Anugerah Planet Muzik 2017 Review…

Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Suria…

It’s been three long years since I last did a proper Anugerah Planet Muzik review entry. I personally did not expect not posting any review entries to be this long, given my previous penchant and eagerness to share my views and thoughts on the annual event. Personal commitments got in the way and time wasn’t kind enough for me to post them up. By the time I entered the second month after each event with photographs still not properly edited, I already lost that momentum and passion to type something out. Anyway, I had this feeling that I was recycling and rehashing my thoughts year in and out, to a point I felt like a broken record. I hope that the time I had been keeping my thoughts to myself would do me good, to evaluate the show with as much fairness and giving benefit of doubt where shortcomings are concerned. The question I have in my mind right now is, where do I even begin??? Hahahaha gosh it does feel a bit rusty after three years…

Ayda Jebat opened the show with “Nakal Nakal Nakal“…

I think for a start, let’s talk about the slogan for this year which came with the hashtag “#GilerTakGerek“. I tried to hark back to previous APMs before this, but I struggle to remember if they ever had a slogan or theme such as this. I believe this year was the first time they had an additional hashtag to go along with the usual “#APM“, followed by the event year (#APM2017 being the latest for this year). I think it was a fresh move to inject a bit of hipness to the event, in line with how much technology and social media have taken much of our attention on a daily basis. I initially didn’t like the usage of the word “Giler“, being the language Nazi that I am, moreso when they first announced it, we were still in the midst of our annual Malay Language Month. However, to put it into the context and lingo of today, the spelling reflected a fun factor rather than a serious element to being crazy. The usage of the word “Gerek“, even though we seldom hear people here using it now, is still synonymous with us Singaporeans as compared to our neighbours. I think generally this was a uniqueness of its own, to highlight a Singaporean flavour to the event.

The addition of Dzar Ismail and Nabila Huda to the line-up of hosts for this year, gave the show a certain freshness…

Since my last review in 2014, we’ve had a change of venues, from the rather spacious Suntec City Convention Centre, to the relatively spanking new MES Theatre @ Mediacorp. This year’s event was its second held at the new Mediacorp Campus at Stars Avenue. I do have a well-documented love-hate relationship with this new theatre, more hate than love actually, as my close circle of friends can testify. Well “hate” is actually too strong a word for me to use. I would probably use the word “dislike” to express my thoughts on this matter. For one, it is further away from previous locations like the earlier-mentioned Suntec City Convention Centre, Max Pavilion, Singapore Expo, and Singapore Indoor Stadium. North or east-siders like myself will find travelling here a bane, which is also partly a contributing factor why I have slowed down my commitments to cover events and answering invitations to attend a particular programme or show by Mediacorp Suria.

One of my favourite performances of the night, Gloria Jessica teaming up with Aisyah Aziz and Haikal Ali

My main gripe with the theatre is that it resembles a lot like a typical school hall setting, and I know I am not alone in having these same thoughts. The stage also looks smaller and limited than previous venues. The opening performance that featured Ayda Jebat and her dancers, as well as Maher Zain and his accompanying vocal group, felt a bit overcrowded. I observed the dancers especially, had to hold back some of their moves so as not to bump into one another. The one thing I dislike the most about this theatre is that I am no longer able to sit on the floor in front of the first row to capture close-up shots, just like in past APMs or even the times I covered shows at the old Mediacorp Theatre at the now-vacant Caldecott Broadcast Centre at Andrew Road. At this new place, photographers now either have to stand behind the sound engineers somewhere in the middle section or sit on the floor along the aisles by the side.

I know for one, the audience enjoyed this particular segment featuring Hael Husaini, Virgoun and Sufi Rashid

The positive thing I can say about this theatre is that it boasts a sound system which is very good. The acoustics and clarity is as good as the Esplanade, if not better. Well it is certainly much better than the one at Star Vista Theatre, a stone’s throw away. I also observed with this new place, the organisers save quite a bit on their budget, not to mention having the autonomy to dictate how the additional segments like the Red Carpet segment would pan out without having to splurge more than they should. I noticed that even with a venue as good as Suntec City Convention Centre, there were trade-offs, in that certain things had to be compromised or made do without altogether. The ones that come to mind were the “Walk of the Stars” segment, where the nominees / award presenters / performers were introduced to the audience by walking to the stage from the back and to their seats, which I personally felt was a poor man’s version of the Red Carpet segment and the lack of a post-event reception afterwards, which had a number of local and overseas guests / performers grumbling quietly afterwards, as they were famished after a long night. With the event held at the MES Theatre, these factors were taken care of and the event looked to be proper as it should be.

Award presenters Hannah Delisha and Izzue Islam

Speaking of the Red Carpet segment, there was a notable difference between last year and this year. Last year, we saw the nominated artistes as well as the performers and award presenters arriving via limousines with both sides of the fences teeming with screaming fans like any typical Red Carpet segments you see around the world. This year, they did away with the limos but made the concourse level a long and winding stretch going into the MES Theatre. The Red Carpet segment literally began when the nominated artistes, performers and award presenters appeared from the lift just next to the escalator on the third floor. From there they had to pass by the specially-erected stage for the fans to see them clearly, as they were interviewed by newly-minted radio presenter, Kyrul Ashrie and Nity Baizura. After that it was stop after stop as they were greeted by a horde of waiting media brigade, eager to interview or photograph them, yours truly included.

Malaysian heartthrob Farid Kamil and Singapore‘s up-and-coming Sofia Dendroff

I must say I was surprised by the number of media people that attended this time around, not only from Singapore, but Malaysia and Indonesia as well. I basically had to jostle for a comfortable position so as not to block their view when they were filming, taking photographs or recording short clips. Previously this Red Carpet segment or a lack thereof, was one of my main complaint agendas whenever I do up any reviews of Anugerah Planet Muzik. Not anymore. The organisers have done very well to make this a much-hyped affair with live Facebook updates and online screenings via Toggle. For that they deserved much of the accolades for the effort to make the show as colourful as it should be. I saw the improvement being made since 2015 when the show was still at Suntec City Convention Centre, but I think with the venue of the event being at their homeground, more improvements and upgrade in outlook were able to be executed without running foul of the venue management, if any. They even have what I call a “battle command centre” for all the live social media updates as the show went on.

Actress-singer Kilafairy and another newbie to the local Malay entertainment scene, Zachary Ibrahim

Looking at the list of performers that night, I was surprised that this time round, there was a distinct lack of star names, save for those whom we know from our own respective countries or maybe the few established ones known to the three countries like Afgan, Ella and Maher Zain. For the very first time in the history of Anugerah Planet Muzik, there were no performing bands featured. Hard to believe but it was the reality. Up till the last moment, I had expected the organisers to pull a last-minute surprise and have at least one band performing, but that was not to be. Even though we were devoid of distinct star names, the ones who were onstage did not disappoint at all, at least to yours truly. The surprising thing was, even with a lack of stellar names, it was a sold-out event!!! The last we had a sold-out APM was back in 2014, when the event was at Suntec City Convention Centre, of which the main draw were legendary group Wings and Noah, plus a bevy of household names like Cakra Khan, Judika, Dato’ Rossa, Taufik Batisah, Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, Joe Flizzow, Sezairi and more.

My personal favourite pairing of the night, the gorgeous Janna Nick and my “twin”, Fakkah Fuzz

I am not sure about those at home cos last year, I observed comments made online that the show was boring. I think there is a lot of difference watching at home and seeing it live. I do agree to some extent when I watched the repeat telecast much later, that visually it looked a bit plain. If I were to make a comparison with last year’s and this year’s editions, I think the latter was much better. Last year’s instalment had Caliph Buskers and Sufi Rashid to thank cos their respective performances individually and collectively together, were the highlights of the night, while the rest were forgotten in a hurry. Also the stage setup made it looked as though we were watching a variety show like Rapsodi or Muzika Extravaganza. However, I noted that the organisers had made visual improvements to the stage design, layout and backdrop for this year’s show. Maybe the show itself is meant to be appreciated by watching it live with our very own eyes and not via the television screens. We have to give the organisers a bit of leeway as it was their first time afterall doing it at the MES Theatre last year. I believe this year it was much better, as most online comments I monitored were kinder and more on the positive side.

Afgan doing what he knows best, making hearts flutter with his voice, smile and dimples…

I was surprised that Desta was called upon again to host this year’s APM. As I recalled his performance hosting last year, he was a bit lost and tried too hard to match up with the energy of his co-hosts Suhaimi Yusof and Sherry Alhadad. I was ok with the initial selection of the other hosts, Dzar Ismail and Nabila Huda, as I know both exude energy and fire. But lo!!! Desta proved me wrong on the night and emerged the “Man-of-the-match“, in the words of his co-host Dzar. He had the audience laughing to all his jokes and while those that were made at last year’s event looked a bit forced or unnatural at times, his punchlines this year were absolutely spot-on. He even had time to poke fun at several members of the audience unannounced. I was proud to see Dzar Ismail given the honours to co-host the awards show, representing Singapore. It gave the show a bit of freshness instead of the usual faces. He also has come a long way since being the raw and wide-eyed newbie in the scene. A word of advice to Dzar, he might want to slow down his talking pace, as at times he sounded a bit rushed and his words lost on our ears. At least no one tried to outdo the other like some of the previous editions and there was a nice balance of energy between the three. The best host so far for me in recent times, who gave their co-hosts equal limelight to shine was, and still is, Jihan Muse back in 2015. She’s adorable and I’m a big fan!!!

A beaming Ms. Zakiah Halim presenting the International Breakthrough Award

I would like to touch upon the award presenters. I assume, based on the reactions of the audience, the only ones they and probably those at home enjoyed watching were Janna Nick and Fakkah Fuzz and slightly later on, Afgan and Fiza O. With all due respect to the other presenters, I think generally the audience didn’t know who they were or there was hardly any chemistry or relevant banter between them. I remember there was one award presenter who presented twice in previous editions, but you could hear a pin drop when they were on stage with murmurings around me asking them to be quick with the award presentations. The same thing happened a few times on the night, and I don’t think the audience could tolerate the antics of some of the presenters, who tried to act cool but only served to turn them off judging by the silence or non-reaction. I also noticed a certain lopsidedness in the pairings which, save for the Afgan and Fiza O award presentation segment, were all from Malaysia and Singapore. There were other Indonesian acts seated amongst the audience, I doubt it would hurt to let them have a bit of the limelight as well. On a sidenote, I personally think Fakkah Fuzz just put his name into the hat to present either Pesta Perdana or future editions of APM. Twice he presented awards at both events this year, both times he had the audience in stitches and enjoyed his presentation style.

Maher Zain performed the Malay version of “For The Rest of My Life” right after his acceptance speech…

Winners-wise, I will not debate who was worthy and who was not, but there was one award which had me a little perplexed. In retrospect, I think all the winners and nominees are much deserving of their positions, lofty or otherwise. It has to be said that it is lost on many people’s minds, but we cannot take away the landmark achievement made by “Senyum Saja” at #APM2017. For the first time in its 16-year history, a Made-in-Singapore song finally managed to win the Best Regional Song award!!! This win was the fourth for The Lion Story in the space of seven years and their third in a row, cementing their status as prolific and respected songwriters our country has to offer. For the longest time, it has been something that we have come to accept, that the Malaysians and Indonesians are far superior than us. The glass ceiling has finally been broken. I hope this win will inspire more of our local songwriters to come up with more quality music because they definitely have the talent to match up with their regional counterparts. However, the Best Male and Female categories remain elusive till this day and I hope some day one of our acts can finally reach that pinnacle and recognised by the jury from the three countries.

I just realised when I looked at this photo, the last time Dato’ Adi Putra presented awards at APM2011, his partner was also Nity Baizura

I don’t care what the online brickbats might say till this day or have questioned ever since, if they had not listened to the song or never heard of it before, and there are many of them out there, the ones commenting and criticising for the sake of it. The beauty of awards shows is that you look at the nominees and you try to do your own research by listening to them on YouTube, iTunes, Spotify and what-have-you. The best is not necessarily the most popular. Likewise the most popular might not necessarily be the best. You only see the regional dissenters up in arms when a Singaporean comes on stage to win the regional awards. I observed some sour grapes who are definitely not from these shores, commenting this was a “Shiok Sendiri” show by the organisers when the Best Song category was announced. If it was, I think Singapore would have won more than they had expected to. It has always been that way but the best awards are judged by a panel of jury from the three countries. So it is definitely sweet when you see your own local product be recognised by not only your own, but from others. And for that we can only “Senyum Saja” at the haters.

Isyana Sarasvati showed her prowess at playing the piano prior to getting off and dancing along with her accompanying dancers when she performed “Kau Adalah“…

It was just one big award and suddenly the “My country’s song is better than yours” mentality reared its ugly heads. This village mentality obviously needs to go, but it will never be eradicated fully, not when online and social media is filled with irresponsible and brainless keyboard warriors. People keep on forgetting that this awards show is about forging friendship, extending ties and network amongst people in the entertainment and media industry between the three countries. It is never meant to be a competition per se, but a celebration of the best. Obviously people who were watching and commenting negatively afterwards, paid scant respect to some of the winning speeches calling for unity and ties to be strengthened. Sad to think that in this current day and age, people tend to form opinions and act upon what comes out from their nether regions rather than whatever rationale that is processed in their heads. It is difficult to educate these country bumpkins when they already have this mentality that theirs is better than others.

Another one of my favourite pairings of the night – Afgan and Fiza O, who showed off her multi-functional outfit created by celebrity designer Raffiey Nasir

I did say I will not debate who was worthy and who was not, but that I was a bit perplexed by the decision to award one of them. It did not take a rocket scientist to predict that Maher Zain would pick up the International Breakthrough Award when his name and photograph appeared on the promotional poster. I can accept the reasons given for him receiving the award when Ms. Zakiah Halim presented the award to him that night. However, I question his current relevance to the entertainment industry of the three countries. Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy, and I love his positive-infused songs, but his last sold-out concert here in Singapore was back in 2011 when his debut album hit killer heights. Since then his songs have seldom been played on our airwaves. Other than “Ramadhan” which is played during the annual fasting month, we do get the odd airing of songs like “For The Rest Of My Life” being played, either in its original version or the one in Malay / Bahasa Indonesia. I might be wrong, but I highly doubt his latter albums have been well received nor promoted extensively here as compared to his debut offering. If I remember correctly, he recently held a concert here last year and the attendance paled in comparison with his first one, which was quite regrettable, given his standing in the eyes of many.

A very proud moment for our local Malay music scene, finally clinching the biggest award at APM after 16 long years…

If he had been the first recipient when this award was introduced three years ago, then probably I would not be dedicating two paragraphs on this matter. Cos I sincerely thought this awards show is specifically to honour those from the three participating countries who have introduced our lingua franca to the rest of the world through their songs. I am not sure how his Malay or Indonesian song versions have made people from the other countries sit up and learn the Nusantara languages, cos I believe he also has different versions of some of his popular hits in other languages as well like Urdu and Turkish amongst others. I had expected someone like Shila Amzah, and to a lesser extent, Anita Sarawak, to be getting this particular award. I foresee this particular award will probably not be able to stand the test of time (I give it five more years), unless more acts from this part of the world spread their wings and fly abroad and create a name for themselves wherever they are. The organisers probably wanted to have a slight difference in handing out the awards this time round, but it does feel a bit odd, and gave the impression that we have forgotten our own people from this part of the world. Take nothing away from Maher Zain. He probably did not ask nor expected to be awarded the accolade. His acceptance speech at least soothed my aching heart for the rest of our Nusantara acts who might have felt slighted as a result. He has always been a very humble person with no airs and you could see and feel for yourself through the message that his words or lyrics bring.

Our zany hosts closing the show by giving props to legend and rock queen, Ella

In the past I would usually compare which editions were good, which ones were forgettable, which instalments were memorable. I think for this time I will not make any as I observed each single one brought with them different sets of challenges and obstacles, difficulties and hardships of their own, not to mention which ones left indelible impressions on the mind till I can remember to this day. Take for instance, the great number of no-shows from some of the award recipients. I know for one the likes of Anuar Zain, Dayang Nurfaizah and Khai Bahar were invited to perform but they could not make it as each already had their own prior singing commitments in Malaysia and Hong Kong (Khai Bahar). Probably no one seemed to have noticed this particular trivia, but this year the event was held on a Saturday evening, when usually it is held on a Friday evening. I think had the event been held on a Friday evening, we probably could have had those earlier-mentioned names in attendance and probably had more star names to the line-up. For the show itself to be a sell-out event a good two months before the actual date, spoke volumes of its reach and that we can have confidence that not having stellar names can also attract bums to seats. But for how long???

The question remains, how will the awards benefit the winners in getting known by the neighbouring countries??? For example, will winning the Best Song Award open more doors for the likes of Haikal Ali and The Lion Story to venture into unknown territory in Malaysia and Indonesia if they eventually choose to move in that direction??? How much collaboration and acceptance do artistes, songwriters, producers and such stand to gain from the exposure??? For one, they cannot rest on their laurels and to proactively churn out new works and release them, strike while the iron is hot and not sit on their laurels or just expecting our local radio stations to play their music. They also need to invest some time and money to go out and promote their music, to be heard on airwaves abroad. I really hope that our local acts who were nominated or those who have won, will continue the good work that they have, to always strive for perfection, to improve on shortcomings, to be better performers, songwriters, producers and what-have-you. We have seen good nominations from Singapore this year. Where there’s a need to complement one another, do so. Where there’s no need to compete to bring down the other, don’t bother. Your sincerity and passion will eventually reap its rewards, one way or another. This is my parting shot for my #APM2017 entry…

Snapshots of APM2017

Anugerah Planet Muzik 2013 Review…

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(Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

It is exactly a fortnight since Anugerah Planet Muzik 2013 (APM2013) was held successfully at the newly-refurbished Suntec Singapore Convention Centre. Over the years, and with the increased participation on social media by the masses, this event has slowly come to the fore and made its presence felt with the regional audience. One can see how the event has created a buzz positively and negatively, when you see comments flying around on Twitter, Facebook and other social media networks, especially in the last three years when the show caused a lot of unhappiness amongst the regional audience for being “boring” in terms of entertainment aspects (their subjective criticisms) and for being biased towards our homegrown artistes in the popular award categories. Well, you can’t win them all, but it was indeed pleasing to hear after the show that “#APM2013” was the most trending topic on Twitter on the night of 18 October 2013, in both Singapore and Malaysia.

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Wacky hosts who lifted the show with their nonchalance – Adi Rahman, Sarah Sechan and Dato’ AC Mizal

As for this year’s edition and before I proceed on with this review, let me first congratulate the good people behind Anugerah Planet Muzik for a job well done and for improving the standards of the show as most of you who had witnessed it live would agree. This was indeed the very first project since the Mediacorp-owned Malay radio stations (Warna 94.2FM & RIA 89.7FM) and television channel (Suria) merged together to form the Malay Broadcast Division of Mediacorp. Officially this was not their first project or APM together, but one can see that since the merger, the cooperation and working in tandem has resulted in a more concerted and synergised effort with more interactions now being done online to engage viewers of the event. Ok I know there will be those who would disagree based on individual preferences and personal judgments, but I believe if there are any, then maybe they are of a minority clique. Let’s start off with all the good and positive stuff that went on that night.

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S4 of Indonesia pumped up the audience with their hit single “She Is My Girl“…

For years I had been complaining of the poor state of affairs over at Max Pavilion Singapore Expo, where the event was held in 2006 and as recently as the previous two editions (2011 and 2012). For all the star-studded cast that had performed in those editions, it did not bring justice to their pedigree and reputation as outstanding acts in the region, since the sound system and acoustics of the venue were absolute letdowns. Like a bad record, I had appealed on an almost annual basis for the event to return to Suntec Singapore Convention Centre where the best edition was last held in 2005. Eight years since it was last held there, I finally got my wish and God knows how elated I was upon hearing the news as personally I feel that Suntec offers a far better dynamics than Max Pavilion. What made it even better was the fact that Suntec had undergone a major refurbishment recently and it definitely promised a far-better viewing experience, not to mention the crystal-clear sounds. What’s more, no matter how far you are seated, the stage still seems near enough to you. With a potent combination like this, you simply cannot go wrong with any production, as those who had purchased tickets to watch the event live would agree with me.

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Jamiel Said, Citra Scholastika and Jazz Hayat performing “Sahabat” made popular by Syamkamarul, Najwa Latif and SleeQ

Performances-wise, I personally don’t think there was one performance that was bad or boring, but it has to be said however, that the closing performance by Amy Search and Bunkface felt a bit weird for the fact that the song they performed together towards the end (“Rentak Laguku“), did not quite resonate with the watching audience as most had not heard it before on our local airwaves. As a result, the energy levels and anticipation which were felt earlier when Amy Search sang “Isabella” and Sam, Bunkface‘s vocalist, performed “Situasi“, went down slightly and the audience were not bobbing their heads as much as before. Perhaps both could have finished off with their respective fast-tempo hits like “Isi & Kulit” and “Panik“, just to name two examples. Still, if you were to ask me, this was a much better ending to the awards show when you compare it to recent years. At least the show still went out on quite a high.

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Jazz Hayat was the sole Brunei representative that night. Previously, his compatriot Faiz Nawi performed in the 2005 edition, which was also coincidentally held at Suntec Singapore Convention Centre as well. Let’s hope to see more Brunei acts in upcoming editions!!!

My personal performing favourites of the night were S4, W.A.R.I.S., Awi Rafael, Altimet and The Trisno Trio, to go along with crowd favourites Judika, Shila Amzah, Hafiz Suip, Cakra Khan and of course Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza. S4 of Indonesia, born from the reality show, “Galaxy Superstar“, might have been strangers to viewers or music lovers in Malaysia and to some in Singapore, but they certainly announced their presence in definite style when they kicked off the show excellently with their hit single “She Is My Girl“, complete with their slick dance moves and all. It is not easy to perform and sing live like them and even though one can detect that they had accompanying vocals in their track, I believe they sang live throughout even though some members looked a little unwell, judging by the constant coughing I heard when I met them backstage an hour before the event started. It could be an unexpected technical fault cos when I witnessed them during the soundcheck the day before the event, the group breezed through their rehearsal and sang live immaculately.

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The rapper who hails from Negeri Sembilan, W.A.R.I.S., performing his debut hit “Rembau Most Wanted“…

I was extremely pleased to see a very much under-rated talent performed that night and he is none other than Malaysia‘s Altimet. I have been a silent fan of his for years, always loving his new singles that touch upon social issues and relate to our everyday lives. It strikes a chord with the listening audience and his lyrics allow us not only to self-reflect, but to self-improve on our personal level. It was unsurprising that he was nominated for the Best Collaboration and Best Duo / Group awards for “Dunia“, his collaboration with The Trisno Trio. I did say back in 2007 when he last performed at APM, that I was not too impressed with his opening act that night, but everything about his performance a fortnight ago oozed class, attitude and confidence. He is like the Pitbull of Southeast Asia, a master collaborator with so many local and Malaysian acts and churning out radio-friendly hits after hits. And who is to say “Kalau Aku Kaya” will not be among the five nominees for Best Collaboration or Best Duo / Group in APM2014??? I’m confident enough that the song will be one of them. The only complaint I would have would be that he should have performed with The Trisno Trio and Bushmen that night, as “Dunia” is still technically his song as well. Two to three minutes of him rapping to “Kalau Aku Kaya” was just not enough.

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Altimet and Awi Rafael performing “Kalau Aku Kaya“…

This was the first time since the advent of our local reality singing competitions like Singapore Idol, that none of the touted local Big 4, namely Taufik Batisah, Hady Mirza, Sezairi Sezali and SleeQ, took to the stage to perform at Anugerah Planet Muzik. I dunno if this was a calculated decision made by the organisers wanting to feature other local acts or the fact that both Taufik and Hady had their own personal commitments on the same night (the latter was out of the country performing his Hajj from what I heard), but it was a decision I personally felt was a good one, a fresh perspective, even if some of their fans had complained that it was the same faces every year. I wonder where some of these fans have been all these while when the likes of Taufik, SleeQ and Hady have been performing in APM since 2007 on an almost annual basis. Even Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza skipped the last one to attend to her husband’s well-being from his motorcycle accident last year and the show still went on smoothly.

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Adi Rahman and Sarah Sechan…

With all due respect to the touted Big 4, Singapore‘s talents are not limited to them alone, as we still have other acts crying out to be featured every year. We are definitely not short of talents as we all know by now the success and strength of our community when it comes to performing and winning national talent competitions. And now with Youtube giving birth to indie talents and wannabe artistes, it has become another platform to display their talents to the world. I was extremely proud of our local contingent who performed above themselves and showing that they were worthy to be featured that night. Maybe a little gripe I might have, was the non-availability of a female singer from our shores, as I had at least expected The Final One winner, Farisha Ishak to be invited to perform. Even Audionauts, by virtue of being last year’s Best New Duo / Group award winners and this year’s Most Popular Singapore Artiste award recipients deserved an invitation to perform.

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Syahrini was joined onstage by Aliff Aziz, singing the former’s debut hit “Jangan Memilih Aku“…

Speaking of the latter group, I believe their win in the Most Popular Singapore Artiste category caused more than a ripple that night. In fact it caused shockwaves on social media accounts asking who were they and questioning if they deserved it. Well one could hear a pin drop in the arena when their group name was mentioned by award presenters Syirah Jusni and Dzar Ismail. To the detractors, wake up and start smelling the many roses in the garden. For the past two years, Audionauts have been churning out hits after hits on local radio. Quietly, their fans have done their job to put them up where they currently belong. Accept their win and take it that the fans from the other nominated artistes in the popular category were complacent and sitting on their laurels. The idols will always be respected and deemed of a higher status, that is a given, but we should also not begrudge the winners of their achievement as it was their fans who had been instrumental in their win. For me at least, it gives the group the opportunity to reintroduce themselves to the regional as well as home audience and showing that we have more talents on our shores than our Big 4.

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Sarah Sechan and Dato’ AC Mizal hosting next to the front row audience…

The three hosts that night I felt carried their responsibilities down to a T. Before the show, just by looking at the promotional poster of the event and seeing their faces, I had a good vibe that they would do the show justice and I was not disappointed. Sarah Sechan being the chilli padi that she is, and Dato’ AC Mizal being quickfire with his jibes are a common sight on television in their respective countries. The newly-wedded groom, Adi Rahman, is also no stranger to dishing out witty punchlines in his daily morning show on radio. The chemistry between the three was certainly evident, but I just felt Adi was perhaps a little too cordial to his fellow presenters. While Sarah and Dato’ AC were trading barbs at one another, Adi was a little laidback and played more of the “good guy” card. Which perhaps prompted some people to comment online that Adi was “boring” that night. But somehow people dunno that the characters and traits of personalities differ onstage or the deliberate roles that they are supposed to play to keep the momentum of the show to a considerate level.

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Trisno Ishak (The Trisno Trio) and Mohammad Izaar (Bushmen) did Singapore proud that night with their performance…

In years past, people have complained that the script was either too “in-your-face”, vulgar or redundant. I think credit should go to Adi Rahman, being the script writer, for keeping it simple, eradicating the sexual innuendos (even though the other two hosts did slip their tongues once or twice, probably taking the mick out of Adi‘s newly-minted status) and without being too excessive. Speaking to him after the show, he did say that it was a huge challenge to write the script as he first had to study the characters and backgrounds of not only his fellow presenters but the award presenters as well. For them to click, he had to find a common theme or subject for them to talk about (the small talk and banter between the presenters). He found it especially challenging to blend the conversation between Aura Shai, Mike Kasem and Dato’ Rossa (I am still getting used to the title which was recently conferred to her). While Aura Shai did not look out of place, the latter two did look a bit uncomfortable, at least from my own observations. Which made me wonder whether Mike Kasem‘s presence was relevant at all, no disrespect to the guy. But I was all too happy not to hear the “Gerek Seh!!!” phrase being mentioned at all, cos seriously nobody in Singapore uses this on a daily basis anymore.

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Stacy Angie always packs a punch in her livewire performances…

I would like to reserve a special mention to the “Radio Ultras” (or also known as the “Singamania” group that attends football matches involving Singapore / Lions XII) who came in numbers and filled up the rear seats. I thought their presence lifted a rather subdued atmosphere (what’s new anyway about Singapore audience???), but prompted the audience to clap and cheer along to their chants before the show began. Those at home were unfortunate not to witness this spectacle of a performance and I doubt it was shown on television. It was typical of what you might see if you were to watch a Malaysian Super League match at the Jalan Besar Stadium. But this felt much better as perhaps the arena is enclosed and their singing was heard loud and clear. I think the foreign delegates from Malaysia and Indonesia were very impressed, judging by the smiles on their faces upon witnessing it. The rousing applause that accompanied their performance was testament to that.

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Sarah Sechan and Dato’ AC Mizal were poking fun at one another the whole night…

Every year, the same complaint has been made time and time again of the lack of a Red Carpet segment or the “poor standards” of it whenever it was held. If one were to observe similar segments in other countries’ award shows, you would note that this separate segment alone has either a main sponsor or several sponsors attached to it. Unfortunately, even for a progressive country like us, sponsors are hard to come by when it comes to supporting our local Malay entertainment scene. There is only so much the organisers are able to budget and rental of the auditorium alone is expensive. Add to payment of artiste appearances, performers, accomodation, flight tickets etc, certain aspects had to be dropped and unfortunately they saw no need to have the Red Carpet segment, which was fine by me and one I have come to accept over the years. Even some of the other acts I talked to said they were ok with it.

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Art Fazil and Imuda with their hit “Rilek Brader“…

People always complain that the organisers have no budget and that if they did not, then why do up such an event??? Sometimes people fail to look at the big picture and sometimes too it is a matter of “damned if they do, damned if they don’t“. This is an event that honours the best in the region as well as our own cos we certainly do not have our own awards show save for Pesta Perdana and the only Anugerah Hitz.Sg event back in 2010. For all the success and more hyped-up entertainment industries of our neighbouring countries, do not expect them to do something similar to what Mediacorp has done. Yes, they might have one separate category for foreign artistes in their award shows, but that’s it. This event brings together big names from the region, a chance to collaborate and network, honour the best and it is because of that you see the likes of Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza lending her support on an almost annual basis, either through performing or just making an appearance as a guest, bar the 2012 edition. It is not about payment, but endorsing the credence of the event. Mediacorp I think has done well to work within their means and funding. Of course we would all like to see all the other razzmatazz associated to award shows but it’s also how best they can come up with something that others might not / do not want to do.

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Judika and Shila Amzah put in a memorable performance singing “Aku Yang Tersakiti” together…

However, I did not quite like the “Walk of the Stars” segment that much, which occurred half an hour prior to the show. This somehow replaced the Red Carpet segment, with the artistes who were either performing or presenting awards coming out from the back to be introduced to the audience. It seemed a bit too rush for me as only the big names were stopped by the hosts, A B Shaik and Fiza O, to be interviewed. As a result and as mentioned in my entry before last, I could not get good shots of some of those who had walked onto the stage for their introductions. I think if they were to do this in future, they should extend it by another fifteen minutes or so, interview each and every artiste that walks onstage and not only that, include the other award nominees who did not get the opportunity to perform nor present an award. I think it is only fair to include them as this is a day to honour each and everyone of them. Especially the local artistes, am sure the audience too would like to catch a glimpse of them and get themselves acquainted to their own homegrown acts.

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Another thing that baffled me was the post-event reception or lack thereof of one. I actually heard about its non-availability when I came for the sound check a day before the event, and I thought perhaps my informer had pulled my leg. But there wasn’t any, much to the surprise and disappointment of the other artistes and industry people who had come to watch the event, either as nominees or guests. They had told me that they were indeed looking forward to the reception as they had wanted to use it to do some networking with their neighbouring counterparts and of course to catch up with one another, seeing their respective busy schedules. Confusion reigned when ushers showed them to the back once the event ended, but there was no reception nor instructions telling them where to go and the waiting area was pitched black before the lights came on about ten minutes later. Some ended up walking aimlessly at the back before they were able to go out from where they first came from. I knew because I was there too.

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Dato Siti Nurhaliza with her duet partner, Hafiz Suip, performing “Muara Hati“…

For all the hype and star-studded cast on show, I was surprised that the auditorium was only about two-thirds full. I mean, don’t people want to pay and watch performances from artistes you know exude professionalism, charm, charisma and not to mention quality anymore??? I think gone are the days when the likes of Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza are able to perform to a sell-out audience. In the past, just one big name alone was able to fill up an entire arena. In recent years, it has been quite a struggle. I dunno if it’s due to the ticket prices, timing (Friday night is actually the start of a weekend so what excuse do we have???) or the lack of knowledge on some of the other neighbouring artistes, but if it’s Anugerah Planet Muzik, one should know by now that the quality on show has never been compromised since its inception in 2001. The problem with us is that we want quality but are not receptive enough to want to pay for it. And like what I had often mentioned in the past, I blame those monthly expo events for devaluing the artistes.

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Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza joined Cakra Khan in singing “Harus Terpisah“…

One thing I’ve been quite consistent in pointing out yearly is the lack of time for the winners to give their acceptance speeches. Bar the recipients of the Special Achievement award, all the other winners were only accorded about thirty seconds to express their gratitude to the people that matter. I know that they are afraid of the show being over-run as they had only allocated two-and-a-half hours, but such an event demands at least an extra fifteen minutes to half an hour’s grace for any unexpected occurrences. Just imagine, the winner is busy preparing himself / herself backstage or perhaps granting an interview with the media scribes and they have to rush to the stage to accept their awards. By the time they reach the stage, at least fifteen to twenty seconds (half a minute in some cases) would have been wasted and they are only left with about ten seconds worth to thank the people behind their success. I think the thirty seconds rule should start the moment they open their mouths to speak.

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I had a major peeve that night with the lack of decorum and self-respect of some artistes towards the event. Even if you are not performing or presenting an award, the least you could respect the event was by turning up and wearing something presentable other than donning t-shirt and jeans. At the very least you could have done was wear a jacket over the t-shirt or put on some simple / fancy accessory to go along with it. As an artiste, I am sure you want your works to be noticed and in turn gain recognition. I think we are living in an era where making music alone is not enough and consumers would look to see if their favourite artistes would be presentable or have no sense of style at all. Am not asking you to play dress up, but such an event has not only the eyes of those in this country watching, but the region as well. If artistes like Raven, Northbound, Seyra, Diorama, just to name a few, could look presentable or stay true to their genre, why can’t you??? It reflects badly on not only you, but the other acts in your country as well, as it only shows that you don’t care at all. And when you don’t care, do you expect others to do the same towards you??? It works both ways. Never forget that impression counts or you remain forgettable / not worth being featured if you do not have any self-worth. Think about it and don’t be selfish!!!

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A great tribute performance to Black Dog Bone by Awi Rafael, Judika, Jatt Ali and Hafiz Suip

I remember beginning last year’s review by hitting out at the brickbats of this event. This year, am pushing it towards the end. Simply because, I am heartened to say that they belonged in the minority. I think majority of viewers were quite pleased with the performances on show as well as the winners. Though it has to be said that I still saw a few sour grapes / wet blankets / spoilsports who questioned the credibility of the winners in the popular categories. In recent years, our Singapore Idols were the subject of their ire. This time the “honours” went to Hafiz Suip and “Muara Hati“. And the ones making all the noises are the ones in Indonesia, well to be fair, just a few of them. As usual, the common complaints we hear are, “Who is Hafiz???” and “Why haven’t we heard Muara Hati before???” I’ve been monitoring the Facebook page of Anugerah Planet Muzik and there is one particular guy whose name starts with a calendar month, who has been consistent in putting down the show, its credibility and the winners, while saying how good his countrymen and music industry are. He obviously did not realise that the judging panel for the best categories also included a few of his own countrymen and that the popular categories were voted by people from outside his country (and perhaps some from his own, cos c’mon Dato’ Siti is extremely popular in Indonesia as well!!!). This is one example where you get too big for your own good and disrespect those outside your sphere. Continue living under your coconut shell, pal!!!

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Rousing end to the show by Amy Search and Bunkface

Overall, Anugerah Planet Muzik 2013 was not too bad, certainly not shabby at all, even when you have the shortcomings I mentioned in the latter paragraphs. In fact I would rank it the best within the last six or seven years. In terms of entertainment, esthetics and sound quality, I think the organisers have done extremely well to stop the rot and improved different aspects of it. For that alone, they deserved full marks cos simply put, an event of this magnitude demands quality, the audience paid for it and they got it and more. Of course in a live event, there will be the unexpected technical glitches but other than the botched video clip during one of the awards presentation, it was a smooth one throughout. To those who had attended and watched the event live, I salute you for coming to support. I am sure most of you brought home sweet memories of the event. Here’s looking forward to APM2014, hopefully a better one than this year, or at least maintaining the standards that it has set this year. Congratulations to all the winners and to the organisers once again on a job well done, not to mention, for the kind invitation as well… 🙂

APM2013 Award Presenters and Winners Snapshots…

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This is gonna be a brief entry because the photographs that will be featured will speak for themselves. I have yet to start on the review of APM2013 but already have some points in my head, waiting to be typed in this domain of mine. I actually wanted to dump all the photographs under one entry but that will be too lengthy and will take several days to complete and I do not wish to keep my returning readers waiting. Seriously, editing 3400-odd photographs and selecting the best few hundreds to be featured here has been quite a tedious affair. Hope that you will not mind waiting a wee bit more for the review, which I will try to post before the week is out. Till then, enjoy the photographs I snapped of the award presenters as well as more photos of the winners and their victory shots… 🙂

Miscellaneous Photographs @ APM2013

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Due to the fact and norm that I traditionally post my annual Anugerah Planet Muzik reviews about a week or fortnight after the event has passed, I would normally fill the waiting time by posting photographs of the Red Carpet event as well as during the post-event reception afterwards. But somehow there was no Red Carpet segment and even more surprisingly, there was no post-event reception this year, which I personally felt was a disappointment, as I had planned to take more photographs and even dedicate a separate entry for it. Still I believe visitors to this blog have been looking forward to viewing photographs I snapped during the event. Well here I am with all the miscellaneous shots I took during the “Walk of the Stars” segment (which replaced the Red Carpet), backstage about an hour or so before the event begun, during and after the show. Enjoy!!!

P.S. I was not able to snap more and better photos of the “Walk of the Stars” segment due to the speed that the artistes were walking out and some were not even stopped to be interviewed by the hosts, due to the lack of time before the event commenced. Hence I did not get good photos of the likes of Bushmen, The Trisno Trio and Altimet… 😦