Anugerah 2009 Episode 10 Review…

Anugerah

(Photo courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

Tonight, we witnessed the brutal culling of the six semi-finalists and found out who were the four who would be gracing next week’s Anugerah 2009 Grand Finals. As it was only the results show, the Mediacorp TV Theatre was a far cry from previous weeks, with the auditorium about less than half full, taking away the upper tier level. Originally it was to be held at Studio 1, like the previous half hour results show three weeks ago but since there was another recording being done there, the producers had no choice but to hold the event at the primary location.

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The show began with the six semi-finalists reprising their couple roles from last week singing “Ku Pinjam Satu Bintang” originally sung by Alyah & Riz. As it was only the results show, I guess judging their respective performances was not on my mind. But it was dead clear from the offset that their facial expressions showed how much they feared for their respective fates and destiny in this competition. Some already had that resigned look etched on their faces, that it was all over for them, somewhat of a bad omen which eventually came true in the end.

What do I think of the results??? I thought it was fair and based on my comments on last week’s show, it was clear who would be deserving of the final spots, save for the ladies whom if I had a choice, I would have taken all three in, based on their consistency throughout the competition. As it is, I think the two who were eliminated – Catty and Hydir – lost out based on the judges’ vote. Yes the fans did have a say in their choice of vote, but theirs wasn’t the final say at all, as perceived by many. 

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Rewind back to last week’s show, Hydir did nothing much wrong except that he chose a song which was too simplistic and not considered a song of “competitive” material. As for Catty, her “wardrobe mulfunction” could have contributed to her downfall but it was too easy to blame it on that for her drop in standards. I thought even with all the unwanted happenings backstage, she still atoned herself well, which said a lot about her resolve and determination to get the show on the road.

So it was a bit disheartening to hear some sections of the audience sitting in the auditorium shouting that the results were rigged. While passion should not be blinded by blind faith, a little rationale and understanding goes a long way into accepting reality as it is. This is a competition and there was no way riggings could occur as far as I could see from what was being displayed last week to what we know of the results this week. Some people need to learn to accept defeat graciously.

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Guest performer of the night, Anugerah 2007 runner-up Maiya Rahman, has upgraded her looks and performance over the years.

It is not the end of the road for both Catty and Hydir. Being 17 years of age, both still have a long way to go to improve themselves and being more polished performers. I’m sure the experience would go a long way into making them being better entertainers in time to come. With the potential that they have shown over the past weeks, other record producers might have taken notice and could have a few things in store for them. Anything is possible, so I would like to see them brush off this setback and come back stronger cos really, it was extremely heartbreaking to see both of them breaking down backstage when the show was over.

Next week, the Grand Finals will be a two hours affair with the finalists singing four songs, one of their own choice, another by the judges, another a tribute to their mentors and the last a group performance. The Finals will be graced by the likes of Aliff Aziz, Ahli Fiqir, Imran Ajmain and Noryn Aziz amongst others, making it a star-studded affair worth watching and not to be missed…

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The finalists…

Anugerah 2009 Episode 9 Review (Semi-Finals)

AnuSemis

(Photo courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

Now that I’ve gotten myself a new handphone, I can finally start on reviewing the semi-final rounds of Anugerah 2009 this past Tuesday 28th July 2009 at the Mediacorp TV Theatre. I guess there’s no point in hoping and dwelling over something you know you don’t have any powers over except for that glimmer of hope that people out there would be kind and responsible enough to return what’s not theirs to the rightful owners. Anyway, this week, the judging panel is joined by popular 80s singer Othman Hamzah as the guest judge for this week’s show.

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The show began with five of the six semi-finalists appearing on stage, with Catty conspicuously missing. As revealed by Catty herself in Wednesday night’s interview on RIA 89.7FM during KC‘s “Klub Kelakar Seram” segment, she suffered a “wardrobe mulfunction”, hence the delay to appear on stage as planned. So take it at face value from the horse’s mouth. At least she made it in time when the moment came for her to perform, which was the most important thing. Everything else was secondary. The “wardrobe mulfunction” could have happened due to the flooding over at the Basement 4 Lift Lobby prior to the show.

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This week, for the first time in the competition’s history, the semi-final rounds required the contestants to sing whilst being accompanied by a live band. It was interesting to see how people like Wawan and Kunjung would perform without having the “power” to “dictate” how the arrangement of the songs were to be done, as was seen from their previous performances in this competition. It was also intriguing to see how they would perform with a live band cos certain singers, especially the newbies, only perform well when they have a minus one accompanying them. Coupled with the cacophony of noise created by the different sets of fans in the auditorium, you know the competition would either push the contestants to their limits or make them succumb to the relentless pressure.

The following are the voting formats for the contestants:

  • SMS to 73388: ANU Contestant Code
  • Telepoll: 1900-112-770_ (Last digit being contestant’s number)

Each vote via SMS or Telepoll costs $0.60 each and those with prepaid cards are not able to cast your votes. Voters who are 18 years and below should seek parental permission. This service is brought to you by MediaCorp Pte Ltd. Tel: 6877 7132.

Voting for contestants appearing in Episode 9 began on Tuesday28 July 2009, 8.30pm till Tuesday, 4 August 2009, 6pm. These are the following codes you should vote for this week, along with my individual reviews of their performances:

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Hydir Idris

SMS to 73388: ANU 1 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7701

Hydir was surprisingly subdued this week, from my own personal perspective. He sang a song that did not challenge his vocals at all and was too safe for my liking. Yes, he did not make any mistakes singing Taufik and Hady‘s “KepadaNya“, but the casual manner in which he performed the song showed that he might be resting on his laurels a bit. Hydir is capable of doing so much more, even hitting the high notes with nonchalant ease in previous rounds, but this song I felt was a wrong choice as it was too simple. He has to remember that based on the charts from the previous round, he was the lowest standing contestant. He had better hope that the young ladies out there would vote for him in abundance.

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Kunjung Whitaker

SMS to 73388: ANU 2 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7702

The judges’ favourite contestant sang Kris Dayanti‘s “Cahaya“. Somehow I felt she was holding back something. It wasn’t her usual performance which we have come to love and expect from the competition’s consistently best performer. Her lower registers were very much suspect and for once, we could see that she did not look comfortable on stage. Was it because the key to the music that accompanied her was not constant??? Was it because jitters got to her??? We will never know, but this performance by Kunjung wasn’t the best we’ve seen of her these past few weeks.

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Hydir & Kunjung – Singing “Kau Muzik Di Hatiku” made popular by Jaclyn Victor and Vince, both of them actually reminded me of Anuar Zain & Ellina in their youths. Though there was chemistry and a little more energy from both of them as compared to their earlier individual performances, I felt that it was more of a “sibling” pair performing then a supposed pair of lovebirds. Hydir was pitchy and his voice was nearly “lost” towards the end but I thought Kunjung redeemed herself well and it was much better from her in this particular duet.

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Wawan

SMS to 73388: ANU 3 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7703

Regulars of this blog would perceive that I sound as though I have an axe to grind whenever I review Wawan‘s performances. Fret not, cos this week I am proud to announce that Wawan actually came alive and blossomed singing Diorama‘s “Sanubariku“. The performance was brilliant, it was intensed at the right moments, the emotions exuded were spot-on and he captured our imaginations so well, that I thought, for the first time, I might be looking at the possible champion. His unique style in itself is his strength and being constantly amongst the top in the weekly charts, I will not be surprised if this boy is to grace the Grand Finals in less than a fortnight. At times he reminded me of Faizal Tahir, but Wawan has the potential to be his own person when the time comes for him to colour our music industry.

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Catty 

SMS to 73388: ANU 4 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7704

The mark of a professional singer is that they do not let any off-stage happenings affect their performance on stage. For that, Catty deserves every bit of applause for not allowing her apparent “wardrobe mulfunction” get to her. I thought she sang Mila‘s “Persis Mutiara” much better than the original, but there were three instances I detected her making mistakes which is unheard of from her before this, whereby her voice cracked as she was breaking into the chorus of the song, trying to match up to the change in key to the song during the chorus and forgetting the lyrics, but covering it up well towards the end.

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Wawan & Catty – I think this pairing simply rocked. They gave the impression that they were two lovebirds hotly in love with each other. Singing Dafi and Gita Gutawa‘s “Dua Hati Menjadi Satu“, one could see how much they were enjoying themselves and bouncing off each other’s energy. But it has to be said that Wawan was a bit suspect singing the low notes whilst harmonising with Catty, at times resulting in his voice becoming flat. I did not agree at first with Othman Hamzah‘s comments on Wawan going flat what with the audience cheering and drowning his voice, but when I watched their performance again at home, I tend to agree with the veteran singer.

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Chirul 

SMS to 73388: ANU 5 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7705

A lot has been said about Chirul‘s appearance in the semi-final rounds prior to the show, with most people raising their eyebrows at the results, me included. But I thought this past Tuesday night, he proved once and for all why he deserved to be there with a very matured performance singing ST12‘s “Tak Ada Apa-Apa“. I think this was his best performance to date, dancing when he had to (when previously I did not see the need to in his previous performances), and just enjoying himself by milking away the audience’s energy and turning it into his own. The voice, his voice, is delectably creamy for his age.

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Sarah Aqilah

SMS to 73388: ANU 6 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7706

Sarah did not get the best of starts when she forgot the lyrics to the first line of one of my current favourite songs “Tak Mungkin Kerna Sayang” by Alyah. But as the performance progressed, so did Sarah and she went on to lend justice to the song. On a night where the ladies were all surprisingly making mistakes here and there, Sarah was the one who got the judges’ vote on being the best female of the night, and may I add, by virtue of making the least mistakes. Sarah would do well to not forget the lyrics since this was not the first time in the competition she succumbed to it.

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Chirul & Sarah  – Before they performed Rossa & Pasha‘s “Terlanjur Cinta“, I was a bit sceptical how this possible “sibling” pairing could upstage the pairing before them. But lo!!! Along with the judges and whoever agrees with me out there, I was blown away by their cool and romantic performance. They might not look into each other’s eyes for long to create some kind of sizzle (and to avoid laughing at themselves as was revealed by Sarah during their radio interview when she said she cannot look at his face for long, lest she would burst out laughing), but their controlled vocal power and harmonising were enough to make most of us swoon and say they were the best two of the night.

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Next Tuesday, the results show will last about half an hour. Two of them will be eliminated and it will be up to the voters now to determine who makes it to the Grand Finals in less than a fortnight.

Anugerah 2009 Episode 7 Review…

Anugerah

(Photo courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

Week 7 of the current Anugerah 2009 season was a short affair, to announce the semi-finalists as well as those who have earned a reprieve by getting a spot to prove themselves once again in the Wildcard Round next week. Honestly at the start of the show, the excitement got to me, to the point my hands were all cold and clammy. Seeing them on a weekly basis, you just cannot make a definite decision on who you personally want to go through or who would progress based on judges’ comments and the votes that they garner through their loyal fanbase.

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The contestants practising on their harmonising before the show started…

Based on logic through the supporters’ votes as well as the judges’ previous comments, I had initially plumped for Wawan, Hydir Idris, Catty and Nora Baharom to get a shoo-in into the semi-finals. Trust me, it was tough to call especially with regards to the ladies, as you cannot discount the likes of Kunjung and Sarah Aqilah who have also been very consistent in their weekly performances. I omitted Kunjung and Sarah, not because I did not like them nor what they had offered to us through their consistent performances, but simply because of the votes factor and based on their previous standings, the former especially so, as I wasn’t sure that the voting masses would want a non-Singaporean to win the competition.

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The ones eliminated since Episode 1 – 4, from left: Shera, Yanie, Asila, Ain, Izam, Afyq and IzeMel was conspicuously absent. Word has it she was uncontactable…

As the results were announced, it was a relief that Kunjung got through to the semi-finals cos if she had fallen by the wayside and gotten a reprieve to the Wildcard, I’m afraid the other two female contestants who would fill in the other two quotas in the round might probably be there as token representations. Why I say this is not because the competition is weak nor the other girls are not good, but because the judges have always praised Kunjung being in a league of her own week in and out. If she were to enter the Wildcard Round, which will solely be judged by the panel of jury, her spot in the semi-finals would arguably be more or less assured, with all due respect to the judges’ intuition and sound judgment and most definitely not undermining them nor questioning their respective integrities. 

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The only surprise of the four assured semi-finalists would be none other than Chirul. I certainly did not see that coming, nor did most of the people seated in Studio 1, the venue of the night’s episode, a stark difference from the bigger TV Theatre that we’re used to weekly. Hydir‘s surprise omission could have been due to his fanbase being a little complacent with the votes, it could also have been due to his previous performance which judge Eddy Ali had proclaimed as “dull”. Spare a thought too for the ever consistent Azhar Raz whose apparent downfall could have been attributed to a weaker fanbase. No disrespect to Chirul, but he needs to work hard to justify his place in the semi-finals, cos this is one glaring example where fan support could upset the applecart.

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Nonetheless there is still the Wildcard Round and based on my initial predictions, the line-up for the round for me would have been Kunjung, Sarah Aqilah, Azhar Raz, Chirul, Ize Suliman and a toss-up between Yanie, Shera and Nani. Why I chose Yanie was because I felt she was eliminated too early when she actually has one of the nicest tones in the competition. Give her a traditional song and she might actually ace it and it is widely known that those who can carry a traditional tune would have no problems singing songs of other genres. A living example would be a famous Dato’ from across the Causeway. No prizes for guessing who.

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Shera though we only saw her in Episode 1, I felt she deserved to be given a chance as I believe based on what I heard of her in that round, she did not do much wrong other than lost out on supporters’ votes. Also we have to remember that Episode 1 was not a good gauge of the contestants’ abilities as they only sang a few lines, which for viewers to judge, would be difficult to assess the singer as a whole. Nani on the other hand I felt could have been given a reprieve based on the fact that if she were to put her mind into it, like the one she performed with Kunjung and Nora last week, she could actually stand toe to toe with the rest. Well these are just my humble opinions and you’re welcome to digress.

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Awaiting their respective fates…

As it is, the Wildcard Round now reads Azhar Raz, Hydir Idris, Ize Suliman, Sarah Aqilah, Nora Baharom and Asila Osmera. You know, it just gets tougher by the week even in this round, as the playing field is more or less equal and only one male and one female contestant will advance to the semi-finals. As I had mentioned earlier, this round will solely be judged by the judges and no sms votes is needed. As opposed to the past month or so, in this round, the theme will return to square one, which is open, meaning they can sing songs by a Malaysian, Indonesian or Singaporean artiste.

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The six Wildcarders (from left): Sarah Aqilah, Asila Osmera, Nora Baharom, Ize Suliman, Hydir Idris and Azhar Raz…

I thought the night would end quickly since the show was afterall only worth half an hour. But how wrong I was!!! It turned out to be the longest I’ve stayed throughout the competition. This was because about half an hour after the show had ended, the ten contestants who are still in the competition, had to attend a getting-to-know and understanding session with various personalities from the media industry namely Ms. Aidli Alin Mosbit, the editor of Manja magazine, Ms. Hanim Md Salleh, the Entertainment Desk Correspondent for Berita Harian / Berita Minggu, Mr. Daud Yusof representing television’s Malay News & Current Affairs desk, Ms. Isadhora Mohamed, Programme Director of Warna 94.2FM and Mr Noor Azlan Salim, from Mediacorp‘s Corporate Communications who chaired the session.

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I think this session with the media was fruitful for all the contestants. In fact if this was reached out to the others who had been eliminated as well, it would also be beneficial to them to understand how the media works and how they can prepare themselves when facing the media or the public in future. This session was also for the various representatives to observe the contestants and give valuable pointers on what to expect when facing media from different platforms. I think the words “being true to themselves“, “be honest“, “be media-savvy“, “be learned and well prepared” could not have been drummed further into their heads cos these are factors that they should abide by once they are in the public eye.

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Ms. Isadhora Mohamed could not have said it better when she pointed out the fact that when they enter a Malay singing competition, they are automatically expected to increase their knowledge and usage of the language. Another thing I would like to add on is how they could refine certain words so that they do not come across as crude, even though the meaning of the words are similar. An example was given by one of the male contestants (I will not reveal his identity), who during his introductory speech had described his love for animals. The word that he used was “binatang“. Alternatively he could have made it sound a little nicer and more polite by saying “haiwan“. Even if he had wanted to use the word “binatang“, he could have added the word “peliharaan” after that to indicate docile animals we can keep as pets.

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Kunjung introducing herself to the panel…

Yes, they need to increase their vocabulary and be more aware of the words they use to describe their thoughts so as not to come across as crude, knowing or unknowingly. But the guy could be forgiven cos he is afterall a media novice. Likewise the other contestants who peppered the panel of media representatives with innocent questions some of us might regard as trivial or common sense that needed no questioning nor query in the first place. I’m sure through time and experience, under the tutelage and guidance of their manager and the people who work closely with them, the contestants would be more confident and able to hone their skills in conversational speech during interviews or press conferences.

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Azhar doing his own introductions…

Sitting through the session was like a refresher course for me and I was instantly reminded of the entry I did on “Be True To Yourselves” at times, cos some of the points I brought up in that entry were repeated to the contestants. Clear examples of existing local artistes doing stupid things knowing or unknowingly that could jeopardise their career, reputation and personal characters, were highlighted in the hope that these young upstarts would not repeat the same mistakes. 

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Catty doing the honours whilst Nora smiled in anticipation…

The main point that they should always remember is that they are a representation of their family, the community, their record companies, the products they endorse, the artiste management they are under and the list goes on. I think the phrase “With great power comes great responsibility” from the Spiderman movie could not have been more apt. I really applaud such a move to have this session for them to learn how to look after themselves and how to sell themselves via the media.

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To the other contestants who have been eliminated and did not receive any opportunity to redeem yourselves, please do not be disheartened and to use the experience to better yourselves for future endeavours. I know some of you still pine for success in this line. Use the knowledge that you’ve gained to improve on your weaknesses and you will come back stronger than ever. Remember, this competition is not the be all and end all and there are other avenues to pursue your dreams. Work on it and the industry will be more colourful with your presence in time to come. For those who do not wish to pursue your singing aspirations further, enjoy the memories and friendships that you earned throughout the competition. I wish each and every one of you success in your future undertakings.

Anugerah 2009 Episode 6 Review…

Anugerah

(Photo courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

I’m back again with another review. Throughout the night sitting in the Mediacorp TV Theatre, I was racking my brains trying to find words to describe the show as a whole. And it dawned on me that this entry is not gonna be so lengthy as previous ones, cos I believe a lot has been said in the past, and to repeat some of the points will only make me sound like a broken record. It was interesting to see if the female contestants last night would maintain their high standards a fortnight ago or would they raise the stakes even higher or fall a notch lower due to pressure of the competition.

Anyway, it’s nice to see that there are a few blogs or sites giving their opinions on Anugerah 2009 and its contestants with every episode. I’ve always maintained that all these sites add colour with their different perspectives and approach. Though our opinions might defer, I believe all of us complement each other and I see no form of competition, in the form of ratings or popularity. This is how media should be like. Where one is perceived to lack or come up as short, and I agree my domain has its own shortcomings, the other adds a different value or dimension with their strengths. Respect and salutations are in order to all.

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Last night, Indra Shahrir reprised his role as last week’s guest judge along with the three resident judges. Like the previous week also, the theme for tonight was “Ikon“, of the Singaporean female version. The female contestants paid tribute to two of our living legends, Anita Sarawak and Rahimah Rahim, singing some of the hits that made these respectable divas household names even to this day. Most definitely and as cliche as it may sound, the challenge on the girls last night was to improve from the last round and prove that it was no flash in the pan. The following are the voting formats for the female contestants:

  • SMS to 73388: ANU Contestant Code
  • Telepoll: 1900-112-770_ (Last digit being contestant’s number)

Each vote via SMS or Telepoll costs $0.60 each and those with prepaid cards are not able to cast your votes. Voters who are 18 years and below should seek parental permission. This service is brought to you by MediaCorp Pte Ltd. Tel: 6877 7132.

Voting for contestants appearing in Episode 6 began on Tuesday7 July 2009, 8.30pm till Tuesday, 14 July 2009, 6pm. These are the following codes you should vote for this week, along with my individual reviews of their performances:

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HAFIZAH NASER

SMS to 73388: ANU 1 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7701

The “Queen of Wigs” or the judges’ “Cili Padi” was given the honour to open the round this time. I had half expected Kunjung to be singing Anita Sarawak‘s “Seksis“, but the impetus was instead taken up by Hafizah to kick start the show. While the energy was good, her vocals did not match her power in showmanship and her nimbleness in dancing. It was another spunky performance as we know that Hafizah is capable of, but it came up short as she was chasing the tempo in certain parts of the song, resulting in her being breathless and at times, flat.

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SARAH AQILAH

SMS to 73388: ANU 2 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7702

After the highs of the previous round, Sarah Aqilah had earned the tag of “Power Balladeer” by the judges and she followed that up with an almost consistent performance singing Anita Sarawak‘s “Bawalah Daku Pergi“. I used the words “almost consistent” because she sounded a bit suspect on the lower registers, maybe due to jitters, but she was simply perfect on the higher notes. Just that her performance last night did not radiate the same aura that she exuded two weeks ago. I agreed with the judges that she was too comfortable for her own good and needs to diversify to show her versatility.

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CATTY

SMS to 73388: ANU 3 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7703

Catty should be applauded for heeding the advice of the judges to try singing a song of a more upbeat tempo. She was commendably good as we know what her vocals are made of, but she was a bit hesitant to go all out with the dance moves, perhaps mindful of her vocals going off. Looking at Catty last night actually reminded me of watching Liza Hanim. There was just something about Catty, I dunno if it was the outfit, the moves, the facial expressions, the vocals or even the performance as a whole, which reminded me of the vocal powerhouse from Klang. But Catty should learn to enjoy the performance and not come off as tensed, cos that’s what she was tonight and it showed in her glum expressions at certain points.

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NORA

SMS to 73388: ANU 4 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7704

Nora continues to impress weekly and I for one am astounded that her vocal techniques seem to improve as she progresses. Like a graphical indicator on a chart that continues to rise.  Ann Hussein told her to open up and express herself more. I dunno how singing a sappy song like Anita‘s “Bisikanlah Cinta” should make her be more expressive but I do notice a certain pose which Nora is fond of doing. If Dayang Nurfaizah is fond of pointing with her index fingers whilst singing, Nora is fond of clenching her fists whilst performing on stage. That’s something which I feel could possibly be a trademark.

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NANI

SMS to 73388: ANU 5 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7705 

During the introductory video montage prior to her performance, Nani had said that she was to sing Rahimah Rahim‘s “Jika Begini“. That recorded footage was taken last Wednesday. Somehow, there was some technical complications and she only got her confirmation on singing a different song, “Bebas“, only on Saturday. It seemed something was etched at the back of her mind as she came off a little unfocused. Watching her live and then watching the tape when I got home and considering the trouble she had to go through having lesser days to practice on the song, I’d like to think that she actually did ok, but it was patchy at best. I think moving around and having to dance in those high heels also affected her vocals somewhat.

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KUNJUNG

SMS to 73388: ANU 6 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7706 

The star of the night by a mile. The moment I heard that the theme for tonight would pay a tribute to Anita Sarawak and Rahimah Rahim, I just knew whose song she would perform, knowing what a class act she is. And seeing that she was the last contestant, it was no surprise that she was in a position to blow away the whole competition. Like Wawan, Kunjung loves taking risks in changing the style of the song that she is supposed to sing. One thing Wawan can emulate from Kunjung is to be consistent with his vocals even when he alters a song to suit his tastes. Her rendition reminded me of Farah Asyikin‘s “Di Pangkuan Pilu“, slow on the off and then exploding halfway through. As polished as Kunjung is, again I must say, I am worried for her as I have seen on the Net people clamouring for a Singaporean to win the competition. Personally I feel people should just respect the rules and appreciate genuine talent when they see one. Music should afterall transcend borders and nationalities.

Group Performances:

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For the first group which consisted of Hafizah, Sarah Aqilah and Catty, the standout in terms of showmanship had to be given to the former for her display of exuberance performing Rahimah‘s “Gadis & Bunga“. Hafizah just packs so much energy and nimbleness in that small frame. Sarah and Catty, even though they were good vocally, somehow failed to match Hafizah‘s energy since the song called for them to be a little more outgoing. Sarah and Catty need to be braver at letting themselves go when it comes to a song of a more upbeat tempo.

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The second group??? What can I say about their performance singing Anita‘s “Antara Yang Manis“??? When you have strong vocal exponents in Nora and Kunjung in it, even Nani who was patchy earlier on, stood toe to toe with her group members in terms of showmanship, harmony and individual vocal ability. If Nani had maintained this form earlier on, who is to say she doesn’t deserve a spot in the semi-finals??? This was easily the best group performance throughout the competition so far and only enhanced Nora and Kunjung‘s reputation, while redeeming Nani‘s as well. Another thing that grabbed the attention of the people around me during the performance was Kunjung‘s posture at the end of the item.

Summary

As much as Indra Shahrir tried to neutralise the impact made by the young ladies as compared to the young men and said it was 50-50 to him, I’m sure most of us would agree that the female contestants still maintained their grip as the better performers amongst the genders. Though my hairs did not stand as in the previous round and I always use it to gauge how well I’m blown away by any performance, Kunjung came close to making me experience that in her solo segment. She is definitely in a league of her own and I hope that people would look beyond trivial barriers like nationalities to crown the champion. Remember the onus is on you to choose who is best suited to represent us in future and I don’t mean just by performing in annual Salam Lebarans.

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From the previous weeks’ group performances, there were signs that we were seeing better coordination, synergy and team work between the contestants as the weeks progressed. As harsh as most of us were with regards to their performances as a group, we should all at least try to understand that these young upstarts are no professionals. They are not even at the stage where they can say they are learning to walk. However, in terms of effort and wanting to learn, you can see that they do listen to the judges’ comments and try to apply them in their following performances.

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One thing I’m thankful enough to be given the opportunity to cover the weekly shows is for me to get to know some of the contestants and learn a bit on what they do between one show to another. And learning dance steps, being aware of formations, having to sing and even having to do little skits during their performances in the space of a few days is no easy matter. Which is why there is a difference in the way I review this season’s Anugerah as compared to the previous one, in that I’ve observed and learnt without being too critical as before.

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Next week we will learn which of the top 2 male and female contestants get a shoo-in into the semi-finals. We would also learn which of the six eliminated so far in the Top 20 would get a chance to redeem themselves in the Wildcard Round to be scheduled in a fortnight’s time and earn the last two spots in the semi-finals. Till then, keep those votes coming in for the ladies…

Anugerah 2009 Episode 5 Review…

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(Photo courtesy of Anugerah 2009’s Official Website)

Finally I get the chance to review the previous day’s episode. Apologies if some of you had entered this domain only to find that I have not updated it with my thought’s on the programme. Before I move on, I would just like to take this opportunity to apologise to the people around me on Tuesday night for not switching off my handphone, cos I totally forgot that it was not on silent mode. It was a bit embarrassing really, especially when you’re seated at the front row. I’ll make sure the same thing won’t happen again the next time.

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The show continued its ode to Singaporean artistes by honouring the likes of Ramli Sarip, Jatt Ali and Othman Hamzah in the “Ikon” theme set for this week and the next, when the young ladies take centrestage again. I think one of the positive aspects of this year’s reality show is that there is that push to include more local songs into the mix and for that I applaud Mediacorp Suria for taking such a stand. By honouring these evergreen songs in these two weeks, it gives the younger generation the opportunity to learn what their parents had listened to back in their heydays.

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The resident jury of Eddy Ali, Ann Hussein and Gani Karim were joined by guest judge Indra Sharir, no stranger at all to our local music scene. I like his commenting style, meticulous and rather serious. Whenever he commented, it felt as though you could hear a pin drop. Such was the silent intensity the auditorium felt whenever he opened his mouth to speak. Surprisingly so far, I have nothing gravely negative to comment about judge Eddy Ali as in years past, cos I tend to agree with most of his comments on the contestants.

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I think the only complaint, or plea for that matter, that I want to make, cos I know they are gonna read this, is for the contestants to inform their sets of supporters to be more cultured when they are in the auditorium. I saw a great improvement from the last time the male contestants took centrestage, whereby their rowdy and boisterous supporters could not keep their mouths shut even when the hosts were talking or when the judges were giving their opinions.

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Yesterday, we did not experience any wisecracks or unwanted comments from them. However, one incident left a sour taste in the mouth. During one of the transmission breaks, some of the female contestants made their way to the washrooms. Some of these heavily-induced testosterone jerks took the opportunity to race down from their seats to the walking gallery and screamed the girls’ names right in front of their faces. Such gentlemanly act, don’t you think??? Idiots!!!

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The ones who qualified to the next round…

The first quarter of the show however had the spotlights on the young ladies who performed last week. It was one that I think most people dreaded to know, me included, cos all of them were great last week and set the bar for the whole competition. I’m sure it would be gut wrenching for the two eliminated cos they certainly do not deserve to go out. But a competition no matter how intense or mild it is, is still a competition. And results sometimes are too ruthless to digest. C’est la vie mademoiselles!!!

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Yanie looked forlorn even before the results were announced…

The first to be eliminated was Yanie. I wasn’t too pleased about it, neither was Ms. Manager who was seated to my right covering for Gumbira.com, cos both of us like Yanie‘s tone and uniqueness in bringing a song in her own original style. However, at the same time, I wasn’t too surprised since the judges did not give her good reviews last week, particularly Ann Hussein, who seemed as though she had an axe to grind with Yanie, if you had watched last week’s episode.

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Asila too looked grim…

As for Asila, when it came down to her or Kunjung, it was no surprise that she would go, since the judges were so into the latter’s performance last week. Also, even though I said Asila did well last week, on hindsight when I watched the repeat telecast last Friday night, she did come across as pitchy in quite a few areas so in that respect it was inevitable. Coupled with the fact that both Asila and Yanie were in the bottom two (consolidated rankings based on judges’ scores and sms votes) when they performed in Episode 1, it was hardly surprising that fanbase also played a part in their elimination.

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Nani was all smiles knowing she emerged first in the rankings…

Before I delve into the gentlemen’s performances, the following are the voting formats for the contestants:

  • SMS to 73388: ANU Contestant Code
  • Telepoll: 1900-112-770_ (Last digit being contestant’s number)

Each vote via SMS or Telepoll costs $0.60 each and those with prepaid cards are not able to cast your votes. Voters who are 18 years and below should seek parental permission. This service is brought to you by MediaCorp Pte Ltd. Tel: 6877 7132.

Voting for contestants appearing in Episode 5 began on Tuesday, 30 June 2009, 8.30pm till Tuesday, 7 July 2009, 6pm. These are the following codes you should vote for this week, along with my individual reviews of their performances:

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Azhar Raz

SMS to 73388: ANU 1 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7701

Azhar sang Black Dog Bone‘s “Andai” in his own style, which at times reminded me of Anugerah 2001 winner Rudy Djoharnaen, in the way he expressed his emotions while singing the song. Week in and out, Azhar never fails to impress with his immaculate voice control. He has an extremely polished technique that I would definitely loathe not to see him grace the Grand Finals on 11th August 2009. His downside is perhaps his looks, which could be a major factor when it comes to voting by viewers out there who I could see are more into Hydir and Sein. Like Catty, he needs to sing a song of faster tempo to challenge his vocals and performances. Ballads are becoming chicken feed for him.

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Kamsani Jumahat

SMS to 73388: ANU 2 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7702

During the start of the show when they did the initial introductions on the contestants, there was only one person I was reminded of when I looked at Sani. Yes people, his whole get up reminded me of the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson. The late singer’s wardrobe used to have similar-styled outfits like what Sani wore last night. But if his performance and dance moves to Othman Hamzah‘s “Gadis Melayu” were anything to go by, I am still seeing Hyrul Anuar in Sani, but slightly more hyper. Sani did well to conquer the whole stage, his last performance where the judges commented on him not doing that, was definitely taken to consideration and applied. Though I liked the prancing around and crowd interaction, his vocals suffered as he was left breathless and found wanting. It doesn’t help that at certain points, most notable when he had to reach the high notes, his nasal voice was clear for all to hear.

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Chirul

SMS to 73388: ANU 3 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7703

Chirul was at best, mediocre in the last round, and it was there for all to see with his lacklustre showing, which did not do justice to Fauzie Laily‘s “Selalu“. But he was a different creature last night, a more confident and cool performance which I know he is capable of. However, it was slightly spoilt when he played to the crowd by breaking into a short dance move ala Taufik Batisah after singing the first few lines. A song like Ramli Sarip‘s “Bukan Kerna Nama” should be more melancholic, but not too stoic. He needs to inject a little bit of seriousness to the kind of songs he sings in future if he wants people to take him seriously. While he did much better than the previous round, he still fell slightly short and sounded too casual at certain points.

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Wawan

SMS to 73388: ANU 4 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7704

By now, rearranging the songs that he is supposed to sing has become a regular fixture in his repertoire. There are two ways to look at this trait in Wawan. First off, he will be a decent composer in time to come when he has all the time to compose songs. But right now, he has to remember that his vocals are under scrutiny. If in future he composes his own song to his tastes, then so be it. But when he sings somebody else’s compositions, he has to follow the standards set by the original composer, even if he rearranged it to his style and is required to sound more original than the original. He came off a wee bit short on the lower registers. I cannot fault him on the high notes though, as well as the intense facial expressions when singing Jatt‘s “Merpati Putih“, cos he put an incredible amount of emotions into the song.

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Hydir

SMS to 73388: ANU 5 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7705

The crowd favourite sang Sweet Charity‘s “Teratai” with so much intensity on his face, that I felt at times he seemed to be overdoing it. Even when the judges were speaking to him, he had with him a mixture of confused, “blur” and surprised look, the kind which is becoming a source of irritation for yours truly watching him weekly. Hey, I don’t deny the fact that amongst all the guys, he has the most promise, potential and marketing ability to win this competition, but he would do well to tone it down lest others might think that he’s acting cute, when he already is to the swooning young ladies out there. His vocals I felt were on par as the previous round, a surprise really to hear the judges saying he fell a notch lower this time. He is another one who needs to challenge himself by singing a song of a more upbeat tempo to show his versatility.

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Sein

SMS to 73388: ANU 6 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7706

Being the last one standing amongst the veterans of this competition, I expected more from Sein, because he impressed me the most in the audition rounds amongst the likes of Ize, Izam and Harman. Right now, he is playing with fire and I for one am thinking he is being extremely gullible to the fact that he has only his looks to bank on and his fans to save him from elimination. Bearing in mind only the top two will progress to the semi-final rounds, he needs a very strong fan support to help him progress cos I’m very sure the judges were not at all pleased with his performance. Other than forgetting his lyrics and doing the unnecessary moves towards the end of singing Sweet Charity‘s “Zakiah” (which was sung in the same arrangement as Jinbara‘s version), there was nothing outstanding about Sein‘s performance other than the word “Elimination” staring right back at him. In such a critical stage like this, the small mistakes are magnified, especially when the rest have set a certain amount of standard to follow.

Group Performance:

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Group 1 consisting of Azhar, Kamsani and Chirul sang Black Dog Bone‘s “Anekaragam“. Their performance showed how they were enjoying themselves on stage. Azhar impressed as usual with his vocals, Chirul with his theatrics and Sani with his dance moves. Harmony-wise I thought they were better than the second group. Watching the three of them reminded me of P. Ramlee, S. Samsudin and Aziz Sattar in Bujang Lapok. They had the crowd in stitches with their antics.

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Wawan, Hydir and Sein in Group 2 sang Sweet Charity‘s “Jangan Lama-Lama“. Surprisingly, Sein was a standout, atoning his previous debacle in the solo segment. He should have been at this level much earlier. Hydir was the most hyper of the three while Wawan was finding it difficult to keep up with his colleagues both in steps and vocals. Harmony was patchy at best with Sein‘s voice the one that I could hear because he was the one with the highest key of the three. Not a good gauge of their performance as a whole in my opinion.

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After the euphoria and hair-raising experience I felt last week with the female contestants, this week’s episode left me somewhat a notch disappointed even though I know the difference in standards between the guys and the ladies is a bit too glaring and should not be compared. So far, only Azhar and Hydir have shown us that they are capable of carrying the flag for the males, but the rest need to buck up a hell lot if they want to progress further. Something new happened in this episode and with the number of contestants dwindling down to just six, they were given the opportunity to speak to the audience prior to singing. Which is good, cos it would give them a good grounding when they appear in public in future to interact with the audience.

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The ladies finalising their songs for next week…

Also, after a month of watching them performing in groups, I tend to agree with my friend IzaRR from Izone.sg that the segment seems to be more a filler and source of entertainment, rather than being in a competition. Cos to repeat what he had pointed out in his own Anugerah 2009 review, most of the performances so far have been amateurish, with little teamwork and harmony, with everyone vying to be the most dominant voice, perhaps to impress the judges and voters at home. Perhaps retaining just the solo segments with the contestants singing the whole song, would give us a fairer amount of opportunity to judge their respective potential cos afterall Suria is gonna crown a solo winner and not a boyband or girlgroup.

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Thank you all once again for the beautifully recorded piece…

It was a pleasure meeting the contestants after the show ended and I really felt honoured for the fact that they were all game enough to record that short clip I put up in the previous entry, even though it was clear on their faces that they had had a long day. For that I thank them and to Netty for helping me initiate the gesture. Also to Zuraidah for being a very gracious host. Till the next week…

A Message For You By The Anugerettes…

Ok I have to apologise if my Anugerah Episode 5 Review is put on hold and not uploaded on the same night as what I have been doing for the past few weeks. I will upload it by this Thursday latest as I am quite occupied with stuff at work and at home. Hopefully you’ll understand, but before I end this short entry I would love to take this opportunity to thank the Top 12 Anugerettes once again for this message that they have for you dear visitors of this domain:

Anugerah 2009 Episode 3 Review…

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I just got home from Mediacorp TV Theatre, my virgin experience sitting in a live Anugerah televised event and this was all thanks to the kind invitation from Mediacorp Suria. I must say it was an experience that made me feel bittersweet. The sweet part was seeing the competition live as compared to watching it on television and taking in the atmosphere. The bitter part was having to listen to the incessant wisecracks coming from uncivilised people in the audience who could not shut their mouths when they were supposed to.

Look, nobody is preventing you from shouting yourselves hoarse for your favourite contestants, but when the hosts were presenting or when the panel of judges were giving their views, you jolly well shut your bloody gaps instead of drowning the atmosphere with your cacophony. Too many people, especially from the Sein Ahmad and Azhar Raz camps, had too much to say, too many unneccessary things to voice out. I’m sure some of this uncalled-for quips could be heard by the viewers at home. Let me put this nicely to you in Malay: “JANGAN MALUKAN BANGSA DENGAN PERANGAI KORANG YANG TAK BERTAMADUN!!!” Really, in this age of modernisation, some people dunno when to be rowdy and when to respect watching a live show.

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Zaibaktian being interviewed by Dyn Norahim, Warna 94.2FM deejay who was the pre-show host…

Back to the show, this week and next week, the contestants sang and will sing songs from Singaporean artistes from 2005 onwards. This is the reason why the theme for both weeks will be “Rentak Kita” as per mentioned in my last entry. Joining the resident panel of judges who need no introduction by now was RIA 89.7FM‘s Programme Director, Mr. Hassan Salleh. The show was graced by the presence of local artistes sitting in the front row like Zaibaktian, Elfee R. Ismail, Aliff Aziz, Syarif (Sleeq), Didicazli, Syed Azmir and Ross Revalina amongst others, while the second row was made up of the female contestants “taking a break” this week.

Rewind back to what happened last week where it was a mad rush seeing all twenty contestants performing, I was eager to see how the boys perform today and given the opportunity to sing slightly longer than the previous week, which to me wasn’t such a good gauge as they only had 30 seconds at best. To me, a better gauge would be singing half a song. That’s where you can clearly capture their emotions to the songs they sing and get a better idea on how they execute the songs. I hope in future rounds they would get to sing a bit longer.

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Stylish or too girly??? You be the judge…

Before I say more, I just wanna voice my displeasure at how the boys are being styled. Actually I wanted to say this last week but did not do so as I thought it was a one-off. But when I saw it again just now, I can’t help but have to bring it up in this entry. While the military get-up looked slick on the boys, the make-up on their faces somehow made them looked more feminine than they should. Male contestants do not have to put too much make up on their faces. A little powder would do. What we have been seeing for the past two weeks is that they had a thick wad of powder on their faces and lip gloss that really showed as though they had put on lipstick as well. I would expect the ladies to be all made-up but the guys??? C’mon, I’m sure we don’t want them to look like those at Changi Village do we???

Another thing I did not feel comfortable watching was the dance choreography when the contestants performed as a group in the last segment of the show. The dance steps came across too girly for my liking. For the benefit of doubt, I would perhaps point to the fact that the boys are not natural dancers to know whether their steps made them look more girly or not. Perhaps also, they were too mindful of their coordination and having to sing at the same time that made them looked more graceful than they should. I dunno, I just felt my eyes were feeling a bit sore from watching them dance. Can we have more manly steps in future, Mr. Eddy???

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Ok this review is turning into a review of complaints. I guess I will finish my round of complaints by saying Gani Karim and Ann Hussein need to brush up on their Malay. While Ann‘s vocabulary is limited (she doesn’t have much to say really), Gani seemed more at ease expressing his views in English. When he realised he had to express it in Malay, he jumbled the words up and at times made the audience laugh. Even Eddy Ali was seen grinning away at how Gani was finding it difficult to voice out his opinions. Ann also seems to stray away from her standing as vocal coach, preferring to comment on how handsome a particular contestant she likes looks, rather than how they performed vocally.

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But for all the negativities, one point I need to highlight is that I saw a complete turnaround from last week’s excitement by the hosts to the point they were competing with each other for who would trip on their words the most. There was none of those just now and all I saw was an extremely confident and polished performance by both hosts. And I hope they would maintain that level of confidence as the weeks progress. A strong host anchoring a big event like this is needed to carry the show forward even if the spotlight is on the contestants. Like I told Fauzie afterwards, he did great and it showed.

Finally my thoughts on each contestant tonight:

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Kamsani Jumahat – He sang Merah‘s “Cintaku“. The song has that rockish edge to it. The boy was also dressed for the occasion. Sadly, there was nothing rockish about the performance even though it was a confident one. He did nothing wrong vocal-wise, but lacked the charisma to carry it off. Could do well to make use of the space on stage to strut around and give facial expressions which best befit how a rock song is performed.

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Ize Suliman – He sang a song penned by local songwriter Jaliboy called “Kau Bintangku“. It doesn’t take a professional vocal coach or musician to detect that Ize was unsure at the start, lagging behind the tempo of the song. But to his credit he eventually regained his composure and did the song some justice. However, he lacked crowd interaction and feel. In danger of elimination unless his fans save him via their smses.

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Wawan – This was the guy who was the best male contestant last week as shown in the charts, which meant he got to choose his group members in the group segment. From my observations of this boy, he is fond of tweaking the songs he is supposed to sing and rearranging the song to suit his taste. Last week I said I tend to hate the songs he sings, but this week, I take back my words and say his rendition of Rauzan‘s “Kasih Mengapa” was beautifully done. A pity however, his vocals fell short and was a bit pitchy towards the end. I just hope it is not a sign of complacency on his part.

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Azhar Raz – He continues to put in an almost flawless performance this week. When it comes to nailing a song with the snap of the fingers, you can always count on Azhar to pull it off, especially when the song is as difficult as Iskandar Ismail‘s “Adakah Mungkin“. The potrayal of emotions to the song is evident for all to see, but in terms of crowd interaction, he still needs to improve. A pity however that his set of fans seem to spoil it all with their wisecracks and constant bellowing from where they were. He was the best up to this point.

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Chirul – He made Fauzie Laily an extremely happy person for singing his song “Selalu“. But Chirul did not make the judges and this person reviewing, happy persons watching his performance. Seeing him from the audition rounds, we know he has lots of potential and in the words of Gani Karim, he has the most manly voice amongst the male contestants. His performance just now was patchy to say the least and he went flat several times towards the end. There should be a consistency to his performance if he wants to progress further.

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Izam – I noticed that Izam loves to sing songs of a rockish nature. Nothing wrong with that actually cos that’s where his strengths lie and what his voice is suited to singing. I think he listened to the comments made by the judges on Kamsani and used them to his advantage when singing Merah‘s “Andai“. Cos what we all saw was a confident performance complete with playing with the microphone stand and strutting all over the stage. Even though the showmanship was good, vocal-wise he seems to lack the cutting edge of a rocker. He also did not exude the aura of a champion.

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Sein Ahmad – One of the crowd favourites solely for his looks, he needs his fanbase to up their ante on their sms-es if they want him to emerge as champion. He came across as one of the weakest in my opinion, going flat on the low notes. Even though to his credit, he tried to open up and do a bit of dance steps to Zaibaktian‘s “Lelaki Baru“, it was actually irrelevant to a song of that nature. He also showed no emotions when the song is supposed to make one regret of his “wrongdoings” and wanting to turn over a new leaf. He needs to learn to feel the song he sings.

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Hydir Idris – Surprise!!! Surprise!!! Our birthday boy of the day emerged as the best performer of the night!!! Actually it’s no surprise that he was the best performer. He has been going from strength to strength with each round and just now, he just changed my opinion last week, from being a potential semi-finalist to a possible champion this week. It was there for all to see. His performance was well-measured, his voice was extremely soulful singing Aliff Aziz‘s “Nyala“, even better than the original version with all due respect to Aliff. With looks to go along, this boy is THE PACKAGE they are looking for. It was no wonder the whole auditorium went berserk no matter which camp they supported. He had them all under his thumb. He would do well not to let all the hype get to his head. It was touching to see him overcome with emotions and crying when the show was over, listening to the audience singing him the birthday song.

Group performance – I think both groups gave patchy performances at best. It was a matter of who made the least mistakes to get the judges’ nod of approval. The group consisting of Wawan, Azhar, Ize & Kamsani sang Didicazli‘s “Sederhana” while Chirul, Izam, Sein & Hydir sang Syed Azmir‘s “Ke Alam Rahsiamu“. The former group did not do well as a unit, with their harmony going off and Wawan especially was guilty of not replicating his performance from last week. One wonders if he sings better with a female by his side or a male cos clearly his duet with Kunjung last week was one of the best we’ve seen so far in the competition for their intense chemistry. The latter group did slightly better and collectively, they stood out with their nonchalance. Even their harmony was good.

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And so, we await till next Tuesday, to see which two of the contestants will be booted out from the competition. In case you dunno how you can do your part in voting for your favourites, you can refer to my previous entry on how you can go about doing so. Till then, hope you guys like this review and thank you to Fauzie Laily for helping me piece some of the missing puzzles. He knows what I’m referring to…

Prelude to Anugerah 2009 Episode 3…

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Watch the Top 8 Male contestants in Episode 3 of the new Anugerah season – 16 June 2009, 8:30pm only on Mediacorp Suria!!!

The following are the voting formats for the contestants:

  • SMS to 73388: ANU Contestant Code
  • Telepoll: 1900-112-770_ (Last digit being contestant’s number)

Each vote via SMS or Telepoll costs $0.60 each and those with prepaid cards are not able to cast your votes. Voters who are 18 years and below should seek parental permission. This service is brought to you by MediaCorp Pte Ltd. Tel: 6877 7132.

The theme for tomorrow’s competition is “Rentak Kita“, meaning the contestants will have to sing songs from Singaporean artistes. Voting for contestants appearing in Episode 3 begins on Tuesday, 16 June 2009, 8.30pm till Tuesday, 23 June 2009, 6pm. These are the following codes you should vote for this week: 

Kamsani Jumahat (172)

KAMSANI JUMAHAT 

SMS to 73388: ANU 1 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7701

Muhammad Idris Suliman (248)

IZE SULIMAN

SMS to 73388: ANU 2 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7702 

Muhamad Safuan Husen (358)

WAWAN

SMS to 73388: ANU 3 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7703 

Azhar Hamid (427)

AZHAR RAZ

SMS to 73388: ANU 4 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7704

Ahmad Hairul Md Salleh (144)

CHIRUL

SMS to 73388: ANU 5 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7705

Muhd Hairizam Mohamadan (634)

IZAM

SMS to 73388: ANU 6 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7706

Muhd Hussein Ahmad (36)

SEIN AHMAD

SMS to 73388: ANU 7 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7707

Muhd Hydir Mohd Idris (39)

HYDIR IDRIS

SMS to 73388: ANU 8 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7708

Your votes would be a lot meaningful to each and every contestant competing in Anugerah 2009. Vote smartly and vote wisely!!!

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

Anugerah 2009 Episodes 1 & 2 Review…

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Anugerah 2009 has begun in absolute earnest and it has been a lukewarm night by my standards. After a rousing beginning from the likes of Hyrul Anuar, Eka Mairina and Aliff Aziz singing the theme song for this year’s competition “Bintang Anugerahku“, accompanied by the 20 contestants, things suddenly became a little awry when Fiza O twice tripped on her words, probably forgetting the voiceover cue that was supposed to precede her presentation.

Subsequently throughout the whole hour of the programme, both hosts took turns tripping on their words, probably due to the excitement and jitters they felt inside. But in terms of confidence, Fiza who plies her trade as a deejay with RIA 89.7FM, naturally grew as the minutes progressed. But anyway, this wasn’t a show about the hosts, it was about the 20 contestants who are vying to be the next big thing in our local music industry.

Tonight, joining the panel of resident judges Eddy Ali, Ann Hussein and Gani Karim was Adil Hussein. My apologies for not knowing who this guy is but from his various comments throughout the night, the choice of selecting him was commendable as he gave good, constructive views, even if he came across as dead-pan. The judges as a whole, shared almost the same sentiments as myself. Just that I don’t understand why Eddy Ali loves Sheila Abdul so much that he had to mention her name twice, when only one of her songs was sung and that was towards the end.

Looking at all the songs that were performed, sharp-eared viewers would have noted the fact that none of the songs sung were from a Singaporean artiste. This was made deliberate as there will be different themes weekly. Tonight, the theme was an open one, which meant songs by Indonesian and Malaysian artistes were performed. There will be themes solely on Singaporean artistes as the weeks progress so fret not all you local music lovers out there. 

However my only complaint was, why were some songs that were performed (eg Sheila Abdul‘s “Lepaskanlah“, Mila‘s “Ilham Di Mataku” and the one sung by Wawan which I have no idea what was the title to it, even after googling the lyrics), seemed alien or have not been aired on local radio??? I think for the viewers to vote how well the contestants perform and sing, they too need to know the song, so that they could judge fairly. More radio-friendly songs need to be performed in future weeks in my opinion.

For the first time this season, there will be 2 formats for viewers to vote. One is via SMS, the other via 1900 call-in number, as opposed to the mandatory sms voting system in the past. More votes are expected to be made with this new system of voting especially those who are not keen on wasting sms-es. So far nothing has been said about how much one is expected to pay if they were to call the voting lines. Or I might have missed it. Please do correct me if I’m wrong. Right, here are my thoughts on all the contestants:

Sarah Aqilah – She sang Ayu‘s “Hanya Di Mercu“. She surprised me big time with her execution of the song as my only memory of her during the auditions was, she was a dead-ringer of Ziana Zain, from the vocal style right down to how she portrayed her presentation on stage.

Hydir – This boy (he’s only 17) is set for the big stage. His voice belies his age. His boyish charm is sure to bring in the votes and with his looks, he backs it up with a deep, controlled voice. Singing Nubhan‘s “Ada Untukmu” was an excellent choice. My bet to go to at least the semi-finals stage.

Mel – She sang Hanya Memuji, a song that challenges a person to go high and low and having to dance to the beat. She came across quite flat, but only because I detected the nervousness and jitters in her. However I think she atoned herself during the group performance where they sang “Let’s Dance Together“, but only just.
 
Sein Ahmad – This Anugerah “veteran” was good during the audition rounds, but tonight he did not impress me with a low-key performance of Republik‘s “Hanya Ingin Kau Tahu” and especially the group performance where they sang BBB‘s “Let’s Dance Together“. For someone who is experienced in this field of play, I expected more from him. He looked kinda overawed with the occasion.

Kunjung – This sassy lass is a natural product from Indonesia‘s production line of singers. Her rendition of Ratu‘s “Lelaki Buaya Darat” was oozing with confidence and it would be very surprising if she falters early. She needs to work on her crowd interaction though.

Azhar Raz – My favourite from the audition rounds. His vocal gymnastics are a joy to behold. He also made Hazami‘s “Mungkir Bahagia” so easy to execute. He needs to prevent himself from being overconfident cos his facial expressions do hint of that at times. Other than that, I just love the way he puts so much feel into the songs he sang.

Hafizah – I didn’t quite like the short hairdo. I still prefer her with long hair cos she looks like a doll that way. She sang Melly and KD‘s “Cinta“, not an easy song. Though it did not reach the wow levels, her performance overall was commendable. She grew more confident as the minutes progressed.

Wawan – I like this boy’s confidence on stage as his showmanship smacks of a seasoned performer. Somehow he has this knack of making me hate the song he sings. The song he performed was already alien enough to me even after I had googled the words on the Net, but what made it cringing was his slang, which he could do away in future stages, depending on how far he progresses.

Shera – Contrary to what the judges said about her, I think she was one of the top five female contestants tonight. I like her rich voice and I think if she was given a slower tempo song to sing instead of Jaclyn Victor‘s “Di Bawah Pohon Asmara“, she would nail it well. Again, jitters could have hampered her performance tonight.

Ize – Another Anugerah “veteran”. He showed lots of poise, confidence and control singing Marcell‘s “Jangan Pernah Berubah“. I think along with Hydir, this guy has a chance to go far, with looks being his plus points as well.

Asila Osmera – The judges didn’t like her performance. So did I. She was too nervous, too static for one’s liking. For her sake I hope she improves and shed away all those stage-frights she might have been having. I felt it was easy to connect with her cos she sang Ziana Zain‘s song “Menadah Gerimis” which is no stranger to the listening masses.

Afyq – I wasn’t impressed when the top 20 contestants were named and his was in it. Nothing during the audition rounds gave me the impression that he would go far other than the fact that his fate might be down to the young girls out there. Dafi‘s “Bila Terasa Rindu” was easy on the ears, but the performance wasn’t spectacular.

Izam – Amongst the Anugerah “veterans”, he was the one that impressed me the most. Very confident, very rockish performance. I think he’s really dead serious in wanting to go further than the last time round. Nidji‘s “Biarlah” was done well even if he lagged a bit during the start.

Catty – This young lady continues to impress with her performance. She made a difficult song like Agnes Monica‘s “Matahariku” sounded so simple to sing. And to think many others tried but failed during the audition rounds. Her weight might be a mitigating factor but we should all look beyond that and not let a rough diamond slip away. She is definitely one to look out for.

Ain – His was another name I did not expect to make it to the Top 20 and he looks a little too dreamy for my liking. HijauDaun‘s “Suaraku Berharap” was an easy song to sing, without having to challenge his vocals. Commendable effort but doesn’t have the aura of a champion.

Yani – I laughed when I saw a comment made by a viewer who sms-ed about her earlier in the programme. That person said Yani had already recorded an album. I think that person must have mistaken her for Hariani Hassan Bakri, another Anugerah alumnus. However, even Hariani has not gotten the opportunity to record an album yet. This Yani however got her bearings right singing Misha Omar‘s “Ku Seru“. But she still lacks the wow factor.

Chirul – He was one of the few I had earmarked during the audition rounds with his deep voice and stage presence. And it was there for all to see when he sang “Cinta Ini Membunuhku” by D’Masiv. His falsetto however needs some tweaks cos it made his voice become flat.

Nani – I remembered her from the audition rounds because she gave a flirty performance on stage. There was nothing of the sort tonight and I felt she was in danger of elimination as she looked a little unsure when she sang Mila‘s “Ilham Di Mataku“. The choice of song could have been a distraction to her but I thought she made amends when they sang as a group, singing Jaclyn Victor and Rio Febrian‘s “Ceritera Cinta“.

Kamsani – Right from day one, this young man reminds me so much of Anugerah 2005 winner Hyrul Anuar. From the hairstyle to the showmanship, everytime I watch him perform is like watching Hyrul on stage. He would be mindful enough to steer clear from the comparisons if he wants to progress further. But he did no wrong singing Matta Band‘s “Jatuh Cinta Lagi“.

Nora – She was another I did not quite fancy when her name was announced to be in the Top 20. I felt back then that her looks were more her winning factors. But she proved me wrong when she sang Sheila Abdul‘s “Lepaskanlah” without a hint of going flat nor pitchy. Granted I have not heard the song before, but I felt she did nothing wrong. Fair play to her.

Results At A Glance:

And so, Ain, Afyq, Shera and Mel were eliminated tonight. I kinda expected Ain, Afyq and Mel, but not Shera as I felt she was one of the better ones but in this kind of competition, you need to have a solid fanbase and kind remarks from the judges to help you stay in the competition and I felt she didn’t get that.

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Shera

ain

Ain

It was nice to see Rancour in action with their new single “Biarlah” cos I feel that their career paths have stagnated somewhat after winning last year’s Anugerah Band competition. It doesn’t help that some of them have a day job as civil servants, which is preventing them from pursuing their musical careers further.

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Afyq

mel

Mel

In summary, the results were fair and justified. The contestants have for the past month been going through different forms of classes, from vocals to styling and it showed on stage the difference between what I saw during the third round auditions and tonight. One thing they should all learn is to let go of their shackles and enjoy themselves on stage. Once all the jitters go away, they would then be able to express themselves better.

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…