Can’t We Learn To Let Go???

Moving On“… It is a difficult thing to do when someone feels he or she have been gravely misjudged. I admit that sometimes I am trapped into mulling over something, wallowing in self-pity and dwelling over it for days and weeks. I’m sure many of you out there have experienced things which have put yourselves into thinking about it whenever you are alone or just before you go to sleep. It is not a nice feeling to have, it breeds contempt, it gives birth to hatred, it even clogs the heart into having ill-will towards the party that have grossly done injustice to you. But for how long do we let it rip our hearts and torture our souls???

I have been keeping my peace over the past month or so with regards to what a local artiste had complained in a Berita Minggu article sometime in early February 2008. In it, he lamented about the fact that a particular radio station had not been playing his songs over the past year unless the listeners requested them, nor granted him any interviews, nor included him in any promotional outdoor shows, ever since he made some comments about how good it was if local radio stations were to have a 60%-40% ruling on local / foreign songs being played on air and for voicing out his unhappiness about performing at last year’s non-televised APM2007‘s first half-hour segment (which was meant for local awards to be given away).

As I had mentioned in my entry dated 11 February 2008, I am on both sides of the fence and feel that both sides have their little flaws and niggly mistakes, which I had hoped that over time, might heal the wounds and bring them together to work as before. The artiste has already said his piece and moved on. Even though I am not close nor affiliated to him (even though I am a big fan of his talents and regularly attend his shows), I believe he has preferred to let his vocals do the talking from now on. Whilst watching TV3‘s Malaysia Hari Ini programme last Thursday (from the comfort of Syahindah‘s hospital room) in which he was a guest, the presenters tried to put him in a spot by asking how was his relationship with the media here like and whether they were still at odds with each other. Very confidently he said he believed that everything is settled and looking at his body language and facial expressions, I for one think that on his side, he has kept his part of the bargain by not commenting anymore on it publicly. However I am not sure of the media here.

I have the utmost of respects for radio presenters for the amount of work they do. It is a thankless task having to please thousands of listeners tuning in daily and not to mention the artistes who hope that their songs are aired by them. I should know cos I was an intern before and I learnt to appreciate their job more when I was learning the ropes. Most radio presenters I tune into are more or less immuned by the complaints made by this artiste even though I know they are all seething about it. They still continue to play his songs without making any mention of what he had accused them of. However, there are a select few who have chosen to make it a personal vendetta against him at almost every single opportunity available. I dunno, I could be wrong, but it could just be my luck when I tuned in to them that I heard all these disguised and veiled words being said. For the first few weeks since the comments were published, I thought it was fair enough for them to dispel his notions and that he was perhaps wrong with the statements that he made by continuing to play his songs and saying they still play them without any prejudice. But lately I’ve noticed that these select few presenters have made it kinda personal by insinuating that local artistes are not swell-headed every time they play a local artiste’s song.

Having seen his performances and making that little conversations I had with him after his shows, me being the person who loves to observe people and their body language, it is difficult to say that he has gone big-headed just because his single had boomed big time in Malaysia. I believe this pride of carrying the flag high and paving the way for more of our artistes to have a crack at the industry abroad has given him the satisfaction more than anything else and would like to see more following suit. From the way he speaks and the tone that he expressed himself, I believe he would like to replicate the amount of support he gets over there to here cos believe me, nothing is more satisfying for a local artiste than to be acknowledged by your own people. Look at Ferhad. Just because he upset fan favourite Hazrul Nizam at APM2004, he was booed by the audience when he went up to take his awards. Why??? Because he made his name in Malaysia and not in Singapore. I think I was one of the few who was brave enough to give him a standing ovation and applauded his win that night. And for all the success they get in Malaysia, Ahli Fiqir is still not given their rightful support by the fans over here. And it’s not even radio’s fault!!!

Personally I do not condone the comments that were made in the media. I consider it as career suicide on the part of the artiste even if some of the things he said might be true to some extent. He had his reasons for saying it and I believe if he could take back some of the things he said, he would or at least put it in a more tasteful way. I dunno, I have not been talking to him lately to understand what goes through his mind but as a fan of the local industry, it hurts for me to hear our own artiste and our own local radio station at odds with one another over something I regard as so trivial from a fan and listener’s perspective. Radio on the other hand were at first gracious enough to continue airing his songs and showing the masses who might have erred in their own personal judgement (something which I applaud cos our local stations do not ban artistes like those in Malaysia). But by saying most local artistes are not swell-headed on an almost daily / weekly basis thus insinuating a hidden propaganda, does not reflect who is the bigger person in this tete-a-tete. The listeners are smart enough to judge for themselves who is in the right and who is in the wrong. If this artiste was wrong with his words and radio continues to air his songs without making additional remarks / insinuations, then fair play and respect goes out to radio for coming out smelling roses. But by constantly hitting back when the artiste himself has chosen to clam up, it does not reflect well on them, granted because of the select few presenters who choose to speak out.

We know and we got the message already that the artiste might have erred but you don’t have to constantly harp about it. It’s turning into a broken record already almost two months after the comments were made. Being professionals, I believe both sides should sit down and thrash their differences out rather than taking it out in the open and subjecting loyal listeners like me to endless verbal joustings with no light at the end of the tunnel. Some of you might feel that after reading this entry, my allegiance have somewhat swayed towards the artiste involved. No, I still maintain I am on both sides of the fence having equal respect for both parties and their personal stands. I want to see this end, or at the very least made less of a mention about on national radio. I don’t hear radio stations abroad talk badly about their own artistes on air. At the most, they ban their songs from being played which I find a bit extreme. But they can afford to since their industry is so big with 64 stations compared to us (only 2 Malay radio stations). But I believe if our local radio stations were to ban this particular artiste’s songs, it would only make his comments about the things he had alleged spot-on, which I’m sure they will want to avoid at all costs.

Our local music industry need all the support from the radio stations, print media, online portals and what-nots to keep themselves alive. Too many acts have come and gone having been one-hit wonders. We need to get our acts together and lessen whatever niggly disputes we might have. “Support” is a big word that needs to be drummed across all platforms. I’ve heard of radio and television competing with one another, I’ve heard of the print media at odds with the broadcasting media, heck even between the two Malay television channels there is some form of hidden rivalry between them and at the end of the day, our industry is still small with nothing much to show for except Taufik Batisah and Hady Mirza with all due respect to all local musicians and entertainers out there. Shouldn’t we all work together and make our local music industry an even more vibrant scene than the 60s-80s than concentrating on stabbing on each other’s backs just to see who comes out tops??? And at the end of the day, can’t we all learn to let go???

P.S. And what is this I hear rumours about APM2008 holding a separate awards presentation for our local artistes??? Kinda goes back to what we were all unhappy about at last year’s event isn’t it and wasting our time travelling up just to support our local acts…??? I hope I had heard wrongly cos it really defeats the purpose of honouring local acts on a regional stage…

Testing Week…

I think the title of the entry is apt enough to describe the ordeal and stress that Aida and I have been going through this past week. Being parents to a young infant, who is very much helpless and meek at this point of time, it pains us to see her suffer and resorted to all kinds of tests and treatment being done on her. Syahindah has been ill since last weekend, down with fever and flu which she contracted from her cousin (my sister-in-law’s son who is staying with us). Since she spent the Good Friday holidays over at my parents’, my old folks did the yeoman service by bringing her to the paediatrician at Mount Alvernia Hospital on Saturday morning.

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The forlorn look of pain and anguish… Doesn’t it make your heart sink???

There, she was given the usual suction treatment, which she hates. Almost every time she contracts the flu, she has to be given the same treatment which involves inserting the tube into her nasal passageway and sucking out the phlegm. Because of this, she is traumatised everytime we bring her to our family doctor or when we go to the polyclinic for her periodical jabs. She will start to bawl the moment we step into the room or put her on the weighing machine cos she knows what it means afterwards. So young, yet she is already accustomed to her surroundings and knows what is in store for her. But she will immediately stop crying the moment we step out from the room. Sometimes we wonder if she’s just putting on an act or is she genuine in her cries.

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The eyes begging us to go home…

By Wednesday morning, her fever had reached a high of 39 degrees. Aida and I took no chances and brought her back to the paediatrician. Our hearts sank when he said that she had to be admitted or risk having her suffer for another week or so. We could not afford to have her ill, bearing in mind that her mother needs to be in good health for the delivery of her younger sister this coming Tuesday. I was not keen on her staying at the hospital as I believed that with proper medication and without seeing the nurses and doctors, Syahindah would recover without more stress but Aida was adamant on her staying. This was a big test on us on the first day as anger and tears were shared seeing Syahindah crying her eyes out struggling and fighting against the nurses every time they put on the drips on her, when they injected the antibiotics on her, when the physios had to pat hard on her lungs, and when the neubilizer had to be applied on her. She is so traumatised that even when the cleaners or nurses walked into the room to tend to the other patient next to us, she would start to cry.

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Wondering when could she return home…

So Aida and I did the next best thing that would minimise her pain. We studied what the nurses did and when the time came for them to apply the neubilizer or inject the antibiotics into her via the tubes, we were the ones who took over the mantle and became nurses for the day. Syahindah did cry of course but not as intensive, nor did she put up any struggle as she knew she would not be “manhandled”. Yes, it is painful as parents to see our young kids suffer like that and I for one, do not wish that to any parents out there, no matter if any of you have axes to grind against me. I now know how my cousins felt when their son was admitted last year at Kandang Kerbau Hospital. My close friends and relatives must be wondering why we did not inform them of Syahindah‘s condition. The fact is both of us hate to bother you guys and waste your time visiting her when we ourselves do not know when she will be discharged.

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Scant reprieve…

Alhamdulillah by yesterday evening, she was up and about and was back to her cheery self when we took her out from her room and brought her to the children’s playroom at the end of the corridor. There, she let loose and started to run on the rubber mats and asking me to put her on the slides. Even though she looked weak, her spirit was strong enough to make her want to play and start running, cos she has not been able to do that for the past week. Of course her spirit is strong, just imagine her against three nurses restraining her and with her successfully squirming and wriggling away. Naturally when we brought her back to her room, she went all grumpy and started to cry again but not for long as my mother’s arrival quietened her.

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Going down the slide with her tube still attached to her…

She’s back home today after a 48-hour stay at the hospital, but boy doesn’t it feel long for us and her??? I certainly felt that way, I kinda likened it to my stupid annual reservist in-camp training in the jungle (Yes that’s how much I hate the Army). I know right now with the erratic weather and the bug going round, many people from all walks of life are getting ill. Please be careful of your children being in contact with people who are already ill. We learnt a painful lesson and we hope that no one would be in our shoes. Syahindah‘s viral lung infection or “Pneumonia” as what the diagnosis on my child sick leave stated, could happen to anyone, especially since the virus is airborne.

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I wish people will stop being busybodies and mind their own business. A look at my blog statistics at this main domain of mine revealed that quite a number of people had stumbled upon my blog through the search engines via typing a local celebrity’s name and followed by the word “Divorce“. Seriously people, do you expect me or even the person him / herself to talk about their private lives for the world to see???

Actually this has been going on since January, which was way before the news was made public. At first I just dismissed it as rumours but then as it went on for weeks and up till now, I thought how come people seemed to know about something that has not been made officially known upon???  What is so fascinating about reading someone’s divorce or failed relationship??? Can’t we all mind our own business and let them live their own lives in peace??? Please people, I’m sure there are better things to do than reading and prying into other people’s lives. Please respect their privacy and space. They are humans too!!!

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A very interesting news article came out in today’s page 2 of Berita Harian. An up-and-coming talent was charged in court for grievous hurt and faces up to seven years in jail if convicted and found guilty. Seriously I’m the least bit surprised by all these. I dunno whether to call it gut feeling, but this guy certainly did not exude positive auras when he competed in last year’s Anugerah 2007. Which is mind-boggling considering the aunties and the teenyboppers were swooning over his looks and raving over his half-past-six voice. So many people cried foul when this guy was eventually eliminated (thanks to the intelligence of the voters). Personally I said, “Good riddance!!! The competition’s honour is somehow upheld and not being made a mockery of…” 

Can all those people out there who have supported him all these while still claim to be his true fans??? I know I’m not in a position to judge his character but as someone who can already be considered a public figure, he should have known damn well his actions could lead to massive repercussions in the future. He can even say goodbye to his aspirations cos if really he was convicted and put behind bars, he would be left well behind by new and rising talents that will appear over the years. Already it is extremely difficult for true talents like Hyrul Anuar, Rudy Djoharnaen and Aqmal to have a decent push, what more someone with so-so qualities??? The least he could do is use his looks like a certain Anugerah Skrin finalist and force his way into the acting scene. He can consider himself lucky if people still want to take him in as a possible star-in-the-making cos seriously, the public will have second thoughts in wanting to support him, bearing in mind that he is certainly not the poster boy for being a role model to follow…

Konsert Diari Hati Siti Nurhaliza Review…

You know, I could just be lazy and say, “Please go to Hyrul Anuar‘s blog and get the full gist of the concert“, cos really he beat me to it and I for one, was blown away by his excellent write-up on this event. It kinda makes my job on typing my own two cents’ worth a little easier in that he has basically shared most of my sentiments and also for the fact that he was kind enough to refresh my memory inadvertantly by remembering every song that was sung. Observing the guy who was sitting on my left at the concert and seeing his body language throughout the whole event, not to mention reading his latest entry on the concert review, my words in my last entry proved prophetic when I said that Hyrul is an even bigger fan of Datin Sri Hajjah Siti Nurhaliza (ok let’s call her “Siti” subsequently to save space and since we’re so used to calling her that) than me. And rightly so!!!

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The humble props on stage…

I had gotten wind that Hyrul was going to sit along the same row as me about two weeks ago from a colleague of mine, who happens to be a good friend of his. But little did I expect that we would be sitting next to each other right smack in the middle of the first row. Yes, we were THAT close to Siti and if in the last entry I said that seeing her upclose during the Konsert Diva in 2000 was the closest I got to watching her perform (And I also forgot momentarily that I was one of her minders when she performed at Malam Amal Suria at the Singapore Expo in August 2002), this was within touching distance had she sat in front of us. So yes in terms of touching distance, this was indeed the closest I had to watching her, but it was a case of so near yet so far, cos I would have liked her to rub her hands on Aida‘s bulging tummy for good luck, even though I don’t subscribe to superstitions myself.

I guess for those still not in the know, or have not met us in ages or did not get the little hints that I’ve been dropping over the past 6 months, you would be surprised to hear that Aida is expecting our second child and is due for delivery in a fortnight (which explains why I am contemplating going to APM 2008 in Kuala Lumpur next month). Even though it is something good to share with others, we just thought that we would let the cat out of the bag naturally if people asked or noticed anything different about her outlook. If not, we’d just prefer to keep mum and let the delivery be of a surprise to everyone. So yeah, since we’re both so fertile (the gap of delivering the first and conceiving the second being just 7 months apart), I had this crazy idea of asking Siti to rub her hands on Aida‘s tummy but of course, it was just a figment of my imagination.

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I have never missed a single publicised concert / showcase (note the keyword “publicised) she has made here in Singapore ever since she won her first award in her colourful career at Anugerah Muzik Popular on 24 December 1996 at Suntec Convention Centre. Yes and that includes gatecrashing Anugerah Berita Harian dinner showcase at Ritz Carlton Hotel dressed as one of the minders and blending in with the distinguished guests in 2001 (I think I deserved an Oscar for that!!!). This “love affair” for her exceptional vocals and genuine character has continued through the passing of time and seen many of her ups and downs in the entertainment industry. Basically I grew up with her music and she has been one of my greatest musical influences along with KRU, Anuar Zain and Liza Hanim amongst others. Some of you might remember me winning the karaoke segment on Hafeez Glamour‘s show a couple of years ago when the theme of the week was singing her songs. Anyway it’s been 32 months and a day since we watched her last big concert here in Singapore at the Singapore Indoor Stadium (the two APM performances in 2006 and 2007 before this don’t count). And this period of time between the two concerts have seen us gotten married and me at press time, a father of one.

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I believe Siti has grown so much in stature since her virgin concert here on 15 April 2000 at the now-defunct Harbour Pavilion. Wait a minute, I think that was quite a dumb statement to make. Of course she has grown in stature, in status and in her capacity as arguably the number one Malay singer in the Malay Archipelago. I still remember the colourful but cheesy props that filled the stage during her first concert here, not to mention the many costume changes. I think the costume changes were becoming quite a trademark to her concert shows subsequently, as well as the props and number of extras that graced her performances. As recently as the 2005 concert, even though there were no props, the traditional segment itself was colourful with so many back up dancers accompanying her. But not this time.

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The small and intimate settings of the Esplanade Theatre did not allow that to happen. Overall, she only made one costume change on Friday night and the humble props on stage (a sofa, a lampshade, a candle holder, two cushions, a teddy bear and two photo frames of her) were just token presentation. Anyway, with 13 years of experience in the industry, Siti now no longer need props, pyrotechnics and back up dancers to accompany her as people are already mesmerised and in awe of her voice and flawless looks. Of course, the settings itself provided Siti with the best platform to showcase her extraordinary talents via acoustic means, which is definitely a first for her here in Singapore. And lest us forget, the reputation of the Esplanade now is on par with its Australian and London counterparts (Sydney Opera House & Royal Albert Hall). Anyone accorded the opportunity to grace either the Esplanade‘s Theatre or Concert Hall can already be considered as being “up there” amongst the higher echelons of the arts / entertainment industry. But you would have to wonder aloud why it has taken her this long to finally grace this venue. Nonetheless, it was better late than never. And the overwhelming honour of finally gracing the venue was very much evident when Siti herself thanked the good people at the Esplanade no less than three times throughout the 90 minutes setpiece.

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Did I just say “good people“??? Hmmm to an extent, I was very much peeved by the fact that photography and video recording were not allowed. I mean that’s natural enough for a distinguished and exclusive event like the concert I attended. But what made it worse was we were not even allowed to snap photographs of the interiors of the Esplanade Theatre or amongst ourselves in it. What possibly could be of high security in the vicinity till we cannot even snap photographs of the interior??? The posh and elegant architecture deserves to be captured and mused about, and for us to be proud that Singapore boasts a world-class venue for concerts to be held. Having ushers coming over and telling you to delete your captured images before and after the event, is quite an embarrassment, but at least nobody stopped a lot of people from capturing them discreetly from my personal observations. I had a field day, albeit discreetly, as you can see from the images I took and included in this entry.

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Backed by a stellar outfit led by renowned composer Aubrey Suwito and ably assisted by her trusted back-up vocal group Swara, Siti enchanted the audience as only she knew how to. Lessening the number of performances she has made ever since she became a wife, I was a bit sceptical whether she could produce a stellar performance since I was not particularly impressed by her showing at the recent Zoom In showcase on TV1 that she did a few weeks ago. One could see how nervous and emotive she was when she first addressed the audience on Friday night, but do not for one think it was a feeling of being overawed by the occasion. Siti is just too experienced to be lulled into that kind of false insecurity. It was more a feeling of gratitude for finally being able to perform at such a prestigious venue like the Esplanade. Yes, like the normal cliche we hear time and time again to describe the form of a football team, “Form is temporary, class is permanent!!!” and the 90 minutes showcase oozed class from start till the end. It is Siti anyway and you know you will never be disappointed with her performances, especially when it comes to the big events which she thrives.

The mark of an exceptional entertainer as I had mentioned when I reviewed Imran Ajmain‘s showcase earlier in the month is his or her ability to engage the audience and have them at the snap of the fingertips. Siti did well to acknowledge the audience at the back and on the upper levels from time to time and did a little banter with them, so that they did not feel estranged or separated from those on the lower stalls. Of course when she saw familiar faces amongst the audience, her eyes would widen and sparkle, followed with an acknowledging nod and smile. Likewise when she made eye contact with yours truly, she had the trademark cheeky grin which she always gives whenever she sees me in the audience. Don’t ask me to replicate that grin cos I can’t do it myself. Oh yes, we’ve shared some sweet memories in the past from the times I acted as her minder as well as when I regularly sent her off at the airport. I cannot substitute those times and it will forever be etched in my memories forever.

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The power of her exceptional memory was evident when she acknowledged people like Warna 94.2FM‘s TG (she pronounced “TJ” at first before the audience corrected her) for promoting her music throughout her career (funny she did not ask for Adi Rahman instead!!!) and of course the talented young man seated to my left, Hyrul Anuar, who represented artistes in attendance. Though I am still wondering where the Michael Jackson thing which she used to describe Hyrul came from and the fact that he knows when her pitching goes off. I asked Hyrul how did she know, he himself admitted he was stumped himself and said perhaps it could be when his eyes widened. All I know is Hyrul was the happiest person that night and you could feel it too when you read his review in his blog. It was also nice to note that Siti acknowledged the achievements of people like Aliff Aziz and Imran Ajmain across the Causeway and even wondered if Taufik Batisah was in the audience, since he was afterall invited to her grand wedding in August 2006.

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Funny how come I came across slimmer in this photo compared to the one at Hyrul‘s blog. No photo editing was done for your info…

After the concert had ended, I felt a little vacuum in my heart. I know I’ve been less of a fan ever since she got married. I have not even bought her latest album “Hadiah Daripada Hati” up till then. Which was why a few of the songs that she sung at the concert were a bit alien to me. But that all changed when I stepped out of the theatre and saw a booth selling her CDs and I immediately bought the latest offering from her. It was scant consolation I could afford to her as I had earlier contemplated along with Hyrul about giving her a standing ovation, but she had already gone backstage as we were just about to lift our bums up from our seats. It’s like that Rascal Flatts song “What Hurts The Most” where it goes, “What hurts the most, was being so close, and having so much to say but letting you walk away…” I know I will never go back to days of yore again where chatting her up after shows or at the hotel lobbies or even sending her off at the airport would be enough to make my day. Which is why every show now is a magical moment for me as a fan. Relating her experiences in Singapore throughout her colourful career during the concert, also jogged my memory back to some of the crazy things I did for her and you guys wouldn’t want to know what I did.

The best part about sitting directly in front of her was we were able to see the little things that most in the audience might not be able to, like the big diamond rock on her right wedding finger (that could leave a big impression on someone’s forehead if she were to land a punch) and the sly glances she made towards the two monitor screens on stage when she sang songs that were not hers. Maybe the only grouse I would make is the fact that she still needs to polish her pronunciation of English words cos when she sang Beyonce Knowles‘ “Flaws And All“, Aida and I were wondering what were the lyrics to the song being sung all about. However it has to be said that even with the little flaws and all, Datin Sri Hajjah Siti Nurhaliza has once again blew the sell out audience (well it certainly looked that way when I turned around to see after the show ended) with another classic riposte which has left an indelible mark in our memories for as long as we live. 90 minutes was too short for most of us who are used to her two and a half hour concerts, but it was enough to whet our appetite and rekindle our love affair for her. Our only hope now is that she would make a swift return to the same venue when P. Ramlee The Musical comes to our shores on 17-19 May 2008. We would definitely love to see “Azizah” reprising her role once again. I leave you now with the chorus of the song “Flaws And All” which describes the love the fans share for her and vice-versa:

“I don’t know why you love me
And that’s why I love you
You catch me when I fall
Accept me flaws and all
And that’s why I love you
And that’s why I love you
And that’s why I love (hmm)…”

P.S. Apologies for the low quality images…

I’m Back!!!

Yes peeps you read that right…

I’m back after a week long hiatus to shift and settle down at my new home. For those who are craving to see how the new home looks like, no I’m sorry I will not go down the route of fellow blogmates who put up photographs of their new homes and their interior decorations. I have nothing against them for doing so and it’s entirely my own personal belief that certain things need to be kept on a privacy level since I’m a low-profile person anyway. And knowing full well the possible vile from our community’s way of thinking, I am also trying to avoid being called a “show off”, even though it’s harmless to share one’s joy with the people who reads your blog.

Some people just have a quirky way of thinking and if they are unhappy with / jealous of you, they’ll start to say things which are contrary to what you set about to do initially. So to save these people from creating sins for themselves, I’ve taken the liberty to not include any photographs of the new place. The house is still quite bare really so there’s nothing much to share in the first place. I’m just relieved that my Internet connection is up and am able to watch my weekly dosage of football on cable television in time.

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Details on how to get your hands on the tickets to Anugerah Planet Muzik 2008 is finally out since Thursday 13 March 2008. Frankly speaking, I’m not keen on going on a package tour with this Azizi Travel & Tours Pte Ltd group, which is in charge of bringing Singaporean fans up to Kuala Lumpur for the event. Even though I have to admit the “U-Turn Package” is extremely enticing for me to go ($155, departing 20 April 2008 and arriving back to Singapore in the early hours of 21st April 2008), the situation at both our checkpoints out to Malaysia and coming back is a big turn-off to go by coach. Which is why I’m now hoping to win the on-air quizzes on radio with regards to APM2008 from next week onwards, so I can negotiate my way up to the event via flight. At least I don’t waste too much time traveling and can be back at work fresh the next morning. If someone from radio reading this is kind enough to offer me a special pass, all the better!!! Hahahaha… I’m thick-skinned I know… But please don’t ask me more details about how to go up through the package tours cos I don’t work for them and neither do I get paid for promoting them. All you can do is find out by calling them at 67422931 or 67446074 or you can email them at apm.azizitours@gmail.com.

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So what can I expect from the upcoming week ahead???

Yes peeps, it’s none other than arguably the Nusantara‘s number one singer, Datin Sri Hajjah Siti Nurhaliza‘s Diari Hati concert at The Esplanade Theatre. It’s been almost three years since her last concert here at the Singapore Indoor Stadium (20th July 2005) and anyone who appreciates good music would know that a concert like hers is every worth the dollar spent. I’ve got my front row seats already and this must be the closest I’ve watched her perform throughout my life.

Ooooppsss I spoke too soon. I was one of the stagehands during Konsert Diva back in 2000, and I stood just after the barricades separating the audience and the stage. It was so close that when she wanted to throw flowers to the audience, she bent down and handed them to me to throw into the crowd. I still have that on tape but dunno if the tape is still working or not.

Over the past 12 years of supporting her career, I can say that I’ve experienced a lot of sweet memories and seeing for myself that she is an indeed, a genuine person with no airs, unlike what her detractors like to accuse as just putting on a false front. Popularity and wealth hasn’t changed her and I’m sure if we were to meet again, she’ll be the first to acknowledge me and pull my leg with her endless teases. But I dunno if marriage might make her tone down a bit. I’m just happy I’m gonna watch her up close and personal again this Friday (21st March 2008). Heard that Hyrul Anuar will also be sitting along the same row as me. I think he’s an even bigger fan of Siti than me…

Pesta Pesta Pesta 2008: A Couch Potato’s Perspective…

IMPRESSED!!! This is my general feeling and observation towards this event from start till the end. No, I was not at Mediacorp TV Theatre to soak in the atmosphere live and to provide juicy gossips or photographs, but from the comfort of my television screen, this was a local production that deserves a standing ovation for its creativity, freshness and unique formula. Trust the good people at Dua M (a.k.a. Music & Movement Pte Ltd) to come up with something audacious like this and what you get is something out of the norm from your normal Malay television awards programme. This production was definitely better than its predecessor (Pesta Pesta Pesta 2006) and it showed throughout its 2-hour run.

While I will not go into intricate detail on every category that was up for grabs, I was just left stumped at how the winner of the “Juri Paling Power” was chosen. True, the fans might have chosen who they thought was the best but if you were to recall the recent Anugerah 2007 event, our dear winner with all due respect, didn’t give the best comments one felt he should be giving. I think the award should have been given to Rafaat Hamzah cos he’s the kind who does not beat about the bush and calls a spade, “A Spade“. But then again, aren’t we all a very sensitive bunch of people who can’t take in criticisms on the chin and accept the truth no matter how painful facts can be or when reality bites???

The line-up of very sporting stars was definitely a treat to savour. I believe for all the supposedly “dumb” (forgive me for not being able to use a suitable word as a substitute) things some of them were supposed to do like dancing back up to Alias Kadir and Suhaimi Yusoff and wearing outrageous costumes all in the name of fun, they should be lauded for their hard work in practising and getting their choreography right for their respective items. That in itself was a challenge and I instantly felt a huge sense of respect for this guys cos even in their supporting roles, they kept the beat of the show going. So due respect and credits are in store for Shahril, Huda Ali, Shah Iskandar, Mastura Ahmad, Dalina, Effandy, Ashmie, Norfasarie, Fizah Nizam and Herizal for their hard work throughout the night. Sometimes it is easy to forget the supporting cast but they too play a part in making a particular production successful.

What about the hosts??? Fauzie Laily seems to have grown in confidence since his last hosting stint at Anugerah 2007 and I’m not saying this just because he is a personal friend of mine. I believe that with time and experience, he has grown in stature and it would be tough now to find what he is actually good at, whether it is in singing, acting or hosting. With Alias Kadir and Suhaimi Yusoff, you can be sure their laugh-a-minute antics would leave you in stitches even if they were trying to be serious. I was a bit disappointed though that Suzairhe and Rima Melati were given lesser roles this time but with so many hosts, you can’t have too many cooks spoiling the broth. Still, their respective roles deserve every bit a mention for being nonchalant and zany and in fairness they did their jobs without any frills.

While on a private note I was delighted with Imran winning the “Penyanyi Paling Jiwang” award for his haunting love anthem “Seribu Tahun“, the same could not be said about the all-girl dance group “The Roses“, which I found a bit too tarty for my own liking. I dunno, I just feel that little girls their age shouldn’t be wearing what they wore and dancing the steps that they danced when Aliff Aziz came on stage to sing “Ini Satu Kisah“. Maybe I’m still a hopeless conservative and am not receptive to modern / contemporary choreography, so shoot me for being one.

From a couch potato’s observation, I really enjoyed the show overall and wished that more local productions would be like this, whereby artistes from every craft come together to let their hair down. The scriptwriters too deserve some merits for bringing the house down. Though a part of me says that the “Show Paling Happening” award could have been rigged just to boost their ego, in all fairness if you watched the show from start till the end, you will agree that this “Pesta Pesta Pesta” event was indeed “happening”!!! Just don’t let us wait another two years for the next event please, Dua M!!!

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I will be taking a break from blogging for about a week or two as I’m in the midst of shifting to my new home. I will definitely try to find time to blog and update as soon as possible, but as what Shayne Ward sang in his haunting hit: “No Promises…

Have a great weekend guys!!!

Inspiring Or Figments Of My Imagination???

I dunno why but I’ve been quite inspired lately to go into blogging on a full-time basis. This was no doubt after reading an online article which I noticed of its existence from my Facebook news feeds. Last Sunday (2 March 2008), I was alerted to this particular online article on two of Malaysia‘s famous entertainment bloggers Sultan Muzaffar & Budiey, titled “Suara Alam Maya” which was published in Kosmo Ahad that day. For those of you who enter their blogs, which of course can be found in my Blogroll as well if you are reading this entry from my main domain, I’m sure their insights and regular updates beats even reading magazines like URTV or Media Hiburan. Which is why their popularity is right up there with at least 4000 hits per day.

Honestly my blog cannot even hold a candle out to them. Heck I only receive about a tenth of their average number of hits per day, which I already regard as hitting the roof since I still consider myself a novice and practically a nobody. But just imagine what being a full-time blogger can do to your income??? If you can earn about $6000 per month just through blogging and with people clicking on the ads found in your blog, I’m sure quite a few of us would take the plunge and quit our respective jobs now. What’s more, you’ll always be invited to exclusive events either as a guest or as a part of the press brigade. Now that’s the perks that come with the territory and popularity. All you need to do is be creative and objective and lo!

Then again, I ponder and ask myself whether the income is gonna be steady monthly or like any businesses, there will be your periods of ups and downs. And with popularity, you know you’re not gonna remain on top forever, with creative writers sprouting out like mushrooms after a rainfall. Then there is the issue of sincerity, whether I’ll be doing it for the money or for the love of writing. Right now, I cannot even guarantee an update daily or once every other day for that matter, and what if I only blog once a month, would it be fair to my regular readers who come in expecting to read something new but end up seeing the same thing while I laugh all the way to the bank???

Back to reality, I think for us in Singapore, I don’t think there are that many full-time bloggers out there and it is a challenge in itself for them to be blogging full-time without saying something that might run foul with the authorities as they normally speak on current affairs. I don’t want to end up being in that situation as I’ve always taken pride in commenting mostly on stuff pertaining to the Malay music industry here and across the Causeway. Back to reality also, I don’t think that I’ll ever be offered to do it full-time, what more be invited to cover local events on a press pass or as a guest, though it has to be said that I’d rather pay to watch local acts perform as my way of supporting them in monetary and moral support terms. But I would definitely kill to cover / be invited to big events like MTV Asia Awards or even our humble Anugerah / Anugerah Planet Muzik events if given the opportunity but as the saying goes: “Dream on dude!!!“… LOL!!!

Imran Ajmain’s DSX Showcase Review…

I know quite a few people are patiently awaiting this particular entry of mine. It is extremely humbling and kinda embarrassing when people go up to you personally and say how much they enjoy reading your blog and always awaiting for the next entry. Well I experienced just that during this particular event and it has made me all the more honoured and responsible towards those who do take the time to read whatever rants and raves I have in store. But honestly I prefer to remain as low a profile as possible off-screen.

When it comes to any showcase or performance made by this amazing singer / songwriter, you’ll know I’ll almost always have good things to say about the event and the man himself as a whole. I’m beginning to feel as though I’m a broken record, repeating the same things over and over again. Which is why I believe I’m gonna disappoint most of you as this review might not be to my usual standards, because honestly speaking, I’ve run out of superlatives to describe his vocals and showmanship. I’ve been spending a few days scratching my head on what to type for this particular entry. So apologies in advance if this review ain’t as spectacular as previous ones.

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This “DSX” concert / showcase (I still dunno why it was called DSX, was it supposed to be “Dengan Secara Xclusif” or something???) marked the end of Imran Ajmain’s “Dengan Secara Kebetulan” (DSK) album promotions here in Singapore. Held at The Chamber situated on the 2nd floor of The Arts House @ Old Parliament Building, this was a different showpiece as compared to his previous “Dengan Secara Langsung” showcase at the same building on 25th April 2007 and his “Hitam & Putih Concert” at The Esplanade on 7th November 2007. Why was it different??? Well for those who did not get the opportunity to attend any of his shows, then perhaps a little summary would not hurt a bit (Actually it gives me some ammunition on what to type… 😛).

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The very first showcase last year at The Playden was memorable for the fact that it was the man’s birthday and he serenaded the audience accompanied by mostly minus one tracks and a two-piece acoustic band. The concert at The Esplanade was a little extravagant for the fact that he was accompanied by Sri Mahligai, who are well-known for their ethnic / traditional slant, besides the fact that it was at THE Esplanade. This past Wednesday, he was accompanied by a four-piece live band. With the acoustics and surroundings perfect for such an event, I felt as though I was watching a live performance at the pub / lounge.

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Hey, don’t get me wrong!!! I’m sure for those who have experienced watching live bands performing at pubs / lounges, you’ll agree that the atmosphere is very much at ease with people bobbing their heads and singing along to the words if they know the lyrics to the song. Also why I likened it to sitting in a pub was because, this event was unique in that Imran not only sang songs from his album but he had also requested visitors of his blog to suggest some other songs he could sing for added variety. Which of course is what you get when you watch a live band performing with people requesting their favourite songs to be sung.

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On the other hand, I also felt that this show was like a jamming session, with a lot of monkeying around and banter thrown in the mix between the singer and his audience. As a performer, you know you need to have a good rapport with your audience and being witty, spontaneous will most definitely be feathers in the cap when people judge how good you are. I believe this guy is already a professional at it. He’s not known as “The Storyteller” for nothing. He can go on and on and will always have interesting anecdotes to share between songs. You don’t get that in most singers / performers. I still remember in my entry dated 18 January 2007 titled “2007’s First Entry“, I had brought up the topic on Imran being all jittery and quite business-like with his audience rapport during his first album launch. Look what a year of countless performances has transformed him into??? One wonders if he would write a journey of his career sometime in about five to ten years’ time. He could easily fill his book with his thoughts.

Imran singing “Sesuatu Janji“.

Credits to “noraries54” for the video… Excellently taken…

What sets Imran apart from most male R&B singers in the region is his ability to do the falsetto effortlessly. Some people think of it as a weakness, others think of it as a technique that would get him out of trouble from hitting the high notes with a deeper voice. I for one think it is a technique that not many people can execute and fair play to him if he manages to do it well. I believe for those who do not know about music, they will say all sorts of things like it being a singer’s shortcoming. But the falsetto technique has been there for ages if you listen to “Earth, Wind & Fire“, “Bee Gees” and “Maxwell” amongst others. And it doesn’t make these guys less of a man. So I was left stumped when Imran related how a Malaysian journalist had asked him if his technique was a weakness, when the journalist himself spoke in an effeminate way. If I was Imran, I would have shot back at the journalist for calling the kettle black. I guess that’s why perhaps I’m not cut out to be a singer cos I might even be more controversial with my words. Just look at how I’m able to incite anger on the airwaves…

Imran with “Compromise” and “Apologise“…

Credits to “LassienVardamir” for the video clip…

Songs-wise, I was blown away at how Imran sang some of my personal favourites like Taufik‘s “Sesuatu Janji” (the only song from the Idol that I like) which he co-wrote and fusing his own “Compromise” with One Republic‘s “Apologise“. The fusion was just seamless and did not skip a beat. If there was a weakness to this particular fusion, then it’s due to the contradictory lyrics which called for a compromise at the start but ended off with being “too late to apologise“. A pity I was rudely interrupted by a call when I was recording it for my own personal viewing later on. Other notable performances which left the audience in awe was his take on Anuar Zain‘s “Ketulusan Hati“, Search‘s “Fantasia Bulan Madu“, Alicia Keys‘ “Fallin” and Chaka Khan‘s “Through The Fire“. I guess you can watch these clips for yourselves on YouTube. Even Hyrul Anuar who was part of the audience was not spared and was roped in by Imran to sing Datin Sri Hajjah Siti Nurhaliza‘s “Percayalah” with him.

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Hyrul: “Hah!!! Ni mesti letak kat blog kan???”

Me: “Heh!!! Yes of course, mesti letak punya!!!”

Amazing fella, one of the most under-rated singers in Singapore… I really hope luck would be kinder and destiny would open more opportunities for him. Stay strong dude, and keep the faith!!!

However, what left an impact on me was his honest take on his nominations at Anugerah Planet Muzik 2008. I believe he was being realistic when he told the fans to NOT VOTE for him and to save their sms-es and votes. The money which they could possibly save by not voting could be used instead to buy his upcoming album which will be released in the middle of the year. For those who think he’s having a defeatist attitude, look through the nominations list again and you will find that the reality television winners have a bigger fanbase who are willing to spend hundreds just to see their respective idols at the top. Rather than wasting money and losing out, the money could well be spent on the next album which doesn’t cost $20. And what’s more, the quality you get is not compromised.

And so, another showcase by Imran has come and gone, but as usual, he left the audience craving for more. The attendance for a midweek showcase like the other day was commendable, with half the crowd sporting enough to let their hair down. Maybe if it was done on a weekend, we could have gotten a full house but as the man himself said and from what he learnt from his experiences in Malaysia, entertainment should not be limited to just the weekends. Once again, he proved that he was right in saying what he said and backed that up with a scintillating performance which had the audience in awe and still thirsting for more. A pity though that I did not get the chance to meet the man himself after the show as I had to rush home but of course we’ll meet again in due time…