(image courtesy of oneinamillion.bluehyppo.com)
Unlike last year, the end of American Idol on our local TV this year is not followed with the local Malaysian Idol competition. I guess that they had a really hard time trying to sell last year’s winner to the local public and could not make back what they had to pay to use the franchise name locally. So instead of Malaysia Idol, we get “One In A Million” which is clearly a thinly veiled attempt at having another go at the talent based reality show that have been proven as popular with the local viewers. The competition format looks to be much of the same thing but instead of a promised recording contract as a prize at the end of the competition, the winner of OiaM will get a RM1 million prize to be used studio time to develop their own album as well as to pay for the marketing of said album. They also say that the winner has an option to keep all the cash for themselves but I doubt that the producers of the show will allow it.
Like it’s discarded cousin, OiaM starts off with public auditions to select those who have the talent to go on to the Central Elimination round in KL. This time around, the auditions will only be held in Kota Kinabalu for the East Malaysian folks and in Kuala Lumpur for folks from the Peninsular. Those who came for these auditions had to go through the normal registration process before being herded into the waiting area while waiting for their turn to audition in front of 2 judges. Returning from his stint in MI is Paul Moss who seems to continue his role as the caustic judge of the bunch although this year he seem to have some competition in terms of snarkiness from Syafinaz who is the second judge on the show. I guess it would be interesting to see if a competition will develop between them to see which judge can reduce a grown person to a pool of tears the fastest on this show in the coming weeks.
Host duties for this show this year are taken by Awal Ashaari and Marion Caunter. They flipped languages this year with the male host taking up the running BM commentary while the female host doing the same in English. Marion definitely seems up to the job with her being from the 8TV late night Quickie segment but I have not seen Awal’s hosting skills yet. Personally I’m finding that Awal is a poor substitute to Jien who hosted the previous to Malaysian Idol seasons. It’s hard for me not to find him irritating the moment he starts to talk. I don’t know if it is just the voice or the childish antics that I find more grating with this male host. Hopefully I will be able to learn to tune him out in the coming weeks if he doesn’t get better in his hosting skills.
I have to point out that it was very meta of the producers of the show to start off the first show of the season with a clear statement of who/what they were not looking for at the end of the show. The first audition they show on this show was by a unassuming guy who did a very flat impression of a fan-favorite winner of the other talent-based reality show last year. His performance was almost immediately slapped down by the two judges who tells him that they were looking for originality and not someone doing an impression of the winner of that other show which incidentally rolled over last year’s MI many times over in terms of ratings. I guess someone was still sore that they can’t sell the CDs they made off last year’s MI winner.
Next up was a shy-looking girl in a tudung who told the judges that we will be singing a rock song by Amy Search. I have to admit that I was rooting for her up to the point she opened her mouth and the ear shattering shrieking started. It was as if she was calling all the denizens of purgatory to rise up and smite the judges where they sit. Thankfully it ended shortly before either one of the judge’s head exploded from her singing. After peeling myself from the sofa I was sitting from, I wondered if this was the type of auditions that they were going to be showing on the show tonight.
I should have know that the previous contestants was just the start of a whole string of bad audition clips coming up. There was a rather sad Robbie Williams wannabe butchering one of his songs in the auditions, another who would easily poke someone’s eyes out with his karate chop dance moves and many, many more bad auditions. While this was happening I was thinking that the producers should have learnt their lesson from last year in the MI audition episodes. Bad auditions are only funny when they are shown in small manageable doses after which they just become sad to watch. Even Paul Moss had enough and pulled a walkout ala Simon from American Idol this year although I guess that someone didn’t tell him that according to the script, he was not suppose to return to the judging area till the next day. Probably he came back because there is one less judge in OiaM compared to AI and he risked getting only the contestants that Syafinaz liked get through. Either that or it’s in his contract that he can only copy Simon up to a certain limit.
The first “good” audition highlighted this episode is by Khairul who wants to use the RM 1 million to collaborate with Steven Tyler from Aerosmith for his album if he wins. I doubt that the prize money would be enough for that but that’s his dream and he is entitled to it. The audition was fairly good as he has a solid rocker voice that sounded confident but it seems to me that he was the first good audition that Paul had seen that day. Both judges gave their approval for Khairul to go to the next round.
Next up was Ayu in the spotlight that highlights her current living arrangement in the boondocks of Sabah. While she is not the most commercial looking of the contestants, she really has a big voice that belies her small frame. Her voice sounded clear and has some weight powering the big notes. Those who know me know that I am a sucker for big voices so her audition pleased me. Hers was the type of auditions that make one wonder how many more untapped talent are languishing out there in obscurity. Both judges unanimously let her through and she will be definitely one of the contestants that I will be watching out for in the next round.
Unlike in MI, contestants who can play a musical instrument are encouraged to audition with them. Other than the possible comfort factor, I don’t see how accompanying yourself with a guitar would help make the auditions better. Case in point was the next contestants, Jorge, who doesn’t come-off as the type that the producers of this show are looking for. His vocals skills from the audition had a really raw quality that might not be able to be refined in time within the competition. I would have picked him as one of the auditions that the judges would pass over but I guess there was something that they saw in Jorge since they let him through although not before the following quip :
Syafinaz : So difficult to say yes.
Paul (deadpan) : Yeah. I know. That’s why you’re still single.
ZING!!! Of course Syafinaz could only throw daggers at Paul with her eyes while he just smirks there. Just one of the more memorable moments from the hour long internet repeat show.
Next up was a girl who worked in a moneylender office which was not clearly identified in her segment so I didn’t really caught her name. She sang her own song for the audition and her husky voice had some rough qualities that could use some polish to it. What made her audition memorable was her last minute wavering on the reason why she wanted to be in the competition. When she declared that she would rather be a song-writer rather than a singer, I thought that both judge’s head was going to explode. She was so nonchalant about it, I wasn’t sure if it was just nerves or she was just blur in what she was suppose to be doing in the audition. Her post audition comments didn’t really help to explain her behavior but the judges still let her through when she came back in. Personally, I would just cut my losses and not let her through until she figures out what she really wants to do.
Next contestant reminds me of those auditions that might be entertaining the first time you see it but gets old really fast. Carpet Guy doesn’t have the best voice or the skills for this competitions. What little vocal talent he has seems to be buried under the supposedly amusing dance moves that he pulled during the audition. The judges seemed to be thoroughly amused by this that they let the guy through although I doubt that he would make it further with his funny dancing when push comes to shove. It was also hard to figure out if the judges were laughing with him or at him.
Next segment showcased potential contestants coming into the audition singing songs by Atama who was a local hip-hop artiste in Sabah to varying degrees of success. When the real deal himself comes into the audition room, the audience was shown a fairly lackluster performance from the original artiste. While the rapping was fairly consistent and clear, it lacked the attitude and confidence that I would expect from a published artiste singing their own work. The second song that he sang was no different in terms of energy and presentation. Paul goes as far as to tell him that he would be OK as a backup singer but not the main act. It wasn’t a very confidently delivered performance.
Reminiscent of AI, OiaM also has it’s own best friend team coming to the auditions together to try their luck. Best friends, Errol and Gary, wanted to change their lives and saw the competition as a way to do it. Their life story as they told it reminded me of something that I would see from one of those HK “Young and Dangerous” films so the name “Hongkie Twins” almost immediately cross my mind when I heard their auditions. Both sang Cantonese songs which I can’t comment about the song selection but both delivered it fairly competently. Both got through to the next round so we will be seeing them again in the Central Eliminations round.
They showed a bunch of auditions by people who were placed into the maybe group. As the judges explained it, the maybe group consisted of potential contestants whom the judges see some potential but we either too nervous or picked the wrong song for their auditions. These contestants were asked to come back more prepared for a second chance at their auditions. I don’t think that they had the call backs at the end of every day since they were there multiple days for the auditions and they only had 8 callbacks. While some took the opportunity to improve, those who were not picked to continue on simply didn’t have the quality of vocals that the producers of the show are looking for. From the 8 callbacks, only 6 made it through which made the total number going through from the East Malaysian audition round at 31 contestants.
Next recap: 2nd Audition round in KL.