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Posts tagged “Hyrul Anuar

Elit Suria Episodes 1 & 2 Recap…

(All images in this entry courtesy of MediaCorp Suria‘s official Facebook page and Instagram account)

Surprise, surprise!!! I’m finally back after a two-month hiatus… I know this reality television series currently airing weekly since 9 July 2018 is into its 4th week as I speak, and probably a bit belated for me to start talking about it. I’ve had people I met on the streets asking me if I was gonna do a review on this new competition. I guess I’ve hummed and hawed long enough before finally deciding to do it. For the uninitiated, Elit Suria is the latest reality talent competition series by Mediacorp Suria, in search of new faces to grace the local television screens, mainly in hosting and acting. One can say that it is probably similar to the previous three Anugerah Skrin competitions that we’ve had so far over the last twelve years, but the main emphasis is on hosting, whereas acting is a secondary component. If I can think of a like-for-like talent competition before this on our local television screens, it would most probably be the Juara competition way back in 2002, which introduced us to household names like Fir Rahman, Nurul Aini and Fadhilah Samsudin amongst others. This current reality competition series is hosted by Fauzie Laily and Nurul Aini, whereas the resident judges are none other than Najip Ali, Nuraliza Osman and Khairudin Saharom. From the line-up of judges, we can more or less see the emphasis of the competition, which is to unearth new hosts for our local Malay entertainment scene.

The simple, yet lovely backdrop of the show’s stage…

Even though I received the invitation to attend the weekly live recordings at MediaCorp Campus, in truth to date, I have not had the time to attend so far. Hence why this entry and also the next one will feature photos courtesy of the Mediacorp Suria Facebook page and Instagram account. However, I have been watching the first two episodes via Toggle‘s Catch-Up TV and finally managing to watch the third and latest episode live on MediaCorp Suria this past Monday, to acquaint myself with possibly the newest faces on local television and of course, to keep myself abreast with the competition. I will not touch on the latest episode just yet in this particular entry, but will do a summary of the first two episodes, where we were introduced to all the contestants who were divided into two groups of eight, namely Groups A and B.  My entries for the first four episodes at least, will be from a perspective of a normal television viewer. Hence, I would like to apologise first and foremost, if my words will not be minced as much as if I were to attend a live recording to observe and understand the difficulties faced by the contestants or to get to know them a bit closer. I tend to give benefit of doubt from my observations watching live, rather than from the comfort of home.

Hosts Fauzie Laily and Nurul Aini…

Closed door auditions were held way back in March and April this year. Usually I would be invited to cover the audition rounds just to have a feel of what’s to come in the coming weeks and months, but this time I received none and like general viewers out there, I did not know what to expect, who had the potential to succeed and who were the standouts during the audition rounds. Which was partly why I decided to stay away from attending the weekly live recordings to date, not as a sign of protest, but because I was not prepped enough to learn the competition format nor given the opportunity to observe them much earlier to better understand their personalities and psyche. The contestants are judged weekly through their Hosting, Style, Wits, Personality and X-Factor in a series of quizzes and Q&A rounds amongst others. The segment that I most enjoy watching so far is the Wits (Bestari) round, whereby the contestants go through two rounds of quizzes on their general knowledge of the respective week’s theme. Why I enjoy it is because it is equally challenging for the viewers watching in the studio and at home, a value-added component of the show that provides useful trivia and information for our general knowledge. Kudos to local singer Hyrul Anuar for painstakingly doing the research and coming up with the questions!!!

Khairudin Saharom, cautioning the contestants on what to avoid doing when assessing their hosting performances…

Each week the contestants begin each episode by playing accompanying props, or to put it in nicer terms, stage models, to a guest singer performing on stage. This is where they are judged on style and confidence, as well as their aptitude for acting or performing. The first episode saw Aisyah Aziz in action, whereas Kalysa Aziz performed in the second episode. I have mixed feelings watching this segment of the show actually. Who is supposed to be the highlight, the guest artistes on show or the contestants themselves??? Is it supposed to showcase their acting skills or is it supposed to be a mini runway show for the contestants??? Some looked so out of depth and devoid of confidence from the way they moved and walked, that it was easy to pinpoint who would eventually be eliminated from the first two episodes, and it was only the first segment!!! Talk about confidence building for these young upstarts!!! Then there were some who overdid their facial expressions and actions that it became a little cringeworthy to watch. This was also highlighted by judge Nuraliza when she was asked to comment. There has to be a certain balance in character portrayals, which can only be honed through time and experience. Unfortunately for the contestants, they do not have that liberty and advantage, unless they have prior acting backgrounds and experiences, and to just hope their personalities shine through to win over the judges.


Aisyah Aziz was the guest artiste for the first episode…

Getting acquainted to the young upstarts on show, the audience in the studio and viewers at home were treated to introductory videos of all the contestants during the first quarter of the programme. This was where we learned a thing or two about them, to hear of their motivation and reasons behind entering the competition. This was also where I studied their respective body language, facial expressions and tone of voices to know if they were sincere in entering the competition or probably there to make up the numbers. We have the usual clips where they showed their gratitude and appreciation to their respective spouses and parents. Some made heartfelt tributes to their beloved family members who have departed this world or went through personal hardships, naturally shedding tears for the cameras, even those whose talents have been belittled and questioned before by their peers / educators. Nothing wrong with that actually, but viewers perceptions might vary depending on how they digest the stories told before them, as well as seeing the expressions on the faces of these contestants. Some may think the contestants are fishing for sympathy, or hoping to be judged leniently. A little sad story is ok to be heard, but should be kept to a minimum. Viewers easily warm to jovial, bubbly and positive characters afterall.

The second episode witnessed under-rated singer, Kalysa Aziz, in action…

The contestants must also be mindful of the way they speak. For certain sections or probably most people in the community, it is a major turnoff hearing people speaking with a certain accent especially when you are conversing in your mother tongue. You don’t have to add an English twang to your pronunciation of words. It makes you come off as extremely fake. From drawing people closer to you, you actually serve to alienate them. The one that was every bit confident and gave me the most positive vibes in their introductory clips was Amyrah Mustafa, the only contestant who wears a Hijab and has a passing resemblance to Aisyah Aziz. She shared her hopes to inspire fellow youths watching the show, to uphold, empower and showcase the beauty of the Malay language as well as culture. Big hopes on such young shoulders, but one that I believe is achievable as we see her progress in the competition and I hope she does, because she is a natural and a breath of fresh air for our local scene. She also spoke in calculated and measured tones without trying too hard, unlike some of the others whom I will not name. For the guys, the one that I felt was smooth in his delivery, was Hans Hamid. He has a certain warmth in his voice which will make viewers drawn comfortably to him, even if he is slightly lacking in the looks factor. Fadzli Jani‘s bubbly personality and originality in coming out with his own tagline, “Awak Suka Tak?“, also made me warmed easily to him.

The Wits (Bestari) round pitting the contestants against one another on their general knowledge…

The hosting segment is I believe, the main one that they are being judged upon. From creating their own interview questions as well as their own scripts, with only three recording takes per contestant, this is definitely the most challenging segment from my observations. True, they only had about a minute or two to interview their guest personality from the local fashion and music industries, but the weight of their challenge is immense!!! From posing the right questions, usage of language, tone of voice, eye interactions between them, their guests and the cameras, hosting itself is a thankless job and one that I myself shun from doing, and I personally hate doing normal presentations or public speaking to begin with. The contestants had to be mindful especially those who added rhythm and melody to their pronounced sentences. It made them sound as though they were reading directly from their scripts or like school children reading in a class. Another thing they need to look out for is the excessive hand gestures which can be distracting to the viewers. From this segment, the ones that stood out for me were again Amyrah Mustafa, Hans Hamid, Fadzli Jani and Fatin Taha. The rest either exuded too much energy onscreen or looked uncertain of themselves. A few of them need to open their mouths a bit wider and not speak through gritted teeth, whereas there were some who need to smile a bit more, cos when they don’t, they simply looked aloof.

Najip Ali‘s comments never fail to disappoint, his extensive vocabulary and usage of words simply exemplary…

The third quarter of the show saw the contestants pitting their wits against one another through the quiz segment aptly titled “Bestari” (Wits). Questions asked were related to the particular week’s themes and challenged the contestants on their general knowledge, mostly in the local context. I was left somewhat frustrated watching the contestants struggling to answer the questions in the two rounds they were required to answer them. I won’t say that if I were to enter the competition, I could answer all the questions or ace the rounds, but I dare say I could have at least gotten 75% of the questions right, especially the second episode where the theme was Music. I was extremely appalled that questions pertaining to our local Malay music industry were not answered satisfactorily. If they harbour hopes of being in the entertainment industry some day, then they have to keep themselves abreast of who’s who, listen more to the local radio stations, follow more local personalities and artistes on social media, watch more of the local programmes on television. This is all part of being equipped and informed as a host. Listening to the questions before answering is also an important aspect. I was left stumped when Hisyam Salimnor answered “DragonballZ” when the question that was asked was “What is the name of the popular Japanese fashion trend that depicts Anime and Manga characters?” Though most people found it funny (not me!!!), I just felt that that highlighted his weakness in not listening properly and in turn, comprehending what was asked. Oh by the way, the winner of this segment each week bags $300 for themselves!!! Easy money in my opinion.


Hisyam Salimnor and Ainur Rosyieqa found themselves eliminated from the competition in the first episode…

The last segment of the show, called the “X-Factor“, is a last throw of the dice for the contestants, to upsell themselves literally to the judges and relate to the audience why they should still remain in the competition. This segment can be considered a double-edged sword depending on how one views it. The contestants can come off as confident in how they sell or promote themselves, yet at the same time, their words and facial expressions might be misconstrued as arrogant. Some could be seen as trying too hard, whereas there were some who just forgot their lines and tripped on their words. Being a host is not easy especially during a live show. Usually they have the benefit of holding on to cue cards for reference in case they forget what they should be saying, but not these young upstarts, who had to memorise what they needed to say or at least remember the gist of their presentation content. Here, we got to see who are the naturally talented, calm and composed and who needed lots of polishing. By this round, I more or less guessed correctly who would be eliminated from the first two episodes. The ones who were eliminated were the ones that tripped on their words or did not exude confidence on their faces and overall body language. Too much uncertainty is a recipe for disaster and signaled a death knell on their involvement in the competition.


Noh Irwan and Nurmehga were the next two to be eliminated in Episode 2…

Even though we still have six more episodes (five if we were to discount this past Monday‘s episode) before crowning the winner/s, I dare say, without trying to jinx them, from the first two episodes alone, the ones who will appear in the semi-finals at least, are Fatin Taha, Hans Hamid, Fadzli Jani, Amyrah Mustafa and Haziq Halim. I know that as I speak currently, Fadzli has just been eliminated in the third episode, but he will definitely return for the Wildcard Round and I believe is a strong contender to progress to the semi-finals. Personally, I have high expectations on Farid Azhar, whom I had the opportunity to know when I covered his journey in 2016‘s Anugerah Skrin. His experience should at least put him in good stead to do even better than the last time out. So far, he has remained in his own comfort zone and not gotten out from his shell. I hope he can open up a bit more and not stick to being such a cool cat. There is a reason why the judges picked him and it is definitely not to make up the numbers. For those I had not mentioned as prospective semi-finalists, I hope they will not be discouraged and at least prove me wrong on my observations. They are not by any means, dumb or bimbotic, as some of their respective educational qualifications would testify. They just have to grasp whatever tips they receive from their mentors and judges, do lots of homework, research and study how other hosts work, to ask if they do not know, as I am sure many are willing to help dispense advice to them. My next entry will be another consolidated entry once Episode 4 ends and Group B have appeared for a second time.


Anugerah 2017 Grand Finals Miscellaneous Snapshots…

Mohammad Shahfiq was instantly mobbed by his fellow competitors when the cameras stopped rolling, but as this shot was being taken, I could hear him tell them in Malay, “Hold on for awhile, I would like to meet my parents first…” Just look at where his eyes were looking at and you will realise the humility, gratitude and class that he possess. The judges truly crowned a deserving winner…

As the title above suggests, I am not doing any reviews at all for this particular entry, as I still have 4000-odd photographs that I still need to edit from last Tuesday‘s penultimate episode. In case anyone is waiting for me to speak about the final results or summarise the competition as a whole, well you just have to wait a wee bit longer as the fourteenth instalment of Pesta Perdana, happening this coming Friday, takes precedence. This entry is more of a filler to bridge the empty void between last week’s Grand Finals and Pesta Perdana. Here are some miscellaneous photos from the night whereby Mohammad Shahfiq became the latest winner of the Anugerah competition.  These shots were taken pre-show, during the commercial breaks, post-show as well as the dinner reception afterwards. Enjoy!!!


Anugerah 2017 Week 5 Recap…

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Hosts Huda Ali and Suzairhe Sumari welcomed us to the show…

We have reached the halfway point of Anugerah 2017. How quickly time flies. Due to a couple of factors like a hectic work schedule this past week and for the fact that Facebook videos were taking a long time to load over the weekend thus hampering me from viewing their performances again, I will not be doing my regular individual analysis of the contestants for this week and probably the upcoming week, depending on my own commitments. Partly why I am not doing individual analysis for this week is also because I would like the contestants to have a reprieve because they have been slammed left, right and centre by the netizens for apparently bringing down the standards of this year’s competition. It is only fair that I allow them a breather and let them concentrate on their upcoming episode. By the way, the theme for last week’s episode were songs produced during their birth years.

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By the end of the night, we saw the elimination of Shafie Syed and Nadia Nadhirah, the former being the lowest-ranked by the judges and the latter by virtue of getting the least number of votes by viewers and studio audience. Do I think it was justified? I believe in the case of Shafie, it probably was. He has been quite fortunate enough to have a very good support base to have kept him in the competition for so long while putting in what I considered as safe performances. Actually his performance last week was ok, just that visually it looked a bit off and comical, with him singing a song with traditional nuances, but wearing a modern outfit. He actually got his “Lenggok Melayu” on point though. In the case of Nadia Nadhirah, she didn’t do too badly, in fact I thought she did better than the previous weeks I observed her. She was just unlucky that her votes were not enough to save her. Ironically the two bottom-placed contestants by the judges were the ones with the highest votes. There is only so long that they can remain that way before the judges place them at the dreaded last position.

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The judges enjoying a bit of banter with the two hosts…

However, to be fair, quite a number of the contestants were recovering from a bad virus over the past fortnight. This was something the people watching from the comfort of home did not know, which affected their performances somewhat. I saw the amount of abuse directed at the contestants for bringing down the standards of the competition as mentioned earlier, some went as far as saying that this is the worst batch. I disagree with most of these dissenters because I can say that most of them have very short memories. If I were to compare with the 2011 batch, with all due respect to them, I personally feel this current batch is better in terms of vocal technique and execution. I was actually appalled at seeing someone from my list of friends on social media, questioning the standards when as a former reality television contestant himself, I expected a more compassionate and understanding approach having gone through the motions when he entered more than a decade ago.

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The final ranked positions by the judges by the end of the night…

People tend to forget these young upstarts are still raw and most do not have the benefit of having vocal coaches outside to guide them, what more have the knowledge of music / melody arrangement to make a difference in their performances. As I had mentioned before in previous entries, the buddies in the competition have limited time with them and can only share up to a certain point as instructed by the producers. The rest is up to the contestants to find ways to stand out from one another. People still complain to this day why the show pales to that of the likes of Mentor and Akademi Fantasia. The reason is simple. The concepts and mechanics of the competitions are different, sponsors do not pump as much money as that across the Causeway and with a population that is ten to fifteen times lesser than our next door neighbours, how do we expect to find such good or perhaps, exceptional talents???

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Shafie and Nadhirah gamely accepted their elimination and posed for the camera with buddy Hyrul Anuar

Our community only makes up about 15% of the population. From this 15%, the 16-29 years of age group probably make up about 2% or 3%. When we break down even further, how many from this age group actually have the talent to sing or want to sing in a reality television competition??? With talents now able to make music and sharing on social media, there is probably also another factor whereby they do not see that need to be known or to test themselves, knowing there are other avenues for them to be heard. People talk, complain and rant on a weekly basis, but they never stop to think of the bigger picture. Too many empty vessels making a lot of noise, yet they do not contribute substantially to the progress of the local music or entertainment industry and expect the people inside to create magic.

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The Top 6 semi-finalists… Will some of the eliminated contestants be given another chance to join them???

So far, there is still no news yet of any possibility of a Wildcard round in this year’s competition. However, I have a sneaky feeling that it will be done either this week or the next, because it seems odd that the quarter-final episode was on Week 5 and then you have another five weeks of competition. Take away the possibility of a two-legged semi-final episode, we’re left with three weeks, one of which is of course the Grand Finals. Well, that’s me being analytical and drawing upon my experience covering Anugerah competitions over the past decade. I could still be wrong. But till then, we will just have to wait and see as the Top 6 from last week’s episode is scheduled to fight it out once again tomorrow, live from Studio One at the new Mediacorp Campus at 8:30pm.


Anugerah 2017 Week 4 Recap…

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Another episode of Anugerah 2017 has passed, and again with a little bit of uproar afterwards on social media, which I will touch on much later. Group B returned to our television screens and continued the Rock genre which their Group A counterparts had gone through the week before. From observing the first two episodes, it was generally perceived and I noted that Group B had the better performers over Group A. That is normal and was to be expected when you take into account first time jitters during the first episode. Group B in the meantime had the advantage of observing what was expected of them and applying what they learned a week later. Naturally you would also expect them to do better for the second time, having had the opportunity to watch their counterparts go through the Rock genre a week before them. So how did they fare last Tuesday???

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Syakirah Noble

I personally like Syakirah Noble‘s confidence on stage. Even though she is only seventeen, she is not easily fazed or looked daunted when she was made to be the first contestant to go up. This comes with the experience of entering external singing competitions and she has bags of experience already in that respect. However experience alone was not enough to ensure she gave a performance as good as her previous one. For one, Syakirah‘s low notes were a bit suspect when she performed Akim & The Majistrate‘s “Potret“. She also needs to work on her diction and pronunciation of words, in turn reducing her English accent, so as not to turn off our ever-critical viewers who are always out to find the slightest faults and vent it on social media afterwards. Another flaw I noticed was the lack of emotions injected into the song, which only became evident when she broke into chorus. When we put in emotions and feel, our viewers and listeners will equally share them with us. Not the same virtuoso performance that she did on the second week, probably because the Rock genre was her first attempt at it. In that respect, I disagree slightly with judges Taufik Batisah and Najip Ali that it was a good performance by her, because I’ve seen Syakirah performed much better before this.

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Nor Shafiq

He was the winner of the $500 prize given to the best performer of the week the last time out and enjoyed immunity from elimination. Naturally, another stellar performance was anticipated when Nor Shafiq came onstage to sing “Untukmu Sayang“, which was originally sung by 80s rock group, Febians, and then much later by Amuk. I do not deny Shafiq has this mesmerising tone of voice which could leave the ladies out there weak in the knees and wished as though he was singing specially to them. If we take away the genre of the night and treat it like a normal performance, he would have aced it again. However, he was too relaxed, too lackadaisical, too complacent. Perhaps he was overconfident??? Probably. If I were to be extremely critical of his performance, it resembled that of someone who was performing in karaoke rooms or at wedding functions where their voices alone would ensure accolades from those around them. This time I agree with the judges that his performance lacked bite and the rock factor.

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Sharizal Suwandi

I was quite critical of Sharizal Suwandi‘s last outing and even said that he should have been eliminated by the judges. Not this time. I felt he redeemed himself well on Tuesday night when he performed Rahim Maarof‘s “Cinta Kristal“. When I compared his performance with the two before him, I personally believe till today that he should have been at least placed second by the judges. He was very much in control of his delivery, was a picture of calmness and determination, probably buoyed at the fact that he is now a first-time daddy. Hope it’s not too late to congratulate Sharizal and his missus, Hawa, on the birth of Nur Shafira Haifa. Even if overall the performance still lacked a bit of rockish attitude, watching Sharizal performed that night actually dispelled whatever remaining misgivings I might have about his presence in the competition and hoped for his sake that he would progress. I really felt that he was much better than the first two, but apparently it wasn’t enough for judge Indra Shahrir, who was left disappointed. It seems that it is very difficult to win over Indra, prompting Najip to chide him for not being “rock” enough. Too often Indra has been throwing spanner into the works of good performances in the competition.

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Nadia Nadhirah

Before I comment further on Nadia Nadhirah‘s performance, I would like to put on record that I have an issue with the categorisation of Judika‘s “Bukan Dia Tapi Aku” in the Rock category. I would not even consider it a Rock Ballad even if the original singer injected some rock elements into the song by virtue of the nature of his husky vocals. I thought I was alone in having these thoughts, but a quick scan on my social media timeline after I got home from Mediacorp, showed a number of Rock enthusiasts up in arms as well. There were no other elements of Rock as well in the performance, quite a disappointment given the fact that judge Najip Ali had talked up her credentials as a technical singer a fortnight ago. I also observed that Nadhirah tends to sing her songs low. Not that it’s a bad thing, but there were parts where she was in danger of going flat and off-key. I also feel that Nadhirah is still singing in her comfort zone. She needs to challenge herself and pick songs that will test her vocal range. She already has that basic technical foundation. She should be finding ways to set herself apart from the rest still left in the competition. I disagree with her final ranked position, but thought she also did not deserve to be in the bottom three had the judges placed her there.

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Abby Nabila

I have a nickname for Abby Nabila after watching her two performances in Anugerah 2017 so far, and some of her previous ones on Youtube and that is, “The Storyteller“. She has this innate ability to express the story of the song she is singing through her eyes, facial expressions and hand gestures. I’ve seen her sing songs which are fast-paced, it made me want to get up and dance with her. I’ve also seen her performed songs like this past Tuesday where she sang the late Nike Ardila‘s “Ku Tak Akan Bersuara“, and also felt the sad emotions that she exuded. However, it was an error-strewn performance by Abby, with her going off-key on several occasions, especially when she tried to hit the high notes. For some reason, I detected that she was not her usual self and she confirmed later on that she was not feeling particularly well that night. By the end of her performance, I feared that she was in danger of elimination and only a miracle would have saved her.

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Elza Rahim

Elza Rahim ended the night’s competition with Mayang Sari‘s “Tiada Lagi“, another song which I thought was not rock-ish enough to be considered as one. From her live radio interview this past Monday night on RIA 89.7FM, Elza understood that she tends to sound like her idols when she sings, amongst them Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, but vowed to sing in her own style henceforth to avoid future comparisons. She delivered her promise in that respect and she was very much in control of her overall performance. I personally liked her performance and thought she was a shoo-in for top spot. But if I were to be a bit more critical of her performance, like Nadhirah, Syakirah, Shalyza Rosly and even Nor Shahfiq before her, Elza seems to be mired in her comfort zone. These contestants need to show that they are also able to deliver songs that are not ballads by nature. Which was probably why this genre was supposed to challenge them in the first place.

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Nor Shafiq exited the competition by virtue of being the lowest-ranked by the judges. He would have still been eliminated as he was also the one with the least number of votes for the night.

The night ended with another uproar on social media. Many were up in arms over Nor Shafiq‘s elimination when they thought that Abby Nabila should have been placed last. I had also expected Abby to exit the competition and even when I spoke to her afterwards, she said that she had mentally prepared herself to go given her less-than-convincing performance. It was definitely a spectacular fall from grace as he was the best performer the last time out. I tried to analyse and put myself in the judges’ shoes to understand their reasoning in switching Abby and Nor Shafiq‘s inital positions by watching their performances again via Mediacorp Suria‘s Facebook page. Perhaps what saved Abby that night was the fact that her performance was more angsty and suited for a rock ballad as compared to Nor Shafiq, who remained in his zone and did not exude much emotions nor gave the impression that the week’s genre was Rock. The key to winning the judges over could also be found in their comments after Abby‘s performance. They said they felt her emotions and I think that edged it for her. Just.

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Sharizal‘s voters did not vote enough to keep him in the competition…

Another bone of contention for the next elimination via viewers’ votes could also be found on Mediacorp Suria‘s Facebook page. As a form of transparency, the television station had displayed the final vote percentages in a bar graph format and rounded off the figures to the nearest whole numbers. As it stands, the displayed figures had three contestants, Syakirah, Abby and Sharizal with a 15% vote percentage each but Sharizal was eventually eliminated as being the contestant with the least number of votes after Nor Shafiq, who only had 12% of the votes. In any case, Nor Shafiq would still have been eliminated, even if he had not been placed last by the judges. As for the disputed figures, the actual numbers actually showed that Sharizal had 14.55% of votes, followed by Syakirah with 15.02% and Abby with 15.31%. I think the television station did not anticipate this uproar so soon after the show ended with viewers questioning why Sharizal was the unlucky one. I believe in such questionable circumstances, the station could have immediately displayed the actual percentage figures along with the graph chart to avoid any dissenting voices from crying murder. The viewers and online community are ever so eager to come down hard on the station, I find it galling at times.

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As the credits were rolling on our television screens, our two eliminated contestants were still in high spirits as seen here with their buddy, Hyrul Anuar

Even after explaining the situation and releasing the final figures, the dissenting voices were still up in arms and venting their anger, blaming the station for lack of transparency and being dishonest. I’ve noticed for the longest time, Mediacorp Suria has always been at the receiving end of unsatisfied viewers and complaint kings and queens. They always have bones to pick over nitty-gritty things, trivial stuff and absolutely love making comparisons with television stations or programmes across the Causeway. Far too often they threatened to not want to watch anymore, yet the following week they are back again commenting and voicing out their displeasure. I have no kinder words to describe such people other than call them “Suckers”. I have never understood this extreme fixation for programmes that are produced abroad and expecting our people to replicate. If we were to really do that, then people will say we’re only being copycats. We really cannot please these people nor understand the rationale behind some of their thinking and rants. They speak like they know it all but provide few viable solutions and expect the station to create magic when in fact a lot of the programmes that are aired are not produced by them.

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When our television station does not do that, they question why the competition does not include proper trainings for these contestants, why do they not attend bootcamps and vocal classes, grooming sessions or media preparation etc. I think the television station could do that, but it will require the contestants to be cooped up and away from their work, their social and family time. These online commenters can argue that social and family time can be sacrificed or compromised, but what about work??? Living in this country where productivity and results are very-much benchmarks of our daily performances at work, which employer would be kind enough to release their employees for a certain long period of time??? And who is going to pay these contestants when they take their time off work??? At the end of the day, it boils down to sponsorship. Not many are willing to come forward and pump in sponsorship fees like that of those across the Causeway. Unless we have a Dato’ Seri Vida or Dato’ Aliff Shukri in our ranks, we can forget about having that kind of competitions on our shores. Money still talks so we have to manage our own expectations of what can or can’t be done. Period.

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The chemistry and banter between Suzairhe Sumari and Huda Ali grows as each week passes by…

Some of these online comments are also just downright stupid and highlights the stupidity of the person/s who commented just for the sake of it. Just yesterday I saw someone commenting on Mediacorp Suria‘s Facebook page criticising the station for having Siti Sarah Raisuddin performed at the weekend’s “Mahligai Manja” event at One KM Mall apparently during Maghrib prayers. The person had commented at 8:10pm but the Facebook Live clip was uploaded at 5:29pm, hardly during Maghrib, unless of course if the event had been done or the person himself was at a different time zone location. This is just one fine example of people commenting and ranting just because they have nothing better to do but pick on the station for what they perceived as insensitive or not being in tune with the needs of the masses. Some of you reading this might think I am defending the station or that I am a paid backroom staff. I’m sorry to disappoint you but I am no way contracted to Mediacorp nor am paid to defend them. I comment based on what I see with my own eyes and if I have niggling questions to ask, I will direct them to the people working inside rather than jump to unnecessary conclusions nor rely on hearsay from people working on the periphery.

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Anyway, back to the competition. Najip Ali was happy at the end of the programme and voiced his relief, glee and pleasure that the genre had finally ended, which did not sit down too well with some of those who are hardcore supporters of it. I think to give him benefit of doubt, I agreed that over the past two weeks, the contestants’ performances as a whole, were either sub-par or totally disappointing, a definite source of frustration not only to the judges, but also those working behind-the-scenes. Most of them failed to grasp the essence of the genre. Like what local singer Nana Karia said afterwards in her Facebook post and I quote, “Rock is not just another genre. It’s a lifestyle, an attitude. To pull off the rock genre, you have to BE a rocker.” Which I can say all of them, Hakim Halim included, did not rise to the occasion and showed the audience and viewers that they are into it. Some might say that with constant training, they could have given more polished performances. I disagree slightly because it should come from within themselves, the interest, the soul, the understanding of the genre. When they are unable to grasp all that, the performances come up short and insincere. But some of them did try their utmost best and that has to be applauded and accepted.

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Our hosts with the four who advanced to the next round – Nadia Nadhirah, Elza Rahim, Abby Nabila and Syakirah Noble

I do not blame the contestants as all of them were born and grew up in an era where rock had evolved somewhat from the types we were used to listen to. “Rock will never die” as the saying goes, but not many from this current generation seem to show an interest in them nor understand the meaning of being a rocker. I personally feel till this very day that the genre should not have been put to the test for the Anugerah contestants. It’s like forcing something out of them and seeing it backfire when things did not turn out as planned. I brought this up with some of the people working behind the scenes. They said that they were given the impression that the genre was still relevant since some of the contestants had sung these songs during the audition rounds. Speaking of relevance, quite a number of songs sung so far during the competition are not concurrent with the times, regardless of genre. I think it is ok to sing songs from the past, but it has to be given a fresh arrangement and approach by the contestants themselves, just like what Liwani Izzati did the previous week and was brave enough when she sang Search‘s “Fantasia Bulan Madu“. The genre in general, eventually turned into a Ballad one and none were brave enough to sing a more upbeat and edgy number.

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Final shot of the night with some of the eliminated contestants as well as those still in it from both groups…

As mentioned in one of my previous entries, there was a possibility the competition would look a bit lop-sided with the female contestants performing better than their male counterparts. This is proving to be true so far with only Mohammad Shahfiq and Shafie Syed left in the competition. This coming Tuesday, we will see the contestants singing songs that were produced during their birth years, another throwback genre. For the first time, both Group A and B will come together and fight it out in a single episode, with another two eliminations in store via the judges’ decisions and the viewers’ dreaded voting system. With the semi-finals looming, there is every possibility that the gender representation might look even more imbalanced if either one or even both of the remaining two male contestants get eliminated. Unless of course if there is a Wildcard Round, which till today has not been confirmed nor made known. There is only one way to find out and that is to tune in to Mediacorp Suria this Tuesday at 8:30pm.

Snapshots of Anugerah 2017 Week 4


Anugerah 2017 Week 3 Recap…

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Where should I begin with this entry??? A lot has been said and observed on social media the past few days with regards to this past week’s Anugerah 2017 episode featuring the Group A contestants. I had wanted to post this a day or two after the episode was aired, but it felt like it was going to be a knee-jerk reaction to all the negative comments I saw in the aftermath of Hakim Halim and Azhar Aziz‘s respective eliminations from the competition. From Twitter to Facebook, you could see the uproar and vile words being thrown towards Mediacorp Suria for letting them be ousted over other more deserving contestants. Before I continue further, let’s just recap the performances of each contestant and how they fared on the night where the theme was of the Rock genre.

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Azhar Aziz

The night began with Azhar Aziz performing Akim & The Majistrate‘s “Mewangi“. From watching some of his past performances on social media, I noted that Rock is not one of Azhar‘s forte and it showed in this performance. This fact was also brought up by music arranger and mentor Syawal Kassim in the preceding video clip before his performance and echoed by judge Indra Shahrir afterwards. His low notes were a bit suspect and his voice came close to cracking after he had screamed his lungs out at the point where he was supposed to hit the highest part of the song. However, where he lacked in feel and emotions, he made up for it in determination and gumption. He was initially placed at number two, but I would have preferred to put him at number three. No doubt he has the package – the looks, height, voice and quite the well-mannered boy, but the genre didn’t do justice to his strengths. Still it was an admirable performance and he answered the challenge as best he could.

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Mohammad Shahfiq

I found the way Mohammad Shahfiq entered the stage area and strutting slowly like that of an old man a bit queer for a young guy. Not sure if it was him getting into the mood of the song or just following the opening beats. When he sang Lovehunters‘ “Sambutlah Kasih“, I observed there were two phases to his performance, the first part where he went really low with his notes and was almost slightly off key before redeeming himself for the chorus and end. If I were to compare his performance and his earlier one in the first episode where he looked unsure and all at sea, this was a markedly improved and definitely more confident display from him. I would not have hesitated to put him at number two at that point of time as he showed more verve than Azhar.

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Liwani Izzati

The first episode’s champion, Liwani Izzati, was up next singing her own rendition of Search‘s haunting hit, “Fantasia Bulan Madu“. The day before her performance, I tuned in to their interview on RIA 89.7FM where she revealed that her version of the song was different than the one we have been used to listen to. I must say it was a risk worth taking, even though the traditionalists on social media have cried foul. Her take on the song that night if my interpretation is right, was an opera rock version, arranged by herself and her undisclosed personal vocal coach. I thought it was a breath of fresh air from the melancholic versions I’ve heard before this from other singers. Liwani though she made one glaring mistake when her voice cracked, should be applauded for willing to plunge into uncharted waters. This astute move in trying to be different sets her apart from her fellow group competitors. Though I would have ranked her second behind Shahfiq, I think overall her confidence and assured performance, complete with theatrics and drama, won the judges over, who eventually placed her at top spot once again.

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Hakim Halim

Before the show I had high hopes that Hakim Halim would at least get one of the top two or three spots in the night’s competition. Listening to his radio interview the night before, he did say he was going to sing his killer song, May‘s “Cintamu Mekar Di Hati“, which has brought him a lot of luck in other external singing competitions prior. The judges felt that his performance was an overconfident one which I felt was slightly harsh on him, as his demeanour and body language did not show that he was. However, I felt his overall output was a complacent one, in that he knew he was in his comfort zone and when he tried perhaps to do something out of the ordinary whilst hitting his high notes, he could have overstrained his vocal chords, resulting in him squeaking twice. As the competition dwindles down, small technical issues like that could scupper their chances and it was to be detrimental for him when the night ended.

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Shalyza Rosly

Shalyza Rosly was up next, singing SLAM‘s “Tak Mungkin Berpaling“, which is one of my all-time favourite songs. If I have to sound critical with her rendition of the song, her start and end were imbalanced and her notes were pitchy. Plus she needs to get out of her singing style which is reminiscent to Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza. I will not add on my take on this as I had already brought it up when I commented on Elza Rahim in the previous entry. There were not many faults to her performance, however there were also not many positives I could derive as she was, in the words of the judges, still in her comfort zone. Shalyza needs to push herself further and sing songs which could challenge her vocal range. Her fellow competitors, not only in Group A, but Group B as well, are more adventurous and willing to take risks. I’ve also seen her perform outside with so much confidence but I have yet to see that level of confidence in this competition. She would do well to learn from her previous foray in the competition and do things slightly differently from now on and build on it.

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Shafie Syed

Shafie Syed was the last to appear onstage, and he performed Sweet Charity‘s evergreen hit “Kamelia“. The one with the strongest band of supporters should have staged a performance that reflected the support given to him. His was a performance which was bland and quite a letdown even though his voice did not crack nor squeaked like Liwani and Hakim. Watching him perform that night was like watching David Arumugam (Alleycats) sing, which prompted some netizens to comment on his articulation. A song of this stature needed someone to understand the meaning and emotions associated with the song. Shafie failed in that respect to capture the essence of the song and was initially placed last, which personally I felt was a justified ranking for him. Even he admitted post-show that his singing was a disappointment that night.

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Hakim Halim hugged Shafie Syed upon learning of his elimination

We now come to the final results of the night. In what was quite a shocking move by the judges, Hakim who was at fifth place was asked to switch with Shafie who we knew was initially placed last, signalling the end of his journey in this competition. But the one that created an even bigger uproar with the netizens on social media was the ousting of Azhar Aziz who got the least number of votes, even though he was ranked second by the judges. I did say last week, in a reality competition like this where audience votes matter, no one is considered safe, except the one who is ranked first and enjoys immunity. The uproar has been going on for days now, questioning the legitimacy of the judges and their decisions, blaming the television station for in-house politics and basically saying the competition is a farce in every aspect.

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Azhar Aziz gave his respects to the audience when he exited the stage and competition…

Somehow, this is like a bad record that goes on and on whenever such competitions take place. The voting mechanics are not new. It has been there since Anugerah 2005, down to Anugerah Skrin, Anugerah Band, Anugerah V, heck even the three seasons of Singapore Idol and two seasons of The Final One. Twelve bloody years!!! And still people have not learned their lessons and keep blaming the television station for what they perceived as trying to milk as much money from the voters. From my conversation with trusted sources working behind the scenes, the ones that stand to benefit are the telecommunications company who administer the voting system. You know damn well the name of the game is to vote for those whom you feel deserved to go through, why didn’t you exercise your God-damn right to do so??? If there are fingers to point at, it is the blind and deaf voters themselves who deserved every bit of flak for being irresponsible, just because their favourites are good looking or they have some relations or ties with them.

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Our esteemed judges – Indra Shahrir, Taufik Batisah and Najip Ali

To blame the television station is rich, to undermine the three judges is another serious allegation altogether as seen by some of the vile comments, some going as far as to say they had been bribed. I thought I will say this in much later entries but I guess my hands are forced on this one. I will go as far as to say the three judges this year are the best the competition has had in years. No matter how much Indra Shahrir sounds like a wet blanket and dampener to some, or Taufik is probably there as a token presence and tends to latch on to the other judges’ comments, all of them actually have valid reasons to have given their thoughts as truthfully as they could. Don’t get me started how I am a big fan of Najip Ali and his excellent command of the Malay language. All of us should take positives and learn from their perspectives, rather than comment and rant unnecessarily. There are substantial and valid reasons why these three are up there in the local music industry and icons in the community, whereas armchair critics out there are not. The decision to oust Hakim Halim was there for all to hear, he made two glaring technical mistakes as opposed to Shafie Syed, who was bland. Between blandness and technical errors, I guess the latter proved the deciding factor. As for Liwani‘s error compared to Azhar or Shahfiq, her overall performance and bravery in risk-taking won the judges over. Deal with it!!!

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Hosts Suzairhe Sumari and Huda Ali…

Too many allegations going round these past few days online, most of them unsubstantiated and just empty rants for the sake of ranting. Most of those who ranted I doubt cast their votes and just followed the crowd in venting their frustrations. These are the same people who keep on blaming Mediacorp Suria for what they perceive as airing boring programmes / content, but still continue watching because their lives are equally empty. Or those who do not watch, yet still have the cheek to pass off comments as though they have stakes and shares in the station. In times like these, the dirty and irrational sides of the community rear its ugly head. I question sometimes the rationale and sanity of these people. Some even claimed they heard from so-and-so in the industry about the ongoing politics behind-the-scenes. Hearsays and rumours are all fine and dandy when it’s one-sided and what your ears would like to hear. Why don’t you start by asking the right questions with the people who actually work inside, rather than those on the periphery and then jump to conclusions???

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There are even those who questioned the presence of the two mentors or buddies to the contestants (Hyrul Anuar and Syawal Kassim), and how they are not helping them much behind-the-scenes. Excuse me, did you actually sit with them in their sessions to know what basically went on to comment like that??? All I can say is their time and what they are able to share with the contestants are limited and are meant to guide them on general aspects of the competition, not spoonfeed them. The rest is still up to the contestants to do their respective homework, research and preparations. Some of these contestants have their own personal vocal coaches. They should be working closely with them instead to up their performances for the upcoming episodes, not just rely on their buddies or mentors to lay the foundations for them or do the dirty work for them.

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Congratulations to Shalyza Rosly, Liwani Izzati, Mohammad Shahfiq and Shafie Syed on their progress to the next round…

It is not the end of the road for those already eliminated in the competition. Many before them have gone on to have singles and chart-toppers in the local radio charts. Some of the comments made by their ardent supporters, or even armchair critics, sometimes can be overboard and too defensive, when we all know that winning a reality competition is not the express ticket to stardom nor sustainability in the long run. Will there be a Wildcard Round as asked by many online??? I certainly hope so as nothing has been mentioned nor confirmed. This Tuesday 7 February 2017, sees the return of Group B on our television screens. We have seen the last time they appeared on our television screens how volatile the SMS voting system could be. I seek and appeal to voters to be responsible, not only to the competition but in helping to raise the standards of our local music industry. There are some very good talents left in this competition. I hope the voters will play a part, even those that did not before this, but passed excessive comments as though they spent hundreds or thousands voting. You know what to do. The ball is in your court…

Snapshots of Anugerah 2017 Week 3


Anugerah 2017 Week One Recap…

16107292_10154430648167893_1427882804843526248_o(Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

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


Mini Monsters Books & Product Launch @ AFCC2015

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This entry sort of deviates slightly away from my usual entries in that it is not directly about Singapore‘s Malay entertainment scene per se. However, I still find it extremely relevant and important to share this with my readers as it involves an individual who has been a mainstay in our local Malay entertainment scene since she graced our television screens in the old days of Bengkel Kanak-Kanak TV SBC, and now as a highly-respected talkshow host that delves on social issues in our community. Rilla Melati Bahri, a name that needs no further introduction, has just launched her latest educational products via her company Mini Monsters Ltd. this past Sunday, 31st May 2015 at the National Library, in conjunction with the Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2015 event currently happening at the Plaza section of the building, from 30th May -6th June 2015.

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I was honoured to have been invited to cover this event, a momentous one I should add. Rilla, from the time I knew her years ago, has always been a strong advocate of good education and learning. She has always championed for our younger generation to be nurtured and cultivated in good learning techniques in the field of language and being comfortable in our mother tongue. In fact, these newly-launched products were conceived from her own experience more than a decade ago, as a young mother looking desperately for educational materials in Malay to aid her in teaching the language to her son, Nadim, in a fun way. Back then, there were hardly anything in Malay in the bookstores and toystores. Through this experience, she took it upon herself to do this project for other mothers with toddlers.

MiniMonstersBookLaunch2015 (3)A very decent turn-out at the launch event. Former national footballer Zulkarnaen Zainal (second row, left) was also in attendance…

Hence, the birth of Siri Bacaan Cekap Kanak-Kanak & CD Bacalah Bersama!”(Confident Reader Series & Audio Read-Along CD) and the collaboration with Masfe Sendirian Berhad for “Set Gantungan Pembelajaran” (Educational Wall Hanging Set) in Malay for toddlers aged two to six years. Mini Monsters are also proud to have been appointed the exclusive sole distributor of the first ever customised Malay educational wall-hanging resources and this exclusive collaboration between them and Masfe Sdn Bhd represents a like-minded approach between both companies in taking the learning of the Malay language to greater heights for children during their formative years.

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Rilla Melati addressing the audience and relating how the books and wall-hanging products came about…

This set comprises of mini detachable 2D “softies” which children can pull and paste to corresponding outlines on a standard thematic storyboard that comes with the Malay word to describe the individual softie. The educational objectives of this wall hanging resources are to cultivate early interest in reading through fun, interaction and play methodology, to develop children’s fine motor skills and encourage word-object recognition through touch-and-feel and to plant the seeds of love for the Malay language to children as young as 2 years old through visual stimulation. Although these sets are already in existent and used throughout Malaysia, this is the first time that the set is piloting in the Malay language exclusively for the Singapore market to be distributed by Mini Monsters Ltd. as a licensee.

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Role-play performance by participants of Mini Monsters‘ “LaguRIA” weekend workshops…
This educational wall-hanging paraphernalia will add on to Mini Monsters Ltd’s current staple of Malay educational resources and will help to spur its efforts in taking the teaching of the language to the younger age group of children i.e. toddlers and nursery-going kids. For a start, three thematic storyboards will be made available for the Singapore market. They are the Garden Insects Set, Jungle Animals Set & Transportation Set. These wall-hanging resources are made of colorful, non-toxic materials that are safe and have been tested and approved by the relevant authorities for use with children. Another interesting feature of these sets – they are handcrafted by communities in need in Malaysia. An effort Mini Monsters Ltd. is proud to support.