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Posts tagged “Kalysa Aziz

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 Planet Muzik 2017 Media Conference

(Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

I usually start off my entries after a long hiatus with an apology to my readers for making them wait so long for my return. Seeing how in the past I’ve been doing it, only to repeat the cycle again and again like a bad record, I have decided that I will not be doing any at all this time. Some of you will be extremely surprised to read this, but this entry almost became my final entry announcing my retirement from the scene. Yup you read that right!!! I was heavily toying at the idea of retiring as I had lost interest in doing write-ups and reviews, not to mention my time-consuming photo-editing process. In addition, this is a job that is not being paid but out of my passion for the local / regional Malay entertainment scene. There is only so much time and effort I can afford to put in at the expense of quality time with family. Why I decided to put the idea on the back-burner is because there is still that wee bit ounce of passion which I managed to coax out of me. For how long more??? That itself is a question to be answered. I feel jaded really to be honest.

Local artistes and representatives of the local Malay music scene who turned out in force for the media conference at Orchard Hotel

I wish there were more like me out there, the ones who write / type with sense and rationale, not too emotional when critical, who will give benefit of doubt as much as they can. I just feel that it is time for a new generation of writers to take over but sadly also, blogging seems to be passe these days. I will not promise anything, but I guess from now, any entries on this domain should be regarded as “Heaven-sent”. I will pick and choose what events I attend henceforth and will not be bogged down by having to put entries or photos up as soon as the events end. Well it has always been that way, hasn’t it??? Just that I cannot commit to attending events (mostly at Mediacorp) on a regular basis henceforth, with its current location a bit far for my liking being the North-Easterner that I am. It is also to be fair to those who have kindly invited me to cover their respective events. With that out of the way, let’s begin this entry in earnest.

KC and Dzar Ismail were the hosts of the media conference in Singapore

Anugerah Planet Muzik has always been THE event that I most look forward to annually since its inception on 20th January 2001, so much so I am willing to forgo watching my beloved football club Manchester United, when they face our sworn enemies Liverpool on the day of the event (14th October 2017). Part of the reason I’ve decided to continue blogging was also because of this event. It is afterall the Grammys of the regional music scene, whereby the four countries, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei come together to celebrate the best amongst them for the year. I know I have not been doing any reviews since the 2014 edition, but it also gave me some breathing space to observe changes that were made over the last two instalments. I noted a lot of improvements along the way which many at home do not have the benefit of knowing nor seeing, and there were also shortcomings, mostly because of a change in venue and having to adapt to new surroundings. I am hoping that with the event once again returning to the MES Theatre @ Mediacorp, the visual experience will improve, especially for those at home, because watching it live in the theatre and at home are two extremely stark contrasting experiences.

Nurul Isnina performed her debut hit single “Buaya“…

Just like the previous year, the media conference announcing the nominees for this year’s edition, was held at Orchard Hotel, albeit at the smaller Lavender Room a fortnight ago (22nd August 2017). Where A.B. Shaik, Aura Shai and Fiza O have always been the usual hosts at previous APM media conferences in Singapore, this year saw a somewhat refreshing change with Dzar Ismail and KC anchoring the proceedings. The media conference was also graced by the performances of eventual nominees Nurul Isnina, Iyaad Salleh, Arus Band & Sofia Arissa. Where previous media conferences were used to showcase upcoming young talents our local industry has to show for, there was a distinct upgrade of quality with those nominated being invited to perform and to show the audience why their names are up there along with the regional’s best. The event also saw the performance of Aidil Akmal and Dzar Ismail with their Malay rendition of the global hit “Despacito“, titled “Incognito“, which has since garnered their music video more than ten million views!!! I was telling Dzar afterwards, if only one view could be converted to a dollar, he could afford to retire by now. Such is the outreach of social media these days, that through creative works such as these, one can make it viral worldwide.

Arus Band, along with Sofia Arissa, were one of the few performers that day. Here, they’re seen singing their current hit song on the airwaves “Terlalu“…

A minor controversy emerged when I was viewing the live Facebook feed of the media conference at Hard Rock Cafe Kuala Lumpur on 24th August 2017. I noted that Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza who was initially nominated in the Best Female Artiste Category for her song “Menatap Dalam Mimpi” was missing as compared to the one announced in Singapore just two days before. I only got the answer after seeing reports that the organisers had indeed acknowledged and apologised for their error during the media conference in Kuala Lumpur itself and that all was fine between them as well as Dato’ Siti, and her management who were the ones who had alerted the organisers about it. I think this is a fine example of years of good working relationship between both sides as well as honesty and integrity being practised. The management could have kept quiet about it, but they did not. Thumbs up to Siti Nurhaliza Productions for the highlight and Mediacorp for acknowledging their error and apologising for it!!!

Ms. Zakiah Halim, Head of Mediacorp Malay Community addressing the floor along with CEO of COMPASS, Dr. Edmund Lam and Mr. Hassan Salleh, Senior Programming Director, Warna 94.2FM & RIA 89.7FM, Mediacorp

A special first concert road tour for this year’s Anugerah Planet Muzik was announced by Mr. Hassan Salleh towards the end of the media conference. For the first time in the history of the prestigious regional awards show, Mediacorp is partnering with the organisers of the Formula 1 Petronas Grand Prix Malaysia for a concert road tour to close the race in Sepang, which will see it hosting for the 19th and final time. The concert will be the penultimate show on the final day of the race (1st October 2017) and will feature some of the regional award nominees of Anugerah Planet Muzik 2017. At the time of typing this entry, I still do not know details of the concert and who exactly will be performing till perhaps closer to the date. My guess is that we will have big names from Malaysia, Indonesia and also Singapore to grace the concert. Will I be covering the concert??? That depends if some kind soul or organisation will be kind enough to sponsor my trip up north. Anyway I’m sure there will be some live streaming or at the very least, some live Facebook feed of the concert for us to view the proceedings if we are unable to physically watch it live.

The APM trophies are up for grabs again…

A total of 19 awards will be presented at this year’s event, the same as the previous year, with no tweaks nor changes made to any of the categories. Viewers and listeners can catch the ‘LIVE’ simulcast on TV channel Mediacorp Suria, radio stations RIA 89.7FM and Warna 94.2FM as well as online streaming via Toggle LIVE. APM 2017 will feature a new generation of artistes discovered largely from social media platforms and is set to entertain and dazzle with a stellar line-up such as Ayda Jebat, Aisyah Aziz, Isyana Sarasvati, Virgoun, Gloria Jessica, Aiman Tino, Hael Husaini, and many more. Music fans and enthusiasts are also given the opportunity to vote for their favourite songs and artistes in fan-driven categories from 22nd August until 14th October, 10.00pm on Toggle at toggle.sg/apm. The categories are Most Popular Artiste (Singapore), Most Popular Song (Singapore), APM Most Popular Artiste, APM Most Popular Song and Social Media Icon. Tickets are priced at SGD $28 and SGD $48 (including GST and excluding SISTIC fee) and can be purchased at all authorised SISTIC outlets and online at www.sistic.com.sg from 22nd August 2017 onwards. At the time of typing this entry, the $68 seats are already sold out!!! APM 2017 is supported by Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) and Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (COMPASS).

Snapshots of APM2017 Media Conference


Anugerah 2017 Semi-Finals Recap…

For the past ten weeks, I believe this entry is the one that is the most late that I have published, even though I had two weeks to type this out since the semi-finals episode two weeks ago (7th March 2017). Thank God for the extra week away from having to attend a live episode as my life suddenly went a little crazier than anticipated. Thank God too for this flu that I am currently nursing as I finally have time to sit down and type this entry out. As I am typing this entry right now, we are only less than five hours away before the Grand Finals beckoned. How fast has the past ten weeks go by??? Seems like yesterday that I got acquainted with Groups A and B during the very first episode of Anugerah 2017. Since I am again pressed for time to post this up, I will avoid doing any individual analysis and just summarise collectively.

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

We have all known by now who are the four finalists who make up tonight’s penultimate episode. In case you have been living on another planet over the past fortnight, the four are Liwani Izzati, Nor Shafiq Ridzwan, Mohammad Shahfiq and Syakirah Noble. I dare say three of the four finalists have been quite consistent throughout the weeks of competition and their respective spots were justified. In fact even before the semi-final episode began, I more or less expected Liwani, Syakirah and Shahfiq to progress. The surprise finalist for me was Nor Shafiq Ridzwan. For those who had watched the semi-final episode, we would have noted that the final spot was between him and Elza Rahim, who wowed the audience with a different side to her capabilities as a performer from the usual play-safe performances that she dished out week in and out previously.

The judges had a thankless and difficult task that night and throughout the competition. We might disagree with their final decisions but I believe they had considered and deliberated before making them, no matter how painful…

I have to say it was a very tough decision for the judges to decide that night. On one hand, they had a contestant who suddenly transformed and became a performer no one anticipated nor expected she was capable of doing before this. On the other hand, there was a contestant who has been consistent with his performances but still remaining quite relaxed in his comfort zone. When I was watching it live, I remembered how disappointed I felt for Elza when she was eventually eliminated, because even if her efforts were too late to save her, she has shown throughout the competition her willingness to learn and to steer away from being compared to Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, in terms of her voice and singing style. She even took risks to show another aspect to her performance. In the end, the one aspect that brought her down was vocal technicality issues.

Elza Rahim was extremely unlucky to be eliminated that night. Given the right guidance and having the positive attitude to learn, she will hopefully be a better performer after this…

Don’t get me wrong, I like Nor Shafiq‘s soothing voice and control. Given the way he had better control of his pitching, I finally agreed in the end why the judges felt he was a better choice for the Grand Finals over Elza. However I feel that his vocal range is somewhat limited and he is only strong in the ballads department. I remember the judges said before that they were on the lookout for someone who is willing to take risks, to go out of their comfort zones and do something out of the ordinary. For Nor Shafiq to ace tonight’s Grand Finals, he has to push himself further because the other three contestants, the two young ladies especially, are more accomplished and experienced performers having performed on big stages like the annual Child Aid Concert and other external competitions or showcases.

Nadia Nadhirah and Azhar Aziz exited the competition having gave their all but it was not to be…

On a night where almost everyone performed above their usual capabilities, small issues and details separated them from progressing and getting eliminated. My only grouse was Azhar Aziz let the expectations of progressing weighed heavily on him and that he looked as though he was fearful of everything that were on his shoulders. I thought Nadia Nadhirah gave her best performance of the competition initially when I watched it live, but when I got home and watched her performance again via the Mediacorp Suria‘s Facebook page, her low notes were still a bit suspect and there were no emotions displayed when she sang Sufi Rashid‘s “Aku Sanggup“. I think for Nadhirah, she needs to work on having a certain bond with the lyrics she sings, to understand the emotions, to portray it, so that the audience will feel the resonance as well. It was a good performance overall, but in terms of connecting with the audience, the performance felt a bit empty.

For the first time in the competition, the contestants performed with an accompanying live band, led by Syawal Kassim (left)…

I have nothing more to add about the other three finalists. They have shown admirable consistency week in and out. The two young ladies, Liwani and Syakirah, are streets ahead in terms of showmanship and vocal prowess. One thing that they also have is fearlessness, both of them. Either one would be a deserving champion given how well they have performed throughout the competition. However they need to be mindful of overconfidence or be bogged down by expectations from people around them or even themselves. There is a dark horse in Mohammad Shahfiq, who was the semi-final stage’s outright winner and walked away with $800 that night. If he replicates his semi-final showing, we’re gonna have a hard time deciding who deserves to be champion tonight. I will not even discount Nor Shafiq Ridzwan, as evident with the 2007 and 2011 editions, Wildcard Round contestants could also win the competition if they perform above expectations. The little to no pressure on him could also work to his favour.

Down to the final four – Syakirah Noble, Nor Shafiq Ridzwan, Mohammad Shahfiq and Liwani Izzati

So it is anyone’s guess who will be the newly-crowned winner tonight and the one walking away with the $20,000 grand prize, even if many are not looking beyond Liwani or Syakirah. Of course the smart money is on them, but I am sure the other two gentlemen will not hand the title to any of the two young ladies on a silver platter. Anugerah 2017 will finally draw its curtains tonight and we are anticipating a thrilling fight to the finish. Tonight’s penultimate episode will also feature Sufi Rashid, Maiya Rahman, Eiss (Iskandar Ismail) and Aisyah Aziz who will perform with the contestants in a special duet segment. The newly-minted Anugerah Juara Lagu winner, Dayang Nurfaizah, will also be performing as the guest performer of the night. It is the last episode for this year’s competition. Expect sparks and fireworks as I believe the four finalists will put on their best performances tonight. It’s going live from Studio One at the Mediacorp Campus at 8:30pm and you can catch it on Mediacorp Suria

Snapshots of Anugerah 2017 Semi-Finals

 


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


APM2016 Snapshots

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Artistes from Paranormal TalentsAyda Jebat, Haikal Ali, Aisyaah Aziz and the company’s chief Melakaboy

Back with my second instalment. I actually wanted to post this entry up this past Wednesday but got caught up with some personal matters, hence the delay in publishing this entry. For those who are in my Facebook contact list or linked to those whom I had tagged, you’re probably the more fortunate ones cos you get to view these photographs much earlier when I uploaded them early this past week. Anyway these photographs are just a selected few and not everything that I had shared on Facebook. Personally I feel that I did not snap that many photographs during the Red Carpet event, the Pre-Event Cocktail Reception and the Post-Event Reception, as my attention that night was taken up by chatting with some of the artistes and people in the industry. I only realised how few my photographs were when I uploaded all of them onto my PC, hence why I combined them all into one entry. Hope it will suffice for now as I continue to edit and select the 3000-odd photographs I snapped that night and of course come up with my review of Anugerah Planet Muzik 2016


Anugerah Planet Muzik 2016 Media Conference…

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(Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

Due to my heavy work commitments last year, Anugerah Planet Muzik 2015 (APM2015) did not get a proper coverage be it in terms of my customary annual review as well as the usual promo leading up to the event in this domain of mine, even though I did share photographs of the Walk of the Stars and Red Carpet segments during the actual event night. I also did not attend the media conference held at Orchard Hotel when the organisers released the list of nominees back then. Hence I would like to apologise if any of you had waited for me to post them up but ended up not seeing any on this blogsite. I’ll try to make it up this year, which is why this particular post takes precedence, less than a fortnight before the event makes its long-awaited return. This year, Anugerah Planet Muzik 2016 (APM2016), debuts at the newly-opened Theatre @ Mediacorp at Stars Avenue on 30 September 2016.

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Fiza O and A B Shaik were the hosts of the media conference..

As with previous years, before the event proper, there will always be the traditional media conference to announce the nominees of the upcoming awards show. This year, the media conference was again held at the premises of Orchard Hotel on 20 July 2016 and was hosted by RIA 89.7FM‘s Fiza O and Warna 94.2FM‘s A B Shaik. Guests who mostly made up of local artistes, came to the event with high hopes of being nominated or at the very least, to soak in the atmosphere. For those still new to the scene, it was an eye-opening experience for them to just be in the same room as other household names, an opportunity for them to get to know one another and have mini networking sessions amongst themselves. Guests that day were also treated to performances by newbies Haikal Ali, Din Ilango and The Chapters, as well as Kalysa Aziz. All four displayed their worth on stage and personally, yours truly thoroughly enjoyed their respective performances.

apm2016-media-conference-055The panel consisting of Mr. Hassan Salleh, Assistant Vice-President (Malay Broadcast Division) & Manja Editor, Ms. Zakiah Halim, Chief of Malay Broadcast Division and Dr. Edmund Lam, Chief Executive Officer of COMPASS, addressing the audience on the experience of selecting the nominees as well as giving nuggets on what to expect in this year’s awards show.

Looking at the final list of nominees this year, I personally feel the local pool of talents were unfortunate not to receive more nominations especially in the regional categories. Last year, Iman’s League made the all-important breakthrough for the Singapore acts and won the Best Band (Regional) award over more established names like Noah, Sheila On 7, Akim & The Magistret and Bunkface. Many netizens especially those in Singapore wondered who they were and cried foul over their win. Personally I was disgusted by the reaction as I thought national pride would at least overcome any emotions over their own personal favourites. Iman’s League though they are quite under the radar here, they have since made inroads in other Asian countries like Korea and even Malaysia, albeit in the underground scene. Their win gave so much hope and inspiration for other acts to follow suit that anything is possible if the quality of song is on par with the other established regional acts.

apm2016-media-conference-012Strong support and attendance by our local pool of talents and representatives at the media conference…

This year, the organisers of APM2016 (Mediacorp Suria, Warna 94.2FM, RIA 89.7FM and Manja Magazine) received 420 nominations from the various music distributors and record labels from Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. Nominees are not just solely from the three countries mentioned. Last year, the awards show received their very first nominees from Brunei (Aziz Harun) and Philippines (Mark Adam). This year, Shunpei Nakagawa became the very first Japanese to be nominated through his collaboration with Malaysia‘s Indah Ruhaila with their song “Aishiteru Selamanya” amongst the five nominees in the Best Collaboration (Artiste) category. Hark back to 2012 and you will note Cassidy Anderson from Australia as another nominee from outside the Nusantara region. As the name “Planet Muzik” implies, nominees from other countries are much welcomed. Speaking of Aziz Harun, he will be the third Bruneian after Faiz Nawi (2005) and Jazz Hayat (2013) to make a performance on the APM stage this coming 30th September 2016 (APM Wikipedia page admin please take note!!!).

apm2016-media-conference-074Haikal Ali‘s “Bertemu Kembali” is such a haunting hit, I will not be surprised if he bags either Best New Artiste (Male) or Best Singapore Song awards or even both. His appearances at all three media conferences for APM2016 (including in Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta) showed the organiser’s confidence in his potential…

I had a small chat with Ms. Zakiah Halim during the reception afterwards on what we can expect during the show as well as voicing out some of my doubts over the choice of venue for this year’s event. I had attended three shows already at the new venue earlier this year (“Anda Mahu Rok?“, Sinar Lebaran 2016 and Raya Oh Yeah!) and somehow the place does not give me good vibes in terms of seating arrangement and how much the stage and auditorium as a whole resembles a school hall setting. Without giving much away except for a coy smile and a twinkle in her eyes, Ms. Zakiah Halim only let on that they will do what they can to make the stage more accomodating both to the performers as well as audience. She did elaborate however, on the choice of performers this year. As you will note from the promotional poster, a bulk of the performers are not the same faces you see year in and out. In that respect, it is a refreshing change of line-up. And as always, amongst the performers, there will be deserving winners in their respective categories.

apm2016-media-conference-104Sufie Rashid, together with Taufik Batisah, are the two who got the most nominations amongst the local acts with six each…

Anyway, with less than a week to go before voting your favourites in the popular categories (local and regional) ends, let me just remind you to do the yeoman service for them and log on to Toggle.SG and vote before 23rd September 2016 23:59hrs. Every year you’ll get the sour grapes complaining about undeserving winners, but if you don’t vote, or expect others to do it for you, then you just have to suck it in when the final results are announced on the actual awards night. I did receive several invites via my personal inbox / private messages in my social media accounts from artistes who were nominated in the popular categories to either vote for them or help pitch in for them. I have to apologise that being a media outlet, I must be fair and neutral without showing any personal favours to anyone. What I just did was remind those reading this entry to go out and cast your votes for your respective favourites. I can only afford sufficient enough gesture like this as my way of helping.

apm2016-media-conference-024A group photograph with all the local artistes, representatives of record labels and artiste managements, sponsors and organisers of APM2016

Anugerah Planet Muzik 2016 is presented to you once again by One Drop Perfumes. Main sponsors are Pos T.K.I. and Sensuous By Shannz (Red Carpet event), Co-sponsors – House of Dre and Official Transportation by Uncle Sam Auto Trading Pte. Ltd. Official broadcasters as in previous years are Astro Ria and NET Mediatama Indonesia (NET TV). The awards show is supported by Media Development Authority (MDA) and Composers & Authors Society of Singapore (COMPASS) and is brought to you by Mediacorp Suria, Warna 94.2FM, RIA 89.7FM and Manja Magazine. The awards show will be telecast live via Mediacorp Suria on 30th September 2016 at 9:00pm. You can also catch the livestreaming of the show via Toggle.SG, which includes the Red Carpet event at 8:30pm, and will not be televised on Suria, or the simulcast via the two radio stations Warna 94.2FM and RIA 89.7FM.

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apm-2016-final-nominees-list-page-005(List of nominees courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)