Anugerah Planet Muzik 2018 Pink Carpet Event

Back with the second instalment of my APM2018 photo series. Apologies you had to wait more than a week for this even though I had shared them more than a week ago if you’re following me on Instagram or even my personal Facebook account. My social media followers are usually more fortunate to be able to view them much earlier. Actually I wanted to post this entry on Monday but was tied down with work, as well as assisting Berita Harian in selecting the appropriate photographs for their article on Ruffedge‘s 20th Anniversary Concert held at Zepp @ Big Box, which I had the opportunity to have attended as well as provided photo coverage. I’ll be sharing more of that concert somewhere down the road, most probably after Anuar Zain‘s upcoming one at the end of the month. Without further ado, here are the photos I snapped during the Pink Carpet event prior to Anugerah Planet Muzik 2018 held at the MES Theatre @ MediaCorp Campus on 28th September 2018.

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

 

“Maya” & “Adakah Dia” Singles Launch…

Some of us might wonder what happened to last year’s Anugerah 2017 winner Mohd Shahfiq or any of the alumnus as we have heard nothing nor seen any new products from any of them, other than see some making the odd appearance on television for various shows or hearing them lend their voices for the official soundtracks of local dramas. This is one of my biggest gripes about this reality singing competition, in that they usually do not strike while the iron is hot. Too many of these past contestants take a long time to come out with an album or even one single, as most of them are constrained by the rules of the competition, where there is a six-months window period where they are not allowed to sign on with other companies or labels not associated with the competition. Anything can happen within this time frame, which might alter one’s passion or interest for the scene.

Shahfiq kicked off the launch by performing “Maya“…

However, to be fair, from the activities of those that I still follow on social media, some of these contestants have not been idle. Privately, some  have been quietly busy improving themselves in many aspects, like trying to be fitter so as to have better stamina when performing and equally looking good, while also performing at gigs and such to improve on their vocals. Others have dabbled in other crafts within the entertainment industry like 3rd runner-up, Nor Shafiq, who was seen in last December‘s SR115 drama series in a mini supporting role, while semi-finalist Elza Rahim has settled down and welcomed her new arrival just recently. Some do not have the luxury of having a proper management team behind them and have to do it on their own. Luckily for last year’s winner, Mohammad Shahfiq and second runner-up, Liwani Izzati, as part of their respective winning prizes, they are signed on to Paranormal Solutions Sdn Bhd, the Malaysian-based company who have the likes of Ayda Jebat and Aisyah Aziz, amongst many others, in their stable.

Liwani‘s “Adakah Dia” piqued my interest at the first time of listening…

A year is probably a short or long time for some of us, depending on events happening in our respective lives. It has been a long wait personally for me, but a year on from Anugerah 2017, we finally witnessed the official singles launch of Mohd Shahfiq, and Liwani Izzati, titled “Maya” and “Adakah Dia” respectively. The event was brought to us by the good people at Paranormal and local-based talent management company, S.Ria Productions. The humble venue where the launch was held, Taste Garden @ Orto, welcomed at least fifty people, more than half of which consisted of family members and friends of the two budding songbirds. The event, held on the scorching hot afternoon of 23rd March 2018, was hosted by emcee Mahadi Mashuri, no stranger to the local scene having had acting stints in the past, but is now known more for his hosting capabilities at weddings and corporate events.

The two singers then treated the crowd to Afgan and Raisa‘s hit song, “Percayalah“…

The whole event was a simple affair, with the two young singers performing their respective singles live to the watching audience, which also consisted of the local media brigade and those responsible for overseeing the making and production of the singles. The guests were also visually treated to the official music videos of the respective singles, both filmed in Kuala Lumpur. While the music video of “Maya” has been around for some time prior to the event, the music video of “Adakah Dia” was officially made available on YouTube on the night of the launch itself and has since garnered more than 10,000 views, a commendable effort for a relatively newbie in the scene. “Maya” was composed by renowned Malaysian composer Kevin Chin, written by Tinta and produced by Irwan Simanjuntak, the latter no stranger to the regional music scene. “Adakah Dia“, on the other hand, was produced by serial Anugerah Planet Muzik award-winning songwriters, Judah Lyne and Haramain Osman, of The Lion Story fame.

Paranormal Solutions founder, Prashan Chitty a.k.a. Melakaboy, sharing his experience working with Liwani and for the two singles…

I have had time to listen to both songs these past three weeks and if you were to ask me to make a comparison between the two singles, I am personally more inclined to favour Liwani‘s “Adakah Dia” over Shahfiq‘s “Maya“. I guess it is a matter of one’s personal choice and over years of listening to music to know what kind of song hooks attract listeners in double quick time. Not that “Maya” is not nice on the ears, but it takes a few times of listening for it to grow on me as compared to “Adakah Dia“. I personally feel that the song is probably too big for a newbie like Shahfiq to shoulder or as an introduction. You would expect more established singers to be able to perform this kind of song, but to Shahfiq‘s credit, he has taken over the challenge to push himself to sing a song of this magnitude. Maybe in time when his vocal technical abilities are more profound, can the song be appreciated better. It is definitely a good effort no doubt about it, and wish that both of them will continue to soar as singers of calibre that we can be proud of.

Liwani and Shahfiq were joined onstage for the group photo alongside MediaCorp Eaglevision‘s Sabariah Ramilan (left) and Suhaimi Jais (third from right), as well as S.RIA Productions‘ Managing Director, Ms. Sabariah Hirma (second from right) and Paranormal‘s Prashan Chitty

“Maya” and “Adakah Dia” are available for sale and download at iTunes, Spotify, Joox and Deezer. Thank you to Paranormal Records and S.Ria Productions for kindly inviting me to cover the event!!!

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 2017 Grand Finals Miscellaneous Snapshots…

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

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

Anugerah 2017 Semi-Finals Recap…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snapshots of Anugerah 2017 Semi-Finals

 

Anugerah 2017 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

Anugerah 2017 Week 6 Recap…

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

We kicked off the second half of the Anugerah 2017 competition last Tuesday, 21st February 2017, with the Top 6 vying for a place in the Grand Finals come 21st March 2017. Another two were set to be eliminated from the competition which would then leave us with just four contestants. Usually, the Grand Finals will be graced by the Top 4 or just three based on 2011‘s edition, so it made no sense to have a semi-final round this early unless the Wildcard Round was introduced. More on that later. I initially thought this was the first semi-final round, but they touted the show as a quarter-final instead. A bit odd when usually, a quarter-final round is made up of eight individuals or teams.

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The judges taking time to discuss over their decisions during one of the commercial breaks…

This past week, the theme for the competition was songs nominated in Anugerah Planet Muzik. So far, Liwani Izzati has been the standout performer, sweeping three Top Spot awards over the three weeks that she performed onstage and running away with the $500 weekly prize money, which now stands at $1500 in total. I was beginning to think if she were to continue winning consistently, the competition might as well come to an abrupt end. Even several people said so on social media. Anyway I did not do any individual analysis last week, so this week, I will be making one and perhaps alluding to their previous performances which I did not get to do then, where space and circumstances permit.

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Liwani Izzati

When Liwani opened the night’s competition singing Ayda Jebat‘s “Pencuri Hati“, it was no surprise to see her challenged herself singing and dancing to the song cabaret-style. Every week, she tries to come up with something different, be it in song arrangement or showmanship. She is one of those who have the benefit of having a personal vocal coach and maximising whatever knowledge and guidance she has been receiving. Her consistent performances are testimony to what a good coach can do to help her, allied with her own personal will and determination to succeed in this competition. Being the first contestant, she had the unenviable task of setting the night’s standards and she did not disappoint overall. However, for the first time, I detected some notes going a bit off but that was to be expected when she not only had to sing, but danced and moved all over the stage. The swing-jazz music arrangement and cabaret-styled performance was much different from the alternative Techno-Dangdut version which Ayda Jebat performed at last year’s APM2016 and meant for the Indonesian market, but still giving the song a certain freshness. At this point, it was easy to predict, bar any unfortunate twist of fate via viewers’ votes, that she will be one of the four finalists on 21st March 2017.

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Abby Nabila

Next up was Abby Nabila, who performed Kotak‘s “Kecuali Kamu“. When she did not perform well in Episodes 4 and 5, I could at least point to the fact that she had been feeling under the weather. However at this stage of the competition, a certain amount of competitiveness had to be present and this was sorely lacking, not only in Abby‘s performance, but also a few of her fellow contestants. I’ve seen many netizens up in arms over the past weeks, questioning her continued involvement in the competition but they could perhaps be forgiven for not knowing her health conditions then. I noticed the judges also tend to give her the benefit of doubt too because they know that she is one of the few contestants who is brave enough to try something out of the ordinary, like singing a male song or a song out of her own comfort zone. But as the competition wilts down, luck can only be with her for so long. Her performance last Tuesday was filled with many errors. For the third time in the course of the past six episodes, I detected that she has difficulties in hitting high notes or making the transitions between low and high. Such errors at this stage of the competition are considered criminal.

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Mohammad Shahfiq

The only male constestant left, you can say that he somehow is the bastion of hope for his fellow males who still have any vested interest in the competition. I was a bit surprised when judge Indra Shahrir claimed that this was Shahfiq‘s best performance so far, but I found it odd that a “best performance” included flat notes and dodgy pitching issues. I personally feel that Shahfiq performed much better during Episode 3 than this latest offering where he sang Hafiz Suip‘s “Noktah Cinta“. My sentiments echoed that of Taufik Batisah‘s. He looked quite uncomfortable from the start, a little unsure with his stage movements and had a lot of problems with his low notes. The only positive mark I could give Shahfiq was his willingness to come out of his comfort zone and singing a more upbeat number to challenge himself. Self-confidence issues I believe, has been a mainstay since I watched Shahfiq from the first week. He needs to show that he is enjoying himself performing in front of others alone when all these while, he has been used to performing in his school’s choir group.

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Shalyza Rosly

Another enigma in this year’s competition has been Shalyza Rosly. I expected a lot from her, given she had gone through the same competition in 2011. The experience she had then, should have given her the necessary tools to develop her performing style and have the edge over most contestants, just like Fauzie Laily had done when he entered Anugerah 2003 and 2005. The weekly complaints I have been hearing and seeing online about Shalyza has been her vocal similarities with Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza and I believe she is also sick of hearing it already. It has not helped her cause that she has been singing melancholic songs all these while. So when she performed Faizal Tahir‘s “Assalamualaikum“, I thought perhaps finally we would be listening to something out of the ordinary from her. However, the theme still remained the same with her sticking to her comfort zone of singing songs which are not of an upbeat tempo. I dunno why she chose this music arrangement over the original version, which as we all know is catchy and upbeat. I was also not sure what style Shalyza tried to inject into the song, but from the start, I was alarmed when she was consistently off-key. She tried to add gestures and movements into her performance but I thought they were a bit too incessant. When Shalyza did her 360 degree turn towards the end of her performance, I somehow knew her fate for the night was sealed.

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Elza Rahim

While Shalyza‘s performances have stagnated somewhat, the performances of Elza Rahim, another fellow contestant with shades of Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, has thankfully not digressed that much, at least from what I have been observing so far. I note that she has been trying hard to change her style of singing so that it would not sound too obvious to her beloved idol. But people will always compare, moreso when she chose to sing Dato’ Siti‘s “Lebih Indah” last Tuesday. It felt like a risky move, even the judges and her admitted that. One could however, see the effort she made in trying to sound different. My only complaint about Elza‘s performance, and this has been a running theme throughout the competition and not solely exclusive to her alone, is that most of them are so afraid of hitting the high notes or if they do, they tend to come up short. I dunno if a lack of practice, self-confidence, nervousness or preferring to still play it safe are combining factors for them not to challenge themselves further. I know it is not easy to hit the high notes. I cannot do it for the life of me, but I am not a singer to begin with, even though I used to have aspirations. But they are in this competition to win and show their mettle. They should give and want more.

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Speaking of giving and wanting more, I noticed that Syakirah Noble has always been at the fringes of winning the weekly top spot, no matter if she had been placed as lowly as fifth before this in Episode 2 (I personally felt she deserved higher then). In fact she almost did in Week 5, before she was unceremoniously shunted to second spot by Liwani. Don’t be fooled by her girly personality when she speaks. Here is a fiesty and determined individual not content in letting her good friend sweep the top spot on a weekly basis. I will be brave enough to say Syakirah‘s performance this past week was the best so far in this competition. She performed Roze Kasmani‘s “Harum” with an almost identical music arrangement to that of Liwani‘s. But the similarities end there. Had former Anugerah resident judge Eddy Ali been at the hot seat, I can bet he would have said that Syakirah‘s performance had all the right “menjeng” (sultry) ingredients that were required to sing this number. This was a different facet to Syakirah‘s onstage personality, a pleasant surprise for those who watched. I saw a professional singer performed that night and not for the first time in the competition, Syakirah managed to make me have goosebumps watching her. Truly she deserved her top spot position by the night’s end.

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Shalyza Rosly bade farewell to the competition

As mentioned earlier and a continued weekly routine, two contestants had to be eliminated by the end of the night, one by the judges’ ranking decisions, the other by viewers’ votes. Shalyza Rosly who was eventually placed at sixth position once Elza Rahim had taken her spot at third, did not see her position changed right after the last commercial break of the night. I won’t say it was a difficult decision to make because at this stage of the competition, little things like flaws in technicalities and showmanship are quite easy to detect or could be the difference. Going off-key almost throughout her performance, I think the judges did not have to pull their hair out nor think too much about making an informed decision. For me, it was either Shalyza or Abby Nabila. Both were ranked the two lowest positions by the judges.

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Abby Nabila was the next one to say goodbye to the competition, albeit temporarily…

After Shalyza had left the stage, it was the turn for the contestant with the least number of votes to make way. Abby Nabila found her luck had run out shortly afterwards. It came as a bit of a shock because right up till the last commercial break at least, Syakirah was the one with the least number of votes. Fortunately she was placed at the top, which granted her immunity for the week. For the first time, Liwani Izzati enjoyed getting the most number of votes by viewers. I had expected Elza Rahim‘s generous supporters to put her in a safe position yet again, but it was not to be. Finally we are seeing some dynamics changing in terms of viewers’ votes. Maybe viewers are starting to wise up and keep the deserving ones in the competition. Will this remain or will we revert back to the usual once the semi-final round kicks off next week??? We will only know properly then…

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Wildcard Round contestants (from left): Sharizal Suwandi, Nor Shafiq, Nadia Nadhirah, Abby Nabila and Azhar Aziz…

Just before the show ended, we were finally informed of the Wildcard Round, which will be held tomorrow 28th February 2017. Out of the eight contestants who have been eliminated between Episodes 3-6, five were selected to fight it out once again for a final redemption back into the competition. I had earlier expected Azhar Aziz, Nadia Nadhirah, Sharizal Suwandi and Nor Shafiq to be reinstated because I personally felt they deserved to based on their performances during the weeks they were eliminated. The fifth spot, however, was anyone’s guess. As it is, the judges decided to give Abby Nabila a reprieve. This was where social media was again up in arms. Personally I would have given it to Hakim Halim, but upon reflection, Hakim Halim and Shalyza Rosly are quite one-dimensional and similar, in that their strengths and forte are more towards Rock and Ballad respectively. As mentioned before, Abby gets into the judges’ good books for her bravery in wanting to try something different, even if sometimes the end product does not come out as satisfactorily as planned. Will she prove her doubters wrong??? We will only know tomorrow…

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The Top 4 who progressed into the semi-finals – Liwani Izzati, Elza Rahim, Syakirah Noble and Mohammad Shahfiq

For the Top 4 who progressed this past week, they must have heaved a sigh of relief upon knowing they were able to put their feet up and enjoy the week off. However, it will not be any easy, as anyone from the five chosen to be in the Wildcard Round are able to upset the apple cart once the semi-finals beckoned. So how many from the Wildcard Round will progress this coming week? Will it be two or three out of the five? We will only find out when the competition resumes tomorrow live from Studio One at Mediacorp Campus at 8:30pm. For those watching from the comfort of home, I don’t have to remind you which channel the live telecast will be aired…

Snapshots of Anugerah 2017 Week 6