Anugerah Planet Muzik 2013 Review…

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(Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Altimet and Awi Rafael performing “Kalau Aku Kaya“…

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

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Adi Rahman and Sarah Sechan…

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

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

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

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

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

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

In years past, people have complained that the script was either too “in-your-face”, vulgar or redundant. I think credit should go to Adi Rahman, being the script writer, for keeping it simple, eradicating the sexual innuendos (even though the other two hosts did slip their tongues once or twice, probably taking the mick out of Adi‘s newly-minted status) and without being too excessive. Speaking to him after the show, he did say that it was a huge challenge to write the script as he first had to study the characters and backgrounds of not only his fellow presenters but the award presenters as well. For them to click, he had to find a common theme or subject for them to talk about (the small talk and banter between the presenters). He found it especially challenging to blend the conversation between Aura Shai, Mike Kasem and Dato’ Rossa (I am still getting used to the title which was recently conferred to her). While Aura Shai did not look out of place, the latter two did look a bit uncomfortable, at least from my own observations. Which made me wonder whether Mike Kasem‘s presence was relevant at all, no disrespect to the guy. But I was all too happy not to hear the “Gerek Seh!!!” phrase being mentioned at all, cos seriously nobody in Singapore uses this on a daily basis anymore.

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Stacy Angie always packs a punch in her livewire performances…

I would like to reserve a special mention to the “Radio Ultras” (or also known as the “Singamania” group that attends football matches involving Singapore / Lions XII) who came in numbers and filled up the rear seats. I thought their presence lifted a rather subdued atmosphere (what’s new anyway about Singapore audience???), but prompted the audience to clap and cheer along to their chants before the show began. Those at home were unfortunate not to witness this spectacle of a performance and I doubt it was shown on television. It was typical of what you might see if you were to watch a Malaysian Super League match at the Jalan Besar Stadium. But this felt much better as perhaps the arena is enclosed and their singing was heard loud and clear. I think the foreign delegates from Malaysia and Indonesia were very impressed, judging by the smiles on their faces upon witnessing it. The rousing applause that accompanied their performance was testament to that.

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Sarah Sechan and Dato’ AC Mizal were poking fun at one another the whole night…

Every year, the same complaint has been made time and time again of the lack of a Red Carpet segment or the “poor standards” of it whenever it was held. If one were to observe similar segments in other countries’ award shows, you would note that this separate segment alone has either a main sponsor or several sponsors attached to it. Unfortunately, even for a progressive country like us, sponsors are hard to come by when it comes to supporting our local Malay entertainment scene. There is only so much the organisers are able to budget and rental of the auditorium alone is expensive. Add to payment of artiste appearances, performers, accomodation, flight tickets etc, certain aspects had to be dropped and unfortunately they saw no need to have the Red Carpet segment, which was fine by me and one I have come to accept over the years. Even some of the other acts I talked to said they were ok with it.

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Art Fazil and Imuda with their hit “Rilek Brader“…

People always complain that the organisers have no budget and that if they did not, then why do up such an event??? Sometimes people fail to look at the big picture and sometimes too it is a matter of “damned if they do, damned if they don’t“. This is an event that honours the best in the region as well as our own cos we certainly do not have our own awards show save for Pesta Perdana and the only Anugerah Hitz.Sg event back in 2010. For all the success and more hyped-up entertainment industries of our neighbouring countries, do not expect them to do something similar to what Mediacorp has done. Yes, they might have one separate category for foreign artistes in their award shows, but that’s it. This event brings together big names from the region, a chance to collaborate and network, honour the best and it is because of that you see the likes of Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza lending her support on an almost annual basis, either through performing or just making an appearance as a guest, bar the 2012 edition. It is not about payment, but endorsing the credence of the event. Mediacorp I think has done well to work within their means and funding. Of course we would all like to see all the other razzmatazz associated to award shows but it’s also how best they can come up with something that others might not / do not want to do.

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Judika and Shila Amzah put in a memorable performance singing “Aku Yang Tersakiti” together…

However, I did not quite like the “Walk of the Stars” segment that much, which occurred half an hour prior to the show. This somehow replaced the Red Carpet segment, with the artistes who were either performing or presenting awards coming out from the back to be introduced to the audience. It seemed a bit too rush for me as only the big names were stopped by the hosts, A B Shaik and Fiza O, to be interviewed. As a result and as mentioned in my entry before last, I could not get good shots of some of those who had walked onto the stage for their introductions. I think if they were to do this in future, they should extend it by another fifteen minutes or so, interview each and every artiste that walks onstage and not only that, include the other award nominees who did not get the opportunity to perform nor present an award. I think it is only fair to include them as this is a day to honour each and everyone of them. Especially the local artistes, am sure the audience too would like to catch a glimpse of them and get themselves acquainted to their own homegrown acts.

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Another thing that baffled me was the post-event reception or lack thereof of one. I actually heard about its non-availability when I came for the sound check a day before the event, and I thought perhaps my informer had pulled my leg. But there wasn’t any, much to the surprise and disappointment of the other artistes and industry people who had come to watch the event, either as nominees or guests. They had told me that they were indeed looking forward to the reception as they had wanted to use it to do some networking with their neighbouring counterparts and of course to catch up with one another, seeing their respective busy schedules. Confusion reigned when ushers showed them to the back once the event ended, but there was no reception nor instructions telling them where to go and the waiting area was pitched black before the lights came on about ten minutes later. Some ended up walking aimlessly at the back before they were able to go out from where they first came from. I knew because I was there too.

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Dato Siti Nurhaliza with her duet partner, Hafiz Suip, performing “Muara Hati“…

For all the hype and star-studded cast on show, I was surprised that the auditorium was only about two-thirds full. I mean, don’t people want to pay and watch performances from artistes you know exude professionalism, charm, charisma and not to mention quality anymore??? I think gone are the days when the likes of Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza are able to perform to a sell-out audience. In the past, just one big name alone was able to fill up an entire arena. In recent years, it has been quite a struggle. I dunno if it’s due to the ticket prices, timing (Friday night is actually the start of a weekend so what excuse do we have???) or the lack of knowledge on some of the other neighbouring artistes, but if it’s Anugerah Planet Muzik, one should know by now that the quality on show has never been compromised since its inception in 2001. The problem with us is that we want quality but are not receptive enough to want to pay for it. And like what I had often mentioned in the past, I blame those monthly expo events for devaluing the artistes.

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Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza joined Cakra Khan in singing “Harus Terpisah“…

One thing I’ve been quite consistent in pointing out yearly is the lack of time for the winners to give their acceptance speeches. Bar the recipients of the Special Achievement award, all the other winners were only accorded about thirty seconds to express their gratitude to the people that matter. I know that they are afraid of the show being over-run as they had only allocated two-and-a-half hours, but such an event demands at least an extra fifteen minutes to half an hour’s grace for any unexpected occurrences. Just imagine, the winner is busy preparing himself / herself backstage or perhaps granting an interview with the media scribes and they have to rush to the stage to accept their awards. By the time they reach the stage, at least fifteen to twenty seconds (half a minute in some cases) would have been wasted and they are only left with about ten seconds worth to thank the people behind their success. I think the thirty seconds rule should start the moment they open their mouths to speak.

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I had a major peeve that night with the lack of decorum and self-respect of some artistes towards the event. Even if you are not performing or presenting an award, the least you could respect the event was by turning up and wearing something presentable other than donning t-shirt and jeans. At the very least you could have done was wear a jacket over the t-shirt or put on some simple / fancy accessory to go along with it. As an artiste, I am sure you want your works to be noticed and in turn gain recognition. I think we are living in an era where making music alone is not enough and consumers would look to see if their favourite artistes would be presentable or have no sense of style at all. Am not asking you to play dress up, but such an event has not only the eyes of those in this country watching, but the region as well. If artistes like Raven, Northbound, Seyra, Diorama, just to name a few, could look presentable or stay true to their genre, why can’t you??? It reflects badly on not only you, but the other acts in your country as well, as it only shows that you don’t care at all. And when you don’t care, do you expect others to do the same towards you??? It works both ways. Never forget that impression counts or you remain forgettable / not worth being featured if you do not have any self-worth. Think about it and don’t be selfish!!!

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A great tribute performance to Black Dog Bone by Awi Rafael, Judika, Jatt Ali and Hafiz Suip

I remember beginning last year’s review by hitting out at the brickbats of this event. This year, am pushing it towards the end. Simply because, I am heartened to say that they belonged in the minority. I think majority of viewers were quite pleased with the performances on show as well as the winners. Though it has to be said that I still saw a few sour grapes / wet blankets / spoilsports who questioned the credibility of the winners in the popular categories. In recent years, our Singapore Idols were the subject of their ire. This time the “honours” went to Hafiz Suip and “Muara Hati“. And the ones making all the noises are the ones in Indonesia, well to be fair, just a few of them. As usual, the common complaints we hear are, “Who is Hafiz???” and “Why haven’t we heard Muara Hati before???” I’ve been monitoring the Facebook page of Anugerah Planet Muzik and there is one particular guy whose name starts with a calendar month, who has been consistent in putting down the show, its credibility and the winners, while saying how good his countrymen and music industry are. He obviously did not realise that the judging panel for the best categories also included a few of his own countrymen and that the popular categories were voted by people from outside his country (and perhaps some from his own, cos c’mon Dato’ Siti is extremely popular in Indonesia as well!!!). This is one example where you get too big for your own good and disrespect those outside your sphere. Continue living under your coconut shell, pal!!!

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Rousing end to the show by Amy Search and Bunkface

Overall, Anugerah Planet Muzik 2013 was not too bad, certainly not shabby at all, even when you have the shortcomings I mentioned in the latter paragraphs. In fact I would rank it the best within the last six or seven years. In terms of entertainment, esthetics and sound quality, I think the organisers have done extremely well to stop the rot and improved different aspects of it. For that alone, they deserved full marks cos simply put, an event of this magnitude demands quality, the audience paid for it and they got it and more. Of course in a live event, there will be the unexpected technical glitches but other than the botched video clip during one of the awards presentation, it was a smooth one throughout. To those who had attended and watched the event live, I salute you for coming to support. I am sure most of you brought home sweet memories of the event. Here’s looking forward to APM2014, hopefully a better one than this year, or at least maintaining the standards that it has set this year. Congratulations to all the winners and to the organisers once again on a job well done, not to mention, for the kind invitation as well… 🙂

Award Presenters @ Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011

Ning Baizura & Afgan Syah Reza

RZ, Sarah Aqilah & Dyn Norahim

Syazwan Zakariah & Scha Alyahya

Dato’ AC Mizal & Huda Ali

Winnie K & AB Shaik Ahmad Banafe’

Puan Zakiah Halim

Linda Onn & Halim Othman

Nity Baizura & Ady Putra

Hafeez Glamour & Nora Danish

Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 Review…

Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 returned to these shores last Friday night after a four-year absence, venturing in Kuala Lumpur in 2008 and Jakarta in 2009, before taking a break last year due to the economic slowdown. 2010 also saw the birth of our very own AnugeraHitz.SG, so it was understandably taxing for Mediacorp Radio‘s Warna 94.2FM & RIA 89.7FM to organise Anugerah Planet Muzik, moreso in Singapore where we do not have the privilege of having mega sponsorships from big companies as what is being enjoyed by our regional counterparts. As such, we have to lower our expectations on seeing more of such big events being organised here. Unless of course if our mainstream media organisations can pool their resources together and give what the consumers would want to see. Anyway, the event celebrated its tenth year in existence, a long way since its inception in 2001 held at the now-defunct Harbour Pavilion. I still remember that 20 January 2001 event like it was yesterday.

Judging from last Friday‘s attendance at the Max Pavilion Singapore Expo where the event was held, I think a working collaboration of such magnitude is still far away from getting materialised. Just imagine, we had one of the best line-ups in Anugerah Planet Muzik history, yet the venue was only about half full. Who should we blame this for??? The economy??? The organisers??? The consumers??? The event venue??? The promotions team??? I’ve said it before and I say it again, we here in Singapore are suckers for free shows, no thanks to the monthly exhibitions at Singapore Expo where we can watch guest artistes performing without paying a single cent. The timing of the event could also have played a small part in not enticing people from attending it. It was only a month ago that we had Maher Zain performing here to a sell-out audience, and tickets to his concert did not come cheap, especially for those who came in big groups or as a family.

I find it extremely odd that even with the likes of Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, Afgan, Rossa, M. Nasir, Hady Mirza and Taufik Batisah just to name a few in the stellar line-up, it was difficult to attract bums to seats. Not only that, it is a mystery to me that the event felt more like a SingaporeMalaysia affair with mostly Singaporean and Malaysian artistes in attendance. The Indonesians had their host in Daniel Mananta and performers in Afgan Syah Reza, Rossa, Melly Goeslaw and Sandhy Sondoro, but other than them, only Judika was seen sitting behind Aliff Aziz amongst the audience. No one can deny that the Indonesians produce good music and good talents, but I hope it doesn’t breed a sense of pompous attitude that they do not support an event such as this. At least accept the invitation of the organisers to come and make the effort to meet their fans over here. We already have a sizeable number of Indonesians working or attending school here and it would be nice to meet their fellow countrymen.

Taufik Batisah, Hady Mirza, Sezairi Sezali, SleeQ, Sarah Aqilah and Rahayu Ridwan opened the show with “Senyum“… Not forgetting Orkestar Trio and Bloco Singapura before that…

Speaking of the venue, I had major reservations when I first heard that it was gonna be held there back in April. Unsavoury memories of APM2006 were still fresh in my mind and to tell you the truth, I had not stepped foot at that event venue since then till last Thursday afternoon, when I dropped by to watch Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza and Jaclyn Victor rehearsing for their tribute segment with Melly Goeslaw. I did not attend any concerts or shows held there for the past five years, for the sole reasons that I was sceptical of the poor sound system which I experienced back in 2006. There were also other factors that made APM2006 the least enjoyable or to put it harshly, “the worst”, in my opinion. I would not want to bring it up here as I had already done so back then, also in this domain. But I’m sure the organisers have taken into account the shortcomings and strived to make it a better experience for those who had paid to come and watch the event as the years go by.

As a whole, I personally feel that this year’s Anugerah Planet Muzik event is probably almost on par with the ones held back in 2002 and 2004, the years I felt were the better-produced ones in its history. Coincidentally both editions were also held at Singapore Expo, though at Halls 6 and 3 respectively. Ok some of you might say that I’m saying this just because I have finally gotten what I wanted, which is getting official media accreditation, something which I had fought hard to attain all these years and that I had to say nice things so as to get future invitations to such events. I’m sorry to disappoint my haters and dissenters, but what I observed live was very much different than couch potatoes at home. And I have a strong feeling that those who bothered to come, some even dressed up to the nines, would say that it was all worth coming and paying every single cent to watch it, no matter if they had sat nearer to the stage or way at the back.

Malaysia‘s Didie Alias introduced her hosting colleagues with a modified version of Lady Gaga‘s “Bad Romance“…

Yes, I know just by reading my Twitter timeline, Facebook wall, as well as online reports on the event, commenters out there did not paint a rosy picture. It is Anugerah Planet Muzik (APM) afterall, and what is being organised by our local Malay radio stations or even by our own Suria channel, will never be good for those watching at home, especially those who were watching from outside this country. This show has always received flak from the foreign media, who have too high expectations given that it is a regional event, so it was not a surprise for me to read the negative commentaries. I attribute some of these bad press to the fact that most of the foreign media did not turn up due to the lack of invitation and were not granted transportation & lodging as well by the organisers. I didn’t know that such practices are the norm in entertainment journalism, at least across our shores. I certainly learnt something new here cos I thought it was the job of their respective employers to provide these sort of arrangements to cover events. I’m still a newbie at this, so please forgive me for my ignorance.

Anyway I have to admit hand to heart, the show has its niggly flaws to contend with (which show is perfect you tell me???), but if you look at it in the bigger picture, would anyone else from Malaysia or Indonesia bother to do a similar show or even give our own local acts their due recognitions on stage??? Already from my Twitter timeline I read how so many people from outside this country have not heard of our local artistes, other than those who have made a name for themselves there. This is one of the reasons why Anugerah Planet Muzik is held, for artistes in each country to be introduced and known to the region and for the established ones to maintain their positions. If you ask me before this event was held, I have never heard of the likes of Amanda Imani, Aisya Hasnaa, Zivilia, Blackout, Astrid, Govinda and Febrian before this, just to name a few of the region’s newbie acts, but thanks to APM, I now know that even though they are new to the scene, they do not lack in quality.

The awesome foursome who lit the night up with their antics…

Likewise I hope that people outside this country would get to know our acts better and who knows, their presence on stage would open more doors for them across our shores. The problem with viewers outside Singapore is that they are too nationalistic in their views over their respective music scenes and think they have the bigger and better industry. Of course they do, that I do not deny, but isn’t music meant to be shared and enjoyed universally??? No matter what the foreign media or entertainment bloggers or even general viewers might say about APM, it is an event such as this that brings the region together and for the musicians, performers, producers, lyricists and composers to build a working network, so as to bring up the quality of music in this region through the proliferation and exchanging of ideas. In this respect, the words of Gigi‘s front man, Armand Maulana, – “Keep the peace, love & respect for music” – rings true.

Though I had said that this is probably one of the better APMs in its history, the best was still the one in 2005 held at Suntec City Convention Hall where it was a sold-out event and it had a proper Red Carpet event, complete with artistes coming in limousines and the fans lining up the passageways to clamour and jostle for photographs. Now that’s what a Red Carpet event should be about. Not that this year was not good, but it could have been done slightly better. I heard and I saw for myself how fans were coming forward to grab the artistes or stepped forward on the Red Carpet themselves when it was supposed to be exclusivity for the artistes to walk on. Why they were allowed to do this was because there were no barricades separating the artistes and them. Some who had grabbed the artistes or stepped foot on the red carpet only served to slow down the smoothness of the proceedings. Still, I thought it was much better than in 2006 where the artistes had to “do the catwalk” on stage to be introduced to the audience. My other gripe would be more artistes should have walked the carpet even if they were not performing or presenting awards. Quite a few of our nominees were in attendance. At least give them their deserved spotlight on their big night.

The suave Adi Rahman

In any awards show, the host/s have a responsibility of keeping the interest of viewers going. I like the make-up of this year’s hosting line-up, especially the introduction of Malaysia‘s Lady Gaga, Didie Alias, and Indonesian MTV VJ, Daniel Mananta. They brought a new and more creative element into the mix, a breath of fresh air no doubt. Didie‘s over-the-top antics stole the show, while the rest looked more than happy to play the supporting role. However, some of what was written on their scripts and planned antics were unnecessary, like the dig on Malaysian actress Rozita Che Wan and her reported beau, Shahir, for instance. It’s like a recycled joke when Adi Rahman used to profess his love for Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza in previous APMs that he had hosted before. I was just amazed the Lady Gaga segment at the beginning of the show passed by without any hoo-ha, given the fact that her “modified” songs brought so much consternation over the past week on this island, due to the furore surrounding the National Day Parade‘s “Fun Pack“.

The opening segment comprising an all-Singaporean affair, which had never been done before in the history of the show, was a fresh idea and one that had the audience cheering right from the start. It gave an impression that our local acts, acting as our ambassadors, were the ones who did the welcoming to their regional counterparts and the audience watching at home to the show. Everyone looked as though they were enjoying themselves, most notably our newly-crowned Anugerah 2011 champion, Rahayu Ridwan. However, I personally feel that it would have been better had a song by any one of our local acts be sung instead. Looking at their comfort on stage, whilst rapping is the forte of SleeQ, our three Idols are more known as crooners rather than rappers. Part of the lyrics to the song “Senyum” also related more on the original performer’s (Malique) life, which does not really reflect much about welcoming us to the show. Some of their voices were also inaudible at times or drowned by the live music, due to technical problems with the microphone volumes.

The affable Fiza O 

I will of course, not describe each and every single performance per se, as you can view all of them on YouTube, thanks to the people who have uploaded them. Personally I enjoyed a bulk of the performances that night and three hours went by a little too fast for my liking. From the various solo and group performances, to the teaming up of regional acts on stage, APM 2011 delivered in its live entertainment value. I was extremely proud of our local acts, each and every single one of them, who showed that they were able to stand tall along with their regional counterparts. There was no inferiority complex whatsoever, just confident performances throughout. Aryan Band, is one that needs a special mention as most people in Singapore have also not heard of them before this, yours truly included. Just by their name, I thought they were from Indonesia. Their rendition of “Azura 2011” had the hairs at the back of my neck standing by the end of their performance. No wonder Luncai Emas Sdn Bhd have signed them up under their label. This group is certainly about to go places in the upcoming future.

Other local acts that need to be given props are Sarah Aqilah (“Seikhlas Hatimu“) and Sezairi Sezali. The former has certainly grown and improve from her Anugerah 2009 win and I do hope she would go on to build a proper singing career once her studies are over. Sezairi on the other hand, impressed with his soothing vocals when he performed “Matahari“. Other notable performances that I enjoyed that night were Amanda Imani (“Selamilah Cinta“), Afgan Syah Reza (“Terima Kasih Cinta” / “Dia Dia Dia“), and the tribute to Anugerah Khas Planet Muzik recipient, Melly Goeslaw, by Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, Jaclyn Victor and Melly herself. 3 Suara, which comprises Ning Baizura, Jaclyn Victor & Shylla Amzah, was another that grabbed the attention with their sultry showmanship. Even though I also loved Ajai and Shylla‘s duet, performing The Lion Story & Zahidah‘s “Lagu Teman“, it would have been nice if the original singers were given their dues and opportunity to perform on the night.

Daniel Mananta is definitely a hit with the ladies…

Surprisingly, I did not quite enjoy two of my favourite performers’ performances and I’m sure you can more or less guess who. Though I love Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza and Faizal Tahir to bits, I thought their performances that night did not quite work out as it should be. The former’s song “I’m Falling In Love“, which is a new single in her upcoming English album, is a bit too identical to Kylie Minogue‘s “Can’t Get You Outta My Head“, along with the dance steps. As for the latter, I’m sure you know what happened when he went flat and off-key when performing “Hanyut” and “Selamat Malam“. The delay to his performance was caused by the hanging of his accompanying keyboardist’s PC. But he should have saved the day by engaging the audience with his witty quips, which he is known for, rather than keep quiet and let the seconds and minutes go by.

From what I read online, a lot of people were blaming the organisers and production team for this particular boo-boo and this also included the four-minute loss of transmission towards the end, which I felt was quite unfair, since most of these comments were made by people who did not watch the show live. The loss of transmission was due to the heavy storm which descended outside the event venue just before Dato’ Siti was awarded the Most Popular Regional Artiste Award. Acts of God like these are unavoidable and there is no way you can prevent if such a thing were to occur. Some went so far as to comment they demand an explanation from the organisers, even if they have to wait till the end of time. Be realistic, don’t be ridiculous!!! As for Mr Superman himself, I hope he had done enough sound checks beforehand to know what could possibly go wrong on the night. That’s the reason why you have sound checks and rehearsals leading up to a show.

Other unsavoury bits of news I heard were some artistes smoking in the waiting room and throwing their cigarette butts on the carpeted floors. I dunno if this is plain stupidity or ignorance or simply a lack of common sense on their part, but they could have caused a fire to break out as a result and more damage to the show. Basic etiquettes like not chewing gum when you’re on stage performing or even when accepting an award, should also be drummed into the heads of wannabe artistes out there. Not only is it rude with millions in the region watching your every move, it reflects badly on the country you represent. There is a time and place to enjoy that puff or chew the gum, but don’t ruin your newly-built reputations when the media is ever ready to pounce on your flaws and bring you down. If you are a Singaporean artiste, you will count yourselves very lucky the media here are very much forgiving and always giving the benefit of doubt. Malaysian or Indonesian artistes do not exactly enjoy that liberty.

Looking at the winners, I don’t think eyebrows need to be raised with most of the choices, even though many people have been questioning the wisdom in crowning the Lagu Serantau Paling Popular Award to our Asian Idol, Hady Mirza. No doubt his win in that category was a bit surprising. I also did not expect any of our local acts to win in that category for the sole reason being our population size, as compared to our regional counterparts. If voters from other countries are crying foul, then it’s their fault for not working hard or having the presence of mind to vote for their respective favourites, given the fact that they were already told via the official radio stations in their respective countries on how to go about voting for their favourites. Either way, the tech savvy ones simply did not bother to vote nor having the initiative to find out how to do it. No point calling it a farce when other sets of fans have worked hard to make it possible.

But the crowning of Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza as the Most Popular Regional Artiste (Throughout The Decade) was the one that surprised me in terms of what it meant for her in future. By virtue of winning this award, and what the television viewers did not get to see due to the loss in transmission, it was announced that she is automatically exempted from being nominated again in upcoming Anugerah Planet Muzik events in this particular category. I dunno if this was an executive decision made by the organisers or one that the diva herself had agreed upon beforehand, but I hope for her sake, she is not “banned” from being nominated again and that it was in agreement that she would give way to others, just like what she did with Anugerah Juara Lagu and Anugerah Bintang Popular Berita Harian back in her home country. This win was very much expected given the fact that she is well-loved by people from the three countries. Ten in a row, it will take someone equally special to top that feat and may never be repeated in our lifetime.

I also would like to go on record to say I like the delectable mix of award presenters that night, even though it also has to be said that a constant complain at every APM is the “recycling” of performers and them backing up as presenters as well. I think the ones that were most enjoyable that night were Dato’ AC Mizal & Huda Ali as well as Halim Othman & Linda Onn. Their banters were off-the-cuff, natural and showed uncanny chemistry between them. Linda certainly impressed me with her natural usage of Bahasa Baku, something that even most of us do not practice every day. The only downside to the scripts were the sexual innuendoes which I felt were a bit unnecessary or the jibes on their fellow presenters’ private lives. There is a place for jokes like that, but not when the show is watched by millions of viewers of all ages in the region.

I have a niggly issue with the finale though and I need to do a bit of complaining about it. I thought it could have been done much better by having a final rousing performance by any of the acts to end the night, but it was not to be. Instead, it ended with the hosts thanking everyone and the sponsors and it was left to them to dance along to the accompanying music and waving to the audience in the hall and at home. For most of the good things that happened that night, it had to end off with an anti-climax like that. I think the one in 2007 where the show ended with Kris Dayanti, Hady Mirza, Diddy and the late Yanie (May Allah bless her soul), was an example of a good finale. I really hope that the organisers would think about this aspect the next time they stage APM anywhere in the region, as it would be a waste to end off a good show with nothing more than what was displayed, plus the traditional showering of confetti upon everyone seated at the front and on stage.

Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 was, in my humble opinion, a generally enjoyable event. A pity then that the arena was only about half full when it should have been a sell-out. The line-up was great, the performances were mostly excellent. Yes I detected a few technical problems when I watched it again on YouTube and that is something that the organisers should take heed and note for the betterment of future productions. Given the economic climate, I feel that if it were to be organised here again, it should be held at a smaller venue where the acoustics would lend justice to the performers as well as those watching in the arena and at home. Kudos to those who paid f0r and dressed up for the event. The ones who enjoyed themselves were those who were in attendance. It was two different experiences soaking the atmosphere live and watching from the comfort of home. And that is where we get the accolades and flak from different sets of viewers. Anugerah Planet Muzik 2012 if it is to be staged, God willing, will probably be held in Jakarta, though I hope that it would be in Kuala Lumpur instead.

P.S. A big thank you to Mediacorp Radio Warna 94.2FM & RIA 89.7FM for the kind invitation to the event. Thank you also to my outfit sponsor Jatt’s Collezione for the top I wore the other night. In case you are wondering why there are no photographs on the performances, award presenters as well as post-event reception, I have planned to upload them in subsequent entries so you need to come back soon…

Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 Pre-Show & Red Carpet Segment…

Nope this is not a review of Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011. Not so soon and definitely not my style. Cos I would love to take my time to read what the foreign media and entertainment bloggers would have to say before I come out with my own thoughts and also to agree with them or to defend the organisers and production team as and when I deem fit to do so. But I know most of you entering this domain would want to see photographs or clips I took during the event. Fret not, cos I have planned to split up my entry into several parts so it does not have to come out as too long-winded for you to digest. For starters, I’ll begin with the Red Carpet event as well as several photos I snapped of our local acts already seated amongst the audience, which most of you did not get to see at home. Enjoy viewing the pics and clip!!!

Roze Kasmani (right), with manager Raudha Ismail and Shah Shamshiri, the lyricist to her debut single “Harum“… 

Revalina looking spiffy in their outfits…

Mediacorp AMU artistes Komrad and Yanie from the girl group EVE

Warna 94.2FM‘s AB Shaik and RIA 89.7FM‘s Nity Baizura were the hosts for the Red Carpet segment…

First up on the red carpet were SleeQ and Sezairi Sezali, Singapore‘s 3rd Idol

Sarah Aqilah making her debut at APM 2011

Anugerah 2011 winner Rahayu Ridwan also made her debut fresh from her win a fortnight ago…

Surprised to see Hady Mirza in this new style, breaking away from the boy-next-door image we’ve been so used to seeing, but it was fresh nonetheless…

Love this shot of Taufik Batisah and Rossa

Good looks, soulful voice, no wonder the gals go gaga over Afgan Syah Reza

Stunning outfit worn by Winnie K that night. I initially thought a bride was on the loose…

Our very own Huda Ali wearing an Ashley Isham creation…

He might be a Dato’, but AC Mizal (with wife Emilia Rosnaida), is still the spunky and sporty fellow that we know…

Dato M. Nasir (with wife Datin Marlia Musa) is still very popular and well respected on these shores judging by the cheers he received…

Prolific composer Ajai, walked the carpet with Aisya Hasnaa, one of the nominees for Vokal Terbaik (Artis Baru Wanita)

Atilia flanked by MonoLoQue

Aryan Band, one of our local acts signed by Luncai Emas Sdn Bhd

Hafiz, Akademi Fantasia 7 winner was a crowd pleaser not only with his voice, but his infectious smile and not forgetting, the hair…

Suria FM‘s Halim Othman with Nora Danish, who was a hot favourite with fans clamouring to take photographs with her…

The gorgeous and tall Amanda Imani. She could easily be a supermodel with the height she has…

An example of a local act who has flown the flag high across the shores, Ady Putra

Farah Asyikin, winner of Vokal Terbaik (Artis Baru Wanita) back at APM 2008

The gal with the trademark baju kurung / kebaya, Ana Raffali

Sandhy Sondoro looked glum throughout, but his voice has made the region take note of his abilities…

Shylla Amzah looked as though she was loving every minute on the red carpet…

One word to describe Ning Baizura: Stunning!!!

Jaclyn Victor, a vocal powerhouse in her own right…

No surprises to see so many people clamouring to take photographs of Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza by the side…

Always a pleasure to see Linda Onn back at the place where she spent her childhood. Am sure she felt the same way too…