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

Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza On Tour Promo…

We are exactly four weeks away from one of the most-awaited concerts of 2019! It’s also exactly 5 years since Malaysia‘s number one singer, Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza, held her last solo concert here in Singapore at The Star Vista Theatre, a sell-out event organised by Hype Records and featured our local acts, Farisha Ishak and Taufik Batisah. This time, Shiraz Projects, the same concert organisers of the successful Ruffedge 20th Anniversary Concert held in October last year at Zepp @ Big Box, returns with the concert many have been waiting for, ever since Dato’ Sri took almost a year off to savour the sweetness of motherhood for the very first time. I remember during last year’s Anugerah Planet Muzik, rumours of her having another solo concert was in the pipeline and it was more or less confirmed when Shiraz Projects flashed a teaser video indicating “SNP” (Siti Nurhaliza Productions) as one of their upcoming projects for 2019, just before the Ruffedge concert began. This time round, Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza will perform at Singapore Expo Hall 3 on Saturday, 2nd March 2019 at 8:30pm.

Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza performing “Anta Permana” at last year’s Anugerah Planet Muzik

This self-titled tour “DATO’ SRI SITI NURHALIZA ON TOUR, promises to be a musical journey that will take you down memory lane, with hit after hit, rearranged to make your heart skip a beat, reminisce the good old days of youth and get you on your feet. Each segment of the concert will feature the best of the best – an Ethnic segment, Ballads, Chart Toppers and an Unplugged segment; all musically produced and rearranged by music extraordinaire, Aubrey Suwito, with an All-Star band. Aubrey has personally hand picked this star-studded group of musicians, some hailing all the way from New York City as well as the crème de la crème of Malaysian musicians who have been with Dato’ Sri since the start of her career. Truly this upcoming concert is a celebration of more than twenty years of hits. An enthralling night of savouring the enchanting voice, the music, and the legend on her biggest tour yet in her illustrious singing career spanning almost twenty-five years.

I was there to witness firsthand when the #QasidahChallenge was started by Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza and Khai Bahar kicking the challenge off, watched by talented Malaysian singer-cum-beatboxer Raja Nur Syahiran

The concert will also be featuring the incomparable and award-winning Indonesian singer-songwriter, Tulus. The blend of these two amazing voices will surely make the night even more magical. Tulus will be the guest singer for the tour, performing his hit songs which should not be missed by any of his diehard fans. Who knows, you might probably be first-time witnesses to a new hit duet, before its official release. Speaking of releases, a special feature of this tour, a movie-cum-documentary will be released on the silver screens titled They Call Me SitiOne woman, two decades of music, ten thousand miles”. This upcoming release will take you behind-the-scenes of Malaysia’s Queen of Pop music’s biggest tour yet. From juggling between nursing her first born child to performing at prestigious and iconic venues. Watch how this mogul preserves her legacy for more than two decades.

There are special Meet-&-Greet packages available for Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza‘s die-hard fans. The Meet-&-Greet ticket gives you a chance to get up-close and personal with Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza the day after her concert. The package includes a concert ticket, a free t-shirt, CD and refreshments at the Meet-&-Greet session. Don’t miss this golden opportunity to rub shoulders with Malaysia‘s most iconic singer at this private event. Fans can also purchase special limited edition merchandise at the concert venue. “DATO’ SRI SITI NURHALIZA ON TOUR, is an ongoing tour with confirmed venues in Jakarta (21st February 2019), Singapore (2nd March 2019) and Malaysia (16 March 2019), with the much-celebrated Royal Albert Hall in London, another to be confirmed in the near future, a return to the venue where she held two successful concert showcases back in 2005. Tickets for the concert is available on sale at www.mytickets.asia since 19 January 2019. For further information, please visit www.shirazprojects.com or call +6590604439.

Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza On Tour Ticketing Details

Ticket price:    SGD 425 (Meet & Greet), SGD175 (diamond), SGD145 (Platinum), SGD95 (Gold), SGD65 (Silver)

Tickets:            www.myticket.asia

Ticket Hotline: +65 31651506

Info Hotline:    +65 90604439

Website:          www.shirazprojects.com

Instagram:       shirazproject.sg

Facebook:        Shirazprojects

Anugerah Planet Muzik 2018 Media Conference


Graphics poster courtesy of MediaCorp Suria and designed by Budi Iskandar Sa’ad

We’re just a few days away from my annual favourite regional awards event, Anugerah Planet Muzik (APM 2018), and I finally got the time to share what transpired during the media conference which was held on 31st July 2018. I could have posted this entry much earlier but Elit Suria which was more concurrent back then took precedence and I didn’t want to hype this event too early as we were still a good two months away. Anyway, this year marks APM‘s seventeenth edition with the unveiling of notable nominees from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam. Once again organised by Mediacorp Suria, Warna 94.2FM and RIA 89.7FM, the 2018 nominees were announced at Orchard Hotel‘s Grand Ballroom with performances by local artistes Farhan Shah, Izat Ibrahim, Liwani Izzati, Firwan Johan, Jagad Edge and Miiko the 13th. An estimated attendance of about a hundred local singers, musicians, producers and songwriters attended the event.

The APM trophies, which go through several revised changes in design and sizes over the years, again up for grabs this year…

What was intriguing about the media conference that day for me was the presence of Mimifly of One Nation Emcees fame, who is now a solo artiste. Seldom do we get a regional artiste attending an APM media conference here in Singapore in years past. Seeing her presence from a distance as I was going up the escalator, was an early indicator of her coming involvement in this year’s instalment. The moment I stepped off from the escalator, I met Ryan Sufiyan who let slipped that he is scheduled to perform with her at this year’s awards show. Instantly I knew that their song “Gila” would be up for nomination for one of the Best Collaboration categories. I guess years of following the event has more or less got me tuned in to the link between performing on the actual night and being nominated. Eventually when the nominations were officially announced, I was proven correct. Speaking of nominations, leading the list is Malaysian-based rapper-songwriter Alif Abdullah of former pop duo, SleeQ, with six nominations. This is followed closely by our local acts Aisyah Aziz and Sufi Rashid, Malaysia’s up-and-coming pop star As’ad Motawh, as well as Indonesia’s pop princess, Isyana Sarasvati with five nominations each.

DJs KC and Dzar Ismail returned once again as hosts for this year’s media conference. They were seen here with Farhan Shah right after his performance…

It is nice to see amongst the list of nominees a mix of young and the more experienced. Who would expect to see a legendary group like Search still churning out quality music in this current age of 90s revival music and social media sensations??? Or Brunei affirming their continued presence in the list with Jaz Hayat once again being nominated since his previous in 2016??? Indeed with the proclivity of social media as a daily staple for most of us, music has found a way for us to appreciate regional talents and for music producers to scout for budding talents. In the case of Bruneians like Aziz Harun and Jaz Hayat, they were fortunate to have Malaysian and Indonesian producers who saw the talent they possess, and now they are reaping the benefits of such collaboration. Which is what the Anugerah Planet Muzik brand is also about, getting to know talents from all four regional Southeast Asian countries, exchanging ideas, networking and eventually collaborating to make more good music for us to savour. As what former Lead of Mediacorp Malay Community, Ms. Zakiah Halim said, “As the only regional Malay music awards event, Anugerah Planet Muzik has always created meaningful opportunities and collaborations between artistes and musicians to raise their profiles in the region. We are proud that the APM 2018 nominees are trendsetters who are pushing the boundaries of creativity in their music.”

Ms. Zakiah Halim and Dr. Edmund Lam, CEO of COMPASS, addressing the attendees of the media conference…

Viewers can expect the hottest music acts and buzzworthy pop culture moments in this year’s APM that will be held at MES Theatre at MediaCorp Campus this coming Friday, 28 September 2018 from 9.00pm. The awards show will be hosted by RIA 89.7FM‘s Fiza O, Malaysia‘s Nabil Ahmad and Indonesia‘s Daniel Mananta. Another highlight of the media conference was the announcement of the performers for this year’s event, where usually they do not announce till much later due to confirmation of artistes availability. This time round, the organisers managed to secure the acts by the time the media conference came about. For the record, Anugerah Planet Muzik 2018 will feature hit performances by Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza who is making a comeback to the event after a three-year break, Dato’ Rossa, Judika, Isyana Sarasvati, Ryan Sufiyan, MimiFly, Khai Bahar, Ayda Jebat, Sara Fajira, DJ Kenny Gabriel, Adrian Khalif, Farhan Shah, Jaz Hayat, G.A.C. (Gamaliel Audrey Cantika) as well as local band The Pinholes. I for one am very much looking forward to seeing the trio of Gamaliel, Audrey and Cantika (G.A.C.) for the first time live as I have been quite a big fan of some of their hits over the past year or so like “Satu“, “Cinta“, “Never Leave Ya” and their debut single, “Bahagia“. I will not be surprised if they are slated to open or end the show with their catchy songs “Satu” and “Never Leave Ya“.

The local artistes, as well as Mimifly herself (front row eighth from right), with a group photograph for memories sake…

Music fans and enthusiasts are also given the opportunity to vote for their favourite songs and artistes in fan-based categories from 31 July to 25 September 2018, 11.59pm on toggle.sg/apm. The categories are Most Popular Artiste (Singapore), Most Popular Song (Singapore), APM Most Popular Artiste, APM Most Popular Song and Social Media Icon. The theme for this year’s Anugerah Planet Muzik 2018 is Tropics / Tropical with the hashtag #TropicLikeItsHot expected to trend on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, alongside #APM2018 and the returning #GilerTakGerek hashtags which caught on at last year’s event. Suffice to say, the next few days cannot come soon enough and I cannot wait to share with you photographs I will be snapping on Friday itself. Just so you know the usual drill, I will break down my posts and post them in instalment entries so you just have to come here every few days to check them out.

*Best APM Song and Special APM Awards will be announced on 28th September 2018

 

Snapshots of APM2018 Media Conference

 

Anugerah Planet Muzik 2017 Review…

Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Suria…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Award presenters Hannah Delisha and Izzue Islam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A beaming Ms. Zakiah Halim presenting the International Breakthrough Award

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snapshots of APM2017

Rossa – The Journey of 21 Dazzling Years Concert Promo…

I know I have at least two entries on the recently-concluded Anugerah Planet Muzik 2017 music awards show pending, with one halfway being typed out, but that one can take a back seat for a few days more. The best part about having a blog domain of my own is that I am not constrained by deadlines nor having to post entries according to events that occur chronologically. So what is so important with this entry you might ask??? Well in case you have not heard from the grapevines, Dato’ Rossa will be back at the Esplanade Concert Hall after six years since her “Harmoni Cinta” concert, this coming 4th November 2017. The slated 90-minute concert, titled “The Journey of 21 Dazzling Years“, is scheduled to start at 7:30pm.

Dato’ Rossa seen here in a file picture performing at Anugerah Planet Muzik 2011

Dato’ Rossa (born Rossa Roslaina Sri Handayani) needs no further introduction for music fans in this part of the world. Mention her name and you will think of chart-topping hits like “Hey Ladies“, “Tegar“, “Atas Nama Cinta“, “Hati Yang Kau Sakiti“, “Ayat-Ayat Cinta“, “Aku Bersahaja” – her famous duet with our very own Taufik Batisah and many more, which also include duets with Malaysia‘s Hafiz Suip – “Salahkah” – the award-winning song at APM2014 for Best Duo / Group category and “Terlanjur Cinta“, another massive hit duet with Pasha of Ungu fame.

File picture of Dato’ Rossa at Anugerah Planet Muzik 2013

Dato’ Rossa remains one of the most popular artistes in the Nusantara, and one of the all-time best-selling Indonesian artistes based on album sales which has sold approximately 5 million copies in the region. Dato’ Rossa was conferred the Darjah Indera Mahkota Pahang (DIMP) award, which carries the title “Dato’“, in conjunction with Sultan Ahmad Shah of Pahang‘s 83rd birthday celebration, back in October 2013.

File picture of Dato’ Rossa at RIA 89.7FM‘s 27th birthday bash held at Kaw Kaw SG

Fresh from her recently successful concert at Jakarta‘s JCC Plenary Hall on 13 April 2017, Dato’ Rossa will bring the audience in Singapore this 4th November 2017, a walk-down memory lane over the past 21 years of her involvement in the music scene, performing most of her radio-friendly hits that were mentioned earlier. She is also most likely singing some hits from her latest album, “A New Chapter“, which was launched earlier this year. The album not only included her first English single titled “Body Speak“, but also introduced a fresh different sound to the usual sappy ballads she is known for.

Tickets are sold via SISTIC at $58*, $78**, $98, $128^, $158^. There is a limited concession for students, NSFs and seniors priced at $48* and $68**. For the VIP Experience, tickets are sold at $188 and this includes one box seat ticket, meet-and-greet with Rossa and an autographed poster. For Esplanade&Me card holders, the prices of the tickets are: White Card$120 and $150, Black Card$115 and $145

GET YOUR TICKETS NOW!!!

Anugerah Planet Muzik 2017 Media Conference

(Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

I usually start off my entries after a long hiatus with an apology to my readers for making them wait so long for my return. Seeing how in the past I’ve been doing it, only to repeat the cycle again and again like a bad record, I have decided that I will not be doing any at all this time. Some of you will be extremely surprised to read this, but this entry almost became my final entry announcing my retirement from the scene. Yup you read that right!!! I was heavily toying at the idea of retiring as I had lost interest in doing write-ups and reviews, not to mention my time-consuming photo-editing process. In addition, this is a job that is not being paid but out of my passion for the local / regional Malay entertainment scene. There is only so much time and effort I can afford to put in at the expense of quality time with family. Why I decided to put the idea on the back-burner is because there is still that wee bit ounce of passion which I managed to coax out of me. For how long more??? That itself is a question to be answered. I feel jaded really to be honest.

Local artistes and representatives of the local Malay music scene who turned out in force for the media conference at Orchard Hotel

I wish there were more like me out there, the ones who write / type with sense and rationale, not too emotional when critical, who will give benefit of doubt as much as they can. I just feel that it is time for a new generation of writers to take over but sadly also, blogging seems to be passe these days. I will not promise anything, but I guess from now, any entries on this domain should be regarded as “Heaven-sent”. I will pick and choose what events I attend henceforth and will not be bogged down by having to put entries or photos up as soon as the events end. Well it has always been that way, hasn’t it??? Just that I cannot commit to attending events (mostly at Mediacorp) on a regular basis henceforth, with its current location a bit far for my liking being the North-Easterner that I am. It is also to be fair to those who have kindly invited me to cover their respective events. With that out of the way, let’s begin this entry in earnest.

KC and Dzar Ismail were the hosts of the media conference in Singapore

Anugerah Planet Muzik has always been THE event that I most look forward to annually since its inception on 20th January 2001, so much so I am willing to forgo watching my beloved football club Manchester United, when they face our sworn enemies Liverpool on the day of the event (14th October 2017). Part of the reason I’ve decided to continue blogging was also because of this event. It is afterall the Grammys of the regional music scene, whereby the four countries, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei come together to celebrate the best amongst them for the year. I know I have not been doing any reviews since the 2014 edition, but it also gave me some breathing space to observe changes that were made over the last two instalments. I noted a lot of improvements along the way which many at home do not have the benefit of knowing nor seeing, and there were also shortcomings, mostly because of a change in venue and having to adapt to new surroundings. I am hoping that with the event once again returning to the MES Theatre @ Mediacorp, the visual experience will improve, especially for those at home, because watching it live in the theatre and at home are two extremely stark contrasting experiences.

Nurul Isnina performed her debut hit single “Buaya“…

Just like the previous year, the media conference announcing the nominees for this year’s edition, was held at Orchard Hotel, albeit at the smaller Lavender Room a fortnight ago (22nd August 2017). Where A.B. Shaik, Aura Shai and Fiza O have always been the usual hosts at previous APM media conferences in Singapore, this year saw a somewhat refreshing change with Dzar Ismail and KC anchoring the proceedings. The media conference was also graced by the performances of eventual nominees Nurul Isnina, Iyaad Salleh, Arus Band & Sofia Arissa. Where previous media conferences were used to showcase upcoming young talents our local industry has to show for, there was a distinct upgrade of quality with those nominated being invited to perform and to show the audience why their names are up there along with the regional’s best. The event also saw the performance of Aidil Akmal and Dzar Ismail with their Malay rendition of the global hit “Despacito“, titled “Incognito“, which has since garnered their music video more than ten million views!!! I was telling Dzar afterwards, if only one view could be converted to a dollar, he could afford to retire by now. Such is the outreach of social media these days, that through creative works such as these, one can make it viral worldwide.

Arus Band, along with Sofia Arissa, were one of the few performers that day. Here, they’re seen singing their current hit song on the airwaves “Terlalu“…

A minor controversy emerged when I was viewing the live Facebook feed of the media conference at Hard Rock Cafe Kuala Lumpur on 24th August 2017. I noted that Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza who was initially nominated in the Best Female Artiste Category for her song “Menatap Dalam Mimpi” was missing as compared to the one announced in Singapore just two days before. I only got the answer after seeing reports that the organisers had indeed acknowledged and apologised for their error during the media conference in Kuala Lumpur itself and that all was fine between them as well as Dato’ Siti, and her management who were the ones who had alerted the organisers about it. I think this is a fine example of years of good working relationship between both sides as well as honesty and integrity being practised. The management could have kept quiet about it, but they did not. Thumbs up to Siti Nurhaliza Productions for the highlight and Mediacorp for acknowledging their error and apologising for it!!!

Ms. Zakiah Halim, Head of Mediacorp Malay Community addressing the floor along with CEO of COMPASS, Dr. Edmund Lam and Mr. Hassan Salleh, Senior Programming Director, Warna 94.2FM & RIA 89.7FM, Mediacorp

A special first concert road tour for this year’s Anugerah Planet Muzik was announced by Mr. Hassan Salleh towards the end of the media conference. For the first time in the history of the prestigious regional awards show, Mediacorp is partnering with the organisers of the Formula 1 Petronas Grand Prix Malaysia for a concert road tour to close the race in Sepang, which will see it hosting for the 19th and final time. The concert will be the penultimate show on the final day of the race (1st October 2017) and will feature some of the regional award nominees of Anugerah Planet Muzik 2017. At the time of typing this entry, I still do not know details of the concert and who exactly will be performing till perhaps closer to the date. My guess is that we will have big names from Malaysia, Indonesia and also Singapore to grace the concert. Will I be covering the concert??? That depends if some kind soul or organisation will be kind enough to sponsor my trip up north. Anyway I’m sure there will be some live streaming or at the very least, some live Facebook feed of the concert for us to view the proceedings if we are unable to physically watch it live.

The APM trophies are up for grabs again…

A total of 19 awards will be presented at this year’s event, the same as the previous year, with no tweaks nor changes made to any of the categories. Viewers and listeners can catch the ‘LIVE’ simulcast on TV channel Mediacorp Suria, radio stations RIA 89.7FM and Warna 94.2FM as well as online streaming via Toggle LIVE. APM 2017 will feature a new generation of artistes discovered largely from social media platforms and is set to entertain and dazzle with a stellar line-up such as Ayda Jebat, Aisyah Aziz, Isyana Sarasvati, Virgoun, Gloria Jessica, Aiman Tino, Hael Husaini, and many more. Music fans and enthusiasts are also given the opportunity to vote for their favourite songs and artistes in fan-driven categories from 22nd August until 14th October, 10.00pm on Toggle at toggle.sg/apm. The categories are Most Popular Artiste (Singapore), Most Popular Song (Singapore), APM Most Popular Artiste, APM Most Popular Song and Social Media Icon. Tickets are priced at SGD $28 and SGD $48 (including GST and excluding SISTIC fee) and can be purchased at all authorised SISTIC outlets and online at www.sistic.com.sg from 22nd August 2017 onwards. At the time of typing this entry, the $68 seats are already sold out!!! APM 2017 is supported by Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) and Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (COMPASS).

Snapshots of APM2017 Media Conference

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