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Anugerah Planet Muzik 2014 Review


apm2014poster(Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Malay Broadcast Division)

It’s been three weeks since Anugerah Planet Muzik 2014 (APM2014) was held at Suntec City Convention Centre on 17 October 2014, but the memories of the prestigious awards night are still fresh in my mind. I cannot guarantee if I will blog as lengthily as what everyone has been used to reading when it comes to my annual APM reviews, simply because on the surface, I doubt I have much to dissect and analyse this time round. But you’ll never know, since I have this tendency to blabber, make sidenotes and references that would eventually veer me off-course. But that’s the beauty of this blog, other than the many photographs that everyone loves to come in and see. I just wish I can make this a full-time career, but is there a proper industry here in Singapore to begin with??? 🙂

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The right choice for the opening performance, Taufik Batisah with his current hit “#Awakkatmane“…

In years past, I would normally take the trouble and effort to read the reactions of the general audience and see their comments on social media. Not this year, as I did not wish to concern myself with the “Macam Faham” keyboard warriors. These people will always be there on social media, ever ready whenever there is an event on television, quick to comment on things that are trivial and out of their understanding, but still feel the need and urge to comment when they know nuts what is going on behind-the-scenes or understanding reasons behind certain shortcomings. But I believe this year’s event had few controversial incidents (more on that!!!) or arguable award recipients as in previous years. Congratulations to the organisers as APM2014 was the top trending topic on Twitter worldwide that night!!!

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Yacko, Joe Flizzow and Sheikh Haikel continued where Taufik left off…

I had extremely good vibes about APM2014 days before the event, for the sole reason, this was (and if my memory still serves me well), the first in its thirteen editions, that it witnessed a sell-out crowd. Between 2001-2005 I remembered APM being close to a full house, but there were still empty pockets here and there. I attributed the presence of legendary Malaysian rock group WINGS and seeing Ariel of NOAH after his well-documented legal struggles, as the two main factors that pulled in the audience this year. In the past, we might have had household names like Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza and Taufik Batisah to help entice the crowd to attend, but still their presence were not enough, even if they continue to receive the biggest cheers every time they appear on stage. This time, I’m sure it felt like a major coup to have two of the biggest bands in the regional Nusantara music scene to grace the APM stage. This was the first time WINGS made an appearance at the awards show and the first time Ariel appeared since Peterpan performed at APM2005.

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Hosts for the night – Dyn Norahim, Sarah Sechan and Nabil Ahmad

But the sell-out audience was also a major factor in me stopping short of saying this was the best APM in years. Yes the event itself, in terms of performances and overall production, is probably up there amongst the best and most enjoyable ones in its thirteen years of existence, but the atmosphere was close to dead from my humble observations. Other than Taufik Batisah‘s opening performance or whenever he appeared onstage either to receive his three awards or presented with Najwa Mahiaddin, the only times the crowd came alive were when Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, NOAH and WINGS made appearances. The atmosphere during the rest of the other performances or award presentations felt like a morgue, or at the very least, just courtesy applause heard. At times, one could just hear a pin drop. That was how bad the atmosphere was and I had to turn around a couple of times to see whether it was really a sell-out audience or not.

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A common feature of APM – Performances by artistes from the three countries together onstage – Maria Calista, Mafarikha Akhir and Aisyah Aziz

I expected a bit more vigour and pride from the audience, when our local artistes who were nominated in the regional categories, had their names announced as the nominees. Or when the likes of Aisyah Aziz, Sufie Rashid, Sezairi and Sheikh Haikel performed. But it was just dead, with little to no positive reaction, save perhaps when Sufie Rashid won his award for Lagu Terbaik Singapura (Best Singapore Song). I wondered aloud that night, aren’t we proud to see our own acts stand toe to toe with the region’s best??? I was seething throughout the night at the thought and somehow when I’m typing this and recalling again, I feel that sense of anger returning. Last year, we had a party atmosphere with fans bringing drums and percussions, even when it was not a full house. It was just a big pity the same fans were not around to hype the audience. Or perhaps told not to bring their instruments into the event venue. But even if they were not allowed to, I’m sure they would still be in full voice.

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The cool cat, Sezairi, performed his nominated single “Sayang“…

This year, there was a change in hosts from Singapore and Malaysia. Dyn Norahim (and not Ibrahim. Astro & MeleTOP please take note!!!) from Warna 94.2FM and Ahmad Nabil Ahmad, the winner of the second season of Malaysia‘s Raja Lawak reality competition took over the microphone duties alongside APM veteran Sarah Sechan. Indeed this was Dyn Norahim‘s first big break hosting an event of this magnitude, where the region’s eyes were on him. He admitted to having a lot of jitters before the show, in awe of his two colleagues whom he felt were more prolific in their crafts as hosts and extremely quick on the draw to butt in when he fluffed his lines during rehearsals. But I told him not to be overawed by the occasion and he would do just fine. Most importantly, I reminded him not to go overboard with some of his jokes, and overall I think he did extremely well without trying too hard.

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Sultry Najwa Mahiaddin serenaded the audience with “Impian Terindah“…

While I’ve heard of many negative feedbacks about Dyn Norahim‘s performance that night, mostly from the online brickbats, I thought he did not do much wrong for a newbie on the APM stage. Local radio listeners would have been disappointed not to have witnessed Dyn‘s alter-egos Abang J and Mr. Wong, or that he might not have matched Nabil‘s wacky personality, but there needed to be a certain balance with all three hosts complementing one another, rather than hogging or competing for the limelight. Dyn is outgoing and comical in his own way and did not need to match Nabil pound for pound in the wacky stakes. Nabil‘s butting in at several award presentations and chiming in with wisecracks when others were presenting, were either welcomed or a source of irritation, depending on how you tolerate his style. Just that I was a bit uncomfortable when he made a joke about plane crashes in this very same year his own country suffered two tragedies of that nature. I was expecting some backlash from his countrymen about it, but thankfully I’ve heard none of it till today.

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Loved Tulus‘ humble speech when he won his award for Artis Baru Terbaik (Lelaki) / Best New Male Artiste

Speaking of backlash and the earlier mention of controversies that arose from this year’s edition, poor Dzar Ismail was targeted by the Indonesians on Twitter for unwittingly using the term “Indon” to refer to the “Indonesians” when he presented with Hanis Zalikha. For those who do not know, the term “Indon” is derogatory to the Indonesians. It is either a racial slur or a negative connotation to describe them. But I know Dzar Ismail did not mean it the way the Indonesians had slagged him off for it. For one, the term is used here in Singapore as a shortened name for Indonesia / Indonesians. Most, if not all of us, even Malaysians, use it as a shortened word of convenience, and not to degrade or look down at our neighbours. Even the Indonesians living here in Singapore refer to themselves as “Indon“, so I was a bit surprised at the amount of abuse being directed towards Dzar Ismail. Our own Berita Harian congratulated their new President by using the same term as their front page headlines recently. So really, it’s a matter of cultural misunderstanding. It would be nice however, to take note, not to use it during such events where we are interacting with Indonesian audience, out of basic respect and courtesy. It’s like the N-word where it is ok for the Negros and blacks to use it amongst themselves, but not us.

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Dato’ Rossa and Taufik Batisah‘s onstage chemistry was intense and passionate to say the least…

I don’t think there are any major grievances pertaining to all the award winners. Previously, our regional neighbours were up in arms when any Singaporean artistes were to walk away with the popular regional award categories, but the winners this year (“Dia Dia Dia” – Fatin Shidqia Lubis and NOAH) somehow could have been justified in their eyes. I might not hear or perhaps been oblivious if there are any objections towards Taufik Batisah winning the Ikon Media Sosial (Social Media Icon) award. This is a guy who has timed his return to perfection and launched his latest album at the right moment, a month before APM2014. With his viral videos with the hashtag “#awakkatmane” making its rounds since Ramadhan and resulting in countless number of parodies being made, it was a no brainer. Rightly so that such an award conferred to him reflected his influence. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Taufik on getting more than a million views on YouTube for his latest music video “#Awakkatmane” within three weeks of uploading it, and also for the hashtag to be the top trending topic on YouTube Malaysia.

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One of the top draws of the night, Ariel and NOAH

Such popularity comes with the caveat of having haters as well. You either like the “#Awakkatmane” song, or you do not. Personally I love it, in fact I need to listen to it daily as a form of perk-me-up. However, linguistic “Nazis” like myself however have a little grouse with regards to its title, where “mana” is spelt as “mane“. Releasing it in the middle of our national Malay Language Month, where speaking good Malay is encouraged, also felt a little odd but I know for one that Taufik meant no disrespect whatsoever. By adding that hashtag at the beginning of the title meant, he probably was taking a dig at those who love to misspell or spell out of convenience in social media or online messaging. Nonetheless, I am so hoping and wishing that with this new album launch, his viral clips and music video as well as his collaboration with the likes of Altimet in his new album and two of his songs being chosen as the soundtracks for drama series shown in Malaysia, it will finally be the big break that has eluded him all these years. Ten years in the scene, it is high time he becomes a household name across our shores. Sidenote, the voice of the lady in that hit song does not belong to Fiza O. Wonder how some people came to such a conclusion when the voice tones of both ladies are different.

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Odd to see Judika attending APM without his wife Duma Riris, but congratulations to them on the birth of their firstborn, Cleo Deora Boru Sihotang

I was and still am elated over the awards won by Awi Rafael for his collaboration with Altimet for “Kalau Aku Kaya” (Kolaborasi TerbaikArtis / Best Artiste Collaboration), as well as those won by Aisyah Aziz for “Mimpi” (Kolaborasi TerbaikLagu / Best Song Collaboration) and Sufie Rashid for “Tiada Pengganti” (Lagu Terbaik SingapuraBest Singapore Song). I did say last year that I would not at all be surprised if “Kalau Aku Kaya” were to be nominated in at least the Duo / Kumpulan Terbaik (Best Duo / Group) or Kolaborasi Terbaik (Best Collaboration) categories. I stopped short of saying the song or collaboration would win outright last year, for the fact that I had yet to listen to newer songs from other artistes, but if I had the choice to award them for it, I would have given it to them last year. However, my hunch came true this time and I thought it was a satisfying reward earned by two artistes whom I have so much respect for in the regional music scene.

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One of my favourite photos of the night – Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza belting “Jaga Dia Untukku“…

If there is an award for “Most Improved Performer” over the past year, I would give it to Sufie Rashid in a heartbeat. He has grown so much since his first forays in the scene, joining the various reality talent competitions on television, only to falter in the earlier stages. He was one of the guest performers during last year’s APM2013 Media Conference, along with Yaya Hamid, but he did not impress me at all that day. He was a bag of nerves and had pitching issues when he sang. In short, I was cringing when I watched him. I remembered Aura Shai asking me to upload a full video of his performance that day but I chose not to, cos I did not want viewers to slate him or subject him to abuse from online brickbats. But I know and can see that he has taken great pains to improve himself over the past year. Most importantly, he has gained so much confidence onstage thanks to his involvement in the recent SG Mania competition on Mediacorp Suria.

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Judika and Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza teased a possible collaboration when they presented at last year’s APM and called themselves “Ju-Si“. This year it became a reality when they sang “Apakah Ini Cinta“…

SG Mania, I felt, was the making of Sufie Rashid. Where once he had confidence issues, he is now a fearless performer onstage. His performance during APM2014 made my hairs stood and I was happy for him that he was not overawed when paired with the likes of Hazama and Cakra Khan. He told me afterwards how he was worried that he might have upstaged the other two when he went for the high notes. I for one, was afraid his voice would crack as a result, but he pulled it off much to the audience’s approval, judging by their whoops and cheers. Credits also go out to members of The SallysShafiq Iskandar, Izwan Khuzair and Rusdi Badri for composing “Tiada Pengganti“. This is an under-rated local band that has produced quite a number of radio-friendly hits. But my personal favourite from their collection of songs till this day is still “Gadis Marmalade“. Like my blog, the band recently celebrated their tenth year of existence this year.

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The fearless performer, Sufie Rashid

I enjoyed all the performances that night from the start right till the end. In fact, I did not feel the time passing by till the voiceover announcement informed that Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, Dato’ Rossa and Aisyah Aziz were up next, indicating the second last performance of the night (I had the benefit of knowing who was performing in order of performances and songs thanks to the media press kit given to us). Slowly but surely, the organising team have begun to master the art of keeping things compact within a two-and-a-half hour timeframe. The commercial breaks were short, between three to four minutes, and most people who went to relieve themselves or went out for a quick smoke break ended up returning to their seats during the following commercial breaks or rushing back when the live cameras were rolling. Where previously the event felt like a drag, I have seen a lot of improvement in this area over the past two to three years.

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Cakra Khan, Sufie Rashid and Hazama paying tribute to Sweet Charity with “Kamelia”…

I have been waxing lyrical all along other than making my unhappiness felt towards the audience for not being supportive enough. But of course I have other few niggly issues which I feel the need to voice out and hopefully improve future APM events. I already stated in my “Walk of the Stars” entry that not many artistes walked onstage to be introduced to the audience and how it would be nice for the audience to see our very own local acts be introduced to them. I also overheard and observed how the local artistes had to enter through the same doors and walked along the same route as the other audience. Though it would be nice to see them enter the event venue through another route as a mark of exclusivity accorded to artistes, I believe logistical issues were probably why they had to enter through the same way as the general audience or the fact that they were not mobbed could have been another factor why they entered the same way as the rest.

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Another one of my favourite shots of the night, this time with Dato’ Rossa

Logistical issue was also another factor why there was no post-event reception after APM ended last year. I was pleased that at least there was one this time round. Where some might complain about having to make do with light / finger food not befitting of such a prestigious event, I personally feel that beggars cannot be choosers. It was gracious and kind enough for the organisers to provide a place where artistes could do a bit of networking with industry players and fill their stomachs a bit before going for supper with friends elsewhere. Cos I’m sure a lot of artistes when they meet friends and such, they would want to adjourn to another place to continue their conversations. Fathin Amira Zubir was the busiest from my observations of the goings-on during the post-event reception, handing over her single CDSebenarnya” to various artistes and people from the music industry. I should have asked one from her, never mind if I had to pay for it, cos I always do my bit to purchase products from our local acts, rather than expect freebies or complimentary copies.

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APM promotes friendship and warmth between artistes from the three countries. This photograph is one fine example.

Before the event and after looking at its graphics poster, I noted on my Facebook status that there was a bit of lopsidedness in terms of female performers and bands if one were to compare those in Singapore to our regional counterparts. Malaysia and Indonesia each had a band representative and more than one female performer than us who only had Aisyah Aziz to be proud of. I had called upon the organisers to balance the odds and add an additional female performer and band, cos seriously after watching Konsert Siti Nurhaliza Live back in March as well as SG Mania and Singa Maksima Live prior to APM2014, I felt the likes of Fathin Amira Zubir, Sarah Aqilah, Farisha Ishak and Tujuhband at least deserved to represent us and performed that night. I was absolutely sure they would not disappoint us on the big stage. At the same time I was not expecting much given the nineteen awards that were presented and the already stellar-cast on show having to fit into a compact timeframe of two-and-a-half hours.

APM2014 2014-10-17 3771 Loved this tribute segment for three Divas who recently passed on, Dato’ Sharifah Aini, Diana Nasution and Kartina Dahari…

I just hope for future APMs, more of such acts would be showcased cos we do not have a dearth of talent in our local pool, but it is sometimes a question of us having confidence if they would deliver or not. Somehow I have been observing over the years that our local bands do not get much exposure on television as compared to individual artistes. Most variety or charity shows on Suria do not feature our local bands as much as we would like them to. We know they have composed and churned out radio hits, some even topping the charts for weeks, but relatively, I dare say most of them are an unknown quantity to the masses. I wonder if it is a case of budgeting (cheaper to pay a solo singer as compared to a group / band) or show producers do not have confidence on the abilities and capabilities of our local bands. When was the last time we saw the likes of Diorama, The Sallys, Tujuhband, Aryan Band, Kraton, Klutz etc. on television??? It’s either been a long time or none at all!!! I hope the next edition of SG Mania would feature bands instead of individual singers. Cos really our bands deserve a platform to showcase their talents to the masses.

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Oddly enough, the hosts only appeared onstage together twice throughout the whole show…

But speaking of our local bands and I hope they don’t kill me after this for saying this, I noticed a lot of them were too quick to get up from their seats that night during the commercial breaks to go for smoke breaks. I’m not a smoker and I cannot understand this addiction for nicotine, but surely some of them could have limited themselves to one break or none at all over the course of the whole event. Cos it didn’t look nice (since the event was also attended by dignitaries, people from the industry, sponsors and foreign guests sitting near the front rows where they were seated) that our local artistes were more interested in having a puff than watching the awards show. There were times during the show where they were all seen rushing back to their seats, some smelling from their cigarette smells which was and is a major turn-off.

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Awie still packs a punch onstage and remains one of the best performers with his showmanship…

Respect in many ways, deeds and creeds, I believe goes two ways. If you want the bigwigs to sit up, take notice of your talents and feature you in future, you need to show a bit of respect towards yourselves and the event you’re at, cos there are many other observant eyes around us besides myself. It might be trivial, but little things sometimes might be used as a cause against you. And I personally wouldn’t want that to hinder their progress or possible exposure to the masses. I can only dispense advice from a perspective of an observer who has seen and heard grouses from people from the industry. At times I become the Agony Aunt to some of our local acts and listen to some of the problems they face. But I do not have the answers to everything, but where I can help, I’ll try to. This is one aspect I noticed and feel the need to voice out for them to improve on their image and standing as talents and acts to be given due respect.

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WINGS closed the proceedings with an energetic medley of their current and past hits…

I finally come to my last paragraph. So much for saying at the start that I won’t make this a lengthy entry. I wanted to share more anecdotes and problems faced behind-the-scenes, but I guess I won’t because some things are best left unsaid to protect the dignity of others and the event as a whole. Some backstage politicking should remain between the relevant parties and not one for me to stick my nose into. I was there at the awards show to be entertained and to meet friends in the scene. I was sufficiently satisfied by what I saw onstage and contented with what I had off it, which made me feel that this was one of the most enjoyable APM events I had attended. I hope the next time APM is organised, Suntec City Convention Centre would continue to be the event venue. Congratulations once again to all the award winners and to the organising team from Mediacorp Malay Broadcast Division for a job well done!!!

Snapshots of APM2014

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