Anugerah 2017 Wildcard Round

Hosts Suzairhe Sumari and Huda Ali explaining what was to be expected at the start of the show…

Gosh I am pressed for time to complete this entry. This past week has been so busy, I only managed to complete editing photographs I snapped of last week’s episode of Anugerah 2017 at the stroke of midnight. Since I am on a bit of a rush, I’ll just keep this entry short and sweet and do away with the usual individual analysis of the contestants’ respective performances. As we all know, last week’s special Wildcard Round episode saw the return of five earlier eliminated contestants for a chance at redemption and entering the competition back again proper for the semi-final round (or is it rounds???), which will begin later tonight. Last week’s episode was also the first and probably only time in this year’s competition that the judges had full autonomy over the contestants’ progress with voting by viewers suspended till the semi-finals begin.

Nadia Nadhirah justified her top spot position that night with Dayang Nurfaizah‘s “Langit Cinta“…

We were told at the start of the show that only two contestants would advance to the next round and the songs that they performed were those that they had sung earlier during their audition rounds, so it was more like a repeat performance but with a wider audience this time round. Somehow I had my doubts before the show that only two would advance, just like how they had announced the number of contestants entering the Wildcard Round (four initially, which eventually became five) the week before last. To cut the story short, by the end of the show and after some apparent acting by our esteemed resident judges, the night ended with three contestants progressing to the next round. I personally felt the acting was deliberated just to keep the suspense going and probably to kill some time as the show was under-runned. I was chuckling to myself seeing them trying to keep a straight face amidst the audience cajoling them on to make a prompt decision.

Sharizal Suwandi‘s performance was not enough to keep him in the competition…

So were the eventual results justified??? I would think so, though I personally felt it was slightly harsh on Sharizal Suwandi. He actually gave a good account of himself that night singing Merah‘s “Cintaku“. This song is quite a hot favourite with Anugerah contestants over the years. In fact since 2007, this song has been sung at every Anugerah competition. I remember Kassreeal Alfi (2007), Kamsani Jumahat / Sunny Jackson (2009) and Syazani Rahim (2011) singing this popular song during their competition years. If I were to make a comparison of Sharizal‘s performance with the others before him over the past decade, I would rank his just behind Syazani‘s. I do not quite agree that this song is not a competition song as pointed out by Najip Ali, because this song was supposed to bring out the zest and energy of the contestant, which is still sorely lacking in some of the performances by the others I’ve seen this year. Credit to Sharizal for at least wanting to enjoy himself onstage and putting some moves as he grooved along to the music.

I noted a slight improvement by Abby Nabila but sadly, it was not enough for her…

As for Abby Nabila‘s elimination, it was more or less expected given we have seen the same mistakes being repeated on an almost weekly basis. I have to give her credit for her performance this past week though, in that her usual errors which I had pointed out in previous weeks were minimised to some extent, even if it was not enough to keep her on the show, with others doing much better. I was a bit disappointed that Abby did not build on the momentum of her first week’s performance. Back then she showed that she was a very strong contender for at least a semi-final spot. Somehow the performances in the weeks that ensued just went off the rails. Like I pointed out before, there was only a certain limit of goodwill dished out by the judges. I remember 2011‘s eventual winner Rahayu Ridwan singing the same song, Adira‘s “Aku Ada Kamu“, also in the Wildcard Round back then. Unlike Rahayu, Abby did not get the same rub of green to progress to the next round.

The judges killed some time over making their final decisions by putting up a suspense show for the viewers and audience…

As for the three who advanced to the next round, Nadia Nadhirah, Azhar Aziz and Nor Shafiq Ridzwan, you would have expected any two of them to progress had the initial schematics of the competition been applied. But Taufik Batisah let slipped the most crucial comment that Azhar was needed in the competition. That was where I knew there and then that eventually three would progress. Forget the fact that the judges made a last minute decision to switch Azhar and Nor Shafiq‘s eventual positions. That was merely for show. The fact was the initial final standings that night before that last switch was already justified based on each of their respective performances. My complaint for the two young gentlemen would be fear and nervousness creeping into their minds and selves and translated henceforth into their performances as witnessed last Tuesday. They only have the semi-finals and Grand Finals to give their all. They need to come out of their shells or risked being outperformed by the other five competitors in this crucial semi-final stage.

The semi-finalists (from left): Syakirah Noble, Nadia Nadhirah, Liwani Izzati, Elza Rahim, Mohammad Shahfiq, Azhar Aziz and Nor Shafiq Ridzwan…

I am not sure if the semi-finals will be split into two episodes or just one with next week being a rest week for the finalists to prepare properly for the Grand Finals. If it is a two-legged semi-final round, tomorrow and next week will either see two eliminations or they will forgo elimination for this week and do a mass culling the next. Speaking of the Grand Finals, till today, I have not been told if it will be graced by three or four contestants. I guess like the Wildcard Round, it all depends on the judges’ to make a decision on the night itself. Tonight sees the contestants performing with a live band for the first time in the competition. I understand there is a difference in feel between performing with an accompanying band and singing with a minus one track, so hopefully the contestants will up their game tonight. You know the drill, the show’s going live on Mediacorp Suria at 8:30pm from Studio One at the new Mediacorp Campus

Snapshots of Anugerah 2017 Wildcard Round

Hafeez Glamour – End of an Era with RIA 89.7FM…

Demi Adriana Book Launch 2012-03-25 193Thank you for entertaining RIA 89.7FM listeners, bro Hafeez!!!

The start of the new Gregorian calendar year normally brings with it fresh hope and optimism for what is to come in the next 365 days. But somehow I am starting the new year in this domain of mine a little solemn as I try to come to terms with the fact that one of my favourite radio deejays and one-time mentor during my radio internship back in 1998, none other than Hafeez Glamour, ends his time with the only station that he has been with since its formation on 1st December 1990. This past fortnight, rumours had been swirling that there will be major shake-ups between the two local Malay radio stations for the coming year ahead and this is normal amongst all the Mediacorp-owned radio stations as they inject and infuse new ideas to attract the listeners into tuning in to their daily programmes.

Today 3rd January 2014 marks his final day on RIA 89.7FM, ending a twenty-three year long association, for which he has been the mainstay throughout, whereas those who had joined the station when it first formed, had all gone over to sister station Warna 94.2FM or left for pastures anew. So the question is, where is Hafeez Harun a.k.a. Hafeez Glamour heading to come 6th January 2014??? Of late he had posted several teasing photos of him on his personal social media platforms, some depicting him possibly going the way of our Asian Idol, Hady Mirza. The truth is, Hafeez will still be heard on radio, but will be moving to Warna 94.2FM, where he will team up with wacky deejay Dyn Norahim for the 10pm-2am slot. I did not get the chance to talk about his “Demi Adriana” book launch back in 2012 due to my busy schedule, but here I am dedicating this entry to thank him for his past twenty-three years with RIA 89.7FM.

Fiza O Ritabella Collection Launch 2012-02-25 007 - CopyHafeez Glamour – A brand name that needs no further introduction nor elaboration…

He had been the last one standing amongst his fellow peers who had transferred over to Warna 94.2FM, but he has been standing proud and tall with RIA 89.7FM all these years, winning the “Most Popular Deejay (Malay)” award for eight years over the past decade, beating his younger colleagues. His success can be attributed to his drive, positive outlook to life, honesty and above all, sincerity in delivering his daily responsibilities to entertain the masses tuning in to him. Mention the name “Hafeez Glamour” and people already know who he is and his infectious personality. It is a brand name in our local Malay community that needs no further introduction nor elaboration. An icon that also shares the same birthday as the station he is leaving.

Me and bro Hafeez go back a long, long way since 1996. Our acquaintanceship began when I took part in one of his daily phone-in karaoke segments back then and won myself a couple of CDs for winning that particular week’s contest. The following year, me and my two buddies entered “kRIAtif 97“, in which bro Hafeez was the producer, and we won the Impersonation Category, mimicking our favourite group KRU. But it was in 1998 that our acquaintanceship grew into a friendship, when I did my polytechnic internship with both Malay radio stations. Bro Hafeez was a good mentor like all the other deejays back then, teaching me the ropes of radio broadcasting and even bringing me out to observe some of their outdoor activities like his Kafe-Teh-RIA segment, whereby there were days when he and co-partner Morniyati Tukimin would be visiting listeners at their work places.

D (7)Bro Hafeez seen here entertaining the guests during my wedding dinner back in 2005…

During the period when sending sms to the radio station to air our views or dedications was the in-thing (circa 2003-2006), my nick was a constant mention in his daily radio programme with bro Syah Ibrahim (RIA Jamm). I have to admit back then, I was given plenty of opportunities to get my messages and opinions across, contributing to the success of his daily show, even when I ran the risk of upsetting the other listeners with my no-nonsense and honest-to-goodness comments. Even though my comments bothered on being provocative towards the mentality and mindset of our community, bro Hafeez was always there to see the positive aspect and reiterated my views, to the point others felt he was guilty of favouritism and bias towards yours truly. I can say, thanks to his daily radio programme back then, that is where I learned to be more vocal and more confident in expressing my views, which in turn led to the birth of this blog of mine.

What I admire most about bro Hafeez is his level of patience in entertaining listeners, always having that sense of empathy towards those who might be a little slow in putting their points across or those who might be a little difficult for us to understand, especially the Indonesian domestic workers, who count as his biggest fans. Which is why till today, he is no doubt someone they look up to and the go-to guy when it comes to hosting events involving these foreign workers. Another unforgettable memory I have of bro Hafeez was how, at such short notice before my wedding in 2005, he agreed to host my wedding dinner along with bro A B Shaik. I was surprised to secure his services but I knew, even before asking, that he would never disappoint me on my big day. Till today, me and the wife are so thankful to him and bro Shaik for entertaining the guests who had waited for our arrival almost an hour later than scheduled.

Demi Adriana Book Launch 2012-03-25 240Writing and producing his second book “Demi Adriana” in 2012 was another highlight of his career…

During his time with RIA 89.7FM, bro Hafeez had always encouraged listeners to increase our knowledge through inculcating the culture of reading into our lives. A prolific writer himself having done stints with Manja magazine and other external writing projects, the highlight of his twenty-three year career as a radio presenter has to be when he produced two books, “Diari DJ” and “Demi Adriana“. Again, I am thankful to bro Hafeez for dedicating one of the characters potrayed in his book “Diari DJ“, to me, a form of recognition to several listeners who have added colour to his daily radio programme and segments. When most listeners were always up in arms over my direct and often-brash comments on air, he stated in his book that he found my comments “meant for the good of the community”. High praise indeed!!!

During his time with RIA 89.7FM, bro Hafeez could be attributed to giving the opportunity to up-and-coming acts to display their potential and talents via his segments like “Karaoke 897” and “Opening Act Go Glam“. The likes of Hetty Sarlene, Malaysian singers Fazli Zainal and Izzla, and of late, Aisyah Aziz, Sufie Rashid and Kamsani Jumahat are just a few names I can think off-the-cuff, who have benefited from being spotted through his daily radio programmes and have reaped the rewards of currently being known or have established themselves in the scene, either locally or across the Causeway. Hopefully RIA 89.7FM will continue this legacy to introduce and help push through new talents through segments like “Singa Maksima” and “SG“.

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News of his impending transfer to Warna 94.2FM might shock many, especially since he has a very strong fanbase of followers, but I think there could be positives in the long run. Of course, new changes need time to bed in, but overtime I guess he will be a valuable asset to the sister station. Again I thank bro Hafeez for taking the trouble to call me up last weekend to confirm his transfer, even though I had heard the rumours and made my own deductions through several veiled status updates on Facebook both by bro Hafeez himself and his soon-to-be new sparring partner, Dyn Norahim. To bro Hafeez, thank you for everything you’ve done both on a personal level as well as entertaining us all daily for twenty-three years on RIA 89.7FM. May your new posting give you more joy and satisfaction to what you have achieved all these years and I wish you nothing but more success in your upcoming endeavours!!!

Ratu Suria Grand Finals Review…

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I purposely post this entry a week after the competition series ended for the fact that I do not foresee much entries that I will be making between now and March, so a little breather is more than welcome. Afterall, I have been quite diligent with my weekly reviews over the course of the competition. I know most of you who are not linked to me via social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram would not see the photographs I snapped, unless you follow the contestants themselves. So fret not, because this penultimate review on Mediacorp Suria‘s inaugural beauty-cum-talent search competition will have hundreds of them featured, even more than what I normally upload for your viewing pleasure. So where do I begin??? With the choice of the winner, Fatin Amira, of course!!!

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Like the first episode, Sezairi Sezali opened the show, this time performing Dato’ Sheila Majid‘s “Ratu“…

Fatin‘s coronation as the first winner of Ratu was in truth, no surprise to yours truly, and I’m sure to regular viewers of the series as well. She has been very consistent since Episode 4, has a very strong grasp and understanding of the Malay language, confident, composed and dare I say, a certain air of nonchalance which sets her apart from her fellow competitors. I did not say explicitly who were my favourites to win but along with Wida Alisa, both of them were my personal two choices to win the competition, with no disrespect to the other finalists, even though physical beauty-wise, the others had the edge. It was a matter of who was to blink or make that odd mistake that would sway the odds against their favour. I did say in my preview of the Grand Finals, the one who would win would be the one who maintained their poise and composure and not be let down by small mistakes and this was true, as Fatin aced almost every segment that night.

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Fauzie Laily and Marina Yusoff‘s onstage chemistry was one of the plus points of the competition series…

I saw several comments online from sour grapes who questioned the choice of anointing Fatin as the winner as she is not as pretty as some of her fellow contestants. The aim of this competition was not merely to choose who is the most good-looking or who is the most popular. The aim was to choose an all-round winner, someone who is not only good-looking but a person of holistic substance. She has to be intelligent and media savvy, confident in the way she carries herself and have a certain degree of raw potential that could be polished in time to come as a television personality in hosting or acting. In Fatin Amira, I have no doubt that she was the right choice by the judges who carried the heavy responsibility of choosing a winner who could be someone we can be proud of in time to come – a beauty with brains. Above all, I am convinced that Fatin is ready to face the media across the Causeway, whom we all know are more harsh than our own and will always be ready to find faults and not give an inch, what more a yard.

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The Top 6 Finalists!!!

Why I said I am convinced, is how consistent and calm she has been at answering questions throughout the competition. Even when she was interviewed by Hafeez Glamour in his Go Glam radio programme the day after her win, she answered several difficult questions with ease, even those questions that were posed to her fellow finalists during the Grand Finals itself. When she appeared a second time during Dzar Ismail and Nity Baizura‘s Personality Zoom segment last Friday, I posed a challenging question on how she would react if the President of Seniman were to question her credibility and presence in their scene. Her answer suitably impressed me, saying that she is new and will no doubt learn from the people she is working with to improve on her flaws. Opportunities are also available everywhere for people to work and add value to a certain industry, no matter which country they are working at. She ended by saying that people should just widen their mentality and not be hampered by selfish interests. No doubt she is ready and feisty, willing to face the challenges in store.

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The panel of judges sharing a laugh when Aaron Aziz (hidden) made his point across…

I will not put down Wida Alisa for her gaffe that night. I think enough of criticisms online have been hurled at her and I am sure she did not mean what she said on purpose. We all make mistakes, it was just unfortunate that such an error was made on live television, under such pressure-cooker situations. Most of those who have hurled their criticisms are the same people who will equally freeze or make mistakes themselves if they swapped shoes with her. It is not easy to look pretty and answer random questions thrown at you. What more to translate in Malay when we think daily in English. Likewise there was not much wrong with Wan Anisah‘s final answers, other than the fact that it did not resonate with our community and culture. The prerogative was hers to answer as best she could and one that suited her personal interests and personality. No one should put her down for her honesty, at least she did not lie her way just to score points with the judges.

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The suave Awi Rafael performing “Bila Aku Jatuh Cinta“, his second hit single after “Pulanglah“…

It was also good that the finalists were put through a short acting segment to suss their potential in this particular area, since they will after all, go on to star in a movie produced by Metrowealth International Group. They are raw as evident from their voice intonation and static delivery, having no prior background before this, hence one cannot expect a flawless performance. Even most new actors and actresses in Malaysian movies have been panned as wooden before, but they built on the opportunities given to them and improved over the years. Likewise the same can be expected from our Top 3, with Fatin Amira and Wan Anisah the better performers that night in the acting skit they were involved in. Even though the camera was not focused on them, what impressed me was they kept the scene flowing with their facial and body expressions. For that, we have to thank the likes of Mastura Ahmad, Zaidi Ibrahim and Seriwahyuni Jaes for imparting useful acting knowledge to the girls.

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Fatin Amira, the deserving winner of Ratu!!!

Ratu has been a relative success in my opinion, no matter what the critics might say. Critics are always willing to give their piece of mind at anything and everything, but almost always failing to give substantial alternatives and suggestions on how to better the show. This is the first of its kind which Mediacorp Suria has embarked upon, and naturally, glitches are to be expected. Definitely the producers will do a review on how they can better the next edition or if there is another one of its kind, but for the males instead. This is a new venture on uncharted waters, which no matter the storm they faced, at the end of the day, the ship still reached its harbour safe and sound, if I were to put it in such analogy. The opportunity and experience given to up-and-coming beauties was definitely enriching for all the contestants and I am sure they came out better and confident ladies. This was evident in their catwalk during the Grand Finals. Oh how beautiful all sixteen of them looked, especially the opening segment and one wondered why were they not dolled up like that since the first episode???

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Group photo of the contestants, judges, hosts and guests-of-honour after the show ended…

It has been fun covering the competition over 61 days, from the time the media conference was called to introduce the sixteen of them, right down to the Grand Finals. I gained sixteen new friends as a result, all charming and sweet ladies and I wish nothing but the best to all of them on their subsequent endeavours henceforth. If they still harbour hopes on entering the entertainment industry, then I suggest that they sign up with the various local performing arts / theatre groups to hone their craft, learn the ropes from experienced hands and come back for another shot when another reality competition comes around. It does not have to be in acting, because I know some have talents in dance or having the voice for hosting. Do not limit themselves to just acting because with their respective strengths, they can expand and try viable alternative avenues. Anything is possible. To Fatin Amira, congratulations once again on being crowned the first ever winner of Ratu in Mediacorp Suria‘s history!!! I do look forward to seeing her grace our television and silver screens very soon!!!

Anugerah 2009 Grand Finals Review…

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(Photo courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Anugerah trophy design…

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

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

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

FIRST ROUND

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ChirulUlar Berbisa (Hello Band) – Own Choice

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

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Sarah AqilahRawan (Azharina) – Viewer’s Choice

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

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WawanKetahuan (Matta Band) – Viewer’s Choice

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

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KunjungRembulan (Kris Dayanti) – Viewer’s Choice

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

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SECOND ROUND

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Group Performance Tanpa Ku Sedar

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

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THIRD ROUND

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

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

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

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

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Wawan – Semua Untuk Cinta (Mike) – Own Choice

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

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Kunjung Ku Teruskan (Siti Sarah) – Own Choice

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

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DUET WITH MENTORS

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

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

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

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

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Wawan & Maman – Inspirasiku (Jeff Catz)

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

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

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

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GUEST PERFORMANCES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grand Champion – Sarah Aqilah Binte Jamil

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

1st Runner-Up – Kunjung Wide Whitaker

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

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

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

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

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

Subsidiary Awards

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

  1. Trophy
  2. Nikon Coolpix P6000

MANJA Media Darling Award – Kunjung Wide Whitaker

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

LUSTRE‘s Styling Award – Kamsani Bin Jumahat

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

Best Performance in Choreography Award – Kunjung Wide Whitaker

  1. Trophy
  2. $200 shopping vouchers

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Post-Event Reception

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

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

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The glam queens – Norfasarie & Nurul Aini

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

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Syed Azmir, Uncle Jasmani Basri, Lydia and Aliff Aziz

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

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Danial & Hyrul Anuar

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

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

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

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

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

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The champ is here…

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

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

Anugerah 2009 Episode 7 Review…

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(Photo courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

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

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The contestants practising on their harmonising before the show started…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Awaiting their respective fates…

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

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

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

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

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

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Kunjung introducing herself to the panel…

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

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Azhar doing his own introductions…

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

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Catty doing the honours whilst Nora smiled in anticipation…

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

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

Anugerah 2009 Episode 5 Review…

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(Photo courtesy of Anugerah 2009’s Official Website)

Finally I get the chance to review the previous day’s episode. Apologies if some of you had entered this domain only to find that I have not updated it with my thought’s on the programme. Before I move on, I would just like to take this opportunity to apologise to the people around me on Tuesday night for not switching off my handphone, cos I totally forgot that it was not on silent mode. It was a bit embarrassing really, especially when you’re seated at the front row. I’ll make sure the same thing won’t happen again the next time.

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The show continued its ode to Singaporean artistes by honouring the likes of Ramli Sarip, Jatt Ali and Othman Hamzah in the “Ikon” theme set for this week and the next, when the young ladies take centrestage again. I think one of the positive aspects of this year’s reality show is that there is that push to include more local songs into the mix and for that I applaud Mediacorp Suria for taking such a stand. By honouring these evergreen songs in these two weeks, it gives the younger generation the opportunity to learn what their parents had listened to back in their heydays.

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The resident jury of Eddy Ali, Ann Hussein and Gani Karim were joined by guest judge Indra Sharir, no stranger at all to our local music scene. I like his commenting style, meticulous and rather serious. Whenever he commented, it felt as though you could hear a pin drop. Such was the silent intensity the auditorium felt whenever he opened his mouth to speak. Surprisingly so far, I have nothing gravely negative to comment about judge Eddy Ali as in years past, cos I tend to agree with most of his comments on the contestants.

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I think the only complaint, or plea for that matter, that I want to make, cos I know they are gonna read this, is for the contestants to inform their sets of supporters to be more cultured when they are in the auditorium. I saw a great improvement from the last time the male contestants took centrestage, whereby their rowdy and boisterous supporters could not keep their mouths shut even when the hosts were talking or when the judges were giving their opinions.

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Yesterday, we did not experience any wisecracks or unwanted comments from them. However, one incident left a sour taste in the mouth. During one of the transmission breaks, some of the female contestants made their way to the washrooms. Some of these heavily-induced testosterone jerks took the opportunity to race down from their seats to the walking gallery and screamed the girls’ names right in front of their faces. Such gentlemanly act, don’t you think??? Idiots!!!

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The ones who qualified to the next round…

The first quarter of the show however had the spotlights on the young ladies who performed last week. It was one that I think most people dreaded to know, me included, cos all of them were great last week and set the bar for the whole competition. I’m sure it would be gut wrenching for the two eliminated cos they certainly do not deserve to go out. But a competition no matter how intense or mild it is, is still a competition. And results sometimes are too ruthless to digest. C’est la vie mademoiselles!!!

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Yanie looked forlorn even before the results were announced…

The first to be eliminated was Yanie. I wasn’t too pleased about it, neither was Ms. Manager who was seated to my right covering for Gumbira.com, cos both of us like Yanie‘s tone and uniqueness in bringing a song in her own original style. However, at the same time, I wasn’t too surprised since the judges did not give her good reviews last week, particularly Ann Hussein, who seemed as though she had an axe to grind with Yanie, if you had watched last week’s episode.

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Asila too looked grim…

As for Asila, when it came down to her or Kunjung, it was no surprise that she would go, since the judges were so into the latter’s performance last week. Also, even though I said Asila did well last week, on hindsight when I watched the repeat telecast last Friday night, she did come across as pitchy in quite a few areas so in that respect it was inevitable. Coupled with the fact that both Asila and Yanie were in the bottom two (consolidated rankings based on judges’ scores and sms votes) when they performed in Episode 1, it was hardly surprising that fanbase also played a part in their elimination.

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Nani was all smiles knowing she emerged first in the rankings…

Before I delve into the gentlemen’s performances, the following are the voting formats for the contestants:

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

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

Voting for contestants appearing in Episode 5 began on Tuesday, 30 June 2009, 8.30pm till Tuesday, 7 July 2009, 6pm. These are the following codes you should vote for this week, along with my individual reviews of their performances:

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Azhar Raz

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

Azhar sang Black Dog Bone‘s “Andai” in his own style, which at times reminded me of Anugerah 2001 winner Rudy Djoharnaen, in the way he expressed his emotions while singing the song. Week in and out, Azhar never fails to impress with his immaculate voice control. He has an extremely polished technique that I would definitely loathe not to see him grace the Grand Finals on 11th August 2009. His downside is perhaps his looks, which could be a major factor when it comes to voting by viewers out there who I could see are more into Hydir and Sein. Like Catty, he needs to sing a song of faster tempo to challenge his vocals and performances. Ballads are becoming chicken feed for him.

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Kamsani Jumahat

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

During the start of the show when they did the initial introductions on the contestants, there was only one person I was reminded of when I looked at Sani. Yes people, his whole get up reminded me of the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson. The late singer’s wardrobe used to have similar-styled outfits like what Sani wore last night. But if his performance and dance moves to Othman Hamzah‘s “Gadis Melayu” were anything to go by, I am still seeing Hyrul Anuar in Sani, but slightly more hyper. Sani did well to conquer the whole stage, his last performance where the judges commented on him not doing that, was definitely taken to consideration and applied. Though I liked the prancing around and crowd interaction, his vocals suffered as he was left breathless and found wanting. It doesn’t help that at certain points, most notable when he had to reach the high notes, his nasal voice was clear for all to hear.

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Chirul

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

Chirul was at best, mediocre in the last round, and it was there for all to see with his lacklustre showing, which did not do justice to Fauzie Laily‘s “Selalu“. But he was a different creature last night, a more confident and cool performance which I know he is capable of. However, it was slightly spoilt when he played to the crowd by breaking into a short dance move ala Taufik Batisah after singing the first few lines. A song like Ramli Sarip‘s “Bukan Kerna Nama” should be more melancholic, but not too stoic. He needs to inject a little bit of seriousness to the kind of songs he sings in future if he wants people to take him seriously. While he did much better than the previous round, he still fell slightly short and sounded too casual at certain points.

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Wawan

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

By now, rearranging the songs that he is supposed to sing has become a regular fixture in his repertoire. There are two ways to look at this trait in Wawan. First off, he will be a decent composer in time to come when he has all the time to compose songs. But right now, he has to remember that his vocals are under scrutiny. If in future he composes his own song to his tastes, then so be it. But when he sings somebody else’s compositions, he has to follow the standards set by the original composer, even if he rearranged it to his style and is required to sound more original than the original. He came off a wee bit short on the lower registers. I cannot fault him on the high notes though, as well as the intense facial expressions when singing Jatt‘s “Merpati Putih“, cos he put an incredible amount of emotions into the song.

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Hydir

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

The crowd favourite sang Sweet Charity‘s “Teratai” with so much intensity on his face, that I felt at times he seemed to be overdoing it. Even when the judges were speaking to him, he had with him a mixture of confused, “blur” and surprised look, the kind which is becoming a source of irritation for yours truly watching him weekly. Hey, I don’t deny the fact that amongst all the guys, he has the most promise, potential and marketing ability to win this competition, but he would do well to tone it down lest others might think that he’s acting cute, when he already is to the swooning young ladies out there. His vocals I felt were on par as the previous round, a surprise really to hear the judges saying he fell a notch lower this time. He is another one who needs to challenge himself by singing a song of a more upbeat tempo to show his versatility.

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Sein

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

Being the last one standing amongst the veterans of this competition, I expected more from Sein, because he impressed me the most in the audition rounds amongst the likes of Ize, Izam and Harman. Right now, he is playing with fire and I for one am thinking he is being extremely gullible to the fact that he has only his looks to bank on and his fans to save him from elimination. Bearing in mind only the top two will progress to the semi-final rounds, he needs a very strong fan support to help him progress cos I’m very sure the judges were not at all pleased with his performance. Other than forgetting his lyrics and doing the unnecessary moves towards the end of singing Sweet Charity‘s “Zakiah” (which was sung in the same arrangement as Jinbara‘s version), there was nothing outstanding about Sein‘s performance other than the word “Elimination” staring right back at him. In such a critical stage like this, the small mistakes are magnified, especially when the rest have set a certain amount of standard to follow.

Group Performance:

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Group 1 consisting of Azhar, Kamsani and Chirul sang Black Dog Bone‘s “Anekaragam“. Their performance showed how they were enjoying themselves on stage. Azhar impressed as usual with his vocals, Chirul with his theatrics and Sani with his dance moves. Harmony-wise I thought they were better than the second group. Watching the three of them reminded me of P. Ramlee, S. Samsudin and Aziz Sattar in Bujang Lapok. They had the crowd in stitches with their antics.

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Wawan, Hydir and Sein in Group 2 sang Sweet Charity‘s “Jangan Lama-Lama“. Surprisingly, Sein was a standout, atoning his previous debacle in the solo segment. He should have been at this level much earlier. Hydir was the most hyper of the three while Wawan was finding it difficult to keep up with his colleagues both in steps and vocals. Harmony was patchy at best with Sein‘s voice the one that I could hear because he was the one with the highest key of the three. Not a good gauge of their performance as a whole in my opinion.

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After the euphoria and hair-raising experience I felt last week with the female contestants, this week’s episode left me somewhat a notch disappointed even though I know the difference in standards between the guys and the ladies is a bit too glaring and should not be compared. So far, only Azhar and Hydir have shown us that they are capable of carrying the flag for the males, but the rest need to buck up a hell lot if they want to progress further. Something new happened in this episode and with the number of contestants dwindling down to just six, they were given the opportunity to speak to the audience prior to singing. Which is good, cos it would give them a good grounding when they appear in public in future to interact with the audience.

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The ladies finalising their songs for next week…

Also, after a month of watching them performing in groups, I tend to agree with my friend IzaRR from Izone.sg that the segment seems to be more a filler and source of entertainment, rather than being in a competition. Cos to repeat what he had pointed out in his own Anugerah 2009 review, most of the performances so far have been amateurish, with little teamwork and harmony, with everyone vying to be the most dominant voice, perhaps to impress the judges and voters at home. Perhaps retaining just the solo segments with the contestants singing the whole song, would give us a fairer amount of opportunity to judge their respective potential cos afterall Suria is gonna crown a solo winner and not a boyband or girlgroup.

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Thank you all once again for the beautifully recorded piece…

It was a pleasure meeting the contestants after the show ended and I really felt honoured for the fact that they were all game enough to record that short clip I put up in the previous entry, even though it was clear on their faces that they had had a long day. For that I thank them and to Netty for helping me initiate the gesture. Also to Zuraidah for being a very gracious host. Till the next week…