Friday, July 29, 2005

Malaysian Idol 02-15, Airdate: 29/07/2005 – Spectaculars #1: And Then There Were 11

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We were greeted with a full house tonight as the first Spectacular show for this season of Malaysian Idols finally came along. After 4 auditions, 3 theater eliminations, 3 workshop rounds and 1 wildcard show, the Top 11 were all excited to be here and were ready to give their best performance in hopes of getting enough votes to move forward in the competition.

The show started off proper with the Top 11 coming up on stage to perform a group song which I don’t think was done this early in the season on last year’s show. The first group song for the season was “Fame”, an unimaginative but passable selection, and I have to say that the group sounded Ok as a whole. There were some off pitch voices in the group sing but as a whole they seem to harmonize well with each other. I wonder if this would be a weekly occurrence during the spectacular shows and if so, I hope that they will get better in the following weeks.

The theme for tonight’s Spectacular show was “Hit Songs, Local or Foreign”. Did someone thought that the contestants will be confused and pick an hit song from Mars instead? They would be better off just staying with just saying that the theme was “Favorite Hit Songs” and leave it at that. And on the subject of bad choices, who did Jien stole the jacket he was wearing tonight from? It looked too oversized for him that it just hangs on the guy and that it was fairly distracting to watch. It was like a little boy who was playing dress up with his father’s old moldy clothes. On the plus side, the hair looks good and he definitely needs to stick with shorter hair. By the way, to be fair, Cheryl looks better than she has been in the past few shows.

Before the contestants were brought back individually to perform tonight, they showed a clip from their first press conference. Most of them were excited about the experience and was grateful to had had the chance to go through it. Most of the clips were normal publicity clips from the even and was not that interesting to watch. I guess that they needed a filler segment while they set up the stage for the first performance of the night.

Just before that, the hosts introduced the judges who tonight was joined by Nora who is a wonderful local singer in her own right. I personally like her work and was happy to see her on the show. I think that she has done some critiquing on some of the other talent reality shows so I was looking forward to see what she brings to the MI judges comments.

Atilia – “You Had Me” by Joss Stone

A decent up tempo start to the show although I have to say that the moves and facial expression during the performance were a bit over the top. The judges went as far as calling it scary and that it may lessen her appeal to the voters. The way that she sang this song sounded a bit too staccato with a fair number of clipped notes that after awhile felt hypnotic in it’s monotonous delivery. On the plus side, there was clear indication of the power in her vocals and the correct attitude to carry the song but I don’t think that she exploited it to the fullest.

Not her best performance so far but not her worst either. I think that she will be safe.

Nick’s verdict: 6/10

Ash – “ I Don’t Wanna Be” by Gavin DeGraw

When I read that he was going to sing this song, the first thing that crossed my mind was that he was trying to fight for the rocker’s crown on the show against Faizull. Unfortunately he doesn’t realize that he has overextended himself by thinking that he has the right stuff to be a rock performer. The biggest thing that he had against him was the lack of that certain edge in his limited range that the great rock singers have. He sounds more like a boy band singer trying to go southern rocker and it definitely will come out sounding fake.

By selecting a song that will invariably cause people to compare it with Bo Bice’s wonderful performance in AI just doomed Ash from the start. It was a messy performance that looked too faked and posed.

Nick’s verdict: 5/10

Azam – “Salsabila” by Yasin

This contestant finally stepped up to the plate with a fast tempo song instead of the usual lethargic ballads that he sang in the past rounds. I had hoped that he could have invested himself more into the song for once but it seemed that tonight was not the opportunity for me to see that. There was a good voice and wonderful control here but it was backing a very bland and disconnected performance. It felt like he was just going through the paces with little regard of the audience in front of him. I’m going to go a head and call him AzamBot as it almost clear that he is more robot-like than human.

AzamBot was performing with what seemed to be a half charged battery and his emotion chip set to neutral. Fortunate for him, that the engineers in 8TV would be able to take him back to the workshop and recalibrate his insides as he did enough tonight to get thorough to the next round.

Nick’s verdict: 6/10

Trish – “A Woman’s Worth” by Alicia Keys

The first “diva” of the group to come on stage and battle it out for the title but I have to say that she didn’t give her all in this performance. It seemed it was a good song choice for her on paper but it was a bit disappointing in the execution. I felt that she had the most problems with the lower registers that didn’t really come out clearly. The whole performance felt like she was being conservative and holding back what she was really capable of doing. There was a point in the song that she could have easily kicked it up a notch and made the performance even more memorable but she didn’t do it.

All the contestants need to understand that they need to give their best every week from now on and not just simply coast with safe song selections that they could perform half-heartedly.

Nick’s verdict: 7/10

Adam – “Mentera Semerah Padi” by M Nasir

Some songs, regardless of how a singer interpret it, has a certain vibe that needed to be conveyed properly for the song to work. Adam needed to be able to convey the confidence and authority to really pulled off this song. While he does have the improved confidence on stage but he sorely lacks the commanding presence to pull it off satisfactory. The performance started out fairly good, wavered a bit in the middle but recovered nicely and ended on a memorable sustained note. It was also good to note that his performance, although insufficient to carry the song message well, had enough of an infectious energy that really got the crowd in the auditorium really going for the first time in the night.

After that exciting performance, I think that I can safely say that Adam will get through to the next round.

Nick’s verdict: 8/10

Farah – “Cubalah Untuk Setia” by Kris Dayanti

She started off the song a bit out of tune and fairly weak but as the song progressed, she recovered nicely and sounded pretty good by the end of the voice. Nevertheless I had the distinct feeling that the performance sounded a bit too rushed and off-tempo. It was a fairly average performance that didn’t have enough going for it to set it a part from the other singers we already heard tonight. She should have picked a different song that was not too safe for her.

The two male judges really had a go at each other about this contestants and we got to see it live as it happened. While I appreciate the candor, I felt that Paul was a bit out of line by cutting in to comment before his turn. He would always have his turn to put in the last word for every contestant and he could have easily rebuked what Roslan said when it was time for him to comment about the performance.

Nick’s verdict: 7/10

Ejay – “ We Belong Together” by Mariah Carey

She started off with her impression of Mariah Carey’s signature shrieking and it just went downhill from that point on. The delivery of the song was very heavily accented and the words were just mumbled out to the point that you can’t really tell what language she was singing in. I wonder if it was just nerves getting to her since her rehearsal clips sounded a hundred times better than her performance tonight. I didn’t notice her accent too much in past performance but tonight both the accent and diction would be her downfall.

A dismal performance that would not be enough to keep her around.

Nick’s verdict: 5/10

Faizull – “Semangat Zaman” by Nash

Unlike Ash who was playing the role of the poseur rocker, this performance was the real thing at least in the Malay definition of a rocker. His performance had an authenticity and real joy that could not be faked. Singing a song that was definitely within him comfort zone, Faizull had the edge and the attitude to carry the song off perfectly. The biggest problem for him was if he could sustain this confidence when faced with other genres and especially if he had to sing an English song.

Although it was a safe song choice for him, the performance made up for the predictability.

Nick’s verdict: 8/10
“Orang Kampung” count: 5 (season total : 9)

Daniel – “True” by Ryan Cabrera

He started really weak with a voice that could hardly be heard over the live band who just overpowered his projection. He tried to recover from the bad start but there wasn’t sufficient power behind the thin reedy voice for him to raise his singing above the sounds coming from the band. To make matters worse, he continued to mumble the words to the song like he has been through out this competition. It was hard to make out what he was singing about most of the time.

Nevertheless, the guy is smart. He knows who his voting demographics were and he choose a song that would definitely appeal for them. To me he has the same appeal of those troll dolls with the multicolored tufts of hair. He swarmed his way on stage fully utilizing his so call cute factor in desperate hopes that people will be willing to vote for him despite the reedy voice, no existing intensity and bad diction.

Nick’s verdict: 5/10

Xerra – “Karma” by Alicia Keys

The second “diva” to go on stage at the start of the battle of the pub singers, pink haired Xerra showed the confidence in her performance that experience and exposure has given her. She showed a lot of the attitude required for this song but there was a noticeable lack of intensity behind her vocals. She wasn’t connecting fully with what the song was about and didn’t give the solid backing to her voice that the song required. It was too laid back a performance which I hope was not due to her overconfidence because she will not go far with only this level of quality in her back pocket.

She does have a memorable package but she needed to have more edge in her voice to deliver the song effectively. We already could see that she is a natural performer and that she was really comfortable on stage so now we will be judging her on the other aspects of her performance.

Nick’s verdict: 7/10

Nita – “Left Outside Alone” by Anastacia

Nerves must have gotten to the last “diva” of the night as she started her performance off tune and weak. I would think that as an experience pub singer she would be used to singing in front of a large crowd but I guess that she still had stage fright to overcome. It was a good thing that she recovered quickly and delivered a safe performance. She lacked the attitude that would have made the performance better and she was a bit monotonous in her delivery of the song. Her main problem at this moment was that she doesn’t have that extra bit that could make her stand out from the other female contestants. She has to start finding her niche in the competition and start exploiting that to the fullest or else risk being unremarkable in the crowd.

One of the judges warn her not to end up being the “Anna Kornikova” of the Malaysian Idols this season i.e. have great looks but often fail to deliver in the competitions.

Nick’s verdict: 7/10

At the end of the show, they ran through all the clips that they would be using to remind the viewers of the numbers to vote. I’ve noticed that in these clips, I’m convinced were pretaped, Trish, Farah and Nita sounded much better than their actual performance. It was also clear that Adam’s performance improved after the clip was taped as his live performance sounded better than the rehearsal clip. The rest delivered about the same quality in the live performance as they did in their rehearsal clips.

Overall it was an average show with very few memorable highlights that could sustain viewer interest for the whole 90 minutes. Off all the performance I thought that Ash, Ejay and Daniel were the weakest tonight while Adam and Faizull delivered the most enjoyable performance to watch. Everyone else were stuck in the middle although for some it was because they did not unleashed the full potential of what they can do. Hopefully the voters will see this too and vote wisely so the correct 9 people stay on to perform next week.

Nick’s picks :

Bottom three: Ash, Ejay, Daniel
Out this week: Ash & Ejay

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