Monday, August 29, 2005

I'm Ready For My Close-Up Now, Mr. DeMille

I’ve noticed that I getting a spike on the number of first-time visitors today and when I looked at the visitors statistics I found out that all these new visitors were coming from SultanMuzaffar’s website.

For the uninitiated, SM is a prolific blogger who have been blogging about “Akademi Fantasia”, the other talent search reality show shown weekly on Astro, for quite sometime now. His site must have received several thousands hits per day while the show was on the air and have long been thought of as an influential forum for fans of the show. When the second season of MI started, there were very few bloggers who were writing about the show comparatively to the number of blogs dedicated to AF. Truth be told, I started recapping the second season of “Malaysian Idol” partly because I liked the show a lot during it’s first season and I was also inspired by SM’s blog dedicated to Akademi Fantasia to create somewhere I can vent out my opinions about MI.

There were sufficient difference between the two shows that they did not end up being clones of each other. I don’t have cable at home so I don’t really follow AF but from what little I’ve seen of the show, I don’t think that I could be really impartial if I had to recap it like SM does week after week. Partly because the way that they show everything that was happening to the contestants while they were in seclusion during the show would made it harder for me to be able to present criticism in a purely objective way. Having a host who, although might be suitable for the tone of the show, drives me up the wall every time something innate comes out of his mouth doesn’t really endear me to the show. Regardless how I feel about the show, I have to acknowledge that it has it’s hordes of fans and for this year at least have more fans than MI if truth be said.

In any way, being mentioned/linked from SM’s website meant that I got slew of new visitors to my rant site. Hopefully they like what they see and not too turned off by the all too common tendency to get overly dramatic in my writings. I guess that it’s part of the territory of being a card carrying drama queen.

For SM
Thank you for the link on your website. You’ve been an inspiration.

For those visiting for the first time
Thank you for the visit. Hopefully what you find here has been interesting and I look forward for your next visit.

This is me.
This is who I am.
This is my story.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Malaysian Idol 02-24, Airdate: 28/08/2005 – Spectaculars #5 Result Show: A Good Run Comes to An End

(Image courtesy of

Nick’s prediction:

Bottom three: Nita, Farah & Adam
Out this week: Nita

I think I figured out the pattern with Jien’s hair style on Malaysian Idol. It seems that he would have the hair up and off his forehead on the Spectacular shows. On the result show, he would have it down and across the forehead. I don’t really know if there is anything in particular in the choice but as long as it doesn’t start to spelling out words in Morse code then I guess I can count myself lucky. If I thought that it did that, then I really need to get my head checked for obsessing too much about Jien’s hair.

The Top 6 contestants came out on stage to another pointy pose dance off that’s bound to give me nightmares tonight. I have to wonder do people really find these dance introductions really that exciting or interesting that the producers found it necessary to repeat it week after week? I don’t remember watching the contestants on last year’s show going through the same humiliation every result show. They even have a more tasteful way to of introducing the contestants on the American Idol show that could easily work here instead of the horrendous pointy poses.

Jien this week looks like he was wearing something that he stole from Paul Moss’s wardrobe. What’s more hilarious was that Paul wore something that looked like he swiped from Jien’s wardrobe. Did they accidentally got each other’s laundry bag back from the laundry place or was there something else happening backstage that we don’t know about?

As usually the judges were asked to comment about the show last Friday night. Roslan thought that as a whole the contestants were much better than they were when they first started. He thought that Ash did better than he usually did and that Nita always ended up picking the wrong types of song that hurt her in the competition. Jee was worried that up to this point of the competition, the contestants have yet to find their own style and identity in their performance. Paul thought that “Rock Night” last Friday felt more like “Flop Night”.

Judges Predictions:

Roslan : Adam, Nita
Jee: Adam, Nita, Ash
Paul: Nita, Adam

The remaining 6 contestants were then called up to centerstage and split into 2 groups. The first group comprised of Nita, Farah & Adam stood to the right of Jien while the remaining group of Daniel, Ash & Faizull was to the left of Cheryl. When the judges comment were read out, it was clearly apparent that the group of boys to the left of Cheryl were safe tonight which meant that the 3 remaining contestants were in the bottom 3 as I predicted last Friday.

When we came back from the commercial, Farah was sent back to the “Sofa of Survivors” since it was obvious that she had the better performance last Friday compared to the remaining 2 left on stage. When Nita and Adam stood side by side on stage, I got a feeling of deja vu as we have seen this same exact situation before in an earlier Workshops stage of the competition. The moment I saw this, I knew that it would be Adam who will be leaving the show tonight instead of Nita as I had predicted. True enough it was announced moments later that Nita received more votes than Adam and would be continuing in the show.

Adam was at the verge of tears when they showed his exit clip and by the time it came to address the audience, we could just hear the heartbreak in his voice. It was difficult for him go through his final song and there were more than a few points during the singing when his voice failed him. To give him credit, he did sound better as the song progressed but it was unmistakable that he was really disappointed to be cut out now after the good run that he had on the show.

Although I predicted Nita based on her performance before, I felt almost certain that if Nita and Adam were up again against each other, Nita would have the upper hand in the competition. Nita had a better package for Malaysian Idol fans and have proven herself quite the star when she choose a song that suit her well. Adam on the other hand had the better vocals but was fast becoming stagnated in terms of what he was presenting in his performance. He needed to push himself to the next level but he didn’t do that until fairly late in the competition. Nevertheless, Adam should be proud of the good run that he had on the show.

His exit from the show this week broke the ladies losing streak the past few last weeks. I do think that it’s a signal that the guys no longer have the opportunity to coast through from this stage onwards on their popularity alone. Hopefully they would take to heart the judges comment that they really need to choose the correct song that suit their vocals. They also should take Adam’s lesson as well and not stay stagnant with their level of performance if they want to sustain the voter’s support for them.

Out this week: Adam
Nick’s prediction success to date : 8/17

Friday, August 26, 2005

Malaysian Idol 02-23, Airdate: 26/08/2005 – Spectaculars #5: And Then There Were 6

(Image courtesy of

With the theme of “Rock Night” this week, the show opens with the almost obligatory opening song of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” before strangely segueing into a slower “Fantasia Bulan Madu”, a local rock song by Search. I wished that the contestants chose to sing “We Will Rock You” just because some of them tonight needed all the practice of stretching their vocals that they could get. Having said that, I have to say that I’m really appreciating the change from the pointy pose dancing to the group singing as the contestant’s opening number. As I’ve said before, this group really harmonize well together and it is a joy to hear them do so. Now if only they could stop Ash from trying to dance then I will be really happy. He totally looked hilarious whenever the camera was on him during the opening performance. It also didn’t help that he messed up his verse when he was up for the duet with Faizull.

Whoever sponsoring the hair products that the people on the show must have made a killing on the show tonight. Everyone’s hair was defying gravity and while it may look good for some people (read Jien) spiky hair was definitely the wrong choice for others (read Ash). I’ve also noticed that the hosts this year have stopped dressing up in the theme of the night. While I’ve prayed very hard not to be subjected to the “trucker hat Jien” that we got on MI Season 1’s Rock Night again, I have to say that I liked it better when they tired to match the host’s outfit to the theme. The hosts just looked too plain this year.

This week’s filler segment showed the contestants visit to Rumah Solehah which is a care center/half-way house for children born with HIV. I’ve heard of this place before but never knew that it was for HIV+ children. Just goes to show what one can learn from watching this show other than the snark potential every week. The contestants looked really natural and comfortable around the children. AIDS and HIV are two issues really close to my heart and it was wonderful of the show producers to take this opportunity to highlight the center to the viewing public. I tried to jump online to see if I can get their address to plug them on my blog in this recap but I’ve not been able to find it yet. Once I get it, I’ll update the recap with it so that people who might be able to help them would know where and who to contact.

The guest judge for tonight’s show was Jeff Timmons who was in 98°, the studliest boy band ever in existence who sounded as good as they looked, and now was trying his luck as a solo artist. By way of an explanation, I’ve always had this secret crush on the boys from 98° and after everything that has happened to me recently to see Jeff back on the scene again just brought back the good times from back then. I have to say that I was relieved that they didn’t decide to plug his solo album on the show tonight but I wished that they had selected a different theme for the night had they already plan for his appearance on the show. Somehow I just don’t see “Rock Night” and Jeff Timmons on the same page even though I appreciate him being there to really brighten up the judge’s table.

(In honor of his appearance on MI tonight, I dug out my old 98° CDs and played them in the background as I wrote this recap)

Farah – “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette

This song never failed to bring back memories of my college years every time when I heard it. From the moment I heard the opening strains of this song, I was looking forward to see how much they would let go in Farah’s performance. After listening to it, I have to say that they choose a very tame version of the song compared to original which I guess that made sense as Malaysian public can’t be trusted by the censors with the original version.

As performance goes, it was a passable one from Farah. She started with the right attitude in her husky voice but somewhere along the way she got a bit messy and winded. I guess that if she pranced a little less around the stage and focused more on delivering the solid backing that the vocals to this song demanded, it would be more than enough to move her performance to the next level. It was very ambitious of her to start of the show with this song and she delivered it fairly acceptable.

Nick’s verdict : 7/10

Adam – “Ada Apa Dengan Mu” by Peter Pan

I almost didn’t recognize him when he performed tonight. He definitely kept a tight rein on his usual exuberance on stage and even delivered the song in a markedly more manly tone that his previous performance. He looked so controlled and strained that I was worried that something might break mid performance. After being reminded that he was suppose to be the “cheeky monkey” among the contestants left on the show, to see him so rigid in his delivery was more than a bit jarring.

I wasn’t really that sold on his performance tonight partly because I found the delivery was disconnected from the viewers than his other performance usually were. The lower registers of his voice paid it’s dues tonight for this song and I have to say that it was sounding more solid than it did last week. It was a passable performance but it could be better if he had been more relaxed and put in more of his own personal stamp on the performance instead of trying to imitate some else.

Nick’s verdict: 6/10

Nita – “Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence

I found out that this was her favorite song from one of the online fan-chat sessions that she had a few weeks back. The moment that I found out that the theme for tonight was “Rock Night” I just knew that she will perform this song. I was really looking forward for this these past few days as I really liked this song and I’ve heard that Nita had sung this song quite a few times when she was singing in the pubs.

Unfortunately the performance tonight only highlighted all of Nita’s vocal weakness. She was off-pitch for most of the performance and lacked the solid backing to power the notes. I have a sinking feeling that Ejay might have performed better with this song because she could have hit the marks for this song much better than Nita did. I have to say that this was one of her less than stellar showing that may come back to hurt her standing in the show. She really needed to get another good performance tonight after the confidence wavering visit to the Bottom 3 even after a good performance last week. Unfortunately for her, tonight’s performance was not be the confidence boosting showing that she obviously needed and for that I’m worried about her.

Nick’s verdict: 5/10

Daniel – “In The Shadows” by Rasmus

After the good showing last week, he is back to mumbling the words of the song he was performing. It was also not helpful for him to be drowned out by the band on several occasion during his performance. The thing that hits me most was how no matter what genre he sang, it always sounded like he was singing the pop boyband version of the original song. While I may like to listen to boy bands, Daniel’s performance just didn’t do it for me.

He started off a bit shaky in the beginning with his weak lower registers but recovered well as he built towards the chorus. I have to agree with the judges that he sounds so much better when he sang a Malay song and I think that partly the melodies and the flow in Malay songs were much simpler than an English song. His performance tonight reminded me of how much of a fan base he has to be thankful for continuing to vote to keep him on the show.

Nick’s verdict: 6/10

Ash – “With or Without U” by U2

I wasn’t really sure of what look Ash was going for tonight but what ever it was it surely missed the mark in a big away. Dressing up in all black was so last season and it didn’t helped that he was performing so stiffly that he looked like he had a steel rod screwed onto his spine. Fortunate for him, his performance tonight was much better than the way he looked on stage. He started out with very good lower register control and built up the vocals nicely towards the chorus.

It was a good choice of song for him as he got to showcase a lot of his vocal strengths that he didn’t get to do in the other songs that he sang before. While the intensity in the performance was there, there was a marked absence of edge to his voice that would have sold his performance better. I have to say that this is his best performance yet in the show. I also have to grudgingly admit that it might also be the best performance of the show tonight.

Nick’s verdict: 8/10

Faizull – “Don’t Cry” by Guns N’ Roses

From the Diary shows that they show every Thursdays, I knew that Faizull was working on his first English song to perform on the Spectacular shows. The moment I heard that the theme for the show tonight would be “Rock Night” I was immediately certain that he will attempt an English song this time around. My reasoning was that the rock genre was his most comfortable genre and he would probably have a passing familiarity with English rock song more than others in another genre. He would have a much easier time to polish his performance with an English rock song and get the expectation for him to sing one out of the way in a genre he was comfortable with.

He started very weak in the beginning and was singing words that were hard to make out. Weak lower registers didn’t do him favors and it was only when he started hitting the high notes that we started to hear him performing more confidently. I thought that the choice of attempting an English song tonight was a risky gamble after his meltdown last week but on the flip-side this was the only opportunity that he had to sing an English song that he would remotely feel comfortable with. While I don’t think that his gamble paid off fully, it was a safe performance and a notable attempt for him.

Nick’s verdict: 6/10

All in all it was a better “Rock Night” theme Spectacular than it was last year but I missed having someone like Jac to really rock the house. The closest we got was Ash’s performance but I still think that he was too much of a tool to really enjoy his performance. I’m also disappointed that no one thought of attempting something from Bon Jovi on “Rock Night” again this year. Maybe I’m just showing my age for wanting someone on the show sing a Bon Jovi song.

Given the voting trend this year, I have to say that based on tonight’s performances Nita, Farah and Adam would really need to have all the votes that they could get. The remaining 3 have consistently show that they were voting-getting powerhouses that would continue to get votes from their fans even with their mediocre showing. I have a sinking feeling that Paul Moss might be “Prophetic Paul” again tonight and we may not see Nita return next week.

Nick’s prediction:

Bottom three: Nita, Farah & Adam
Out this week: Nita

Friday, August 19, 2005

Malaysian Idol 02-21, Airdate: 19/08/2005 – Spectaculars #4: And Then There Were 7

(Image courtesy of

Tonight’s show was a good one for some of the contestants and a dismal outing for others. Some of the fan favorite contestants are really on the chopping block after their performances tonight.

Write up to follow.

Update: 22/8/2005 - 8pm

I've missed the Spectacular result show again this week so I felt prudent that I skip my recap this week instead of writing an incomplete recap.

If you have not done so, I recommend visiting the other wonderful MI sites who already have their Spectacular recaps up to find out what happened last week. Their links are listed to the right of this column under the heading of "Malaysian Idol Listing"

Thursday, August 18, 2005

What’re You Reading Now?

(Images courtesy of and Mile High Comics)

I just bought a copy of the latest Harry Potter book last weekend and have been reading a chapter every night before I go to sleep. I guess that I’ll be finishing with it by this weekend. I have to say that I’m enjoying this latest installment to the series as well as the last one. The tone of the story so far is as dark as it was in the last book but Harry was sounded less whiny as he did in the last story. I guess it’s true that the characters are growing up and wiser.

I also have about 3 months worth of DC and Marvel comics that I’ve bought but have yet to read. Among the storylines that I still have to go through are Jim Lee’s “Superman: For Tomorrow”, the 10th Anniversary of the Marvel “Age of Apocalypse” storyline and the recent “House of M” crossovers. I usually spend a whole day in bed just reading my comics during the weekends but for the past few months I’ve had had the chance do that. Now I have a pile of comics in bags at the foot of my bed just waiting for me to read them.

Even with all these items to be read, I still have others books that I plan to get and read soon. One book that I’m really looking forward to get my hands on is “Light Before Day” by Christopher Rice. I’ve read all his previous books and found them to be really enjoyable to read. The copy that I saw at Borders Time Square the other day was a hardcover copy so I’m waiting for a cheaper paperback copy before buy one for myself. I think that the paperback version has been released in the States so I guess it is just a matter of time before they reach the shelves here.

I also saw a copy of Annie Proulx’s “Brokeback Mountain” at MPH in Subang Parade the other day. I was quite surprised to see it on the shelves given the subject matter of the story. I need to make sure that I get a copy before the shops get wise to the book and decide to pull it off the shelves. Or maybe they won’t seeing that they are making a motion picture based on the story and will be releasing it by the end of this year. The movie stars Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal as the two cowboys who fell in love with each other and having them both on screen alone would be worth the price of the movie ticket.

Intrigued? A clip from that upcoming movie can be viewed at this site.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

On The TV Lately

Quite a few hits to my blog site comes from people searching the web for items linked to TV3’s “Mencari Cinta” reality show. I feel a bit guilty that they ended up at my site instead just because I happened to mention the show the first night it aired. I guess that goes to show that there were fans of the show out there looking for more information about it. I have to say that I’m also hooked to watching the series. It’s like watching an accident, you know you shouldn’t linger but you just can’t help yourself wanting to know who crashed and burn. Watching this week’s episode I just had to ask WTH with the show turning into “Survivor” with the tribe mates voting out one of their own.

BTW ... the reason I don’t recap this series is because it’s too easy to get snarky about the contestants that it won’t be much fun to do. That plus I personally know one of the contestants so it just felt strange to snark on them week after week.

Also new on TV today is this year’s Petronas Merdeka Day advertisement. For quite a few years now, Petronas has been spending money for a new promotional advertisement campaign every Merdeka Day. I’ve always found them really fun and very memorable to watch. Like in previous years, this ad showed a slice of live for those living in Malaysia and usually would have the message of the value of our independence. I guess that the message of the ads were that we should look to move forward even when hampered by difficulties that were not of our choosing. Just watching the old man in the ad telling his story growing up as a crippled child and having to cope with his disability just left me with warm and fuzzy feelings inside.

I wonder if Yasmin Ahmad did these ads for Petronas again this year?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Malaysian Idol 02-20, Airdate: 14/08/2005 – Spectaculars #3 Result Show: Don’t You Dare Step Out of The Box!

(Image courtesy of

Nick’s prediction:

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

I missed the Malaysian Idol Results show on Sunday again this week but unlike last week I managed to catch the repeat on TV3 today.

The show opens with the usual group introductions i.e. horrible eye-gouge worthy group dancing. I guess that this year’s contestants were so boring and forgettable that the show’s producers felt compelled to remind the audience who they were week after week. I hope that the producers would realize that the people who are still watching this show week after week already know them and need not to be reminded of who they are especially by having them shimmy across the stage at the beginning of every show. I wonder why do they torture us with them dancing horribly week after week as if it is not enough that we already have to sit through several horrendous performance every week. I still recall how good the contestants were harmonizing as a group when they performed “Fame” in the first Spectacular show. I rather see them sing more than them dancing as a group.

When asked what they thought about the performances in the Spectacular show last Friday, the judges were fairly uniformed in their disappointments. Roslan chided the contestants for still not giving their fullest concentration and focus when they perform on stage. Jee pointed out at this stage of the competition, the contestants need to put their best performance out and not hold it back for whatever reasons. Paul was clearly disappointed because the performances were not what he had expected from the Top 8 contestants of Malaysian Idol.

Judges predictions:

Roslan: Everyone but Faizull
Jee: Daniel
Paul: Ejay, Xerra & Ash

Jien and Cheryl proceeded to call all the contestant to centerstage and each contestants had their judges comments read back to them one by one. While some of the comments last Friday was spot on, some of them were just plain silly. The most glaring one for me were the comments for Faizull’s performance last Friday. After weeks of telling him to trying something else other than the old school rock that he has been doing week after week, they immediately told him that he should stick to rock songs the first time he does something else. I'm not saying that Faizull doesn’t deserve the harsh comments that were coming his way after his last performance but the judges didn’t do him justice by cutting him off the knees the moment he tries to step out of his comfort box. The same can be applied to some of the other non-frontrunner contestants on the show.

Before the results were announce, the judges were asked who out of the remaining 8 contestants left was the most improved contestants this far. All the judges believed that Farah was the most improved from what they have seen on and off the stage. I was quite disappointed that they did not acknowledge how Ejay had also improved from the bad showing a few weeks ago. I know that I was also harsh to her in my previous write-up but I have to give credit where credit is due and credit was definitely due to her after her successful rebound from the mumbling mess that she was in the 1st Spectacular show to her last performance.

Unfortunately we will not get a chance to see if she can improve herself more in future Spectaculars as Ejay was announced as this week’s rejectee. The host just called her name to step forward, said some encouraging words before clinically telling her that her journey on Malaysian Idol has ended. There were no bottom 3 this week joining her on centerstage to sweat out the announcement with. It was just her and the result that left her out in the cold. I’m not sure if it was the shock of how the results were announced or just things that were happening behind the scenes within the contestants that we don’t get to know but there was a marked lack of tears for tonight’s rejectee unlike the previous 3 people who were out voted.

I wonder why we don’t get to see who were other contestants with the lowest votes this week. Calling out the bottom three has be sort of a tradition for the Idol franchise and I have never heard/seen a result show without one. One possible reason that crossed my mind was that the producers didn’t want to show one of their favorites in the bottom 3 but I would think that they would do so just to get his/her fans to realize the dire situations their idol was in and vote more next week. Whatever the reasons were, I don’t think that they made the right decision by not revealing the other 2 contestants in the bottom 3.

While I don’t really believe that Ejay would have lasted very long in this competition, I had hoped that she would outlast Daniel who truly gave a horrendous performance last week. The way I saw it, Ejay started horrible but then improved in the next 2 Spectaculars while Daniel can only truly claim only one of his Spectacular performance as a clear success. In the end, it boiled down to who had the fans and the voting base to get them through to the next round.

Out this week: Ejay
Nick’s prediction success to date : 7/15

Friday, August 12, 2005

Malaysian Idol 02-19, Airdate: 12/08/2005 – Spectaculars #3: And Then There Were 8

(Image courtesy of

It was a bit strange going into a Spectacular after missing the result show last Sunday. I guess it felt like something was off having had skipped the normal rhythm of Spectaculars and Result shows last week. The theme for the show this week was “R&B Pop” which sounded indecisive on the producers part. Is it R&B or is it Pop? No one really knew I guess since even the contestants were confused about the theme for tonight. The contestants by the way were introduced this week in girl-boy pairs in away that reminded me of a debutant ball. There was just this prom date vibe going on as they came on stage tonight. Of course they ended up the silly segment with the normal group cluster and pointy poses at the end.

Before they start the show proper, we were treated to the normal filler segments while they setup the stage for the next contestants. The subject of this week’s filler segment was “Idols Playing Futsal”. They did the same thing last season but they had the Idols then trying to shoot each other silly in a paintball game. This season the Idols had to do their group activity indoor I guess owing to the haze this week. I don’t think that choice of having it indoors helped quite a lot because unless the camera they used during the taping of the segment had a very dirty lens, I think that they were playing futsal in a really hazy futsal sports center which incidentally was the same one near my apartment.

The guest judge for tonight’s Spectacular was Anuar Zain who I liked better when he had shorter hair and without the unfortunate tuft of facial hair. Speaking of hair, Jien’s looked in fine form with sufficient product to lift it off the forehead. Good boy!

Faizull – “Jangan Lafaskan” by KRU

The old school rocker of the group had to do something different for once tonight. I was looking forward to see how he adapted when he had to perform something other than what he was comfortable with since I was getting tired with the old thing that he does. Faizull started off a bit weak and although he had a fairly nice tone to his voice, it sounded like he just sucked on a bit of helium before he came out on stage. Comparing tonight’s performance with his other showings it was clear that he was not fully comfortable with his performance and that made for a stiff presentation. The performance itself was fairly subdued compared to his usual old school rocker shrieking and lack his usual punch. I don’t think that he choose the correct song since this particular ballad doesn’t lend itself easily to an arrangement that would be closer to his normal comfort zone. I think to move ahead in this competition, he need to learn how to select songs that he could put his own rocker twist to it and present it as something uniquely his.

Nick’s verdict: 7/10

Ash – “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” by Temptations

I thought that I heard the pseudo rocker growl coming back into is vocal stylings after being so good and sitting out during his performance on the last spectacular. He had the attitude down for the song but I felt that the performance lacked the punch to make the performance memorable. Vocally he does have an interesting voice but it was too uninvolved to connect with the audience. As a result the performance felt messy, unconnected and soulless. He could have done more by adding some power behind his vocals to solidify some notes without which just sounded like a weak and watered down of the original. It was one of the performances that just comes on and forgotten almost immediately after each note was sounded.

Nick’s verdict: 6/10

Adam – “Semua UntukMu” by Anuar Zain

Singing something by the guest judge took balls of titanium to pull off and most of the time it wouldn’t be a really good idea. For one, the guest judge judging you could easily take offence if you mangled his/her song on national TV. Thankfully for Adam, he managed to keep his head and deliver a competent but safe performance. I always liked the tone of his voice and with song we get to hear it clearly. There were some problems with the lower registers being a bit mumbled but he recovered nicely to finish with a good performance. The only problem that I had with his performance was that it felt like the same thing that we have been hearing in the past Spectaculars. He has not progressed fast enough from then compared to the other contestants in the show. However, I still thought that his was the best performance vocally of the night.

Nick’s verdict: 8/10

Farah – “Don’t Let Go” by EnVogue

Farah wisely decided to ditched the “Pink Princess Jasmine” image and embrace the inner diva in her in a performance that was miles better than the wreck she performed last week. She looked like she was playing the Lolita sex-kitten look to the hilt and was fairly confident in her performance this week. She did have the same clipped notes problem that dogged her performance last week but she recovered after them better this week. Unfortunately for her, she decided to take the easy way and not really commit to the performance by not attempting the power notes in the original song. By doing that, it made her performance just average when it could have easily be more memorable if she just committed herself more into the song.

Nick’s verdict: 6/10

Ejay – “All Around the World” by Lisa Stansfield

I’m continued to be impressed on how far Ejay has improved from the first time we saw her. Her diction and confidence were visibly improving week after week and this week’s performance was no exception. She still had the same problems she had each week with her lower registers but the rest of her vocals were fairly enjoyable to listen to. I hope that now that she had built her confidence up more, she would try out more challenging songs that would better showcase her vocals as to date I don’t think that we have had a chance to see her full vocal potential.

Nick’s verdict: 7/10

Daniel – “Obsession” by Frankie J

I don’t think that I have ever heard this song before so when Daniel came on stage mumbling the words so badly tonight I couldn’t help but getting distracted by trying to figure out what he was singing about. After his performance last week, he was back to mumbling the words to the song and oozing the boyband smaltz that his voting fans would unquestionably lap up like it was the best thing on Earth. I thought that the performance was a tuneless mess and fairly inconsistent which was a pity as I was expecting a better performance that the one he gave last week. There were more than a few pitch problems and there was little to no projection in his thin reedy voice. Without question his performance tonight was the worst out of the remaining 8 contestants.

Nick’s verdict: 5/10

Nita – “Snow On the Sahara” by Anggun

I was distracted by how stunning she looked in her off-white dress tonight to really pay attention to the beginning to her performance when she came up on stage tonight. Once I focused my attention back to her singing I felt disappointed that she didn’t invest a solid vocal backing to her performance on top of her stunning appearance tonight. She looked comfortable enough singing it but there were still the pitch problems that she has been having lately. I thought the first half of the performance was promising as she built towards what I expected to be a memorable ending but somewhere about the midpoint of the song her performance bizarrely shifted down gears and ended in a very different place than what the beginning of her performance indicated. Nita even had to indicate that she had finished her song at the end as it sounded like a very strange place to end the performance. It was a fairly bizarre performance that was disappointing since it could have easily ended correctly at a better place if only she was confident enough with her performance to see through it to the end.

Nick’s verdict: 6/10

Xerra – “Ain’t Nobody” by Chaka Khan

With sexy growls firmly in place, Xerra delivered a confident and comfortable performance. The intensity of her performance built up to a messy falsetto but she recovered nicely to finish fairly competently. Unlike Nita who came before her, Xerra delivered what she teased the audience throughout her performance. I would have like more solid backing in her vocals for this song as I found her voice fell a bit short of what I would have liked for a Chaka Khan song.

Nick’s verdict: 7/10

The bottom 3 this week would have to depend on who have the smaller fan base to vote for them since the show tonight doesn’t lend itself to showing us a clear winner of the group. My predictions would be Daniel, Ash & Nita as I thought that their performance were the worst of the bunch tonight but all three have big fan base rooting for them by now who at this very moment would be spending their mobile phone credits to save their favorite Idol. If this really happens then I worry for the other contestants like Adam and Farah who I feel have their votes split with the rest of the contestants. Regardless of the outcome, I’ll continue to document my own predictions as I see them.

Nick’s prediction:

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

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Hazy Days Are Here Again

Finally was able to finish my review of “The Island” movie that I have been putting off since last week. There are a lot of spoilers information in my review so people who have not seen the movie should avoid reading the piece before watching the movie. I’ve forgotten some of the details of the movie so I don’t think that I did a good job reviewing it this time. I usually try to type out my reviews on the same day I watch the movie but for obvious reasons, I couldn’t do that for this review. Hopefully I did fair justice to the piece.

The haze is starting to get to my nerves. It has been increasingly heavier every day this week and even my clothes have taken on the distinct smell of smoke and ash. I doubly impacted by the haze since I walk to and fro from home to workplace and now I have to do it while breathing God knows what wafting down from across the Straits of Malacca from Sumatera. Bad enough we have to contend with that, we also got idiots in the country adding to the environmental distress by engaging in open burning. I just know that I’m going to get sick from the effects of the haze fairly soon. I’m just thankful that I don’t have a pre existing asthma condition. I just can’t imaging how worse it is for those who do.

BTW ... I’ve missed the MI result show and the TV3 repeat as well but from what I read on like from the other MI blogger sites it seems that AzamBot was finally sent back to the 8TV R&D office for recalibration. He wasn’t the person that I thought would go based on his potential appeal but I guess that Malaysian voters can tolerate bad singing better that overbaked use of cheesy props in the contestant’s performance. Now, if only the producers on MI would just listen to us and cut out the cringe-inducing group dancing that they make the contestants go though the past 2 weeks.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Busy Bee

I’ve missed the Malaysian Idol result show last Sunday because I was helping out my dad with his screenplay workshop submission. It took me the whole day last Sunday to help him translate the piece so that it could be submitted for the workshop.

I’m planning to catch the repeat this evening to see who went out but I may end up missing that as well as I need to do a site visit to a possible venue for our proposed 15 year high school reunion that I’m helping to organize. If all goes well, we would be doing that sometime in Sept.

On top of that, I still have to complete the remaining half of “The Island” movie review that I started last week.

What a way to start the week.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Malaysian Idol 02-17, Airdate: 05/08/2005 – Spectaculars #2: And Then There Were 9

(Image courtesy of

After the topsy-turvy show last week, I was looking forward for this weekly simply to see who stepped up their games after their disastrous showing last week. In particular, I wanted to see how Ejay, Ash and Daniel would perform this week given the harsh comments they received during the last Spectaculars. To me, they had the most to prove tonight as they were generally viewed as undeserving of the change given to them after their dismal performance last week.

For tonight’s show the theme was “Colors” i.e. songs with a color in their song title or in the name of the original artist who sang the song they choose. I thought that the theme selection was vague and broad enough to suit the 9 contestants left in the competition and not handicap them to a particular genre. At the start of the show, they had the contestants file out to the tune of “Warna” by Sheila Majid. I really wished that they had performed it as a group rather than the stupid walk and dance that it ended up being. It looked too Miss Universe pageant than a Malaysian Idol Spectacular show. I wish they stop all this nonsense soon and just focus on the singing. At least I’m thankful that there are no pointy poses this week but I would be more happy if they dispense with the group dancing altogether and do it soon.

After a short recap of the events from last week’s emotional result show, we are treated to another behind the scene filler segment with Peter Lum who is the stylists assigned to these kids for the competition. Now we know who to blame if they looked ugly on stage other than the contestants themselves. For a stylist, I thought that his picks for what would suit the contestants were more on the conservative sides that I thought they should be. Most of his advise for the male contestants were to stick to monochromatic hues which I thought were wrong for most of them. People like Ash and Azam are boring enough in appearance without dressing them down in whites, blacks and grays. I thought that he had better success with the ladies selections.

BTW ... both Jien, who has the bangs on the forehead again, and Cheryl, looking good with the new do, couldn’t do the “snaps” properly to save their lives. It takes a different group of people to pull it off, people.

The guest judge for tonight’s show was Dayang Nurfaizah who was herself a fairly popular local artist.

Daniel – “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” by Judy Garland

First up tonight and the first to disregard the show’s theme, Daniel decided to select a song from a genre that we have not seen him attempt before. By singing what some people have long considered to be the international gay anthem, I got see a different side of his performance. He definitely sounded much better than he has been in the last few weeks and the diction problem was under control. The song itself matched his range much better than the songs that he attempted before. The performance felt connected as in this instance his cloyingly sweet voice matched the emotion that the song was trying to convey. The performance was also not too cutesy and saccharine like it was in the previous week.

Paul called the performance a “Judy Garland wet dream” which I thought was a bit too much but I agree that the song selected would have exactly the right effect that Daniel was hoping for to his voting fan base. The only thing difference in this week’s performance compared to the previous weeks was that Daniel looked more laid back and relaxed in his selected song that it came out in his diction and overall presentation. I guess that I would like it more if he keeps the sweet and cutesy factor subtle instead of pushing it down our throats with cheesy performance catered only for teenage girls. As it is, he is fast reminding me of AI4 Anthony Federov but without the power behind his vocals.

Nick’s verdict: 7/10

Nita – “Tenda Biru” by Desy Ratnasari

She started off the song very shaky and never really recovered even when she could have punch the song up in the chorus. Her vocals were not solid enough to rally the emotions behind the words of the song that told the story of a woman dumped. Her performance was too laid back and was not fully invested in the emotions behind the words in the song. She has a habit of doing scrunch up faces that don’t really flatter her when she tried to hit the high notes and tonight we got to see a lot of those. She should really be more conscious of that and try to stop looking like a squinting Popeye when she tries to go for the power notes.

I thought that the performance was a fairly boring and unimaginative showing which may have hurt her chances more than it helped her tonight. The whole performance felt like it was missing a vital ingredient that would have made it better.

Nick’s verdict: 6/10

Farah – “Colors of the Wind” by Vanessa Williams

For a moment there I thought that AI3 Jasmine Trias was performing on the Malaysian Idol stage. Farah had the flower and the pink dress all down to pat that the first thing on any Idol fan would be terrifying flashbacks to JT’s cutesy performance that seasons. I have to say that not only did Farah looked like Jasmine tonight but she also did all the mistakes that she always did in her performance. I felt that she was over enunciating her words which made the song sounded clipped at every line. There were also too many vocal acrobatics that made the song messy and fairly hard to melodically follow along. The original song had a fairly easy listening melody but Farah absolutely butchered the song by hacking it in parts and embellishing with unnecessary vocal flourishes that it didn’t need to have.

I would really worry if I were in her shows as the performance felt disjointed and jumbled. She has been good in the past show and I hope that she was just having a really off day tonight instead of falling under the curse of the Pink Princess.

Nick’s verdict: 5/10

At this point I noticed that Jien was ribbing Paul much more than usual. Their onscreen relationship was fast becoming like what Ryan Seacrest have with Simon Cowell. Hopefully they would draw the line at physical contacts like what was happening all the time in AI this year. It’s either than or they really should get a room.

Azam – “Sekuntum Mawar Merah” by Alleycats

Someone on the 8TV robot maintenance team must have made a mistake and installed AzamBot with Aesar’s over dramatization chip. I think that this was the first ever performance on MI that involve the unnecessary use of cheesy props. For a moment there I wondered if I didn’t accidentally changed the channel to the other talent show that was notorious for overbaked performances instead of actually singing but then I remembered I don’t get that channel. There were problems with his pitching tonight more so than other shows and the tempo felt a bit off in some places. The performance itself was fairly muddled and messy to watch.

The biggest sin of this performance was that it was cheesy to the max for him and that we have seen too many singers trying to ratchet up the emotional in there performance by setting then in a dramatic scene. It was unoriginal and fairly distracting as AzamBot clearly doesn’t know what else to use the rose he had in his hand other than to wave it around like a baton. Nevertheless I’m sure that his voting base would be eating the cheese up and fantasize that he was giving that single read rose for them. The performance reminded me of what Daniel have been doing in the previous shows in which he played his cutesy factor to the max to get his votes. It was too desperate of a performance to really enjoy.

Nick’s verdict: 6/10

Ash – “Lady In Red” by Chris DeBurgh

After the slipshod performance last week, Ash turned around a sterling performance by not continuing to pose a rocker and picked a non-rock song instead. He is definitely the Constantine Maroulis of the MI group this year. He actually sounded fairly good once he was not faking it up too much with the pseudo-rocker bit. The song arrangement sounded a bit rushed and on a faster tempo than I thought the original was but he managed to execute his performance well despite of it. The song was a good fit for him and proved what I have long believed that he is more of a crooner rather than a rocker.

I think that he looked the most relaxed and confident in this week’s performance compared to everything that we have seen of him to date. I hope that with this performance he would realize the genre that his voice was best suite for and continue picking songs of that range. I hope that he finally realizes that he would have to drop the fake rocker if he wanted a shot at making it further in the competition. I think that he should be able to find a niche in the show and fully show us what he really is instead of presenting us with the fake image of what he wants us to see.

Nick’s verdict: 7/10

Just as I was being generous with Ash tonight, he goes around and delivers the most arrogant, rehearsed and toolish post-performance interview I’ve heard thus far. The guy really needed to rein in his ego more. Against my knee-jerk reaction to his comments, I decided to no change the rating that I already had down for him but it does not change the fact that he was still a tool.

Xerra – “Brown Eyes” by Destiny’s Child

She sang this song as a personal dedication in the memory of a person she knew who died on his birthday. Yikes! There were a lot of personal dedications by the contestants tonight that I was surprised that the emotional intensity never really showed in their performance. In this performance, Xerra repeated the same mistakes that she always does with her lower registers. She simply doesn’t have the skills to sing the parts of the songs that went into the lower register clearly. She does get better when the songs jumped into the higher registers but when the song weaved in between them like this does, I think I lost her in places.

The well placed sexy growls in the song was the only thing that I though of as being memorable. It was another safe performance that could have been better for her. She didn’t invest sufficient solid backing to her vocals when the song demanded of her but instead she just held the note and added a growl at the end. I thought that the performance was uninspiring and not indicative of what this contestant would be able to accomplished if she just pushed herself more.

Nick’s verdict: 6/10

Adam – “Pelangi Petang” by Sudirman

I had goosebumps during his performance just because it was the first time someone tried to tackle a song by the late Sudirman in this year’s competition. We only got 1 of his songs last year and I didn’t really connected with that performance. This performance was more engaging. Adam also toned down his tendency to prance all over the stage and instead pitched us a fairly conservative but still compelling performance. He connected wonderfully with the emotions of the song and looked honestly touched by what he was singing. The thing that I remembered most was the tinge of sadness that crept into the tone of his voice that really sold the performance for me. It was a solid performance on a good song choice for him.

The judges came down hard on him for his performance. I don’t really see where their comments were coming from but I guess there was a difference between hearing live onstage and hearing the performance through the TV. I could not see what the judges were talking about in his performance and I’ve tried to be as objective as I can in my recaps. I’m wondering if this was not a reverse psychology tactic to get his fans riled up and vote in a panic mode to get him to stay on after last weeks scare.

Nick’s verdict: 8/10

Ejay – “Black Eyed Boy” by Texas

The first thing that struck me in her performance was how improved her diction was for this song. She obviously worked hard on it after the disaster of her last performance. The song choice was interesting in that she looked more confident and looked like she was having fun with it for the first time in the competition. I’m wondering if like Ash, she has been singing from the wrong genre all this time. I agree that she came off as more of a Goth rocker than a ballad singer that I’m now looking forward to see her tackle something from Evanesces if she gets to the rock theme night.

The delivery of the song definitely needed work. The intensity of the performance was a bit lacking and where she could have easily punched it up a notch, she squandered the opportunity to make it more memorable. By selecting a song that allowed her to be more relaxed and started to have fun with allowed for a better performance overall compared to her past showings. I wonder if it would be enough to let her stay on in the competition.

Nick’s verdict: 6/10

Faizull – “Peronda Jaket Biru” by Wings

Another sterling performance of a local rock song by Faizull who continued to perform song from his ever decreasing repertoire. It was a solid performance and he showed that he was every bit of the entertainer but the novelty was fast wearing off. This contestants seriously need to branch out and challenge himself by selecting other types of songs that he could put a rock spin to it and perform it in his own unique style. I think that while the audience were clearly lapping his performance up, I’m sure that they were also getting tired of the same old thing by this time. I only wished that he had gone for a rock ballad that even local rock groups have if he was still not comfortable singing in English instead of the same old tired thing.

I’m giving him one more week before I officially give up on him if he doesn’t try something else. No doubt that we have been entertained by his performance but I can’t bear to think that it would be the same thing that we would be seeing in the next 10 weeks.

Nick’s verdict: 7/10

Overall I felt that most of the contestants step up their game for tonight’s show with their best performance yet. Some have taken the judges comments from the previous weeks to heart and really showed improvement in their song selection and delivery. The others really need to start looking for new material or risk being stuck in a rut and left behind by the other contestants. For the Spectacular tonight, I am worried for Farah as it looks like she might be seeing the end of her journey in the competition.

The show ended as it started with a fake Miss Universe wave-out.

Nick’s picks:

Bottom three: Farah, Nita, Ejay
Out this week: Farah

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Movie Review - The Island

(image curtesy of Dreamworks Pictures)

I’ve been meaning to watch this movie since it was released almost 2 weeks ago but was never able to make it until yesterday during the after-hours get together with some of my office mates. I was surprised to see that even after these past 2 weeks and on a workday too boot we had a full house for the movie that night. It was at least a good sign to start the movie off as I settled down into the assigned seat.

In the latest summer blockbuster by director Michael Bay, “The Island” tells the story of two people living in a seemingly idyllic existence in an underground refuge complex designed to protect them from what they are told was a contaminated world above ground. In their protected environment, these survivors lived regimented and controlled lives designed to prepare them for eventual transfer topside to what they were told was the last uncontaminated location on Earth, known only as the Island, where they would live out the rest of their lives in what seemed to be Paradise relative to their dreary daily lives.

While waiting for his turn to be selected by a lottery to leave for the Island, Lincoln Six-Echo (Ewan McGregor) lived his life questioning why things happen the way it does in his seemingly limited world. He was always questioning who provides for him and what else was there for him to do other than just waiting around to go to the Island. The only bright lights of his life were his friendship with a fellow survivor Jordan Two-Delta (Scarlett Johnson) and his occasionally rebellious contact with McCord (Steve Buscemi), a facilities worker, who took Lincoln under his wing despite the admonition against them fraternizing. It was during one of his clandestine meeting with McCord that he found a large moth in the passageways leading up to the surface.

When the Lottery selected Jordan to be the next person scheduled to go to the Island, Lincoln found himself in the position of losing the only person who made his life exciting in the whole complex. Determined to find a way to be with her, he sneaked away through the passages and up the ladders to what he thought was the uncontaminated surface where the moth he found earlier came from. To his surprise, their living complex was actually an elaborate holding area underneath a medical facility where his friends who had won the Lottery and was suppose to be on their way to the Island were taken to instead. Here his friends were butchered for their organs to be used by the people who commissioned the creation of these clones in attempts to prolong their lives. Horrified by the realization, Lincoln immediately rushed down to the complex to find Jordan and help her escape the brutal fate that awaited her.

The escape through the complex also netted them another piece of the puzzle in that they were actually clones bred under the supervision of the seemingly benign Merrick (Sean Bean) for those who could afford the process. These clones were created for those who would want to have children without going through the pregnancy process or for those who needed to have their internal organs replaced due to injury or lifestyle excesses. In order to circumvent the existing laws, Merrick allowed the clone owners to believe that their clones existed in a continuous vegetative state instead of the living sentient beings that they really were. With the prospect of the public finding out the truth about his operations, Merrick dispatched the heavily armed bounty hunter Laurent (Djimon Hounsou) and his minions to collar and return them to the complex for termination.

From this point onwards, the movie switched into the more familiar Michael Bay action set pieces. Both Lincoln and Jordan found themselves in increasingly dire circumstances as they traveled through near future Los Angeles in search of Lincoln’s genetic template. They hoped that by finding him, they would be able to go public with what was actually happening to the clones that Merrick bred. A twist of fate would later make their initial plan unworkable and they had to attempt a break-in into the clone complex to save their fellow clones who were targeted by Merrick for termination. Merrick had found out that several generations of the clones that he had in the complex were contaminated by the same psychological quirk that made Lincoln questioned his surroundings and now would pose a danger to his operations. Lincoln found himself in the position of having to confront his creator while Jordon organized the others in their flight to freedom with the surprised assistance from Laurent. By the end of the story, Jordan and Lincoln were reunited again as the clones scramble over top side to their freedom with the death of Merrick.

I personally found the first half of this film was more interesting than the second half as it dealt with issues of cloning and genetic ethics that I found fascinating to ponder. For most of the time during the first act, Lincoln was the audience proxy as he tried to understand why the world is like it was around him and the audience got to get involved in his quest for knowledge. Unlike another film on cloning that I know of, “The 6th Day”, “The Island” took the audience through the story from the point of view of the clones finding out who they really are and what they were created for. Once the truth was uncovered, several interesting ethical questions remained just out of reach in the storyline that it was a bit frustrating that they didn’t decide to go into it in a little more detail before going to the action set pieces.

As like in other Michael Bay films, his action set pieces were a wonder to watch. Full with kinetic energy, his characters are thrown into fast and furious circumstances that grew in intensity as the second act of the movie unfolded in front of the audience. The chase scenes during the second act of the “Island” were reminiscent of similar scenes from other movies like “Matrix” or “Minority Report” but the clever use of handheld cameras and fast cuts made for a fresher approach to the fast derivative chase sequences.

Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson were sufficiently believable as the naive clones forced to find their way in the outside world although I had a bit of a problem with his American accent fading in and out during the first act. Sean Bean casting as Merrick allowed him to play a familiar character for him and it shows in his confident performance. Djimon Hounsou just oozed the menacing calm so effortlessly that it was not hard to believe that you would feel seriously afraid and threatened if he was chasing after you. The best lines of the movie however belonged to Steve Buscemi’s character who unfortunately was taken out of the movie fairly early in the action.

Overall, “The Island” was an enjoyable way to spend an evening at the movies. With a fairly well developed sci-fi component and exciting action set pieces, this movie has almost all the components to appeal to fans of the action movie genre. It may not be the best that the genre has to offer but it was an enjoyable watch nevertheless.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Gremlins In The House

I can’t believe the luck that I had with electronic equipment last weekend.

I had planned to do some vacuuming around the house last weekend. I am so bad at vacuuming and dusting that most of the time there would be dust bunnies the size of elephants lurking around the place. So when the urge to be more domestic hit me, I pulled out the old vacuum cleaner and started to vacuum the carpets. About a few minutes into the vacuuming, I suddenly realized that I could smell rubber burning from somewhere. What I didn’t realize as I ignored the smell of something burning was that black smoke was coming out from my vacuum cleaner.

By the time I finally figured out what was happening, sparks suddenly flew out of the little motor and the next thing I knew my little vacuum cleaner turned into a mini fireball in the middle of my living room. After panicking and screaming like a girlie girl, I collected enough of my wits together to switch off the main power and put out the flames. The carpet got a bit singed but there was no major damage but the vacuum cleaner was a total loss.

After that ordeal, I decided to take it easy and load up the washing machine with my weekly wash while I put in a few rounds of PS2. The machine was trudging along quite nicely when suddenly there was a clanking sound coming from the back of the machine. When I realize that the clanking sound was getting louder, I went to look at what was happening with the machine when the washing machine sort of rumbled and I could swear burped at me before just giving out altogether. I ended up having to send the dripping mess to the nearby laundry place much to the amusement of the lady running the place.

To add salt to the wound, I found out that the watch that I had wore daily for the last 5 years also died on the same day when the vacuum cleaner and washing machine died. It took me a while to figure out that I was looking at the same time three times that morning and yet not notice anything was wrong. This was something that I really didn’t need to happen after all that had happened that morning. The watch was something that I really cherished and I was really upset that it can’t be repaired any more.

I ended up putting a dent in my already limited disposable income by getting myself a new washing machine and watch. That plus some new shirts to replace the ones that were looking very close to threadbare, a new bottle of my favorite perfume and new supply of multivitamins. I guess I over did it with the spending a tad bit this month and I know I’ll be regretting it towards the middle of the month. Given the day that I had, a little retail therapy didn’t hurt to smooth things over.