(Photo courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)
I’m back again with another review. Throughout the night sitting in the Mediacorp TV Theatre, I was racking my brains trying to find words to describe the show as a whole. And it dawned on me that this entry is not gonna be so lengthy as previous ones, cos I believe a lot has been said in the past, and to repeat some of the points will only make me sound like a broken record. It was interesting to see if the female contestants last night would maintain their high standards a fortnight ago or would they raise the stakes even higher or fall a notch lower due to pressure of the competition.
Anyway, it’s nice to see that there are a few blogs or sites giving their opinions on Anugerah 2009 and its contestants with every episode. I’ve always maintained that all these sites add colour with their different perspectives and approach. Though our opinions might defer, I believe all of us complement each other and I see no form of competition, in the form of ratings or popularity. This is how media should be like. Where one is perceived to lack or come up as short, and I agree my domain has its own shortcomings, the other adds a different value or dimension with their strengths. Respect and salutations are in order to all.
Last night, Indra Shahrir reprised his role as last week’s guest judge along with the three resident judges. Like the previous week also, the theme for tonight was “Ikon“, of the Singaporean female version. The female contestants paid tribute to two of our living legends, Anita Sarawak and Rahimah Rahim, singing some of the hits that made these respectable divas household names even to this day. Most definitely and as cliche as it may sound, the challenge on the girls last night was to improve from the last round and prove that it was no flash in the pan. The following are the voting formats for the female contestants:
- SMS to 73388: ANU Contestant Code
- Telepoll: 1900-112-770_ (Last digit being contestant’s number)
Each vote via SMS or Telepoll costs $0.60 each and those with prepaid cards are not able to cast your votes. Voters who are 18 years and below should seek parental permission. This service is brought to you by MediaCorp Pte Ltd. Tel: 6877 7132.
Voting for contestants appearing in Episode 6 began on Tuesday, 7 July 2009, 8.30pm till Tuesday, 14 July 2009, 6pm. These are the following codes you should vote for this week, along with my individual reviews of their performances:
SMS to 73388: ANU 1 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7701
The “Queen of Wigs” or the judges’ “Cili Padi” was given the honour to open the round this time. I had half expected Kunjung to be singing Anita Sarawak‘s “Seksis“, but the impetus was instead taken up by Hafizah to kick start the show. While the energy was good, her vocals did not match her power in showmanship and her nimbleness in dancing. It was another spunky performance as we know that Hafizah is capable of, but it came up short as she was chasing the tempo in certain parts of the song, resulting in her being breathless and at times, flat.
SMS to 73388: ANU 2 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7702
After the highs of the previous round, Sarah Aqilah had earned the tag of “Power Balladeer” by the judges and she followed that up with an almost consistent performance singing Anita Sarawak‘s “Bawalah Daku Pergi“. I used the words “almost consistent” because she sounded a bit suspect on the lower registers, maybe due to jitters, but she was simply perfect on the higher notes. Just that her performance last night did not radiate the same aura that she exuded two weeks ago. I agreed with the judges that she was too comfortable for her own good and needs to diversify to show her versatility.
SMS to 73388: ANU 3 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7703
Catty should be applauded for heeding the advice of the judges to try singing a song of a more upbeat tempo. She was commendably good as we know what her vocals are made of, but she was a bit hesitant to go all out with the dance moves, perhaps mindful of her vocals going off. Looking at Catty last night actually reminded me of watching Liza Hanim. There was just something about Catty, I dunno if it was the outfit, the moves, the facial expressions, the vocals or even the performance as a whole, which reminded me of the vocal powerhouse from Klang. But Catty should learn to enjoy the performance and not come off as tensed, cos that’s what she was tonight and it showed in her glum expressions at certain points.
SMS to 73388: ANU 4 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7704
Nora continues to impress weekly and I for one am astounded that her vocal techniques seem to improve as she progresses. Like a graphical indicator on a chart that continues to rise. Ann Hussein told her to open up and express herself more. I dunno how singing a sappy song like Anita‘s “Bisikanlah Cinta” should make her be more expressive but I do notice a certain pose which Nora is fond of doing. If Dayang Nurfaizah is fond of pointing with her index fingers whilst singing, Nora is fond of clenching her fists whilst performing on stage. That’s something which I feel could possibly be a trademark.
SMS to 73388: ANU 5 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7705
During the introductory video montage prior to her performance, Nani had said that she was to sing Rahimah Rahim‘s “Jika Begini“. That recorded footage was taken last Wednesday. Somehow, there was some technical complications and she only got her confirmation on singing a different song, “Bebas“, only on Saturday. It seemed something was etched at the back of her mind as she came off a little unfocused. Watching her live and then watching the tape when I got home and considering the trouble she had to go through having lesser days to practice on the song, I’d like to think that she actually did ok, but it was patchy at best. I think moving around and having to dance in those high heels also affected her vocals somewhat.
SMS to 73388: ANU 6 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7706
The star of the night by a mile. The moment I heard that the theme for tonight would pay a tribute to Anita Sarawak and Rahimah Rahim, I just knew whose song she would perform, knowing what a class act she is. And seeing that she was the last contestant, it was no surprise that she was in a position to blow away the whole competition. Like Wawan, Kunjung loves taking risks in changing the style of the song that she is supposed to sing. One thing Wawan can emulate from Kunjung is to be consistent with his vocals even when he alters a song to suit his tastes. Her rendition reminded me of Farah Asyikin‘s “Di Pangkuan Pilu“, slow on the off and then exploding halfway through. As polished as Kunjung is, again I must say, I am worried for her as I have seen on the Net people clamouring for a Singaporean to win the competition. Personally I feel people should just respect the rules and appreciate genuine talent when they see one. Music should afterall transcend borders and nationalities.
For the first group which consisted of Hafizah, Sarah Aqilah and Catty, the standout in terms of showmanship had to be given to the former for her display of exuberance performing Rahimah‘s “Gadis & Bunga“. Hafizah just packs so much energy and nimbleness in that small frame. Sarah and Catty, even though they were good vocally, somehow failed to match Hafizah‘s energy since the song called for them to be a little more outgoing. Sarah and Catty need to be braver at letting themselves go when it comes to a song of a more upbeat tempo.
The second group??? What can I say about their performance singing Anita‘s “Antara Yang Manis“??? When you have strong vocal exponents in Nora and Kunjung in it, even Nani who was patchy earlier on, stood toe to toe with her group members in terms of showmanship, harmony and individual vocal ability. If Nani had maintained this form earlier on, who is to say she doesn’t deserve a spot in the semi-finals??? This was easily the best group performance throughout the competition so far and only enhanced Nora and Kunjung‘s reputation, while redeeming Nani‘s as well. Another thing that grabbed the attention of the people around me during the performance was Kunjung‘s posture at the end of the item.
As much as Indra Shahrir tried to neutralise the impact made by the young ladies as compared to the young men and said it was 50-50 to him, I’m sure most of us would agree that the female contestants still maintained their grip as the better performers amongst the genders. Though my hairs did not stand as in the previous round and I always use it to gauge how well I’m blown away by any performance, Kunjung came close to making me experience that in her solo segment. She is definitely in a league of her own and I hope that people would look beyond trivial barriers like nationalities to crown the champion. Remember the onus is on you to choose who is best suited to represent us in future and I don’t mean just by performing in annual Salam Lebarans.
From the previous weeks’ group performances, there were signs that we were seeing better coordination, synergy and team work between the contestants as the weeks progressed. As harsh as most of us were with regards to their performances as a group, we should all at least try to understand that these young upstarts are no professionals. They are not even at the stage where they can say they are learning to walk. However, in terms of effort and wanting to learn, you can see that they do listen to the judges’ comments and try to apply them in their following performances.
One thing I’m thankful enough to be given the opportunity to cover the weekly shows is for me to get to know some of the contestants and learn a bit on what they do between one show to another. And learning dance steps, being aware of formations, having to sing and even having to do little skits during their performances in the space of a few days is no easy matter. Which is why there is a difference in the way I review this season’s Anugerah as compared to the previous one, in that I’ve observed and learnt without being too critical as before.
Next week we will learn which of the top 2 male and female contestants get a shoo-in into the semi-finals. We would also learn which of the six eliminated so far in the Top 20 would get a chance to redeem themselves in the Wildcard Round to be scheduled in a fortnight’s time and earn the last two spots in the semi-finals. Till then, keep those votes coming in for the ladies…