Anugerah Band 2008: The Final Review…

This entry nearly did not make it because yours truly is having a bad cold, and it is no fun having to type when you’re sneezing now and again. I even had half the mind not to type this at all as I wasn’t in the mood to do one final review. Which also explains why I never did a preview since I’m too sick to type one. But it is THE Final. So sniffles and all, I’m back for one final hurrah because I know for the next three days or so, my blog statistics will jump off the roof with people wanting to read what I have to say on the show as well as the groups and the quality of their performances. This always happens right after every episode of Anugerah Band or if I were to attend big shows like APM or some concerts / showcases.

I guess it is what people have come to expect from this humble manor of mine and it can be quite stressful living up to people’s expectations. But I like the pressure and above all, I love the debates that ensue, even if I seem to make enemies out of people. Ok, I will not beat about the bush henceforth and just jump straight onto the first performance of the night. But first let me just say, the opening act was a forgettable one. It was to me, not a good start to the show as it lacked energy and punch to pump up the watching audience and those watching at home.

First performance – X-Tech (Tiada Aku Sadari / Sedang Ingin Bercinta)

It was something that we’ve come to expect from them week in and out. No holds-barred, full of energy but somehow I felt there was a wee bit of X-factor missing from them. You know, something that could really, really nail them as the outright champions of this competition. That aura of invincibility. I did not see nor felt that and for once throughout this whole competition, I doubted their credentials to be crowned the winners. This was made worse when they did their short promo later on in the show. Do you find it appropriate to dedicate a song / performance to someone who has passed on??? Cos to translate it directly, “…saya tujukan khas buat anak saudara saya yang telah meninggal dunia…” sounds a bit like a radio dedication to me, which is so not right when we all know prayers are what is needed by the people we love who are over at the “other” side…

Second performance – Trabo (Jujur / Puisi Untuk Teman)

This was a cool performance by Trabo, especially with the execution of Jujur. There was some raggae element added to their performance tonight and this was a pleasant surprise as they showed they could also get away from their usual rock genre and deliver it well. But somehow like X-Tech, I felt they were a bit too cool for my liking and their usual air of confidence was lacking somewhat. Final jitters perhaps???

Third performance – Fatskunks (La Mofetas / Sakura)

On one side, I would say they were only playing for pride since they were never mentioned in the same breath as one of the favourites, but on the other hand, their laidback stance seemed to have won them quite a few admirers, me included. While the vocals were patchy at times and the lyrics to La Mofetas were too repetitive, what was attractive about their performance overall was their ability to connect with the audience and infuse a party atmosphere. Tell me you didn’t feel like getting up and dancing along to their beats???

Fourth performance – Rancour (Telinga Ke Tulang / Melayang)

I loved their rendition of the official soundtrack of Cicakman, but felt a bit lukewarm for the second song as I felt it was just ordinary. Even though the second vocalist’s vocals were questionable, their performance for the first song alone I believe, swayed the judges into making them the favourites. It was compact, it was tight and for once there was no slang being heard coming out of the vocalist’s mouth. Still a bit patchy here and there but hearing Arab‘s comments made me realise that their chance to win was extremely high.

Fifth performance – X-Tech (Bebas)

This was much better as compared to their earlier performance. Personally I felt this was the best composed song of the night. It was edgy, it exuded raw energy and it certainly had the hallmark of X-Tech written all over it. But still I was not convinced they would be champions, simply because I had a gut feeling that two of the judges whose words carry the most weight, at that point of time had made up their minds on who they wanted as the winners. And it was a no-brainer which judges they were.

Sixth performance – Trabo (Mereka Bukan Kita)

One thing that sets Trabo apart from X-Tech is their ability to slow down the tempo and bring in a more melancholic side to their music. This was evident in this performance. Even though I liked this one compared to their own composition in the earlier round, their marketability appeal is somehow limited to the above 30s. Looking at their sms rankings also did not paint a good picture as to their wide appeal.

Seventh performance – Fatskunks (I Miss You But I Hate You)

Trust the boys to add their raggae element into this song. And what is raggae without a bit of raggamuffin’ thrown into the mix??? Excellent improvisation and arrangement, continuing where they left off earlier. Watching them tonight felt like relaxing on the beach with pina colada on one hand and a babe dancing next to you. They were my outside bet to win had this final been an all-judges affair.

Eighth performance – Rancour (Bila Kau Tiada)

This was the performance that stole the majority of judges’ hearts, even if it did not impress me that much as there were shades of Blink 182 about their song and showmanship. It was clearly evident from all the comments and subtle hints being dropped that these guys were gonna be the champions. They just needed the sms-es to confirm their outright win. For the record, Rancour gave their best performance and they certainly showed that they have all the credentials to mount a survival in this cut throat industry. Why I say survival even before their journey has begun, is because too many groups have fallen by the wayside having released one or two albums. They would do well to learn and have their own distinct sound, cos right now I look at them as being the Malay version of Blink 182 and Green Day.

Results At A Glance

Winner of Anugerah Band: RANCOUR

Winner of Follow Me Style Award: Keigo Sphinx

Winner of Media Darling Award: X-Tech

Best Vocalist: Keigo Sphinx

Best Musician: Alif (Putra)

General Thoughts – Somehow I felt the best performance of the night was the very last one which featured the three best vocalists and the selected band of musicians who have impressed throughout the competition (Ikrar Perwira). Had that been the opening act, it would have left the audience and those watching at home craving for more. It was truly an exceptional performance by all and it left the hairs on my neck standing in awe of their showmanship as well as their vocal power. This was also evident when I noticed a lot of people giving them a standing ovation when the song ended. While the choice of Keigo Sphinx‘s vocalist was a surprise as I had A’an from Knightwings as the favourite, the best musician award that went to Putra‘s Alif was justified. He had stolen the show prior to his group’s elimination and once again he showed tonight what an exceptional guitar player he is. Maybe the only questionable decision was to pick Keigo Sphinx as the Follow Me Style Award winner. They were certainly the last group in my head to win this award, with all due respect.

I was kinda surprised that Trabo and X-Tech did not sustain their normal confidence and that Rancour & Fatskunks had upped the ante. But this was of course THE FINAL and it was a fight to the finish for all the groups involved, so it was somehow to be expected that the playing field would be equal with all giving off their best. Initially it was difficult to say who would be crowned winners as the first round of performances had their fair share of positive and negative vibes. However, the periodical sms results that were shown showed that it was just between X-Tech and Rancour. The final say to me rested in the hands of the judges. And even though it was only the first round of performances, I had a feeling Rancour would win it simply because Arab, who was one of the distinguished judges, had lavished praise on them saying how he would love to turn back time to join them on stage. That was an effective signal that the tide was in favour of Rancour, since it would be him who would be guiding the winners later on when they start work on their album. Eddy Ali on the other hand seemed to “despise” X-Tech for being one-dimensional.

When Rancour came on stage again for the second time and when Indra Shahril and Armand Maulana had given their two cents’ worth, you just knew that barring any sms debacles, they would become the outright champions. They are of the right age in market-speak and their appeal musically as well as attractivity would certainly transcend all ages. And this being a Suria event, doesn’t it make perfect sense to have a talent in their hands that have the whole package, even if they are not esthetically nor technically sound??? It would now be extremely interesting to see how their careers pan out or if this is just a mere flash in the pan. A four-year contract with the relevant parties would give us all ample time to scrutinize their capabilities and worth and I for one would like to wish them all the best as they embark on this journey to add another dimension to the local music scene.

To the rest of the finalists, I’m sure they too would get some slice of the pie. Based on past Anugerah events, most of the time, the winners don’t end up carving a rosy career in the industry. But that was mostly before the Artiste Management Unit was set up and prizes were not recording contracts. It’s just that the winners now have a proper direction and guidance to move up the scale. I believe there is still a market for groups like X-Tech, Knightwings, Putra and Trabo to soar and build on this foundation that they have set up. X-Tech would have been the choice for the technically inclined audience, me included, but some people are still afraid to bring forward a more aggresive approach to music for our mainstream. And that to me is not a good sign of our local music industry moving forward…

P.S. Thank you for being an ardent follower of this blog throughout the journey of Anugerah Band. Really appreciate all your comments, feedbacks as well as debates. Oh and to answer Ari‘s last question in his review, I say “HELL YEAH!!!“…

Anugerah Band Semi-Finals Review…

Am back again with another round of review. The previous week’s review was especially hot over here at my main domain, as well as in my cross-post blog over at Multiply, with visitors giving their takes and views on how the Wildcard round turned out. Though I have to respect the comments made by a small minority who disagree with my comments on certain groups which I feel are still lacking, I believe they have kinda lost the plot and commenting out of blind faith, emotions and without rationale. It’s like they arrived just to drop bombs and left without any trace, though trackings have detected that they came from the same source. It was interesting to observe whether their favourite group/s could really up their ante this week and I for one was looking forward to it. Right, on with the review proper.

First & Second Performances – Cucu Datok Merah (Kembali Berdansa) & Rancour (Ceritera Awan & Banjaran)

Why I placed the first two performances together is because they were similar in terms of quality and vocal execution. Quality-wise, they were just so-so, not too shabby, but yet not that excellent to warrant me to remember much about their performances. To be fair, this week, they were all given songs that are a bit off from their own comfort zones. While Cucu Datok Merah added a bit of funk to their play, Rancour stuck to their tried and tested formula. Vocals-wise, both vocalists were shaky and one common thing that both of them have not learnt right up till this stage is to lose the unbearable slang emanating from their mouths. They must have had cheeseburgers prior to the show.

Third Performance – Trabo (Sang Penghibur)

A slight tweak to the arrangement of the song did not spoil the whole substance to their performance. This was one of the most assured performances of the night and one I felt was the best. Calm, cool, collected. I will be extremely surprised if they do not enter the Finals.

Fourth Performance – Putra (Permintaan Hati)

For the second week in a row, the guitarist (Alif) actually stole the show from the lead vocalist (Farid). While the music arrangement was considered commendable, the same could not be said of Farid‘s vocals. I had pointed out how shaky his voice sounded last week and if that was not convincing to some of you, tonight was even worse as he went off pitch more often than he would have liked to and it clearly showed through his rather tired voice. God knows what the judges see in this group over a more balanced one like Knightwings when they made their decisions last week.

Fifth Performance – Fatskunks (Manusia)

In terms of creativity, I think this group won hands down tonight for an eye-catching introduction. However, the mish-mash of genres (Ska, Raggae, Swing etc) throughout the whole song kinda confused even the group members themselves judging by their movement to the beats and facial expressions. A case of too many cooks spoiling the broth perhaps??? Vocals were average even though you can detect some confidence in the tone.

Sixth Performance – X-Tech (Bila Dengan Kamu)

When it comes to bands, you know you need to have your own identity that you are comfortable with and not be dictated by the record companies or management that manages you. Bands are different from boybands where everything is manufactured and produced according to what the companies expect of you or if you want to cater your music to a select group of listeners. So you can guess which judge I agreed with just by reading the first few sentences in this paragraph. X-Tech is X-Tech. Watching them from Day 1 right up till now, you know what their distinct and signature sound is like and you can easily know it’s a trademark. Their trademark. While it wasn’t to the high quality that one expects them to be week in and out, you have to feel impressed that they have always have the ability to turn a song which is not to their feel, into one that they are comfortable with, and without spoiling the essence of the song.

How To Vote – You may start voting as at 9:30pm just now and it will end at 6:00pm next Tuesday 1st July 2008. Smses cost 60 cents and pre-paid card holders are ineligible to vote. You know the usual drill to vote: Band <space> Group Code and send it to 73388 and the codes are: Cucu Datok Merah (1), Rancour (2), Trabo (3), Putra (4), Fatskunks (5) and X-Tech (6). 

General Feelings – So far, only Trabo and X-Tech have shown that they are worthy finalists. If you ask me who should go through amongst the remaining four, I would go for Fatskunks and Rancour. Don’t ask me why I chose the other two. I just feel that they might make the Final a bit more interesting and they are much better vocals-wise. But of course fans of Cucu Datok Merah and Putra will not agree and leave more nasty comments in my blog. 😛

Anugerah Band Wildcard Round Review…

Those of you dropping in within an hour of the show’s end, or minutes even, would be surprised at the speed of which I’m posting this entry. Can’t be helped, especially with Euro 08 going on, and I need to have an early night before waking up to catch next morning’s double headers (France vs Italy and Netherlands vs Romania). Am updating this during every commercial break so yeah, this sure beats waiting and waiting for a report or review from Berita Harian that never appears, so much for being the “Official Media of Anugerah Band“. Hmmmppphhh!!!

Oh and not to mention the so-called “Official Website of Anugerah Band“. They have a segment on Weekly Recaps, but up till the 7th week now, they have still not updated that particular portion of the website. Next time don’t have it if they are too lazy to do something about it. I can think of a few old Malay idioms to describe this kind of attitude. One is “Melepaskan Batuk Di Tangga” and the other is “Hangat-Hangat Tahi Ayam“. For the benefit of my non-Malay readers, both idioms mean doing something for the sake of doing it without putting any effort or which does not produce any substance. I’ve said before in my Episode 2 review that I will not comment more till the weeks have gone by. A month on and still nothing much have been done other than the fact that they update photographs of each week’s episode or how to sms to vote. Oh and lately they’ve been quite busy promoting the series’ T-shirt mementos. Funny how come when it comes to generating income, they are quite on about it…

This week, thankfully, the audience is not subjected to voting and this I feel would result in a level playing field. I’ve said before, the groups in this Wildcard Round do not deserved to be here tonight. Why they were here was simply because of the fans’ votes. Simple as that. And when they go through to the next round, which is the semi-final rounds, they need the wisdom of these people’s fingertips and brains to bring them over to the Finals. So much for liking a certain group, but if they are just so-so, then please do a service to the industry and not undermine the quality that it is crying out for.

First performance – Putra (Sementara)

Contrary to what the judges said about their good performance, I thought that the introduction did not go down that well with me. The lead vocalist (Farid) was jittery and shaky and it showed when his voice cracked a few times. And what’s with that girly, lacy cut-off gloves that he wore??? As was pointed out by one of the judges, the bass and the drum was a bit off somewhere in the middle of the song. Certainly not my choice of semi-finalists as they were just too overawed by the occasion. Their only saving grace was their guitarist. 

Second performance – Knightwings (Nyalakan)

The group seems to have undergone a major revolution in terms of performance and tightness. I just cannot find any flaws on them tonight. The all-too-familiar prancing by their vocalist A’an was scrapped and this made his vocal execution the best tonight. It was evident for all to see and hear for themselves the range that this guy is capable of and the reason why I have a soft spot for this group.

Third performance – X-Tech (Yakin)

I was surprised they sang this song as I felt that it did not quite go down with what they had set off to champion, but they ended up smelling roses. From the start, the drummer stole the show with his energy and octopus-like moves. The original song which is of mid-tempo, transformed into a version that I myself was bobbing my head to. Trust X-Tech to come up with another energetic performance for us to savour.

Fourth performance – Virus Cinta (Sayang-Sayang)

They were given a reprieve, but I was surprised they did not grab their opportunity with both hands. While the ska-flavoured sound was music to the ears, the vocalist was having a lot of trouble executing the song as the key was too low for her liking. I dunno if they had enough practice on this song cos if they did, they would not have made this mistake and nip it in the bud before coming on stage to perform.

Through To Semi-Finals: X-Tech & Putra

Personal Thoughts – X-Tech should never have been subjected to this round, as was Knightwings. Personally I felt disappointed cos in terms of vocal stability, Knightwings could more than hold their own compared to Putra. Basically I knew who the judges would choose even before they made the announcement based on their comments after each performance. And I have a feeling when it comes to appeal, looks and style, Putra is more abreast with the current style and trend. So again, we might be falling back on the looks department that television is notoriously known for, above talent. I’m banking on X-Tech to sweep the competition from now on and be the winner, barring any sms hiccups…

No Reviews…

I looked at my blog statistics this morning and noticed a surge in readership yesterday. I believe this is relatively due to what most of you have come to expect just a few hours after every episode of Anugerah Band ends, which is my reviews. Like I’ve stated in my entry on Sunday, I will not be doing any reviews for this week as I was at work when the show was being televised. So I have to apologise for disappointing you guys there.

My thoughts on the results??? Those in the Wildcard round do not deserved to be in there and yes that includes Virus Cinta. Just look at the pedigree they have and compare it with those who were a shoo-in into the semi-finals. I will not say which groups already in the semi-finals I do not fancy, but I believe one or two of them deserves to be in the Wildcard round instead. But such is the “strength” of these groups when you subject this kind of competition to the fans, who sometimes vote out of blind loyalty, which in turn undermines the quality that the competition is crying out for.

For the record, those who have entered the semi-final rounds are Cucu Datok Merah, Fatskunks, Rancour and Trabo. While those in the Wildcard round are X-Tech, Knightwings, Virus Cinta and Putra.

Anugerah Band Episode 5 Review…

Apparently the results from last week’s episode was not announced tonight and will be announced next week in a special half-hour programme to determine who will advance to the semi-final rounds, along with the results from this week’s episode. So last week’s groups were kinda given the night off tonight and I thought this was good since it is such a waste of time having to come back, doll themselves up and wait for the guillotine to fall on them. And this for a mere 5 minutes of camera time!!!

From my short preview last week, I had said that this week’s batch of groups are stronger and more entertaining to watch and true enough, they lived up to my words. Overall, I thought this week’s performances contributed to the best show (so far) overall over the past month. Maybe it was because the songs that the groups chose to sing were more energetic and punchy, which of course brought along positive energy and vibes to those who watched them performed. I think the studio audience’s reactions more or less summed it up. Which made me wondered halfway through the show, what is there for me to comment / review this week???

First performance – Trabo (Jikalau Merindu)

Seeing that X-Tech had kicked-started the ball rolling last week with an excellent showcase only for the other groups to bring down the momentum, I was initially swayed into thinking that the same possibility could happen tonight. I thought they did great just like two weeks ago, just that their lead vocalist had pitching problems at times and his voice cracking as a result. Tiredness creeping in from all the practice sessions perhaps???

Second performance – Knightwings (Aku Dan Duniaku)

My only gripe about this performance is that the vocalist (A’an) moved and pranced around too much, which in turn affected his breathing and vocal execution, of which I am a big fan of. His constant hand gestures too were a bit irritating to watch. Other than that, their performance was on par with Trabo‘s.

Third performance – Rancour (Melissa)

The night just got better!!! A rock ballad song was injected with life and this version went down extremely well with those in the audience and I believe at home as well. I wish the lead vocalist could do something with his style of singing. The slang is such a bloody turn-off, even if to his credit, he toned it down as compared to the last fortnight’s performance.

Fourth performance – Putra (Si Gadis Ayu)

I dunno if this was a deliberate attempt to win over Jatt Ali, since this is afterall Black Dog Bone‘s original song. While I agree the new touch to it was good, I didn’t quite liked that chorus part (the one Eddy Ali pointed out and I have to agree with him on that…), which did not sync well with the lead vocalist’s singing. While he is a shoo-in for being one of the good-lookers, he would do well to not play to the crowd too much and in turn making him suffer from pitching problems as a result.

Fifth performance – Silksutra (Pawana)

Contrary to the bad reviews they got from the judges, I thought they actually redeemed themselves and did much better than the last time. Like all the other performances tonight, there seemed to be a pitching syndrome going round tonight even when the music arrangement is top-notch.

Zoul brought up a very good point tonight, in that the groups still in contention need to find their niche and strength and stick to it. From what we have seen so far of the groups in the competition, only a few have a proper direction and image. Helven‘s image to me is the most confusing of all, with their brutal J-rock, gothic-emo style, or whatever you call it but singing a song that is directly opposite to what they have portrayed. Cucu Datok Merah is another example. Like what Brader Bo commented in my previous entry in my cross-post Multiply site, only X-Tech and Knightwings have a clear direction on what their music and image is all about and sticking by it. In any case, an artiste’s style and direction would go a long way in sustaining their shelf life in the industry.

You may start voting as at 9:00pm just now and it will end at 6:00pm next Tuesday 10th June 2008. Smses cost 60 cents and pre-paid card holders are ineligible to vote. For this week, this is how you should vote: Band <space> Group Code and send it to 73388 and the codes are: Trabo (1), Knightwings (2), Rancour (3), Putra (4) and Silksutra (5).

Anugerah Band Episode 3 Review…

Ok this entry is gonna be a quick one as basically I was watching the show without giving full concentration since I had a guest at home. Show kicked off with the results from last week’s group being announced and to see who was eliminated. I had mixed reactions when it was announced that Virus Cinta was the unlucky one being kicked out. Personally I felt it was a complete injustice as they were one of the better performers last week whereas Cucu Datuk Merah and Fatskunks were signing their own death warrants with their inept displays, notably the former. But this is what you get when you subject yourselves at the mercy of the voters’ fingertips. As a result, a group which I had predicted to be a dark horse in the competition went out with a whimper. I hope Virus Cinta would not give up and continue to play good music in their quest for glory.

First Performance – Knightwings (Seksa)

As expected, the lead vocalist’s voice was out of this world and they were a worthy opening act to the show. However, I just feel that there is a distinct lack of punch and verve associated to this song. I also feel that the lead vocalist’s image is too nice for such a song with attitude, even if his voice was the saving grace. He looks too decent to be a rocker in my opinion. Plus he moved and pranced on the stage a bit too much, which in turn made him sound as though he was panting. But these are all minor factors which can be improved on. They were still one of the better performers of the night.

Second Performance – Rancour (Lagu Untukmu)

Somehow this group did not learn the lesson faced by Cucu Datuk Merah last week, which is to cut down on eating cheese before the show. Other than that I thought they played to the crowd (their fans) and were quite compact as a unit. A minor flaw which needs to be highlighted could be the transition between the first vocalist and the second one as their keys were inconsistent. Other than that, another energetic performance.

Third Performance – Geiko Sphinx (Panggung Sandiwara)

Somehow when your energy levels have been pumped up by the first two performances, the last thing you need is for the third one to bring the momentum down. And this was what Geiko Sphinx managed to do tonight. While I cannot fault the vocals of their female vocalist, there is a distinct lack of wow factor from this group which makes the whole performance fall flat. Everything about this group reminds me of watching a wedding band perform, which of course you are not supposed to do on a grand stage like this.

Fourth Performance – Trabo (Pintu Syurga)

My goodness, what is this about RIA Band Remix champions setting the standards on a weekly basis??? Like X-Tech last week, Trabo had a flawless performance mixed with raw energy, compact, full of attitude with only their 80s style rock image being a bit outdated. Easily the best performance of the night.

Fifth Performance – Putra (Goda)

I thought they did ok but somehow there was a little apprehension in bits and parts. They need to learn to let go and just enjoy themselves on stage. Other than that, I’d rank their performance on par with Rancour tonight.

Sixth Performance – SilkSutera (Mimpi Laila)

This group gave me very good vibes when they began their performance with that solo performance by the flutist. But somehow, it went downhill as the vocalist spoilt the song with his off-pitch vocals and I also believe the new arrangement to the song kinda confused them altogether. Along with Geiko Sphinx, SilkSutera better pray hard that they have enough supporters to pull them through to the next round.

Random Thoughts – Overall I believe the standard in performances tonight was much better than last week’s. Judges were good, comments were better than last week and Addy Cradle seems to have grown in confidence with his personal takes. A pity Suzairhe and Nurul tripped on their words a couple of times. I don’t blame them really cos if one was to read Suzairhe‘s blog, you would understand the preparations, or lack thereof, with the scripts only being given out on the day itself. They should be applauded for their professionalism to carry on and lift the programme to its expected heights week in and out.

For those who are interested in voting, you may start to vote as at 9:00pm just now and it will end at 6:00pm next Tuesday 27th May 2008. Smses cost 60 cents and pre-paid card holders are ineligible to vote. For the uninitiated, this is how you should vote: Band <space> Group Code and send it to 73388. It’s that simple really. The following are the codes to vote for this week: Knightwings (1), Rancour (2), Geiko Sphinx (3), Trabo (4), Putra (5) and SilkSutera (6).