Another episode of Anugerah 2017 has passed, and again with a little bit of uproar afterwards on social media, which I will touch on much later. Group B returned to our television screens and continued the Rock genre which their Group A counterparts had gone through the week before. From observing the first two episodes, it was generally perceived and I noted that Group B had the better performers over Group A. That is normal and was to be expected when you take into account first time jitters during the first episode. Group B in the meantime had the advantage of observing what was expected of them and applying what they learned a week later. Naturally you would also expect them to do better for the second time, having had the opportunity to watch their counterparts go through the Rock genre a week before them. So how did they fare last Tuesday???
I personally like Syakirah Noble‘s confidence on stage. Even though she is only seventeen, she is not easily fazed or looked daunted when she was made to be the first contestant to go up. This comes with the experience of entering external singing competitions and she has bags of experience already in that respect. However experience alone was not enough to ensure she gave a performance as good as her previous one. For one, Syakirah‘s low notes were a bit suspect when she performed Akim & The Majistrate‘s “Potret“. She also needs to work on her diction and pronunciation of words, in turn reducing her English accent, so as not to turn off our ever-critical viewers who are always out to find the slightest faults and vent it on social media afterwards. Another flaw I noticed was the lack of emotions injected into the song, which only became evident when she broke into chorus. When we put in emotions and feel, our viewers and listeners will equally share them with us. Not the same virtuoso performance that she did on the second week, probably because the Rock genre was her first attempt at it. In that respect, I disagree slightly with judges Taufik Batisah and Najip Ali that it was a good performance by her, because I’ve seen Syakirah performed much better before this.
He was the winner of the $500 prize given to the best performer of the week the last time out and enjoyed immunity from elimination. Naturally, another stellar performance was anticipated when Nor Shafiq came onstage to sing “Untukmu Sayang“, which was originally sung by 80s rock group, Febians, and then much later by Amuk. I do not deny Shafiq has this mesmerising tone of voice which could leave the ladies out there weak in the knees and wished as though he was singing specially to them. If we take away the genre of the night and treat it like a normal performance, he would have aced it again. However, he was too relaxed, too lackadaisical, too complacent. Perhaps he was overconfident??? Probably. If I were to be extremely critical of his performance, it resembled that of someone who was performing in karaoke rooms or at wedding functions where their voices alone would ensure accolades from those around them. This time I agree with the judges that his performance lacked bite and the rock factor.
I was quite critical of Sharizal Suwandi‘s last outing and even said that he should have been eliminated by the judges. Not this time. I felt he redeemed himself well on Tuesday night when he performed Rahim Maarof‘s “Cinta Kristal“. When I compared his performance with the two before him, I personally believe till today that he should have been at least placed second by the judges. He was very much in control of his delivery, was a picture of calmness and determination, probably buoyed at the fact that he is now a first-time daddy. Hope it’s not too late to congratulate Sharizal and his missus, Hawa, on the birth of Nur Shafira Haifa. Even if overall the performance still lacked a bit of rockish attitude, watching Sharizal performed that night actually dispelled whatever remaining misgivings I might have about his presence in the competition and hoped for his sake that he would progress. I really felt that he was much better than the first two, but apparently it wasn’t enough for judge Indra Shahrir, who was left disappointed. It seems that it is very difficult to win over Indra, prompting Najip to chide him for not being “rock” enough. Too often Indra has been throwing spanner into the works of good performances in the competition.
Before I comment further on Nadia Nadhirah‘s performance, I would like to put on record that I have an issue with the categorisation of Judika‘s “Bukan Dia Tapi Aku” in the Rock category. I would not even consider it a Rock Ballad even if the original singer injected some rock elements into the song by virtue of the nature of his husky vocals. I thought I was alone in having these thoughts, but a quick scan on my social media timeline after I got home from Mediacorp, showed a number of Rock enthusiasts up in arms as well. There were no other elements of Rock as well in the performance, quite a disappointment given the fact that judge Najip Ali had talked up her credentials as a technical singer a fortnight ago. I also observed that Nadhirah tends to sing her songs low. Not that it’s a bad thing, but there were parts where she was in danger of going flat and off-key. I also feel that Nadhirah is still singing in her comfort zone. She needs to challenge herself and pick songs that will test her vocal range. She already has that basic technical foundation. She should be finding ways to set herself apart from the rest still left in the competition. I disagree with her final ranked position, but thought she also did not deserve to be in the bottom three had the judges placed her there.
I have a nickname for Abby Nabila after watching her two performances in Anugerah 2017 so far, and some of her previous ones on Youtube and that is, “The Storyteller“. She has this innate ability to express the story of the song she is singing through her eyes, facial expressions and hand gestures. I’ve seen her sing songs which are fast-paced, it made me want to get up and dance with her. I’ve also seen her performed songs like this past Tuesday where she sang the late Nike Ardila‘s “Ku Tak Akan Bersuara“, and also felt the sad emotions that she exuded. However, it was an error-strewn performance by Abby, with her going off-key on several occasions, especially when she tried to hit the high notes. For some reason, I detected that she was not her usual self and she confirmed later on that she was not feeling particularly well that night. By the end of her performance, I feared that she was in danger of elimination and only a miracle would have saved her.
Elza Rahim ended the night’s competition with Mayang Sari‘s “Tiada Lagi“, another song which I thought was not rock-ish enough to be considered as one. From her live radio interview this past Monday night on RIA 89.7FM, Elza understood that she tends to sound like her idols when she sings, amongst them Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, but vowed to sing in her own style henceforth to avoid future comparisons. She delivered her promise in that respect and she was very much in control of her overall performance. I personally liked her performance and thought she was a shoo-in for top spot. But if I were to be a bit more critical of her performance, like Nadhirah, Syakirah, Shalyza Rosly and even Nor Shahfiq before her, Elza seems to be mired in her comfort zone. These contestants need to show that they are also able to deliver songs that are not ballads by nature. Which was probably why this genre was supposed to challenge them in the first place.
Nor Shafiq exited the competition by virtue of being the lowest-ranked by the judges. He would have still been eliminated as he was also the one with the least number of votes for the night.
The night ended with another uproar on social media. Many were up in arms over Nor Shafiq‘s elimination when they thought that Abby Nabila should have been placed last. I had also expected Abby to exit the competition and even when I spoke to her afterwards, she said that she had mentally prepared herself to go given her less-than-convincing performance. It was definitely a spectacular fall from grace as he was the best performer the last time out. I tried to analyse and put myself in the judges’ shoes to understand their reasoning in switching Abby and Nor Shafiq‘s inital positions by watching their performances again via Mediacorp Suria‘s Facebook page. Perhaps what saved Abby that night was the fact that her performance was more angsty and suited for a rock ballad as compared to Nor Shafiq, who remained in his zone and did not exude much emotions nor gave the impression that the week’s genre was Rock. The key to winning the judges over could also be found in their comments after Abby‘s performance. They said they felt her emotions and I think that edged it for her. Just.
Sharizal‘s voters did not vote enough to keep him in the competition…
Another bone of contention for the next elimination via viewers’ votes could also be found on Mediacorp Suria‘s Facebook page. As a form of transparency, the television station had displayed the final vote percentages in a bar graph format and rounded off the figures to the nearest whole numbers. As it stands, the displayed figures had three contestants, Syakirah, Abby and Sharizal with a 15% vote percentage each but Sharizal was eventually eliminated as being the contestant with the least number of votes after Nor Shafiq, who only had 12% of the votes. In any case, Nor Shafiq would still have been eliminated, even if he had not been placed last by the judges. As for the disputed figures, the actual numbers actually showed that Sharizal had 14.55% of votes, followed by Syakirah with 15.02% and Abby with 15.31%. I think the television station did not anticipate this uproar so soon after the show ended with viewers questioning why Sharizal was the unlucky one. I believe in such questionable circumstances, the station could have immediately displayed the actual percentage figures along with the graph chart to avoid any dissenting voices from crying murder. The viewers and online community are ever so eager to come down hard on the station, I find it galling at times.
As the credits were rolling on our television screens, our two eliminated contestants were still in high spirits as seen here with their buddy, Hyrul Anuar…
Even after explaining the situation and releasing the final figures, the dissenting voices were still up in arms and venting their anger, blaming the station for lack of transparency and being dishonest. I’ve noticed for the longest time, Mediacorp Suria has always been at the receiving end of unsatisfied viewers and complaint kings and queens. They always have bones to pick over nitty-gritty things, trivial stuff and absolutely love making comparisons with television stations or programmes across the Causeway. Far too often they threatened to not want to watch anymore, yet the following week they are back again commenting and voicing out their displeasure. I have no kinder words to describe such people other than call them “Suckers”. I have never understood this extreme fixation for programmes that are produced abroad and expecting our people to replicate. If we were to really do that, then people will say we’re only being copycats. We really cannot please these people nor understand the rationale behind some of their thinking and rants. They speak like they know it all but provide few viable solutions and expect the station to create magic when in fact a lot of the programmes that are aired are not produced by them.
When our television station does not do that, they question why the competition does not include proper trainings for these contestants, why do they not attend bootcamps and vocal classes, grooming sessions or media preparation etc. I think the television station could do that, but it will require the contestants to be cooped up and away from their work, their social and family time. These online commenters can argue that social and family time can be sacrificed or compromised, but what about work??? Living in this country where productivity and results are very-much benchmarks of our daily performances at work, which employer would be kind enough to release their employees for a certain long period of time??? And who is going to pay these contestants when they take their time off work??? At the end of the day, it boils down to sponsorship. Not many are willing to come forward and pump in sponsorship fees like that of those across the Causeway. Unless we have a Dato’ Seri Vida or Dato’ Aliff Shukri in our ranks, we can forget about having that kind of competitions on our shores. Money still talks so we have to manage our own expectations of what can or can’t be done. Period.
The chemistry and banter between Suzairhe Sumari and Huda Ali grows as each week passes by…
Some of these online comments are also just downright stupid and highlights the stupidity of the person/s who commented just for the sake of it. Just yesterday I saw someone commenting on Mediacorp Suria‘s Facebook page criticising the station for having Siti Sarah Raisuddin performed at the weekend’s “Mahligai Manja” event at One KM Mall apparently during Maghrib prayers. The person had commented at 8:10pm but the Facebook Live clip was uploaded at 5:29pm, hardly during Maghrib, unless of course if the event had been done or the person himself was at a different time zone location. This is just one fine example of people commenting and ranting just because they have nothing better to do but pick on the station for what they perceived as insensitive or not being in tune with the needs of the masses. Some of you reading this might think I am defending the station or that I am a paid backroom staff. I’m sorry to disappoint you but I am no way contracted to Mediacorp nor am paid to defend them. I comment based on what I see with my own eyes and if I have niggling questions to ask, I will direct them to the people working inside rather than jump to unnecessary conclusions nor rely on hearsay from people working on the periphery.
Anyway, back to the competition. Najip Ali was happy at the end of the programme and voiced his relief, glee and pleasure that the genre had finally ended, which did not sit down too well with some of those who are hardcore supporters of it. I think to give him benefit of doubt, I agreed that over the past two weeks, the contestants’ performances as a whole, were either sub-par or totally disappointing, a definite source of frustration not only to the judges, but also those working behind-the-scenes. Most of them failed to grasp the essence of the genre. Like what local singer Nana Karia said afterwards in her Facebook post and I quote, “Rock is not just another genre. It’s a lifestyle, an attitude. To pull off the rock genre, you have to BE a rocker.” Which I can say all of them, Hakim Halim included, did not rise to the occasion and showed the audience and viewers that they are into it. Some might say that with constant training, they could have given more polished performances. I disagree slightly because it should come from within themselves, the interest, the soul, the understanding of the genre. When they are unable to grasp all that, the performances come up short and insincere. But some of them did try their utmost best and that has to be applauded and accepted.
Our hosts with the four who advanced to the next round – Nadia Nadhirah, Elza Rahim, Abby Nabila and Syakirah Noble…
I do not blame the contestants as all of them were born and grew up in an era where rock had evolved somewhat from the types we were used to listen to. “Rock will never die” as the saying goes, but not many from this current generation seem to show an interest in them nor understand the meaning of being a rocker. I personally feel till this very day that the genre should not have been put to the test for the Anugerah contestants. It’s like forcing something out of them and seeing it backfire when things did not turn out as planned. I brought this up with some of the people working behind the scenes. They said that they were given the impression that the genre was still relevant since some of the contestants had sung these songs during the audition rounds. Speaking of relevance, quite a number of songs sung so far during the competition are not concurrent with the times, regardless of genre. I think it is ok to sing songs from the past, but it has to be given a fresh arrangement and approach by the contestants themselves, just like what Liwani Izzati did the previous week and was brave enough when she sang Search‘s “Fantasia Bulan Madu“. The genre in general, eventually turned into a Ballad one and none were brave enough to sing a more upbeat and edgy number.
Final shot of the night with some of the eliminated contestants as well as those still in it from both groups…
As mentioned in one of my previous entries, there was a possibility the competition would look a bit lop-sided with the female contestants performing better than their male counterparts. This is proving to be true so far with only Mohammad Shahfiq and Shafie Syed left in the competition. This coming Tuesday, we will see the contestants singing songs that were produced during their birth years, another throwback genre. For the first time, both Group A and B will come together and fight it out in a single episode, with another two eliminations in store via the judges’ decisions and the viewers’ dreaded voting system. With the semi-finals looming, there is every possibility that the gender representation might look even more imbalanced if either one or even both of the remaining two male contestants get eliminated. Unless of course if there is a Wildcard Round, which till today has not been confirmed nor made known. There is only one way to find out and that is to tune in to Mediacorp Suria this Tuesday at 8:30pm.