On Reservist Call…

As of today 21st July 2008, I have officially sold my soul to the nation all the way till 1st August 2008. So any updates on this blog from now till then will be either minimal or none at all. Apologies then to those who hope to read something interesting about what I do over the next fortnight or the past few days, only to find yourself faced with this entry. I hope something interesting beckons sometime in between, especially since I am hoping to catch the Brazil Olympics football team in action. Actually there is something I want to show you guys but I simply have no mood to update this blog on it. Even wearing this grubby uniform feels like wearing Kryptonite. It just saps your energy and morale away. I’m hoping time will fly by cos there’s just too much work at the office that needs my attention and I can’t do that while I’m away. Bummer… 😦

Shall I??? Shan’t I???

I recently got wind about three hours before I typed this entry, that the Malay entertainment journalist’s position over at The New Paper is currently vacant / looking for new blood. As regular readers of this blog can testify, I’m sort of like a bonafide reporter to all you people out there craving for reviews on shows, concerts, plays etc that I attended. It is a job that if I were to apply for and be accepted to (provided I am), would raise my profile as a genuine writer without having to hide behind this nick.

As a good friend had suggested in an sms to me a few months ago, when your profile is raised and your works are recognised or if you’re doing it for a living, it would mean having to enjoy several perks like having free access to shows, be invited to post-parties without feeling guilty of “gatecrashing”, meeting and interviewing personalities, attending media conferences, travelling and what-have-yous, just to provide the latest scoop for your daily readers. Take it this way, your readership will no longer be in the hundreds, but in the thousands and you’re paid to do what you like to do. And I’ve always wanted to do something like this, pertaining to the entertainment industry, ever since I was in school.

However, I have a few reservations. Especially when I received news today that a pay hike at my current workplace is very much in store somewhere down the road. Plus I blog at my own pleasure, without being pressurised for any datelines. Likewise, as a blogger, I have the liberty which shows I want to attend and which ones not to go, especially now with two kids, I am very much picky of the events I want to go to. I dunno if an entertainment journalist also have this kind of liberty on which ones to go and which ones to avoid. All I know is, it would take a lot of my time since most events happen from 6pm onwards. And that to me is critical as I would have to sacrifice time with my family since the wife is working office hours and how important it is to see your kids grow in front of your eyes. Family time for me is paramount.

Well I’m only saying this from what I observed on the surface and without doing any research nor homework on what an entertainment scribe does. So please don’t sue me if I get my facts wrong since I know quite a few entertainment hacks drop by my blog to see what I have to say on certain issues. Maybe this job is more suited for those who are still single and carefree. But if anyone from SPH is reading this and thinks I was sprouting nonsense in the above paragraph or to put it nicely, that I fit the bill, do drop a comment in my comment box.

P.S. Oh, a starting offer of 3k would do nicely… LOL!!!

Kisah Cinta Romzi & Juleha Review…

It’s not often that I could afford the time to attend local plays and staged acts. Normally it would either clash with my family time, social time, working time or just so happens that I’ve overblown my spending limits for the month. I’ve always wanted to attend such events but seldom get the opportunity to do so. After last year’s “O-Glamour” play at the Arts House @ Old Parliament Building, I followed that up by watching the highly-acclaimed “P. Ramlee The Musical” as recently as last May. Having a family now means I have to be even more picky with what events I should attend. Fortunately this play came at a time when the Government has rewarded its civil servants with a half month bonus, so yeah it was a good time to have a little splurge on watching local talents strut their stuff.

I had gotten wind of this play when I was at Arab Street buying lunch a few weeks ago. Posters were pasted on the walls outside one of the eateries. The title itself intrigued me, especially when the names of the characters are those that you seldom get to hear nowadays, bearing in mind parents now love giving intricate and unique names to their newborns, me included. I had contemplated whether to go or not to go, since I wasn’t sure what other family programmes I would have in store on this particular weekend. A chance meeting with my acting mentor Abang Keatar at the gym, somehow “clinched the deal”. When I met him at the changing room, he was getting ready to go for rehearsals and he had used that short 3 minutes of conversation to promote the play and told me to come and support. I was swayed, not only because of his excellent salesman skills, but because upon checking my schedule, my Saturday night was free for this weekend.

So yes, you can say that the stars were aligned correctly for me. What’s more, the stellar cast had a few people I’ve known and rubbed shoulders with during my lifetime. It was definitely the perfect time to have a little rendezvous with people you’ve not met for quite a long time, even if your meeting was confined to meeting them for a few minutes after the show ended. Anyway, apologies for the rather long-winded introduction to this entry. This review won’t delve into the technical aspects as I’m not a theatre person nor expert to give such intricate views. I’m speaking only based on my experience watching the show, so please don’t sue me if you are a theatre expert.

For those who have not heard of this play nor read about it in the local papers, Kisah Cinta Romzi & Juleha (The Love Story of Romzi & Juleha) by Teater Kami, was adapted from William Shakespeare‘s all-time literature classic “Romeo & Juliet“. I’m sure we all know the whole storyline to this epic tale, having read about it in our school syllabus. We even had that movie adaptation starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Claire Danes or the one with the slight twist; “Romeo Must Die“, starring Jet Li and the late Aaliyah. With that in mind, it makes the job of my review easier without me having to relate the whole storyline from start till the end. But of course recreating the original piece would have been a real bore. This play was meant for the target audience of our community. Naturally, it had to have a flavour that we all could relate to. Best of all, it transported us back to half a century ago where racial riots were the norm here in our beloved country, something that we only heard of, but never truly experienced.

Shahril is still the same humble guy I know since 1994. We used to play football together since we lived in the same neighbourhood and even though we’re more like acquaintances than friends, that never stopped us from always having a cordial relationship and now that he’s already a somebody, his humility and attitude has never once changed. The scrawny little boy I used to know has immense talents. A pity his role in Evolusi KL Drift was a minor one.

In place of the classic Capulet & Montague rivalry, we had the Javanese and Baweanese version. During our grandparents’ time, such despise between the two dialect clans were evident and till now there is still a bit of resentment for those whose mentalities are still trapped in years of yore. Rather than hearing the normal 50s speak that you normally get to hear when watching a P. Ramlee classic, we were treated to a variety of Javanese and Baweanese vocabulary. Indeed, I was immersed by the way they conversed till I felt as though I was transported back in time. Never mind, that the venue (Esplanade Theatre Studio) was a small and humble one, but the limited space that they had was used to the maximum. Granted, the props were simple and it is this minimal factor which added a little more colour to an astounding play. Even the various backdrops that you would normally associate with photographs taken from the National Archives of Singapore told a story of its own and brought to life the scenes that were being played.

As for the acting, what I can say is that most, if not all of them deserved a standing ovation. Each character portrayal was executed to the maximum. I am sure that the sold-out audience would agree with me when I say that Dalifah Shahril who acted as Mak Mah and Firdaus who was Tahjudeen were the glaring stand outs; the former for her comic role and the latter for being the asshole that you would really want to whack if you had your way. They were that damn good in their roles, but so too were the rest. It was easy for everyone to forget that the roles that Shahril (Romzi) and Sheba Rai (Juleha) played were that of teenagers still wet behind the ears when it comes to love. But I think they portrayed the innocence of youth pretty well. And it certainly opened my eyes with regards to early marriage back in those days. Can you imagine someone getting married as young as 13 or 14 in these times, taking away the possibility of a shotgun marriage??? 

Even though the ending was to be expected, I had still hoped for a little more twist with perhaps a happier ending for both. The Maria Hertog incident that was thrown into the mix merely added as a pleasant distraction but evidently, it showed that for all the various petty squabbles the various clans had with each other, it took something of a religious magnitude to unite them and that is one of the beauties of Islam; to break down barriers between chastes, classes and colours. Perhaps the only grouse I had, if any, was Romzi‘s parents Masnawi & Marpo’ah played by my old friend Hazriq and Shasha. I just felt that they were too young, in physical speak, to be playing his parents especially when their Javanese counterpart in the play, Cikgu Karman (Abang Keatar) had the look of an aged man with authority. Maybe I still haven’t gotten away from reality that these guys are young themselves. But really, you can’t find much fault with the way they acted, just that I still see them as who they are in real life.

With Hazriq & Abang KeatarHazriq remarked, “So this is gonna be another review eh bro???” He definitely knows his old friend’s style by now… 😛

Oh and speaking of Abang Keatar, who is also known as Cikgu Kamal from Bara fame, this was an amazing comeback after 10 years away from acting in a play. But from what we all saw, it seemed as though he never left. Seeing and hearing him raised his voice at Juleha in one of the scenes brought me back to those times we had during our acting classes. This guy is extremely passionate with what he does and he expects everyone to be disciplined and serious during lessons. He will scream or raise his voice at you if you overstep the line and I’ve seen him do that a few times. But once class ends, he is such a joker that you can’t help but miss this guy’s company as time goes by. That scene where he rubbed his nipples by the window was purely him in his joking element and I instantly remarked to my wife: “That’s trademark Abang Keatar!!!” Naturally, it left the audience in stitches.

I am proud to say that the play was an enjoyable one. 2 hours and 15 minutes passed by so fast that you thought that you’ve only sat there for about an hour and a half. The props were simple and humble, the play itself was light-hearted without being too technical nor deep for the general audience to enjoy. It goes to show that even without the heady razzmatazz that we all saw during the P. Ramlee The Musical play, a play could be done so successfully if all its actors play out their roles magnificently and leave an indelible impression on its audience. I take my hat off to the whole crew at Teater Kami for a job well done and to Ms Atin Amat for directing such a beautiful piece. The sell out crowd was testament to a play done so well and I hope that more people will come and support the theatre scene as we all have excellent talents to show for, some even better than those manufactured ones you get from reality shows…

Anugerah Band 2008: The Final Review…

This entry nearly did not make it because yours truly is having a bad cold, and it is no fun having to type when you’re sneezing now and again. I even had half the mind not to type this at all as I wasn’t in the mood to do one final review. Which also explains why I never did a preview since I’m too sick to type one. But it is THE Final. So sniffles and all, I’m back for one final hurrah because I know for the next three days or so, my blog statistics will jump off the roof with people wanting to read what I have to say on the show as well as the groups and the quality of their performances. This always happens right after every episode of Anugerah Band or if I were to attend big shows like APM or some concerts / showcases.

I guess it is what people have come to expect from this humble manor of mine and it can be quite stressful living up to people’s expectations. But I like the pressure and above all, I love the debates that ensue, even if I seem to make enemies out of people. Ok, I will not beat about the bush henceforth and just jump straight onto the first performance of the night. But first let me just say, the opening act was a forgettable one. It was to me, not a good start to the show as it lacked energy and punch to pump up the watching audience and those watching at home.

First performance – X-Tech (Tiada Aku Sadari / Sedang Ingin Bercinta)

It was something that we’ve come to expect from them week in and out. No holds-barred, full of energy but somehow I felt there was a wee bit of X-factor missing from them. You know, something that could really, really nail them as the outright champions of this competition. That aura of invincibility. I did not see nor felt that and for once throughout this whole competition, I doubted their credentials to be crowned the winners. This was made worse when they did their short promo later on in the show. Do you find it appropriate to dedicate a song / performance to someone who has passed on??? Cos to translate it directly, “…saya tujukan khas buat anak saudara saya yang telah meninggal dunia…” sounds a bit like a radio dedication to me, which is so not right when we all know prayers are what is needed by the people we love who are over at the “other” side…

Second performance – Trabo (Jujur / Puisi Untuk Teman)

This was a cool performance by Trabo, especially with the execution of Jujur. There was some raggae element added to their performance tonight and this was a pleasant surprise as they showed they could also get away from their usual rock genre and deliver it well. But somehow like X-Tech, I felt they were a bit too cool for my liking and their usual air of confidence was lacking somewhat. Final jitters perhaps???

Third performance – Fatskunks (La Mofetas / Sakura)

On one side, I would say they were only playing for pride since they were never mentioned in the same breath as one of the favourites, but on the other hand, their laidback stance seemed to have won them quite a few admirers, me included. While the vocals were patchy at times and the lyrics to La Mofetas were too repetitive, what was attractive about their performance overall was their ability to connect with the audience and infuse a party atmosphere. Tell me you didn’t feel like getting up and dancing along to their beats???

Fourth performance – Rancour (Telinga Ke Tulang / Melayang)

I loved their rendition of the official soundtrack of Cicakman, but felt a bit lukewarm for the second song as I felt it was just ordinary. Even though the second vocalist’s vocals were questionable, their performance for the first song alone I believe, swayed the judges into making them the favourites. It was compact, it was tight and for once there was no slang being heard coming out of the vocalist’s mouth. Still a bit patchy here and there but hearing Arab‘s comments made me realise that their chance to win was extremely high.

Fifth performance – X-Tech (Bebas)

This was much better as compared to their earlier performance. Personally I felt this was the best composed song of the night. It was edgy, it exuded raw energy and it certainly had the hallmark of X-Tech written all over it. But still I was not convinced they would be champions, simply because I had a gut feeling that two of the judges whose words carry the most weight, at that point of time had made up their minds on who they wanted as the winners. And it was a no-brainer which judges they were.

Sixth performance – Trabo (Mereka Bukan Kita)

One thing that sets Trabo apart from X-Tech is their ability to slow down the tempo and bring in a more melancholic side to their music. This was evident in this performance. Even though I liked this one compared to their own composition in the earlier round, their marketability appeal is somehow limited to the above 30s. Looking at their sms rankings also did not paint a good picture as to their wide appeal.

Seventh performance – Fatskunks (I Miss You But I Hate You)

Trust the boys to add their raggae element into this song. And what is raggae without a bit of raggamuffin’ thrown into the mix??? Excellent improvisation and arrangement, continuing where they left off earlier. Watching them tonight felt like relaxing on the beach with pina colada on one hand and a babe dancing next to you. They were my outside bet to win had this final been an all-judges affair.

Eighth performance – Rancour (Bila Kau Tiada)

This was the performance that stole the majority of judges’ hearts, even if it did not impress me that much as there were shades of Blink 182 about their song and showmanship. It was clearly evident from all the comments and subtle hints being dropped that these guys were gonna be the champions. They just needed the sms-es to confirm their outright win. For the record, Rancour gave their best performance and they certainly showed that they have all the credentials to mount a survival in this cut throat industry. Why I say survival even before their journey has begun, is because too many groups have fallen by the wayside having released one or two albums. They would do well to learn and have their own distinct sound, cos right now I look at them as being the Malay version of Blink 182 and Green Day.

Results At A Glance

Winner of Anugerah Band: RANCOUR

Winner of Follow Me Style Award: Keigo Sphinx

Winner of Media Darling Award: X-Tech

Best Vocalist: Keigo Sphinx

Best Musician: Alif (Putra)

General Thoughts – Somehow I felt the best performance of the night was the very last one which featured the three best vocalists and the selected band of musicians who have impressed throughout the competition (Ikrar Perwira). Had that been the opening act, it would have left the audience and those watching at home craving for more. It was truly an exceptional performance by all and it left the hairs on my neck standing in awe of their showmanship as well as their vocal power. This was also evident when I noticed a lot of people giving them a standing ovation when the song ended. While the choice of Keigo Sphinx‘s vocalist was a surprise as I had A’an from Knightwings as the favourite, the best musician award that went to Putra‘s Alif was justified. He had stolen the show prior to his group’s elimination and once again he showed tonight what an exceptional guitar player he is. Maybe the only questionable decision was to pick Keigo Sphinx as the Follow Me Style Award winner. They were certainly the last group in my head to win this award, with all due respect.

I was kinda surprised that Trabo and X-Tech did not sustain their normal confidence and that Rancour & Fatskunks had upped the ante. But this was of course THE FINAL and it was a fight to the finish for all the groups involved, so it was somehow to be expected that the playing field would be equal with all giving off their best. Initially it was difficult to say who would be crowned winners as the first round of performances had their fair share of positive and negative vibes. However, the periodical sms results that were shown showed that it was just between X-Tech and Rancour. The final say to me rested in the hands of the judges. And even though it was only the first round of performances, I had a feeling Rancour would win it simply because Arab, who was one of the distinguished judges, had lavished praise on them saying how he would love to turn back time to join them on stage. That was an effective signal that the tide was in favour of Rancour, since it would be him who would be guiding the winners later on when they start work on their album. Eddy Ali on the other hand seemed to “despise” X-Tech for being one-dimensional.

When Rancour came on stage again for the second time and when Indra Shahril and Armand Maulana had given their two cents’ worth, you just knew that barring any sms debacles, they would become the outright champions. They are of the right age in market-speak and their appeal musically as well as attractivity would certainly transcend all ages. And this being a Suria event, doesn’t it make perfect sense to have a talent in their hands that have the whole package, even if they are not esthetically nor technically sound??? It would now be extremely interesting to see how their careers pan out or if this is just a mere flash in the pan. A four-year contract with the relevant parties would give us all ample time to scrutinize their capabilities and worth and I for one would like to wish them all the best as they embark on this journey to add another dimension to the local music scene.

To the rest of the finalists, I’m sure they too would get some slice of the pie. Based on past Anugerah events, most of the time, the winners don’t end up carving a rosy career in the industry. But that was mostly before the Artiste Management Unit was set up and prizes were not recording contracts. It’s just that the winners now have a proper direction and guidance to move up the scale. I believe there is still a market for groups like X-Tech, Knightwings, Putra and Trabo to soar and build on this foundation that they have set up. X-Tech would have been the choice for the technically inclined audience, me included, but some people are still afraid to bring forward a more aggresive approach to music for our mainstream. And that to me is not a good sign of our local music industry moving forward…

P.S. Thank you for being an ardent follower of this blog throughout the journey of Anugerah Band. Really appreciate all your comments, feedbacks as well as debates. Oh and to answer Ari‘s last question in his review, I say “HELL YEAH!!!“…

New Buzz In Da’ Hood…

Entry today won’t be lengthy. No mood to type so long as per usual. Maybe the hectic life at work I’ve been leading of late is taking its toll on me. Anyway would just like to share something new about my neighbourhood. Even though this place is about an MRT station stop away, it’s still within the same area and about 2km from where I live. Come to think of it, I nearly bought a home there when it was still up for grabs, because of its close proximity to Buangkok MRT and the new Sengkang Mosque that is currently undergoing construction.

As you can vaguely make out the words, the name of this particular area is “Aspella“, but of course if you were to tell cab drivers, they won’t know where it is… 😛

From the entrance of Buangkok MRT station, you will be greeted by this sight, an upmarket Kopitiam outlet, a 24-hour NTUC Fairprice supermarket and a 24-hour Sakura Restaurant

The interior is small but outside the restaurant, the place is enough for big gatherings to be done. But I’m sceptical how this place is gonna survive when it is situated at one end of the place and the flow of human traffic is still slow…

Outside the 24-hour NTUC Fairprice supermarket…

We had a choice of buying this 2nd-floor unit but since it is too close to the supermarket, we decided against it, bearing in mind the noise when the area properly comes to life and also the stench that will be emanated in time to come. My idea was getting somewhere further up the floors but the units were already taken up…

A common sign seen at the bakery shop facing the supermarket. When will people stop being ignorant that “No Pork No Lard” constitutes to being “Halal“???

At the other end of the area, there is another Kopitiam outlet. What is special about this place is that they have a dedicated area for football fans to converge. Even the place is decorated with pictures of football players and a goalpost with a miniature goalkeeper diving for the ball as you can see from the photo. Now I hope the place screens Champions League football cos there is no way I am gonna subscribe to MIO Singtel‘s subscription next year when the rights to watching the games are switched over to the broadcaster.

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Unlike any normal Sunday evenings where football will be at the top of my agenda, there wasn’t any yesterday as none of my friends were available. I too had to return to the office due to some last-minute agenda cropping up. But since work ended early at about 4pm and I was feeling bored with no football, I decided to head down to the Darul Ma’wa Children’s Home along Still Road as there was a carnival going on. What’s more, there were performances by Revalina, Sheila Abdul, AhliFiqir, Dayang Nurfaizah and Hady Mirza.

By the time I came, Revalina and Sheila Abdul had already performed, which was a big bummer since I so wanted to see how Sheila Abdul performs live being a newbie in the industry and with a growing reputation across the Causeway under the tutelage of Adnan Abu Hassan, who we all know is responsible for producing excellent talents like Liza Hanim, Misha Omar and a certain Dato’ who is nominated at the upcoming MTV Asia Awards.

I wasn’t so much into the performances, was just sitting at one corner to the left of the stage and enjoying it for what it’s worth. AhliFiqir came on stage without DJ Cza and Mawar Berduri, who is apparently hospitalised at Changi General Hospital. Get well soon Mawar!!! Appropriately at an event like this, they opened their act by rapping to Too Phat‘s “Alhamdulillah“, did “Dia Datang” and finished off with “2 X 5“. Dayang then came on singing “Erti Hidup” but not before the accompanying CD skipped three times during the intro. I think she sang “Ingin Ku Miliki” after that before ending off with “Seandainya Masih Ada Cinta“. I wasn’t concentrating on her performance as I was busy chatting away with AhliFiqir‘s Samsol a.k.a. Tukang Kata. Last met him at APM2008 when we hung out for awhile after the show and just after I checked out from the hotel. Of all topics that we discussed, we talked about the political situation in Malaysia as he is more in tune with what is going on since he is based there.

As expected when Hady came on stage, the fans rushed forward to take close up photos of him. The good thing about my camera is that I could just sit from the comfort of where I was and zoom in to give that close-up shot of him. I have to give him credits as he is now very much at ease conversing in Malay than before. Maybe the experience performing in Indonesia has been of great help to his progress. The only thing I hope now is that he will release a Malay album as quickly as possible, since most of the time when I watch him perform live, he would be singing “Merpati” and “Freedom 90“.

MatGila (left) meeting his idol…

There was an autograph-signing session with Dayang right after the show ended. As I was with one of my fellow listener friends, “MatGila“, who is a big fan of hers, I gamely helped to take a photograph of him and his idol. I know he will be one happy fellow for the days, weeks, months to come. I also met a few old friends who were part of the organising set-up and made small talk with them before leaving. Can’t help but reminisce the old times when I too had been a part of all these, helping out and rubbing shoulders with the artistes. Sometimes I wish I could turn back the time…

One of the emcees of the event, the wacky Fiza O, with yours truly…

A Welcoming Retort…

I thought the issue of CDM would end when they were eliminated this past Tuesday. But I know their fans or sympathisers out there are still very much sore with the less-than-flattering reviews I made about them throughout their journey in this competition. Just today I received a retort from someone by the name of “Man Shaggy“. Before anyone out there shoots him down, let me just say his reply is one that I always welcome from those who do not agree with my comments. To summarise, his is a welcoming and very much civilised retort. This was what he said:

Hi,

I like reading your blog but do apologize right if this sound harsh to you.
Absolutely i Agree with lazer hika comment reting for his debates******, from the start reading your blog the way u convey your message about cucu datuk merah throughout thier journey in anugerah band is all bad errr kutuk2 i have to say this bro.Obviously the fans wont like it and your blog is open to public to view,he have the right to blow out your blog.Truthfully from the start reading your blog rabak bro you kutuk cdm.Untill well the die hard fans he the lazer Hika blow out your blog then you stop writing and condemn cdm.

Well end of it too bad they are good.Thanks pujjangga malam

Cheers.. ) ya…

First of all, any retort of this nature is not harsh to me. It is one that I’ve come to expect from those who would like to leave their two cents worth. I pride myself in being as civilised as possible when pouring forth my thoughts and having a certain degree of class to criticise without sounding vulgar. Likewise I expect people to debate, agree or disagree with as much grace and dignity. But then again, human characters differ from people to people. You can’t expect everyone to be the same, lest the world will be colourless. Of course, a little decorum would go a long way in making others respect your opinions, no matter how wrong or right you are.

Back to the comments. Right from the very start, I have been very critical of bands who have not shown a certain amount of quality and consistency that would make or shake this small industry of ours in time to come. It is very easy to pinpoint and say that I was very critical of CDM right from the very start, but I think you also missed out on the fact that I had been equally damning towards PutraHelven, Keigo Sphinx and Silksutra. Even two of the finalists, Fatskunks and Rancour, were not spared from my criticisms. Short of being angry and disappointed, Silksutra sent me a Facebook Funwall message thanking me for my comments and using them to spur them to greater heights. I believe that should be the way, turning negativity into something positive and improve as you go on.

It is not true that I stopped “condemning” CDM, if that’s what you called it, when you-know-who came along. I just refined my words and did not stoop to her level, knowing fully well that adding fuel to a raging fire gets you nowhere. Like I mentioned in one of my previous entries, blog reviews are solely the views of the reviewer. It is his / her own opinion on something. What I like, what I dislike, what I am receptive to and what my ears reject are there for all to see. Some of you might not agree, but this is by no means the Official Blog of Anugerah Band for me to wax lyrical on every band, even if they do not sound esthetically nice to the ears, my ears.

I am not like a certain judge where even the not-so-nice becomes sugary and sweet. I don’t believe in having to use veiled words when wanting to get my points across. More often than not, you’ll end up confusing the very same people you want to see improve. It’s a simple rule of the thumb for me, if you are good, I’ll say you are good, if you are not then likewise I will say you are not. So if you have a problem with my honesty, then please do me a favour and type your own review, where you can have the entire space to rave, mask whatever flaws your personal favourites might have and put them on the pedestal like you so wished them to be.

It is only the opinion of one blogger, one that does not have any musical qualifications to back him up, that has made quite a few people jump. You guys should be extremely thankful that the media here is not as harsh as those across the Causeway or even in Indonesia. If the opinion of one blogger can cause such a storm and that too before being crowned champions, then I’m sad to say, we are still not ready to make headway abroad or even internationally. Ask any of those artistes who have made it abroad and they will be glad to tell you that their experiences with the media there is so much different with those over here. Some say that the media here is too nice sometimes. We can’t get anywhere by being too nice.

If you ask me, people like Rafaat Hamzah and Zoul are fine examples of good judges. They tell you things as it is without beating about the bush. But sad to say, our community is still not ready to receive brutally honest opinions. Which was why Rafaat got so much flak during the Anugerah Skrin in 2006. Like the analogy of parenting, you scold your kids because you love them and not want them to do things that they shouldn’t do. In this case, criticisms were dished out so that the group could improve. Yes, they are professional musicians. It is this undeniable fact that made expectations of them even stronger and greater.

I do not wish to start another round of worthless debating. I considered whatever that has gone on over the past week as water under the bridge. I never said CDM was shitty or crappy, did I??? I just didn’t like the way they have portrayed themselves throughout the competition, knowing fully well that they did marvellously in the audition rounds, to the point that a lot of the other groups installed them as favourites to win the competition. Yes I expected them to do well, but sadly in my personal opinion, they did not. I had to give a fair review and based on what I heard and saw. And if being fair and honest are not good enough for some people, then I’m sorry, I am not one to compromise my principles…

Anugerah Band Episode 9 Review…

 

The following comments below is an excerpt of my last paragraph in last week’s semi-finals review:

General Feelings – So far, only Trabo and X-Tech have shown that they are worthy finalists. If you ask me who should go through amongst the remaining four, I would go for Fatskunks and Rancour. Don’t ask me why I chose the other two. I just feel that they might make the Final a bit more interesting and they are much better vocals-wise. But of course fans of Cucu Datok Merah and Putra will not agree and leave more nasty comments in my blog. P

It’s already more than half an hour after the show had ended and the names of the finalists announced, but still I can’t wipe this smirk / grin / smile off my face. My handphone has been bombarded with smses from friends who were laughing away when they knew who got kicked out this week. You know, it is so tempting to join them and the urge to gloat is so strong in this entry, after what happened over the past week in my blog. For those who are not in tune over what has happened, you guys were treated to a verbal tete-a-tete between me and a blog visitor who calls herself “Lazer Hika” a.k.a. “CTGucci” (her blog has since been taken down due to her sudden popularity), which culminated in yours truly being attacked for knowing nuts about music. This particular sentence still rankles in my head till now – “haha with this kinda blog written by PUJANGGA MALAM memang kau malam ah pasal kau buta taktahu tulis, fair kau ckp gi belajar dulu dgn reporter dulu ah sebelom type!

Somehow I feel that there is no need for me to stoop to such a level. The results tonight have more or less vindicated my stand and position as a bonafide music critic, albeit as one who does not possess professional qualifications. Yes I am extremely delighted that my predictions last week were spot-on. But at the same time, for all their shortcomings, one has to applaud the two groups whose journey ended a while ago. They did their best but their best just wasn’t good enough. At the end of the day, you want to see quality groups gracing the Final and with X-Tech, Trabo, Rancour & Fatskunks, you know that they have been showing some form of quality over the past eight weeks, even if not that consistently, to warrant a place in the Final.

Even though the Final is only next week, I felt like a winner tonight. To the voters and judges, I thank you for having the presence of mind to choose what you felt was right, to lift the standards of bands and to make the Final an intriguing affair. There is nothing left for me to say on the episode I went through last week. I do not wish to add more salt to her wounds. The pain and numbness is already unbearable and I do not want to add more fuel to fire and let the matter rest. As I’ve said above, the results have already answered my observations so far. I have nothing else to prove except to continue giving good, fair, honest and sincere reviews for my dear readers to enjoy.

Of Birthday Parties & Celebrating Newborns…

This past weekend was filled with a lot of activity for me and the family. We had three invitations to attend to and fortunately they were all spread out over the two days. I like it that way, if not, I would be reflecting afterwards and feeling all guilty about eating so much in one day. That’s one of the reasons why Hari Raya visiting is not what I look forward to annually, even though I love it for the sole reason I get to meet my relatives and friends that I only see once a year.

After spending the first two thirds of Saturday cleaning the home, we set out to Aloha Loyang for the birthday party of the Marthin brothers – Samuel and Hizqeel. It was a grand affair so to speak, with a magic show and a corner to have your caricature taken. The kids enjoyed the show of course, likewise the parents who made up of mostly fellow bloggers. Me??? I wasn’t into the show as I was busy pacifying Syadiyah who was jolted by the loud sounds and then I had to look after Syahindah who was walking all over. I didn’t quite liked the voice of the magician anyway, but I guess he had to do what he had to do to capture the children’s attentions. It was for the kids anyway.

Celebrity sightings… Can you spot two of them???

My eyes glistened when I saw the food, especially the yummy pastries that the host, Diana, is known for in the blogging world, besides selling fashionwear for the fairer gender. The last time I had those pastries (eclairs and cream puffs) was during my wedding when Diana kindly donated them as part of the gifts exchanged. So it was good to taste them again but of course I only took a bit as I had to watch my diet. We left the place some two hours later, delighted for the fact that we made the host happy with our presence and knowing that my daughter enjoyed herself playing with the other kids.

This event also introduced me to bloggers I have not known before and the opportunity to meet those I already knew online in the flesh. Most of them were strangers but it did not deter me from smiling at them whenever our eyes met. I think smiling is the least we could do to break the ice and I certainly felt the warmth given by a few of them who not only smiled sincerely but did so genuinely. But of course there were a few who turned up their noses as though they have blue blood, which I will not elaborate further. Plus it’s not as if it was the first time we crossed paths in life. I would rather be friends with the warm ones than the cold fellas…

Sarah Qistina taking a nap…

On Sunday, we attended two Tahniq events, one for the newborn daughter of my childhood best friend Dr Sophian and the other for the newborn son of my old friend, Kak Lynne. Sophian‘s daughter’s name is Sarah Qistina and Kak Lynne‘s son’s name is Izz Danish. One thing I liked about these two events was the fact that I got to meet my friends after so long. It’s already a year since I blogged about Sophian‘s wedding and how time has flown. Likewise Kak Lynne who is now based in Copenhagen and is back for awhile. A pity I did not get to take the photograph of her son as he was being passed around and I was busy chatting away with cousins Ezaad and Julie at the event.

Sunday was also the birthday of my beloved queen – my mother, who turned 55. We held a surprise dinner for her at “J’s Wok & Grill” at Bedok North. The idea to surprise her came from dad, who is not known to show his romantic side for all to see. Which of course took us kids as a surprise, but it was a nice one to have. The plan was for us to be there before they arrived. Prior to that, none of us had wished mum since every year in years past, we would do so first thing in the morning. Coupled with the fact that I took Syahindah away for the day, she ended up being grumpy and not being able to spend time with her grand-daughter. Even my sisters told a white lie about attending a birthday party and dinner with friends till perhaps she felt neglected on her special day. But of course, which ungrateful offspring would forget his / her parents’ birthdays???

The good thing about this restaurant is that they have a function room on the second floor, so we were all waiting for them there. Initially mum and dad sat at the first floor and mum was pissed when the waitress asked if they would like to move upstairs. Mum of course didn’t quite liked the idea since it was just the two of them and the restaurant was not packed. But she had to follow when dad started to go. You can imagine the shock on her face when she saw us all, our family as well as my in-laws. Naturally the tears flowed and I was instantly reminded of the wedding anniversary celebrations of my uncle Dollah and aunt Faridah last year.

The dinner bill was paid by dad and we, the kids, bought mum an Hour Glass shopping voucher. Contrary to negative internet reviews on the restaurant and its menu, my family love the food as well as the ambience there, which explained why we were there for the second time in a month. Maybe through these reviews, they have taken steps to improve them, which was why we could not find much fault with the food served. The waiters and waitresses were also always on hand to assist us. I’d strongly recommend the Fillet in Cream Sauce and Chicken Chop for those who would like to savour the tantalizing dishes there.

Obviously I’m not in the picture as I was the photographer… 😛