Friday, August 05, 2005

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

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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

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