Pesta Perdana 2019 Media Conference

We are just a few days away from the actual Pesta Perdana event itself, relatively about 48 hours on the clock. Dunno why it took me this long to post this entry when the media conference event that took place to announce the nominees in the various award categories happened more than a month ago on 21st February 2019. A combination of being busy with several personal commitments, coupled with being lazy and procrastinating contributed somewhat to this very belated entry. I had half the mind to just skip doing it altogether seeing how short of a time I have to post this up with just a couple of days away. I just had to do it as the memory of the media conference itself, or rather its venue where it was held, was probably the best one I had attended in the history of this awards show. For the first time ever, the media conference was held at the beautiful Skai Suites on the 70th floor of Swissotel The Stamford, one of Singapore‘s iconic buildings and once billed as the tallest hotel in the world.

Mediacorp Suria’s prestigious television awards show, Pesta Perdana, will be held this year ‘live’ on Saturday, 30 March 2019 at the MES Theatre at Mediacorp. The event will be graced by Guest of Honour, Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Minister of State, Ministry of National Development and Ministry of Manpower. The biennial awards show, now into its 15th edition, honours the very best in local Malay television. This year’s show will be hosted by multi-talented actor, director and host, Khairudin Samsudin. As a celebratory prelude, fans had the opportunity to meet and greet their favourite celebrities and nominees in a special event called Viva Pesta! that was held on Saturday, 16 March 2019 at Mediacorp Campus Town Square. Hosted by A B Shaik and Farhana M. Noor, the event featured an exciting line up of immersive and interactive activities with delicious food and many instagram-worthy moments for the fans. In addition, fans at Viva Pesta! also attended a special prelude TV show, Pesta Perdana Ekstra! hosted by recently-minted Elit Suria winners, Hans Hamid and Hana Rosli. This show will air tomorrow on Friday, 29 March 2019 at 9.30pm on Mediacorp Suria.

Warna 94.2FM‘s Aura Shai was the host at the media conference…

A total of 31 awards will be given out at the Pesta Perdana awards ceremony from over 300 entries received between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2018. Shortman Films’ social drama Bantal Buruk Saloma leads with 11 nominations while Mediacorp Eaglevision’s “Tujuh Hariis close behind with 10 nominations. This is followed by Flipside Stories’ “Mekah Di Hati and Millenia Motion Pictures’ “Tekan Minyak which are tied with 7 nominations each. In a nod to the budding new talents of the industry, this year’s Pesta Perdana boasts a total of 30 first time nominees in the performance and creative categories. Interestingly, for five celebrity families, it is all the more special as they are all up for nominations in the various categories and they are:

  • J.A. Halim, Aminah Ahmad, Helmindra & Fizah Nizam (Father, Mother, Son & Daughter-in-Law)
  • Sani Hussin & Rosita Hussin (Siblings)
  • Seriwahyuni Jaes & R. Azmann (Husband & Wife)
  • Faisal Ishak & Umie Isa (Husband & Wife)
  • Haslinna Ja’aman & Danial Nazim (Mother & Son)

Ms. Sabariah Ramilan, Head of Malay Audience & Eaglevision, Mediacorp addressing the guests at the media conference…

Other nominees include Papahan Film’s “SR115, winner of Best Original Screenplay at the Asian Academy Creative Awards 2018 and finalist at the New York Festivals TV & Films Awards 2019 for Drama and Best Screenplay categories; Xtreme Media’s “Swap Kerja Sr 2, finalist for Outstanding Variety Show category at the 4th Asia Rainbow TV Awards 2018, as well as Filmat36’s “Kembara Kasih Sr 3, nominee for Best Documentary category at the Venice TV Awards 2018 and finalist in the Community Service Programs category at the New York Festivals TV & Films Awards 2019. Two other nominated programmes, “Bonda and “Projek Kasih, are also recognised finalists at the New York Festivals TV & Films Awards 2019 for Drama Special and Variety Special category respectively.

Ms Sabariah Ramilan, Head of Malay Audience & Eaglevision, Mediacorp, said, “For nearly two decades, Mediacorp Suria has been working closely with local production houses and talents to ensure our programmes entertain, engage and remain relevant to our audiences. We are proud to see our programmes receive recognitions at the regional and international stage, but it is right here at Pesta Perdana that we celebrate and embrace the achievements of our homegrown talents.”

Hisyam Hamid being sandwiched by his missus, Mel Hanafi, and veteran actor, J.A. Halim

Though I agree with what was said, I did have a chat with several local personalities in different fields whom I will not name, who said a lot can be done after 15 editions of the awards show. For one and this has been mentioned extensively amongst the people in the industry, it would be nice to have monetary cash rewards to go along with the trophies they receive, something that we tend to see on some awards shows across the Causeway. However, to put things into perspective, Pesta Perdana is like our own local Malay version of the Emmy Awards. If we were to put it along parallel levels of such awards show (the Grammys and Oscars included), monetary awards are not given out, yet the prestige in winning speaks volumes for the artistes’ or production houses’ reputation, potential and quality. Monetary cash rewards means we need big sponsors pumping in big money. In reality, do we have that in the first place???

From left: Ryan Sufiyan, Razi Salam & M.K. Kash from Flipside Stories, and Fadhli Abdullah

For the Most Popular Male and Female Personality categories which are decided by voting, a prominent personality mentioned that it would also be nice if we were to take a leaf out of Channel 8‘s Star Awards show and crown the Top 5 or Top 10 from each category. Voters can have an initial choice of 30 from each category, 10 from the veterans, 10 from the current and the remaining 10 from the up-and-coming cohort. This particular system makes it an inclusive category and not leave the veterans forgotten or feel as though they are cast aside for younger, more good-looking and marketable personalities. I know for a long time, our local television scene has this tendency to favour looks over talents in the name of marketability, but I think it would not hurt at all to have the more veteran ones have their day in the sun. At least they know they have a place in the hearts of viewers and not just the young ones with better social media outreach. For the record, the public may cast their votes for the Most Popular Male and Female Personalities on toggle.sg/pestaperdana. Voting has been opened since 15 March 2019 and will officially close at 10.00pm on 30 March 2019.

Erwin Shah Dawson was seated next to fellow award nominees Aien Aksan (middle) and Batrisya Soffian

Another thing I would like to mention and this I feel is repeated like a bad record on my end cos I’ve said the same thing before in the past, is that certain categories can be expanded or introduced to include more production houses and not just solely limited to one. I have nothing against Mediacorp Eaglevision cos they, like all the other production houses, produce good and quality programmes on television. But when one category is dominated by just them, it doesn’t look quite good on paper as it looks as though it is favouritism, since they are producing this awards show after all, though I do note that this is probably an (only) avenue to honour their amazing in-house writers and producers. They can probably tweak the categories in future or as what I had mentioned in the past before, to have other production houses produce more of these Variety and Variety Special programmes on Suria, not just limited to them and being an in-house production company of Mediacorp. I think once in awhile, a different and fresh injection of ideas from others can produce a different kind of show on television. At least then we can deny the brickbats on social media that local television shows are one and the same.

From left: Atyy Malek, Endang Rahayu, Andy Idris and Huda Ali

With that said, I am looking forward to attending and covering this Saturday‘s event, as it is looking more likely that this will be the only awards show this year that local television will witness. I’ve heard and this has been confirmed by several people that my favourite awards show, Anugerah Planet Muzik, has been consigned to the history books, a big pity really, as this was an event that I looked forward to fervently every year, not only for the array of stars coming to perform and win the regional awards on offer, but also an avenue for our local musicians, artistes and songwriters to be recognised for their contributions to the music scene. My appeal to the powers-at-be is never to forget nor cast aside our local acts. Even if we were to resurrect the one-time Anugerah Hitz SG, I will be more than happy because this domain of mine was afterall first conceived, in the aim of supporting local music acts, though I sometimes blog on other regional acts on show here as well. Doing away with APM took a big chunk out of my interest in blogging and seriously speaking, I really lost interest and almost called it a day when I first heard the news. I guess that partly contributed to why I hummed and hawed before finally deciding to post this entry up.

A beaming Fadli Kamsani, who is now the latest face in Warna 94.2FM‘s stable, seated alongside his good friends, Danish Ashraf (left) and Farhana M. Noor

Pesta Perdana goes live on Mediacorp Suria at 8:30pm this Saturday, 30th March 2019. The Red Carpet event will be shown live on Mediacorp Suria‘s Facebook page from 6:30pm onwards.

Pesta Perdana 2019 Full List of Nominees

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Graphics Posters of Nominees courtesy of Mediacorp Suria…

Snapshots of Pesta Perdana 2019 Media Conference

Elit Suria Semi-Finals Episode Recap…


Time flies by so fast and we’re already heading into the Grand Finals of Elit Suria this coming 27th August 2018. It seems like yesterday I was acquainting myself to the sixteen contestants who made it to the weekly episodic rounds and within less than a week from the time this entry is published, two new stars will be crowned the winners of the competition. Six weeks of competition, of which the recent two I have had the privilege to cover and get to know them up-close and personal, have been a learning journey for all of them. For some, they have discovered hidden talents from within that they initially thought they do not possess. For others, this was their opportunity to test their capabilities, come out from their comfort zones and challenge themselves through unchartered territory. There are even those whose personalities begin to shine through as the weeks progress. I know I have gone through these situations on an annual basis with each passing reality television competition series since I covered my first live event (Anugerah 2009), but come the end of every competition, I will always have that feeling of emptiness and withdrawals for a few weeks afterwards, having had a certain affiliation and connection with the contestants. I actually loathe the end of every competition. This is why I seldom publish reviews of reality competition Grand Finals, because usually there is nothing left to say or assess which will affect the eventual outcome of it.

Hosts Fauzie Laily and Nurul Aini

The Monday before last, 13 August 2018, saw Elit Suria‘s Top 10 duking it out in the semi-final round, for the coveted six spots in the coming Grand Finals. With so much at stake, there were bound to be those who would buckle under pressure and weight of expectations. Personally before the semi-finals, the ones I had in mind who would advance to the Grand Finals were Amyrah Mustafa, Haziq Halim, Asyraf Iskandar, Hana Rosli, Hans Hamid and Fatin Taha. Not to discredit nor looked down on the other four, Farahnurmadina Farook, Farid Azhar, Erna Ellieyana and Faiz Zainal, but the six that I had in mind had showed more composure, consistency and aptitude in the weeks leading up to the semi-finals. In their favour, I dare say people like Farah and Ellie have more bubbly and outgoing personalities, traits which make viewers warm easily to them. Over the weeks I have come to grow and have acceptance for Ellie‘s style of hosting, whereas Farah‘s winsome smile instantly lights up the scene she’s in. For Farid and Faiz to overcome the odds, they have to have more confidence in delivery, being expressive and not mouthing their words through gritted teeth, with the former slowly showing that he was improving in his own quiet way. So how did they and the rest fare during the semi-finals, which had Food as its theme of the week and Imran Ajmain as the guest performing artiste???

A slimmer and dapper-looking Imran Ajmain graced the semi-finals with his soulful voice…

For the second time in the competition, Asyraf Iskandar came out tops in the Style segment. For this performance which the contestants accompanied to Imran Ajmain‘s “Yang Ku Perlu“, the ones who did well were mostly the male contestants, with four of them amongst the Top 4, whereas four of the female contestants took the following four spots. I did not get the benefit of seeing the scores as they were flashed momentarily on the big screen and I was busy snapping away photographs. But imagine the shock I felt when I watched again via Toggle‘s Catch-Up TV. It was no wonder the female contestants whom I chatted with post-show, all voiced their worries about this particular segment, even though the percentage marks are only 20% of the overall score. Why the male contestants fared better was because they had more defined roles as a chef or waiter for example, where they could play along and improvise. I am not sure what the female contestants roles were other than Ellie‘s, whose character was wooed and proposed to by Hans Hamid in the segment, and Amyrah Mustafa, who was a violin player. This was explained by judge Khairudin Saharom afterwards, the importance of this segment, to understand the roles they are given and to immerse themselves in the characters so that they will have a deep appreciation of them when they go out and interview such personalities working in these career paths.

The semi-finalists grooved along to Imran‘s single “Yang Ku Perlu“…

I was asked by some of the contestants how they could improve and do better in this particular segment post-show. I studied some of their previous performances as well as this recent semi-final episode and managed to understand where judge Khairudin was coming from. I think a lot of worries and concerns stemmed from having to remember their steps, where to position themselves, what to do and so on and having to groove along to the music performed by the week’s guest artiste, which probably led to them not giving off their full best because there were just too many things to remember at one setting. I take for example Amyrah‘s role as a violin player. I think she could have serenaded the pair of Hans and Ellie when they were having dinner in the segment, a little longer than she should have, rather than just a brief encounter. A certain amount of realism should also have been exercised in that when she fiddled the violin strings, her sways should have followed along to the tune of Imran Ajmain‘s “Yang Ku Perlu“. A lot of the female contestants’ movements were too rushed for my liking, which in turn spoilt a lot of my shots, and some tend to look to the floor probably to know where they were supposed to stand. When they looked up and smiled at the audience, it was too brief and in a way, you don’t feel that sincere connection which they should have done. The guys are probably more savvy in that they know what to do, how to improvise and using their eyes and smiles to connect with the audience.

A first in the competition for the hosts, who went over to the judging panel to get a feel of what the view and feeling were like as a judge…

For this particular episode and for the first time in this competition, the contestants were made to interview two guest personalities live on stage, Ms. Nur Safiah Alias from Halal Food Hunt blog and celebrity chef, Chef Siti Mastura. The interview sessions, each lasting about five minutes, were meant to recreate typical media conference scenarios where questions are opened to the floor consisting of reporters and bloggers and the contestants had to imagine themselves as one, clamouring to ask the guest personality burning questions they have in mind. Just from observing the questions posed to the guest personalities, one could see how much effort and homework were done by the contestants. Most impressive and a definite standout was Amyrah, who literally had Chef Siti Mastura‘s profile and accolades at the back of her hands. When she listed Chef Siti‘s personal achievements and also used big words like “takrifan” (statement of meaning), I could hear the audience gasping in awe and had impressed looks on their faces. She is indeed the epitome of what judge Najip Ali has been drumming over the course of the competition, which is the mark of a thinking host that they are looking out for. There was no doubt at all that she would ace this segment and she eventually did, sharing top honours with Haziq Halim. I can foresee Amyrah having the necessary calibre to host a programme of serious nature when given the opportunity in future.

Asyraf Iskandar, Farahnurmadina Farook, Farid Azhar, Fatin Taha and Haziq Halim interviewed Ms. Nur Safiah Alias from Halal Food Hunt blog…

Some might have the feeling of discontent that Amyrah was hogging the time given to her or probably showing off what she knew, but I think she was just doing what is required of her as a competitor, doing her homework and coming to the competition well-prepared. It is not her fault at all if her knowledge of someone’s background is probably more than the others. In fact, it should be a source of impetus for the rest to up their game and do likewise. The only thing she has to be wary about is the time limit that they have, so that her fellow competitors will not feel left out or outshined, as in the case of the semi-final episode where there was only enough time to entertain her open question and not the rest. I am not sure if they will be penalised in the Grand Finals for taking up time, but this is something that she and the rest should be wary of, to keep their lines as brief yet as impactful as possible. This is where their aptitude of the Malay language will be put to the absolute test. It is ok to use big or bombastic words, but it should be kept to the minimum so as not to turn off general viewers from the community who can be quite sensitive and anal at trivial things such as this. At the very least, Amyrah has so far lived up to her initial promise to use the competition to inspire more of her peers and generation to use the Malay language as a comfortable daily medium, something to be proud of and not awkward to deliver.

A light-hearted moment before Amyrah Mustafa, Erna Ellieyana, Faiz Zainal, Hana Rosli and Hans Hamid grilled Chef Siti Mastura

Not to be outdone, Haziq Halim was also another standout with two quality questions posed to Ms. Nur Safiah. In fact at the beginning of the competition, I have heard from people connected to the programme that he is one with huge potential. However, I was not impressed when I watched him in the very first episode because he appeared to be cocky and arrogant at first glance. But as the saying goes, he is the embodiment of the famous old Malay saying, “Tak kenal maka tak cinta…“. You have got to know him to understand his psyche and approach. Beneath what I would now classify as a “confident” outlook, lies a character who is hungry to learn and humble enough to accept his flaws asking where, how and what he can improve on to his performances. My advice to Haziq is to check on the way he expresses his feelings through his facial expressions, because sometimes it can turn off viewers when he appears to speak in a condescending tone and display a cocky outlook, usually seen during the X-Factor rounds. However, one cannot deny this guy is strong in many aspects, not least his ability to be more expressive and natural over his fellow male finalists, whom I still feel need to shed their cool and macho persona and be more outgoing. No, this is not me looking down on the likes of Hans Hamid or Farid Azhar who have qualified along with Haziq to the Grand Finals, but I would dearly like them to be more evocative yet expressing themselves naturally, to push themselves to perform as well as Haziq, because they are beginning to appear one-dimensional and a bit too formal in style of presentation.

One complaint I have when watching the Personality segment was the apparent confused state of addressing the guests. When one person uses the word, “Awak“, the rest should follow suit and standardise. Likewise if the first person uses the word “Anda“, the rest should also take the cue and reciprocate in kind. Call me anal, but I think there should be a marked distinction between the two words, whether they are in a formal or informal setting. There was one particular moment where one of the contestants used both words when they had to repeat their question. Though there is no wrong in using either words, aesthetically it sounds a bit off aurally. Also, I still notice some of the contestants preferring to speak in Baku, which for a good part of the last five years, have seen many hosts dropping the lingo when they speak, unless they are hosting formal programmes or newscasters reading the news bulletin. The contestants have to bear in mind that the producers are looking for all-rounders, not just hosts for a particular kind of programme. Even radio deejays seldom speak in the lingo, unless they are reading the news or discussing current affairs matters in specially-dedicated programmes. They have to learn to adapt somehow to the requirements of the shows they are engaged to host and not limit themselves. In terms of quality of the questions posed, I think only about half of them gave good ones and this was lamented by judge Khairudin afterwards when asked to give his analysis.

Judge Khairudin was slightly disappointed with the quality of questions asked during the Personality segment…

I was surprised and somewhat disappointed that Fatin Taha‘s usual composure and calm demeanour deserted her when she needed them the most, to the point she repeated what had already been asked by Farid Azhar just before her turn. Such mistakes at this crucial stage of the competition could be the difference between progression or elimination. When I asked some of the contestants what happened post-show as to why some of them fumbled or seemed to have asked a similar question, they said that initially believed they were allowed to bring their notebooks to the live show, but they were told at the last moment that it was not, leaving most of them scrambling to remember who was supposed to ask which question. When I posed the possible scenario of meeting their respective guest personalities to rehearse whilst waiting for the live show to start, they said that the personalities were in another waiting room and they did not have access to them. I managed to meet Ms. Nur Safiah over the past weekend and asked if she could have rehearsed along with them had they asked her to, she said that she would have gladly done so, as she was somewhat bored playing the waiting game in the holding room. So in this case, I think there was a major communication breakdown between the contestants and guest personalities. The contestants were probably too shy to ask or even too worried having to remember so many things to do and say, that taking the initiative to ask eluded their minds. This is a valuable learning experience for them to take the initiative and just do what they feel is right for the betterment of their future performances.

The Bestari round which was keenly contested, yet the overall quality of answers were not up to scratch…

Wow I dedicated at least five paragraphs on the Personality segment alone!!! I don’t think I have much to comment on the Bestari round, where once again Amyrah came out tops to officially be the ace competitor for this segment throughout the competition. I do not know if it was just her rub of green, but I observed that she has been quite fortunate standing nearest to the monitor screen that was facing hosts Fauzie Laily and Nurul Aini every time, by virtue of standing according to names in alphabetical order. She probably had the slight edge in being able to read and see the questions, while those over at the other end were seen tiptoeing and squinting their eyes to get a good read of the questions that appeared on the screen. I could be wrong, but from where I stood, it looked that way, though when I asked her about it post-show, she said that she could hardly see the questions as the two hosts were blocking her view. If that is the case, then I really have to take my hats off to her for her general knowledge proficiency. Not that the rest did not try, they did do their best. In fact some were quick on the draw to answer, but in the end gave a wrong one. I think for the rest to have a chance of upstaging Amyrah in this segment, a tweak to the format of competition during the Grand Finals might give them that window of opportunity. I heard rumours that there is a possibility of it happening, so it will be interesting to see how next Monday‘s question-and-answer segment will pan out. However in the overall context, out of the ten questions asked, only four were answered correctly, with Amyrah edging Farid and Farah by one, a somewhat disappointing figure.

I usually do not focus much to what is being said during the X-Factor round, as my fingers are busy snapping away photographs of the contestants in action. This also probably stems from the fact that I know who have done well for Hosting and Bestari, and probably do not need much self-promotion to advance to the next week’s episode. I only watch it again via Catch-Up TV to analyse how eloquent, fluent, confident and expressive they can be. I must say that there have been several good oratories throughout the competition. I personally feel, given the criticisms I had earlier of Haziq for his apparent cocky demeanour, he actually knows how to play with his words and connect with the audience. Those who eventually managed to qualify for the Grand Finals are those having those four traits that I mentioned earlier, besides how much they were able to touch the audience with their voice sincerity, likeability and most importantly their smiles. This segment is where I really love listening to the soothing and calm radio deejay voices of Hana Rosli, Fatin Taha and Hans Hamid, not forgetting Haziq and Amyrah. As this is a make or break round, their grave facial expressions and hesitancy in delivery are giveaways to their respective lack of confidence levels. This segment sets apart the ones on the fringes of advancement and the ones on the brink of elimination.

Imran Ajmain performed his second song of the night and latest single, “Intan Dan Perak”, just before the final results were announced…

In the end, we said goodbye to the likes of Faiz Zainal, Erna Ellieyana, Asyraf Iskandar and Fatin Taha. I am actually gutted for both Asyraf Iskandar and Fatin Taha who have been consistently good in previous episodes. However, if we take into account that both Farid and Farah had answered one question correctly during Bestari, those correct answers proved to be the difference in them progressing into the Grand Finals, giving them greater weightage, even though Asyraf came in fifth during the Personality round. Both Farid and Farah came in sixth and seventh respectively, so one can imagine how close their marks were to have a significant jump in standings by the end of the show. Hence it is paramount for them to give off their best for all the rounds to set them apart from their fellow competitors. To be fair to both Farid and Farah, I do notice that there are improvements to their performances and styles of presentation. Being the youngest in the competition certainly does not deter Farah from giving off her best and improving as the weeks pass by. I dare say amongst all the finalists, she has been the most improved with her confidence levels the one that I’ve noticed rising a notch higher with every passing episode. Anyway the usual complaints about her from previous episode still lingers, but I’m happy to say that she has been trying to minimise it, which is a massive credit to her. Farid could be a surprise package waiting to explode during the Grand Finals. He has been quite the slow starter, but this Monday, the stars might just align for him and he may just bloom for all we know. He is one dark horse that Hans and Haziq need to be wary of.


The two I was gutted to see being eliminated from the competition – Asyraf Iskandar and Fatin Taha

I feel that amongst the finalists, Hana and Hans have been consistently good and comfortable without being pushed fully to the maximum of their abilities and capabilities. For the former, she has to distinguish herself as either a performer, given her background as a musical theatre practitioner, or a host. Of course being an all-rounder is good and it has to be pointed out that Hana is a prolific singer and budding actress based on her talents and previous small roles on local television. However, her speech during the X-Factor round worried me a bit, giving me the impression that she will be contented with not winning the competition knowing her other skill sets will ensure she becomes a regular fixture on our screens. Right now as I see it according to current form, Amyrah has the edge over the two female finalists, but I do hope that they will not give up easily without giving her a good fight. Both Hana and even Farah have their personal attributes and respective strengths to upstage Amyrah. They just need to find their inner self-belief and confidence that they can do it. I for one like how spontaneous Hana can be off-camera, just lost in her own world, yet having that steely confidence, poise, spunk and devil-may-care attitude to prove others wrong. She needs to translate them all on stage. Likewise Farah, even though she is naturally demure and probably one that can be dismissed as an outsider, her smile and quiet determination are two of her biggest assets. I think if there are possible chinks in Amyrah‘s armour which the other two can take advantage of, is that she can be a bit too formal in delivery and outlook. She needs to loosen up a bit and be a bit more expressive and outgoing, which Hana and Farah possess.

Say hello to the six finalists – Farid Azhar, Farahnurmadina Farook, Haziq Halim, Amyrah Mustafa, Hans Hamid and Hana Rosli!!!

Haziq‘s strengths and flaws have been mentioned already and I don’t think needs any repeating like a bad record. Amongst the male finalists, he is quite the favourite to win, though I do hope that he does not rest on his laurels or become complacent as a result of my positive analysis of his performances so far. I noticed something in common about most of the finalists when I am reminded of their very first introductory clips. Those who are in for the last lap of competition have lived up to their earlier promises. For Haziq, his desires and will to win in memory of his late father are keeping his determination burning bright. For Hans, I hope that he can break loose from the comfort of doing just enough to get by. He has the charisma and personality to do better. Given his career working as an animal show host at the zoo, he should have the experience in engaging the audience and be a bit more lively in delivery. I was extremely impressed with him from the very start of the competition, but in a reality competition such as this, you want to see improvements every week and not performance levels that have hit a plateau. Like Hana and Farah, I really do hope that both Hans and Farid will kick Haziq‘s ass (literally) come Monday, and not surrender meekly through personal contentment with what they have currently achieved. Right now amongst the guys, Haziq is the one with fire burning in his eyes to win. I hope the other two gentlemen can prove me wrong and I am sure they will. All the best to all the finalists and congratulations once again for making it this far!!!

P.S. Please do not expect to see me do a review of the Grand Finals. Most probably this will be my last entry on the competition.

Snapshots of Elit Suria Semi-Final Episode

Elit Suria Wildcard Episode

The stage setting pre-show…

This entry nearly did not see the light of day as I have been very occupied the whole week and was away for a short staycation with the family over the past weekend. Why I managed to do this entry at the last moment is because some things that we planned prior did not materialise, so I finally got to squeeze some time to reminisce what transpired during the recent episode of Elit Suria this past Monday 6 August 2018. This was the first episode I finally made my way down to MediaCorp Campus to watch the show live from the studio. Before the show, I was not sure how the contestants would react upon finally meeting me in person after reading my previous two entries, but thankfully all of them were so cordial, warm and friendly, thanking me for pointing out their flaws and where to improve as they do not have the benefit of others telling them how to, or probably were too shy to ask around. I was a bit embarrassed when one by one came up to say “Hi” and “Thank You” to yours truly, that I felt like a mini celebrity that night. I seldom get that from previous reality show competitions because I know some of the past contestants quietly resent and bore grudges against me for my objective assessments, or probably the times they were cordial to me was because I take nice photos of them. Usually once the competition is done, a minority of them will stop following me on social media, which makes me feel used somewhat. Oh well…

The audience which included the eight confirmed semi-finalists, seated at the front row…

The recent Wildcard Round featured all the eight eliminated contestants so far, giving them that last chance saloon to show that they deserved a second chance to still remain in the competition. How lucky it is to be in Group A then, as they had a fortnight off before worrying about the semi-finals tonight. I am sure Haziq Halim, Hans Hamid, Fatin Taha and Hana Rosli will disagree with me, because I know the prolonged days leading up to tonight, only adds on to the tension they are facing at the moment. Last Monday, the show was graced by Akademi Fantasia alumnus, Nurul Rahila Rashun, who performed as the guest artiste and the Wildcard episode’s theme of the week was Culture. Actually it should have been called International Culture since the challenges and questions posed during the episode had something to do with cultures around the world. This was another episode which for me, was an educational eye-opener, because I personally find this particular theme interesting, given my penchant to know useful trivias and stuff, a chance to empower my general knowledge. Prior to the show, the ones I had ear-marked to enter the semi-finals were Fadzli Jani for the guys and between Erna Ellieyana and Nur Mehga for the ladies.

Rahila Rashun performed the haunting hit “Asmaradana“, taken from the box-office hit movie, “Puteri Gunung Ledang“…

I’ve had my fair share of complaints about the Style Round, where the contestants are judged based on their style and confidence onstage. However, I personally like the opening performance between the contestants and Rahila for this particular episode, with all their poses and outfits depicting the different cultures they were portraying. What came as a surprise was the contestants learning to dance and though they are not prolific dancers, they managed to learn their respective choreographies within a short space of time. Not an easy feat when you’re not dancers nor have that hidden talent to begin with. To their credit, the contestants looked like they were enjoying themselves immensely and the ones who enjoyed themselves the most onstage happened to win this segment, Fadzli Jani and Atiqah Hassan coming in at second, though I have to say Fadzli somehow was a bit overexcited during his performance, making the overall balance of energy between the four pairings on stage a bit disjointed. Fadzli and Atiqah also happened to be paired together, as they danced to the style of typical traditional Indian dancers. For the other contestants, they looked more confident and poised than the previous episodes they were in, where I previously pointed out that their lack of confidence from this round alone spelt the end of their journey. But if you ask me who should have won, I would have personally chose Hisyam Salimnor as I found his moves more graceful.

The esteemed judges – Khairudin Saharom, Nuraliza Osman and Najip Ali

Next comes the Personality segment where the contestants are judged on their hosting capabilities. I find Hisyam‘s hosting a bit too cautious since the very first episode he was in, and I repeated it to him when we met post-show. He tends to mouth his words and break them up according to syllables when he does not need to most times. I guess he just wants to make sure that he pronounces them correctly. When I look at him, I cannot help but be reminded of Danish Ashraf, 2016‘s Anugerah Skrin runner-up. The way they speak, their mannerisms, their styles all look similar. For awhile, I thought they were related, but they are not when I asked Hisyam during our short conversation, but they do know each other personally. I actually like Nur Mehga‘s hosting. The only complaint I had about her previously was, she does not smile much when she knows the cameras are not panning at her. When she does smile, I can feel the whole room light up. So it was nice to see more of Mehga‘s smile during this episode and how confident she was. Which was a big disappointment when eventually she came in 5th for this round, even after judge Khairudin Saharom had praised her for being the best of the four for their hosting segment, which also included the other pair, Noh Irwan Amran and Ainur Rosyieqa. I had expected Mehga to have gotten Top 4 at least.

Hosts Fauzie Laily and Nurul Aini

Noh Irwan‘s shortcomings from the time I watched him previously, were his distinct lack of confidence and unsure of himself. If you were to watch his hosting clip again via Toggle‘s Catch-Up TV, you will understand what I mean if you notice his expressions rolling back his eyes as if to remember his lines. He needs to understand the question that he is posing to his interviewee and make it sound across as natural as possible, not as though he is reading directly from a script. The same assessments could also be levelled on Ainur Rosyieqa, though she looked more poised between the two. For their segment, I think the biggest letdown for both of them was their inability to para-phrase their question when their guest did not answer one of their initial questions properly. A good host should be able to listen and grasp quickly, in turn rephrasing their questions for their interviewee to understand, so that they are able to answer satisfactorily. This is what the judges are also looking out for and what Najip Ali meant by the term “Thinking Hosts“. It did not help that their guest personality’s facial expressions and body language showed as though he did not want to be there and struggling to find the words to answer them. For a good interview to work, both hosts and guest personalities should be equally forthcoming. The ending of their interview also felt as though the audience were left on a cliffhanger and this was felt by the audience when the cameras panned at them right after and they had quizzical looks on their faces.

Najip commenting on the performances of the second quartet – Fadzli Jani, Erna Ellieyana, Atiqah Hassan and Farid Azhar

As mentioned in the last paragraph, you need a good interviewee to make your interview look and sound more interesting for the audience, which the second group got in the form of personality Marina Yusoff, whom as I type this entry, is away on her Hajj pilgrimage. This segment saw the other contestants, Fadzli Jani, Erna Ellieyana, Atiqah Hassan and Farid Azhar, performing better as a whole over the previous four. I think for Fadzli Jani, the observations I have, as well as discussing with some others about his performance as a whole, is that he tends to overdo things unintentionally, which when done as a duo, steals away the limelight from his partner. If we are to host as a duo, it should be about complementing one another, or his partner could have also returned the favour in kind and matched his energy. Ellie‘s jovial personality is what makes her a standout and I feel that she is quite the fast learner, a sponge if I might add. Amongst the ladies in the Wildcard Round, I think she probably had the highest level of confidence, fresh from her elimination the previous week and hungry to do better. Not surprising that I had her and Mehga in mind as the probable ones to progress to the semi-finals prior to the show, with either one performing well than the other who would be more deserving. However, I still cannot imagine Ellie hosting a programme which is serious in nature just yet. Put her in a children’s show or a light-hearted info-ed programme, you will see her personality shining through. Even though I did say having both host and interviewee being forthcoming makes a good interview, the role of a host or moderator is even more important to get their guests to come out from their shells with how and what to ask. This can only be honed through time and experience, which unfortunately they do not have and have to rely on natural talent for now.

 

Rahila performed her second number of the night, the evergreen “Penawar Rindu“…

There is something about the way Atiqah mouths her lines which is a source of concern for me, and it’s not about the braces which I said previously that could be one of the factors hampering her. How she reads and pronounces her words has to sound as natural as possible. If the sentence ends with an exclamation mark, her tone should also sound equally excited. If the sentence ends with a question, her tone should also sound as though she is questioning and not putting a full stop to it. It is so much different when I talk to her in person because she sounds so relaxed and natural. Could jittery factors be reasons for her not to do well? Or is it a lack of fluency and confidence in the language? If it’s the latter, then it should be a learning point for all future would-be contestants to brush up on their fluency in speaking their mother tongue language. They should listen to the Malay radio stations more or watch the prime-time news bulletin on television to grasp how words and sentences are being pronounced. It has to be pointed out that for all my criticisms of Atiqah‘s performance, this was her best to date and I can say she has improved from the first time I watched her in the first episode. Farid to me, did just enough without being too extravagant or over in his mannerisms, as compared to Fadzli. However I still have misgivings about his energy level because he can look a bit uptight when it is not his turn to speak and when he opens his mouth to speak, he tries to maintain his cool persona. I think this is one source of frustration I have about Farid, since his time at 2016‘s Anugerah Skrin. He has to come out from his shell and let go at times because he looks like he is holding back most times.

The Top 3 who advanced to the second round of the Bestari segment – Ellie, Farid and Hisyam

The Bestari segment had me shaking my head right from the start, because for the first question alone, all of them got it wrong. Though the judges admitted that the segment was a tough one given the challenging questions, I think had the contestants listened more intently, they would have probably gotten their answers correct. Actually it was a no-brainer who would advance to the semi-finals once the dust had settled and we saw Erna Ellieyana, Farid Azhar and Hisyam Salimnor advancing to the second round, since Farid came out tops in the earlier segment and Ellie coming in second. Like I said in my previous entry, we usually can gauge who will advance to the following week if they perform well in the hosting and quiz segments, because at the end of the day, they are looking out for an all-rounded host, the ability to speak, think and do their respective homework. In this segment, Farid‘s hunger and eagerness to ace it came to light. For the second time in this competition, a lack of listening to the questions being read properly proved to be Hisyam‘s downfall. In his eagerness to keep up with his competition, he not only answered incorrectly but had a lot of people shaking their heads or slapping their foreheads. When I spoke to him post-show about the gaffe, he admitted that it was a grave mistake borne out of excitement and pressure to stay within touching distance of his fellow competitors.

Farid and Ellie atoned for their previous week’s elimination by redeeming themselves and advancing through to the semi-finals…

I’m not sure if it was due to a lack of time or if the show was over-run, but the X-Factor segment felt a bit hurriedly done once Farid was announced as the winner of the Bestari round, which left no room for pauses or breather for the contestants. I had at least expected them to usher in a short commercial break, but the contestants were immediately asked to up-sell themselves one final time before the judges made their final decisions. Given that Farid had topped both the Hosting and Bestari rounds, he could have eased off and just gone through the motions. To his credit, he did not relax and was a picture of calm and serenity when he spoke, which all the more confirmed his advancement into the semi-finals. Noh Irwan again looked unsure of himself, but he had a reason for it which he told me post-show. His initial lines were asked to be changed last minute, which resulted in him scrambling to pen and memorise a newer version. Though he did not delve on why his lines had to be changed, I felt that the producers could have just let him revised or tweaked them a bit and not change it entirely, resulting in him tripping on his words. Body language, eye movements and tone of voice also play important roles in this segment. The audience can easily detect who is not confident and unsure of themselves just by the way they look, they way they walk and the way they speak. For a majority of them, their lack of confidence for this segment proved to serve as confirmation of their elimination from the competition.

The Wildcard contestants sandwiching judge Nuraliza Osman post-show…

By the end of the show, it was merely a formality that Farid and Ellie‘s names were announced as the two whose journeys in the competition are still alive and well, with the other six bowing out with their heads at least held high knowing they have given off their very best. Tonight, we will get to see who amongst the ten will advance to the Grand Finals in a fortnight, with only six spots up for grabs. Even though we are at the stage of competition where it gets even tougher and harder, I would like to implore all of the contestants, even those who are already eliminated, to shed their inhibitions, grow thicker skins and just ask whoever, be it the judges, the hosts or any of the producers where they can improve, which flaws need to be lessened or what else can be done to make themselves better hosts. I am sure these people are approachable and able to share more from their vast experiences. All they need to do is ask, because no one is going to spoon-feed them, such is the harsh nature of the industry. For the eliminated ones, I can only hope they use the experience to improve on their shortcomings and come back for future competitions well-equipped to do better. They should look no further than host Fauzie Laily, who has worked hard to be where he is now, given that he was eliminated early in Anugerah 2003 but was one of the Top 3 for the ensuing competition in 2005. There are grooming and enrichment classes pertaining to the media industry organised by local personalities like Hafeez Glamour and Rilla Melati from time to time. These young upstarts should consider enrolling themselves in these classes to learn, equip and empower themselves so that they can be more confident and sure. Most importantly, their fluency in their mother tongue is paramount if they want to succeed…

Snapshots of Elit Suria Wildcard Round

Elit Suria Episodes 3 & 4 Recap…

(All images in this entry courtesy of MediaCorp Suria‘s official Facebook page and Instagram account)

Back with another review of Elit Suria, this time combining my thoughts from watching the recent two episodes involving Groups A & B once again. Like the first fortnight, the third and fourth episodes saw two more contestants being eliminated each week, making it a grand total of eight contestants seeing their journey halted from progressing into the semi-final rounds. Episodes 3 and 4 also saw a slight twist to the hosting segment, whereby the contestants interviewed special guests and discussing on the particular week’s themes as a duo, and not individually like the first and second episodes. This was a challenge to see how well they worked together and if they were able to capture the essence of hosting as a team. Group A‘s theme of the week was Films, whereas Group B‘s was Travel, two themes which are closely-related to the media industry and ones that attract eyeballs to info-ed shows pertaining to them. If the first two episodes were graced by female performers, the recent two bucked the trend and gave the males centrestage. The third episode saw Rudy Djoharnaen, winner of Anugerah 1999, and the recent fourth episode had Singapore Idol alumnus and Anugerah Planet Muzik 2018 award nominee, Farhan Shah, as the guest performers. I’ll dive straight into my observations on both episodes henceforth.

If I’m not mistaken, Nurul Aini was very ill during this particular episode, but the masses didn’t know the high level of professionalism she displayed to soldier on through the night… Massive respect!!!

It is difficult as a home viewer to assess the contestants in the first Style segment, as the cameras take turn to pan between the week’s guest performer and them. However, from the short time I was able to view, it was easy to see who deserved to top their respective time onstage. Those short 3-4 minutes onstage accompanying the guest performer, needed to be used to its maximum. The caveat, according to the judges however, is not to overdramatise their movements and prancing onstage, even if they had to fully utilise their moment. Judge Najip Ali mentioned in the third episode, what they are looking out for is not a ready-made star, but someone with a huge potential to make it in the industry and eventually become a household name through their natural aura, charisma and aptitude. I still don’t get much vibes from this particular segment, especially when I watched the fourth episode. Other than Asyraf Iskandar and Erna Ellieyana, I dunno how the others, most notably Farid Azhar, connected their style and character portrayals to the week’s theme – Travel. They could have at least substituted that sporty look with an immigration officer’s or a pilot’s or a steward’s or even a cargo handler’s outfit. No surprises that he came off last in that round. Which begs the question, who was responsible for their outfits and character portrayals onstage??? Was it themselves or the producers???

Rudy Djoharnaen performed Dato’ M. Nasir‘s “Bikin Filem“, accompanied by the contestants. Here we see Haziq Halim and Hana Rosli

Onto the hosting segment. If in the last entry I lavished praise on the ones who did well, for this entry, I will focus more on the ones who did not do particularly well in my eyes, most notably Atiqah Hassan and Fadzli Jani for Group A, as well as Faiz Zainal, Erna Ellieyana and Farid Azhar for Group B. I actually sympathised with Atiqah as it is not easy to speak fluently and most importantly, clearly, when one is wearing braces. I think her overall performance was hampered by it and I am not sure what other problems she was facing during the recording of her hosting segment with Fadzli, because her facial expressions and body language showed that something was bothering her. The way she presented was also akin to watching a children’s programme host speaking in a monotonous tone. Fadzli, whose energy and outgoing style caught my eyes the last time out, seemed lost when paired with Atiqah. There was hardly any chemistry between them, making their performance completely flat. I finally bumped into Atiqah for the first time over this past weekend at the Twilight: Uniquely Local flea market expo at Suntec City Convention Centre and managed to ask her what happened during the recording of her hosting segment. Indeed she said that she was bogged down by the braces and having to mouth her words carefully. This is why I prefer to watch the shows live, as I get to talk to the contestants post-show to understand some of their difficulties that may affect their performance, so that I can give a more compassionate and understanding assessment afterwards, rather than watch and whack like some others from the comfort of home.

Judge Najip Ali dispensing his words of wisdom to the contestants…

Faiz Zainal seemed nervous next to Amyrah Mustafa, and somehow his slightly higher-pitched voice made his hosting style looked out of sync when complemented with his more composed partner. There was a reason judge Khairudin Saharom specifically asked them much later on if they felt comfortable hosting with one another. Though they tried to be cordial and complimentary towards one another, somehow their respective answers and hesitancy in trying to find the right words were not convincing enough. Amyrah, whom I personally thought didn’t do much wrong, was told that her energy did not complement that of her co-host and guest personality. Faiz on the other hand, was taken to task for not grasping the essence of his questions and merely stating his lines as it is. Erna Ellieyana, or Ellie as she likes to be called, was reminded by judge Nuraliza Osman to lessen her child-like traits and style a fortnight ago. Though she tried to escape from that, her voice and most importantly, the way she pronounced her sentences resembled that of a schoolkid reading from a book out loud to their class. Farid, on the other hand, was quite static and did not show much emotions, making his performance a bit wooden. I was actually surprised that judge Nuraliza actually complimented Ellie on showing significant improvement from the last time out, but I felt that if there were any, it was only minimal. The only thing I liked about her performance was her trying to liven up their segment with her bubbly personality.

 

Haziq Halim and Hana Rosli were the top performers for Episode 3…

I need to highlight one thing which I found most pleasing over the past fortnight, and that was how much Farahnurmadina probably took my criticisms in the last entry in her stride (or from others in her private circle), and gave a more polished and confident performance when she was paired with Asyraf Iskandar as they interviewed their guest, actress-writer-director-producer, Seriwahyuni Jaes. Though I did not mention names in that last entry, I was specifically referring to her when I brought up the topic of not speaking with an English twang. I was super turned-off when I watched her introductory clip then and thought to myself then, “Girl, why do you need to do that???” It did not look nor sounded good as it came across as made up. Fortunately for the latest episode, she kept that to a minimum, making it barely audible, and gave a very good performance next to Asyraf. It was refreshing to watch them, which had me smiling and nodding away in front of the television screen. It probably helped that they had someone like Seriwahyuni to dispense tips and such prior to the cameras rolling, especially with someone who has bags of experience in front of the cameras and an endearing personality like her, their synergy and energies were just bouncing off one another, making it probably the best of the six interviews between the two groups. So well done to Farah and Asyraf!!!

This was Group B answering questions in the first round of the Bestari segment…

For my favourite Bestari round, I noticed the eagerness, determination and effort in most of the contestants to do well and win that weekly $300 cash prize, judging by how fast they raised their hands to answer. The two who eventually won during their respective week’s episode, Haziq Halim and Amyrah Mustafa, showed how hungry they were to excel in this round, most notably the latter, whom I felt had something to prove after her earlier hosting segment was not given glowing assessments by the judges. I was amazed by their level of knowledge, especially Amyrah, who answered six out of seven questions correctly in the second round of her episode. I was stumped by some of the questions posed during that particular episode where the questions had something to do with travelling and places in the world and could only get about half of them correct. The way Amyrah answered them correctly showed that she is perhaps someone who is well-travelled or probably had done her homework beforehand. It has to be said, that nothing is more attractive than a lady with brains (at least from my personal point of view), and this was the second time in the competition that she has aced this segment. I would like to see the other contestants in the upcoming weeks upping their game and showing the same hunger as their two main rivals.

Farhan Shah performed his hit single, “Istimewa“, along with the contestants…

The last round, which is the X-Factor round, is probably another segment that I still am trying to get used to. This make-or-break round either brings out the best in the contestant or leaves them on the brink of elimination. For some, it either makes them come across as cocky or gives away their feeling of nervousness. However, as I had mentioned in the last entry, this round more or less confirmed who would leave the competition or who would progress. For the third episode, Atiqah Hassan was let down by the way she spoke. When she posed a question at the end, the tone of her voice was not that of someone questioning her audience, but ending her sentence with a full stop. For the fourth episode, I think it was easy to pinpoint who probably had the lowest marks by virtue of the contestant who tripped on his words, Faiz Zainal. He was a bag of nerves and his forced smile tried to hide how nervous he was. Anyway, in this segment Farah reverted back to my earlier grouse about her speaking with an accent, even though it was only momentarily. I am not sure if she has trouble pronouncing the letter “R” or certain words, because I know some people speak with a bit of an accent to hide the fact that they cannot pronounce words containing the letter “R” correctly. However I am sure she will minimise that in the semi-final rounds onwards as she has at least two weeks to work on it.

Judge Nuraliza Osman sharing her thoughts while Najip Ali listened intently…

Other than the eliminations of Atiqah Hassan and Erna Ellieyana whom I felt were more than justified, I found the results slightly unkind towards Fadzli Jani and Farid Azhar, who were also eliminated in their respective episodes. But Group A‘s male contestants were technically strong to begin with and I think Fadzli was let down by his hosting segment. I had expected Faiz to be eliminated as I did not see him doing his best for both the hosting and X-Factor rounds. His only saving grace, and this proved to be very crucial, was him entering the second round of the Bestari segment and answering that one last question which Amyrah probably gave way to her fellow competitors to answer, so as not to make them look bad. Farid on the contrary, did not manage to enter the second round. Hence this is why it is paramount that they do their best for every challenge they pit themselves in, as their consolidated marks from all the segments will eventually be the deciding factors. It is not all doom and gloom for the eight eliminated contestants as they still have the upcoming Wildcard episode later tonight to give off their best. However, only two will advance to the semi-finals. I already have in mind who will progress based on their performances this past month. I just hope the rest will up their game and prove me wrong, even though I will not mention who or if you guys already have an inkling who I have in mind.


Erna Ellieyana and Farid Azhar were still able to smile upon their elimination as they will get a reprieve in the Wildcard episode…

The semi-finalists have all earned their places fairly. Slowly as the weeks progress, I can see their respective potentials and most importantly, their personalities appearing to the fore. In the X-Factor round, I detected that Hans Hamid, Fatin Taha and Hana Rosli could possibly have a future in radio broadcasting or as a newscaster some day, if they are interested as they have the calm, soothing and confident voices associated with those jobs. However, Hana looks and behaves more like a performer onstage, though she should lessen the overdramatisation of her expressions, as well as her emotions at times, cos it can be a bit of a turn-off to look for the average viewer, since she tends to showcase a certain vulnerability by crying in front of the cameras, be it when she’s sad or happy. Haziq and Amyrah, confident and hungry as they are, might want to consider practising in front of the mirror and look at their facial expressions and body language when they smile or speak. There were times when their features displayed a slight tinge of arrogance, so they might want to work on it a bit to up their likeability factor even more with not only the judges but viewers in the studio and at home. Other than that, I think the two of them are quite the clear favourites based on form. As for Asyraf, there were instances where he spoke like an excited kid, so he might want to tone it down a bit, but I love his devil-may-care attitude and principle to just “Go Je!“. He is one person who looks as though he enjoys himself onstage. Farah??? I do not want to sound like a bad record, but I already mentioned her shortcomings and her improvements to be made earlier so I’ll give her a break here. Till the next entry!!!

Elit Suria Episodes 1 & 2 Recap…

(All images in this entry courtesy of MediaCorp Suria‘s official Facebook page and Instagram account)

Surprise, surprise!!! I’m finally back after a two-month hiatus… I know this reality television series currently airing weekly since 9 July 2018 is into its 4th week as I speak, and probably a bit belated for me to start talking about it. I’ve had people I met on the streets asking me if I was gonna do a review on this new competition. I guess I’ve hummed and hawed long enough before finally deciding to do it. For the uninitiated, Elit Suria is the latest reality talent competition series by Mediacorp Suria, in search of new faces to grace the local television screens, mainly in hosting and acting. One can say that it is probably similar to the previous three Anugerah Skrin competitions that we’ve had so far over the last twelve years, but the main emphasis is on hosting, whereas acting is a secondary component. If I can think of a like-for-like talent competition before this on our local television screens, it would most probably be the Juara competition way back in 2002, which introduced us to household names like Fir Rahman, Nurul Aini and Fadhilah Samsudin amongst others. This current reality competition series is hosted by Fauzie Laily and Nurul Aini, whereas the resident judges are none other than Najip Ali, Nuraliza Osman and Khairudin Saharom. From the line-up of judges, we can more or less see the emphasis of the competition, which is to unearth new hosts for our local Malay entertainment scene.

The simple, yet lovely backdrop of the show’s stage…

Even though I received the invitation to attend the weekly live recordings at MediaCorp Campus, in truth to date, I have not had the time to attend so far. Hence why this entry and also the next one will feature photos courtesy of the Mediacorp Suria Facebook page and Instagram account. However, I have been watching the first two episodes via Toggle‘s Catch-Up TV and finally managing to watch the third and latest episode live on MediaCorp Suria this past Monday, to acquaint myself with possibly the newest faces on local television and of course, to keep myself abreast with the competition. I will not touch on the latest episode just yet in this particular entry, but will do a summary of the first two episodes, where we were introduced to all the contestants who were divided into two groups of eight, namely Groups A and B.  My entries for the first four episodes at least, will be from a perspective of a normal television viewer. Hence, I would like to apologise first and foremost, if my words will not be minced as much as if I were to attend a live recording to observe and understand the difficulties faced by the contestants or to get to know them a bit closer. I tend to give benefit of doubt from my observations watching live, rather than from the comfort of home.

Hosts Fauzie Laily and Nurul Aini…

Closed door auditions were held way back in March and April this year. Usually I would be invited to cover the audition rounds just to have a feel of what’s to come in the coming weeks and months, but this time I received none and like general viewers out there, I did not know what to expect, who had the potential to succeed and who were the standouts during the audition rounds. Which was partly why I decided to stay away from attending the weekly live recordings to date, not as a sign of protest, but because I was not prepped enough to learn the competition format nor given the opportunity to observe them much earlier to better understand their personalities and psyche. The contestants are judged weekly through their Hosting, Style, Wits, Personality and X-Factor in a series of quizzes and Q&A rounds amongst others. The segment that I most enjoy watching so far is the Wits (Bestari) round, whereby the contestants go through two rounds of quizzes on their general knowledge of the respective week’s theme. Why I enjoy it is because it is equally challenging for the viewers watching in the studio and at home, a value-added component of the show that provides useful trivia and information for our general knowledge. Kudos to local singer Hyrul Anuar for painstakingly doing the research and coming up with the questions!!!

Khairudin Saharom, cautioning the contestants on what to avoid doing when assessing their hosting performances…

Each week the contestants begin each episode by playing accompanying props, or to put it in nicer terms, stage models, to a guest singer performing on stage. This is where they are judged on style and confidence, as well as their aptitude for acting or performing. The first episode saw Aisyah Aziz in action, whereas Kalysa Aziz performed in the second episode. I have mixed feelings watching this segment of the show actually. Who is supposed to be the highlight, the guest artistes on show or the contestants themselves??? Is it supposed to showcase their acting skills or is it supposed to be a mini runway show for the contestants??? Some looked so out of depth and devoid of confidence from the way they moved and walked, that it was easy to pinpoint who would eventually be eliminated from the first two episodes, and it was only the first segment!!! Talk about confidence building for these young upstarts!!! Then there were some who overdid their facial expressions and actions that it became a little cringeworthy to watch. This was also highlighted by judge Nuraliza when she was asked to comment. There has to be a certain balance in character portrayals, which can only be honed through time and experience. Unfortunately for the contestants, they do not have that liberty and advantage, unless they have prior acting backgrounds and experiences, and to just hope their personalities shine through to win over the judges.


Aisyah Aziz was the guest artiste for the first episode…

Getting acquainted to the young upstarts on show, the audience in the studio and viewers at home were treated to introductory videos of all the contestants during the first quarter of the programme. This was where we learned a thing or two about them, to hear of their motivation and reasons behind entering the competition. This was also where I studied their respective body language, facial expressions and tone of voices to know if they were sincere in entering the competition or probably there to make up the numbers. We have the usual clips where they showed their gratitude and appreciation to their respective spouses and parents. Some made heartfelt tributes to their beloved family members who have departed this world or went through personal hardships, naturally shedding tears for the cameras, even those whose talents have been belittled and questioned before by their peers / educators. Nothing wrong with that actually, but viewers perceptions might vary depending on how they digest the stories told before them, as well as seeing the expressions on the faces of these contestants. Some may think the contestants are fishing for sympathy, or hoping to be judged leniently. A little sad story is ok to be heard, but should be kept to a minimum. Viewers easily warm to jovial, bubbly and positive characters afterall.

The second episode witnessed under-rated singer, Kalysa Aziz, in action…

The contestants must also be mindful of the way they speak. For certain sections or probably most people in the community, it is a major turnoff hearing people speaking with a certain accent especially when you are conversing in your mother tongue. You don’t have to add an English twang to your pronunciation of words. It makes you come off as extremely fake. From drawing people closer to you, you actually serve to alienate them. The one that was every bit confident and gave me the most positive vibes in their introductory clips was Amyrah Mustafa, the only contestant who wears a Hijab and has a passing resemblance to Aisyah Aziz. She shared her hopes to inspire fellow youths watching the show, to uphold, empower and showcase the beauty of the Malay language as well as culture. Big hopes on such young shoulders, but one that I believe is achievable as we see her progress in the competition and I hope she does, because she is a natural and a breath of fresh air for our local scene. She also spoke in calculated and measured tones without trying too hard, unlike some of the others whom I will not name. For the guys, the one that I felt was smooth in his delivery, was Hans Hamid. He has a certain warmth in his voice which will make viewers drawn comfortably to him, even if he is slightly lacking in the looks factor. Fadzli Jani‘s bubbly personality and originality in coming out with his own tagline, “Awak Suka Tak?“, also made me warmed easily to him.

The Wits (Bestari) round pitting the contestants against one another on their general knowledge…

The hosting segment is I believe, the main one that they are being judged upon. From creating their own interview questions as well as their own scripts, with only three recording takes per contestant, this is definitely the most challenging segment from my observations. True, they only had about a minute or two to interview their guest personality from the local fashion and music industries, but the weight of their challenge is immense!!! From posing the right questions, usage of language, tone of voice, eye interactions between them, their guests and the cameras, hosting itself is a thankless job and one that I myself shun from doing, and I personally hate doing normal presentations or public speaking to begin with. The contestants had to be mindful especially those who added rhythm and melody to their pronounced sentences. It made them sound as though they were reading directly from their scripts or like school children reading in a class. Another thing they need to look out for is the excessive hand gestures which can be distracting to the viewers. From this segment, the ones that stood out for me were again Amyrah Mustafa, Hans Hamid, Fadzli Jani and Fatin Taha. The rest either exuded too much energy onscreen or looked uncertain of themselves. A few of them need to open their mouths a bit wider and not speak through gritted teeth, whereas there were some who need to smile a bit more, cos when they don’t, they simply looked aloof.

Najip Ali‘s comments never fail to disappoint, his extensive vocabulary and usage of words simply exemplary…

The third quarter of the show saw the contestants pitting their wits against one another through the quiz segment aptly titled “Bestari” (Wits). Questions asked were related to the particular week’s themes and challenged the contestants on their general knowledge, mostly in the local context. I was left somewhat frustrated watching the contestants struggling to answer the questions in the two rounds they were required to answer them. I won’t say that if I were to enter the competition, I could answer all the questions or ace the rounds, but I dare say I could have at least gotten 75% of the questions right, especially the second episode where the theme was Music. I was extremely appalled that questions pertaining to our local Malay music industry were not answered satisfactorily. If they harbour hopes of being in the entertainment industry some day, then they have to keep themselves abreast of who’s who, listen more to the local radio stations, follow more local personalities and artistes on social media, watch more of the local programmes on television. This is all part of being equipped and informed as a host. Listening to the questions before answering is also an important aspect. I was left stumped when Hisyam Salimnor answered “DragonballZ” when the question that was asked was “What is the name of the popular Japanese fashion trend that depicts Anime and Manga characters?” Though most people found it funny (not me!!!), I just felt that that highlighted his weakness in not listening properly and in turn, comprehending what was asked. Oh by the way, the winner of this segment each week bags $300 for themselves!!! Easy money in my opinion.


Hisyam Salimnor and Ainur Rosyieqa found themselves eliminated from the competition in the first episode…

The last segment of the show, called the “X-Factor“, is a last throw of the dice for the contestants, to upsell themselves literally to the judges and relate to the audience why they should still remain in the competition. This segment can be considered a double-edged sword depending on how one views it. The contestants can come off as confident in how they sell or promote themselves, yet at the same time, their words and facial expressions might be misconstrued as arrogant. Some could be seen as trying too hard, whereas there were some who just forgot their lines and tripped on their words. Being a host is not easy especially during a live show. Usually they have the benefit of holding on to cue cards for reference in case they forget what they should be saying, but not these young upstarts, who had to memorise what they needed to say or at least remember the gist of their presentation content. Here, we got to see who are the naturally talented, calm and composed and who needed lots of polishing. By this round, I more or less guessed correctly who would be eliminated from the first two episodes. The ones who were eliminated were the ones that tripped on their words or did not exude confidence on their faces and overall body language. Too much uncertainty is a recipe for disaster and signaled a death knell on their involvement in the competition.


Noh Irwan and Nurmehga were the next two to be eliminated in Episode 2…

Even though we still have six more episodes (five if we were to discount this past Monday‘s episode) before crowning the winner/s, I dare say, without trying to jinx them, from the first two episodes alone, the ones who will appear in the semi-finals at least, are Fatin Taha, Hans Hamid, Fadzli Jani, Amyrah Mustafa and Haziq Halim. I know that as I speak currently, Fadzli has just been eliminated in the third episode, but he will definitely return for the Wildcard Round and I believe is a strong contender to progress to the semi-finals. Personally, I have high expectations on Farid Azhar, whom I had the opportunity to know when I covered his journey in 2016‘s Anugerah Skrin. His experience should at least put him in good stead to do even better than the last time out. So far, he has remained in his own comfort zone and not gotten out from his shell. I hope he can open up a bit more and not stick to being such a cool cat. There is a reason why the judges picked him and it is definitely not to make up the numbers. For those I had not mentioned as prospective semi-finalists, I hope they will not be discouraged and at least prove me wrong on my observations. They are not by any means, dumb or bimbotic, as some of their respective educational qualifications would testify. They just have to grasp whatever tips they receive from their mentors and judges, do lots of homework, research and study how other hosts work, to ask if they do not know, as I am sure many are willing to help dispense advice to them. My next entry will be another consolidated entry once Episode 4 ends and Group B have appeared for a second time.

Anugerah 2017 Semi-Finals Recap…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snapshots of Anugerah 2017 Semi-Finals

 

Anugerah 2017 Wildcard Round

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snapshots of Anugerah 2017 Wildcard Round

Anugerah 2017 Week 6 Recap…

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

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

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

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

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Liwani Izzati

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

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Abby Nabila

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

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Mohammad Shahfiq

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

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Shalyza Rosly

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

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Elza Rahim

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

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

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Shalyza Rosly bade farewell to the competition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snapshots of Anugerah 2017 Week 6