Anugerah 2017 Week One Recap…

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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 Anugerah singing 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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

anugerah-2017-episode-1-002Reyza 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.

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Fatihah Izyan

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.

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Shafie Syed

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 Indra Shahrir 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.

anugerah-2017-episode-1-380Liwani Izzati

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.

anugerah-2017-episode-1-406Mohammad Shahfiq

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.

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Shalyza Rosly

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.

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Hakim Halim

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.

anugerah-2017-episode-1-560Roziana Cindy

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.

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Azhar Aziz

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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

Snapshots of Anugerah 2017 Week One

RIA 89.7FM’s Silver Jubilee Celebrations…

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

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

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

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

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

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The birthday bash was hosted by DJ KC and Dzar Ismail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

APM2015 Snapshots…

APM 2015 - Media Release(Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

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

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

Launch of Hyrul Anuar’s “Mata” Music Video…

Music videos (MVs) are part and parcel of the entertainment industry. Normally the ones in the West and those with very established music industries would come out with quality MVs, with amazing props, technicolour and CGI effects thrown into the mix. Closer to home, not many are able to say the quality of MVs are closer to or on par with the others outside our South-East Asia region. There is a saying that with big money comes better quality MVs and the fact remains, we do not have this luxury in our small industry. But I personally feel that in recent times, with Revalina‘s “Menanti Cintamu” and Awi Rafael‘s “Pulanglah” being prime examples, we are able to see that quality MVs can be produced with perhaps limited budget and very creative people working behind the scenes to make it happen. In summary, it can be done.

Hence I had the same hope that Hyrul Anuar‘s music video for his single “Mata“, taken off his album “Sesebuah Perubahan“, would be of a respectable standard when I first received the invitation to attend its launch. Truth be told, I have never heard of a music video launch before this, especially in our local context. Correct me for my probable ignorance, but this was perhaps the first in our local Malay music industry to have such an event. Positive memories of Hyrul‘s album launch last year are still fresh in my head till this day, from how it was planned and executed, to the number of local personalities who turned up to support the event. Even though the venue of the MV launch (The Arts House @ Old Parliament Building) is considered much smaller than the ballroom at Hotel Re!, I was still looking forward to a memorable event.

The day of the event (23rd September 2011) was a special day and landmark for Hyrul Anuar. Not only was it the day he launched his MV, he also celebrated his 26th birthday on the same day. I had initial fears when I realised the event was held during the Formula One Race competition right smack next to the racing track. Walking along the road leading towards The Arts House only heightened my fears as the sounds from the race cars were terribly deafening and I was afraid that they would spoil Hyrul‘s event. But thankfully, the building is soundproof and those who attended enjoyed an F1-free event in the Screening Room of The Arts House. It also helped that Hyrul‘s event was during the break between the first and second practice sessions for the F1 drivers.

The MV launch was hosted by Imran Ajmain, the man who helped produced Hyrul‘s album. I will not delve much on what happened during the MV launch as you are able to watch it in the video that I have uploaded. But just to give you a quick information on the MV. It was shot in NTU and Tuas in the space of five days by a group of students from Nanyang Technological University’s School of Arts, Design and Media who call themselves “ShadowPlay Studio“, under the astute direction of Ridwan Madon. The K-Pop inspired MV has an angsty theme to it and with choreography by Fantastic Crew, make-up by Daen A. Ali and costumes sponsored by ATZU and Dress Sense, the blend and mix was simply perfect. Even though I will not upload the actual video in this entry due to respecting its exclusivity, you can view it when it’s up on Singtel‘s website in the coming future as Hyrul is a Mio Singtel ambassador. Hyrul had also stated that the MV will not be uploaded on YouTube.

On a day Hyrul Anuar celebrated the launch of his music video and creating a milestone of sorts on his birthday, it was also launched and aired on Suria, Sensasi and Astro Ria that night. Personally I feel that the music video has raised the standards of local MVs. At first glance, it reminded me of some of KRU‘s music videos and the group were known for being technologically advanced in creating their own MVs even way back in the late 90s. Let’s hope that more local acts will be inspired to produce their own quality videos and lift the standards of our local industry to a new level. If Hyrul Anuar can do it through his own perseverance and hard work, I think anything is possible if we were to put our hearts, minds and soul into it. Congratulations to Hyrul Anuar on the launch of his “Mata” music video!!!

Snapshots of Hyrul Anuar’s “Mata” Music Video Launch

Guests were encouraged to hold these props up and take a photograph… 

Host of the event, Imran Ajmain

The man himself, Hyrul Anuar

Hyrul with local actress Shasha Ya’kob

RIA 89.7FM‘s Aura Shai was in attendance…

So too was television personality, Rilla Melati Bahri

The beautiful model in the music video, Noor Artika…

Introducing Hyrul Anuar‘s proud parents…

Some of the guests in attendance…

Local singers Roze Kasmani and Hydir Idris were also in attendance, as well as talented lyricist Fadly Ahmad (right)…

Surprise birthday celebration for the birthday boy…

Imran Ajmain 100 Hari Acoustic Tour Reminisced…

(Graphics poster courtesy of imranajmain.com)

I did say in one of my previous entries that this blog will be on hiatus during the blessed month of Ramadhan. As in years past, it has been that way, as I normally do not attend any functions or events related to the entertainment scene during this month. But I know I owe the readers of my blog this particular entry, which is why I decided to dust the three-week old cobwebs away and return for a short update. We are already halfway into the fasting month and we’re left with another two weeks. I hope that each and everyone of you are doing well, in the pink of health and grabbing every possible opportunity that Almighty Allah have bestowed upon us this month. Such is the beauty of Ramadhan, that I wish it could be a daily occurrence.

Anyway back to the event that I attended a few days after Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011 was held here in Singapore. Imran Ajmain‘s “100 Hari Acoustic Tour“, was a celebration to commemorate him quitting smoking for good. It all began with him doing the countdown to 100 days on social networking sites Twitter and Facebook back in February 2011, without telling anyone what he was counting down for. By the end of it, he achieved his mission and the acoustic tour was one that he wanted to share with his ardent followers. The last I attended Imran‘s showcase was back on 26 February 2008 at the Arts House @ Old Parliament Building. I did attend the launch of his second album “Punca Dan Tindakan” a year and a half after that at Rendezvous Hotel, but it did not quite count as a showcase, even though he sang a majority of the songs found in the album that night.

This showcase featured the likes of Dr. Fazley Yaakob, eternally remembered for the hit “Asmara Ini” and Hydir Idris, a semi-finalist of Anugerah 2009, who in my opinion was one of the favourites to win in that year’s competition. I dunno if it was secretly planned or was it impromptu, but our talented local act, Roze Kasmani, who was in the audience was also roped in to sing with Dr. Fazley and Imran himself. This was a feel good (and not to mention, sold-out) event shared by everyone who came. This was evident from the smiling faces that left the venue, Badoque Cafe, feeling extremely satisfied. With good company, excellent service, great entertainment and of course the tantalising menu, what more could we have asked for??? It was a night to be remembered and even if Dr. Fazley did not sing some of my personal favourites like “Cerita Asmara“, “Hujan” and “Sesaat Kau Tiada“, I have no complaints and went home a happy man…

Snapshots of Imran Ajmain’s 100 Hari Acoustic Tour in Singapore

Imran welcoming us to the showcase…

Hydir Idris opened the show with three songs…

He surprised yours truly for having the gift to play the guitar…

Most importantly, Hydir is more composed and at ease performing as compared to two years ago…

I last watched Dr. Fazley performing live at Anugerah Planet Muzik 2002…

He has lost none of his charisma and stage presence… The trademark moustache is gone though… Hahahah…

An Imran Ajmain showcase is never complete without his interesting anecdotes…

I guess that’s what the fans missed, besides his presence on stage to entertain us with his soulful voice…

The night’s performers with their accompanying sessionists, Ucop (left) and Syazwan (right)…

Anugerah 2009 Grand Finals Review…

Anugerah

(Photo courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Anugerah trophy design…

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

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

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

FIRST ROUND

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ChirulUlar Berbisa (Hello Band) – Own Choice

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

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Sarah AqilahRawan (Azharina) – Viewer’s Choice

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

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WawanKetahuan (Matta Band) – Viewer’s Choice

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

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KunjungRembulan (Kris Dayanti) – Viewer’s Choice

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

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SECOND ROUND

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Group Performance Tanpa Ku Sedar

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

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THIRD ROUND

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

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

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

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

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Wawan – Semua Untuk Cinta (Mike) – Own Choice

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

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Kunjung Ku Teruskan (Siti Sarah) – Own Choice

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

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DUET WITH MENTORS

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

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

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

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

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Wawan & Maman – Inspirasiku (Jeff Catz)

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

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

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

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GUEST PERFORMANCES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grand Champion – Sarah Aqilah Binte Jamil

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

1st Runner-Up – Kunjung Wide Whitaker

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

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

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

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

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

Subsidiary Awards

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

  1. Trophy
  2. Nikon Coolpix P6000

MANJA Media Darling Award – Kunjung Wide Whitaker

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

LUSTRE‘s Styling Award – Kamsani Bin Jumahat

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

Best Performance in Choreography Award – Kunjung Wide Whitaker

  1. Trophy
  2. $200 shopping vouchers

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Post-Event Reception

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

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

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The glam queens – Norfasarie & Nurul Aini

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

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Syed Azmir, Uncle Jasmani Basri, Lydia and Aliff Aziz

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

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Danial & Hyrul Anuar

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

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

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

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

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

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The champ is here…

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

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

Anugerah 2009 Episode 10 Review…

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(Photo courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The finalists…

Anugerah 2009 Episode 9 Review (Semi-Finals)

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(Photo courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

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

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

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

The following are the voting formats for the contestants:

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

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

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

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Hydir Idris

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

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

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Kunjung Whitaker

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

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

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

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Wawan

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

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

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Catty 

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

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

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

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Chirul 

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

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

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Sarah Aqilah

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

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

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

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

Anugerah 2009 Episode 8 Review…

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This entry nearly did not make it, simply because I was too lazy and procrastinating whether to do it or not. After such a lengthy entry on the Kuala Lumpur trip, all I wanted was to rest a few days before I start again on the Anugerah 2009 reviews. This past Tuesday, the eighth episode was a resurrected platform for six of the eliminated Anugerettes to stake their claims once again to continue their journey in the competition. It was the last chance saloon so to speak, with regards to winning the hearts of the judging panel. By the way, this past week, there were no votes from viewers so it was purely the judges’ decision as to who would go through to next Tuesday‘s semi-final rounds. Joining the judging panel as the guest judge was Manja‘s Editor Aidli Alin Mosbit.

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I thought the idea of making the six contestants – Ize Suliman, Nora Baharom, Hydir Idris, Sarah Aqilah, Azhar Raz & Asilah Osmera – doing the honours of hyping up the show in the first quarter was a good idea to test their interactive skills with the audience, even though it was just to make an announcement. However, the ones who aced it in my opinion, happened to be the ones who were eliminated much earlier (Ize & Asilah) cos they seemed at ease and confident speaking to the microphones. I was surprised that the extra weeks in the competition did not bring the confidence out on the other four when interacting with the audience. Hydir especially was a bundle of nerves and it showed, especially when he forgot what to say and nobody was there to do a bit of ad-libbing for him. Maybe it was a wrong choice to do this, but at the same time, if they don’t, then they might never start to learn how to address the audience.

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Ize Suliman – With such high stakes in place, he kickstarted the competition with a rousing rendition of Faizal Tahir‘s “Kasih Tercipta“. I believe he did nothing wrong and certainly made the song his own by singing it in his own style. In fact, this was the best performance I’ve witnessed Ize executing throughout his stay in the competition. He actually set the standards for the night and at this point of time, I thought the only way he could be eliminated is if the other two guys were to raise the bar higher with their own respective performances.

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Nora BaharomNora as all of us who follow the show on a weekly basis would know, continues to improve with every performance. However, singing Linda AF2‘s “Aku Cinta Kamu“, she somehow stuck to her comfort zone. Contrary to what the judges had commented about her expressions and emotions, I thought she did ok, but there was still that missing element of breaking out and letting herself go when it came to hitting the high notes. It did not help matters when quizzed by the judges, she mispronounced her words and fumbled on her sentence structure, the jitters probably getting to her.

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Hydir Idris – If Faizal Tahir was following this reality show, he must have been beaming with pride cos Hydir became the second guy to sing one of his songs, “Sampai Syurga“. Hydir performed as how we have come to be accustomed by his performances. However there were no frills, he kept it simple and surprisingly did not execute as much vocal gymnastics as in previous rounds. Though I detected a few minor pitching problems, it still wasn’t enough to deter the judges from singing his praises.

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Sarah Aqilah – In a round where the judges are their only executioners, Sarah was intelligent enough to stick to what she knows best – singing power ballads like Agnes Monica‘s “Tanpa Kekasihku” – rather than experiment with a song that is of a more upbeat tempo. Consistency is also the name of the game and she did herself no harm by keeping it safe. But one can’t help detecting the crack in her voice towards the end of the song. Though the performance was good, I still think the judges over-exaggerated their comments on Sarah being ready for any stage out there. To do that, she MUST get out from her comfort zone and be more versatile. Anugerah is just a basic grounding stage for these wannabes, they need a lot of time and experience to hone their skills to be even better so as to be termed “ready for the world stage”.

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Azhar Raz – His forte since the audition rounds is singing songs sung by female singers and in a round where he needed to showcase his strengths, he picked a song sung by Ayu, the second season winner of Malaysia‘s One In A Million competition, entitled “Hanya Di Mercu“. Though his vocal efforts were flawless as usual, his downside was not to synergise his expressions and emotions along with his interaction with the audience. It was difficult to feel the connection between himself and the audience.

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Asilah Osmera – If I were to be harsh, I would say that the judges made the wrong choice in choosing her to be in the Wildcard Round. But I’ve seen in Episode 4, whereby her performance actually made my hairs stood, so there is some credibility in putting her in this round. I have to agree with Eddy Ali that Asilah chose the wrong song as she was basically struggling throughout her performance. I was cringing on my seat watching her sing and I thought Asilah should have done better by singing another song that would really highlight her strengths. The judges comments on her literally sounded the death knell on her progress in the competition. But to be fair to Asilah, singing Melly Goeslaw and Kris Dayanti‘s “Cinta“, is a challenge on its own. This song is best sung by two singers, not one.

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Syed Azmir was the guest artiste for the night… Excellent performance and showmanship… This guy has added dancing into his repertoire…

And so, from the results, we now know that Hydir Idris and Sarah Aqilah were chosen to progress into the semi-final rounds. However, it has to be said that the judges were “guilty” of announcing the results through their various comments. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know Sarah is going through simply when Gani and Aidli spoke about her being ready for the world stage. It also doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to inform Watson that something was elementary, just by listening to their comments on Hydir being “fresh” and executing “a strong showmanship”, while playing down and being polite with their comments towards the other four contestants.

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Awaiting their fates…

Somehow I personally felt that this round was a mere formality even though all six contestants must be applauded for giving their all and in some cases, their best performance throughout their stay in the competition. Even though it was only the start of the show, Gani already let slip through this comment, “Whatever happens tonight, I hope you two will not stop singing…” Ok some might say it’s just a hypothetical comment, but it proved ominous by the end of the show. I hope in future, to keep the audience in the theatre and at home on the edge of their seats, comments like these could be phrased better so as not to announce the results even before others had gone on stage to perform. It gives the impression that this competition is scripted like watching World Wrestling Entertainment when we know it’s not.

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The 6 semi-finalists…

Next Tuesday, we will see the Top 6 battling it out in the Semi-Final round. Based on information I received, Hydir will kickstart the competition followed by Kunjung, Wawan, Catty, Chirul and Sarah Aqilah. I believe by now you should know the codes to call or sms your votes in. If not, it’s ok cos I will include it in my next review on Anugerah 2009. For those of you reading this before 3pm on Saturday, if you’re free, do come down to East Point Mall to lend your support to the semi-finalists in the Anugerah 2009 roadshow. Guest artistes like Imran Ajmain, The Fabulous Cats, Liana Jasmay, Diana Danielle, Han and Nurul will be there as well. The roadshow will be from 3pm-6pm…

Anugerah 2009 Episode 7 Review…

Anugerah

(Photo courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

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

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The contestants practising on their harmonising before the show started…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Awaiting their respective fates…

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

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

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

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

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

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Kunjung introducing herself to the panel…

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

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Azhar doing his own introductions…

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

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Catty doing the honours whilst Nora smiled in anticipation…

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

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