I’ve been jotting down notes during the commercial breaks, as a guide to type this entry. If not, I would have easily forgotten some of the forgettable performances. Felt as though I was being an entertainment journalist being pressed for a midnight dateline. Fortunately I did not attend the show at Mediacorp TV Theatre. I was offered a ticket by a very good friend of mine earlier today which might have given me a good seat amongst the distinguished guests in the lower tiers, but as it is, we both had the same feeling in that we could not be bothered to attend and preferring to watch from the comfort of our homes. Anyway, am nursing a bad flu and slight fever, so going there straight from work was an absolute no-no. Ok, so we all know the results already. But let’s do a very quick recap on all the performances and what I thought of them.
This was supposed to be the ice-breaker, the warm up song to ease the tensions being felt by the finalists. The nerves were there for all to hear. Fortunately this song was not judged upon. Somehow I noticed even Hyrul was not that comfortable singing this song. I might be wrong though but that’s what I felt. Nonetheless, I applaud this move to let them ease into the show so that they could get themselves accustomed to singing throughout the night. Nothing like a punchy song to start the night rolling, even if the delivery was not top-notch by the finalists. A forgiveable and forgettable performance no doubt.
First Set: Finalists’ Choice
First Song: Tak Ada Logika (Agnes Monica) – Nurun Nuwarrah
She had the responsibility to start the ball rolling. A pity that we got to know that she’s not feeling well. Her forte is singing catchy numbers, but I must say not many can hold a candle to Agnes Monica‘s screaming vocals. Nuwarrah‘s voice cracked a few times during the chorus and she could not reached the high notes. This has been her Achilles Heel for the past three weeks.
Second song: Bonda (Potret / Mike) – Roslan Mohamad
Ok I have not heard this song myself to judge if he was good or bad. But, I felt he did well since his strength is in the ballads and just by listening to it raw. The intro where he mocked the painting / sketching was also a plus point in terms of showmanship. What amazed me was Rahimah Rahim‘s comments about Roslan being pitchy and flat, even though she herself admitted she had not heard that song before. So tell me, if you have not heard the song before, how can you tell if that person went off-key and flat??? Duhhh…!!! Definitely a bimbotic and unfair comment.
Third Song: Gemilang (Jaclyn Victor) – Maiya Rahman
As usual, she was in her element and I agreed with judge Eddy Ali that up till then, she was better than Nuwarrah and Roslan. But somehow, I felt the performance was too safe for her comfort. She could have gone higher with those notes but I guess nervousness got in her way.
Fourth Song: Mungkir Bahagia (Hazami) – Aliff Aziz
Like Roslan, the boy’s strength is also in ballads and sappy songs. From the start of the competition, we know he can sing them, and sing them extremely well in his own version without killing the essence of the song, save for Anuar Zain‘s “Mungkin” during the semi-finals. This was a performance that just proved he is the better balladeer than Roslan in this round, even if the former had more feel.
Second Set: Duets
Fifth Song: Apa Artinya Cinta? (Melly Goeslaw & Ari Lasso) – Nurun Nuwarrah & Roslan Mohamad
I must say, Nuwarrah made me forget about her earlier performance this time with a more assured and controlled performance. Roslan surprisingly was a bundle of nerves when one expected him to nail another song of his forte. The worst of the four in this set, his voice was simply patchy and eventually cracked even when the note was not that high for him and he could not execute the falsetto properly. Falsetto is an art which only exceptional singers can execute. Think Imran Ajmain.
Sixth Song: Menari Denganku (Siti Sarah & Zahid AF2) – Maiya Rahman & Aliff Aziz
I have to agree with guest judge Syafinaz that this second set was a disappointment. For all their strength in their vocal capabilities, I felt Maiya and Aliff had little chemistry between them and the harmonising was wayward to say the least. But individually, they were better. Definitely the set that I did not enjoy the most.
Third Set: Judges’ Choice
Seventh Song: Tanpa Kekasihku (Agnes Monica) – Nurun Nuwarrah
By now, I feel this girl had eased into the competition. Her best performance of the evening and I must say, she seems to like Agnes a lot, even if this choice of song was not her’s in the first place. Calm, confident and assured. However, that stage presence was still lacking in her.
Eighth Song: Izinkan Ku Pergi (Kaer Azami) – Roslan Mohamad Feat. Genevieve on violin
He started off very well like how we know he could deliver a song like this. Somehow, the song was too much in his comfort zone and I was hoping he would sing a fast number to test his versatility. Too safe and somehow his performance level dipped towards the end. This boy was simply not himself this evening.
Ninth Song: Pilihlah Aku (Kris Dayanti) – Maiya Rahman Feat. Atan (Flybaits) on saxophone
A song of such moderate tempo is not a good test in such a competition. Yes Maiya delivered it well, but not well enough to make one say “Wow!!!“. I was expecting more from her cos up till then, her aura and stage presence were still missing.
Tenth Song: Sedang Ingin Bercinta (Dewa 19) – Aliff Aziz Feat. Addy (Cradle) on guitar
Honestly I was sceptical when I heard Aliff was going to sing this song, seeing that it has a mixture of pop rock and dangdut elements. I was sceptical because I did not expect him to excel in this song seeing how lacklustre he was when he sang Menari Denganku with Maiya earlier. But lo!!! If you ask me, this was the performance that truly nailed his status as the newly crowned champion. He started off low and when he reached the chorus, he really set himself loose. The showmanship and stage presence also appeared when he pranced around the stage and held court with Addy, his guest guitarist. To top it off, he was the only one who gave credit to Addy when the song ended. Now that is the mark of an entertainer in the making.
Fourth Set: Group Singing
Eleventh Song: Jangan Bilang-Bilang (Tangga) – Nurun Nuwarrah, Roslan Mohamad, Maiya Rahman and Aliff Aziz
I just felt this last song was a formality, sort of like going through the motions. And since it was the final item for them, we saw how relaxed and at ease they were. Perhaps singing together was less stressful than singing alone. My mind was basically made up as to who would be champion after seeing Aliff sang “Sedang Ingin Bercinta” and it was up to the voters and the judges to back me up.
And so, we have just crowned a new champion in Aliff Aziz, someone who is entrusted to carry the torch and at the same time add more variety to the already strong pool of talent we are slowly churning out, in terms of vocal capabilities. Yes I know, some of you might be banging your heads on the wall with the results and hating his whispery voice. Not me though, even if I did not get my predictions right. Why??? Well let’s just rewind back to my entry on 6th July 2007 and recap what I said about Aliff Aziz:
“…But I still love this boy and prefer him to win the competition as he has been so consistent, more than any of the other guys left. No, I’m not related to him and neither does he know me. So in case anyone says I’m biased, I’m not cos this boy is genuinely good. He just needs to polish up, work on his breathing techniques as well as have better voice projection and he’ll be there. He has time on his side based on his age. Even if he loses out on the winning contract, I know of a prominent songwriter who would not hesitate to take him in as his recording artiste. This boy’s future in the industry is more or less secured, even if he is booted out…”
Ok, I might have said in my predictions the previous day that Maiya had been the most consistent performer. But so too was Aliff, save for the semi-finals, which did not bring out the best in him. It was all down to consistency and who could maintain that level of performance tonight, which was their crunch night. In a competition like this where both the judges and the public have equal say, anything goes. With looks playing a major factor when it comes to attracting fans, the better looking one comes up trumps. I was not surprised that Aliff got the most sms votes, cos not only is he a looker, he backed that up with his more-or-less consistent performances throughout the night. I knew he would nail the competition the moment guest judge Syafinaz said she would go out on a date with him if he was older and after watching him hold court with “Sedang Ingin Bercinta“. But the sms results did affirm the fact and my previous observations that our local industry is still very much obsessed with male talents.
Speaking of the judges, the only one who should have been the mainstay right from the start is Syafinaz or at least someone with her calibre as a day-to-day vocal lecturer. Ok, I’m not saying this cos I’m astounded by her beauty but I’m very much attuned to the honesty and direct comments she gave as compared to the other four. Which judge throughout the competition was brave enough to slam the contestants for giving a lacklustre performance??? Even if the performances sucked, we still hear phrases like “Class!!!” and “Power!!!“. And why in the world did they pick someone who has limited vocabulary to be the guest judge. Almost every comment from Gani Karim is “You sold the song!!!” and I for one think, if I was paid to sit there and utter the same thing, then anyone can do that too. Another one with limited vocabulary and findings is Nuraliza Osman who kept urging the finalists to “Lose Yourself“. In general, the judges have been EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTING throughout the competition. Is there a Roslan Aziz-type of judge in our industry??? Or at least have Najip Ali and the likes of Rafaat Hamzah to tell it like it is??? Syafinaz was brave enough to stick her neck out and criticise the second set whereby the finalists sang in duet. You know they have really lost it and lack originality when they had to borrow Hafeez Glamour‘s quotes into the picture.
Hosts-wise, I thought they were at their very best tonight. One can really see that they were enjoying themselves. Nurul I’m sure we all already know what a good host she is, even if certain quarters might say she can be exaggerating at times. But isn’t exaggeration part and parcel of hosting??? Fiza O‘s continued confidence on camera have long been observed by me so I don’t have to say much. Fauzie Laily to me, was the one who enjoyed himself the most. His ad-libbing is top notch and masked whatever flaws he might have made when he constantly referred to his cue cards. Give him more of such assignments and I’m sure he will soon be another versatile player on Suria Channel.
To Aliff, if you are reading this, congratulations my boy. I knew you would make it some day when I first saw you at Imran Ajmain‘s album launch last year. But I did not expect this to come sooner rather than later. Your journey has just begun but don’t let it hamper your progress in school cos you still have a long way to go. I hope your journey will be smoother and much better than those before you and I know you will do us proud if you were to carry the flag abroad. Keep your head down and continue to improve cos there’s a lot to be done and I’m sure you know it too. Enjoy the win, but not too much cos the hard work has only just begun, and I don’t just mean your singing career…
To the other finalists Nuwarrah, Roslan and Maiya, this is not the be all and end all of your journey. I’m sure if there are avenues to carve a niche in the industry, your paths will be made easier. Use Syed Azmir‘s career path as an inspiration to move forward and realise your dreams. Now that the gloves are off, it’s time to improve, improve and improve further so you’ll be good entertainers in future. I’m looking forward to seeing what all of you have to offer to our growing local music industry…