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Gergasi KRU25 Concert – End of an Era…

I know this domain is basically slanted more towards happenings in Singapore‘s own Malay entertainment scene, but as a self-styled entertainment blogger, I have the prerogative to dictate what content I want to share with my audience. Long time followers of my social media accounts or even those who have known me long enough will know that I am a massive fan of Malaysia‘s evergreen pop-rap group, KRU. Just look at the name of this domain – Da’ KRUsader’s Manor – and it will tell you all about my love for the group and where I drew inspiration from. Since the Abdul Halim brothers – Dato’ Norman, Yusry and Edry – came into the fore in 1992 with their debut hit single, “Hanya Kau“, I have been hooked to their music, songs and albums, challenging myself to memorise every lyrics – the longer or challenging they were, the more pleasure I derived from eventually mastering them. When they announced in a media conference about a fortnight ago that this three-night concert at Istana Budaya Kuala Lumpur would be their swansong in the music scene, what I initially had predicted in private came true.

I will not disguise the fact that I am not sad at the announcement, but it was a matter of when and not if, given they have not been that active musically, save for Edry. The brothers had achieved everything they could over the past twenty-six years of their involvement in the scene. We literally grew up with them, from teenage adolescence till our current status of being married with kids. It has been a joyful journey supporting the brothers through their ups and downs, sticking by through whatever unsavoury controversies that befell them, even sympathised when they were going through several low points in their personal private lives. They outlived all the groups that appeared in the same era as them, built themselves a legacy and empire that many could only dream of or watched with envy. Some may counter and say, it is fine for them as they are real-life siblings afterall for them to have such longevity, but in business, even siblings do disagree to the point of eventually splitting just like two famous sports brands in the world. But no KRU did not fight amongst themselves. They felt the time was right to retire when they have achieved everything.

The brothers have contributed so much to the Malaysian entertainment scene, through music and through film-making. They dared to experiment with heavy CGI effects for their hit films like “Cicakman“, at a time when not many dared to do so because of the high costs that they entailed. Even in music, they continued to reinvent their own sounds as well as churning out hits after hits for other singers and groups. And who can forget how audacious they were to bring Allahyarham Tan Sri P. Ramlee literally back to life by “recording a duet with him” for “Getaran Jiwa“, reminiscent of the late Nat King Cole‘s duet with his daughter Natalie??? I will be the first to admit, that as a huge fan of their compositions, not all of them were music to my ears. They had some songs, an even one particular album (KRUnisme), that were not my cup of tea, but it was no big deal for me as they were in the midst of being current with the times as well as experimenting new sounds and concepts. Even though they had a certain formula to making their own songs a hit, their music also had to mature to reflect their age. Like what Edry once told me, we cannot expect them to be jumping and prancing around onstage like how they used to back in the 90s.

Still, during the concert that I attended last Saturday, all of us were transported back in time. For slightly more than two hours, the audience anti-aged ourselves fifteen to twenty years behind and became youngsters once again, singing with gusto to every song that was carefully selected to perform, all massive radio hits back in their time. Even though not one of my own personal favourites (“Hanya Kau“, “Inikah Ertinya Cinta“, “Go KRU! – TRRG“, “Vendetta“, “Fobia“, “Aneh“, “Salah Siapa“, “Emilia“, “Mahaguru“, “Impak Maksima“, “For You“, “Tribe“, “Girlfriend’s Girlfriend“, “Seperti Yang Ku Jangka“, “Perpisahan Terasing“) was performed that night, the set list which was almost similar to the one performed at our very own Esplanade back in August 2016, was enough to bring us back down memory lane for one last hurrah. The songs too were arranged to suit the trio’s stamina levels, given it was the first time they performed back-to-back for three nights in a row, something which they had never done before this, but I believed they aced it for every one. How could they not, when they admitted getting their energies from the ever-sporting audience who hailed from all over Malaysia and even those from Singapore, Brunei, Australia, Dubai and Europe??? How fortunate also for those who attended the very last concert on Sunday night to have witnessed Joe Flizzow rapping to “Ooh! La! La!” and Jaclyn Victor singing “Di Pintu Syurga” with the brothers. Wished we could have seen them in the earlier performance nights.

For each and every attendee, this concert will live long in our memories for years to come. We can all proudly say we were there when KRU performed for us one last time before riding off into the sunset. All those songs performed during the three nights had their own personal memories for all of us. Some could have been related to our very own personal heartbreaks, some when we were madly in love with our current or probably ex-partners. Whereas others just inspired confidence and a perk-me-up, a certain defiance for us to seize the day amidst whatever obstacles we faced. I remember being teased and ridiculed for being a massive fan boy back in school cos most guys were either into English or rock music. One thing I learned from the group back then was to remain steadfast in my beliefs and principles and that has served me well in life, no matter the criticisms that came my way. Truly, it is difficult to find a true replacement for the group, like in the words to the lyrics of “Janji Tinggal Janji” – “Kata pada diri ini, di mana kan ku cari ganti?“. KRU is a brand name, a label and icon in the Malaysian and regional music scene. Their legacy and empire will continue to live long in the annals of history as a game-changer and trend-setter of their time. This is indeed the end of an era for a group that has contributed so much to the changing face of the music scene in Malaysia. Will we ever get to see their likes again? I am afraid not so soon.

To my KRU brothers, Dato’ Norman, Yusry and Edry – Thank you for 26 years of entertainment and above all, your appreciation and friendship. From the time I first attended your performance in Singapore in June 1994 at Marina Bay, to your first concert here (AWAS Da’ Concert) at the now-defunct Harbour Pavilion on 16 October 1995, countless others in between right down to your final one at Istana Budaya this past weekend, it has been nothing but an honour to have supported your journey and be entertained by your songs as well as your showmanship on stage. Above all, I cherish every single moment we used to hang out at the airport whilst waiting for your flights home, watching Edry in the studio producing Yusry‘s solo album back in 2003, or even hanging out at your hotel rooms to talk about music, the entertainment scene on both sides of the Causeway and our respective lives. For fellow KRU fanatics out there, the group will continue to live on in our hearts and we will continue to listen and sing along to your songs. I wish all three of you the best in your upcoming ventures and endeavours and wish nothing but more success to you and your respective families. I held back tears at least three times last Saturday during the concert, but by the end, I chose to smile and remember the good times we had over these wonderful years of support. Your music journey might have ended, but I hope our friendship will continue to last a lifetime, regardless wherever you are or what you do henceforth.

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P.S. I end this entry by apologising for my last one. Unbeknownst to me till the morning after I had posted it, did I know that the “An Evening with the StarsMothers Day charity showcase involving Anuar Zain, Zamani SLAM and Fauzie Laily, which was supposed to have been staged on 6th May 2018 at Persada International Convention Centre in Johor Bahru, had been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. It is with much regrets that such an untimely occurrence had to happen so close to the date of event. Those who had purchased the tickets are entitled for a full refund by the organisers from what I know from trusted sources who had informed me of the unfortunate turn of events. I will not speculate why the show was cancelled given the upbeat media conferences that were held both in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore recently. I just hope that some day, the same line-up will get to perform together on the same stage. I for one, am gutted for bro Fauzie who had been looking forward to the showcase.

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An Evening with the Stars Media Conference & Promo

(Graphics promo poster courtesy of Impact Music Entertainment)

We are three days away from this Mothers’ Day event happening at Persada Johor International Convention Centre and I just realised that I have not had the time to make a proper promo entry for this showcase, even though I had attended its media conference on 2nd April 2018 at Ballroom @ East Coast by A B Shaik. I was kindly invited to the event by the good people at Impact Music Entertainment. Knowing me, I usually do not cover events pertaining to artistes from across the Causeway unless they are the ones I personally love and since Anuar Zain is one of them, it was a no-brainer for me. But the clincher for me to attend this media conference was ultimately seeing our very own Fauzie Laily on that poster, as this domain afterall prioritises featuring of local acts. It is a proud moment indeed to see him about to rub shoulders on the same stage as two legends in the regional music scene, Zamani SLAM being the other slated performer.

Anuar Zain and Fauzie Laily sharing a light-hearted moment with the media brigade in attendance…

Aptly dubbed “An Evening With The Stars“, this Mothers’ Day showcase organised by E & F Event Resources, is geared towards contributing to charity through the Dato’ Rokiah Lace Foundation. This foundation was set up to help the less fortunate, orphans, senior citizens and single mothers residing in Johor Bahru. The foundation is also known to have built schools for would-be Tahfiz and also mosques for the Muslim community in Johor Bahru. Hence if you might feel a little taken aback by the somewhat expensive ticket prices, just think how much you will stand to benefit the number of people through your kind deeds, besides getting the chance to enjoy a night of good quality entertainment by Anuar Zain, Zamani and Fauzie Laily. I understand from the media conference, each artiste will be performing a minimum of three songs each and I’m sure there will be segments where they will be singing together either as a pair or a combined trio, not seen anywhere before this.

The media conference panel (from left): Zell Sazalie (Impact Music Entertainment), Shaik Mohd (Ballroom @ East Coast by A B Shaik), Afendi Hassan (E & F Event Resources), Anuar Zain, Fauzie Laily, Mr. Yusnor Ef (President, PERKAMUS), Dato’ Paduka Hajjah Rokiah Omar (Chairman, Yayasan LACE Dato’ Rokiah), Joyce Yap (Director Sales, Persada International Centre, Johor Bahru)…

Something unique about this media conference was the presence of several local vloggers, a rising trend in this day and age of social media. Though I did not get the chance to interact with any of them, I am aware of their strong following on their respective social media platforms. Hopefully their respective on-the-spot live promos that day would help in the ticket sales for this showcase. I believe if this showcase were to be held in Singapore, they might also get a decent crowd in, given the attraction of the two Malaysian artistes, whom we Singapore fans never seemed to get enough of judging by their rousing receptions at their concerts or showcases before this. I will not bore you with the minute-by-minute detail of the media conference. Like any other, such events are meant to tease us for what is to come on the actual day itself and the two artistes who attended that day, Anuar Zain and Fauzie Laily, kept their cards close to their chest, probably not wanting to reveal much.

Both Anuar Zain and Fauzie Laily are raring to go for this showcase…

Tickets to “An Evening with the Stars” are already on sale via Ticketcharge Malaysia. Additional details can be found in the promotional poster at the beginning of this post or by logging onto the event’s official Facebook page.

Snapshots of An Evening with the Stars Media Conference


“Maya” & “Adakah Dia” Singles Launch…

Some of us might wonder what happened to last year’s Anugerah 2017 winner Mohd Shahfiq or any of the alumnus as we have heard nothing nor seen any new products from any of them, other than see some making the odd appearance on television for various shows or hearing them lend their voices for the official soundtracks of local dramas. This is one of my biggest gripes about this reality singing competition, in that they usually do not strike while the iron is hot. Too many of these past contestants take a long time to come out with an album or even one single, as most of them are constrained by the rules of the competition, where there is a six-months window period where they are not allowed to sign on with other companies or labels not associated with the competition. Anything can happen within this time frame, which might alter one’s passion or interest for the scene.

Shahfiq kicked off the launch by performing “Maya“…

However, to be fair, from the activities of those that I still follow on social media, some of these contestants have not been idle. Privately, some  have been quietly busy improving themselves in many aspects, like trying to be fitter so as to have better stamina when performing and equally looking good, while also performing at gigs and such to improve on their vocals. Others have dabbled in other crafts within the entertainment industry like 3rd runner-up, Nor Shafiq, who was seen in last December‘s SR115 drama series in a mini supporting role, while semi-finalist Elza Rahim has settled down and welcomed her new arrival just recently. Some do not have the luxury of having a proper management team behind them and have to do it on their own. Luckily for last year’s winner, Mohammad Shahfiq and second runner-up, Liwani Izzati, as part of their respective winning prizes, they are signed on to Paranormal Solutions Sdn Bhd, the Malaysian-based company who have the likes of Ayda Jebat and Aisyah Aziz, amongst many others, in their stable.

Liwani‘s “Adakah Dia” piqued my interest at the first time of listening…

A year is probably a short or long time for some of us, depending on events happening in our respective lives. It has been a long wait personally for me, but a year on from Anugerah 2017, we finally witnessed the official singles launch of Mohd Shahfiq, and Liwani Izzati, titled “Maya” and “Adakah Dia” respectively. The event was brought to us by the good people at Paranormal and local-based talent management company, S.Ria Productions. The humble venue where the launch was held, Taste Garden @ Orto, welcomed at least fifty people, more than half of which consisted of family members and friends of the two budding songbirds. The event, held on the scorching hot afternoon of 23rd March 2018, was hosted by emcee Mahadi Mashuri, no stranger to the local scene having had acting stints in the past, but is now known more for his hosting capabilities at weddings and corporate events.

The two singers then treated the crowd to Afgan and Raisa‘s hit song, “Percayalah“…

The whole event was a simple affair, with the two young singers performing their respective singles live to the watching audience, which also consisted of the local media brigade and those responsible for overseeing the making and production of the singles. The guests were also visually treated to the official music videos of the respective singles, both filmed in Kuala Lumpur. While the music video of “Maya” has been around for some time prior to the event, the music video of “Adakah Dia” was officially made available on YouTube on the night of the launch itself and has since garnered more than 10,000 views, a commendable effort for a relatively newbie in the scene. “Maya” was composed by renowned Malaysian composer Kevin Chin, written by Tinta and produced by Irwan Simanjuntak, the latter no stranger to the regional music scene. “Adakah Dia“, on the other hand, was produced by serial Anugerah Planet Muzik award-winning songwriters, Judah Lyne and Haramain Osman, of The Lion Story fame.

Paranormal Solutions founder, Prashan Chitty a.k.a. Melakaboy, sharing his experience working with Liwani and for the two singles…

I have had time to listen to both songs these past three weeks and if you were to ask me to make a comparison between the two singles, I am personally more inclined to favour Liwani‘s “Adakah Dia” over Shahfiq‘s “Maya“. I guess it is a matter of one’s personal choice and over years of listening to music to know what kind of song hooks attract listeners in double quick time. Not that “Maya” is not nice on the ears, but it takes a few times of listening for it to grow on me as compared to “Adakah Dia“. I personally feel that the song is probably too big for a newbie like Shahfiq to shoulder or as an introduction. You would expect more established singers to be able to perform this kind of song, but to Shahfiq‘s credit, he has taken over the challenge to push himself to sing a song of this magnitude. Maybe in time when his vocal technical abilities are more profound, can the song be appreciated better. It is definitely a good effort no doubt about it, and wish that both of them will continue to soar as singers of calibre that we can be proud of.

Liwani and Shahfiq were joined onstage for the group photo alongside MediaCorp Eaglevision‘s Sabariah Ramilan (left) and Suhaimi Jais (third from right), as well as S.RIA Productions‘ Managing Director, Ms. Sabariah Hirma (second from right) and Paranormal‘s Prashan Chitty

“Maya” and “Adakah Dia” are available for sale and download at iTunes, Spotify, Joox and Deezer. Thank you to Paranormal Records and S.Ria Productions for kindly inviting me to cover the event!!!


Eradicate Self-Entitlement Mentality…

I know I have not been active on this domain. Quite a number of events I attended recently that needed to be featured but I’ve put off due to my own personal commitments at work and at home. I did say some time back, I will only blog when time and circumstances permit. Time and circumstances have indeed allowed me to finally post something after this unexpected long break. I will not promise, but I will try to be more active in these upcoming weeks before I go for my annual hiatus again during the months of Ramadhan and Syawal. Those recent events I attended deserved featuring, moreso since I have always pride myself as a firm supporter of our local Malay entertainment scene. But I need to get something off my chest which has been bothering me the past few days. Hence I begin my comeback with this entry, which you can also categorise as a rant.

For those of you who have been silently following this blog, you might remember how I was in my first five years of blogging – I wrote with all guns blazing and very little mincing of words. Subsequent years of knowing many people in the industry and seeing how they go about doing their work has made me become more appreciative of their craft, more forgiving of their shortcomings, giving benefit as much as possible to most doubts. It had come to a point where when I met long-time followers of this blog domain outside, they wondered what happened to that firebrand writer who did not think twice to put others in their place or telling it bluntly with no sugar-coating of words. Something happened last week, which I felt compelled to come up with an entry that would rekindle the days of yore when my words would sting even those who are not directly involved.

For this post only, I am inclined to resurrect that feeling of anger for good reason. This comes as a result of my verbal tete-a-tete with a drummer of one of our local bands on Twitter last week. To recap, I chanced upon his tweet because his band’s official account (which I had followed up till our verbal jousting) had liked it, automatically making it appear on my timeline, even though I was not following him. The content of his tweet basically implied that one of our local radio stations was hypocritical and dumb, did not support local music like they claimed to be, did not have a segment fully dedicated to playing local Malay songs and only prefer to play songs from popular artistes whereas those who are not, require listeners to request for them – all in the name of popularity and ratings. These are extremely strong accusations and unfair, given the station’s stance in supporting local music and giving the necessary platforms for our local acts to thrive.

It struck a raw nerve on yours truly somewhat as I was scrolling my timeline just before I turned in for the night, not least because some of the people who work in the radio station are people I count as my good friends. I also spent a good three-and-a-half months interning for them when this drummer was probably still wet behind the ears. In my first reply to him, I said that there is already a locals-only dedicated programme every weekend which airs 5-6pm called “SG“. Every hour daily, at least 40% of the songs being aired are local songs, whether listeners realised it or not. As much as possible, the station tries to play and include as many local songs as possible, even if their respective quality leaves much to be desired at times. I ended off my first reply to him by saying, if their song is not being requested or aired as much as they would love to, then they should work harder and improve on the quality.

Of course, my first reply was not taken too kindly with the supposed 40% percentage deemed pathetic. I was also accused of not knowing or understanding his point of view since I am not, get this, “musically-inclined” nor played in a band. My reply to him was, if he is really musically-inclined, then he should know better than to rely on one radio station for his band’s exposure. We’re living in an era where social media is now an alternative path to being noticed. How many people actually tune in religiously to the station daily, for how long, and do they really take note of which songs are aired??? Or request for that matter??? There are only two to three song request segments per day, which are either an hour long, or at most, two each time. I have listened to some local songs which I thought were bang average, but the station still airs them and continues to air them. But there is only so much they can air when there are other quality or better songs vying for a spot to be heard.

Anyway, this is not the first time such accusations have been thrown towards the station and their approach. Over the years, there will always be disgruntled voices amongst local artistes as to why their songs are not being aired as frequently as possible. If one does take the trouble to listen, there will be times when local songs will dominate the airwaves for a particular hour, even if that hour is not a locals-only special. I for one have taken note that there were instances when six to eight local songs were aired in an hour, but like I said earlier, these kind of statistics are usually lost on most people. I dare say he lost his argument when he chose to use the age-old reason to back off by saying that I did not get what he was saying, that I am clueless and “fanning the balls” of the radio DJs. This is the standard kind of immature replies you usually associate with those who cannot argue substantially and somehow I kinda regretted stooping myself to his level by replying to him in the first place.

I made the effort to ask Brader Bo, the Executive Music Director at the two Malay radio stations, afterwards with regards to the claims. He pointed out one important factor, in that the radio stations are responsible for maintaining good quality music being played to boost ratings. He has already explained to the local music producers what is expected for a song to be aired. In fact I dare say, at every Anugerah Planet Muzik media conference, the mantra is repeated annually like a bad record. He said even if he listed down 1001 rubrics for others to abide by, at the end of the day, the radio station themselves have the editorial rights to dictate what can be aired or otherwise. Ultimately, the producers and artistes have to respect that. Which I felt was extremely fair and having no bias towards any other artistes who are considered more popular on our shores over those that are not.

Still I feel that it is lost on some people. That feeling of self-entitlement ever since their debut single propelled their name to the fore. You know, it is sometimes easy to hit the heights at the first time of asking, but maintaining that level of quality sometimes can be a hit and miss. If you ask me, there is hardly bias and favouritism being practised. For one, I still continue hearing this band’s songs being aired even after what their drummer had accused the station of being. Up till last week, a day prior to this uncalled-for outburst, Fiza O complimented the band and how good they were after airing their song when I tuned in to the evening programme. Some broadcasting stations across the Causeway might just block them out and decide to ban their songs had this kind of accusation been levelled at them, but it shows the high level of professionalism in our local radio station when they choose to look beyond the trivial and just get on with their daily jobs.

This feeling of discontent, being ungrateful, having self-pity and entitlement need to go seriously. Just because your debut single was a big hit on the local charts doesn’t mean your follow-up songs are equally good. There are other local artistes who have hit the heights only to drop their standards with subsequent offerings. Some of the current household names didn’t exactly hit the big time at the first or second time of asking. Sufi Rashid took ten bloody years to get noticed, Ryan Sufiyan was a constant serial reality talent competition reject before he finally made it (I know because I had covered three of his auditions). Heck, even the golden boy himself, Taufik Batisah, has had subsequent singles which didn’t get much positive response from listeners. Did any of them bitch on it on social media or any of the printed ones wondering why they were rejected or why their songs were not aired??? No, they just kept their heads down and continued working hard to make their next one a better one.

I ended my argument by asking this guy what is the purpose of him making / playing music??? For glamour??? Fame??? Or passion??? Or is it to be recognised and be nominated at Anugerah Planet Muzik??? I told him to correct his intentions first and foremost. Many others before him have come and go. Those still doing it after more than ten years are those with passion, determination and never-say-die attitude, even if for the most parts, they do not get the kind of exposure or recognition their talents deserved. These are the ones who do not rely solely on one or two local radio stations to get their music to be aired. Nowadays, it is all about social media. He and his band should at least take full advantage of it and promote their songs through the various social media platforms, boost their page and posts to get noticed. Who knows, stations from abroad might just get in touch with them and give them an even bigger break. The world is an oyster only if you know how to seize the endless opportunities it has to offer. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a clued person to realise this. One just needs to be informed and if they do not know, to ask. Especially to the radio people and not rant behind their backs. You do not improve nor realise your shortcomings that way.

Am still humoured at the idea of a two-year old newbie in the scene trying to school a 14-year veteran about being musically-inclined and for being clueless to his plight. Privately, I empathise with his and his band’s plight knowing what a talented bunch they are, cos it is hard work after all, and it gives one great satisfaction to hear your music being aired. However, that feeling of sympathy dissipated with the rude language and vocabulary aimed at yours truly, which I have kindly not mentioned in here nor provided screenshots of our conversation as proof. I’m a fair person where I feel if injustice is being dished out at others, I would take it upon myself to help correct the misinformed. The radio station didn’t pay me to write this long-winded explanation and I doubt they would have wanted me to. But I believe some people need to get off their high horses and smell the roses of the reality of being in this harsh scene. Honestly with that kind of language used, I’ve lost whatever last amount of respect I had for them. A sad day indeed when all of us need the support of one another to grow…


The Big Heart Design-A-Shoe Competition by Mediacorp

Am back so soon after my recent entry, something that I am quite unaccustomed to in my soon-to-be fourteenth year of entertainment blogging. I was recently approached by a Mediacorp representative to help promote the following charity initiative. For the uninitiated, The Big Heart Design-A-Shoe competition is part of the SG Care national movement to promote volunteerism and civic culture. It was launched back in November 2016 by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY). Mediacorp being a strong partner for the cause, roped in seventeen artistes and personalities from different backgrounds to design their very own pair of shoes, sponsored by international brand Timberland, which are currently up for bidding. All proceeds from the bidding of the shoes will go to the Community Chest and are now currently on display at Raffles City Atrium from 15th-28th January 2018.

Amongst those from our very own Malay community, we have RIA 89.7FM deejays KC and Dzar Ismail, singer Aisyah Aziz and also Natasha Faisal from 987FM. In-depth details of their respective designs as well as the different thought processes that they put into them are shared via the following link (please click on the link). I was initially asked to help promote specifically KC, Dzar and Aisyah, but I felt it won’t do me much harm helping Natasha as well, as personally my family regards her like a little sister already. Even before I was approached to help promote their designs, I had heard how some of them had painstakingly stayed up all night to do them. In the case of KC, he had to make changes to his originally planned design, as the paint dried up too quickly before he could even add on additional touches to it.

Looking at all their designs, I didn’t expect all four of them to really have that inner artistic talent in them. I personally do not have any personal favourites amongst them as each had their own reasonings behind their respective designs. You should definitely see what they had come up with and if you like and would like to own these shoes, just do your part in bidding for them for a good cause!!! Details are provided in the link provided and bidding for each shoe starts at S$299!!!

 


Konsert Planet Akim & The Magistrate Promo

Graphics promo poster courtesy of Rosevalley SG

A good three weeks into the new calendar year and this is only my first entry. Been so busy of late I have not even had the time to update this domain with quite a number of events that I attended since way back in December 2017 and the past fortnight. This particular entry however, takes precedence seeing that the event is only less than a week away. As the title header of this entry implies, award-winning and popular Malaysian band Akim & The Magistrate will be performing this coming Friday 26th January 2018 at the Esplanade Theatre Hall at 8pm!!! This is the band’s first concert outside Malaysia, a landmark event for them ushering the new year. This concert is also special for the organisers, Rosevalley SG, as this is also their very first foray in organising a concert event, when the general public remember them more for their successful flagship biannual CelebFest expo events since 2016 and of late, the three-day Twilight: Flea & Feast event as well as the Singapore Modest Fashion Week.

For starters, for those who do not know who Akim & The Magistrate are, they are a seven-piece super group made up of members from different bands (Sofazr, 6ixth Sense, Hyper Act, New Boyz) and Akim Ahmad, the lead vocalist himself, a former Akademi Fantasia finalist, who came in third in the seventh edition of the popular reality singing competition in Malaysia. The group first introduced themselves to the music scene in 2014 and released their debut hit single, the haunting “Mewangi“, which topped the radio charts on both sides of the Causeway. This was swiftly followed by their second single “Potret“, which went on to win the 30th edition of Anugerah Juara Lagu in 2016. The group also won Best Performance on that unforgettable night and yours truly was fortunate to witness it live at Stadium Malawati in Shah Alam. Since then, they have produced several radio friendly hits like “Obses“, from their debut album “Patriot“, and “Lygophobia“, an official soundtrack single recorded for the movie “Bisik Pada Langit“. Of late, “Lagu Untuk Laila” has been given a lot of airplay on our local airwaves. This is the first single recorded for the band’s upcoming second album.

Mr. Fadzly Aziz, Media & Communications Manager for Rosevalley SG, hosted the media conference...

A media conference was held at Kaw Kaw SG on the afternoon of 19th December 2017 to promote the concert. The small event was attended by our local media representatives from Berita Mediacorp, Berita Harian, radio deejays from RIA 89.7FM, which is also the official radio station for this upcoming concert, as well as yours truly. We had to wait more than an hour for the band to arrive as they drove down straight from their base in Kuala Lumpur. With the rainy December weather, coupled with the erratic traffic conditions at the Causeway, it was inevitable that the band was late, but it did not quite matter that much to me, as I had a lot of time to mingle and catch up with my friends from the other media brigade as well as the good people at Rosevalley SG. Not all of the group’s members made their way down to Singapore. The ones who came for the media conference were vocalist Akim Ahmad, guitarist and group leader Zimi, as well as fellow guitarist Gjie and Afiez, who acts the keyboardist of the group. On a personal note, it was nice to meet Gjie again for me, as we both participated in a charity football match between Singapore and Malaysian artistes back in November 2016, in aid of cancer-stricken victims.

Zimi, the leader of the band (seated right), sharing microphone duties with Akim Ahmad (left)…

The media conference itself did not last more than fifteen minutes as most of the information needed were already found in the media release and with the group not wanting to reveal more than they had wanted to, as it would have eliminated the element of surprise that they intend to display for the upcoming concert. They were actually fresh from a two-day concert event at Shah Alam along with the likes of Faizal Tahir, Anuar Zain and KRU on the day of the media conference, so it was a good warm-up session leading up to their much-anticipated Esplanade display. An expected playlist of between fifteen to eighteen songs have been planned for the night, amongst them, their radio hits since 2014, a probable mix of covers as well as Akim‘s very own solo singles. Another song that they have recorded for their upcoming second album titled “Stereotaip“, will also make its debut during the concert. I was blown away when I watched them perform at Anugerah Planet Muzik in 2015 as well as Anugerah Juara Lagu in 2016. I am expecting nothing less than quality performances this coming Friday!!!

Group members (from left) – Akim, Gjie, Afiez and Zimi, cannot wait to perform at the Esplanade this Friday!!!

Tickets to the concert ($48, $68, $88, $108 and $148) are still available for purchase at www.apactix.com. For those purchasing the $148 tickets, you are entitled to meet-and-greet the group post-concert. Concessions of 5% are given to students, full-time National Servicemen and senior citizens who purchase Category 1 & 2 seats. Those of you who are coming in groups of four, you will enjoy significant discounts for Category 1 & 2 seats ($140, $102 and $83 each) and discounts are only applicable with every group bundle purchase from the same category. All prices mentioned do not include booking fees. Hurry!!! Get your tickets today!!!

Snapshots of #PlanetATMsg Media Conference

 


Anugerah Planet Muzik 2017 Review…

Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Suria…

It’s been three long years since I last did a proper Anugerah Planet Muzik review entry. I personally did not expect not posting any review entries to be this long, given my previous penchant and eagerness to share my views and thoughts on the annual event. Personal commitments got in the way and time wasn’t kind enough for me to post them up. By the time I entered the second month after each event with photographs still not properly edited, I already lost that momentum and passion to type something out. Anyway, I had this feeling that I was recycling and rehashing my thoughts year in and out, to a point I felt like a broken record. I hope that the time I had been keeping my thoughts to myself would do me good, to evaluate the show with as much fairness and giving benefit of doubt where shortcomings are concerned. The question I have in my mind right now is, where do I even begin??? Hahahaha gosh it does feel a bit rusty after three years…

Ayda Jebat opened the show with “Nakal Nakal Nakal“…

I think for a start, let’s talk about the slogan for this year which came with the hashtag “#GilerTakGerek“. I tried to hark back to previous APMs before this, but I struggle to remember if they ever had a slogan or theme such as this. I believe this year was the first time they had an additional hashtag to go along with the usual “#APM“, followed by the event year (#APM2017 being the latest for this year). I think it was a fresh move to inject a bit of hipness to the event, in line with how much technology and social media have taken much of our attention on a daily basis. I initially didn’t like the usage of the word “Giler“, being the language Nazi that I am, moreso when they first announced it, we were still in the midst of our annual Malay Language Month. However, to put it into the context and lingo of today, the spelling reflected a fun factor rather than a serious element to being crazy. The usage of the word “Gerek“, even though we seldom hear people here using it now, is still synonymous with us Singaporeans as compared to our neighbours. I think generally this was a uniqueness of its own, to highlight a Singaporean flavour to the event.

The addition of Dzar Ismail and Nabila Huda to the line-up of hosts for this year, gave the show a certain freshness…

Since my last review in 2014, we’ve had a change of venues, from the rather spacious Suntec City Convention Centre, to the relatively spanking new MES Theatre @ Mediacorp. This year’s event was its second held at the new Mediacorp Campus at Stars Avenue. I do have a well-documented love-hate relationship with this new theatre, more hate than love actually, as my close circle of friends can testify. Well “hate” is actually too strong a word for me to use. I would probably use the word “dislike” to express my thoughts on this matter. For one, it is further away from previous locations like the earlier-mentioned Suntec City Convention Centre, Max Pavilion, Singapore Expo, and Singapore Indoor Stadium. North or east-siders like myself will find travelling here a bane, which is also partly a contributing factor why I have slowed down my commitments to cover events and answering invitations to attend a particular programme or show by Mediacorp Suria.

One of my favourite performances of the night, Gloria Jessica teaming up with Aisyah Aziz and Haikal Ali

My main gripe with the theatre is that it resembles a lot like a typical school hall setting, and I know I am not alone in having these same thoughts. The stage also looks smaller and limited than previous venues. The opening performance that featured Ayda Jebat and her dancers, as well as Maher Zain and his accompanying vocal group, felt a bit overcrowded. I observed the dancers especially, had to hold back some of their moves so as not to bump into one another. The one thing I dislike the most about this theatre is that I am no longer able to sit on the floor in front of the first row to capture close-up shots, just like in past APMs or even the times I covered shows at the old Mediacorp Theatre at the now-vacant Caldecott Broadcast Centre at Andrew Road. At this new place, photographers now either have to stand behind the sound engineers somewhere in the middle section or sit on the floor along the aisles by the side.

I know for one, the audience enjoyed this particular segment featuring Hael Husaini, Virgoun and Sufi Rashid

The positive thing I can say about this theatre is that it boasts a sound system which is very good. The acoustics and clarity is as good as the Esplanade, if not better. Well it is certainly much better than the one at Star Vista Theatre, a stone’s throw away. I also observed with this new place, the organisers save quite a bit on their budget, not to mention having the autonomy to dictate how the additional segments like the Red Carpet segment would pan out without having to splurge more than they should. I noticed that even with a venue as good as Suntec City Convention Centre, there were trade-offs, in that certain things had to be compromised or made do without altogether. The ones that come to mind were the “Walk of the Stars” segment, where the nominees / award presenters / performers were introduced to the audience by walking to the stage from the back and to their seats, which I personally felt was a poor man’s version of the Red Carpet segment and the lack of a post-event reception afterwards, which had a number of local and overseas guests / performers grumbling quietly afterwards, as they were famished after a long night. With the event held at the MES Theatre, these factors were taken care of and the event looked to be proper as it should be.

Award presenters Hannah Delisha and Izzue Islam

Speaking of the Red Carpet segment, there was a notable difference between last year and this year. Last year, we saw the nominated artistes as well as the performers and award presenters arriving via limousines with both sides of the fences teeming with screaming fans like any typical Red Carpet segments you see around the world. This year, they did away with the limos but made the concourse level a long and winding stretch going into the MES Theatre. The Red Carpet segment literally began when the nominated artistes, performers and award presenters appeared from the lift just next to the escalator on the third floor. From there they had to pass by the specially-erected stage for the fans to see them clearly, as they were interviewed by newly-minted radio presenter, Kyrul Ashrie and Nity Baizura. After that it was stop after stop as they were greeted by a horde of waiting media brigade, eager to interview or photograph them, yours truly included.

Malaysian heartthrob Farid Kamil and Singapore‘s up-and-coming Sofia Dendroff

I must say I was surprised by the number of media people that attended this time around, not only from Singapore, but Malaysia and Indonesia as well. I basically had to jostle for a comfortable position so as not to block their view when they were filming, taking photographs or recording short clips. Previously this Red Carpet segment or a lack thereof, was one of my main complaint agendas whenever I do up any reviews of Anugerah Planet Muzik. Not anymore. The organisers have done very well to make this a much-hyped affair with live Facebook updates and online screenings via Toggle. For that they deserved much of the accolades for the effort to make the show as colourful as it should be. I saw the improvement being made since 2015 when the show was still at Suntec City Convention Centre, but I think with the venue of the event being at their homeground, more improvements and upgrade in outlook were able to be executed without running foul of the venue management, if any. They even have what I call a “battle command centre” for all the live social media updates as the show went on.

Actress-singer Kilafairy and another newbie to the local Malay entertainment scene, Zachary Ibrahim

Looking at the list of performers that night, I was surprised that this time round, there was a distinct lack of star names, save for those whom we know from our own respective countries or maybe the few established ones known to the three countries like Afgan, Ella and Maher Zain. For the very first time in the history of Anugerah Planet Muzik, there were no performing bands featured. Hard to believe but it was the reality. Up till the last moment, I had expected the organisers to pull a last-minute surprise and have at least one band performing, but that was not to be. Even though we were devoid of distinct star names, the ones who were onstage did not disappoint at all, at least to yours truly. The surprising thing was, even with a lack of stellar names, it was a sold-out event!!! The last we had a sold-out APM was back in 2014, when the event was at Suntec City Convention Centre, of which the main draw were legendary group Wings and Noah, plus a bevy of household names like Cakra Khan, Judika, Dato’ Rossa, Taufik Batisah, Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, Joe Flizzow, Sezairi and more.

My personal favourite pairing of the night, the gorgeous Janna Nick and my “twin”, Fakkah Fuzz

I am not sure about those at home cos last year, I observed comments made online that the show was boring. I think there is a lot of difference watching at home and seeing it live. I do agree to some extent when I watched the repeat telecast much later, that visually it looked a bit plain. If I were to make a comparison with last year’s and this year’s editions, I think the latter was much better. Last year’s instalment had Caliph Buskers and Sufi Rashid to thank cos their respective performances individually and collectively together, were the highlights of the night, while the rest were forgotten in a hurry. Also the stage setup made it looked as though we were watching a variety show like Rapsodi or Muzika Extravaganza. However, I noted that the organisers had made visual improvements to the stage design, layout and backdrop for this year’s show. Maybe the show itself is meant to be appreciated by watching it live with our very own eyes and not via the television screens. We have to give the organisers a bit of leeway as it was their first time afterall doing it at the MES Theatre last year. I believe this year it was much better, as most online comments I monitored were kinder and more on the positive side.

Afgan doing what he knows best, making hearts flutter with his voice, smile and dimples…

I was surprised that Desta was called upon again to host this year’s APM. As I recalled his performance hosting last year, he was a bit lost and tried too hard to match up with the energy of his co-hosts Suhaimi Yusof and Sherry Alhadad. I was ok with the initial selection of the other hosts, Dzar Ismail and Nabila Huda, as I know both exude energy and fire. But lo!!! Desta proved me wrong on the night and emerged the “Man-of-the-match“, in the words of his co-host Dzar. He had the audience laughing to all his jokes and while those that were made at last year’s event looked a bit forced or unnatural at times, his punchlines this year were absolutely spot-on. He even had time to poke fun at several members of the audience unannounced. I was proud to see Dzar Ismail given the honours to co-host the awards show, representing Singapore. It gave the show a bit of freshness instead of the usual faces. He also has come a long way since being the raw and wide-eyed newbie in the scene. A word of advice to Dzar, he might want to slow down his talking pace, as at times he sounded a bit rushed and his words lost on our ears. At least no one tried to outdo the other like some of the previous editions and there was a nice balance of energy between the three. The best host so far for me in recent times, who gave their co-hosts equal limelight to shine was, and still is, Jihan Muse back in 2015. She’s adorable and I’m a big fan!!!

A beaming Ms. Zakiah Halim presenting the International Breakthrough Award

I would like to touch upon the award presenters. I assume, based on the reactions of the audience, the only ones they and probably those at home enjoyed watching were Janna Nick and Fakkah Fuzz and slightly later on, Afgan and Fiza O. With all due respect to the other presenters, I think generally the audience didn’t know who they were or there was hardly any chemistry or relevant banter between them. I remember there was one award presenter who presented twice in previous editions, but you could hear a pin drop when they were on stage with murmurings around me asking them to be quick with the award presentations. The same thing happened a few times on the night, and I don’t think the audience could tolerate the antics of some of the presenters, who tried to act cool but only served to turn them off judging by the silence or non-reaction. I also noticed a certain lopsidedness in the pairings which, save for the Afgan and Fiza O award presentation segment, were all from Malaysia and Singapore. There were other Indonesian acts seated amongst the audience, I doubt it would hurt to let them have a bit of the limelight as well. On a sidenote, I personally think Fakkah Fuzz just put his name into the hat to present either Pesta Perdana or future editions of APM. Twice he presented awards at both events this year, both times he had the audience in stitches and enjoyed his presentation style.

Maher Zain performed the Malay version of “For The Rest of My Life” right after his acceptance speech…

Winners-wise, I will not debate who was worthy and who was not, but there was one award which had me a little perplexed. In retrospect, I think all the winners and nominees are much deserving of their positions, lofty or otherwise. It has to be said that it is lost on many people’s minds, but we cannot take away the landmark achievement made by “Senyum Saja” at #APM2017. For the first time in its 16-year history, a Made-in-Singapore song finally managed to win the Best Regional Song award!!! This win was the fourth for The Lion Story in the space of seven years and their third in a row, cementing their status as prolific and respected songwriters our country has to offer. For the longest time, it has been something that we have come to accept, that the Malaysians and Indonesians are far superior than us. The glass ceiling has finally been broken. I hope this win will inspire more of our local songwriters to come up with more quality music because they definitely have the talent to match up with their regional counterparts. However, the Best Male and Female categories remain elusive till this day and I hope some day one of our acts can finally reach that pinnacle and recognised by the jury from the three countries.

I just realised when I looked at this photo, the last time Dato’ Adi Putra presented awards at APM2011, his partner was also Nity Baizura

I don’t care what the online brickbats might say till this day or have questioned ever since, if they had not listened to the song or never heard of it before, and there are many of them out there, the ones commenting and criticising for the sake of it. The beauty of awards shows is that you look at the nominees and you try to do your own research by listening to them on YouTube, iTunes, Spotify and what-have-you. The best is not necessarily the most popular. Likewise the most popular might not necessarily be the best. You only see the regional dissenters up in arms when a Singaporean comes on stage to win the regional awards. I observed some sour grapes who are definitely not from these shores, commenting this was a “Shiok Sendiri” show by the organisers when the Best Song category was announced. If it was, I think Singapore would have won more than they had expected to. It has always been that way but the best awards are judged by a panel of jury from the three countries. So it is definitely sweet when you see your own local product be recognised by not only your own, but from others. And for that we can only “Senyum Saja” at the haters.

Isyana Sarasvati showed her prowess at playing the piano prior to getting off and dancing along with her accompanying dancers when she performed “Kau Adalah“…

It was just one big award and suddenly the “My country’s song is better than yours” mentality reared its ugly heads. This village mentality obviously needs to go, but it will never be eradicated fully, not when online and social media is filled with irresponsible and brainless keyboard warriors. People keep on forgetting that this awards show is about forging friendship, extending ties and network amongst people in the entertainment and media industry between the three countries. It is never meant to be a competition per se, but a celebration of the best. Obviously people who were watching and commenting negatively afterwards, paid scant respect to some of the winning speeches calling for unity and ties to be strengthened. Sad to think that in this current day and age, people tend to form opinions and act upon what comes out from their nether regions rather than whatever rationale that is processed in their heads. It is difficult to educate these country bumpkins when they already have this mentality that theirs is better than others.

Another one of my favourite pairings of the night – Afgan and Fiza O, who showed off her multi-functional outfit created by celebrity designer Raffiey Nasir

I did say I will not debate who was worthy and who was not, but that I was a bit perplexed by the decision to award one of them. It did not take a rocket scientist to predict that Maher Zain would pick up the International Breakthrough Award when his name and photograph appeared on the promotional poster. I can accept the reasons given for him receiving the award when Ms. Zakiah Halim presented the award to him that night. However, I question his current relevance to the entertainment industry of the three countries. Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy, and I love his positive-infused songs, but his last sold-out concert here in Singapore was back in 2011 when his debut album hit killer heights. Since then his songs have seldom been played on our airwaves. Other than “Ramadhan” which is played during the annual fasting month, we do get the odd airing of songs like “For The Rest Of My Life” being played, either in its original version or the one in Malay / Bahasa Indonesia. I might be wrong, but I highly doubt his latter albums have been well received nor promoted extensively here as compared to his debut offering. If I remember correctly, he recently held a concert here last year and the attendance paled in comparison with his first one, which was quite regrettable, given his standing in the eyes of many.

A very proud moment for our local Malay music scene, finally clinching the biggest award at APM after 16 long years…

If he had been the first recipient when this award was introduced three years ago, then probably I would not be dedicating two paragraphs on this matter. Cos I sincerely thought this awards show is specifically to honour those from the three participating countries who have introduced our lingua franca to the rest of the world through their songs. I am not sure how his Malay or Indonesian song versions have made people from the other countries sit up and learn the Nusantara languages, cos I believe he also has different versions of some of his popular hits in other languages as well like Urdu and Turkish amongst others. I had expected someone like Shila Amzah, and to a lesser extent, Anita Sarawak, to be getting this particular award. I foresee this particular award will probably not be able to stand the test of time (I give it five more years), unless more acts from this part of the world spread their wings and fly abroad and create a name for themselves wherever they are. The organisers probably wanted to have a slight difference in handing out the awards this time round, but it does feel a bit odd, and gave the impression that we have forgotten our own people from this part of the world. Take nothing away from Maher Zain. He probably did not ask nor expected to be awarded the accolade. His acceptance speech at least soothed my aching heart for the rest of our Nusantara acts who might have felt slighted as a result. He has always been a very humble person with no airs and you could see and feel for yourself through the message that his words or lyrics bring.

Our zany hosts closing the show by giving props to legend and rock queen, Ella

In the past I would usually compare which editions were good, which ones were forgettable, which instalments were memorable. I think for this time I will not make any as I observed each single one brought with them different sets of challenges and obstacles, difficulties and hardships of their own, not to mention which ones left indelible impressions on the mind till I can remember to this day. Take for instance, the great number of no-shows from some of the award recipients. I know for one the likes of Anuar Zain, Dayang Nurfaizah and Khai Bahar were invited to perform but they could not make it as each already had their own prior singing commitments in Malaysia and Hong Kong (Khai Bahar). Probably no one seemed to have noticed this particular trivia, but this year the event was held on a Saturday evening, when usually it is held on a Friday evening. I think had the event been held on a Friday evening, we probably could have had those earlier-mentioned names in attendance and probably had more star names to the line-up. For the show itself to be a sell-out event a good two months before the actual date, spoke volumes of its reach and that we can have confidence that not having stellar names can also attract bums to seats. But for how long???

The question remains, how will the awards benefit the winners in getting known by the neighbouring countries??? For example, will winning the Best Song Award open more doors for the likes of Haikal Ali and The Lion Story to venture into unknown territory in Malaysia and Indonesia if they eventually choose to move in that direction??? How much collaboration and acceptance do artistes, songwriters, producers and such stand to gain from the exposure??? For one, they cannot rest on their laurels and to proactively churn out new works and release them, strike while the iron is hot and not sit on their laurels or just expecting our local radio stations to play their music. They also need to invest some time and money to go out and promote their music, to be heard on airwaves abroad. I really hope that our local acts who were nominated or those who have won, will continue the good work that they have, to always strive for perfection, to improve on shortcomings, to be better performers, songwriters, producers and what-have-you. We have seen good nominations from Singapore this year. Where there’s a need to complement one another, do so. Where there’s no need to compete to bring down the other, don’t bother. Your sincerity and passion will eventually reap its rewards, one way or another. This is my parting shot for my #APM2017 entry…

Snapshots of APM2017