this from someone like Siti Nurhaliza, no matter how high her status is or no matter how tired she is after a show. From liking Fasha before this, I lost my respect for her as a person and performer, and I dunno how many people caught her making faces that night. Even her manager was tightfisted and prevented me from taking a photograph with her. As you can see from the photo I took with her, I wasn’t looking too pleased, what with her manager pulling her away.

Click here to view the photographs taken with some of the guests.

The event was something you expect of a wedding dinner event. Aida and I agreed that even with the star-studded guest list, it was never going to match the entertainment-by-the-minute we had during our own wedding dinner. Ok maybe we’re in denial or we’re overly biased towards our own affair, but truth be told, people still say our event was extraordinary and something they’ve never experienced before for those who came. Plus we didn’t need to engage transvestite dancers to entertain the guests. I noticed quite a few blushes and embarrassed faces whenever these dancers performed their stuff that night. But that’s not to say we did not enjoy the event. I personally did and I thought it was well executed with the number of people invited and having to entertain them all.

By 11:30pm, the event was over. I had half the mind to scoot towards Stadium Malawati nearby where a tribute concert to Sudirman was being held. Performances by my personal favourites Siti Nurhaliza and Liza Hanim amongst others, were enticing enough but as it was running late, I was afraid the concert was over. Anyway, since it rained earlier in the day, I was also fearful of the ground being muddy and dirty. So I had to make do with having another round of honeymooning back at the hotel *grins*…

I woke up the next day with a massive headache and a strained neck. Don’t ask me what I did the previous night. All I can say is, if you’re not accustomed to a certain type of position that strains your muscles, then don’t do it!!! I switched on the TV and was impressed that one of the channels (8TV) was showing live feeds from Hot FM‘s studio. (90.1FM) by the way, has taken over Radio ERA as the premier radio station in Malaysia. This was justified when the Persatuan Akademi Industri Muzik picked them as the official radio station for this year’s Anugerah Industri Muzik. Interesting to see what the DJs do when they are not speaking to the listeners. It’s a riot seeing their antics.

The buttons on the main switchboard control the lights and other stuff in the room… Cool huh???
The AM crew of Hot FM live on 8TV

After a good round of high-class breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant, we checked out and headed for home. Contrary to driving to KL, driving back was a sleepy affair. And since my head was spinning, I was trying hard to keep myself awake. But I persevered till Ayer Keroh and then Abang Yan took over the wheels till we reached Holiday Plaza in Johor Bahru. There, we took a breather and of course did a spot of shopping of our own. I think for those who are familiar with the place, you know what things we shopped for. After topping up our petrol and washing the car (so cheap, only RM8), we headed for home.

We faced another problem when we got home. Syahindah was apparently sad and angry that we left her for a good 5 days at home. Even though she was fine when my parents looked after her, the moment we reached back, she cried when she saw our faces. Subsequently for the next 24 hours or so, she cried whenever she saw my face. Sleeping with her was a no-no. Even when she appeared to have cooled down, the moment we mentioned the word “KL” to her, she’ll burst into tears as though someone had hit her. Alhamdulillah she didn’t bear her “grudge” for long. By the third day, she was smiling and laughing jovially again. But we learnt a lesson. Never to leave her for so long again.

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Muzika Extravaganza

I promised Nurul I’ll post this entry soon but it’s not to be, but here it is sis. Better late than never.

I was really looking forward to this event for the sole reason I could meet my old friend Liza Hanim and introduce my daughter to her. As some of you older readers of my blog could remember, the last time I met Liza was when she came over to my place a day after our wedding with her family, as she could not attend our wedding dinner due to family commitments. Since my daughter was also born on the same day as her daughter Marsya Qistina, I thought the bond we had was even more special. But there was one big problem. Liza lost her handphone and my number and when she got a new one, she changed her number and I was left with no other contacts to get to her. Coupled with the fact that she changed her management, it all adds up to being a no-go on contacting / meeting her.

AhliFiqir performing “Merdeka Minda“…

Fortunately through the kind help of sis Diah and Nurul, I got the message across to Liza and Ummi (Farah‘s mum), who was also my Mak Andam and involved in the show, took the trouble to call me up during the full dress rehearsal a night before the event so I could talk to Liza, when she overheard Nurul‘s conversation with Liza about me. We didn’t talk long, just exchanging pleasantries and stuff before she had to rush off for the rehearsal. So I thought it’s ok, maybe I could meet her during the reception the following night.

 

Liza Hanim performing “Fly Me To The Moon“…

The show itself was enjoyable, save for a few segments (the dance and musical segments where only the melody was played and no vocal accompaniment) which I felt were there just to take up the time. The 2 hosts (Nurul & Nurul) had a very good chemistry between them and I quite like the exchanging banter between them. The comedy skit was also a riot. Kudos to Abang Keatar and his wife Kak Wan for coming up with the script for the show. I personally enjoyed Faizal Tahir‘s performance, Ahli Fiqir‘s and of course, Liza‘s. I am still not impressed with Eka Mairina‘s vocal range. She can’t seem to sing the low notes without going off key. I thought Fuad Rahman did a credible performance. All in all, I think the show was about 3.5 out of 5.

 

Faizal with “Maha Karya Cinta“…

Compared to Pesta Perdana 9, it was easier to go into the reception area this time around. Met a few friends and acquaintances in the local entertainment industry and chatted with them over the drinks being served. I wasn’t hungry so chatting up with my old contacts certainly made me full. And surprisingly Huda Ali remembered me and acknowledged from a distance. All these while I was keeping a look out for Liza who I was told was not feeling well that night. Upon meeting Nurul, I thanked her profusely for helping me out to get in touch with Liza, cos really without her help, I think I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to meet or talk to her again. So to Nurul, thank you for being a great help and to sis Diah too for passing the message to Nurul. We didn’t get to meet Liza at the reception even though my cousin Ezaad and wife (who came to the show with us) bumped into her on their way back, since they left the post-event earlier than us.


With Nurul at the reception…



With Faizal Tahir

Armed with the knowledge that her flight was at 10:00am the next morning, Aida and I brought Syahindah along with us to the airport in the hope of introducing Syahindah to Liza. To cut things short, the little one chose the right time (not!) to puke her milk out when we entered the Terminal 2 carpark and we had to change her first. The time wasted was crucial as we ended up not being able to meet Liza as she had already entered the Departure Gate. We were quite disappointed as Liza herself did not call us to say she’s leaving already. The miscommunication was a major factor in the disappointment we experienced. Dunno when we’re gonna meet or chat again since I still did not get her number.

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Anugerah Planet Muzik (APM 2007)

This is one event I have never missed since its inception in 2001. Even when it decided to uproot itself to Kuala Lumpur in 2003, I took a flight out with the wife (then-girlfriend) to savour the event from the comfort of the artistes’ area, as we had complimentary seats thanks to Elfeeza Ul-Haq, who could not make it. As some of you had known, the event this year was almost held in Jakarta. I would have gone there myself if it really happened but of course deep down I wanted it to be held here as I’ve always maintained that this is the product of our own local company and should remain here when Malaysia and Indonesia don’t give a damn about our artistes in their respective award shows.

18 April 2007 was the day of the media conference to announce the final list of nominees for the event. The announcement that the Singapore Indoor Stadium would play host to the event was a great surprise and one that I give both thumbs-up to the organisers. A prestigious event like this deserves a good place to hold it and it doesn’t come much better than the Indoor Stadium, the close proximity between the stage and audience makes it conducive to enjoy the proceedings. Coupled with the arena’s sound system and excellent acoustics, I’m sure certain performances will make the audience’s hairs stand.

Nominations-wise, I guess the usual suspects dominate the list. The Indonesians have traditionally been strong in all aspects and it’s no wonder seeing them having a major slice of the pie, especially in the Best Group Category where all the groups are from Indonesia. As I had prophesised previously and in fact, surpassing my expectations, Imran is the man to watch this year with 7 nominations directly linked to him. If you count the other songs he had a hand in composing like Taufik‘s “Usah Lepaskan” and “Sombong” and Sleeq‘s “Pilihlah Aku“, that increase his number of nominations to 11!!! I’m extremely proud to have seen his rise, from a nobody in our mainstream market to a force to be reckoned with regionally, without the need of any help from reality shows. I definitely share his happiness at being nominated and felt vindicated all the hype and praises I gave him all these while were shared by the regional’s professional juries. All I can only hope for is that he doesn’t end up like Hazrul Nizam who was expected to sweep APM 2004 but ended up with nothing more than a memorable performance of “Kaulah Segalanya“.

Of course, if there are positives to be highlighted, there will be the negative ones sticking out like a sore thumb. How in the world Imran is not given the opportunity to showcase his talent on 8 June 2007 to the regional’s watching audience is beyond me and those who appreciate his presence in the music industry. Compared to Hady Mirza (thanks to Muzika Extravaganza and his reported fling with MTV VJ and actress Fazura) and Taufik Batisah (chalking up his 3rd straight APM appearance this year), Imran is still relatively unknown to the regional audience. He might have made inroads into Malaysia with various shows in KL of late but he’s still a complete stranger to the Indonesian audience. A performance that night would definitely be a breath of fresh air, a great introduction to our next singing sensation, as we’ve seen quite enough of the two Idols on local television and to some extent, Syed Azmir who I feel is only performing due to obvious reasons which I won’t mention in here.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Taufik, Hady or Syed Azmir. I love their music myself. But I would really love to see more local talents being showcased. Heck, I would even clamour for the other Anugerah Boys to be given the opportunity to shine, along with Eiss (Iskandar Ismail), Bhumiband, Norazela Rosli and Sleeq who had quite a few nominations themselves. Isn’t APM an event to introduce our local talents to the region after all??? Contrary to what was announced at the media conference in that our local standards have improved, the opportunity to let more of them showcase their talents is still somewhat limited. Even though I understand that the final list of performers for that night have been finalised, I still hope that some backwards bending could be done so that we can be proud to show that we have artistes who are as good as their regional counterparts.

Being the sucker that I am for this event, I was queueing outside the Joo Chiat branch of Muzika Rekods as early as 9:15am on the morning of 21st April 2007, the day the tickets went on sale. The shop only opened at 10:00am but there was already a lady before me and soon more people joined in the queue. By the time the shop assistant came at 9:40am, we had quite a considerable number of people already waiting. From being the second, I suddenly found myself to be the first person in the queue when the lady before me suddenly left. We were temporarily disappointed when we were told that the tickets were only going on sale at 11:00am but due to the rising number of people queueing up, good sense prevailed. I got front row tickets to the right of the stage, which was near enough for me. Couldn’t have felt happier with what I had in hand…

To be continued…