Konsert Ramuan Reminisced…

I know that most of you entering this site would expect to read something on the Anugerah 2011 Grand Finals this past Tuesday night. While it is tempting to type on something which is still so fresh in my head, it is not something that I do immediately after a show on a regular basis. Yes I was at the show live, but I always make it a point to watch it again via the Catchup site to listen to the contestants’ vocals once again for clarity sake. So you guys coming in here would have to wait till at least the end of the week before I put up my entry and share what I feel, with regards to the Grand Finals. First up is Konsert Ramuan, which was  successfully held at Goodman Arts Centre on 19th June 2011. The concert, as was mentioned in my promo a couple of weeks ago, was a fundraising affair in support of “Ramuan Rahasia“, a locally-produced film directed by award-winning director, Sanif Olek.

Hosts for the day – Junaidi Sali & Effandy Idris

It has been quite awhile since I last attended an event of such magnitude, which brought together an array of local acts to grace the stage with their different sets of styles, genres and ensembles. I think the last one I had attended was RIA‘s Birthday Bash in February 2010 where a cast of strictly local acts had graced the Republic Polytechnic’s Convention Centre stage. Even then the number of acts were not as many as this one. Here, all the acts, a total of twenty-five of them according to Sanif himself via his Twitter, came together for a common cause, a bond that unites them, a shared vision to see through a mission of realising the dreams of finally seeing our first true local Malay film on the silver screens. Oh how heartening it was to see everyone, from the mainstream to the indies, joining forces for one goal – To raise funds for the making and completion of Ramuan Rahasia.

Sanif Olek, the film director of  “Ramuan Rahasia” addressing the audience…

The timing of the event (11:00am) till evening (I had left at around 4:45pm not to know what time the whole thing ended) felt like a Malay wedding event. Besides being entertained by stellar acts, the event became a reunion of sorts amongst people who have not met in ages, just like a Malay wedding scenario. A lot of happy faces were seen, tired but satisfied looks by the organisers and people who had worked hard behind the scenes to make this event a success. Though the turnout could have been better, it was still a good start and I sincerely hope that it would have gone some way to ease the funding burdens. The event reminded me of the local music festival “Melayu Ada“, which was also organised by Cokelat Events & Production. This time round, they joined forces with Sanif‘s “Reeljuice” company and a number of good friends in the local industry.

Due to family and other commitments, I could not be at the event throughout and only reached the venue slightly before 3:00pm. By then, I had missed out on the performances of several artistes like Anugerah Planet Muzik nominee SleeQ, Projek Rentak 2010 winner X-Clusive, former Bhumiband vocalist Adha, and acts like Tujuh, Revolusi, Yunos Erksan and Asnida Daud amongst others. As I had planned to join up with the rest of my family members who were at City Square Mall for the Anugerah Finals Roadshow, it meant I missed out on watching acts I’ve not seen in a long while, most notably Roze Kasmani, Imran Ajmain, Klutz and Kraton. But I’m sure everyone who came enjoyed themselves and I was no exception. I enjoyed watching Dinodi making a rare live appearance and belting their haunting hit “Cinta Tragika“, but most people forget / do not know that they did record an album with excellent tracks other than that hit.

For $10 / $12 entrance fees, and watching so many acts performing under one roof, it was certainly value for money and proved that Singapore do not lack quality talents. They just lack the support from locals who are more in tune with what is across our shores and beyond. Or from my personal observations, the regular monthly wedding / halal food exhibitions at Singapore Expo have somewhat contributed to the decline in interest of watching paid concerts / shows / gigs amongst local entertainment lovers because they can watch them for free at these events. The only way for our local music industry to grow is if we make the time and effort to come down and watch them, regardless of entrance fees or buying their singles / albums and not downloading them illegally. It was heartening to see local acts, singers, bands, actors coming together and show their solidarity. It certainly bodes well for the local industry to have people fighting for one another. I leave you with a song specially composed and written for this fundraising effort and performed live during the concert by Anugerah 2004 winner, Aqmal. A lovely song for a noble effort. I hope you would help to contribute too as efforts are still ongoing. For more information, do drop by www.ramuanrahasia.com

Snapshots of Konsert Ramuan

One half of the wacky hosts – Junaidi Sali

 The other half – Effandy Idris

The supporters of local music…

Some of the items being sold at the flea market outside the event hall…

A new face on television thanks to the Kopi Bujang series – Raimi Liandy Safari (right) – manning the ticketing booth…

This hip-hop duo who call themselves “A-Phat“, reminds me of 90s group Nico from their dress sense and having a group member’s moniker as the name of the group…

Anugerah 2004 winner, Aqmal, never fail to wow me with his voice…

I did not understand a single word that the lead vocalist of A.U.M. sang that day (or should that be screaming???), but their music is infectious, I felt like headbanging along…

A comeback long-awaited – Dinodi

Shafyre‘s showmanship is top-notch. Like a true rocker…

Izzat Yusoff, lead vocalist of Shine, was another who did not disappoint. Another group that made me want to dance along to their reggae beats…

Zaibaktian came on stage to join Dinodi in performing the former’s hit “Dunia Yang Fana“. This song collaboration was made into a soundtrack for the “Mimpi Mekah” programme which aired on Suria last year…

Zax entered the earlier rounds of this year’s Anugerah 2011 competition. Though he was quite decent with his delivery, I just felt his rendition of “Seroja” was too similar to how Ace had performed during the recent semi-final rounds…

Sanif with Sani Hussin and Aidli “Alin” Mosbit, two actors who are part of the “Ramuan Rahasia” film…

“Chickchickaboomz” Book Launch…

I know that I owe local personality, Nura J, this entry for more than a month now. The delay in posting this entry was very much deliberate for personal reasons and partly also because during the period of the book launch event, my home PC was down. Now that I’ve gotten a new one and have more or less settled down with the new system (along with designing a new watermark logo to boot if you guys had noticed over the past fortnight), I can now sit down and share this simple but beautiful event with my readers. Before continuing, first and foremost I would like to thank Nura and husband Esman for inviting me and family to the event and to soak in the atmosphere of the joyous occasion. My kids had a fun time and not even the wet weather that day could dampen their moods.

The “Chickchickaboomz” book launch event was held at Jurong Bird Park, a place I have not been to since I was still a swinging bachelor. Not only was it a book launch event, it was also an advanced birthday celebration for Nyla, Nura & Esman‘s offspring, whose birthday falls on every 24th May. So it was a maiden visit by my children to the event venue. Somehow the wet weather that day meant that we could not walk around the park and let them see the beautiful and varied species of birds found there. But that was not the main agenda of the day. The main attraction was of course the star of the event, Nyla, who at six years of age have shown what a genius she is by being the mastermind behind the launch of two books already, “The Big Good Wolf” on her 5th birthday last year, and now “Chickchickaboomz” a year after.

At her age, most kids are usually contented with learning through reading or trying to perfect their handwriting. This girl is different. She is blessed with a creative mind and with parents like hers who are very much into learning and reading, it is a positive combination that encourages and inculcates a reading culture amongst young children, no matter what age or community they belong to. I’m sure as parents we want the best for our kids and the best is always through learning and reading. Nura‘s colourful experiences as an educator certainly provided her with all the necessary tools to make this book production a reality. I can only marvel and be in awe of this family’s achievements and best of all, they are still the same humble people I’ve known for half a decade now.

Though I will not relate from A-Z what transpired during the event, I think the photos that I will put up henceforth and the short video clip at the end of this entry would more or less tell the story that unfolded – the birthday celebrations, the sing-along and book-reading sessions. The whole event was excellently done and was well supported by the good people at Julia Gabriel Centre for Learning, of which Nura used to be a part of some years ago and continue to maintain a good working relationship with them. “Chickchickaboomz” is now available on sale at a net price of $14.00 and interested buyers can get the book as well as Nyla‘s first book “The Big Good Wolf” if you were to click on “Nura J” from the link column on the right of my blog. I’m sure your children would love the book as much as my children have experienced…

Snapshots of the Book Launch

The lovely cake, made up of several cupcakes & depicting the “Chickchickaboomz” character…

Nura welcomed us to the book launch…

Nura showing how Nyla had sketched the storyline of the book…

The children were entertained by Shane & Frances of Julia Gabriel Centre…

Nyla signing autographs on her newly-launched book…

Nyla says, “Please get my book, you won’t regret buying it…”

Maher Zain Concert Review…

I believe this has been one of the most anticipated concerts on our shores for quite some time. For the past year, rave reviews on his music and inspirational songs have filled our ears and injected a newfound love for the Nasyid genre, especially to those who were initially not inclined or have never gotten themselves acquainted. With the emergence of Maher Zain in the international music scene, Nasyid songs have suddenly become hip again, like the time the likes of Raihan and Rabbani amongst others, have successfully found their ways into our hearts back in the late 90s and early 2000s. His rise in the international scene has been nothing short of meteoric and dare I say, phenomenal as his music has transcended upon different lands and cultures across the globe. Stopping short of calling him a Messiah, I believe his music and songs have the ability to unite Muslims together as well as inspire us to better ourselves as servants of Allah and followers of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Along with positive response to his music and humble character, the clamour for his presence on our shores for a concert grew louder as the days in 2011 went by. Finally on the ninth day of March 2011, the news was confirmed that Maher Zain would be coming to town for his first solo concert. Such was the fervoured anticipation of his maiden concert here that when the day of ticket sales began on 1st April 2011, the SISTIC website slowed down and a lot of people found it hard to book the best seats possible, yours truly included. I had heard a lot of good things prior to the concert, on his previous performances around our region, and I had hoped that Singapore would also be able to witness it first-hand. The anticipation heightened further when the official radio station of the concert, RIA 89.7FM, did a stellar job in promoting it and by playing songs from his album on a regular basis, an initial move which caught me pleasantly by surprise, as radio have not played songs of an outright religious nature for quite some time due to Media Development Authority‘s strict guidelines.

Irfan Makki from Canada… 

And so when the day came (Saturday 18th June 2011), I attended my first concert with my kids in tow, when normally it’s just the wife and myself. It is not uncommon for children to be heard singing songs by Maher Zain these days and my kids are no different. They always pester us to play his songs every day, so it was only natural that we brought them along for their very first concert. We were one of the early birds to enter the concert venue (Singapore Expo Hall 3) at around 7:40pm. It was heart-warming to see people of all ages entering the event venue all wanting to savour the soulful voice that has captured our imagination and perhaps brought us closer to appreciate the beauty of God and HIS creations. It was even more heartening to note that no matter how early some of the concert-goers were, they were seen at quiet spots on the second level of the Singapore Expo building performing their obligatory responsibilities.

Just to sidetrack a bit. Out of courtesy, I had applied for media accreditation for this concert, mainly to use my own camera to snap photographs but my request was turned down by the organisers, Offshore Entertainment Production. I was told to use the photographs taken by their official photographers and to credit them once they are up on their official website. I thought it was no big deal as I have had to experience this kind of arrangement when I covered the Pesta Raya showcases involving Hujan and The Fabulous Cats at the Esplanade – Theatres By The Bay back in October 2010. The positive point was not having to lug my camera bag along with two active kids in tow. However, a concert which was supposed to begin at 8:00pm ended up starting only at 9:05pm. I dunno what was the cause of the delay but I had heard and seen from various complaints online that quite a number of people had to queue up a long time just to get into the event venue.

The multi-lingual Mesut Kurtis who hails from Macedonia. He speaks as many as five languages fluently…

I dunno if this was due to the various exhibitions happening at the same time last weekend, but I had anticipated the place itself would have been swarmed by about 10,000 odd people attending various events in the area. That was the reason why we chose to come earlier to get good parking spots and also because we were informed that prayer areas would be provided. But I certainly did not expect the wait to be so long. Even when it was 8:30pm, the concert venue was only about half full. I’m not sure who is to blame for this delay, the organisers or the people who came to watch the concert. I just feel that the organisers should have just started the concert right on the dot or at the very latest, half an hour after the stipulated timing printed on our tickets. This is afterall a concert of an Islamic nature and our religion certainly did not teach us about flawed promises.

It was slightly after 9:00pm that the host of the night’s event, none other than RIA 89.7FM‘s Hafeez Glamour, came on stage dressed just like Maher Zain himself and began to warm up the audience. He had three passes to give away and asked for three members of the audience to come on stage to claim it but somehow, the instructions got lost along the way and about twenty people of all ages ended up on stage. Each took turns singing Maher Zain‘s songs and those justifiably eliminated missed out on their chance either because they couldn’t sing as well as those who ended up getting the passes, they were impatient and rowdy or they were not able to pronounce simple words like “Allah” properly. Yes, it was a surprise to me and perhaps those seated watching the proceedings as well. I will reserve further comments henceforth regarding the matter and hope that we take the time to perfect our pronunciation on words found in our Holy Qur’an, as reciting them wrongly would give rise to different meanings.

Maher Zain – An image of serenity and tranquility…

Irfan Makki from Canada came on stage to open the concert with four songs (or was it five??? I lost count). Though I like the songs he sang that night namely “Mama“, “Waiting For The Call“, “I’m Sorry“, and “Mabrook“, I could not help feeling a little shortchanged as I had a feeling that Irfan did not perform live. I was seated near the speakers and I could hear the stark difference in the clarity of his voice as compared to when Mesut Kurtis, the second act of the night, and Maher Zain himself came on stage later on. I could be wrong about the part on singing live, as Irfan sang without the accompanying live band, relying instead on minus one / recorded tracks, while the other two singers of the night performed with the band. Due to the poor sound system, the music emanating from the accompanying live band drowned the richness of Mesut Kurtis and Maher Zain‘s voices throughout the night.

A song that left an indelible impression on me during Irfan Makki‘s set was “Waiting For The Call“. The song was accompanied by a video montage of scenes from the two holy cities of Madinah Al-Munawwarah and Makkah Al-Mukarramah. I felt a lump in my throat seeing the footages and clips of people performing the Umrah and Hajj rituals. Though I did not cry like some in the audience, I felt tears welling up in my eyes as I recalled the times spent in the two holy cities during my honeymoon back in June 2006. I did not enjoy Mesut Kurtis‘ performance, not because it was not good, but I was already feeling bored that the main concert itself was late and it was close to 10:00pm, almost two hours of wait for Maher Zain to come on stage. But I have to say I like the old classic “Thala Al-Badr” sung by Mesut. Though the concert had its shortcomings, I tried to find positives out of it and listening to evergreen songs in praises of the Almighty and also to our beloved Prophet more or less made up for it. I felt that it was not a bad decision afterall to bring my kids as they were exposed to these kind of songs, which for Syahindah is like a refresher course as some of the songs or zikir found in the songs have been taught to her in school.

I will not describe Maher Zain‘s performances per se as I am sure you would have viewed them via YouTube. All I can say is that the boredom, the impatience and anger I felt earlier at having to wait for his arrival on stage disappeared when he came on. And what a way to start his concert with the blast of pyrotechnics. I certainly did not expect it even though I saw the nozzels being lined up on stage. I thought they would shoot confetti instead. Maher Zain is a phenomenon that no matter what he does on stage, the audience would love it. Just that I felt the audience was kinda dead when the man himself asked us to sing and clap along. Actually it was not a surprise at all to me as Singaporean audience in general are known to be dead watchers of most concerts anyway. It was just unfair to the man that a 7000 strong crowd, a sell-out one for added measure, failed to display why his first concert here was an anticipated one.

Maher sang all but one of his songs from his debut album “Thank You Allah“. Not quite a surprise as the song could possibly have political implications attached to it and seeing that we’re not an Islamic country to begin with. But in any concert, you don’t expect the artiste to sing every single song in his / her album anyway. What he did not sing, he made up for it by singing twice for “Insya-Allah” and “For The Rest of My Life“, both songs he sang in English and Malay. It was impressive that he managed to sing the Malay versions without any promptings, especially “Sepanjang Hidup” which was released as a single quite recently,  a mark of professionalism on his part. It was also heartening to note that he addressed the audience by throwing in basic vocabulary from our language. He did not have to win the audience that way, but it truly showed his utmost sincerity, humility and honesty in sharing his happiness at performing for us and we were all satisfied with it. What was dissatisfying was of course the bad sound system. It was difficult to appreciate his voice and performances as a whole because of that.

After the concert ended, I joined several lucky winners from the Singtel and radio contests in meeting him backstage but my dissatisfaction returned once again when from being one of the earlier batches of people queueing in the line to meet the man himself, myself along with several others were whisked away by security to another side and we ended up being the very last to go in. Even though I tried reasoning with the security guys that we were all part of the Singtel and radio contest winners, they said that since we were wearing VIP passes, the instructions they received were for VIP Pass holders to join in the other queue outside the event venue, when we were all already queueing up backstage. Major cock-up on the organisers part and it is no surprise that I see quite a few people already venting their frustrations with them online, some going as far as saying they were treated like dogs. Though I would not go as far as to say I was treated like a mutt, the whole system itself was a major catastrophe which had no standardised uniformity.

I appreciate the fact that the organisers have done all they could to allow as many people as possible to meet and take photographs with Maher Zain, but the way we had to queue and wait and then queue again and ending up being the last was a bad experience as a whole as a lot of time was wasted. Even when we met him in person, we were not allowed to take photographs with him using our cameras and instead take as a group with complete strangers via the official photographers on standby. Being the last, I thought I could at least make small talk with the guy, but we were rushed through by his minders and I ended up just greeting him with the salam, shook his hands and taking that last photograph. But take nothing away from the guy, just by that few seconds of looking into his tired eyes, he was a picture of calm and serenity, his sincerity and aura of tranquility just shoots right through you. The anger I felt at being pushed down to the very last in the line disappeared when I saw his patience at entertaining his ardent fans, even when he was clearly tired.

Those who got to meet Maher Zain in person received these premiums as mementos…

True, there were hits and misses at the concert. Me being my natural self, my patience was severely tested that night as I am naturally a stickler for time. I felt a lot of time was wasted that night on waiting and waiting. But the concert itself, if you were to take away the waiting time, the bad sound system and the “dead” audience aside, was what I came to see and expected from a man who has been quite the music phenomenon in the Islamic world. I know some of you reading this entry might say that I am being ungrateful with my complaints when I had the opportunity to meet him in person in the end, while most could only wish they were in my shoes. I paid for the most expensive seats for myself and my whole family, it is only natural I expected the best out of the experience. I’m sure for those who paid less, they too would have complained on how far they sat from the stage etc. To some extent, I did enjoy the concert but I’m sure it could have been much better had what I listed above been realised. Hopefully the organisers could learn in kind and take in all the feedbacks received and make it a better one the next time. Still, thank you Offshore Entertainment Production for bringing in Maher Zain for his maiden concert in Singapore.

P.S. The photographs featured in this entry belong to a renowned caricature artist, the original “Mat Tocang“, who has been contributing his art works for a long time in our local Malay papers. He has strictly given the instructions that his photographs are not to be downloaded. So I hope you guys would respect his decision. Thank you brother for letting me share the photos you have taken that night in my blog entry. Appreciate it much. I simply love the caricature you made and gave personally to Maher Zain. What a stroke of genius!!! Thank you also to bro Hafeez Glamour for giving me the opportunity to meet Maher Zain in person via your radio contest.

This is the caricature that Mat Tocang had made for Maher Zain. Beautiful isn’t it???

Reflections of My Comments in Berita Minggu (Anugerah 2011)…

This entry is not exactly on the Anugerah 2011 Final Roadshow which is happening later today at the City Square Mall (the one at Farrer Park MRT station, not Johor Bahru), but more to the comments I made and that was published in today’s Berita Minggu. For the benefit of those who have not read it, I quote from what was written in the papers, “Anugerah 2011 merupakan edisi yang kurang memuaskan. Rata-rata hampir kesemuanya memberi persembahan yang lemau dan kurang bertenaga. Nada suara mereka juga sumbang. Di tahap separuh akhir ini, seharusnya kita melihat satu tahap kualiti yang boleh kita banggakan untuk dipasarkan sebagai artis yang dapat mengharumkan nama negara. Namun sehingga kini, masih belum kelihatan lagi aura seorang bintang…

This is not a damage limitation exercise that I’m embarking upon but I strongly believe my comments were not expressed in full length. As such I felt as though I came across as the baddest guy on the planet, even if I know many people out there shared the same sentiments as what was published in the papers. Putting myself in the shoes of average readers, what I will believe by reading an article, will be based on what is being put forth in print wholesale. Like it or not, what is written in mainstream media is the gospel that one should subscribe to, the politically correct truth. But sensationalism in media in general, is one that the common laymen always fail to look at.

Regular readers of my blog know that I do not mince my words when I type, sometimes at the expense of my reputation and character. If I see a spade, I call it a spade. If something is good, I say that it is good and if it is otherwise, I jolly-damn-well say it sucks. But over the years I’ve been trying to perfect the art of being brutally honest without being too blunt. I’m sure and I do hope that people would have taken note how much I give people, most notably the contestants from any reality competition that I review, the benefit of doubt as much as possible or to correct whichever flaws that needs to be done. For those who had read my Anugerah 2011 reviews for the past nine weeks, you would note that I did praise several contestants while also pointing out the shortcomings of others.

What was printed in Berita Minggu today was not a fair reflection of what I had actually typed in its entire glory in their Facebook page. Granted, the message was typed a day after the semi-final results were announced and emotions were still running high. But I know I did give a fair account in my previous entry on the results shows and stand by what I felt throughout the competition. This was truly reflected in my comments in Berita Minggu‘s Facebook page as well as my previous blog entry where I went all guns blazing hitting out at tone-deaf supporters. But somehow, the message in its entirety was edited to suit the column spaces and the true essence to what I had said became somewhat distorted. For the benefit of those who do not follow the Berita Minggu Facebook page, I present to you what I had said in its full glory and then you be the judge whether I was being too critical in the papers or the one I said originally was much better. One thing is for sure, I’m no longer sharing my thoughts with mainstream media anytime soon and will stick to what I do best – Blogging…

Anugerah 2011 merupakan edisi yang kurang memuaskan dari segi kualiti peserta mahupun pemilihan para pengundi. Lihat saja episod yang baru lepas ini dan bagaimana para peserta membuat persembahan di atas pentas. Rata-rata hampir kesemuanya memberi persembahan yang lemau dan kurang bertenaga. Nada suara mereka juga sumbang walaupun mereka tidak dibebani dengan bayang pertandingan kerana segala markah telah dirangkumi sebelum rancangan bermula. Di tahap separuh akhir ini, seharusnya kita melihat satu tahap kualiti yang boleh kita banggakan untuk dipasarkan sebagai artis yang dapat mengharumkan nama negara. Sehingga kini, masih belum kelihatan lagi aura seorang bintang yang dapat digilap dari potensi yang ada sekarang ini. Para pengundi juga harus dipersalahkan kerana terlalu memilih mengikut kehendak hati mereka tanpa memikirkan jangka panjang bahawa pemilihan mereka sedikit sebanyak bakal memberi impak pada industri hiburan tanahair. Kalau kita bandingkan dengan artis-artis baru serantau, akan banggakah kita untuk melihat mereka berdiri sama tinggi dan duduk sama rendah walaupun pada hakikatnya, mutu dan tahap piawaian yang ada ibarat langit dan bumi???

Anugerah 2011 Episode 9 (Semi-Final Results) Recap…

Faith” and “Hope“. These two words kept my interest going in this year’s Anugerah 2011 competition. I had faith that besides our astute and well-respected resident judges, the voting public would contribute to the betterment of our local Malay music scene by voting for someone who could be one we can be proud of, to carry our flag high when they are representing us overseas in future assignments / showcases. I also had hoped that for all the misgivings and shortcomings that the contestants have shown in the early stages of the competition, that they would display marked improvements to justify why they deserved to progress ahead of perhaps more deserving ones who have been eliminated.

Somehow, when the results of the three finalists were announced last night, both sets of beliefs I had seemed to have been thrown out of the window. No, I’m not bitter at the results, even though two out of three of my original picks as finalists were eliminated. I’m just left baffled by how things have worked out right from the start. As early as Episode 3, I wondered if this was the best we could offer from our local pool of talents. However I thought it was unfair to come to such a conclusion at such an early stage given the fact that most of them do not have experiences performing in front of a live audience before. And so I persevered and continued to hold on to a belief that with each passing episode, I would see improvements being made by the contestants.

Yes I observed improvements being made in every remaining contestant, but there was also a consistent tendency for them to take a step forward and two steps back. When they have improved on something, they tend to undo the good by doing something that we do not expect them to do whilst performing or by repeating an old mistake again. A competition of such magnitude demands each contestant to get better and better than their last performance and with each episode, they should be gaining in confidence and stature. Somehow I do not quite understand why this current batch seems to hold back a lot and seldom letting it all out. Even in an episode where there was no pressure on them to perform well like last night, their performances as a group left much to be desired. I was squirming at my seat watching them sing Glenn Fredly & Dewi Persik‘s “Hikayat Cintaku“. Though above average marks could be given to their dance moves, their vocal harmonies were haywire and they went off-key on many instances. This was not what I had expected from semi-finalists and at this stage of the competition.

What left me stumped and gazumped throughout the competition was the way the voting was made by the public. I’m sure people out there will be quick to discredit the resident judges and their respective choices. But this show is audited by a respectable and renowned international auditing company in KPMG Pte Ltd. Any discrepancies will be subjected to legal proceedings. Even when I spoke to judge Eddy Ali after last night’s show, he expressed his disappointment at the choices of the voting public and lamented the fact that they (the judges) are always to be blamed for the better contestants being kicked out and not doing enough to save them from the jaws of elimination. There is only so much they can do to judge and say who performed well on the night. The rest is up to the voting public to dictate who they think deserves to go through. Sadly, the better performing ones do not get enough sms votes to add on to the good marks they received from the judges.

As the competition has shown, the better ones seemed to get knocked out one after the other. There are no conspiracy theories to begin with, they simply did not attract enough votes to keep them in the competition. Coupled with the fact that the lesser performing contestants are blessed with ardent and generous followers, what you get is a competition that is very much skewed and lost its zest in quality. I accept that this is the name of the game and the reality of this sort of competition, but I make no apologies when I say some of these so-called loyal voters are irresponsible and voting on blind faith. Is this the standard you feel is worthy to stand side by side with other artistes from the region??? You are supposed to contribute to the betterment of the local music industry, to help raise our standards in the eyes of the region but what have you done so far??? This year’s competition only proved that we are not yet ready to progress to a system whereby the voting public is given 100% power to choose who progresses and who gets eliminated. Already giving them half the reins to judge and what you get are unexpected results, can you imagine giving them 100% free reins to dictate???

Syed Azmir performing his latest single “Jangan Kau Lupa“. It was understood to be his last television performance but I think we will not see the last of him just yet…

I did rant on Twitter last night that I have lost faith in the system of the competition, most notably this voting mechanism and the power enjoyed by these voters. There is a grudging respect in their undying loyalty towards their respective favourites but at the same time, I have disdain for their apparent tone-deafness. This show of blind faith has contributed in one way or another, and to me at least, the worst Anugerah competition in its history. No disrespect to all three girls who have made it this far, but being finalists, they are expected to perform beyond their comfort zones and prove why they deserve to be in the Final. I still retain a little ounce of hope that they will rise to the occasion given the fact that they have two weeks from now to get their acts right. They need to and they must, as their future employer, a certain Dato’ M. Nasir, will be one of the guest judges. This guy is meticulous and I’m sure he demands a certain standard from his soon-to-be protege. Can the girls do it??? For their sake and for the sake of our local Malay music scene, I really hope they do themselves justice.

Introducing the finalists of Anugerah 2011: Rahayu Ridwan, Shikin & Erlina

History was made last night when we have for the first time, three female finalists. Not quite a surprise really, as the girls in general have shown that they have been the better performers, though it has to be said that Ace and to some extent, Epul, Firdaus Haridan and Syazani have done commendably in proving that the guys have something to show for as well, though their best were still not enough. Somehow I felt last night’s episode was a waste of one hour and should have just lasted for half the time slated. Too many redundant segments were done just to kill time before the announcements of the finalists were made. Even the contestants were lacklustre in their performances and it showed too glaringly. I think the competition needs some serious tweaks beginning with its judging system. I’m all for an absolute judging system whereby the voting public is redundant or only contributing a maximum of 30% of the total marks.

The finalists being interviewed by Diana Amran and sharing their thoughts on the results…

The judges, with all due respect, should also be changed, some if not all. We cannot have judges blatantly showing their favouritism towards certain contestants, just because they used to come over to the judges’ homes when they were younger. That kind of remarks are too personal and somewhat unprofessional in my opinion, and only discredits the judges from being fair towards other contestants, even if their favourites are justifiably good. I also hope that in future, there will be some form of transparency in the announcement of results, like how much the judges had assessed the contestants and how many votes from the public contributed to their total tabulations. This is to avoid feelings of discontent by the masses and questions on whether the results were fixed or was it too good to be true…

The gorgeous newscaster, Hazlina Halim, dropped by after the show to congratulate the finalists. Here they are joined by Mediacorp Suria‘s Promotion Executives Budi Iskandar Sa’ad (left) and Siti Zuraidah Taib (right) as well as Eaglevision‘s Netty Fiona Othman (second from right)

P.S. Can somebody please inform a certain Top 18 contestant not to make an ass out of himself weekly by displaying his childish and boisterous antics, be it at the Mediacorp TV Theatre or at the Mediacorp reception area??? If you want to make a name for yourself in this industry, please learn to behave like a human being and not act like a buffoon shouting at the top of your voice and making a fool of yourself. Oh, and grow up please!!!

Konsert Ramuan Rahasia Promo…

KONSERT RAMUAN is a music festival that brings together various Singaporean artistes, performing in solidarity to raise funds for Sanif Olek’s yet-to-be-completed feature film, RAMUAN RAHASIA. A total of 24 bands and solo acts will be sharing stage on Sunday, 19 June 2011 from 11am to 6pm at the Goodman Arts Centre (90, Goodman Road, S439053). Together, fascinating flea market with vendors selling eclectic products will add colour to the event!

KONSERT RAMUAN is only the first of a fundraising project series that hopes to create awareness about the film appeal for funds. Following this concert, a monologue ensemble, entitled MONOLOG RAHASIA, featuring established theatre/TV actors is already in the pipeline.

KONSERT RAMUAN tickets are already on sale @ $10 via Paypal (sanif.olek@gmail.com) and Zax (81137883). Tickets will also be available at the door on the event day at $12. Free entry for children aged 12 years and below.

For those interested to rent a table at the flea market, they may contact Zio at 90214934.

All proceeds from the concert will be channeled to the RAMUAN RAHASIA fund appeal.


RAMUAN RAHASIA is a feature film, directed by Sanif Olek that has abruptly stalled since late 2009 due to insufficient funds. To date, only 60% of its filming has been achieved.  The project is now racing to be completed.

 It is an endearing tale of hope blending spicy food, classic Nusantara Malay songs and love into a digestible contemporary platter. It boasts a stellar cast from Dato’ Rahim Razali to Aidli ‘Alin’ Mosbit, Rafaat Haji Hamzah, Keagan Kang, Aaron Aziz, Sani Hussin, J A Halim and many more.

Principal Cast:

  • Dato’ Rahim Razali
  • Aidli ‘Alin’ Mosbit
  • Rafaat Hj Hamzah
  • Asnida Daud
  • Keagan Kang

Supporting Cast:

  • Aaron Aziz
  • Marina Yusoff
  • J A Halim
  • Sani Hussin
  • Keatar H M
  • Shah Iskandar
  • Khalid Baboo
  • Aryati Tyeb Papar
  • Nina Halim
  • Aminah Ahmad
  • Hashimah Hamidon
  • Norsiah Ramly
  • Dalina Jaapar
  • Roslan Kemat
  • Abdullah Ahmad
  • Nurul Aini

Original story by Sanif Olek

Screenplay by Gene Sha Rudyn and Sanif Olek

For further details on the concert, please contact Azizah Zakaria at 94248514.

[For more details about the film, please visit www.ramuanrahasia.com]

Be A Star in X-Clusive’s Music Video…


X-Clusive is an independent music group. The group consists of three musicians, A’Trez, a rapper, composer, songwriter as well as main producer of the group. Nora Rahman & Ize Suliman complete the trio as vocalists. They are gearing up to infuse a new flavour of music and creating a unique identity for themselves. They have recently launched their debut album “FENOMENA” at City Beach Resort on 19 March 2011. The debut album is distributed by Life Records and the group have also signed a publishing deal with Bedsty Bedrock Publication.

X-Clusive have set the target & vision to attain sound standards as per other established groups in the region, such as The Fabulous Cats, Soul ID and AhliFiqir. They envisage in making X-Clusive a household name. X-Clusive is collaborating with a number of producers from Singapore, Malaysia & Indonesia. They wish to raise the awareness of the community on the existence of unknown talents that exist here. With the advent of New Media technologies, X-Clusive is exploring the sphere of music knowledge through their social online presence at www.x-clusiveonline.com.

X-Clusive, was formerly known as “Verbalize Flo“. Their unique musical flavour places them as class acts to be watched out for. Their first radio hit single, “Yok Goyang Yok“, got them accredited on radios in Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei. It was listed in RIA Chartz for 17 weeks and on Kristal FM (Brunei) charts in the Top 3 for a duration of three months. They have also been collaborating with high profile artistes and producers from the surrounding region. X-Clusive, in recent months, have had a major revamp in the make-up of their group members. They have now settled down with two vocalists in Ize Suliman and Nora Rahman, two individuals of unique vocal capabilities and personalities, the former more known for his involvement in Suria‘s singing competition Anugerah back in 2009 and also providing back-up vocals in entertainment and variety shows organised by the television station.

Their hard work has been bearing fruits with support from editorial, broadcast and organisational entities such as Selebriti Magazine, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), MTV & Sensasi, Bedstymusic, Purplenotez Publishing, Malay Artistes Association and Mediacorp. Apart from making live appearances on OKTO Live and Suria, X-Clusive is expected to swarm the region with their anticipated flow and flavour in their recent recording of programmes by major television stations from Malaysia: Galaxy on TV9 and Melodi on Tv3. Of note and in recent times, the group clinched the First Prize at “Projek Rentak“, the annual songwriting competition organised by Mediacorp Radio‘s Malay stations, Warna 94.2FM & RIA 89.7FM for their single “Kau Inspirasiku“.

For more information on X-Clusive, you can go to the following sites or contact the group via A’Trez at:

*Email: Atrez@x-clusiveonline.com*
*Myspace: www.Myspace.com/verbalize.flo*
*Twitter: www.twitter.com/Atrez*
*Website: www.x-clusiveonline.com*

Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 Press Conference…

(Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Radio)

After a break of two years, Anugerah Planet Muzik makes its long-awaited return to our shores. The last time the premier regional awards show was held in Singapore was in 2007, when the Singapore Indoor Stadium played host to honour the best in the region’s music industry. Long-time readers of this blog would note that I’m very much a regular attendee of this event, in fact I have been going to each and every single one from 2001-2008, except for the last one when it was first held in Jakarta in 2009, due to my favourite team, Manchester United playing  a pre-season friendly with the Malaysian team in Kuala Lumpur on the same day of the event. I think had the team not played there, I would have made the trip as well, but you don’t get to meet your favourite team in the flesh that often unless you’re residing over there. The event returns this year and will be held at the Max Pavilion Singapore Expo on 15 July 2011 at 8:30pm. The last time this event was held there was in 2006.

This year marks a special milestone for me with regards to this event, as this was the first time I received a personal invitation to attend the press conference to announce the final nominees of Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011. This was possible thanks to the good people at RIA 89.7FM and Warna 94.2FM, the organisers of this prestigious awards show, most notably the producer herself, Aura Shai. I felt honoured to be a part of the media brigade, being possibly the only local entertainment blogger at the event. Though I have attended several media conferences before this, somehow attending this particular one gave me goosebumps and a nervous feeling, probably sharing the same feelings being felt by the local artistes who came to grace the event.

This media conference, which was held last Wednesday 8 June 2011 at 3pm, was unlike the one that was held concurrently in Kuala Lumpur. Based on news reports and photographs I’ve managed to see, that event was held at the Hard Rock Cafe. Here in Singapore it was held at the humble surroundings of the multi-purpose room at Caldecott Broadcast Centre. Some might wonder about the exclusivity of the event venues of both countries, but to me and to most people who attended, I think the venue is quite secondary. What was paramount in the minds of those who came were who made it to the final reckoning, bearing in mind that they were up against artistes and production teams of higher standards and quality from our regional counterparts.

These are the coveted trophies to be won on the night…

During the media conference itself, we were introduced to the hosts of this year’s Anugerah Planet Muzik, none other than Adi Rahman and Fiza O of RIA 89.7FM, no strangers themselves to hosting the same awards show in the past. I could have missed out on this piece of information during the event, but I found out much later that both hosts that I had mentioned earlier, will be joined by Malaysia‘s Didie Alias, a first for the lady who has earned the reputation of being our neighbour’s very own Lady Gaga. I had expected the usual suspects like Sarah Sechan and Aznil Nawawi to return, but apparently I think the organisers wanted a fresher outlook, hence the choice of Didie, no slouch herself from what I had seen when she hosted Anugerah Bintang Popular Berita Harian as recently as a few months ago. I can’t wait to see Adi reprise his role as the perennial “bully” and see how he spars with Didie on stage. Maybe Fiza could also play the “baddie” this time round, we shall see.

Two of the three hosts of APM2011: Adi Rahman and Fiza O

Before the event kicked off in earnest, we were all treated to a special video presentation of past Anugerah Planet Muzik (APM) events. Looking at some of the footages, especially those that were circa 2007-2009, brought back a lot of fond memories, even if some of them had not exactly been spectacular by standards, but still each and every single APM had its share of story to tell and memory etched to it. This year being its tenth year in existence, the event has come a long way in its progress, having gone through a lot of ups and downs. I would like to think that this year will be a good one and I have strong vibes about it, just by looking at the line-up of stars slated to perform at this year’s show. Just to refresh your memories in case you have forgotten what went on for the past nine APMs, I’ve managed to record the short yet entertaining video presentation courtesy of the organisers:

I will not describe in detail what the organising committee panel which comprised of Ms. Zakiah HalimVice-President of Malay, Indian & Expatriate Programming (Radio), Mr. Hassan Salleh, Senior Programme Director of RIA 89.7FM and the producer of Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 herself, Aura Shai had shared during the media conference. However, just to summarise, Singapore contributed 129 nominations of the 523 that they received in total from the three participating countries, one of the most since its inception. This was a marked increase when compared to only 48 nominations being put forward from Singapore back in 2009. While the number is very much heartening by standards, this rise in the submission of nominations could also be partly attributed to the fact that there was a void last year when APM was not organised. Nonetheless the numbers have proven that Singapore is capable of producing good talents and also good musical compositions from our local acts. Indeed over the years, with APM‘s existence, it has paved the way for more acts to come forward.

The panel consisting of Mr. Hassan Salleh, Ms. Zakiah Halim and Aura Shai

Of course when it comes to quantity, there might not always be an equal nor substitute in quality. This was reiterated by Ms. Zakiah that some, if not most of our local acts, still lag behind in terms of song production quality. However, as organisers, they have to maintain the quality that has been set and that we have to accept the fact that the other two countries are miles ahead especially with strong backing from sponsors, unlike our music industry. She said that even though radio do not have all the answers to the problems being faced by our local talents, she would not mind working closely with all parties to find feasible solutions that could help the industry grow. As a radio listener, I agree with her that radio has done its part in promoting local music, contrary to complaints that radio do not support local acts enough. Look at RIA Chartz to see the number of local songs in the list and listen to the radio station every day and you will note that there are at least four local songs being played every hour, if not more. At one point of time, the Top 10 songs in RIA Chartz were all local songs, a significant increase in the listeners’ preference for local music. To listen to what Ms. Zakiah had to say, I’ve recorded her speech for your viewing pleasure:

The final list of nominees certainly threw up several surprises as well as names which most of us have not heard of on our shores and most likely in the other two countries as well. But as a Singaporean, I am extremely proud of our local acts who have been nominated along with others from the region. It shows that we have made good progress and that we can be pleased to have artistes of a standard which is on par with our regional counterparts. However, I do feel a bit confused with some of the categories like for instance, why was Sarah Aqilah nominated in the Best Vocal (Female) Category and not Best Vocal (New Female Artiste) Category since she is considered new in the scene. There was also a slight tweak in the Best Collaboration Category. Previously, this category allows acts from the same country to collaborate with one another. This time, in the spirit of regional unity, they have changed the rule and set the category such that acts from different countries (for instance, Singapore and Malaysia) must collaborate and then send in their nominations. I had high hopes for our local rap duo, Komrad, who had recorded singles with Malaysia‘s Zain Hamid, Malique and DJ Salam before, but they were not in the final list. This new rule somehow increases the prospects of our local acts to get nominated in future.

SleeQ listening attentively to the speech…

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all local acts who have made it into the final list. I think they know and they are realistic enough to understand that to get into the final list is already a huge achievement. Anything more would be a bonus. To the rest who have not made it, please do not lose heart and to continue producing good music and who knows, even if you do not get your recognition in a regional show like APM, your works and compositions might be honoured when the next AnugeraHitz.SG show comes around. Before I end this entry, I’ll present to you the final list of Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 with Singaporean nominees marked in red as well as the slated performers who will grace the event. Just to note that the Lagu Terbaik / Best Song and Anugerah Khas Planet Muzik / Planet Music Special Awards are not listed but will be made known on the night itself. For more details on how to vote in the popular categories, please refer to details at the official Anugerah Planet Muzik Facebook page. This year will be the first that you will be able to vote via Internet so do keep a lookout for it…

Haramain Osman (centre) could be pleased that he has three nominations to his name and group (The Lion Story)…

Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 List of Nominees


Aris – 1000 X Maaf

Febrian – Cinta Itu Gila

Igo – Kemenangan Cinta

Sandhy Sondoro – Bunga Mimpi

Sezaire Sezali – Matahari


Aisya Hasnaa – Lagu Mahu Kamu

Amanda Imani – Selamilah Cinta

Ana Raffali – Tolong Ingatkan Aku

Mytha – Seperti Yang Kau Minta

Roze Kasmani – Harum


Ana Raffali, Sohaimi Meor Hassan & Altimet – Kalau Berpacaran

Azlan & The Typewriter – Kelibat Si Penyair

Govinda – Bawa Aku Lari

Projek Pistol – Wanita Seluruh Dunia

Zivilia – Aishiteru


Amarah – Siti Nurhaliza & Kris Dayanti – Composer: Audi Mok, Lyricist: Siti Nurhaliza

Berteman Rindu – Didicazli & Giselle – Composer: Didicazli, Lyricist: Didicazli

Harus Bagaimana – Atilia & Maliq & d’Essentials – Composer: Widi Puradiredja, Lyricist: Widi Puradiredja

Kalau Cinta – Aliff Aziz & Joanna – Composer: Panji, Lyricist: Panji

Sayang – Dayang Nurfaizah & Marcell – Composer: Omar K, Lyricist: Nuur Iman


Faizal Tahir – Adrenalin

Glenn Fredly – Lovevolution

Hady Mirza – Sang Penyanyi

Hafiz – Masih Jelas

Judika – Setengah Mati Merindu


Agnes Monica – Sacredly Agnezious

Ana Raffali – Ketika Aku Kecil

Astrid – Lihat Aku Sekarang

Rossa – Harmoni Jalinan Nada & Cerita

Sarah Aqilah – Sarah Aqilah


Andra & The Backbone – Love, Faith & Hope

D’Masiv – Perjalanan

Kotak – Energi

3 Suara – Jaclyn, Ning & Shila – 3 Suara

6ixth Sense – + – x /

Ungu – 1000 Kisah 1 Hati


Cari Jodoh – Wali – Producer: Sujana

CTKD – Siti Nurhaliza & KrisDayanti – Producers: Aubrey Suwito, Audi Mok, Charly ST12, Siti Nurhaliza & KrisDayanti

Energi – Kotak – Producer: Pay BIP

Ketika Aku Kecil – Ana Raffali – Producer: Aidit Alfian

Sang Penyanyi – Hady Mirza – Producer: Hady Mirza

3 Suara – Jaclyn, Ning & Shila – Producers: Irwan Simanjuntak, Paul Morrison, Kevin Chin & Aylwin Santiago


Harum – Roze Kasmani – Composers: Imran Ajmain & Alyph SleeQ, Lyricist: Shah Shamsiri

Ku Tetap Kan Menunggu – Hady Mirza – Composer: Hady Mirza, Lyricist: Hady Mirza

Lagu Teman – The Lion Story Feat. Zahidah – Composer: Haramain Osman, Lyricist: Haramain Osman

Maafkan Ku (Oh Cinta) – Faizal Isa – Composer: Janz Abdullah, Lyricists: Aina Azizi & Khairul Anwar

Matahari – Sezaire Sezali – Composer: Haramain Osman, Lyricist: Haramain Osman


Awan Nano – Hafiz – Composer: M Nasir, Lyricist: Buddhi Hekayat

Hanyut – Faizal Tahir – Composers: Audi Mok & Faizal Tahir, Lyricists: Audi Mok & Faizal Tahir

Kalau Berpacaran – Ana Raffali, Sohaimi Meor Hassan & Altimet – Composer: Sohaimi Meor Hassan, Lyricists: Sohaimi Meor Hassan, Ana Raffali & Altimet

Kekanda Adinda – Atilia & MonoloQue – Composer: LoQue, Lyricist: LoQue

Noktah Cinta – Hafiz – Composer: Ajai, Lyricist: Sheikh Qalam


Cari Jodoh – Wali – Composer: Apoy, Lyricist: Apoy

Cintailah Aku Sepenuh Hati – Ari Lasso – Composers: Sandy Canester & Pay BIP, Lyricist: Ari Lasso

Karena Ku Cinta Kau – Bunga Citra Lestari – Composer: Dewiq, Lyricist: Dewiq

Pelan-Pelan Saja – Kotak – Composers: Pay BIP & Kotak, Lyricist: Dewiq

Rindu 1/2 Mati – D’Masiv – Composer: Rian d’Masiv, Lyricist: Rian d’Masiv


SG1 Aliff Aziz

SG2 Didicazli

SG3 Diorama

SG4 Dynda

SG5 Faizal Isa

SG6 Farhan Shah

SG7 Fauzie Laily

SG8 Hady Mirza

SG9 Hyrul Anuar

SG10 Imran Ajmain

SG11 Rancour

SG12 Revalina

SG13 Roze Kasmani

SG14 Sarah Aqilah

SG15 Sezaire Sezali

SG16 SleeQ

SG17 Syed Azmir

SG18 Taufik Batisah

SG19 The Lion Story

SG20 The Sallys


LP1 Angkasa: Hady Mirza

LP2 Biar Hati Mencintai: Sarah Aqilah

LP3 Dunia Yang Fana: Zaibaktian

LP4 Harum: Roze

LP5 Hingga Ke Akhir: Urban Sensation Feat. Rauzan

LP6 Janji: Tujuh

LP7 Kali Pertama: Chosen One

LP8 Kesuma Jiwa: Boy Raven Feat. Man Toyak

LP9 Maafkanku (Oh Cinta): Faizal Isa

LP10 Matahari: Sezaire Sezali

LP11 Menanti Cintamu: Revalina

LP12 Tiada Dua: Taufik Batisah


AS1 Afgan

AS2 Agnes Monica

AS3 Aliff Aziz

AS4 Faizal Tahir

AS5 Hady Mirza

AS6 Hujan

AS7 Rossa

AS8 Siti Nurhaliza

AS9 Taufik Batisah

AS10 Ungu

AS11 Wali

AS12 Yuna


LS1 Aishiteru: Zivilia

LS2 Angkasa: Hady Mirza

LS3 Baik-Baik Sayang: Wali

LS4 Berteman Rindu: Didicazli & Giselle

LS5 Cerita Kedai Kopi: Malique Feat. Salam

LS6 Join Kopi: Blackout

LS7 Khatimah Cinta: 6ixth Sense

LS8 Ku Pinjam Satu Bintang: Alyah Feat. Riz AF

LS9 Masih Di Sini Masih Denganmu: Goliath

LS10 Menanti Cintamu: Revalina

LS11 Tiada Dua: Taufik Batisah

LS12 Tinggal Kenangan: Saleem

The local artistes who came to grace the media conference…

Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 Performing Acts

Indonesia – Melly Goeslaw, Sandhy Sandoro, Afgan, Rossa, Aryan Band

Malaysia – Atilia & Monoloque, Amanda Imani, Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, Dato’ M. Nasir, Shila Amzah, Ning Baizura, Jaclyn Victor, Ana Raffali, Hafiz, Faizal Tahir

Singapore – Hady Mirza, Sezaire Sezali, SleeQ, Taufik Batisah, Rahayu Ridwan, Sarah Aqilah, Bloco Singapura & Orkestar Trio

Award Presenters: Linda Onn

The list of performing acts and award presenters are by no means the end and more names will be confirmed later…

Details on how to get your tickets to Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011..

Anugerah 2011 Episode 8 (Semi-Final Round) Recap…

I did not realise how fast the weeks have gone by till I looked at the number of episodes this series has gone on. Take away the first two which was televised on the same night, and we would have had seven weeks of competition already. Last Tuesday night, the Top 6 semi-finalists continued their respective journeys in this competition to see who amongst them, would be clinching the three final slots come 28th June 2011. With some of the apparently more deserving ones already eliminated, it was up to the remaining six to prove that they were worthy of their spots in this round. This week, the contestants were required to sing whilst being accompanied by the strains from the piano played by Syawal Kassim, who is also the husband of local singer Norazela Rosli. Not only that, they had to sing as a duet pairing in the last quarter of the show and having to face the panel of media representatives in a separate recorded session last Friday as their designated challenge for the week.

I did point out the fact that they had more or less lent some credibility to their current standings in my last entry on last Saturday‘s Anugerah 2011 Roadshow at Nex Shopping Mall, but that was in a relaxed and non-competitive setting. As such all gloves came off and what I observed were performances which had the contestants smiling instead of looking tensed. This past Tuesday night, it was up to them to prove why they deserved to be on stage with all the pressures and expectations weighing down on their shoulders once again. One thing has to be said, they certainly looked more refined, more presentable, a bit more matured and outstanding in physical appearances after going through an image makeover over the past week, as shown from the video montage at the beginning of the show.

Solo Performances

Shikin – She was first off with Agnes Monica‘s “Teruskanlah“. I thought Shikin did not do much wrong other than the fact that she shut her eyes a bit too much for my liking and that she could have expressed more through her gestures and facial expressions. Her voice control was impeccable but it lacked feel. The gentleman seated to my left had his hairs standing listening to her, but I did not experience that for the fact that I did not feel her soul in it. Judge Eddy Ali was right, she could and should have done better as we all know she is capable of.

Ace – The wife had remarked earlier that Ace‘s voice is suited to sing a Jamal Abdillah song and she was proven right when he performed “Seroja“, which Jamal had covered in recent years and gave the song a fresh outlook. Ace also gave, what I felt was his best performance throughout the competition. He made the song his own by delivering it with his own style, even if one can detect his tendency to sound like a Tok Juara in a Dikir Barat performance. But alas, just like Shikin, he did not inject a bit more emotions to go along with his vocal execution. That would have been absolutely perfect.

Erlina – She was another one who sang an Agnes Monica song, “Matahariku“. I was not entirely impressed with her performance as she was pitchy almost throughout. The transition into the chorus was also not smooth as I could detect her going slightly off-key. This performance showed that Erlina‘s high notes are very much suspect as what I had feared all along, when she attempted songs of such nature and I had commented how I feared for her voice breaking in my previous entries. She took the easy route this time and did not hit the high notes towards the end of the song, opting instead to keep it low. Not good enough at this stage of the competition.

Baby Sulastri – I felt this week’s theme was chicken feed for a power balladeer like her. And I was proven right when she sailed through seamlessly, giving an excellent performance in delivery and control. Add a bit of emotions and what we got was another flawless performance to erase the memory of last week’s debacle, at least from my own personal perspective. Just that when Baby Sulastri sang Filianti Vlee‘s “Bila Cinta“, taken off the Lagenda Budak Setan official soundtrack, and when she knelt down, memories of Sarah Aqilah‘s dramatic performance singing Rossa‘s “Hati Yang Kau Sakiti” in the Grand Finals in 2009, flashed across my head. A bit of originality could have been better.

Epul – I can’t help but agree with host Huda Ali (from our conversation afterwards) that Epul looks more suave after he went for his makeover. How I wish I could say that his performance, singing Republik‘s “Hanya Ingin Kau Tahu” was equally suave but it was not. He looked as though he was in a daze, his voice tone was monotonous, and when he was about to break into chorus, he was caught out sounding flat. But to cut him some slack, the second half of his performance was much better and what I felt was an example of how to put one’s emotions into a song. I heard he shed a tear as well though I could not see it from where I sat.

Rahayu Ridwan – I feel that as the weeks go by, Rahayu seems to slowly gain in confidence and more focus in portraying her emotions. Singing Kris Dayanti‘s “Aku Wanita Biasa“, the song has its up and down moments which I felt Rahayu did not quite exploit to its fullest. Her low notes are still suspect and her voice during the chorus gave away her feeling of nervousness. But I have to say that her singing style, especially when she pronounces the letter “S“, reminds me of Indonesian singers. She can sing as was pointed out by judge Sheikh Haikel, but at this stage of the competition, a lot more is expected from each contestant and she should be pushing herself more to sing even more challenging songs. I personally felt the song was a bit too comfortable for her.

Duet Performances

Shikin & Ace: The song that they were supposed to sing, Iskandar Ismail & Eka Mairina‘s “Cinta Abadi“, required them to harmonise and strike the perfect balance when they hit the high notes. Definitely not an easy task given the original singers are vocal powerhouses. But I thought they did alright vocal-wise, not to the level of the original singers, but sufficient enough to do justice to the song. My only grouse was their lack of chemistry together, they should have brought out the essence of the song even more by singing closer to each other, look into the others’ eyes a bit longer etc. I am still wondering what the surprise was when they mentioned in the video montage prior to their performance as obviously I did not see any.

Erlina & Baby Sulastri: Continuing where she left off, Baby Sulastri was a picture of confidence and in this performance singing Kris Dayanti and Melly Goeslaw‘s “Cinta“, it definitely showed. Erlina on the other hand improved on her earlier performance which brings me to say, this girl is more at ease performing if another person is by her side or if she performs in a group. As the judges had pointed out, they had it easy without the need to harmonise till the very end. I still feel very much uncomfortable watching Baby Sulastri speak to the cameras as proven by the video montage before their performance. While her singing is flawless, there is a lot that she needs to work on in terms of her oratorical skills and the way she speaks cos it does come across as fake. One just needs to remember how she fared during the hosting segment a few weeks ago to get a good gauge. However, time is on her side for her to brush up on her shortcomings.

Epul & Rahayu Ridwan: Epul seemed more composed this time as compared to his earlier performance and this confidence rubbed on his duet partner Rahayu. A much better chemistry displayed between the two as compared to the first pairing of Ace and Shikin, though I still feel they stood quite far from one another at the start of Raffi Ahmad & Ayushita‘s “Jangan Bilang Tidak“. I understood where judge Sheikh Haikel was coming from when he said he was giving the higher marks to Epul as he allowed his partner be the standout voice during the chorus. Rahayu again showed her discomfort at the low notes and I wonder if this could set her back in the long run cos so far she has shown this consistency throughout the competition. A note of caution to Epul who said he has not heard of this song before during the video montage and to all contestants. Start tuning in to your local Malay radio stations to know what are the latest songs being aired. You are afterall aiming to achieve something in the industry. You need to do your homework and not come across as ignorant.

Media Challenge Comments

I will not discuss the media challenge at length as I was not there to witness the interview session between the contestants and the media panel which was made up of Mr. Hassan SallehSenior Programme Director for RIA 89.7FM, Ms. Hanim Mohd Saleh, Entertainment Correspondent for Berita Harian, Ms. Ruslina Affandi, Head Editor of Manja Magazine and Mr. Daud Yusof, Producer / Presenter & Broadcast Journalist with Mediacorp News. I will just recap what Mr. Hassan Salleh had said that night when he appeared in the last five to ten minutes of the show summarising what the judging panel had on each individual contestant.

Shikin – The judging panel unanimously agreed that she was the best during the interview session. Her answers were matured and they had a lot of substance. Her words were also well-crafted. Certainly her day job as a nurse, communicating with different types of people paid off, in terms of her interacting skills.

Ace – He was a picture of calmness, confident and also had substance in his replies. But he was cautioned for being a bit too direct and insensitive with his replies and to mind his answers in future, so as not to hurt himself and others.

Erlina – She admitted to being shy and showed that quality during the session. However, Mr. Hassan encouraged her to come out from her shell as she is afterall a singer who performs in front of a wide audience. As such, she needs to shed her inhibitions and open up a bit more.

Baby Sulastri – Her experience as a child talent in the past, more or less helped her to open up during the session. However she was told that she was too honest with some of the things she said and this could backfire on her in the long run. She needs to be more calculative and think of any possible repercussions or backlash that might befall on her through her honesty.

Epul – He came across as quite a relaxed person, too relaxed for the panel’s liking. He needs to be mindful not to fall into the trap of not being taken seriously by the media and ultimately the fans in his quest to achieve stardom or standing in the industry.

Rahayu Ridwan – The judging panel felt at ease talking to her, giving them a sense of tranquility, to the point that they likened her to Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza when she first came into the music scene, but the difference between Rahayu and Dato’ Siti was, the former is too long-winded in some of her replies and needs to cut down on that.

Personal Thoughts

Like the previous week, I do not have much to say except that to the watching audience at the TV Theatre, I hope you guys have some decency and decorum when attending the live recording of the show. No matter how much you disagree with some of the comments made by the judges, you do not have to voice your displeasure in the middle of their comments. It’s plain and downright rude. Yes, I am referring to some of Ace‘s supporters who cut off Ann Hussein twice when she commented on his solo performance. It’s a pity that for such a good and I must say, a humble contestant, his supporters left much to be desired. The same can also be said with Erlina‘s group of supporters who have been quite boisterous on an almost weekly basis. Please do not jeopardise your respective favourites’ reputation by your unruly, uncouth and uncivilised behaviour. It does not reflect well on your personality, what more your upbringing.

And so the voting public have until 6pm on 14 June 2011 to vote for their favourite contestants. For the sake of the competition, I really do hope the three deserving ones get to grace the Grand Finals on 28th June 2011. Again I have to say I have no particular favourites though some might speculate I like so-and-so, but I do hope the ones who performed well or have been doing so on a regular basis, would progress as we do not want our local industry to be a laughing stock when we compare it with our regional counterparts. This programme has produced Anugerah Planet Muzik nominees as well as an AnugeraHitz.SG winner in Sarah Aqilah. The level of quality produced should be maintained and the contestants who would go on to create a career out of this path must also sustain that level and improve as they go along. For more information on how to vote, do drop by Anugerah’s Official Facebook page.