Anugerah 2011 Episodes One & Two Recap…

Anugerah 2011 has finally kicked off in earnest and what a rousing start it was based on the atmosphere at the Mediacorp TV Theatre last Tuesday night. I had initially planned to go to the auditorium, but late release from camp where I had been undergoing reservist training for the past week and with massive traffic congestion happening everywhere, meant I could only watch it from the comfort of home. But at least I was able to listen to the singing and what the judges had to say clearly, as I know it would have all been drowned out by the cacophony of noise being generated by the live audience.

The show kicked off with the previous three winners of the edition – Hyrul Anuar, Aliff Aziz and Sarah Aqilah performing the theme song, “Anugerahku Gemilang“. For those of you who have seen the video clip of the song, you would note that it was composed by Shahridzuan Selamat of Revalina fame, and written by both Shah himself and Zaharian Osman, no stranger to the local entertainment industry. The three previous winners were joined by the Top 18 contestants  on stage dancing to the song. One thing I like about the song is that it is fresh, but there are traces of K-Pop, a sign of the current times, where the type of music is the rage amongst pop fans out there.

The hosts this year, Fauzie Laily, Huda Ali & Nity Baizura of RIA 89.7FM I felt were quite energetic but a bit too excited at times. That is quite natural as this was the first live episode with fans from the different camps creating a party atmosphere. Naturally the good vibes just bounced off them. Of course there were unwanted glitches, like the one where Huda made a mistake of announcing the wrong group performing towards the end, but such things do happen in a live setting. Thankfully Fauzie saved the day. From his past hosting experiences, he is getting good with the technique of ad-libbing. Nity looked a bit nervous and presented more like how she often does on radio. Give her time, she should shed those inhibitions away and be even better in the weeks to come.

This week, the theme for the contestants were songs that were composed from 2005 onwards. But I am still left wondering why evergreen songs like Orkes Nirwana‘s “Tak Mengapa” and Alleycats‘ “Kisah Kau & Aku” were classified as songs from 2005 onwards, even though their arrangements have been tweaked. The resident jury – Eddy Ali, Ann Hussein, Sheikh Haikel and guest judge, Beyond DDB‘s head honcho, Amin Hussen, had the unenviable task of contributing 50% of the contestants’ marks, with the remainder being handed to the voting audience. As this was only the first episode, I can understand if the comments that were passed down were kinda diplomatic, since most of the contestants were nervous themselves.

So what’s my take on each individual contestant’s performance??? Read on…

Solo Performances

Dewi Sulastri – She sang Agnes Monica‘s “Tanpa Kekasihku“. Listening to her, it was clear that she has a rich, husky voice suited to sing songs of a rockish nature. She was composed throughout but I felt she was a bit too expressive for a song of a balladic nature and moved about on stage a wee bit too much. Being the first contestant, she was clearly nervous just by listening to her voice.

Azhar Raz – It was interesting to see what the experience gained from the last competition would have benefited or improved Azhar‘s performance. Indeed his vocal prowess is quite unmatched and I was wondering at first if he had picked the wrong song – Jinbara‘s “Farhana“. He nailed the song and its high notes, with the only awkward moments being his unnecessary dance moves.

Erlina – Agnes Monica‘s “Dan Tak Mungkin” was her choice of song. Began the song with a tinge of uneasiness which I credited to her being nervous. Her low notes were a bit suspect and the transition between the verse and chorus wasn’t smooth thanks to the rearrangement of the song. Though judge Eddy Ali said she was a standout, I felt otherwise and thought she only came into prominence during the chorus, but the level quickly dropped as the song ended. 

 
Faziz – His song choice was Faizal Tahir‘s “Selamat Malam“. He was pitchy in most parts of the song and when he hit the high notes, I felt he wasn’t singing, but more to shouting. He also lacked the much-needed feel and intensity of the song. Definitely a wrong choice of song.

Rahayu Ridwan – This head-turner who seems to be a dead-ringer of Indonesian VJ-turned-singer, Shanty, performed Jaclyn Victor‘s “Bertamu Di Kalbu“. She has looks as her plus factor. What she needs to work on is to smile more to increase her likeability factor and to some extent, minimise the slang when she speaks as it might turn off others who are naturally envious of her package. Her singing did not leave much of an impression on me and I believe she could have done better if she had chosen another song. This song is challenging in certain parts, but Rahayu preferred to stick to her comfort zone.

Ace – Another contestant who sang a Faizal Tahir number, “Sampai Syurga“. But what I observed was not a performance, but an impersonation of the original singer. From the way he dressed right down to the gloves, to the way he postured and mimicked Faizal‘s moves, I doubt it was something that the judges would want to see being emulated, even as the competition progresses. There is always a danger of being sucked into the trap of impersonating original singers, so contestants need to be mindful of their movements on stage and image. Viewers want to see originality, not clones.

Shikin – She sang Ziana Zain‘s “Dingin” with so much aplomb. Her voice control was excellent and she did not need to follow the original singer’s style. In fact her style on its own is already original enough. At this point of time, I thought she was the best performer so far.

Mujaheed – He’s like the Erwin Shah Dawson of this year’s competition in terms of looks, but his manly voice betrays his youth. The way he sang Hazami‘s “Mungkir Bahagia” reminded me of 80s singer Ibnor Riza. Not that it wasn’t good but he seemed to have teleported himself back to those days. The only part I didn’t quite understand was his tendency to look at the floor as though he had dropped something.

Feena – It’s not easy to sing and dance to a catchy tune, especially one like Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza‘s “Ku Mahu“. Granted Feena went pitchy at certain points but she has to be commended for continuing to dance and sing without missing a heartbeat even when she tripped. The only thing I was uncomfortable with was her dressing and the shoes she wore, cos not only the shoes proved a hazard, her dressing only magnified her figure even more.

Didi – There was something about his performance singing Dewa 19‘s “Sedang Ingin Bercinta” that I felt a bit disturbed about, even though his performance, showmanship and confidence that were displayed, showed all the attributes of a budding rock star. I think it had to do with his smug look which he can tone down a bit in weeks to come. And if you want the audience to clap with you, you can’t signal and do it half-heartedly.

Efa Fatimah – Efa played on the safe side by singing a song (Geisha‘s “Takkan Pernah Ada“) which did not require her to stretch her vocals. At times, it went a bit monotonous. Definitely a wrong choice of song. Efa is capable of singing a more challenging song based on what I’ve seen of her in the past.

Firdaus Haridan – He sang Mawi‘s “Langit Biru” with mixed results. At times he was in complete control but his high notes became suspect when he had to sing the chorus. Is it just me or did his hairstyle make him resemble Hazrul Nizam???

Norul – Another strong performer of the night, Norul sang Elyana‘s “Kalis Rindu“. She had everything in her arsenal – showmanship, technique, rapport with the audience –  all brilliantly executed. Yes granted she should have been more flirty but this was only her first performance so I wasn’t expecting it like judge Eddy Ali.

Kim – For someone who has a geeky image, Kim‘s performance was anything but. I was initially fooled by how decent he looks, but he shed his inhibitions when he sang Fiq‘s “Tiga Malam Tanpa Bintang“. His voice is definitely suited to singing rock songs, just that towards the end, he went a little off-key.

Shalyza – I first saw her potential during the auditions and thought that she had it in her to advance further. Nothing has changed after seeing her performed Sharifah Zarina‘s “Langit Ketujuh“. Not an easy song to sing but she pulled it off.

Epul – I was a bit sceptical when I first heard the title of the song (Alleycats’ “Kisah Kau & Aku“), but its arrangement using big bands ensured the song became slightly catchier. And Epul did not disappoint by making full use of the stage with his performance. The only downside was his singing, which I felt was a bit average.

Baby Sulastri – I remember her as a chubby little girl who loved to perform at expo events. How she has grown and what a flawless performance she gave!!! I dare say she even sang “Hanya Di Mercu” much better than its original singer, Ayu.

Syazani – Besides Kim, there’s a likeability factor attached to this young man. Another one whose voice belies his age, I like the fact that he has coolness to go along with his relaxed outlook. I think it’s fair to say that singing Kerispatih‘s “Mengenangmu” made him connect with the audience via the emotions he exuded.

Group Performances

Mujaheed, Kim & Faziz – They sang “Raja Jatuh Cinta” by Numata. It was clear for all to see that all three looked uncomfortable at dancing and singing, with each and everyone calculating their steps. Mujaheed continued to look at the floor for whatever it was that he seemed to have dropped. There was also no harmony nor teamwork whatsoever.

Shikin, Dewi Sulastri & Erlina – The three gals saved the situation from the previous group performance. Singing Liana Jasmay‘s “Aku Tak Percaya Cinta“, their energies were bouncing off each other and they definitely took the cue from Eddy Ali to inject a bit of flirty-ness into their showmanship. I thought it was an enjoyable performance and how a group performance should be like.

Epul, Syazani & Firdaus – I felt as though I was watching some Sinar Lebaran group performance when these three young men were on stage performing Orkes Nirwana‘s “Tak Mengapa” which had been injected a fresh arrangement. For someone who professes to loving evergreen songs, Epul didn’t do the song justice. Only Firdaus and to some extent, Syazani, did well. Firdaus would do well not to overdo his facial expressions, lest it will turn off the voters.

Rahayu Ridwan, Baby Sulastri & Shalyza – The song did not require them to be too energetic as the earlier one by Erlina, Dewi Sulastri and Shikin, so their dance steps were more calculated. Baby Sulastri continued where she left off and showed that she is possibly a force to be reckoned with in this year’s competition. Shalyza looked a bit uncomfortable since her strength is mostly ballads, likewise Rahayu tried to mask her nervousness but her voice was a giveaway.

Ace, Azhar Raz & Didi – Their dance steps at the start seemed cheesy and only highlighted the fact that they were ill at ease with having to dance and sing as a group. Ace seems to be one-dimensional, singing and stretching his hands towards the audience just like how he did during the solo performance. I think only Azhar Raz did well here with Didi again making me feel uneasy with his antics.  

Norul, Efa Fatimah & Feena – The trio performed Alyah‘s “Tak Mungkin Kerna Sayang“. I thought it was a much better performance by Efa this time around. Norul also continued where she left off, showing that she is very much a versatile performer, able to sing both ballads and catchy tunes at ease. Feena was a slight disappointment as I felt her low notes didn’t do herself justice. Collectively, they were good, on par with the previous girl group performance.

Results 

This first episode seemed to be a very harsh one in terms of culling the competition. Only the Top 12 would advance, with three from each male and female category eliminated. It was somewhat of a surprise to me that people like Kim, Azhar Raz, Efa Fatimah and Dewi Sulastri had to say goodbye as early as this stage as their performances did not warrant it. But I guess it all boils down to votes by the voting audience, or lack thereof. I hope for their sake that they would return during the Wildcard round.

So what do I make of this year’s competition so far??? Well if I were to use consistency in performing well as a gauge and barometer, then I would say that the ladies are streets ahead of the gentlemen. Already from this episode, I could see three possible finalists in Shikin, Norul and Baby Sulastri. I hope by coming out to say this, I will not jinx their chances of progressing further or lull any of their voters into complacency. They still have the weeks ahead to prove themselves further and even the others could improve along the way.

This coming Tuesday 3rd May 2011, the male contestants will fight it out amongst themselves with the females resting for another week. With two strong competitors eliminated last week, I hope the guys would up their ante and improve on their singing techniques and showmanship, not overdoing their stage antics and also hopefully keeping the make-up on their faces as light as possible…

Anugerah 2011 Day One Auditions…

Yesterday (19 March 2011) saw the first round of Anugerah 2011 auditions getting underway over at East Point Mall. I was there between 10am-1:30pm to watch the proceedings and run the rule over the potential on offer in this year’s competition. Over the years, we’ve seen how this competition have unearthed rare gems in our relatively small community in the likes of Sarah Aqilah, Aliff Aziz, Hyrul Anuar, Noor Haqmal, Eka Mairina, Rudy Djoharnaen and Indra Hamzah. Who will it be this time around???

I was a bit surprised upon reaching the event venue to see that the long snaking queue that had stretched all the way till the other side of the field next to the shopping centre two years ago during Anugerah 2009, did not materialise. The queue ended just outside the Pet Safari shop situated at the end of East Point Mall facing the MRT line. Deep down I wondered if the competition has lost its zest to attract more from the targeted 16-30 age group to join or the interest in general for this sort of competition has just waned. Nonetheless, an estimated 300 hopefuls were already there at 10am, the earliest I heard coming before 7am to queue up.

The audition hopefuls queueing up to register their cause…

In this very small industry of ours, we can’t expect to get new and fresh stars all the time. Like previous Anugerah competitions before this, there are bound to be serial hopeful competitors, the ones you see queueing up at every Anugerah auditions, either for the singing or acting editions, depending on the year’s target approach. Nothing wrong in joining in again, as Fauzie Laily is a fine example of a repeat contestant made good in the end, but sometimes you wonder if some of them are clinging on to false hopes even after a decade of queueing up and getting rejected, with no improvements made.

So what do I make of this year’s potential??? Since I did not stay throughout and only watched the first 140 contestants, I was shocked to see the ratio of male contestants outnumbering the females by 3:1. In fact the first 20 contestants were all males!!! However quantity does not equate to quality, and this was very much evident when out of the 20-30 odd girls whom I managed to analyse on stage, at least half of them proceeded to the next round. Quite a few have that overall package of looks and raw talent as well. If I were to base on just the first 140 contestants alone, then I wouldn’t be surprised if this year’s winner will be another female. But I do hope that subsequent auditions in the afternoon, evening and even today’s session would unearth even more raw talent and potential that could be polished further.

The hosts of Anugerah 2011: Fauzie Laily & Huda Ali… They will be joined by RIA 89.7FM‘s Nity Baizura who will act as the roving host throughout the competition. Nity was not around yesterday as she was involved in the radio station’s recording of the finals of “Cepat Tepat“…

Dress-wise, I cannot complain too much as most of them came well-prepared, just that I feel when one wears a long-sleeved shirt with vest, it looks a bit old school and not concurrent with the times, especially when combined with the choice of songs that they sing (songs from the 80s / 90s) and the way they styled their hair, kinda reminded me of groups like Carefree, Flybaits and Gingerbread. Of course there were a few who need tips on styling or they came for the auditions straight from working the night shift beforehand, which was forgiveable and understandable. But all these can be worked upon once they advance into the latter rounds and when they get to work with professional stylists.

In my earlier entry promoting the auditions, I did say not to sing songs like Mawi‘s “Kian” or Jaclyn Victor‘s “Gemilang” as they are considered passe and will just bore the judges with no significant element to differentiate them from being better than the other. Before the contestants went up on stage, they were already told not to sing songs by Mawi, but that much-dreaded song along with B8‘s “Bidadari Hatiku“, Afgan‘s “Terima Kasih Cinta“, Imran Ajmain‘s “Seribu Tahun” and Merah‘s “Cintaku” seemed to be the favourites for most of the males. So much so that at one point, guest judge Jatt Ali hit out and said the guys were boring him to sleep. He was clearly miffed and told the remaining contestants to perform a song which is more upbeat or at least with more vigour, even if the song is melancholic.

Judges Jatt Ali, Ann Hussein & Eddy Ali listening intently to the contestants…

Showmanship-wise I think most of them need to polish up and start watching concerts and shows and try to get some tips. Some were too static, some were a little too expressive, while others just could not stop walking to and fro even when the song that they sang was a slow number. Some also need to eradicate bad habits like looking down all the time, closing their eyes or chewing gum or even putting their hands in their pockets whilst singing. The latter two actions I feel are extremely rude. Back in primary school, I remember vividly how we were told not to speak with our hands in our pockets as it reflects rudeness and arrogance. I wonder if they still impart this knowledge of basic etiquettes in school for kids to remember when they grow up.

There was another round of auditions today and based on the information I received, registration was open up till about 1pm. Apologies if my information was wrong or if there were changes made, as I got this piece of news yesterday when I got home. It’s a thankless job for the judges to choose out of hundreds and having to assess more than 500 hopefuls in two days. I hope the contestants would be well aware of what’s in store for them and work hard to achieve it. Time and time I’ve said, singing is not just about opening one’s mouth to carry a tune. There are more things to do than that. For those who have advanced to the latter rounds next weekend, I hope they read this entry and learn something from it or even from their experiences today and yesterday…

 

Snapshots of Anugerah 2011 Day One Auditions

View from the top…

The contestants waiting nervously for their turns…

Mediacorp Suria staff Farah Lydia & Wati Kassim manning the merchandise booth that was selling the upcoming Rock Elektra t-shirts and the television station’s official lanyards…

A close up shot of the pricing of the selling merchandise…

Anugerah Skrin alumnus Aidil Jufri & Firuz Khan came to show their support. Other members of the Anugerah Skrin and Anugerah alumni who came to watch the auditions include Nasriah Zainuddin, Nissa Bahruddin, Chirul and Chico

These were the guys who made it through to the next round. Spot that familiar face holding the microphone??? That’s Azhar Raz from the previous competition…

Our hosts sharing a banter with the audience…

After which, they hemmed up for the cameras…

 

Past Contestants Who Never Give Up…

 

This guy has a decent and what you call a manly voice. I hope he progresses cos he’s cool on the mic and smooth with his delivery…

I remember this guy from the Anugerah Skrin auditions last year. Back then he dyed his hair. Though he passed the first round last year, he was swiftly eliminated by the judges this year…

He obviously doesn’t need any introductions…

I was surprised that Danish did not make it to the Top 24 two years ago. He has matured in his performance since then, just that the jeans were kind of an eyesore to me…

 

Seeing Double???

I swear at first glance I thought he was Imran Ajmain cos he is as tall as the real McCoy…

I thought Riz Sunawan was about to ditch his day job as a broadcast journalist…

This gal reminds me of Nurul Huda of Singapore Idol Season 3. She looks and sounds a lot like Nurul. I wonder if they are related???

 

The Ones With Potential & Package…

Dian Hazwani‘s potential was spotted on YouTube and she was featured in RIA 89.7FM‘s “SG – Terjah Yang Menyerlah” programme a few weeks ago. She can play the guitar and with her image, comparisons are bound to be made between her and Yuna. She needs to create a distinct identity to avoid the unwanted comparisons… 

Anugerah 2009 Grand Finals Review…

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(Photo courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

After three months of hard work, sweat and tears, beginning with 1013 would-be contestants on 2nd3rd May 2009 and finally down to the Top 4 finalists, Anugerah 2009 reached its penultimate and closing stage on Tuesday 11 August 2009 with a new winner being crowned, thus adding another name to our ever-growing list of artistes in our small local Malay entertainment industry.

From what I gathered from the general masses, this win by Sarah Aqilah, a female, is very much welcomed and long-awaited. To some, it was a wait too long. A female has finally broken the monopoly and dominance held by the males since 2004 when Noorhaqmal (Aqmal) won that year’s Anugerah competition and Taufik Batisah was crowned the first Singapore Idol winner, followed by Hyrul Anuar in Anugerah 2005 (incidentally all four finalists were males), Hady Mirza in Singapore Idol Season 2 in 2006, and Aliff Aziz in Anugerah 2007.

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But prior to this coronation, I was left feeling sympathetic towards the only non-Singaporean in this competition through no fault of hers. In one of my previous reviews I did highlight the fact that there were voices of discontent with regards to her participation in the competition. And it all came to a head when earlier in the day, on RIA 89.7FM whereby the morning show had a segment on listener’s thoughts on the final, a lot of calls via phone-ins and smses were made from narrow-minded listeners to vote for a true-Singaporean. Even a local personality’s Facebook status had a similar tune to it, which made it all the more deploring given the fact that this person makes a living out of moulding the future of our generation.

To the voices of discontent, though I applaud your patriotic feelings, I believe they are very much misplaced. Especially when it comes to music and entertainment. Music is universal, it is diverse, and very much beautiful. Besides football, I think the only other language that can unite the world is the language of music. It should transcend all barriers and is to be enjoyed by everyone. As such we should not look from where the entertainer hails from to appreciate his or her talents. Acknowledge good talent not because of nationality but through his or her own God-given abilities. Even the online forum site of Anugerah 2009 was filled with hate-inclined messages towards Kunjung and poor Chris, her husband, had to go in and defend his wife. I cannot be proud of my fellow countrymen if their attitude stinks like this.

I hope as we move on over the years, this backward mentality would be scrapped from our minds cos I have nothing much to say except shame on each and everyone of you who have this mindset. Reading the disgraceful and uncouth smses on national television left such a sour taste in the mouth. So what if she is a Permanent Resident (PR)??? That does not make her any less willing to represent us if given the opportunity to do so in future. Even PRs are required to serve National Service as far as I know, since I had a few of them serving along with me during my time a decade ago. Please correct me if I’m wrong here in case there are changes to the rules or my knowledge of the Constitution is not up to par. Nowhere in the rules of the competition did they state that non-Singaporeans were not allowed to compete. Even our Channel 8 counterparts opened up their search for new stars to non-Singaporeans and nobody complained.

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From the media release that I received, the Results Show aired on the Tuesday before last, garnered the highest-rated episode-to-date with more than 190,000 viewers tuning in. The number of votes tripled over the years with more than 30,000 votes received via sms and telepoll lines throughout the competition. Hosted by the resident anchors for this season, Fauzie Laily and Fiza O, the Grand Finals was a two-hour affair graced by the likes of Imran Ajmain, AhliFiqir, Art Fazil, Noryn Aziz and Anugerah 2007 winner Aliff Aziz. Not forgetting the eliminated contestants from the Top 16 also made a brief comeback accompanying Aliff during his performances at the start and towards the end of the show.

Joining the resident judges Eddy Ali, Ann Hussein and Gani Karim were Singaporean-born singer/composer Azmeer [he of the “Harapan Semalam” (duet with Amy Mastura) and “Zuriat Cinta” fame back in the 90s. For those of you from the younger cohort who can’t recall, he was the composer for Datuk Siti Nurhaliza‘s haunting hit “Purnama Merindu” from her Adiwarna album back in 1998.] and Suria Record Sdn Bhd‘s Director of Artiste & Repertoire, composer and executive album producer, Zulkifli Majid. The latter is also no stranger to the industry having been involved with 2 By 2, the group famous for singing revival songs back in the late 90s. The show was graced by a live band called “Soul Brothers” led by renowned composer Indra Shahrir. It was added with pizzazz by four back-up singers under the tutelage of Irwan Mahpoel, two of them Adam and Afiqah having entered Anugerah in 2005 and 2009 respectively, the latter only reaching the Top 50 in this year’s competition. Oh and if my eyes did not fail me, Fyno of Cucu Datuk Merah fame was also in the backing vocals group.

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The Anugerah trophy design…

A brand new trophy was revealed on Tuesday night in celebration of Anugerah‘s success over the past decade. The trophy design was a collaboration between Suria and the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA). Students took on the design of the Anugerah trophy as a special project that is part of their school work. The winning trophy design was selected from over 100 designs and will be used for future Anugerah competitions. The new Anugerah trophy was designed by Muhammad Nasrul Bin Roslin, a third-year Visual Communications student from NAFA. He was inspired by the letter “A” that stands for “Anugerah” and excellence. The prism-shaped trophy also symbolises the strong foundation that escalates to greater heights. The curvatures represent in motion and versatility of the winner.

For the record, the four finalists – Chirul, Sarah Aqilah, Wawan and Kunjung – performed four songs from their own selection where they got to showcase their individuality and identity, a viewer’s choice, a specially composed song by Suria Record Sdn Bhd and duets with professional singers like Azyza, Eiss, Maman and Nana. Originally I presumed that one of the songs to be performed by each finalist was supposed to be selected by the judging panel but somehow I think they did away with that and instead focused more on how the finalists would flex their muscles singing songs they were more comfortable with, rather than having to be “forced” to sing a song that did not suit their tastes. I guess my foreword is long enough already and I wouldn’t want to bore you any further with more informative details. Now on to the individual reviews proper.

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The show kicked off with Aliff Aziz singing the Anugerah theme song “Bintang Anugerahku” along with the four finalists as well as being accompanied by the ousted contestants from the Top 16 and afterwards the finalists were given the opportunity to warm up with Glenn Fredly‘s “Dansa“. It was obvious from the sound system that it was a lip-synch performance by them, probably to save their energies for what lay ahead. However, they need to master the art of getting their synchronisations right. Kunjung was guilty of mouthing off the words wrongly during her part. Somehow Asilah Osmera caught the eye with her energetic dance moves as compared to Kunjung. Surprisingly Sarah, whom I’ve noted before that she does not come across as convincing singing a song of a more upbeat tempo, sounded good. I dunno if this was because it was recorded and all she had to worry about was the choreography. The evening would unveil itself and answer all my questions.

FIRST ROUND

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ChirulUlar Berbisa (Hello Band) – Own Choice

I thought it was a good start to the show which showcased Chirul‘s youthful exuberance. Or so I thought. He has the voice to carry off the song well and I liked the way he sung it, especially since he executed the falsetto parts flawlessly. Rewind back to Episode 3 when he was chided for not doing it properly. I think he has improved in that respect over the course of the competition. His only downside in my opinion when singing this song was not to conquer the stage with a more energetic showing and letting himself go as the song called for more strutting and prancing around. Chirul still came across as too laidback and relaxed for someone who wanted to win this competition.

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Sarah AqilahRawan (Azharina) – Viewer’s Choice

The competition’s “Power Balladeer” as coined by Gani Karim, stuck to what she does best – singing ballad songs. Like most of the time she sings these kind of songs, she started off slowly but eventually grew as the song progressed and somehow you knew Tuesday night was gonna be a special night for Sarah Aqilah when she hit the chorus and high notes. The judges’ comments on Sarah were also dead give-aways by the end of the first round, which personally to me, ended the competition even before it began in earnest. The showing of the public votes only served to prove my thoughts spot-on on Sarah. My only complaint about this performance of hers was her outfit, cos it made her look as though she was expecting a baby. No offence to Sarah or her stylist.

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WawanKetahuan (Matta Band) – Viewer’s Choice

From the semi-finals stage where he sang Diorama‘s “Sanubariku“, Wawan continued to impress yours truly with this rendition of Matta Band‘s “Ketahuan“. I’ve heard the original as well as the dangdut version by Dewi Persik. But this was something different altogether. This version was injected with a touch of jazz-swing to it and the performance was coloured by Wawan and his backup dancers in Broadway-styled outfits. Ann Hussein wasn’t impressed with the performance but I thought it was daring and fresh from Wawan and should be commended for trying out something he has not done so far in the competition. Ann‘s comments on him proved conclusive on how the evening was gonna shaped up.

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KunjungRembulan (Kris Dayanti) – Viewer’s Choice

I think it is fair to say that Kunjung is a big fan of the Indonesian diva cos she sang at least two songs from her throughout the competition with a third one afterwards on the night. But contrary to the original version which is of mid-tempo, Kunjung actually sang the other version of the song which is of a more upbeat tempo, and it became a dance-fest that had me bobbing my head to the beats. I think it was infectious enough to make people groove along with her if it had been a different setting than the Mediacorp TV Theatre. I know the judges love her for her showmanship, I do too, but I felt because of the disgraceful noises made by certain quarters, she was losing a battle trying to win over the voting public. The public voting charts certainly did not lie. It has to be said that with this performance, no other contestants could hold a candle to her for showmanship.

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SECOND ROUND

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Group Performance Tanpa Ku Sedar

This song was specially composed by Ihsan Mustafa (hope I got the spelling of his name right) and Zulkifli Majid for this Grand Finals and the winner of Anugerah 2009 would go on to record this song as a single in their debut album. The challenge for the quartet was to memorise and get the feel of this song within a few days before the Finals. It is unfair for me to comment on whether they sang the song well or not given the fact that it was my first time listening to the song and have not gotten myself acquainted to it, but judging by the facial expressions and body language from the contestants, Sarah seemed at ease with the song and it helped that she rekindled her partnership with Chirul from the previous round in this performance. A ballad song of this nature was also chicken feed for her.

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THIRD ROUND

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Chirul – Hanya Kau Yang Mampu (Aizat) – Viewer’s Choice

One of my favourite songs of all time and I had hopes that Chirul would bring some justice to the song. Alas, he mixed up the last two lines of verses one and two and I guess it went downhill henceforth. His continued lackadaisical outlook on stage also did not sit down well with yours truly and the panel of judges, to the point he was chided by Azmeer for being too relaxed and not ready to go to war. Perhaps he knew that he had no chance of winning judging by his earlier performances and the constant updating of what was happening on the voting charts, but it was still not a good reason for him to allow the other three favourites to win at a canter without giving them a good fight.

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Sarah Aqilah – Hati Yang Kau Sakiti (Rossa) – Own Choice

If her detractors and non-voting masses were still not convinced by her earlier performances, I guess this one would have clinched it for her once and for all. To me, it was game, set and match. The emotions she put into the song were spot-on, so much so that this was probably the best performance of the night, worthy of her coronation as the competition’s champion. Oh and my hair stood for the first time that night listening to her hitting the high notes. The smses by the voters also jumped from 36% to 41%, indicating it was only a matter of time before we saw the crowning of a new champion. And again it has to be said Gani Karim has a knack of revealing things and spoiling the excitement with his comments, though I have to add I enjoyed his colourful analogies throughout the competition.

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Wawan – Semua Untuk Cinta (Mike) – Own Choice

Wawan wasn’t known to sing something soulful and R&B-ish before this. And I was surprised he actually experimented with this genre to add that wee bit of colour and versatility to his repertoire. He did capture the mood well, but at times he looked a little uncertain. A few parts were also slightly pitchy, especially the lower registers. Approaching the end of this performance, I noticed a standard pattern in Wawan‘s performances in that he loves to grimace and break into a long “Oooooooohhhhhhh” somewhere towards the end of the song he sings. Don’t believe me??? Just watch clips of his performances when they are up on YouTube.

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Kunjung Ku Teruskan (Siti Sarah) – Own Choice

This song was specially dedicated to Kunjung‘s late father, as was told to me by my cousin Lydia, who was seated next to me that night. With such poignant memories of her loved one, I thought the translation between reality and art form could not have been expressed better. Maybe the only thing that was missing were the tears streaming down her cheeks cos I was expecting that. Acknowledging the challenge she had in singing this song in a short interview before this performance, one could hear her struggling with the notes and it seems the lower registers have been a constant source of bane for most of the contestants rather than the higher ones.

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DUET WITH MENTORS

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Chirul & Nana – Ketika Cinta Bertasbih (Melly Goeslaw Feat. Amee)

Chirul‘s voice makes him the perfect male partner in any duet, simply because he has the rich, baritone voice to harmonise well with his partner and this was very much evident in this performance. However, he was in danger of being upstaged by Nana‘s voice, especially as the song was reaching its final stages, which made me wonder, who was supposed to be in competition, him or her??? Nana‘s energy was also not in sync with Chirul‘s, who continued to be very relaxed and laidback. A duet should be about complementing one another and bouncing off each other’s energies. While the voice and harmony were good, the chemistry in terms of emotions exuded could have been better.

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Sarah Aqilah & Eiss – Sembunyi (Misha Omar & Andy Flop Poppy)

I welcomed this song from Sarah, simply because it is of a quicker tempo, something which throughout the competition, we have not seen her ace as good as whenever she sang ballads. Though the attempt was commendable and I could see how she tried, alas I thought she kinda struggled and looked quite uncomfortable. But she need not have to worry cos her spot as the winner was more or less confirmed by then. To be fair to Sarah, there was nothing wrong with her vocals but she seemed shy to let herself go when it comes to a song of this nature.

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Wawan & Maman – Inspirasiku (Jeff Catz)

When the bonafide and true rocker combined, there was a tremendous amount of energy combusting on stage, which I think the original singer would have been proud of to witness. They were just bouncing off each other’s energies and enjoying themselves on stage, to the point I momentarily forgot this was a competition to begin with. I think this kind of performance and confidence should be an example of how to enjoy yourself on stage, even if you are competing. Others could look at this as a useful marker to follow in future. It certainly helped to dispel some jitters felt in the heat of competition. But of glaring note was Maman‘s uncertainty on when to sing and when not to. He also forgot the lyrics.

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Kunjung & Azyza – Semua Jadi Satu (Kris Dayanti, Ruth Sahanaya & Titi DJ)

Another Kris Dayanti number which Kunjung seemed to prefer belting out. A song of this nature required her to strut and prance around on stage and she did that with aplomb as how we’ve come accustomed to her performances throughout the competition. Another good example of singers complementing one another on stage. But Kunjung‘s apparent downside, which has been a thorny issue amongst the judging panel over the course of this competition was her vibrato. To some, it sounded natural but at times maybe it could possibly be a source of irritation to the ears, so much so that Azmeer took great pains to highlight and to inform her to tone it down by 20% if she were to carve a career in singing. His reference to it being in danger of her sounding like a goat bleeting, amused many in attendance.

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GUEST PERFORMANCES

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The first guest performance came from AhliFiqir and Art Fazil, singing a remake of “Fikir-Fikir” from Art‘s former band Rausyanfiqir. Their turn-tablist, DJ Cza, and other member Samsol a.k.a. TukangKata were conspicuously missing from their line-up and it was only through the introductory rap that I realised the latter had left the group. Or was he just missing in action / taking a leave of absence??? I had heard of rumours regarding differences that have arisen between them, but till now I am unsure what was the cause of him leaving the group. The group did look odd without one of their original members.

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Next up was Imran Ajmain. He sang “Jika Engkau Pergi” for the first time on national television, the song he struck gold for Best Original Composition at the World Championship of Performing Arts (WCOPA) in Los Angeles last month. As with all his performances, I can never get enough listening to him. I know this is very much belated and I have not said it in public, but congratulations to Imran for flying the flag high on foreign soil. The win was all the more sweet given the obstacles he had to go through to make the trip happen. A Cultural Medallion or something similar for him at next year’s National Day Awards perhaps??? I’d certainly vote for it…

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If Malaysia has a jazz queen in Sheila Majid, I believe Noryn Aziz is the princess and queen-in-waiting. My goodness, her performance was extremely flawless. The audience who were lukewarm at the start of her song were generally impressed and she had them all under her thumb by the end of it. Singing “Kembalikan“, my hairs stood for the second time that night when she sang the chorus effortlessly and with such awesome control. I can only wonder why her star isn’t shining so brightly over here even after winning the Best New Female Artiste at Anugerah Planet Muzik 2007. Could it be her forte in her genre isn’t to our consumers’ liking??? We’ll never know…

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The last quarter had Aliff Aziz singing Gigi‘s hit “Nakal” and being accompanied again by the Top 16 contestants. It has to be said that not all of them were around. The Queen of Wigs, Hafizah Naser, Episode 4‘s chart-topper Nani Sulaiman and Hairizam were notably missing in action, perhaps tied by their own personal commitments. I had expected Gigi‘s lead singer Armand Maulana to make a surprise appearance singing the song with Aliff, knowing that he was in town on Tuesday, but it was wishful thinking on my part.

And so what do I make of the results??? Before the show, the only two persons I thought would win were Wawan and Sarah Aqilah. Had the viewers been more kind towards Kunjung, I would have had a hard time in weighing the options. Chirul though he upped his performance in the semi-final rounds, I felt he was still too casual for my liking and too young to grasp the essence of being an entertainer. So it was down to Wawan and Sarah. Wawan had always been a consistent chart-topper and he had the voting public’s support to count on whereas Sarah had the judges’ backing.

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The decision to choose Sarah on the night was too simple. She kept to what she does best and that made her the darling of the judges. Wawan was still experimenting with genres and there are two schools of thought to gauge him that night. One is that he is a versatile performer,  able to sing songs of different genres and a jack of all trades. The other is that he seemed uncertain where his strengths lie even though from the competition we know, he seemed to ace if the song was leaning towards a rockish genre. The surprise to me was Kunjung getting second. It showed how much she scored with the judges as compared to the voting by the public. All in all I thought the results were very fair. Whoever performed well, deserved their respectful standings.

The challenge for Sarah Aqilah now is for her to polish her skills in singing fast numbers, especially in a live setting. I tend to think that she is being one-dimensional, i.e. only able to sing ballad numbers well. But to be fair to Sarah, I think all these while, she seemed to hold back a lot when it came to singing these kind of songs was because she might have been afraid she would miss her steps and in turn forget her lyrics. Cos clearly she sounded very good when singing “Bintang Anugerahku” at the start of the show. Speaking of forgetting her lyrics, that is also another aspect of her performance which she needs to improve on based on her two follies in Episode 4 and the semi-final rounds, but I guess I will allude that to competition jitters. Congratulations to you Sarah Aqilah for being the Anugerah 2009 champion!!! Your journey begins now and so too the other finalists.

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The following is the roll of honour and what the winners won for themselves:

Grand Champion – Sarah Aqilah Binte Jamil

  1. Champion trophy,
  2. Music album from Suria Record Sdn Bhd
  3. Contract with Mediacorp Artistes Management Unit
  4. $10,000 cash
  5. Nikon Coolpix P80 camera 
  6. Nokia E66 bundled with 24-mths 3G Flexi Lite – *AMPed plan worth $1300 from Singtel Pte Ltd

1st Runner-Up – Kunjung Wide Whitaker

  1. A Mini album (3 songs) from GUMBIRA
  2. Contract with Mediacorp Artistes Management Unit
  3. Nikon Coolpix S60 camera
  4. Sony Ericsson W595 with 24-mths 3G Flexi Lite – *AMPed plan worth $1000 from Singtel Pte Ltd

2nd Runner-Up – Muhamad Safuan Bin Husen (Wawan)

  1. Music single for Alunan Kasih compilation album
  2. Contract with Mediacorp Artistes Management Unit
  3. Nikon Coolpix S610
  4. Samsung F400 with 24-mths 3G Flexi Lite – *AMPed plan worth $950 from Singtel Pte Ltd

3rd Runner-Up – Ahmad Hairul Bin Md Salleh (Chirul)

  1. Music single for Alunan Kasih compilation album
  2. Contract with Mediacorp Artistes Management Unit
  3. Nikon Coolpix L20
  4. Samsung F400 with 24-mths 3G Flexi Lite – *AMPed plan worth $950 from Singtel Pte Ltd

Subsidiary Awards

Best Performance in NIKON’s Music Video Award – Sarah Aqilah Binte Jamil

  1. Trophy
  2. Nikon Coolpix P6000

MANJA Media Darling Award – Kunjung Wide Whitaker

  1. Trophy
  2. 1-year subscription of Manja magazine
  3. $200 shopping vouchers

LUSTRE‘s Styling Award – Kamsani Bin Jumahat

  1. Trophy
  2. The Tree by Lustre facial treatments worth $500

Best Performance in Choreography Award – Kunjung Wide Whitaker

  1. Trophy
  2. $200 shopping vouchers

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Post-Event Reception

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Suhailah Salam, Suzairhe Sumari, Taufik Salleh, Nick Mikhail and Shahril Wahid were amongst the celebrities invited to grace the event…

What is a grand show without a post-event reception??? I know I did not mention this before in this entry but the Grand Finals resembled a Pesta Perdana of sorts. So many local artistes were around to grace the event and the reception was even joined by some of the Malaysian artistes who were slated to appear on Friday night’s Salam Lebaran recording at the Mediacorp TV Theatre. I have to apologise though that I did not take that many photographs of the event as the battery in my camera went flat just as I was about to take photographs of me with Zaibaktian. There were some interesting highlights of the reception which are still fresh in my mind.

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The glam queens – Norfasarie & Nurul Aini

First of all, I finally got to meet Sofie, the President of NingClix SG, the die-hard fans of Ning Baizura. He was with Raja Norashikin of HalimSaidi.com, an online friend I made right after the P.Ramlee Musical last year. First time meeting them but it felt as though we have known each other for a long, long time. There was so much warmth from everyone and I thought it would be good if we could hang out some day. By the way, they were with Noryn Aziz‘s entourage. A pity I couldn’t get to chat with the jazz princess like how I did during last year’s Anugerah Planet Muzik in Kuala Lumpur. I had also wanted to get her to endorse this blog a second time through a short video clip, since the one she did last year was cropped unexpectedly through yours truly’s amateur editing skills. But it was nice to know she did remember me when I said “Hi” to her.

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Syed Azmir, Uncle Jasmani Basri, Lydia and Aliff Aziz

Aliff Aziz surprised me when he came up to me and asked how did he do in his performances that night. Instantly what struck me is his humility which is there in abundance, and his willingness to listen, improve and work on whatever flaws there may be. I only managed to say that he did well and gone was his famed whispery voice. Upon watching the recording of the show again, I noticed that he bent and slouched a bit too much during his “Nakal” performance but other than that, my feedback to him during the reception was spot-on. His two years’ experience as an entertainer has benefitted and improved him in many aspects. I certainly look forward to his latest offering soon.

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Danial & Hyrul Anuar

Last but not least, was my meeting with Eddy Ali. All these while during the previous episodes when I met him, all we did was shook hands without saying much nor introducing ourselves to one another. He came up to me as I was chatting with my elder sister’s old friend, Esra, who is a staff with Suria, and enquired if I was who I was. I said, “Yes I am” and he shook hands and embraced me, which caught me a little by surprise. Regular readers of this blog would note in the past, I seldom had good things to say about Anugerah‘s chief judge and the tone of my comments about the way he judged, bothered on being personal more than being objective for those of you who perceived it that way. I was even more surprised and humbled by the fact that he did not take to heart my past comments on him.

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Zaibaktian, Jaliboy, Suhailah Salam, Nana, Rafaat Hamzah & Amin from VJR…

Personally I had nothing against him other than the fact that I disagreed with some of his views in the past, but I told him that night and also mentioned before in one of my Anugerah 2009 reviews that this season, I tended to share and agree with most of his opinions. To Abang Eddy, I never had a chance to say this that night, but I’m saying it now cos I know you would be reading this, “I apologise if my previous comments could have caused undue distress or undermined your standing as a judge in the competition.” Thank you for the extend of friendship and I certainly look forward to seeing you again some time.

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A much better shot of Imran than the one I took during his performance…

Speaking of apologies, I would also like to take this opportunity to apologise if my words in my past reviews were deemed harsh, be it towards the contestants, judges, stylists or even make-up artistes. I got wind that some people were displeased with my comments with regards to the way the male contestants were heavily made-up in the earlier rounds. When I made those comments, I based that not only from my own observations but on what I saw through Facebook and Twitter and also listened to the various feedbacks made by listeners on RIA 89.7FM, the official radio station of Anugerah 2009. I guess being an entertainment reviewer carried heavier weight for people to be displeased with me more than the general public’s views even though my words were not as damning as others. But to their credit, the make-up certainly improved by leaps and bounds henceforth.

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The champ is here…

And so that ends my lengthy Anugerah 2009 Grand Finals review. Hope you had enjoyed this journey as much as I did. I’ve gained quite a lot of new friends and contacts as a result, not to mention strengthening ties with those already in place and I hope that our music industry will continue to improve and be more diverse now with the coronation of a female singer. Sarah Aqilah‘s win would hopefully inspire more young ladies out there and prove that our industry is not monopolised by the gentlemen. I also hope that it would open more windows of opportunities for our female singers to spread their wings and fly cos we do have a lot of talent waiting to be tapped and taken notice of. It’s also now up to us, the listeners and consumers, to lend our utmost support to them.

P.S. Credits to Jatt’s Collezione for outfitting me that night and to the good people at Mediacorp Suria and Eaglevision (Zalinah, Zuraidah, Mufreha & Netty) for inviting me throughout the competition as well as providing me useful information to be included in my reviews… 🙂

Anugerah Round 3 Auditions…

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After attending the first day of the Anugerah first round auditions the Saturday before last, I was interested to see how the contestants would have fared and progressed over the past week, especially those who were selected for Round 2. Did they heed the judges’ advice in the first round to avoid doing this and doing that??? Did they surf around and read the tips given by credible sites namely Gumbira.com, which has been dispensing useful tips over the past week, for them to follow??? Would they bother to polish up their performances and choice of attire or still be defiant with their own style??? There was only one way to find out, and that was to personally head down to East Point Mall to take in the action of the subsequent audition rounds of the Anugerah competition.

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The crowd might have dwindled down a bit compared to the first weekend, but they still filled up at least the first five levels of the shopping complex…

Somehow I had other commitments to attend to the whole day of Saturday, thus I gave that second round of auditions a miss. However, I still made it to East Point Mall later that night to celebrate an advanced Mothers’ Day with my in-laws by having dinner at Han River Restaurant situated on the 4th floor of the shopping centre. We managed to watch a glimpse of what was happening downstairs before proceeding to the restaurant for our dinner. I could not give a fair assessment as I only watched for a mere five minutes. So technically, Round 2 was considered off-limits for me.

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This photo was taken on the first day of auditions. Compare the space taken up with the next photograph…

Something caught my eye during those short five minutes though. If you were to look at the two photographs just before this paragraph and the one after, you would be able to compare the vast difference in space allocated for the actual proceedings on the ground floor. This was something I found quite appalling as it prevented many from watching it from the comfort of the ground floor. As you can see from the next photograph, the sales people had erected the vertical banners and barricades to prevent people from coming into the small shopping space to watch what was happening on stage and those who were over at the stage area had to cramp in and not move as freely as in the previous week.

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Why in the world did they have to have a sale or whatever promotions they were doing, and take up the space when they know bloody well people would not bother about what they were selling and instead concentrate on the auditions??? I just hope that in future when the reality competition is underway proper and the venue is used again for the weekend roadshows, they would jolly well free up the space on the ground floor as the number of people would definitely swell in hope of seeing the next big thing in our local entertainment industry.

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The distinguished panel of judges who do not need anymore introductions, scrutinising the contestants on stage…

I had left the shopping mall close to 11pm on Saturday night, hoping to catch some action or at least the announcement of results right after my dinner. At that point of time, I could see the contestants in that round were already feeling restless after a long day, and they still had to line up and await for the results to be announced as to who would make it to Round 3 the following day. I thought perhaps they might have started late, judging by the over run of the show. That was kinda expected when they had a total of 264 contestants performing from noon. And compared to the previous round where they did not sing with a minus one track, this time they had to, and I believe this was also another factor in the over-running of time.

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Fiza O going solo over the weekend without Fauzie Laily

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Fiza hemming up for the cameras…

It was also during that time that I realised that Fauzie Laily, who is one of the resident hosts of the competition, was not in sight. Instead, KC who was the one in-charge of being the time-filler host during the breaks the previous week, was taking over the main duties and giving out instructions along with Fiza O to the contestants on how they should line up and where they should stand. As it was too late for me to wait and my daughter needed her nappies changed, I left before the results were announced. It was much later that I found out that the whole thing ended close to midnight and the reason for Fauzie‘s no-show on both days, was because he was involved in a Mothers’ Day trip to Port Dickson organised by E-Ventions International & Travel Pte Ltd, along with Hyrul Anuar and Maiya Rahman.

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A sterned-looking Didicazli was spotted in the crowd watching the proceedings…

Initially I had planned to arrive at 12 noon but decided that leaving after Zuhur was much better. So when I arrived on Sunday at about 2 plus, I was expecting at least fifteen to twenty contestants to have finished their turns but once I entered the stage area and chatted with Ms. Manager, I think I only missed the first two or three contestants, which was not that bad as I was able to assess the majority of the 50 who made it to Round 3. As space was kinda limited around the stage area, I stood in front of the technical console along with Ms. Manager and the producer of the show himself, Mr Johari Abdul Aziz. Had a great time exchanging views and opinions on the contestants with both of them throughout the afternoon.

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KC (right) & the technical console guy goofing around in between proceedings…

And so, what did I think of the contestants that day??? I guess I will state the obvious and say it was simply much better than watching it during the first round, since they are after all the Top 50. Most definitely their voices were better stand outs than the previous week, where it was a mish mash of good and bad. I detected quite a few repeat contestants from past competitions and to their credit, their past experiences have helped in making their respective performances more polished as well as giving them the confidence and edge when belting out their tunes on stage. At the same time I admired their courage to give it another shot at stardom. Most of them received good reviews by the judges and I agree that some of them deserved to duke it out as one of the Top 20 in the weeks to come.

Some of the repeat contestants on show:

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Hussein…

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Eidris…

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Harman…

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Hairizam…

If I were to give a general assessment on both the guys and the gals, I would say that the guys are generally much better, have more poise and better control with the microphone, even if they look ordinary in the looks department. Not that I’m being biased towards my gender. There were some of the young ladies who caught my attention with some great performances on stage and I can more or less expect them to be in the Top 20 as well. The ladies would do well however, to run away from the voice similarities of the original singers of the songs they performed that day. Quite a few were still too similar to established singers like Ella and Ziana Zain. I’m sure the judges couldn’t have stressed the term “originality” more than enough for them to remember and digest.

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Waiting patiently for their turns…

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Catching the action from the second level…

There were some who are blessed with smouldering good looks but came up short with their performances. Normally I would not hesitate to put them down but looking at the bigger perspective and what happened the previous night where they finished quite late and had a few hours to prepare for Round 3, I pitied each and every contestant for having to go through the rush, whether they are good looking or simply ordinary, in case people start blaming me for my biasness towards the good-lookers. A lot of them had tired faces and some of their performances clearly showed that they were lethargic and that they need to learn a thing or two about pacing themselves and having the stamina of a seasoned artiste. They also need to run away from cliched introductions. Too many of them were milking the Mothers’ Day hype and giving their greetings to all the mothers who were watching in the building. Like the judges had said, they had to have an original greeting and introduction.

The good lookers according to me, the beholder, in random order:

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Even though in general, most of them were well-dressed and gave off their best on stage, a few of them still gave me a few things to irk about. There were some who still displayed the couldn’t-care-less attitude on stage even though their voices could melt someone’s heart. Some moved a bit too much on stage for a song that is of a slower tempo, and of course, there were some who simply loved to backchat the panel of judges and answering back with unnecessary quips. You might be the best dressed person that day or the best looker on stage, but if your attitude sucked and you answer back with a rude and cocky tone, I’m sorry to say, your dreams and aspirations will end even before you start. It certainly does not reflect a positive outlook on you nor gave you a good account to the watching audience in the shopping centre.

Random thoughts:

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Safuan a.k.a. Wawan of the duo Wan & Eddy, personally rearranged 2D’s hit “Kerna Delylah” on his own. Though the originality was commendable, I just did not like it as I felt it killed the essence of the song and being too draggy…

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You won’t believe me if I said Ezol is 16… I had a shock myself…

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Remember Chico from Anugerah 2005??? This is his younger brother, Cirul, but I was inclined to call him “Chickadees” cos like the titbits of yore that I used to like, his voice is rich and a delight to hear. His confidence was also a joy to watch…

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Raudha (Ms. Manager) and I agreed that Nur Sarah was the best-dressed that day and has to be given top marks for her efforts in looking the most presentable and every bit a star in the making…

I noticed that day, that the most favourite song being sung by the contestants were Jaclyn Victor‘s “Gemilang” as well as songs by Elyana (“Molek“, “Kau Atau Aku” & “Kalis Rindu“). Everyone who sang “Gemilang” drew applause from the audience for being able to execute the song well and the only thorn amongst the roses who sang it, caught my attention for not only singing it well but showing that even a guy could pull it off with such great technique. It was no wonder he got a thumbs up from all the judges and even from me. I did not quite catch his name but I am sure he will be in the Top 20 and he is one that I am confident could be someone to look out for in time to come. He will be given a tough run by the likes of Hussein and Harman, both alumni members of Anugerah 2007, whom I am confident will make it to the Top 20 as well, judging by the judges’ rave reviews.

My personal favourites:

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This was the guy who sang “Gemilang” and passing the goosebumps test on me. I am so inclined to root for him from now on…

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Nazilah reminds me so much of the Ul-Haq sisters (Elfeeza / Elfaeza) that I thought that she was one of their siblings (they have another sister by the way). She sang one of my favourite songs – Sheila Abdul‘s “Mungkinkah” – and she did well enough to get my vote to progress, but of course the judges have the final say on that…

And so, after all that was said and done, the results as to who amongst the 50 who would move on to the next round, were not announced on that day itself. Instead, we will see all 50 contestants in one show this coming Monday 18th May 2009. They will appear in the lifestyle programme “Jus“, which is aired live on Suria at 8:30pm. So for those of you who would want to know who makes it to the weekly knockout rounds and being a part of the elite Top 20, don’t forget to watch “Jus” this coming Monday

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The contestants being debriefed by the producer, Mr Johari Abdul Aziz, after the auditions were over…

Anugerah Day One Auditions…

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The Anugerah auditions are underway as I speak, today being Day 2 of the auditions. For those of you still living on a different planet, Anugerah is back this year, in the process, celebrating a decade of talent spotting in our local entertainment industry and this year, the champion will win prizes worth $250,000, which includes a recording contract with Suria Records Sdn Bhd (SRC), $10,000 cash and an Artiste Management contract with Mediacorp. The first runner up will take home $120,000 worth of prizes, comprising of a recording contract with local music label Gumbira and an Artiste Management contract with Mediacorp.

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The crowd spilled over to the upper levels to get a clear view of the proceedings…

Yesterday I was over at East Point Mall to experience the atmosphere of the Anugerah auditions, between 11:50am-3:50pm. Knowing that registrations would only begin at 9am, I decided to go a wee bit later. As I was turning into the multi-storey carpark of the shopping centre, I could see that the queue to register their applications was simply overwhelming, spilling over to the field behind the building. And to think the weather was blistering hot!!! I gotta take my hat off to these wannabes for braving the heat, some I could see, dressed to the nines. My goodness, even if I still qualify to enter the competition, I would never dream of wasting my time queueing up just to sing for 30 seconds or so on stage, especially since I’m very much a stickler for time and have no patience at waiting for someone / something.

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The main registration area…

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The long queue…

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That stretched all the way to the field behind the shopping centre…

Initially I thought the auditions would be held outside the shopping centre, so it was a bit of a surprise to see that it was held indoors instead. At first I could feel the coolness from the air-conditioner in the building, but as time ticked by and more people thronged the venue, not to mention the temperature outside getting hotter, the place grew more and more stuffy. This was made worse by the building’s architecture which has a skylight directly above the stage area, allowing the sun’s rays and heat to engulf everyone inside. I could see that quite a few people were complaining of the heat and saying how stuffy it was. But I cannot complain much, since I had good access inside the stage area, thanks to the kind media invite by Suria.

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An overhead view of the stage area…

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The contestants patiently await their turns…

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The distinguished panel of judges – Imran Ajmain, Eddy Ali, Ann Hussein and Gani Karim

The contestants were being judged by the resident judges of the competition – Ann Hussein, Eddy Ali and Gani Karim. The guest judge to round off the panel of judges was singer and director of GumbiraImran Ajmain. I dunno if the mood changed after I left, since the auditions stretched all the way past dinnertime, but the judges were more or less keeping their cool and dispensing valuable advice to the contestants wherever possible. From their choice of clothing to their presentation style, right down to how they sounded (nasal, diction, pitching, going off-key etc), I sincerely hope that all these wannabes would learn from their mistakes and strive to do better in future competitions. I certainly learnt something in that when you wear something vibrant, your choice of song should not be mundane and melancholic.

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The two resident hosts – Fiza O & Fauzie Laily

From the four hours spent at the auditions, so far, I could not see anyone that has the “wow” factor, even though they showed glimpses of raw diamonds needing lots of polishing. Perhaps after I had left and also during today’s second round of auditions, there were / will be some that perhaps have got the potential to go far. However, I have to say that I was quite bored at the auditions, simply because a large majority of the contestants preferred to sing songs before 2005 and sappy, old rock hits. I think it is quite lost on most of these contestants that they have to keep up with the times and sing current songs that suit the mass audience and consumers. And most of these wannabes, I dare say 90% of them, sang sappy ballad tunes. It’s ok if they could sing, but what happens when they can’t??? I can only sympathise with the jury, having to sit down the whole day having to endure everything being presented to them.

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The roving host – Lina Farhana

Another reason why I was bored at the auditions was because these contestants have limited repertoire in their arsenal. For the guys, I observed that they simply loved singing Mawi‘s “Kian“, B8‘s “Bidadari Hatiku“, Didicazli‘s “Dambaan“, Irwansyah‘s “Camelia” and Aizat‘s “Hanya Kau Yang Mampu“. For the ladies, Siti Sarah‘s “Kesetiaan“, Rossa‘s “Tegar” and Agnes Monica‘s “Matahariku” seemed to be their favourites. This is on top of those 80s rock hits which are quite irrelevant in this day and age. Granted some of them could carry these tunes, but they have to come out from their comfort zones and show that they are also versatile in singing other genres. What I could not understand was why did the girls sing “Kesetiaan“, when they jolly well could not maintain the execution of the R&B style that goes along with the song??? None of them actually progressed singing that song, throughout my four hours there.

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Then there is that problem of replicating the original singer’s voice and funnily enough, those who replicated were mostly females. You had the Ziana Zain wannabes, the Mazleela pretenders, the Elly Mazlein impersonators and of course you’ll definitely have a like-for-like voice clone of Siti Nurhaliza. How I wish they would be more original in their delivery of songs, rather than keep to the original state. They have to remember that people would want to remember them as them, not another wannabe. Some of them, even when they were singing the very first word of the song, you could easily guess whether they would progress or not. I was constantly shaking my head when I felt a contestant wasn’t good enough and nodding when he / she deserved to go through. More often than not, the jury’s decisions coincided with mine.

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As for style-wise, the contestants were well-dressed in general though I kinda frowned on guys wearing bermuda slacks and those who came wearing slippers / flip-flops. Hello, where is your respect towards the competition??? Where is your respect towards something you dream of and hope to achieve??? Where is your self-respect for all that mattered??? This kind of laid-back attitude should not be glaring for all to see and I really have to applaud Eddy Ali (for once) for telling off one of the female contestants who was wearing something as though she was off to her nearby convenience store. If you do not show some self-worth, then please do not expect the audience to root for you in time to come and I hope that those who progress in the competition would learn from this.

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He had style, from his haircut to his dressing. A pity that PSP holder spoilt his overall outlook. He did not progress simply because his diction was not good and he had no sense of rhythm when he sang Scan‘s “Kau Dipaksa Aku Terpaksa“. However, I applaud George for being brave enough to enter a Malay singing competition.

Another thing I would like to touch on is homework and research. Just because singing only requires you to open your mouth and tune the words doesn’t mean you can get away with lack of initiative to expand your knowledge. Too many songs were sung from years gone by and when the judges asked to sing songs from the present, more often than not, they would be lost and trying to find the words to the lyrics of the songs that flashed in their heads. They should have at least prepared three songs they are comfortable with, of which two should be current. All they needed to do was surf around the region’s music charts and find out which songs are in. Or listen to the radio on a daily basis. Is that too much to ask for??? And please do your homework on the true origins of a song. “Kau Pergi Jua” was made famous by Adam Ahmad, not Dinodi or even Dayang Nurfaizah and even though Innuendo gave “Belaian Jiwa” a more soothing tune to the original, it is still widely known as Carefree‘s. Even if you wanted to sing the way the more present singers do, you’re not up to scratch, sorry to say.

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He progressed to the next round…

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And so did she…

Then, we have those who tried to be original but ended up sounding fake. I’m referring to those who when singing Indonesian songs, also following the style of the original singer. For example, the letter “S” should not be pronounced as “Sh”. The simple word “siapa” can end up sounding “shiapa” and that’s not music to the ears. It’s a bloody turn off I tell you!!! And some of them could cut down on the slang during singing. Not only that, one should also move / prance / dance according to the mood of the song. I just don’t understand why there should be a lot of movement when the song is a downright sappy ballad. I still remember one contestant was labelled “Over” by Eddy Ali and again, he was right. For a song as slow as what he sang, he was dancing as though the song was injected a faster tempo to it.

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The guy who was “over”…

For the record, the auditions and subsequent weekly rounds will be hosted by resident hosts Fauzie Laily and Fiza O. At yesterday’s event, they were ably assisted by RIA 897FM deejay KC, who acted as the time filler host during the intermissions as well as Lina Farhana, one of the Anugerah Skrin finalists who acts as a roving host. I’m not sure if the latter is in this temporarily or throughout the competition, but if it’s a permanent one for the whole event, then it should be a good platform for her to spread her wings in this industry. From my observations of her recorded segment outside the building, reporting on the registration process, her vibrancy and zest needs to come from within. But she can be forgiven as she is regarded as a newbie and would do well to improve as she goes along. She just needs to look at how Fiza O started off and how she has improved over the years.

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A familiar face spotted in the crowd, none other than our national footballer, Khairul Amri

The event was not complete without the airing of the latest Anugerah theme song entitled “Bintang Anugerahku“, sung by Aliff Aziz, Eka Mairina & Hyrul Anuar. I think it is apt that they chose the past three winners of the competition to sing this song, giving positive hope to those entering the competition this year that they too could possibly record a similar-themed tune in time to come. The song was composed by Sleeq and the lyrics were penned by the combined efforts of both Sleeq and Zaharian Osman. Naturally the song sounded a bit like their hit single “Cun Saja“, especially the introductory part of it.

I met two familiar people who entered the competition…

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Eddy, who works at the California Fitness outlet that I frequent, was unlucky not to go through…

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But Emelya who is a big fan of local talents, progressed through her excellent rendition of Agnes Monica‘s “Matahariku“, the best amongst all the female contestants who sang the same song througout my four hours at the event…

Next weekend, the numbers will dwindle down and by the end of next Sunday 10 May 2009, we will get to know who would be in the Top 20 and duke it out in the weekly rounds, starting from 9 June 2009 onwards. So for those of you who have some spare time and would like to see the next big thing in the local entertainment industry, come on down to East Point Mall today and next weekend. Oh lest I forget, Suria is also selling the official Anugerah t-shirts and a pair of wristbands at $15.00 and $4.50 respectively. If you buy two t-shirts, you will get the pair of wristbands free. Hurry!!! While stocks last!!!

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P.S. Thank you to Siti Zalinah of Mediacorp Suria for the kind assistance and information rendered.

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Our hosts say, “See you in the upcoming auditions!!!”…

Anugerah 2009 – Promising Or Otherwise???

I apologise if I have disappeared over the past fortnight, in fact the past month as I was tied down with both work and situations at home which called for my pressing concerns. When I was more free, blogging was the last thing on my mind. Hence why this blog seemed to be dead. I wouldn’t lie and say that during the time away, thoughts of packing it in did cross my mind. With the popularity of Facebook and now Twitter, blogging seems to have lost its zest in me. Luckily I’m doing this on a hobby basis but I hope none of you out there actually crave to read what is in store in my thoughts on a daily basis.

anugerah2009(banner taken off Anugerah 2009 official website)

And so I’m sure most of you have heard or read about the news and information regarding the upcoming Anugerah 2009 competition. If you have been living on a different planet or in a different realm, here’s a recap I’ve taken from the official press release of the programme:

Anugerah, one of the most anticipated TV series on Suria is back and the search for the next greatest sensation will begin soon. For the third consecutive year, the winner of the Anugerah competition will walk away with a recording opportunity with a regional record label.

This year, the Anugerah Champion will win prizes worth $250,000, which includes a recording contract with Suria Records Sdn Bhd (SRC), $10000 cash and an Artiste Management Contract with MediaCorp. The 1st runner-up will take home $120000 worth of prizes, comprising of a recording contract with Gumbira and an Artiste Management contract with MediaCorp.

Anugerah was introduced 10 years ago and has discovered many talents and bands such as Hyrul Anuar, Fauzie Laily, Syed Azmir, Aliff Aziz, Maiya Rahman and Rancour. Several of these talents have become household names and some of them have made it across the Causeway too.

Anugerah will continue to look for all rounded performers that exude charm and confidence and strong personality. The contestants will be judged by three resident judges, Ann Hussein, Eddy Ali and Gani Karim and a guest judge. The total score will be made up of the judges’ score (50%) and audience votes (50%).

Anugerah 2009 will be hosted by MediaCorp RIA 897FM’s personality Fiza O and Anugerah’s famed Fauzie Laily. The 12-episode reality series will make its debut “live” every Tuesday from 9 June 2009 at 8.30pm on Suria.

The new champion trophy for the winner is specially designed by a talented group of second year students from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA). Suria received more than 100 designs. The winning trophy will be revealed during the Grand Finals.

Anugerah registration form can be downloaded from Anugerah’s microsite at http://anugerah2009.suria.sg from Thursday 16 April to Saturday 2 May 2009 and it is also available at the following venues from Thursday 16 April 2009, during office hours (Monday to Friday at 9am to 5pm):

MediaCorp Reception (Suria) 12, Prince Edward Road
Level 5, Podium A, Bestway Building Singapore 079212 &

• MediaCorp Reception, Andrew Road,
Caldecott Broadcast Centre, Singapore 299939

Anugerah’s one-day registration opens on Saturday, 2 May 2009 at Eastpoint Mall from 9am to 3pm. Viewers and supporters are welcomed to watch the public auditions at the same venue on 2, 3, 9 and 10 May 2009.

The prizes just keep getting better with each passing year isn’t it??? You must be wondering why I came up with the abovementioned title and whether I did it just to create a bit of controversy even before the competition starts. Actually I’m happy that the prizes in store highlight how the programme has evolved and progressed over the years. However, it has to be said for all the talk about recording contracts and all, I have yet to see a resolve being made between the last Anugerah winner Aliff Aziz and his management as well as the much talked-about album release of last year’s Anugerah Band winner, Rancour. And it has taken an extremely long time for the likes of Maiya Rahman and Hyrul Anuar to come up with a full album of their own.

Not that I’m discouraging wannabe contestants into realising their dreams. But I hope that they do their respective homework as well when it comes to living the dream in this small industry of ours. They have to be 100% sure, certain, patient and have that passion burning in them, even if things are not looking good. They need that to survive when things do not seem to be rosy. I’m sure experienced hands in the industry would do well to dispense tips and guide this new batch of contestants so that past experiences could be learnt and avoided wherever that was made.

The only complaint I have with regards to the coming season is the choice of judges cos before the press release was made, the teaser that they gave to the public was we would be having a new set of judges. I quote from the official website “A new phase in Anugerah, a brand new panel of judges with new comments. Anugerah will be revealing its new line-up of critics who will have vigilant eyes, on a look out for the new Anugerah star.” Looking at the three resident judges, they certainly don’t look “brand new” to me. More a case of recycling. While Ann Hussein is very much welcomed as her views in the last season was very much spot-on, the same could not be said of the other two. Expect more cliched and oft-heard comments like “You sold the song!!!” from you-know-who. My plea to them is to be honest and cynical when they have and need to. They are afterall responsible for moulding these wannabes to be tough when it comes to receiving critical comments. Niceties could result in complacency as was evidently seen in the previous seasons.

This domain, like the previous Anugerah Band season, would be constantly active with me passing my thoughts and criticisms on the show and the contestants. And let me warn you, comments made in my blog are strictly my own personal views so for those of you who would want to get all emotional like during the Anugerah Band season, at least comment with some logic and a bit of courtesy.