Rabu, Februari 08, 2006

Highs and lows of Anugerah Juara Lagu

taken from Malay Mail 8 February 2006

Feb 8:
The 20th Anugerah Juara Lagu merited just about a ‘bolehlah’..., pens JOE LEE.

YOU had to admit it was eye-catching. Although opinions varied as too how aesthetically pleasing it was.

At the opening of the 20th Anugerah Juara Lagu, there were three dancers togged out in sequined outfits with bulky, feathery headgear in TV3’s corporate colours of red, blue and yellow.

As the introductions to the finalists rang out, there were low spots that stuck out.

Dare we remember Mawi being introduced twice, while Rohana Jalil, and Taat’s composer and lyricist Rosli Selasih and Tok Wan seemed over-anxious to be in the spotlight, while Zehra Zamri who nearly tripped after battling with her heels during her catwalk out?

Indeed the stage seemed ready to burst apart at the seams as more and more participants streamed onstage, with the feathery creatures stealing the visual impact.

All that in just the opening number. Phew.

Anyway first up for the night was Zehra with Semalakama.

It was hard to take the song seriously, as it sounded tired and extremely run-of-the-mill.

It was nothing more than a genre staple and the only thing that could be counted upon to keep us awake was her frantic performances which was a mix of Noraniza Idris /Shakira/J. Lo and her posse of fluorescent canaries.

Still, she didn’t do too bad overall, for a newcomer so she gets three bulbs for effort.

Azharina caught our eye on Elegi Sepi for sheer intensity of focus on her presentation - visually that is. Not aurally.

Oh and she forgot to take off her wristwatch, which didn’t go at all with her wardrobe. Pay attention to details, luv. Like singing?

V.E. brought out the worst of Sixties fashion with their Pop Yeh Yeh.
However, if you thought Cham’s wig was scary, then the sight of that horrendous tubby back-up dancer in bright green resembling a moving watermelon, who suddenly took centrestage was nothing short of horrific.

Joe Flizzow’s mic seemed reluctant to cooperate to provide any saving grace to the performance and the use of the Vespas as props were a total letdown for lack of utilisation except for V.E. to plonk their rears on at the beginning of the show for all two seconds.

Vocally, they were not even close to their usual capacity to wow.

Rohana Jalil was a little theatrical, but too bad her Grecian garbed dancers were just a tad too creepy to watch.

We were definitely lucky to have her red and yellow hair extensions as a diversion from the otherwise uninspiring performance.

In a night of excesses, Ning stood out for sheer simplicity.

And while it seemed like it wouldn’t have worked with her all shabby and positioned on a mat, the feel inspired by the song and her sturdy vocals and not giving in to her nervousness was praiseworthy.

Michael Jackson impersonator Adam was up next. We have to sympathise that there was lack of funding for his slot.

Not only was the whole routine, choreography, costumes and props recycled from previous shows... they even had to label the props to ensure everyone understood what they were supposed to be.

Our regular source of entertainment for a myriad of reasons, Noraniza Idris, fell short of expectations this year with Ayuh Juragan.

There was nothing much to comment about the ho-hum performance which paled to in comparison to her offerings in the past.

Jac looked lovely as she belted Wajah, but the compliments don’t stop there. Apart from looking the part of the star of late, she refused to be held back by the limitations of the song.

Her song however proved that kids were perhaps the most overused gimmick at this year’s AJL.

Zainal Abidin started off well. He pulled a couple of giggles with his trademark whooping interjected with a Yasmin Hani trademark, “Wachaa!!!”

While the execution of the song, Gaia, itself was commendable with Zainal placing himself among the league of better performers of the night along, joining Ning and Jac, the action onstage was a little disturbing.

With snakes (we squirmingly counted four), a capoeira dance routine and the presence of ‘abang api’ (the fire-eater made popular over Akademi Fantasia), it was a little too much and some were even overheard, labelling it almost a freak show.

Popular favourite Mawi displayed a marked improvement in his live performance, with his vocals definitely a notch up.

Never mind that he had to stay rooted almost throughout the show to do it, or that his minor attempt at dancing paled compared to Zehra’s earlier panic attack. He still got the crowd support no matter.

Jac came back for seconds and performed a breathtaking, and extremely inspirational rendition of Gemilang, before Hazami closed the show with Katakan.

He showed off some really snappy moves, and his reliable vocal delivery offered what was perhaps the best balance visually and vocally in a Sister Act (the sequel) inspired segment.

Ok, so the choir was a little thin at the start, but we think it could have been a matter of balancing the mix as they actually sounded pretty great when everyone got into the swing of things.

Overall, the whole show was averagely entertaining, though whether the evolution theme was really mirrored in the actual developments of the local music industry is a bit moot.

As M. Nasir best summed it up, “Bolehlah...”

The little medley of past tunes was interesting, and Julie Sudiro was a welcome relief, but it was irksome how her performance was interrupted by some unknowns employed to represent so-called hip hop.

It was interesting to watch the likes of Jefri Din and DJ Dave perform, though when Ito came out with Neves, we were wondering why they bothered to pick the latter for his lack of ability to croon along to a classic.

Let’s see, there was Jamal and Misha Omar, then a simply wonderful Amy of Search together with a Brokeback Mountain inspired Andy of Flop Poppy.

KRU proved that even in their 30s they still can’t hold a note, two of the four members of Innuendo had to do with a last minute stand-in dragged along to make up the numbers.

M. Nasir should opt for decaffeinated while Dina and FO3 were simply the most horrible acts of the night.

RuffEdge popped in a while, before drag queen wannabes in horrendous wigs danced onstage and ushered in Ahli Fiqir, before the show closed with a performance from Cat and two of the Mentor kids that you could have missed if you blinked.


(Best song of the Juara Lagu winners from 1986-2004 as voted by the public gets RM12,000 and a trophy. Winner was announced before the event proper)

* Cindai (Composer: Pak Ngah, Lyricist : Hairul Anuar Harun, Performer: Siti Nurhaliza)

Winner gets RM12,000 and trophy)

* Irama Malaysia and Ethnic Creative:
Aduh Saliha (Composer: M. Nasir, Lyrics: Loloq, Performer: Mawi)
Our take: An expected win, with little competition from other compositions.
Winning quote: ‘I admit, there was some bias towards the song as a result of Mawi’s overwhelming popularity. TV is a great medium. Mawi? His performance exceeded my expectations.’ - M. Nasir

* Pop/Rock:
Katakan (Composer: Hazami, Lyricists: Hazami, Tris & Arab, Performer: Hazami)
Our take: Managed to muster enough support to cause a minor surprise in grabbing this one. Good tune, and a deserving winner no less.
Winning quote: ‘I have done my best and I will keep continuing my efforts as a songwriter as much as as a performer.’ - Hazami

* Ballad:
Gemilang (Composer: Aubrey Suwito, Lyricist: Asmin Mudin, Performer: Jaclyn Victor)
Our take: Photo finish for Gemilang after an intense match-up with Awan Yang Terpilu. Still very much a worthy winner!
Winning quote: ‘Gemilang was a song, which was written to push a new star and the original lyrics I wrote in English were in that vein. When Asmin Mudin wrote the Malay lyrics, he took all the emotion to make what it is.’ - Aubrey Suwito.

RM10,000 in prize money and a trophy)

* Best Performance: Mawi
Our take: Decided by 50% jury evaluation and 50% public vote... so stop griping!
Winning quotes: ‘I’m satisfied with my performance tonight, though I realise I still have much to learn. However, I feel like I have justified the hype with my performance.’ - Mawi

* Best Vocal Performance: Hazami
Our take: A surprise only because Jac went in a favourite for this one. Still, Hazami was no less deserving of the title after a stellar performance.
Winning quote: ‘I’m just speechless, and like everyone else, thought Jac had it in the bag for Best Vocal Performance.’ - Hazami

(Winner gets RM25,000 and trophy): Gemilang (Composer: Aubrey Suwito, Lyricist: Asmin Mudin, Performer: Jaclyn Victor)
Our take: It was undoubtedly going to be a winner from the Ballads category this year.
Winning quote: ‘No, I’m not going to get hell over this. We have been supportive of each other’s career. My wife is new at this, but she has always supported me in the 20 years I’ve been in the business... so don’t worry.’ - Aubrey Suwito having a laugh of his victory over wife Lin Li Zhen, who composed Awan Yang Terpilu, which was said to be Gemilang’s biggest competitor.


‘I don’t know how to respond, I really expected Jac to win, and think she deserved it as I’ve never met another singer like her on the face of this earth. Vocals are something that’s natural and a gift, but in this case, I think that I have the technique and that’s the only advantage perhaps over Jac. By the way Jac, I’m not trying to be controversial or anything...’ - Hazami explaining how he broke the dominance of female singers for Best Vocal Performance

‘I just left it all in the hands of the jury and the voting public to determine it all.’ - Mawi on his game plan for a win

‘We looked for those who offered a true representation of their era... and sometimes their personality outweighs their ability...’ - TV3 entertainment, sports and recreation general manager Azhar Borhan explaining how some performers were chosen despite their inability to perform live

‘There’s not much being produced, no one wants to do it anymore. The only reason it became popular was because of Siti Nurhaliza. As far as how it will go for this genre in the future, it’s the same as asking you how Malaysian music is going to improve.’ - M. Nasir commenting on lack of quality participation in the Irama Malaysia and Ethnic Creative category

‘We are exploring the possibilities of expanding the genre of Irama Malaysia and Ethnic Creative. For now, we will possibly continue with the existing categories but it may be expanded to broaden the scope of music which falls in that category. We can’t introduce a new category at this point as it is difficult in term of programming.’ - Azhar again

‘We make songs to sell albums, for popular appeal, not for competitions. The question here is the conflict that surfaces in competitions like this.’ - Nasir on the differences

‘We are also considering working out possible honours for new up and coming composers and lyricists.’ - Azhar on AJL championing the
cause for composers and lyricists to be more recognised

‘I believe rock will never die. It is a genre that has a cycle.’ - Azhar on the lack of rock in this year’s AJL

‘Siti Nurhaliza and Anita Sarawak have been on the other side of the camera, and they are able enough to make sound judgements based on their experience. On paper sometimes, we don’t see the relationships that exist between jury members and artistes in the AJL. But the industry is small and we don’t have many to choose from. We welcome any proposals to improve it.’ - Azhar on the choice of jury members which drew some flak

‘What is the rationale of Erwin Guttawa being in the jury? This is our music, who is he to judge our music? At this rate, we are not going anywhere.’ - Nasir on Erwin

‘We are trying to see if our music can travel. There is a possibility that the AJL will be opened up to products that are not 100% Malaysian.’ - Azhar explaining

‘Does he have a lot of hits in Indonesia? Because seriously, I don’t know anything about him.’ - Loloq on Erwin

‘My suggestion for future AJL’s is to make the jury’s evaluation transparent without revealing their identities. ‘Siapa yang mengarut gua hentam’!” - Loloq on transparency

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