Anugerah Planet Muzik 2018 Media Conference


Graphics poster courtesy of MediaCorp Suria and designed by Budi Iskandar Sa’ad

We’re just a few days away from my annual favourite regional awards event, Anugerah Planet Muzik (APM 2018), and I finally got the time to share what transpired during the media conference which was held on 31st July 2018. I could have posted this entry much earlier but Elit Suria which was more concurrent back then took precedence and I didn’t want to hype this event too early as we were still a good two months away. Anyway, this year marks APM‘s seventeenth edition with the unveiling of notable nominees from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam. Once again organised by Mediacorp Suria, Warna 94.2FM and RIA 89.7FM, the 2018 nominees were announced at Orchard Hotel‘s Grand Ballroom with performances by local artistes Farhan Shah, Izat Ibrahim, Liwani Izzati, Firwan Johan, Jagad Edge and Miiko the 13th. An estimated attendance of about a hundred local singers, musicians, producers and songwriters attended the event.

The APM trophies, which go through several revised changes in design and sizes over the years, again up for grabs this year…

What was intriguing about the media conference that day for me was the presence of Mimifly of One Nation Emcees fame, who is now a solo artiste. Seldom do we get a regional artiste attending an APM media conference here in Singapore in years past. Seeing her presence from a distance as I was going up the escalator, was an early indicator of her coming involvement in this year’s instalment. The moment I stepped off from the escalator, I met Ryan Sufiyan who let slipped that he is scheduled to perform with her at this year’s awards show. Instantly I knew that their song “Gila” would be up for nomination for one of the Best Collaboration categories. I guess years of following the event has more or less got me tuned in to the link between performing on the actual night and being nominated. Eventually when the nominations were officially announced, I was proven correct. Speaking of nominations, leading the list is Malaysian-based rapper-songwriter Alif Abdullah of former pop duo, SleeQ, with six nominations. This is followed closely by our local acts Aisyah Aziz and Sufi Rashid, Malaysia’s up-and-coming pop star As’ad Motawh, as well as Indonesia’s pop princess, Isyana Sarasvati with five nominations each.

DJs KC and Dzar Ismail returned once again as hosts for this year’s media conference. They were seen here with Farhan Shah right after his performance…

It is nice to see amongst the list of nominees a mix of young and the more experienced. Who would expect to see a legendary group like Search still churning out quality music in this current age of 90s revival music and social media sensations??? Or Brunei affirming their continued presence in the list with Jaz Hayat once again being nominated since his previous in 2016??? Indeed with the proclivity of social media as a daily staple for most of us, music has found a way for us to appreciate regional talents and for music producers to scout for budding talents. In the case of Bruneians like Aziz Harun and Jaz Hayat, they were fortunate to have Malaysian and Indonesian producers who saw the talent they possess, and now they are reaping the benefits of such collaboration. Which is what the Anugerah Planet Muzik brand is also about, getting to know talents from all four regional Southeast Asian countries, exchanging ideas, networking and eventually collaborating to make more good music for us to savour. As what former Lead of Mediacorp Malay Community, Ms. Zakiah Halim said, “As the only regional Malay music awards event, Anugerah Planet Muzik has always created meaningful opportunities and collaborations between artistes and musicians to raise their profiles in the region. We are proud that the APM 2018 nominees are trendsetters who are pushing the boundaries of creativity in their music.”

Ms. Zakiah Halim and Dr. Edmund Lam, CEO of COMPASS, addressing the attendees of the media conference…

Viewers can expect the hottest music acts and buzzworthy pop culture moments in this year’s APM that will be held at MES Theatre at MediaCorp Campus this coming Friday, 28 September 2018 from 9.00pm. The awards show will be hosted by RIA 89.7FM‘s Fiza O, Malaysia‘s Nabil Ahmad and Indonesia‘s Daniel Mananta. Another highlight of the media conference was the announcement of the performers for this year’s event, where usually they do not announce till much later due to confirmation of artistes availability. This time round, the organisers managed to secure the acts by the time the media conference came about. For the record, Anugerah Planet Muzik 2018 will feature hit performances by Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza who is making a comeback to the event after a three-year break, Dato’ Rossa, Judika, Isyana Sarasvati, Ryan Sufiyan, MimiFly, Khai Bahar, Ayda Jebat, Sara Fajira, DJ Kenny Gabriel, Adrian Khalif, Farhan Shah, Jaz Hayat, G.A.C. (Gamaliel Audrey Cantika) as well as local band The Pinholes. I for one am very much looking forward to seeing the trio of Gamaliel, Audrey and Cantika (G.A.C.) for the first time live as I have been quite a big fan of some of their hits over the past year or so like “Satu“, “Cinta“, “Never Leave Ya” and their debut single, “Bahagia“. I will not be surprised if they are slated to open or end the show with their catchy songs “Satu” and “Never Leave Ya“.

The local artistes, as well as Mimifly herself (front row eighth from right), with a group photograph for memories sake…

Music fans and enthusiasts are also given the opportunity to vote for their favourite songs and artistes in fan-based categories from 31 July to 25 September 2018, 11.59pm on 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. The theme for this year’s Anugerah Planet Muzik 2018 is Tropics / Tropical with the hashtag #TropicLikeItsHot expected to trend on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, alongside #APM2018 and the returning #GilerTakGerek hashtags which caught on at last year’s event. Suffice to say, the next few days cannot come soon enough and I cannot wait to share with you photographs I will be snapping on Friday itself. Just so you know the usual drill, I will break down my posts and post them in instalment entries so you just have to come here every few days to check them out.

*Best APM Song and Special APM Awards will be announced on 28th September 2018

 

Snapshots of APM2018 Media Conference

 

APM2017 Red Carpet & Post-Event Reception Snapshots

I’m back with the second instalment of my APM2017 series. Apologies for making you wait this long for this entry as I was juggling editing the rest of the photographs I took that night and revising with the kids for their final-year exams which will end this coming midweek. Even though I have finished editing the photographs, the proper review entry is still in the pipeline and will not be up till probably next weekend or slightly later. So I hope you can wait a bit more. I’ll try to do it as soon as possible as it has been three years since I last did one. Anyway, I have come to observe that people usually come to this domain of mine to view photographs of recent event happenings, or to look out for photographs of local personalities they would like to get to know, especially the new faces. You might also have stumbled upon my page cos you were Googling for some personalities and this page happens to be one of the top search hits.

For the regional readers, they might not know who is who in the Singapore Malay entertainment scene, so in a way I am providing that yeoman service of assisting your queries. I’ve even had feedback from production companies that my blog has been of great help for them to scout for talents. Just glad I am able to help in any way I can, that too without hoping for any rewards or payments. This is also another reason that gave me that wee bit of drive to continue blogging when I recently felt I wanted to pack it all in. I’ll stop blabbering for now and just share with you some selected shots I took during the Red Carpet segment and Post-Event Reception at Anugerah Planet Muzik 2017. Didn’t take that many shots but I guess they will do for now before I come up with my last instalment entry.

 

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

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)

Anugerah Planet Muzik 2014 Review

apm2014poster(Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Malay Broadcast Division)

It’s been three weeks since Anugerah Planet Muzik 2014 (APM2014) was held at Suntec City Convention Centre on 17 October 2014, but the memories of the prestigious awards night are still fresh in my mind. I cannot guarantee if I will blog as lengthily as what everyone has been used to reading when it comes to my annual APM reviews, simply because on the surface, I doubt I have much to dissect and analyse this time round. But you’ll never know, since I have this tendency to blabber, make sidenotes and references that would eventually veer me off-course. But that’s the beauty of this blog, other than the many photographs that everyone loves to come in and see. I just wish I can make this a full-time career, but is there a proper industry here in Singapore to begin with??? 🙂

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The right choice for the opening performance, Taufik Batisah with his current hit “#Awakkatmane“…

In years past, I would normally take the trouble and effort to read the reactions of the general audience and see their comments on social media. Not this year, as I did not wish to concern myself with the “Macam Faham” keyboard warriors. These people will always be there on social media, ever ready whenever there is an event on television, quick to comment on things that are trivial and out of their understanding, but still feel the need and urge to comment when they know nuts what is going on behind-the-scenes or understanding reasons behind certain shortcomings. But I believe this year’s event had few controversial incidents (more on that!!!) or arguable award recipients as in previous years. Congratulations to the organisers as APM2014 was the top trending topic on Twitter worldwide that night!!!

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Yacko, Joe Flizzow and Sheikh Haikel continued where Taufik left off…

I had extremely good vibes about APM2014 days before the event, for the sole reason, this was (and if my memory still serves me well), the first in its thirteen editions, that it witnessed a sell-out crowd. Between 2001-2005 I remembered APM being close to a full house, but there were still empty pockets here and there. I attributed the presence of legendary Malaysian rock group WINGS and seeing Ariel of NOAH after his well-documented legal struggles, as the two main factors that pulled in the audience this year. In the past, we might have had household names like Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza and Taufik Batisah to help entice the crowd to attend, but still their presence were not enough, even if they continue to receive the biggest cheers every time they appear on stage. This time, I’m sure it felt like a major coup to have two of the biggest bands in the regional Nusantara music scene to grace the APM stage. This was the first time WINGS made an appearance at the awards show and the first time Ariel appeared since Peterpan performed at APM2005.

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Hosts for the night – Dyn Norahim, Sarah Sechan and Nabil Ahmad

But the sell-out audience was also a major factor in me stopping short of saying this was the best APM in years. Yes the event itself, in terms of performances and overall production, is probably up there amongst the best and most enjoyable ones in its thirteen years of existence, but the atmosphere was close to dead from my humble observations. Other than Taufik Batisah‘s opening performance or whenever he appeared onstage either to receive his three awards or presented with Najwa Mahiaddin, the only times the crowd came alive were when Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, NOAH and WINGS made appearances. The atmosphere during the rest of the other performances or award presentations felt like a morgue, or at the very least, just courtesy applause heard. At times, one could just hear a pin drop. That was how bad the atmosphere was and I had to turn around a couple of times to see whether it was really a sell-out audience or not.

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A common feature of APM – Performances by artistes from the three countries together onstage – Maria Calista, Mafarikha Akhir and Aisyah Aziz

I expected a bit more vigour and pride from the audience, when our local artistes who were nominated in the regional categories, had their names announced as the nominees. Or when the likes of Aisyah Aziz, Sufie Rashid, Sezairi and Sheikh Haikel performed. But it was just dead, with little to no positive reaction, save perhaps when Sufie Rashid won his award for Lagu Terbaik Singapura (Best Singapore Song). I wondered aloud that night, aren’t we proud to see our own acts stand toe to toe with the region’s best??? I was seething throughout the night at the thought and somehow when I’m typing this and recalling again, I feel that sense of anger returning. Last year, we had a party atmosphere with fans bringing drums and percussions, even when it was not a full house. It was just a big pity the same fans were not around to hype the audience. Or perhaps told not to bring their instruments into the event venue. But even if they were not allowed to, I’m sure they would still be in full voice.

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The cool cat, Sezairi, performed his nominated single “Sayang“…

This year, there was a change in hosts from Singapore and Malaysia. Dyn Norahim (and not Ibrahim. Astro & MeleTOP please take note!!!) from Warna 94.2FM and Ahmad Nabil Ahmad, the winner of the second season of Malaysia‘s Raja Lawak reality competition took over the microphone duties alongside APM veteran Sarah Sechan. Indeed this was Dyn Norahim‘s first big break hosting an event of this magnitude, where the region’s eyes were on him. He admitted to having a lot of jitters before the show, in awe of his two colleagues whom he felt were more prolific in their crafts as hosts and extremely quick on the draw to butt in when he fluffed his lines during rehearsals. But I told him not to be overawed by the occasion and he would do just fine. Most importantly, I reminded him not to go overboard with some of his jokes, and overall I think he did extremely well without trying too hard.

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Sultry Najwa Mahiaddin serenaded the audience with “Impian Terindah“…

While I’ve heard of many negative feedbacks about Dyn Norahim‘s performance that night, mostly from the online brickbats, I thought he did not do much wrong for a newbie on the APM stage. Local radio listeners would have been disappointed not to have witnessed Dyn‘s alter-egos Abang J and Mr. Wong, or that he might not have matched Nabil‘s wacky personality, but there needed to be a certain balance with all three hosts complementing one another, rather than hogging or competing for the limelight. Dyn is outgoing and comical in his own way and did not need to match Nabil pound for pound in the wacky stakes. Nabil‘s butting in at several award presentations and chiming in with wisecracks when others were presenting, were either welcomed or a source of irritation, depending on how you tolerate his style. Just that I was a bit uncomfortable when he made a joke about plane crashes in this very same year his own country suffered two tragedies of that nature. I was expecting some backlash from his countrymen about it, but thankfully I’ve heard none of it till today.

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Loved Tulus‘ humble speech when he won his award for Artis Baru Terbaik (Lelaki) / Best New Male Artiste

Speaking of backlash and the earlier mention of controversies that arose from this year’s edition, poor Dzar Ismail was targeted by the Indonesians on Twitter for unwittingly using the term “Indon” to refer to the “Indonesians” when he presented with Hanis Zalikha. For those who do not know, the term “Indon” is derogatory to the Indonesians. It is either a racial slur or a negative connotation to describe them. But I know Dzar Ismail did not mean it the way the Indonesians had slagged him off for it. For one, the term is used here in Singapore as a shortened name for Indonesia / Indonesians. Most, if not all of us, even Malaysians, use it as a shortened word of convenience, and not to degrade or look down at our neighbours. Even the Indonesians living here in Singapore refer to themselves as “Indon“, so I was a bit surprised at the amount of abuse being directed towards Dzar Ismail. Our own Berita Harian congratulated their new President by using the same term as their front page headlines recently. So really, it’s a matter of cultural misunderstanding. It would be nice however, to take note, not to use it during such events where we are interacting with Indonesian audience, out of basic respect and courtesy. It’s like the N-word where it is ok for the Negros and blacks to use it amongst themselves, but not us.

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Dato’ Rossa and Taufik Batisah‘s onstage chemistry was intense and passionate to say the least…

I don’t think there are any major grievances pertaining to all the award winners. Previously, our regional neighbours were up in arms when any Singaporean artistes were to walk away with the popular regional award categories, but the winners this year (“Dia Dia Dia” – Fatin Shidqia Lubis and NOAH) somehow could have been justified in their eyes. I might not hear or perhaps been oblivious if there are any objections towards Taufik Batisah winning the Ikon Media Sosial (Social Media Icon) award. This is a guy who has timed his return to perfection and launched his latest album at the right moment, a month before APM2014. With his viral videos with the hashtag “#awakkatmane” making its rounds since Ramadhan and resulting in countless number of parodies being made, it was a no brainer. Rightly so that such an award conferred to him reflected his influence. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Taufik on getting more than a million views on YouTube for his latest music video “#Awakkatmane” within three weeks of uploading it, and also for the hashtag to be the top trending topic on YouTube Malaysia.

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One of the top draws of the night, Ariel and NOAH

Such popularity comes with the caveat of having haters as well. You either like the “#Awakkatmane” song, or you do not. Personally I love it, in fact I need to listen to it daily as a form of perk-me-up. However, linguistic “Nazis” like myself however have a little grouse with regards to its title, where “mana” is spelt as “mane“. Releasing it in the middle of our national Malay Language Month, where speaking good Malay is encouraged, also felt a little odd but I know for one that Taufik meant no disrespect whatsoever. By adding that hashtag at the beginning of the title meant, he probably was taking a dig at those who love to misspell or spell out of convenience in social media or online messaging. Nonetheless, I am so hoping and wishing that with this new album launch, his viral clips and music video as well as his collaboration with the likes of Altimet in his new album and two of his songs being chosen as the soundtracks for drama series shown in Malaysia, it will finally be the big break that has eluded him all these years. Ten years in the scene, it is high time he becomes a household name across our shores. Sidenote, the voice of the lady in that hit song does not belong to Fiza O. Wonder how some people came to such a conclusion when the voice tones of both ladies are different.

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Odd to see Judika attending APM without his wife Duma Riris, but congratulations to them on the birth of their firstborn, Cleo Deora Boru Sihotang

I was and still am elated over the awards won by Awi Rafael for his collaboration with Altimet for “Kalau Aku Kaya” (Kolaborasi TerbaikArtis / Best Artiste Collaboration), as well as those won by Aisyah Aziz for “Mimpi” (Kolaborasi TerbaikLagu / Best Song Collaboration) and Sufie Rashid for “Tiada Pengganti” (Lagu Terbaik SingapuraBest Singapore Song). I did say last year that I would not at all be surprised if “Kalau Aku Kaya” were to be nominated in at least the Duo / Kumpulan Terbaik (Best Duo / Group) or Kolaborasi Terbaik (Best Collaboration) categories. I stopped short of saying the song or collaboration would win outright last year, for the fact that I had yet to listen to newer songs from other artistes, but if I had the choice to award them for it, I would have given it to them last year. However, my hunch came true this time and I thought it was a satisfying reward earned by two artistes whom I have so much respect for in the regional music scene.

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One of my favourite photos of the night – Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza belting “Jaga Dia Untukku“…

If there is an award for “Most Improved Performer” over the past year, I would give it to Sufie Rashid in a heartbeat. He has grown so much since his first forays in the scene, joining the various reality talent competitions on television, only to falter in the earlier stages. He was one of the guest performers during last year’s APM2013 Media Conference, along with Yaya Hamid, but he did not impress me at all that day. He was a bag of nerves and had pitching issues when he sang. In short, I was cringing when I watched him. I remembered Aura Shai asking me to upload a full video of his performance that day but I chose not to, cos I did not want viewers to slate him or subject him to abuse from online brickbats. But I know and can see that he has taken great pains to improve himself over the past year. Most importantly, he has gained so much confidence onstage thanks to his involvement in the recent SG Mania competition on Mediacorp Suria.

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Judika and Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza teased a possible collaboration when they presented at last year’s APM and called themselves “Ju-Si“. This year it became a reality when they sang “Apakah Ini Cinta“…

SG Mania, I felt, was the making of Sufie Rashid. Where once he had confidence issues, he is now a fearless performer onstage. His performance during APM2014 made my hairs stood and I was happy for him that he was not overawed when paired with the likes of Hazama and Cakra Khan. He told me afterwards how he was worried that he might have upstaged the other two when he went for the high notes. I for one, was afraid his voice would crack as a result, but he pulled it off much to the audience’s approval, judging by their whoops and cheers. Credits also go out to members of The SallysShafiq Iskandar, Izwan Khuzair and Rusdi Badri for composing “Tiada Pengganti“. This is an under-rated local band that has produced quite a number of radio-friendly hits. But my personal favourite from their collection of songs till this day is still “Gadis Marmalade“. Like my blog, the band recently celebrated their tenth year of existence this year.

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The fearless performer, Sufie Rashid

I enjoyed all the performances that night from the start right till the end. In fact, I did not feel the time passing by till the voiceover announcement informed that Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, Dato’ Rossa and Aisyah Aziz were up next, indicating the second last performance of the night (I had the benefit of knowing who was performing in order of performances and songs thanks to the media press kit given to us). Slowly but surely, the organising team have begun to master the art of keeping things compact within a two-and-a-half hour timeframe. The commercial breaks were short, between three to four minutes, and most people who went to relieve themselves or went out for a quick smoke break ended up returning to their seats during the following commercial breaks or rushing back when the live cameras were rolling. Where previously the event felt like a drag, I have seen a lot of improvement in this area over the past two to three years.

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Cakra Khan, Sufie Rashid and Hazama paying tribute to Sweet Charity with “Kamelia”…

I have been waxing lyrical all along other than making my unhappiness felt towards the audience for not being supportive enough. But of course I have other few niggly issues which I feel the need to voice out and hopefully improve future APM events. I already stated in my “Walk of the Stars” entry that not many artistes walked onstage to be introduced to the audience and how it would be nice for the audience to see our very own local acts be introduced to them. I also overheard and observed how the local artistes had to enter through the same doors and walked along the same route as the other audience. Though it would be nice to see them enter the event venue through another route as a mark of exclusivity accorded to artistes, I believe logistical issues were probably why they had to enter through the same way as the general audience or the fact that they were not mobbed could have been another factor why they entered the same way as the rest.

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Another one of my favourite shots of the night, this time with Dato’ Rossa

Logistical issue was also another factor why there was no post-event reception after APM ended last year. I was pleased that at least there was one this time round. Where some might complain about having to make do with light / finger food not befitting of such a prestigious event, I personally feel that beggars cannot be choosers. It was gracious and kind enough for the organisers to provide a place where artistes could do a bit of networking with industry players and fill their stomachs a bit before going for supper with friends elsewhere. Cos I’m sure a lot of artistes when they meet friends and such, they would want to adjourn to another place to continue their conversations. Fathin Amira Zubir was the busiest from my observations of the goings-on during the post-event reception, handing over her single CDSebenarnya” to various artistes and people from the music industry. I should have asked one from her, never mind if I had to pay for it, cos I always do my bit to purchase products from our local acts, rather than expect freebies or complimentary copies.

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APM promotes friendship and warmth between artistes from the three countries. This photograph is one fine example.

Before the event and after looking at its graphics poster, I noted on my Facebook status that there was a bit of lopsidedness in terms of female performers and bands if one were to compare those in Singapore to our regional counterparts. Malaysia and Indonesia each had a band representative and more than one female performer than us who only had Aisyah Aziz to be proud of. I had called upon the organisers to balance the odds and add an additional female performer and band, cos seriously after watching Konsert Siti Nurhaliza Live back in March as well as SG Mania and Singa Maksima Live prior to APM2014, I felt the likes of Fathin Amira Zubir, Sarah Aqilah, Farisha Ishak and Tujuhband at least deserved to represent us and performed that night. I was absolutely sure they would not disappoint us on the big stage. At the same time I was not expecting much given the nineteen awards that were presented and the already stellar-cast on show having to fit into a compact timeframe of two-and-a-half hours.

APM2014 2014-10-17 3771 Loved this tribute segment for three Divas who recently passed on, Dato’ Sharifah Aini, Diana Nasution and Kartina Dahari…

I just hope for future APMs, more of such acts would be showcased cos we do not have a dearth of talent in our local pool, but it is sometimes a question of us having confidence if they would deliver or not. Somehow I have been observing over the years that our local bands do not get much exposure on television as compared to individual artistes. Most variety or charity shows on Suria do not feature our local bands as much as we would like them to. We know they have composed and churned out radio hits, some even topping the charts for weeks, but relatively, I dare say most of them are an unknown quantity to the masses. I wonder if it is a case of budgeting (cheaper to pay a solo singer as compared to a group / band) or show producers do not have confidence on the abilities and capabilities of our local bands. When was the last time we saw the likes of Diorama, The Sallys, Tujuhband, Aryan Band, Kraton, Klutz etc. on television??? It’s either been a long time or none at all!!! I hope the next edition of SG Mania would feature bands instead of individual singers. Cos really our bands deserve a platform to showcase their talents to the masses.

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Oddly enough, the hosts only appeared onstage together twice throughout the whole show…

But speaking of our local bands and I hope they don’t kill me after this for saying this, I noticed a lot of them were too quick to get up from their seats that night during the commercial breaks to go for smoke breaks. I’m not a smoker and I cannot understand this addiction for nicotine, but surely some of them could have limited themselves to one break or none at all over the course of the whole event. Cos it didn’t look nice (since the event was also attended by dignitaries, people from the industry, sponsors and foreign guests sitting near the front rows where they were seated) that our local artistes were more interested in having a puff than watching the awards show. There were times during the show where they were all seen rushing back to their seats, some smelling from their cigarette smells which was and is a major turn-off.

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Awie still packs a punch onstage and remains one of the best performers with his showmanship…

Respect in many ways, deeds and creeds, I believe goes two ways. If you want the bigwigs to sit up, take notice of your talents and feature you in future, you need to show a bit of respect towards yourselves and the event you’re at, cos there are many other observant eyes around us besides myself. It might be trivial, but little things sometimes might be used as a cause against you. And I personally wouldn’t want that to hinder their progress or possible exposure to the masses. I can only dispense advice from a perspective of an observer who has seen and heard grouses from people from the industry. At times I become the Agony Aunt to some of our local acts and listen to some of the problems they face. But I do not have the answers to everything, but where I can help, I’ll try to. This is one aspect I noticed and feel the need to voice out for them to improve on their image and standing as talents and acts to be given due respect.

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WINGS closed the proceedings with an energetic medley of their current and past hits…

I finally come to my last paragraph. So much for saying at the start that I won’t make this a lengthy entry. I wanted to share more anecdotes and problems faced behind-the-scenes, but I guess I won’t because some things are best left unsaid to protect the dignity of others and the event as a whole. Some backstage politicking should remain between the relevant parties and not one for me to stick my nose into. I was there at the awards show to be entertained and to meet friends in the scene. I was sufficiently satisfied by what I saw onstage and contented with what I had off it, which made me feel that this was one of the most enjoyable APM events I had attended. I hope the next time APM is organised, Suntec City Convention Centre would continue to be the event venue. Congratulations once again to all the award winners and to the organising team from Mediacorp Malay Broadcast Division for a job well done!!!

Snapshots of APM2014