Domicile of Da' KRUsader's Mind Crafts…

Anugerah 2017 Week One Recap…


16107292_10154430648167893_1427882804843526248_o(Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

My goodness, how long has it been??? Three months I reckon since my last post and I have still yet to edit those 3000-odd photographs I snapped during Anugerah Planet Muzik 2016. Not only that, but some other events I attended in between like RIA 89.7FM‘s 26th anniversary bash or the radio station’s search for The Owesome Voice, not to mention the Anugerah 2017 auditions held at Kallang Wave Mall, amongst others. Been undergoing some busy schedules and commitments on the personal end that I simply lost the verve to do up entries on this domain. Now that the new year is in its infancy stage, it is a good time to start afresh and what better way to start than to speak about the return of the Anugerah singing competition, back after a six-year hiatus. Oh in the case of my long-awaited APM2016 entry, we need to revisit that another time. Or perhaps not at all??? We’ll see, I don’t want to make empty promises again…

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Huda Ali and Suzairhe Sumari are tasked to helm the reality competition this year…

Part of the reason there was a distinct gap in the years of competition (six), was because the competition became a bit saturated at one point of time. It doesn’t help that our market and local entertainment industry is small with the same faces coming for auditions, even if their journey became shortlived before they actually began. In between the years, we’ve had reality competitions like Anugerah Skrin and Anugerah V, catering to a different niche or skill set, and the memorable TeRaSeh programme that spanned for two years and pitted radio and television personalities against each other, to raise funds for their selected charity organisations. I will not talk about the audition rounds of Anugerah 2017 till a latter date and just focus on what transpired on our television screens this past Tuesday 17th January 2017.

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Resident judges: Indra Shahrir, Taufik Batisah and Najip Ali

For starters, Anugerah 2017 comes with a fresh new concept. Not only a fresh concept in terms of competition mechanics, but hosting and judging line-up, save for Huda Ali, who was the host back in 2011 along with Fauzie Laily and Nity Baizura. Even the premise (Studio One in the spanking new Mediacorp campus situated at Stars Avenue) where the live telecast is held weekly, is new. Those who had caught the first episode would have noted that there is now a ranking system where the judges will rate the contestants’ performances and rank them from 1-8. The lowest unfortunately will be eliminated and that is not all. The viewers also play a part in determining who advances to the next round and who gets eliminated via the traditional SMS voting system, so there is not only one elimination per week, but possibly two.

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Anugerah alumnus Fauzie Laily, Rahayu Ridwan, Hyrul Anuar and Hariani Hassan Bakri opened the show…

I am unsure of the actual numbers of votes cast, but I think it might be better if the voting system is tweaked in such a way that more people are able to participate and vote without having to pay a certain amount of money. I mean, there are online polls and voting via other means which are free out there. Putting a price tag would turn would-be voters off or those with a younger support base not able to vote in without prior adult consent. We have since moved with the times and through technological advances on social media. Even radio stations are now reading dedications or granting song requests off their Facebook pages and no longer relying on the age-old SMS system. But I do note that this is possibly basic commercial revenue which the television station stand to gain. I might be wrong on this aspect, but the revenue will probably help to cover costs along the way, hence maybe the need to retain these mechanics.

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All 16 contestants were introduced to the watching audience in the studio and at home…

Being the inaugural episode, it was a special two-hour programme last Tuesday, beginning with a first half-hour slot dedicated to featuring what transpired during the audition rounds down to the announcement of the Top 16. The episode also included footages from the masterclasses the contestants had to attend to prepare themselves before appearing on stage as well as filming their short video montages and having their photoshoots, all that happening over a period of five weeks leading up to the actual competition proper. Rather than the usual rushed one hour show we’ve had in the past, it was a 90-minute affair afterwards where the first eight contestants who formed Group A, duked it out. This year’s competition is hosted by Suzairhe Sumari and Huda Ali and the resident judges are Najip Ali, Indra Shahrir and Taufik Batisah.

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This will be a familiar sight in the weeks to come, the judges observing intently on the contestants’ singing, stage presence and showmanship…

Before the contestants in Group A took centrestage, four of the Anugerah alumnus which included 2005 and 2011 winners, Hyrul Anuar and Rahayu Ridwan, opened the show with this year’s theme song “Mengejar Impian“, composed by Reyza Hamizan. The other two who performed the song were Fauzie Laily and Hariani Hassan Bakri, both incidentally coming in 3rd in their respective Anugerah competition years, 2005 and 2002 respectively. I saw self-styled online critics wondering about the identity of Hariani or even the likes of Kalysa Aziz, whose brother, Azhar, is in this year’s competition. Maybe a little bit of homework or immersing one’s self in the local music scene would stand some way in answering those questions. Kalysa by the way, has had her collaboration single “Bila Kau Tiada” with Ryan Sufiyan and Lefttool topping the local music charts over the past year. Start listening to more local songs on radio to know and get to know our local talents through their songs and interviews on air, or follow them on their social media accounts.

anugerah-2017-episode-1-002Reyza Hamizan (left) with Anugerah 2009 alumnus Hydir Idris, seated amongst the audience that night…

I also noted people lamenting on social media about the standard of singing by the four Anugerah alumnus, most notably our 2011 winner, Rahayu. To be fair to her, she has not been actively singing for the past two or three years due to family commitments. Like many who have not been active, taking baby steps to get back into the groove and scheme of things, expect teething problems like lack of vocal stamina and rustiness to set in. Even during the popular Gegar Vaganza competition done by our next door neighbour, if you had watched and noticed, you see experienced singers struggling to find their rhythm and needing weeks to get back into their stride. That too if they were afforded the chance to progress by the judges. Granted as a winner, she should be setting a good example to the new generation, but weighing in the circumstances and possible reasons, I think we should not be too harsh on her. The focus is afterall still on the new batch.

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Fatihah Izyan

Speaking of new batch, Fatihah Izyan had the unenviable task of kicking off this year’s competition. She sang 3 Suara‘s “Beribu Sesalan” much to the discomfort of my listening ears and probably the judges as well. It is not easy to sing a song with three different vocal tones and ranges intertwined into one. While her bravery should be applauded, her naivety in picking the wrong song to perform did not help her case. The strength of the original singers is the injection of their souls into the song giving it much life and exuding so much emotions. However, there was no feel whatsoever when Fatihah sang. Personally, I felt it wasn’t fair also to put the youngest contestant in the competition as the first, as it put unnecessary pressure on her young shoulders. She was a bundle of nerves based on her facial expressions and it showed.

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Shafie Syed

Shafie Syed was up next and he sang Imran Ajmain‘s “Seribu Tahun“, a song which was also co-written by resident judge, Taufik Batisah. It is clear to see that Shafie has a passing resemblance to the guy on the judging panel and on certain parts it looked as if it was Taufik himself singing the song. Even the man himself jokingly admitted their resemblance to one another when it was his turn to comment on Shafie‘s performance. This is where Shafie needs to strike and build his own identity, and not to be seen as a Taufik Batisah clone. As for his performance, I’ve seen comments saying he sang better than the original singer. I disagree because judge Indra Shahrir brought up a relevant point about his falsetto, which I also felt was inconsistent and certain parts where he went a bit off. But he looks like one of the safest bets to progress further in the competition due to his strong support base.

anugerah-2017-episode-1-380Liwani Izzati

Long time readers of this blog or even my own social media accounts will note that I usually don’t have much nice things to say when someone sings a Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza‘s song as they usually tend to copy her style or fail to live up to her lofty standards. So it was a nice surprise when I heard Liwani Izzati performed “Dialah Di Hati” with such maturity that belied her young age (she’s only 17!!!). During the introductory clip, music director Syawal Kassim had said he was surprised that someone her age could understand and distinguish technicalities and switch keys with ease. Those who watched her that night would have had no qualms with her final standings by the end of the night. When she sang, my hairs stood. That itself is a benchmark and one that won me over. She will easily be a shoo-in for the Grand Finals if she can keep this up and challenge herself further.

anugerah-2017-episode-1-406Mohammad Shahfiq

19-year old Mohammad Shahfiq continues a family legacy with his involvement in this year’s competition. As a trivia, his aunt, Liza Sanat, was a contestant ten years ago in the competition that introduced us to the likes of Aliff Aziz, Maiya Rahman and Nurun Nuwarrah. If my memory still serves me right, her journey ended at the quarter-final stage. It remains to be seen how Shahfiq, who sang Cakra Khan‘s “Harus Terpisah“, will progress in this competition. He was a bundle of nerves, uncertain with his movements and his darting eyes gave away his discomfort. Something was absolutely bothering him that night. For him to progress, he has to quickly learn to overcome his fears and gain some much-needed confidence.

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Shalyza Rosly

Some of you who watched Anugerah 2011 would probably remember Shalyza Rosly, then a raw 17-year old contestant. I certainly remember her as she was my favourite contestant back then. She had bags of potential and only her lack of confidence and maturity on stage hampered her progress further. Fast forward six years later, expectations have naturally increased as she is now a more confident performer having had experiences performing at showcases, private functions and expo events. Along with Liwani, she was amongst the night’s two best performers. I felt she was more composed than Liwani when she sang Agnes Monica‘s “Tanpa Kekasihku“, but her performance lacked the challenge to sing higher notes and play around with the song dynamics like Liwani did. She was more in her comfort zone and this was touched upon by the judges. She would do well to heed their advice to choose a song that will raise her levels further.

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Hakim Halim

Hakim Halim is another repeat contestant with his previous foray in the competition in 2011 ending with a first round elimination. Back then he sang a rock ballad, Fiq‘s “Tiga Malam Tanpa Bintang“. This time he stayed loyal with the genre, singing Kristal‘s “Memburu Impian“. I find him a unique contestant in that he is the only one so far, with a rockish voice and best suited to the genre. He certainly knows where his vocal strengths are but in this kind of competition they need to show that they can sing a variety of songs, from the slow to the catchy, the melancholic to the high energy. He also needs to shed his inhibitions and let loose a bit on stage. Having a voice is one thing, having stage presence and showmanship is another. I’m hoping this time round his luck would be much better than in 2011. He needs to work harder on his showmanship and own the stage.

anugerah-2017-episode-1-560Roziana Cindy

The downside to having a sibling who is already established in the scene is that people will have high expectations of them and expect them to be as equally accomplished as their brother or sister. Undue and unnecessary pressure naturally will work its way through somehow. This is probably true in the case of Roziana Cindy, who is the younger sister of singer / songwriter, Didicazli. For a start, I personally feel that she has the physical package to be a prolonged contestant – the height, the sweet-saccharine looks, the ability to play a musical instrument. Unfortunately her voice brought her performance down. Though her performance singing Sherina‘s “Pergilah Kau” was not entirely bad, she could have done better by picking a song that required her to vary her vocal range. I dunno if the lack of playing the guitar might have hampered her performance, but her voice tone itself sounds like those already established female singers who perform with guitars, like Najwa Latif, Nanasheme and Ainan Tasneem, just to think of three. Too ordinary and did not captivate the judges and yours truly.

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Azhar Aziz

Rounding of the night’s competition was Azhar Aziz. Followers of the recent Final One reality song competition on Channel 5 will definitely remember him for his soulful voice and boyish good looks, as would judge Taufik Batisah, who was also on the judging panel in that competition. A different language medium than the previous one, but he is equally at ease singing in English or Malay. Not many in the audience and at home knew, but he was very ill that night, but he gave off his best. I felt his performance, singing Afgan‘s “Bukan Cinta Biasa” was worthy of Top 3 or 4 at least. For the guys, I feel that he has the package to rival Shafie Syed and the one that girls will have no problems voting for with his voice and dreamy looks. Let’s see how he will kick on when his health is much better in the coming weeks.

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Roziana Cindy could still afford a big smile when she learned of her elimination…

The night ended with two eliminations, Roziana saying goodbye due to her being the lowest-ranking contestant by the judges and Fatihah by virtue of getting the least votes. Roziana took her ousting in her stride and was all smiles afterwards but the experience was a bit too hard for the young Fatihah to digest. I was actually partly surprised that the judges would let Roziana exit the competition so early, given past competitions have showed how the judges and voters, knowing or unknowingly, tended to hold on to the good-lookers slightly longer for viewership sake. Not this time. Finally I feel it’s time we are brave enough to put talents over looks. Also with a 100% power given to the judges, you can rest assured that talent will no doubt be at the forefront of their judging criteria. Anyway I do not believe we have seen the last of Roziana if her brother’s Instagram post afterwards can be interpreted correctly. In fact I think he should compose a song for her and bring out her strengths for us to appreciate better. One failed TV outing perhaps didn’t do her talent justice.

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Though she was smiling as she exited the stage, Fatihah broke down and had to be consoled by the other contestants afterwards…

For Fatihah, though I had expected her to exit the competition just by observing her performance, I was expecting her elimination to be more via judging decisions, than based on SMS votes. I said in one of the earlier paragraphs that the voting system could be a disadvantage to some of the contestants and this was possibly true for Fatihah. I observed her supporters in the audience were no more than 16 years old, and would definitely have needed their parents’ consent to vote for her. She was at a disadvantage right from the start. Reality competitions can be a bit harsh when you do not have a strong support base and those with deep pockets. Anyway she is still young, she can learn from Shalyza‘s previous experience in the competition and work on her singing, confidence and showmanship. Who knows you might see a confident and more polished contestant in future editions? You’ll never know.

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The Top 6 from Group A who advanced to the next round…

This season’s competition is already shaping up to be much better than the previous edition in that they did away with the hosting segment and concentrate on just the singing aspect. Which should be the way. Other than Shikin Imran, the previous competition’s runner-up who was given a hosting role in an info-ed show in the past five years, I struggle to think back which of the other Anugerah 2011 contestants who were fortunate enough to co-anchor or host a programme. The rubrics for this year’s competition look a bit haphazard with the contestants playing musical chairs with the rankings throughout the show, but I like it already as it keeps them all on their toes to do well. The $500 incentive and immunity from being eliminated via viewers’ votes, or lack thereof, that come with being placed first for the week should give them that motivation. Tonight, it is the turn for Group B to take centrestage. I cannot wait to see what the next eight contestants have in store for us. Can they perform better than Group A did last week??? We shall see…

Snapshots of Anugerah 2017 Week One

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