I’m back with the second instalment of my APM2017 series. Apologies for making you wait this long for this entry as I was juggling editing the rest of the photographs I took that night and revising with the kids for their final-year exams which will end this coming midweek. Even though I have finished editing the photographs, the proper review entry is still in the pipeline and will not be up till probably next weekend or slightly later. So I hope you can wait a bit more. I’ll try to do it as soon as possible as it has been three years since I last did one. Anyway, I have come to observe that people usually come to this domain of mine to view photographs of recent event happenings, or to look out for photographs of local personalities they would like to get to know, especially the new faces. You might also have stumbled upon my page cos you were Googling for some personalities and this page happens to be one of the top search hits.
For the regional readers, they might not know who is who in the Singapore Malay entertainment scene, so in a way I am providing that yeoman service of assisting your queries. I’ve even had feedback from production companies that my blog has been of great help for them to scout for talents. Just glad I am able to help in any way I can, that too without hoping for any rewards or payments. This is also another reason that gave me that wee bit of drive to continue blogging when I recently felt I wanted to pack it all in. I’ll stop blabbering for now and just share with you some selected shots I took during the Red Carpet segment and Post-Event Reception at Anugerah Planet Muzik 2017. Didn’t take that many shots but I guess they will do for now before I come up with my last instalment entry.
I usually start off my entries after a long hiatus with an apology to my readers for making them wait so long for my return. Seeing how in the past I’ve been doing it, only to repeat the cycle again and again like a bad record, I have decided that I will not be doing any at all this time. Some of you will be extremely surprised to read this, but this entry almost became my final entry announcing my retirement from the scene. Yup you read that right!!! I was heavily toying at the idea of retiring as I had lost interest in doing write-ups and reviews, not to mention my time-consuming photo-editing process. In addition, this is a job that is not being paid but out of my passion for the local / regional Malay entertainment scene. There is only so much time and effort I can afford to put in at the expense of quality time with family. Why I decided to put the idea on the back-burner is because there is still that wee bit ounce of passion which I managed to coax out of me. For how long more??? That itself is a question to be answered. I feel jaded really to be honest.
Local artistes and representatives of the local Malay music scene who turned out in force for the media conference at Orchard Hotel…
I wish there were more like me out there, the ones who write / type with sense and rationale, not too emotional when critical, who will give benefit of doubt as much as they can. I just feel that it is time for a new generation of writers to take over but sadly also, blogging seems to be passe these days. I will not promise anything, but I guess from now, any entries on this domain should be regarded as “Heaven-sent”. I will pick and choose what events I attend henceforth and will not be bogged down by having to put entries or photos up as soon as the events end. Well it has always been that way, hasn’t it??? Just that I cannot commit to attending events (mostly at Mediacorp) on a regular basis henceforth, with its current location a bit far for my liking being the North-Easterner that I am. It is also to be fair to those who have kindly invited me to cover their respective events. With that out of the way, let’s begin this entry in earnest.
KC and Dzar Ismail were the hosts of the media conference in Singapore…
Anugerah Planet Muzik has always been THE event that I most look forward to annually since its inception on 20th January 2001, so much so I am willing to forgo watching my beloved football club Manchester United, when they face our sworn enemies Liverpool on the day of the event (14th October 2017). Part of the reason I’ve decided to continue blogging was also because of this event. It is afterall the Grammys of the regional music scene, whereby the four countries, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei come together to celebrate the best amongst them for the year. I know I have not been doing any reviews since the 2014 edition, but it also gave me some breathing space to observe changes that were made over the last two instalments. I noted a lot of improvements along the way which many at home do not have the benefit of knowing nor seeing, and there were also shortcomings, mostly because of a change in venue and having to adapt to new surroundings. I am hoping that with the event once again returning to the MES Theatre @ Mediacorp, the visual experience will improve, especially for those at home, because watching it live in the theatre and at home are two extremely stark contrasting experiences.
Nurul Isnina performed her debut hit single “Buaya“…
Just like the previous year, the media conference announcing the nominees for this year’s edition, was held at Orchard Hotel, albeit at the smaller Lavender Room a fortnight ago (22nd August 2017). Where A.B. Shaik, Aura Shai and Fiza O have always been the usual hosts at previous APM media conferences in Singapore, this year saw a somewhat refreshing change with Dzar Ismail and KC anchoring the proceedings. The media conference was also graced by the performances of eventual nominees Nurul Isnina, Iyaad Salleh, Arus Band & Sofia Arissa. Where previous media conferences were used to showcase upcoming young talents our local industry has to show for, there was a distinct upgrade of quality with those nominated being invited to perform and to show the audience why their names are up there along with the regional’s best. The event also saw the performance of Aidil Akmal and Dzar Ismail with their Malay rendition of the global hit “Despacito“, titled “Incognito“, which has since garnered their music video more than ten million views!!! I was telling Dzar afterwards, if only one view could be converted to a dollar, he could afford to retire by now. Such is the outreach of social media these days, that through creative works such as these, one can make it viral worldwide.
Arus Band, along with Sofia Arissa, were one of the few performers that day. Here, they’re seen singing their current hit song on the airwaves “Terlalu“…
A minor controversy emerged when I was viewing the live Facebook feed of the media conference at Hard Rock Cafe Kuala Lumpur on 24th August 2017. I noted that Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza who was initially nominated in the Best Female Artiste Category for her song “Menatap Dalam Mimpi” was missing as compared to the one announced in Singapore just two days before. I only got the answer after seeing reports that the organisers had indeed acknowledged and apologised for their error during the media conference in Kuala Lumpur itself and that all was fine between them as well as Dato’ Siti, and her management who were the ones who had alerted the organisers about it. I think this is a fine example of years of good working relationship between both sides as well as honesty and integrity being practised. The management could have kept quiet about it, but they did not. Thumbs up to Siti Nurhaliza Productions for the highlight and Mediacorp for acknowledging their error and apologising for it!!!
Ms. Zakiah Halim, Head of Mediacorp Malay Community addressing the floor along with CEO of COMPASS, Dr. Edmund Lam and Mr. Hassan Salleh, Senior Programming Director, Warna 94.2FM & RIA 89.7FM, Mediacorp…
A special first concert road tour for this year’s Anugerah Planet Muzik was announced by Mr. Hassan Salleh towards the end of the media conference. For the first time in the history of the prestigious regional awards show, Mediacorp is partnering with the organisers of the Formula 1 Petronas Grand Prix Malaysia for a concert road tour to close the race in Sepang, which will see it hosting for the 19th and final time. The concert will be the penultimate show on the final day of the race (1st October2017) and will feature some of the regional award nominees of Anugerah Planet Muzik 2017. At the time of typing this entry, I still do not know details of the concert and who exactly will be performing till perhaps closer to the date. My guess is that we will have big names from Malaysia, Indonesia and also Singapore to grace the concert. Will I be covering the concert??? That depends if some kind soul or organisation will be kind enough to sponsor my trip up north. Anyway I’m sure there will be some live streaming or at the very least, some live Facebook feed of the concert for us to view the proceedings if we are unable to physically watch it live.
The APM trophies are up for grabs again…
A total of 19 awards will be presented at this year’s event, the same as the previous year, with no tweaks nor changes made to any of the categories. Viewers and listeners can catch the ‘LIVE’ simulcast on TV channel MediacorpSuria, radio stations RIA 89.7FM and Warna 94.2FM as well as online streaming via Toggle LIVE. APM 2017 will feature a new generation of artistes discovered largely from social media platforms and is set to entertain and dazzle with a stellar line-up such as Ayda Jebat, Aisyah Aziz, Isyana Sarasvati, Virgoun, Gloria Jessica, Aiman Tino, Hael Husaini, and many more. Music fans and enthusiasts are also given the opportunity to vote for their favourite songs and artistes in fan-driven categories from 22nd August until 14th October, 10.00pm on Toggle at toggle.sg/apm. The categories are Most Popular Artiste (Singapore), Most Popular Song (Singapore), APM Most Popular Artiste, APM Most Popular Song and Social Media Icon. Tickets are priced at SGD $28 and SGD $48 (including GST and excluding SISTIC fee) and can be purchased at all authorised SISTIC outlets and online at www.sistic.com.sg from 22nd August 2017 onwards. At the time of typing this entry, the $68 seats are already sold out!!! APM 2017 is supported by Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore(IMDA) and Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (COMPASS).
Thank God for the long holiday weekend that I am able to post this up much earlier than usual. This past Tuesday 24 January 2017, saw the debut of another eight contestants of the new season of Anugerah, this time under the banner of Group B. Continuing from the previous week where the contestants sang a song of their own personal choice, the eight contestants had the opportunity to upstage their Group A counterparts, having had an extra week to prepare and study their performances during the first episode. Looking at the make-up of the eight contestants this week, there are several who have had experiences performing in various competitions before this and even before listening to them, I more or less expected them to progress, bar any hiccups via the SMS votes by the audience in the studio or at home. So without further ado, let’s start off with the first contestant.
Elza Rahim kicked off the night’s competition by singing Wany Hasrita‘s “Menahan Rindu“. Truth be told, I have not heard this song being played on our local airwaves before and had to rely on a friend to inform me on the identity of the original singer and listened to it again afterwards. But the first time I watched Elza‘s performance at the studio, I noted that she has a very rich and classical tone of voice. However that tone and style of singing also tend to sound like a certain top notch Dato’ across the Causeway. Elza has to be mindful not to sound like Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, as many singers before her who tended to go this route, ended up being forgotten as quickly as they appeared. She already has a nice voice to begin with, she should hone it in such a way that she does not become another clone or copycat. A very composed performance which was slightly let down by one part where she went flat. Though I thought it was a decent start to the night, I also agreed with judges Taufik Batisah and Indra Shahrir that it was at best, an average performance, with Elza being more in her comfort zone.
Zul Nor should be applauded for his bravery in singing Sufi Rashid‘s “Kisah Dua Muka“, a song which is not easy to sing to begin with. However that is as far as I can go to rate his performance. It was a bit too dramatic for my liking with all his hand gestures and movements, it felt more like watching a musical theatre performance than an actual singing one. I thought I was alone in thinking he was trying too much to channel Sufi‘s style of singing into his performance, but this was also brought up by judge Indra, who noted that he was seeing two different personalities in the song, one of Zul Nor and the other being Sufi‘s. Najip Ali also brought up a pertinent point in that a song of such varying dynamics should also have a certain softness injected into it. Upon reflection and watching the performance again, I realised that Zul Nor pressed more on the intense and rage associated with the song.
I last watched Syakirah Noble performed live at the launch of Fiza O’s Ritabella collection five years ago at Joo Chiat Complex. She was only 12 then but it was easy to see that this girl, with the right attitude, practice and application, can go far. She is one of those I had mentioned earlier who loves to enter singing competitions and I am glad to see that she has made it this far. Syakirah sang Agnes Monica‘s “Rindu“, another tough song to sing with all the varying notes and the challenging high ones. I was afraid she might buckle under pressure, but there was nothing of that sort, as she gave an accomplished performance, which bothered a bit on overconfidence and this was cautioned by Najip Ali. Personally I felt it was a bit too much of Agnes Monica‘s soul and style being put into the song. I wanted to see more of Syakirah‘s. I think this is where she can work on, to infuse her own identity into the songs she sings. Take nothing away however, I had goosebumps listening to her, my personal indicator on how much I loved her performance.
Other than knowing Raja Zul‘s background as quite the model student in school, being in the Top 5-10% cohort, I did not know that this relative from my missus’ side, actually has a talent for singing and playing the guitar. When I chatted with him after the first episode ended, he said that he was going to perform Jaz Hayat‘s “Dari Mata” in his own style and adding new lyrics of his own into the song. I thought then that it was a good, yet risky move since he said he wanted to portray his personality to the audience. While I cannot fault his showmanship on Tuesday night, his singing was everywhere. He sounded quite nervous and pitchy at the start and there were times during the short pauses in the song where he could be seen strategically catching his breath. The judges loved his falsetto though and like Najip, I too liked that he chose a song which was concurrent with the times, even if Taufik had said the song was not quite suited for a competition.
Abby Nabila is another one who has had experience in a reality competition, and hers has been a very fruitful one when she entered the first season of Indonesia‘s reality Dangdut singing competition D’Academy Asia in late 2015, under the stage name Abby Tinara. Even though she was eliminated early, her learning experience and rubbing shoulders with some very good performers as well getting valuable mentorship, put her in good stead on how to be an accomplished performer and own the stage. So it was no surprise that Abby put in a performance befitting of her experience on Tuesday night, challenging herself to sing a male song, Hazama‘s “Ku Relakan Jiwa“. Her performance, like Zul Nor‘s, was filled with theatrics and hand gestures, but hers felt like they had more of an impact because she knew which parts were suitable to include them. Off-stage, she is quite the bubbly personality, just that sometimes she needs to curb her exuberance and dramatics, so as not to rub others the wrong way. Someone with her personality, you will either love her or feel she’s overacting. In a reality competition where viewers votes matter as well, it would be best to find that middle ground to win over the doubters or haters.
I think even without saying it here, if you had watched both episodes of Anugerah since its return on our television screens, or if you had caught the clips via the Mediacorp Suria Facebook page, you will agree with me that Nor Shafiq is the best male contestant so far with his soulful voice and measured performance. I could not detect a single flaw when I watched him sang Hafiz Suip‘s “Ku Akui” live, but when I watched his performance again, there was one minor part when he went slightly off as he was hitting the high notes. But it did not matter much. Shafiq immediately installed himself as one of the favourites in this competition with that performance, another one that made my hairs stood. 376 shares of his performance clip on Facebook to date, is a good indicator that he has made his presence felt.
Nadia Nadhirah was up next with her own rendition of Dayang Nurfaizah‘s “Di Pintu Syurga“. For someone who is majoring in music at LaSalle College of the Arts, her standard of performance was to be expected as it comes with the territory and expectation. Just like how I was expecting last year’s Anugerah Skrin winner, Syaiful Ariffin, a theatre undergraduate then, to perform much better than his competition rivals. Though I would not categorise her performance amongst the Top 3 on Tuesday night, there is a certain strength in Nadia‘s voice that sets her apart from the rest. Not many can sing low notes in measured degrees and in control without going flat. However she did give away her uncertainty at various points sounding as though she was unsure how to end off her lines. I also felt the performance was empty and lacking emotions needed for a song of this magnitude. I remember how much it moved others when the original singer herself performed this song at Anugerah Juara Lagu two years ago. The judges might have said they loved it, but I did not quite like it.
Sharizal Suwandi rounded off the night with The Sally‘s “Jauh“. For some reason only known to the audience, the whole studio erupted and were in raptures when he came onstage. It felt as though he had everyone on his side, even though the audience was also made up of supporters of the other seven contestants. There was a certain unexplained appeal and likeability factor about the oldest contestant in the competition. However he needs to translate that into a performance worthy of the support he was given in the coming weeks ahead. His performance was at best, average, flat and pitchy in many parts, but one thing I cannot fault was the feel-good factor he gave everyone who watched him in the studio. Even his fellow contestants were seen swaying and clapping along to his singing. But feel-good factors usually do not last long and as the competition wilts down, standards and expectations are raised even higher. He was placed at eighth position right after his performance had ended and I felt it was a fair position.
A dejected-looking Raja Zul smiled as the reality of his elimination sunk in…
However, there was a twist right after the final commercial break, as upon doing their final consultations and counsel with one another, the judges decided to play musical chairs once again and switched the positions of Raja Zul and Sharizal. I dunno if the judges “feared” the possibility of the audience baying for their blood had they eliminated Sharizal, but it certainly felt that way. No I am saying this not because of my relation ties with Raja Zul, but I initially agreed that their original positions were more than justified according to the performances they gave and in comparison with all the other contestants that night. Maybe the judges also took into account the support that Sharizal had and how he connected with the audience, which was probably why they decided to give him a second chance to prove himself the next time out. If I was the judge for the night, I would have had Abby Nabila at second position, followed by Syakirah Noble, Elza Rahim, Nadia Nadhirah, Zul Nor, Raja Zul and Sharizal Suwandi as my final ranking positions.
Zul Nor became the fourth contestant in total to be eliminated from the competition…
As for the second elimination of the night by virtue of the least number of votes, Zul Nor who was ranked sixth by the judges, was the one who made way and exited the competition. What struck me the most when his name was announced and just before he made his way off the stage, was his polite unwillingness to shake the hands of his fellow female counterparts and kept his arms to his chest and bowed at them. A rare sight in the entertainment scene that earned him my respect. Was his elimination to be expected??? I would say yes and no. Yes because it was a toss-up between him, Raja Zul and Sharizal had it been solely the judges’ decision to eliminate two out of three. No, because throughout the night we were informed from time to time that Abby Nabila, Syakirah Noble and Raja Zul had the least number of votes, so it could have been just about anyone who could have been eliminated in that respect.
The six who progressed from Group B(from left): Sharizal Suwandi, Syakirah Noble, Elza Rahim, Abby Nabila, Nadia Nadhirah and Nor Shafiq…
So far even with an equal amount of gender elimination on the opening first two weeks, I observed that the female contestants are technically more astute than their male counterparts and will not be surprised if eventually there will be a lop-sidedness to the competition, much like the last one in 2011. This coming Tuesday 31st January 2017 sees the return of Group A on our television screens. We were told before the night ended that the coming fortnight’s theme for both groups would be the Rock genre. This would be right up the alleys of the likes of Hakim Halim and Abby Nabila, who have shown that they are able to carry the genre, even if a lot can still be improved in terms of their delivery, execution, style and showmanship. Who knows, others might just up their game and prove that they are also no pushovers??? We shall see when Anugerah returns on our television screens this Tuesday at 8:30pm…
My goodness, how long has it been??? Three months I reckon since my last post and I have still yet to edit those 3000-odd photographs I snapped during Anugerah Planet Muzik 2016. Not only that, but some other events I attended in between like RIA 89.7FM‘s 26th anniversary bash or the radio station’s search for The Owesome Voice, not to mention the Anugerah 2017 auditions held at Kallang Wave Mall, amongst others. Been undergoing some busy schedules and commitments on the personal end that I simply lost the verve to do up entries on this domain. Now that the new year is in its infancy stage, it is a good time to start afresh and what better way to start than to speak about the return of the Anugerahsinging competition, back after a six-year hiatus. Oh in the case of my long-awaited APM2016 entry, we need to revisit that another time. Or perhaps not at all??? We’ll see, I don’t want to make empty promises again…
Huda Ali and Suzairhe Sumari are tasked to helm the reality competition this year…
Part of the reason there was a distinct gap in the years of competition (six), was because the competition became a bit saturated at one point of time. It doesn’t help that our market and local entertainment industry is small with the same faces coming for auditions, even if their journey became shortlived before they actually began. In between the years, we’ve had reality competitions like Anugerah Skrin and Anugerah V, catering to a different niche or skill set, and the memorable TeRaSeh programme that spanned for two years and pitted radio and television personalities against each other, to raise funds for their selected charity organisations. I will not talk about the audition rounds of Anugerah 2017 till a latter date and just focus on what transpired on our television screens this past Tuesday 17th January 2017.
Resident judges: Indra Shahrir, Taufik Batisah and Najip Ali…
For starters, Anugerah 2017 comes with a fresh new concept. Not only a fresh concept in terms of competition mechanics, but hosting and judging line-up, save for Huda Ali, who was the host back in 2011 along with Fauzie Laily and Nity Baizura. Even the premise (Studio One in the spanking new Mediacorp campus situated at Stars Avenue) where the live telecast is held weekly, is new. Those who had caught the first episode would have noted that there is now a ranking system where the judges will rate the contestants’ performances and rank them from 1-8. The lowest unfortunately will be eliminated and that is not all. The viewers also play a part in determining who advances to the next round and who gets eliminated via the traditional SMS voting system, so there is not only one elimination per week, but possibly two.
Anugerah alumnus Fauzie Laily, Rahayu Ridwan, Hyrul Anuar and Hariani Hassan Bakri opened the show…
I am unsure of the actual numbers of votes cast, but I think it might be better if the voting system is tweaked in such a way that more people are able to participate and vote without having to pay a certain amount of money. I mean, there are online polls and voting via other means which are free out there. Putting a price tag would turn would-be voters off or those with a younger support base not able to vote in without prior adult consent. We have since moved with the times and through technological advances on social media. Even radio stations are now reading dedications or granting song requests off their Facebook pages and no longer relying on the age-old SMS system. But I do note that this is possibly basic commercial revenue which the television station stand to gain. I might be wrong on this aspect, but the revenue will probably help to cover costs along the way, hence maybe the need to retain these mechanics.
All 16 contestants were introduced to the watching audience in the studio and at home…
Being the inaugural episode, it was a special two-hour programme last Tuesday, beginning with a first half-hour slot dedicated to featuring what transpired during the audition rounds down to the announcement of the Top 16. The episode also included footages from the masterclasses the contestants had to attend to prepare themselves before appearing on stage as well as filming their short video montages and having their photoshoots, all that happening over a period of five weeks leading up to the actual competition proper. Rather than the usual rushed one hour show we’ve had in the past, it was a 90-minute affair afterwards where the first eight contestants who formed Group A, duked it out. This year’s competition is hosted by Suzairhe Sumari and Huda Ali and the resident judges are Najip Ali, Indra Shahrir and Taufik Batisah.
This will be a familiar sight in the weeks to come, the judges observing intently on the contestants’ singing, stage presence and showmanship…
Before the contestants in Group A took centrestage, four of the Anugerah alumnus which included 2005 and 2011 winners, Hyrul Anuar and Rahayu Ridwan, opened the show with this year’s theme song “Mengejar Impian“, composed by Reyza Hamizan. The other two who performed the song were Fauzie Laily and Hariani Hassan Bakri, both incidentally coming in 3rd in their respective Anugerah competition years, 2005 and 2002 respectively. I saw self-styled online critics wondering about the identity of Hariani or even the likes of Kalysa Aziz, whose brother, Azhar, is in this year’s competition. Maybe a little bit of homework or immersing one’s self in the local music scene would stand some way in answering those questions. Kalysa by the way, has had her collaboration single “Bila Kau Tiada” with Ryan Sufiyan and Lefttool topping the local music charts over the past year. Start listening to more local songs on radio to know and get to know our local talents through their songs and interviews on air, or follow them on their social media accounts.
Reyza Hamizan (left) with Anugerah 2009 alumnus Hydir Idris, seated amongst the audience that night…
I also noted people lamenting on social media about the standard of singing by the four Anugerah alumnus, most notably our 2011 winner, Rahayu. To be fair to her, she has not been actively singing for the past two or three years due to family commitments. Like many who have not been active, taking baby steps to get back into the groove and scheme of things, expect teething problems like lack of vocal stamina and rustiness to set in. Even during the popular Gegar Vaganza competition done by our next door neighbour, if you had watched and noticed, you see experienced singers struggling to find their rhythm and needing weeks to get back into their stride. That too if they were afforded the chance to progress by the judges. Granted as a winner, she should be setting a good example to the new generation, but weighing in the circumstances and possible reasons, I think we should not be too harsh on her. The focus is afterall still on the new batch.
Speaking of new batch, Fatihah Izyan had the unenviable task of kicking off this year’s competition. She sang 3 Suara‘s “Beribu Sesalan” much to the discomfort of my listening ears and probably the judges as well. It is not easy to sing a song with three different vocal tones and ranges intertwined into one. While her bravery should be applauded, her naivety in picking the wrong song to perform did not help her case. The strength of the original singers is the injection of their souls into the song giving it much life and exuding so much emotions. However, there was no feel whatsoever when Fatihah sang. Personally, I felt it wasn’t fair also to put the youngest contestant in the competition as the first, as it put unnecessary pressure on her young shoulders. She was a bundle of nerves based on her facial expressions and it showed.
Shafie Syed was up next and he sang Imran Ajmain‘s “Seribu Tahun“, a song which was also co-written by resident judge, Taufik Batisah. It is clear to see that Shafie has a passing resemblance to the guy on the judging panel and on certain parts it looked as if it was Taufik himself singing the song. Even the man himself jokingly admitted their resemblance to one another when it was his turn to comment on Shafie‘s performance. This is where Shafie needs to strike and build his own identity, and not to be seen as a Taufik Batisah clone. As for his performance, I’ve seen comments saying he sang better than the original singer. I disagree because judge IndraShahrir brought up a relevant point about his falsetto, which I also felt was inconsistent and certain parts where he went a bit off. But he looks like one of the safest bets to progress further in the competition due to his strong support base.
Long time readers of this blog or even my own social media accounts will note that I usually don’t have much nice things to say when someone sings a Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza‘s song as they usually tend to copy her style or fail to live up to her lofty standards. So it was a nice surprise when I heard Liwani Izzati performed “Dialah Di Hati” with such maturity that belied her young age (she’s only 17!!!). During the introductory clip, music director Syawal Kassim had said he was surprised that someone her age could understand and distinguish technicalities and switch keys with ease. Those who watched her that night would have had no qualms with her final standings by the end of the night. When she sang, my hairs stood. That itself is a benchmark and one that won me over. She will easily be a shoo-in for the Grand Finals if she can keep this up and challenge herself further.
19-year old Mohammad Shahfiq continues a family legacy with his involvement in this year’s competition. As a trivia, his aunt, Liza Sanat, was a contestant ten years ago in the competition that introduced us to the likes of Aliff Aziz, Maiya Rahman and Nurun Nuwarrah. If my memory still serves me right, her journey ended at the quarter-final stage. It remains to be seen how Shahfiq, who sang Cakra Khan‘s “Harus Terpisah“, will progress in this competition. He was a bundle of nerves, uncertain with his movements and his darting eyes gave away his discomfort. Something was absolutely bothering him that night. For him to progress, he has to quickly learn to overcome his fears and gain some much-needed confidence.
Some of you who watched Anugerah 2011 would probably remember Shalyza Rosly, then a raw 17-year old contestant. I certainly remember her as she was my favourite contestant back then. She had bags of potential and only her lack of confidence and maturity on stage hampered her progress further. Fast forward six years later, expectations have naturally increased as she is now a more confident performer having had experiences performing at showcases, private functions and expo events. Along with Liwani, she was amongst the night’s two best performers. I felt she was more composed than Liwani when she sang Agnes Monica‘s “Tanpa Kekasihku“, but her performance lacked the challenge to sing higher notes and play around with the song dynamics like Liwani did. She was more in her comfort zone and this was touched upon by the judges. She would do well to heed their advice to choose a song that will raise her levels further.
Hakim Halim is another repeat contestant with his previous foray in the competition in 2011 ending with a first round elimination. Back then he sang a rock ballad, Fiq‘s “Tiga Malam Tanpa Bintang“. This time he stayed loyal with the genre, singing Kristal‘s “Memburu Impian“. I find him a unique contestant in that he is the only one so far, with a rockish voice and best suited to the genre. He certainly knows where his vocal strengths are but in this kind of competition they need to show that they can sing a variety of songs, from the slow to the catchy, the melancholic to the high energy. He also needs to shed his inhibitions and let loose a bit on stage. Having a voice is one thing, having stage presence and showmanship is another. I’m hoping this time round his luck would be much better than in 2011. He needs to work harder on his showmanship and own the stage.
The downside to having a sibling who is already established in the scene is that people will have high expectations of them and expect them to be as equally accomplished as their brother or sister. Undue and unnecessary pressure naturally will work its way through somehow. This is probably true in the case of Roziana Cindy, who is the younger sister of singer / songwriter, Didicazli. For a start, I personally feel that she has the physical package to be a prolonged contestant – the height, the sweet-saccharine looks, the ability to play a musical instrument. Unfortunately her voice brought her performance down. Though her performance singing Sherina‘s “Pergilah Kau” was not entirely bad, she could have done better by picking a song that required her to vary her vocal range. I dunno if the lack of playing the guitar might have hampered her performance, but her voice tone itself sounds like those already established female singers who perform with guitars, like Najwa Latif, Nanasheme and Ainan Tasneem, just to think of three. Too ordinary and did not captivate the judges and yours truly.
Rounding of the night’s competition was Azhar Aziz. Followers of the recent Final One reality song competition on Channel 5 will definitely remember him for his soulful voice and boyish good looks, as would judge Taufik Batisah, who was also on the judging panel in that competition. A different language medium than the previous one, but he is equally at ease singing in English or Malay. Not many in the audience and at home knew, but he was very ill that night, but he gave off his best. I felt his performance, singing Afgan‘s “Bukan Cinta Biasa” was worthy of Top 3 or 4 at least. For the guys, I feel that he has the package to rival Shafie Syed and the one that girls will have no problems voting for with his voice and dreamy looks. Let’s see how he will kick on when his health is much better in the coming weeks.
Roziana Cindy could still afford a big smile when she learned of her elimination…
The night ended with two eliminations, Roziana saying goodbye due to her being the lowest-ranking contestant by the judges and Fatihah by virtue of getting the least votes. Roziana took her ousting in her stride and was all smiles afterwards but the experience was a bit too hard for the young Fatihah to digest. I was actually partly surprised that the judges would let Roziana exit the competition so early, given past competitions have showed how the judges and voters, knowing or unknowingly, tended to hold on to the good-lookers slightly longer for viewership sake. Not this time. Finally I feel it’s time we are brave enough to put talents over looks. Also with a 100% power given to the judges, you can rest assured that talent will no doubt be at the forefront of their judging criteria. Anyway I do not believe we have seen the last of Roziana if her brother’s Instagram post afterwards can be interpreted correctly. In fact I think he should compose a song for her and bring out her strengths for us to appreciate better. One failed TV outing perhaps didn’t do her talent justice.
Though she was smiling as she exited the stage, Fatihah broke down and had to be consoled by the other contestants afterwards…
For Fatihah, though I had expected her to exit the competition just by observing her performance, I was expecting her elimination to be more via judging decisions, than based on SMS votes. I said in one of the earlier paragraphs that the voting system could be a disadvantage to some of the contestants and this was possibly true for Fatihah. I observed her supporters in the audience were no more than 16 years old, and would definitely have needed their parents’ consent to vote for her. She was at a disadvantage right from the start. Reality competitions can be a bit harsh when you do not have a strong support base and those with deep pockets. Anyway she is still young, she can learn from Shalyza‘s previous experience in the competition and work on her singing, confidence and showmanship. Who knows you might see a confident and more polished contestant in future editions? You’ll never know.
The Top 6 from Group A who advanced to the next round…
This season’s competition is already shaping up to be much better than the previous edition in that they did away with the hosting segment and concentrate on just the singing aspect. Which should be the way. Other than Shikin Imran, the previous competition’s runner-up who was given a hosting role in an info-ed show in the past five years, I struggle to think back which of the other Anugerah 2011 contestants who were fortunate enough to co-anchor or host a programme. The rubrics for this year’s competition look a bit haphazard with the contestants playing musical chairs with the rankings throughout the show, but I like it already as it keeps them all on their toes to do well. The $500 incentive and immunity from being eliminated via viewers’ votes, or lack thereof, that come with being placed first for the week should give them that motivation. Tonight, it is the turn for Group B to take centrestage. I cannot wait to see what the next eight contestants have in store for us. Can they perform better than Group A did last week??? We shall see…