RIA 89.7FM’s Silver Jubilee Celebrations…

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It has definitely been a long while since I last posted something in this domain of mine. I know I had promised before this that my next entry would be a review of Anugerah Planet Muzik 2015. I have been quite tied up with my own commitments and still have to go through 3000-odd photographs from the 5000-odd that I had snapped that eventful night. I hope to post it up soon when I start to clear my annual leave. For now, I’ll share the event I attended about three weeks ago. At least this domain will not be dormant for too long.

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Kaw Kaw SG was the official event venue of the birthday bash…

RIA 89.7FM celebrated its twenty-five years of existence this past 1st December 2015 with a birthday bash held at Kaw Kaw SG, a chic restaurant situated at Aliwal Arts Centre. What was special about the birthday bash was, twenty-five lucky listeners got a chance to join in the fun through a week-long quiz during the week leading up to the event. I was supposed to attend their mini bash when they celebrated their 24th year anniversary last year held at Penang Street Buffet at Causeway Point but family commitments meant I had to give it a miss, but not this time.

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A shot of the cafe’s interior before the birthday bash…

I was fortunate to have been invited to cover the event and soaked in the festivities, not to mention, walked down memory lane reminiscing all the good memories of all the roadshows I attended, competitions I had participated and won, and also involved in some of the productions when I was an intern with both local Malay radio stations. Long-time listeners would remember me as part of the trio who impersonated KRU and won the Impersonation Category when the station organised the talent competition kRIAtif 897 back in 1997. That was the start of my love affair with the local Malay entertainment scene.

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The birthday bash was hosted by DJ KC and Dzar Ismail

Anyway back to the birthday bash. Not only were twenty-five lucky listeners able to join in, some of our local acts in the Malay music scene, were also invited to grace the event. And a birthday bash of this magnitude for the radio station would not be complete without the very pioneers who had paved the way and charted the road to where they stand today as a progressive and trendy station, that supports local acts and strives to give off optimal entertainment to the loyal listeners tuning in.

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The ones who have made RIA 89.7FM what it is today (from left): Hassan Salleh, Abdul Razak Rahim (RZ), Suriani Kassim (SK), Isadhora Mohamed, Raja Razie, Mohd Tahar Ghalib (TG), Morniyati Tukimin and Mariam Mas’od

It was nice to see the likes of Morniyati Tukimin, who was the first voice heard when RIA 89.7FM went live at 5pm on 1st December 1990, Suriani Kassim (SK), Abdul Razak Rahim (RZ), Mohd Tahar Ghalib (TG), Mariam Mas’od, Hassan Salleh and Isadhora Mohamed be a part of the occasion. Though I felt it would have been grander still had the likes of Hafeez Glamour, A B Shaik, Azmi Sempoi, Azmi Oh Yeah, Zarina Safuan, Chairul Fahmy, Zan Sofiyan and a host of other part-timers attended as well, but I guess all of them had their respective commitments to attend to.

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Art Fazil with an impromptu performance of “Relek Brader” with the two hosts…

We had special performances by the two current hotties in the local Malay entertainment scene, Sufie Rashid and Ryan Sufiyan, Farhan Shah who came all the way back from Perth, an impromptu performance by Art Fazil, Didicazli who introduced his new single “Izinkan Cinta“, as well as his protege, Hazirah Musfirah, a 14 year-old rising talent, and last but not least, former member of SleeQ, Syarif, who came with his expecting missus, Malaque Mahdaly. Initially, Dato’ Fazley Yaakob was slated and promoted to perform, but he was unable to make it due to last minute commitments. Nonetheless, those who had performed, more than made up for the non-appearance and everyone still felt contented and left the event feeling enjoyed.

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The attendees and guests of the birthday bash cramming together for a group photograph…

Another special aspect of the birthday bash was, it was broadcasted live on air between 3-5pm, so those who were unable to make it or joined in the fun, were fortunate enough to tune in and imagine the goings-on at Kaw Kaw SG. To complete a celebratory occasion, RIA 89.7FM was also awarded the longest tuned station in Singapore in a recent survey by AC Neilsen. For the record, Kaw Kaw SG was the official event venue sponsor of the birthday bash. Other sponsors for the bash were One Drop Perfumes, Karva SG, Perfect Frames, Nongsa Resorts, Grey By Ortenhill, Heiraz Bakery & Academy, Lovera Singapore, Hello Adiva, Suka Sucre Bistro, Inglot Singapore, Alive Museum SG and “Sambal Belimbing” by Roslan Shah

APM2015 Snapshots…

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I return once again with another APM2015 entry, my second instalment of this year’s edition. This time, I’ll be sharing miscellaneous shots I took during the “Red Carpet” event, the “Walk of the Stars” segment as well as a few shots I took post-event. Unfortunately there was no post-event reception this year and the “Walk of the Stars” segment had to be cut short due to time constraints before the event proper began, so there were not many photographs that I took and certainly less of a variety as compared to previous years.

Also since I am basically a one-man team, I had to leave the “Red Carpet” event at the hall’s entrance to take shots of the events transpiring on stage. In years past, I would have broken my entries into several postings, but this year, I’ll just post my miscellaneous snapshots under one entry, with my review coming much later, as I still have five thousand-odd photographs I need to sieve through and pick the best ones to be featured. Hope this filler entry before my review would help to satiate your thirst to view the photographs of the event. I will not put a timeframe to the publication of my review entry but I hope I will not take another month to post it up… 😛

#theSyarifs’ Wedding Dinner Event…

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Back with the third and final instalment of #theSyarifs‘ wedding. This entry will feature photographs of the wedding dinner event, which I felt resembled a mini Pesta Perdana event, with the local Malay entertainment scene’s personalities making their presence by gracing the occasion. It was a long day for the newly-weds as well as those who had worked hard to make the whole event tick, yet everyone was smiling throughout till the very end, happiness etched on their faces and sharing the joy of the newlyweds. The wedding dinner event was held at the same venue (Alkaff Mansion) as the earlier morning’s solemnisation ceremony and lunch reception.

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Like the solemnisation ceremony, those who had tuned in to the couple’s official Youtube channel, would have gotten a glimpse of what went on live via the webstream. Unfortunately I heard that the full clip has been taken down by Youtube due to copyright infringements of some of the songs featured. Though you will not be able to view the clip, I hope this entry would satiate your thirst to view some of the event’s happenings as well as see who’s who in the local Malay entertainment scene who had turned up. This was afterall THE “Wedding of the Year” for 2014, for me. It would be criminal not to feature this entry in my blog, especially when the groom took great pains to invite me and the wife to attend. For that I say “Thank You!!!” to Syarif and Malaque for having us, me in particular, for almost the whole day.

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The wedding dinner event was hosted by Ben Muthusalam, Syarif‘s intern-mate when he did his internship with Mediacorp back in 2009. Please don’t ask me why the host’s name has an Indian surname. Maybe his good friends reading this can help to enlighten me cos I’m in the dark myself. Guests were treated to lovely performances by local groups The Trisno Trio and Northbound, as well as a guest performance by Malaysia‘s Dina Nadzir, whose rendition of Katy Perry‘s “Unconditionally“, had my hairs standing. She is such an under-rated vocal powerhouse. We also witnessed Syarif singing a song titled “Malaque“, which he had composed with Trisno Ishak just two weeks leading up to the wedding event.

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The eleven-tier wedding cake was specially baked by Malaque herself, whom some of us know specialises in pastries, desserts and cakes. Also, the cheesecake recipe during the dinner event itself, was specially concocted by her, assisted and executed by Chef Siti Mastura and team. Female guests were fortunate to have received a make-up kit by Benefit Cosmetics, to go along with the main door gifts consisting of a Grey by Ortenhill bag, a lovely jar series, Sugee cake by Chef Siti Mastura and Calvin Klein parfum vials. The gifts oozed class in every sense, a reflection of the newlyweds. All in all, it was a wonderful and memorable wedding event and here’s wishing the newlyweds once again a blissful married life with filial kids in tow… 🙂

Te:RaSeh! 2.0 Episode 1 Recap…

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TeRaSeh! made its long-awaited return on our television screens this past Tuesday night (8 April 2014). The highly-rated show, which pitted radio and television personalities against one another in various game and challenge segments last year, comes with a difference this time. The battle between the two media platforms have been replaced with a battle of the sexes this time round, aptly called “Mat vs. Minah“. Thirty-six radio and television personalities come together and six will do battle in the qualifying rounds for the first six weeks, whereas the semi-final rounds will see the Top 18 duking it out with one another for three weeks, before the Grand Finale on 10 June 2014. The Grand Finale, like last year, will see the Top 10 make one final battle in a two-hour face off. And yes, it is not just about fun and games, but proceeds from the winnings they earn will go to a charity organisation of their choice.

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Dalina was head and shoulders with her more established counterparts, adding grace to brawn. Expect more in the coming weeks…

When I last reported on the TeRaSeh! 2.0 Prelude event held a few weeks ago at Singapore Expo, I had mentioned that A B Shaik and Khairudin Samsudin were the resident hosts and Dalina Jaapar was initially meant to be one of the participants for the Minahs. However I note that there was a change in the line-up in recent weeks, and Dalina has now been drafted as one of the resident hosts. I think that this is a good move. Some will think that three’s a crowd, but when you have a gender-based competition like this, there needs to be a balance and not make it a bit lop-sided with male testosterone dominating proceedings. Rilla Melati and RIA 89.7FM‘s Assistant Vice-President, Mr. Hassan Salleh, reprise their roles as resident jury for this weekly competition series. For the first episode of TeRaSeh! 2.0 this past week, former resident judge of the Anugerah competition, Ann Hussein, was the guest jury.

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Ann Hussein joins the judging panel, consisting of Rilla Melati and Mr. Hassan Salleh

The first episode saw Fauzie Laily, TG and Hafeez Glamour battling against Nurul Aini, Zaza Majid and Izyan Mellyna, with “Retro” being the theme of the week. It was comical to see them mimicking the late Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Diana Ross – just some of the few icons associated with the era. After an intense battle which ended off with a Boria face-off, the ladies emerged clear winners of the first episode. I know some of you must be wondering what in the world is Boria. Originating from Penang, it is almost similar to Dikir Barat, just that accompanying members dance along to synchronised moves as opposed to just sitting down and singing the chorus like the latter. I know the artistes were extremely uncomfortable with this form of face-off, as Boria is not as popular here compared to Dikir Barat, and with them having to dance and sing along to spontaneous lyrics. I can empathise with their predicament but on a positive note, it puts them on equal footing as I foresee the guys would excel on the even weeks when Dikir Barat returns during the final face-off.

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Games like these are a weekly hallmark of TeRaSeh!

Continuing from last year’s edition, there is a live segment from RIA 89.7FM‘s conty with Nity Baizura and Fiza O, being the new addition, replacing Dzar Ismail. Last year’s series featured students who became guest deejays of the week, but this year the glamour factor has been increased with local acts challenging one another weekly to get that coveted spot to guest host with the two aforementioned female radio personalities. The first episode saw Jamiel Said guest presenting live from the conty and though there were initial jitters, I thought he did quite well. My only complaint about the first episode is that there is no segment for local acts to perform like last year where upcoming acts, whose talents were spotted in Hafeez Glamour‘s “Go Go Glam” segment, were featured. It would be nice if the guest presenters at the conty were to perform their latest singles as well. I for one would have loved to hear Jamiel Said perform his latest offering, “Ballerina“.

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Boria face-offs like this, will be a common sight on odd weeks for this year’s edition of TeRaSeh! 2.0

I doubt I will be doing lengthy recaps henceforth as this weekly entertainment series is a light-hearted affair and for charity as well. Subsequent entries on TeRaSeh! 2.0 will most probably be photo recaps of the weekly proceedings. Like I said before, sometimes less is more and people would prefer to view photographs, rather than read long-winded analysis. Tonight’s episode will see Shahrin Azhar, Suzairhe Sumari and Wan Haddad facing off against Aura Shai, Nurul Nabila and Mariam Mas’od. Initially the Paparazzi Pagi deejays, Adi Rahman and Azlin Ali were supposed to be in the line-up, but I guess there was a slight change over the past week, and we now see Wan Haddad coming in and Aura Shai who was initially slated for Week 4 to go head on two weeks earlier than planned. One thing’s for sure, we’re gonna have a good time watching them go against one another and taking the mickey…

Anugerah Planet Muzik 2013 Review…

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(Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

It is exactly a fortnight since Anugerah Planet Muzik 2013 (APM2013) was held successfully at the newly-refurbished Suntec Singapore Convention Centre. Over the years, and with the increased participation on social media by the masses, this event has slowly come to the fore and made its presence felt with the regional audience. One can see how the event has created a buzz positively and negatively, when you see comments flying around on Twitter, Facebook and other social media networks, especially in the last three years when the show caused a lot of unhappiness amongst the regional audience for being “boring” in terms of entertainment aspects (their subjective criticisms) and for being biased towards our homegrown artistes in the popular award categories. Well, you can’t win them all, but it was indeed pleasing to hear after the show that “#APM2013” was the most trending topic on Twitter on the night of 18 October 2013, in both Singapore and Malaysia.

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Wacky hosts who lifted the show with their nonchalance – Adi Rahman, Sarah Sechan and Dato’ AC Mizal

As for this year’s edition and before I proceed on with this review, let me first congratulate the good people behind Anugerah Planet Muzik for a job well done and for improving the standards of the show as most of you who had witnessed it live would agree. This was indeed the very first project since the Mediacorp-owned Malay radio stations (Warna 94.2FM & RIA 89.7FM) and television channel (Suria) merged together to form the Malay Broadcast Division of Mediacorp. Officially this was not their first project or APM together, but one can see that since the merger, the cooperation and working in tandem has resulted in a more concerted and synergised effort with more interactions now being done online to engage viewers of the event. Ok I know there will be those who would disagree based on individual preferences and personal judgments, but I believe if there are any, then maybe they are of a minority clique. Let’s start off with all the good and positive stuff that went on that night.

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S4 of Indonesia pumped up the audience with their hit single “She Is My Girl“…

For years I had been complaining of the poor state of affairs over at Max Pavilion Singapore Expo, where the event was held in 2006 and as recently as the previous two editions (2011 and 2012). For all the star-studded cast that had performed in those editions, it did not bring justice to their pedigree and reputation as outstanding acts in the region, since the sound system and acoustics of the venue were absolute letdowns. Like a bad record, I had appealed on an almost annual basis for the event to return to Suntec Singapore Convention Centre where the best edition was last held in 2005. Eight years since it was last held there, I finally got my wish and God knows how elated I was upon hearing the news as personally I feel that Suntec offers a far better dynamics than Max Pavilion. What made it even better was the fact that Suntec had undergone a major refurbishment recently and it definitely promised a far-better viewing experience, not to mention the crystal-clear sounds. What’s more, no matter how far you are seated, the stage still seems near enough to you. With a potent combination like this, you simply cannot go wrong with any production, as those who had purchased tickets to watch the event live would agree with me.

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Jamiel Said, Citra Scholastika and Jazz Hayat performing “Sahabat” made popular by Syamkamarul, Najwa Latif and SleeQ

Performances-wise, I personally don’t think there was one performance that was bad or boring, but it has to be said however, that the closing performance by Amy Search and Bunkface felt a bit weird for the fact that the song they performed together towards the end (“Rentak Laguku“), did not quite resonate with the watching audience as most had not heard it before on our local airwaves. As a result, the energy levels and anticipation which were felt earlier when Amy Search sang “Isabella” and Sam, Bunkface‘s vocalist, performed “Situasi“, went down slightly and the audience were not bobbing their heads as much as before. Perhaps both could have finished off with their respective fast-tempo hits like “Isi & Kulit” and “Panik“, just to name two examples. Still, if you were to ask me, this was a much better ending to the awards show when you compare it to recent years. At least the show still went out on quite a high.

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Jazz Hayat was the sole Brunei representative that night. Previously, his compatriot Faiz Nawi performed in the 2005 edition, which was also coincidentally held at Suntec Singapore Convention Centre as well. Let’s hope to see more Brunei acts in upcoming editions!!!

My personal performing favourites of the night were S4, W.A.R.I.S., Awi Rafael, Altimet and The Trisno Trio, to go along with crowd favourites Judika, Shila Amzah, Hafiz Suip, Cakra Khan and of course Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza. S4 of Indonesia, born from the reality show, “Galaxy Superstar“, might have been strangers to viewers or music lovers in Malaysia and to some in Singapore, but they certainly announced their presence in definite style when they kicked off the show excellently with their hit single “She Is My Girl“, complete with their slick dance moves and all. It is not easy to perform and sing live like them and even though one can detect that they had accompanying vocals in their track, I believe they sang live throughout even though some members looked a little unwell, judging by the constant coughing I heard when I met them backstage an hour before the event started. It could be an unexpected technical fault cos when I witnessed them during the soundcheck the day before the event, the group breezed through their rehearsal and sang live immaculately.

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The rapper who hails from Negeri Sembilan, W.A.R.I.S., performing his debut hit “Rembau Most Wanted“…

I was extremely pleased to see a very much under-rated talent performed that night and he is none other than Malaysia‘s Altimet. I have been a silent fan of his for years, always loving his new singles that touch upon social issues and relate to our everyday lives. It strikes a chord with the listening audience and his lyrics allow us not only to self-reflect, but to self-improve on our personal level. It was unsurprising that he was nominated for the Best Collaboration and Best Duo / Group awards for “Dunia“, his collaboration with The Trisno Trio. I did say back in 2007 when he last performed at APM, that I was not too impressed with his opening act that night, but everything about his performance a fortnight ago oozed class, attitude and confidence. He is like the Pitbull of Southeast Asia, a master collaborator with so many local and Malaysian acts and churning out radio-friendly hits after hits. And who is to say “Kalau Aku Kaya” will not be among the five nominees for Best Collaboration or Best Duo / Group in APM2014??? I’m confident enough that the song will be one of them. The only complaint I would have would be that he should have performed with The Trisno Trio and Bushmen that night, as “Dunia” is still technically his song as well. Two to three minutes of him rapping to “Kalau Aku Kaya” was just not enough.

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Altimet and Awi Rafael performing “Kalau Aku Kaya“…

This was the first time since the advent of our local reality singing competitions like Singapore Idol, that none of the touted local Big 4, namely Taufik Batisah, Hady Mirza, Sezairi Sezali and SleeQ, took to the stage to perform at Anugerah Planet Muzik. I dunno if this was a calculated decision made by the organisers wanting to feature other local acts or the fact that both Taufik and Hady had their own personal commitments on the same night (the latter was out of the country performing his Hajj from what I heard), but it was a decision I personally felt was a good one, a fresh perspective, even if some of their fans had complained that it was the same faces every year. I wonder where some of these fans have been all these while when the likes of Taufik, SleeQ and Hady have been performing in APM since 2007 on an almost annual basis. Even Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza skipped the last one to attend to her husband’s well-being from his motorcycle accident last year and the show still went on smoothly.

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Adi Rahman and Sarah Sechan…

With all due respect to the touted Big 4, Singapore‘s talents are not limited to them alone, as we still have other acts crying out to be featured every year. We are definitely not short of talents as we all know by now the success and strength of our community when it comes to performing and winning national talent competitions. And now with Youtube giving birth to indie talents and wannabe artistes, it has become another platform to display their talents to the world. I was extremely proud of our local contingent who performed above themselves and showing that they were worthy to be featured that night. Maybe a little gripe I might have, was the non-availability of a female singer from our shores, as I had at least expected The Final One winner, Farisha Ishak to be invited to perform. Even Audionauts, by virtue of being last year’s Best New Duo / Group award winners and this year’s Most Popular Singapore Artiste award recipients deserved an invitation to perform.

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Syahrini was joined onstage by Aliff Aziz, singing the former’s debut hit “Jangan Memilih Aku“…

Speaking of the latter group, I believe their win in the Most Popular Singapore Artiste category caused more than a ripple that night. In fact it caused shockwaves on social media accounts asking who were they and questioning if they deserved it. Well one could hear a pin drop in the arena when their group name was mentioned by award presenters Syirah Jusni and Dzar Ismail. To the detractors, wake up and start smelling the many roses in the garden. For the past two years, Audionauts have been churning out hits after hits on local radio. Quietly, their fans have done their job to put them up where they currently belong. Accept their win and take it that the fans from the other nominated artistes in the popular category were complacent and sitting on their laurels. The idols will always be respected and deemed of a higher status, that is a given, but we should also not begrudge the winners of their achievement as it was their fans who had been instrumental in their win. For me at least, it gives the group the opportunity to reintroduce themselves to the regional as well as home audience and showing that we have more talents on our shores than our Big 4.

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Sarah Sechan and Dato’ AC Mizal hosting next to the front row audience…

The three hosts that night I felt carried their responsibilities down to a T. Before the show, just by looking at the promotional poster of the event and seeing their faces, I had a good vibe that they would do the show justice and I was not disappointed. Sarah Sechan being the chilli padi that she is, and Dato’ AC Mizal being quickfire with his jibes are a common sight on television in their respective countries. The newly-wedded groom, Adi Rahman, is also no stranger to dishing out witty punchlines in his daily morning show on radio. The chemistry between the three was certainly evident, but I just felt Adi was perhaps a little too cordial to his fellow presenters. While Sarah and Dato’ AC were trading barbs at one another, Adi was a little laidback and played more of the “good guy” card. Which perhaps prompted some people to comment online that Adi was “boring” that night. But somehow people dunno that the characters and traits of personalities differ onstage or the deliberate roles that they are supposed to play to keep the momentum of the show to a considerate level.

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Trisno Ishak (The Trisno Trio) and Mohammad Izaar (Bushmen) did Singapore proud that night with their performance…

In years past, people have complained that the script was either too “in-your-face”, vulgar or redundant. I think credit should go to Adi Rahman, being the script writer, for keeping it simple, eradicating the sexual innuendos (even though the other two hosts did slip their tongues once or twice, probably taking the mick out of Adi‘s newly-minted status) and without being too excessive. Speaking to him after the show, he did say that it was a huge challenge to write the script as he first had to study the characters and backgrounds of not only