Anugerah 2009 Episode 7 Review…

Anugerah

(Photo courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

Week 7 of the current Anugerah 2009 season was a short affair, to announce the semi-finalists as well as those who have earned a reprieve by getting a spot to prove themselves once again in the Wildcard Round next week. Honestly at the start of the show, the excitement got to me, to the point my hands were all cold and clammy. Seeing them on a weekly basis, you just cannot make a definite decision on who you personally want to go through or who would progress based on judges’ comments and the votes that they garner through their loyal fanbase.

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The contestants practising on their harmonising before the show started…

Based on logic through the supporters’ votes as well as the judges’ previous comments, I had initially plumped for Wawan, Hydir Idris, Catty and Nora Baharom to get a shoo-in into the semi-finals. Trust me, it was tough to call especially with regards to the ladies, as you cannot discount the likes of Kunjung and Sarah Aqilah who have also been very consistent in their weekly performances. I omitted Kunjung and Sarah, not because I did not like them nor what they had offered to us through their consistent performances, but simply because of the votes factor and based on their previous standings, the former especially so, as I wasn’t sure that the voting masses would want a non-Singaporean to win the competition.

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The ones eliminated since Episode 1 – 4, from left: Shera, Yanie, Asila, Ain, Izam, Afyq and IzeMel was conspicuously absent. Word has it she was uncontactable…

As the results were announced, it was a relief that Kunjung got through to the semi-finals cos if she had fallen by the wayside and gotten a reprieve to the Wildcard, I’m afraid the other two female contestants who would fill in the other two quotas in the round might probably be there as token representations. Why I say this is not because the competition is weak nor the other girls are not good, but because the judges have always praised Kunjung being in a league of her own week in and out. If she were to enter the Wildcard Round, which will solely be judged by the panel of jury, her spot in the semi-finals would arguably be more or less assured, with all due respect to the judges’ intuition and sound judgment and most definitely not undermining them nor questioning their respective integrities. 

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The only surprise of the four assured semi-finalists would be none other than Chirul. I certainly did not see that coming, nor did most of the people seated in Studio 1, the venue of the night’s episode, a stark difference from the bigger TV Theatre that we’re used to weekly. Hydir‘s surprise omission could have been due to his fanbase being a little complacent with the votes, it could also have been due to his previous performance which judge Eddy Ali had proclaimed as “dull”. Spare a thought too for the ever consistent Azhar Raz whose apparent downfall could have been attributed to a weaker fanbase. No disrespect to Chirul, but he needs to work hard to justify his place in the semi-finals, cos this is one glaring example where fan support could upset the applecart.

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Nonetheless there is still the Wildcard Round and based on my initial predictions, the line-up for the round for me would have been Kunjung, Sarah Aqilah, Azhar Raz, Chirul, Ize Suliman and a toss-up between Yanie, Shera and Nani. Why I chose Yanie was because I felt she was eliminated too early when she actually has one of the nicest tones in the competition. Give her a traditional song and she might actually ace it and it is widely known that those who can carry a traditional tune would have no problems singing songs of other genres. A living example would be a famous Dato’ from across the Causeway. No prizes for guessing who.

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Shera though we only saw her in Episode 1, I felt she deserved to be given a chance as I believe based on what I heard of her in that round, she did not do much wrong other than lost out on supporters’ votes. Also we have to remember that Episode 1 was not a good gauge of the contestants’ abilities as they only sang a few lines, which for viewers to judge, would be difficult to assess the singer as a whole. Nani on the other hand I felt could have been given a reprieve based on the fact that if she were to put her mind into it, like the one she performed with Kunjung and Nora last week, she could actually stand toe to toe with the rest. Well these are just my humble opinions and you’re welcome to digress.

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Awaiting their respective fates…

As it is, the Wildcard Round now reads Azhar Raz, Hydir Idris, Ize Suliman, Sarah Aqilah, Nora Baharom and Asila Osmera. You know, it just gets tougher by the week even in this round, as the playing field is more or less equal and only one male and one female contestant will advance to the semi-finals. As I had mentioned earlier, this round will solely be judged by the judges and no sms votes is needed. As opposed to the past month or so, in this round, the theme will return to square one, which is open, meaning they can sing songs by a Malaysian, Indonesian or Singaporean artiste.

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The six Wildcarders (from left): Sarah Aqilah, Asila Osmera, Nora Baharom, Ize Suliman, Hydir Idris and Azhar Raz…

I thought the night would end quickly since the show was afterall only worth half an hour. But how wrong I was!!! It turned out to be the longest I’ve stayed throughout the competition. This was because about half an hour after the show had ended, the ten contestants who are still in the competition, had to attend a getting-to-know and understanding session with various personalities from the media industry namely Ms. Aidli Alin Mosbit, the editor of Manja magazine, Ms. Hanim Md Salleh, the Entertainment Desk Correspondent for Berita Harian / Berita Minggu, Mr. Daud Yusof representing television’s Malay News & Current Affairs desk, Ms. Isadhora Mohamed, Programme Director of Warna 94.2FM and Mr Noor Azlan Salim, from Mediacorp‘s Corporate Communications who chaired the session.

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I think this session with the media was fruitful for all the contestants. In fact if this was reached out to the others who had been eliminated as well, it would also be beneficial to them to understand how the media works and how they can prepare themselves when facing the media or the public in future. This session was also for the various representatives to observe the contestants and give valuable pointers on what to expect when facing media from different platforms. I think the words “being true to themselves“, “be honest“, “be media-savvy“, “be learned and well prepared” could not have been drummed further into their heads cos these are factors that they should abide by once they are in the public eye.

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Ms. Isadhora Mohamed could not have said it better when she pointed out the fact that when they enter a Malay singing competition, they are automatically expected to increase their knowledge and usage of the language. Another thing I would like to add on is how they could refine certain words so that they do not come across as crude, even though the meaning of the words are similar. An example was given by one of the male contestants (I will not reveal his identity), who during his introductory speech had described his love for animals. The word that he used was “binatang“. Alternatively he could have made it sound a little nicer and more polite by saying “haiwan“. Even if he had wanted to use the word “binatang“, he could have added the word “peliharaan” after that to indicate docile animals we can keep as pets.

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Kunjung introducing herself to the panel…

Yes, they need to increase their vocabulary and be more aware of the words they use to describe their thoughts so as not to come across as crude, knowing or unknowingly. But the guy could be forgiven cos he is afterall a media novice. Likewise the other contestants who peppered the panel of media representatives with innocent questions some of us might regard as trivial or common sense that needed no questioning nor query in the first place. I’m sure through time and experience, under the tutelage and guidance of their manager and the people who work closely with them, the contestants would be more confident and able to hone their skills in conversational speech during interviews or press conferences.

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Azhar doing his own introductions…

Sitting through the session was like a refresher course for me and I was instantly reminded of the entry I did on “Be True To Yourselves” at times, cos some of the points I brought up in that entry were repeated to the contestants. Clear examples of existing local artistes doing stupid things knowing or unknowingly that could jeopardise their career, reputation and personal characters, were highlighted in the hope that these young upstarts would not repeat the same mistakes. 

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Catty doing the honours whilst Nora smiled in anticipation…

The main point that they should always remember is that they are a representation of their family, the community, their record companies, the products they endorse, the artiste management they are under and the list goes on. I think the phrase “With great power comes great responsibility” from the Spiderman movie could not have been more apt. I really applaud such a move to have this session for them to learn how to look after themselves and how to sell themselves via the media.

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To the other contestants who have been eliminated and did not receive any opportunity to redeem yourselves, please do not be disheartened and to use the experience to better yourselves for future endeavours. I know some of you still pine for success in this line. Use the knowledge that you’ve gained to improve on your weaknesses and you will come back stronger than ever. Remember, this competition is not the be all and end all and there are other avenues to pursue your dreams. Work on it and the industry will be more colourful with your presence in time to come. For those who do not wish to pursue your singing aspirations further, enjoy the memories and friendships that you earned throughout the competition. I wish each and every one of you success in your future undertakings.

Anugerah 2009 Episode 5 Review…

Anugerah

(Photo courtesy of Anugerah 2009’s Official Website)

Finally I get the chance to review the previous day’s episode. Apologies if some of you had entered this domain only to find that I have not updated it with my thought’s on the programme. Before I move on, I would just like to take this opportunity to apologise to the people around me on Tuesday night for not switching off my handphone, cos I totally forgot that it was not on silent mode. It was a bit embarrassing really, especially when you’re seated at the front row. I’ll make sure the same thing won’t happen again the next time.

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The show continued its ode to Singaporean artistes by honouring the likes of Ramli Sarip, Jatt Ali and Othman Hamzah in the “Ikon” theme set for this week and the next, when the young ladies take centrestage again. I think one of the positive aspects of this year’s reality show is that there is that push to include more local songs into the mix and for that I applaud Mediacorp Suria for taking such a stand. By honouring these evergreen songs in these two weeks, it gives the younger generation the opportunity to learn what their parents had listened to back in their heydays.

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The resident jury of Eddy Ali, Ann Hussein and Gani Karim were joined by guest judge Indra Sharir, no stranger at all to our local music scene. I like his commenting style, meticulous and rather serious. Whenever he commented, it felt as though you could hear a pin drop. Such was the silent intensity the auditorium felt whenever he opened his mouth to speak. Surprisingly so far, I have nothing gravely negative to comment about judge Eddy Ali as in years past, cos I tend to agree with most of his comments on the contestants.

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I think the only complaint, or plea for that matter, that I want to make, cos I know they are gonna read this, is for the contestants to inform their sets of supporters to be more cultured when they are in the auditorium. I saw a great improvement from the last time the male contestants took centrestage, whereby their rowdy and boisterous supporters could not keep their mouths shut even when the hosts were talking or when the judges were giving their opinions.

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Yesterday, we did not experience any wisecracks or unwanted comments from them. However, one incident left a sour taste in the mouth. During one of the transmission breaks, some of the female contestants made their way to the washrooms. Some of these heavily-induced testosterone jerks took the opportunity to race down from their seats to the walking gallery and screamed the girls’ names right in front of their faces. Such gentlemanly act, don’t you think??? Idiots!!!

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The ones who qualified to the next round…

The first quarter of the show however had the spotlights on the young ladies who performed last week. It was one that I think most people dreaded to know, me included, cos all of them were great last week and set the bar for the whole competition. I’m sure it would be gut wrenching for the two eliminated cos they certainly do not deserve to go out. But a competition no matter how intense or mild it is, is still a competition. And results sometimes are too ruthless to digest. C’est la vie mademoiselles!!!

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Yanie looked forlorn even before the results were announced…

The first to be eliminated was Yanie. I wasn’t too pleased about it, neither was Ms. Manager who was seated to my right covering for Gumbira.com, cos both of us like Yanie‘s tone and uniqueness in bringing a song in her own original style. However, at the same time, I wasn’t too surprised since the judges did not give her good reviews last week, particularly Ann Hussein, who seemed as though she had an axe to grind with Yanie, if you had watched last week’s episode.

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Asila too looked grim…

As for Asila, when it came down to her or Kunjung, it was no surprise that she would go, since the judges were so into the latter’s performance last week. Also, even though I said Asila did well last week, on hindsight when I watched the repeat telecast last Friday night, she did come across as pitchy in quite a few areas so in that respect it was inevitable. Coupled with the fact that both Asila and Yanie were in the bottom two (consolidated rankings based on judges’ scores and sms votes) when they performed in Episode 1, it was hardly surprising that fanbase also played a part in their elimination.

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Nani was all smiles knowing she emerged first in the rankings…

Before I delve into the gentlemen’s performances, the following are the voting formats for the contestants:

  • SMS to 73388: ANU Contestant Code
  • Telepoll: 1900-112-770_ (Last digit being contestant’s number)

Each vote via SMS or Telepoll costs $0.60 each and those with prepaid cards are not able to cast your votes. Voters who are 18 years and below should seek parental permission. This service is brought to you by MediaCorp Pte Ltd. Tel: 6877 7132.

Voting for contestants appearing in Episode 5 began on Tuesday, 30 June 2009, 8.30pm till Tuesday, 7 July 2009, 6pm. These are the following codes you should vote for this week, along with my individual reviews of their performances:

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Azhar Raz

SMS to 73388: ANU 1 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7701

Azhar sang Black Dog Bone‘s “Andai” in his own style, which at times reminded me of Anugerah 2001 winner Rudy Djoharnaen, in the way he expressed his emotions while singing the song. Week in and out, Azhar never fails to impress with his immaculate voice control. He has an extremely polished technique that I would definitely loathe not to see him grace the Grand Finals on 11th August 2009. His downside is perhaps his looks, which could be a major factor when it comes to voting by viewers out there who I could see are more into Hydir and Sein. Like Catty, he needs to sing a song of faster tempo to challenge his vocals and performances. Ballads are becoming chicken feed for him.

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Kamsani Jumahat

SMS to 73388: ANU 2 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7702

During the start of the show when they did the initial introductions on the contestants, there was only one person I was reminded of when I looked at Sani. Yes people, his whole get up reminded me of the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson. The late singer’s wardrobe used to have similar-styled outfits like what Sani wore last night. But if his performance and dance moves to Othman Hamzah‘s “Gadis Melayu” were anything to go by, I am still seeing Hyrul Anuar in Sani, but slightly more hyper. Sani did well to conquer the whole stage, his last performance where the judges commented on him not doing that, was definitely taken to consideration and applied. Though I liked the prancing around and crowd interaction, his vocals suffered as he was left breathless and found wanting. It doesn’t help that at certain points, most notable when he had to reach the high notes, his nasal voice was clear for all to hear.

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Chirul

SMS to 73388: ANU 3 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7703

Chirul was at best, mediocre in the last round, and it was there for all to see with his lacklustre showing, which did not do justice to Fauzie Laily‘s “Selalu“. But he was a different creature last night, a more confident and cool performance which I know he is capable of. However, it was slightly spoilt when he played to the crowd by breaking into a short dance move ala Taufik Batisah after singing the first few lines. A song like Ramli Sarip‘s “Bukan Kerna Nama” should be more melancholic, but not too stoic. He needs to inject a little bit of seriousness to the kind of songs he sings in future if he wants people to take him seriously. While he did much better than the previous round, he still fell slightly short and sounded too casual at certain points.

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Wawan

SMS to 73388: ANU 4 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7704

By now, rearranging the songs that he is supposed to sing has become a regular fixture in his repertoire. There are two ways to look at this trait in Wawan. First off, he will be a decent composer in time to come when he has all the time to compose songs. But right now, he has to remember that his vocals are under scrutiny. If in future he composes his own song to his tastes, then so be it. But when he sings somebody else’s compositions, he has to follow the standards set by the original composer, even if he rearranged it to his style and is required to sound more original than the original. He came off a wee bit short on the lower registers. I cannot fault him on the high notes though, as well as the intense facial expressions when singing Jatt‘s “Merpati Putih“, cos he put an incredible amount of emotions into the song.

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Hydir

SMS to 73388: ANU 5 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7705

The crowd favourite sang Sweet Charity‘s “Teratai” with so much intensity on his face, that I felt at times he seemed to be overdoing it. Even when the judges were speaking to him, he had with him a mixture of confused, “blur” and surprised look, the kind which is becoming a source of irritation for yours truly watching him weekly. Hey, I don’t deny the fact that amongst all the guys, he has the most promise, potential and marketing ability to win this competition, but he would do well to tone it down lest others might think that he’s acting cute, when he already is to the swooning young ladies out there. His vocals I felt were on par as the previous round, a surprise really to hear the judges saying he fell a notch lower this time. He is another one who needs to challenge himself by singing a song of a more upbeat tempo to show his versatility.

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Sein

SMS to 73388: ANU 6 or by Telepoll: 1900-112-7706

Being the last one standing amongst the veterans of this competition, I expected more from Sein, because he impressed me the most in the audition rounds amongst the likes of Ize, Izam and Harman. Right now, he is playing with fire and I for one am thinking he is being extremely gullible to the fact that he has only his looks to bank on and his fans to save him from elimination. Bearing in mind only the top two will progress to the semi-final rounds, he needs a very strong fan support to help him progress cos I’m very sure the judges were not at all pleased with his performance. Other than forgetting his lyrics and doing the unnecessary moves towards the end of singing Sweet Charity‘s “Zakiah” (which was sung in the same arrangement as Jinbara‘s version), there was nothing outstanding about Sein‘s performance other than the word “Elimination” staring right back at him. In such a critical stage like this, the small mistakes are magnified, especially when the rest have set a certain amount of standard to follow.

Group Performance:

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Group 1 consisting of Azhar, Kamsani and Chirul sang Black Dog Bone‘s “Anekaragam“. Their performance showed how they were enjoying themselves on stage. Azhar impressed as usual with his vocals, Chirul with his theatrics and Sani with his dance moves. Harmony-wise I thought they were better than the second group. Watching the three of them reminded me of P. Ramlee, S. Samsudin and Aziz Sattar in Bujang Lapok. They had the crowd in stitches with their antics.

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Wawan, Hydir and Sein in Group 2 sang Sweet Charity‘s “Jangan Lama-Lama“. Surprisingly, Sein was a standout, atoning his previous debacle in the solo segment. He should have been at this level much earlier. Hydir was the most hyper of the three while Wawan was finding it difficult to keep up with his colleagues both in steps and vocals. Harmony was patchy at best with Sein‘s voice the one that I could hear because he was the one with the highest key of the three. Not a good gauge of their performance as a whole in my opinion.

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After the euphoria and hair-raising experience I felt last week with the female contestants, this week’s episode left me somewhat a notch disappointed even though I know the difference in standards between the guys and the ladies is a bit too glaring and should not be compared. So far, only Azhar and Hydir have shown us that they are capable of carrying the flag for the males, but the rest need to buck up a hell lot if they want to progress further. Something new happened in this episode and with the number of contestants dwindling down to just six, they were given the opportunity to speak to the audience prior to singing. Which is good, cos it would give them a good grounding when they appear in public in future to interact with the audience.

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The ladies finalising their songs for next week…

Also, after a month of watching them performing in groups, I tend to agree with my friend IzaRR from Izone.sg that the segment seems to be more a filler and source of entertainment, rather than being in a competition. Cos to repeat what he had pointed out in his own Anugerah 2009 review, most of the performances so far have been amateurish, with little teamwork and harmony, with everyone vying to be the most dominant voice, perhaps to impress the judges and voters at home. Perhaps retaining just the solo segments with the contestants singing the whole song, would give us a fairer amount of opportunity to judge their respective potential cos afterall Suria is gonna crown a solo winner and not a boyband or girlgroup.

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Thank you all once again for the beautifully recorded piece…

It was a pleasure meeting the contestants after the show ended and I really felt honoured for the fact that they were all game enough to record that short clip I put up in the previous entry, even though it was clear on their faces that they had had a long day. For that I thank them and to Netty for helping me initiate the gesture. Also to Zuraidah for being a very gracious host. Till the next week…