#ThePouponsWed Marriage Solemnisation Ceremony…

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Bilal Guillaume Jeanpierre & Nadiah M. Din

This domain has been “dead” for slightly over four months and frankly speaking, there were times I felt like just calling it a day, such is my daily commitments taking up so much of my time that blogging is the last thing on my mind. But in between I still continue getting invites to shows, album launches and even invitations to cover celebrity wedding events. I will not make any promises about posting them all, but I will definitely try to, moreso since my favourite annual event, Anugerah Planet Muzik, is just around the corner. Well, speaking of covering celebrity wedding events, my comeback post is on the marriage solemnisation ceremony of local actress-host Nadiah M. Din and Bilal Guillaume Jeanpierre held at The Colonial @ Scotts on 14 August 2016.

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The bride looking splendour in her outfit by Fatimah Mohsin

I had gotten the invitation to cover their upcoming momentous event (their wedding reception is in December 2016) way back in December 2015, a good one year ahead. But the solemnisation ceremony was only brought to my attention by our celebrity bride some two to three months ago when I met her at an event. I usually do not sacrifice my weekly Sunday evening football sessions unless it is for something dire, but I had given my word in advance, plus the fact that this was a God-willing, once-in-a-lifetime event for our lovely couple, hence I could go without playing for just one weekend. Anyway, Nadiah was the one who sought my contact and personally contacted me to cover her event. It is difficult to say “No” when one has added that kind of personal touch.

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Nadiah‘s elder brother, Ahmad Ghazali, reciting a short supplication for the newly-weds and invoking blessings for the guests and event…

I will not relate much about the marriage solemnisation ceremony as you would have probably read what transpired from the mainstream media days after the event or even watched it via live streaming on the day itself, only the second local Malay celebrity to have done it after Syarif and Malaque Mahdaly back in November 2014. What struck me during the event was how much love the couple had, not only for one another but also the people close to them. Bilal, even though he did not get the opportunity to get to know Nadiah‘s late father, Allahyarham Mohammad Din Mohammad, went out of his way in his thank you speech to ask the guests to recite a short supplication for his departed soul, a gesture that highlighted what a big-hearted person he is.

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Bilal reciting the all-important marriage vows (Akad) with Ahmad Ghazali giving away his sister’s hand in marriage…

I was surprised that Bilal, being a non-celebrity, did a lot of the talking in their joint speech, mostly expressing his gratitude to Nadiah‘s family and relatives for accepting him with open arms right from the start. With his good looks, charm, sincere mannerisms and soft-spoken nature, it is easy to see why Nadiah fell head over heels with him. I would too if I was a lady. I actually had the opportunity to speak with him for the first time during the recent Hari Raya Aidilfitri festivities when we bumped into one another at Norfasarie and Baihakki Khaizan‘s housewarming event. There, I was able to get to know the man first hand and he was curious with this blogging aspect of my hobby. If the first meeting left a good lasting impression of him, the second one during the solemnisation ceremony only entrenched the positive feeling further.

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The newly-wedded couple displaying their wedding rings on their fingers…

The solemnisation ceremony was attended by about 150 guests, mostly family members and close friends, as well as representatives from the media in Singapore and Malaysia. Nadiah‘s hand in marriage was given away by her elder brother, Mr. Ahmad Ghazali and the ceremony was solemnised and officiated by Ustaz Syakir Pasuni. For the record, RIA 89.7FM‘s Fiza O hosted the event and amongst the local personalities who attended were fashion designer Lulu Alhadad, Munah Bagharib, Lydia Izzati and Cheryl Wee. The latter three mentioned were also amongst the five maids-of-honour of the bride. Akrab Kompang Services provided the recitations of the Selawat just before the close of the ceremony to cap off a befitting end. And of course, the bride and groom donned outfits specially designed by none other than celebrity make-up artiste Fatimah Mohsin.

thepouponswed 486The newly-wedded couple with Nadiah‘s immediate family members…

Before I end off this entry, I would just like to congratulate our newly betrothed couple Nadiah & Bilal once again on embarking on this new chapter of their lives as man and wife. May the blessings of the Almighty be their guiding light in this journey till eternity and beyond. Thank you for kindly inviting me and family to this momentous event!!! Also my heartiest congratulations to bro Aliff Aziz and Bella Astillah who solemnised their marriage this past Friday 9 September 2016!!! To my Muslim readers, I wish you Eid Mubarak. May Allah accept our deeds and shower us with blessings in abundance… 🙂

Snapshots of #thepouponswed Solemnisation Ceremony

APM2015 Snapshots…

APM 2015 - Media Release(Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

I return once again with another APM2015 entry, my second instalment of this year’s edition. This time, I’ll be sharing miscellaneous shots I took during the “Red Carpet” event, the “Walk of the Stars” segment as well as a few shots I took post-event. Unfortunately there was no post-event reception this year and the “Walk of the Stars” segment had to be cut short due to time constraints before the event proper began, so there were not many photographs that I took and certainly less of a variety as compared to previous years.

Also since I am basically a one-man team, I had to leave the “Red Carpet” event at the hall’s entrance to take shots of the events transpiring on stage. In years past, I would have broken my entries into several postings, but this year, I’ll just post my miscellaneous snapshots under one entry, with my review coming much later, as I still have five thousand-odd photographs I need to sieve through and pick the best ones to be featured. Hope this filler entry before my review would help to satiate your thirst to view the photographs of the event. I will not put a timeframe to the publication of my review entry but I hope I will not take another month to post it up… 😛

Launch of Dunia Sinema Channel

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I’ve gotta admit, I’ve had a nice three week break since the last entry. I’ve managed to catch up on a lot of me time, with family and friends. So much so that laziness had crept in and I was beginning to delay this particular entry that I’m about to embark on. I think two weeks since the event launch of the Dunia Sinema channel on Starhub TV is long enough and I cannot delay any longer since Pesta Perdana 12 is just less than a fortnight away. Speaking of Pesta Perdana 12, I will be posting an entry on the nomination list pretty soon, but I’m sure some of you might already known or have seen it on your respective social media accounts. Hand to heart I have not been keeping myself abreast and don’t even know who is nominated in which category, which shows how much I have switched myself off from the local entertainment scene since the Ratu competition ended.

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Ms. Sandie Lee and Major (Hon) David Teo officially launched the Dunia Sinema channel…

Touching on the topic of Ratu, well the launch of the Dunia Sinema channel held at Fairmont Hotel on 2nd February 2013 felt like a reunion of sorts all over again, as at least ten of the contestants attended the event hosted by Metrowealth International Group (MIG). Familiar up-and-coming local actors and actresses like Erwin Shah Dawson, Lydia Izzati, Atikah Suhaime and Erni Aidil also graced the occasion with their presence. Even radio personality Hafeez Glamour, came to support the launch. Prior to the event, a closed-door auditioning session was being held next door to the event venue. It was the perfect opportunity for the Ratu contestants and our up-and-coming acts to show their potential and perhaps be the next face to be featured by MIG in their upcoming productions, be it on the silver screens or for television viewing. At a time where some bigwig in the scene across the Causeway is making all the negative noises about welcoming acts from outside their country, MIG should be applauded for welcoming them with open arms.

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The Ratu contestants with Hafeez Glamour and Major (Hon) David Teo

Anyway, back to the topic of the Dunia Sinema channel. MIG has been entrusted to manage the newly-launched channel, where there is a collection of Malay films produced by them and can be viewed through this collaboration with Starhub TV. The high demand for Malay films in Singapore in recent years, convinced Starhub and MIG to create this channel. This collaboration hopes to trigger a new history in the world of broadcasting, in turn further strengthening bilateral relations between Singapore and Malaysia, particularly in the field of publishing. Subscribers to the channel (Channel 120) can enjoy watching ten films of different genres every month at a flat rate of S$8.56 per month. The launch of the Dunia Sinema channel was inaugurated by Major (Hon) David Teo, CEO of MIG and Ms. Sandie Lee, Vice President for Content Services, Starhub TV.

anugeraHitz.sg Post-Event Reception…

This entry is gonna be shorter than the previous one. I did say that another filler was in store and so here it is, albeit it’s just another filler before the main one which I’m taking ages to type. Surprisingly I did not take as much photographs during the post-event reception, partly because I was extremely famished, partly because I was mingling around and chatting with the who’s who of our local Malay music scene and also due to the fact that I could not get hold of the winners as they were completely swarmed with photo-taking with the other guests and doing interviews with the various media representatives. Wished I could have taken photographs of them posing with their respective trophies. Oh well, another day, another event perhaps, God willing. In the meantime, enjoy the few photographs I took of the post-event reception…

The guests tucking in the lavish spread…

Anugerah 2009 judge Eddy Ali, being flanked by two of the back-up singers that night, Afiqah (extreme left) and Nani Sulaiman (right). To his right is up-and-coming actress Lydia Izzati

Singapore Idol 2009 teen heart-throbs Faizal Isa & Farhan Shah. Both are under the Labels of Love management…

Host of the night, Fiza O, along with her good friend, part-time actor Rafil Kamaruddin

Eddy Ali together with Diorama who looked extremely chuffed after winning the Best Lyricist Award for “Anti-Romantis“…

Rancour might not have won anything but I’m sure they’ll be out to produce better quality songs in future. They should be able to as they have a lot of potential still not realised…

Hyrul Anuar along with the young lady making waves and whose stock is rising on Suria of late, Azzah Fariha, and his cousin Shasha

Ms. Zakiah Halim (second from left) with three of RIA 89.7FM‘s female presenters: Fiza O, Aura Shai & Nity Baizura

Fauzie Laily with mother-to-be Nurul Aini

Here’s Lydia again with the group that I predicted would win the Best Duo / Group Award – Sleeq

Last but not least, this is the new cast of Cinta Ixora 2… Kidding… These are the good people of Suria (Wati Kasim, Farah Lydia & Siti Zalinah), Eaglevision (Netty Fiona), Gumbira.com (Fadly Ahmad), Izone.sg (Izarr), Hyrul Anuar & his cousin Shasha

Till the next entry… Be patient please… 🙂

Anugerah 2009 Grand Finals Review…

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(Photo courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Anugerah trophy design…

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

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

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

FIRST ROUND

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ChirulUlar Berbisa (Hello Band) – Own Choice

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

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Sarah AqilahRawan (Azharina) – Viewer’s Choice

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

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WawanKetahuan (Matta Band) – Viewer’s Choice

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

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KunjungRembulan (Kris Dayanti) – Viewer’s Choice

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

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SECOND ROUND

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Group Performance Tanpa Ku Sedar

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

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THIRD ROUND

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

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

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

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

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Wawan – Semua Untuk Cinta (Mike) – Own Choice

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

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Kunjung Ku Teruskan (Siti Sarah) – Own Choice

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

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DUET WITH MENTORS

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

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

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

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

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Wawan & Maman – Inspirasiku (Jeff Catz)

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

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

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

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GUEST PERFORMANCES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grand Champion – Sarah Aqilah Binte Jamil

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

1st Runner-Up – Kunjung Wide Whitaker

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

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

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

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

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

Subsidiary Awards

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

  1. Trophy
  2. Nikon Coolpix P6000

MANJA Media Darling Award – Kunjung Wide Whitaker

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

LUSTRE‘s Styling Award – Kamsani Bin Jumahat

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

Best Performance in Choreography Award – Kunjung Wide Whitaker

  1. Trophy
  2. $200 shopping vouchers

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Post-Event Reception

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

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

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The glam queens – Norfasarie & Nurul Aini

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

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Syed Azmir, Uncle Jasmani Basri, Lydia and Aliff Aziz

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

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Danial & Hyrul Anuar

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

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

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

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

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

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The champ is here…

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

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