A Golden Effort

26 Aug

One Nation Emcees comprising (from left) Kozae, Jojoe, Mimie and Zydee with their trophies and mock cheque.
One Nation Emcees comprising (from left) Kozae, Jojoe, Mimie and Zydee with their trophies and mock cheque.

Local act One Nation Emcees did Malaysia proud at the recently-concluded Gang Starz contest. DENNIS CHUA writes.

ON the very day when the Beijing Olympics came to a close with host China deemed the overall winner, TV3’s annual “Asean Pop Olympics” or Gang Starz heralded host Malaysia’s first “gold medal”.

Crowd favourite One Nation Emcees, a Kedah-Sabah hip-hop/pop act affectionately called Malaysia’s answer to Black Eyed Peas, emerged as the second annual winner of Gang Starz, beating fellow home team Akasia, Indonesia’s D’Reborn and the Philippines’ 3.5 and Paragon Child.

During the finals at Stadium Malawati, Shah Alam at 9pm on Sunday, the energetic group comprising Kedahan beauty Shamimi Amalina Norhisham (Mimie), 21, and Sabahans Fareezan Murtaza (Kozae), 25, Norzaidi Edris (Zydee), 26, and Hasan Baias (Jojoe), 32, clearly impressed all the four judges.

Permanent judges Ajai and Sheikh Haikel as well as guest judges Syafinaz Selamat and Filipino producer Audi Gemora gave them 35 stars (or points), the highest score for the evening, while fans delivered them the lion’s share of Short Messaging Service (SMS) votes.
The charismatic quartet not only took home the grand prize of US$100,000 (RM320,000) and a recording contract, but also a four-day/three-night holiday in Bali, awarded to the most popular group in terms of SMS votes.

Lead vocalist Mimie, who joined the group this year, said its victory was for all Malaysians.

“We thank all our fans in Malaysia and Asean. We had a great time and made a whole new bunch of friends,” she said, adding that the other four finalists gave them a tough fight, especially Indonesia’s D’Reborn.

Group leader Kozae, who formed the group with Zydee four years ago and recruited Jojoe in 2006, said: “Our trainers and advisers, especially Azmeer, pushed us hard to come this far. We’d like to dedicate this victory to them.”

Media Prima Bhd group chief executive officer for television networks Datuk Seri Farid Ridzuan said One Nation Emcees received 40 per cent more SMS votes than its nearest contender.

“The group clearly showed us it was the crowd favourite for the evening. Together with the other four finalists, it has set high standards of performance for its successors,” he said, adding that the show was likely to be back next year.

One Nation Emcees and its competitors performed in two sets each.

For its first act, the winning team sang a medley of Give It To You, Kuda Hitam, Madu Dan Racun and Don’t Phunk With My Heart.

Its stylish, energetic dance moves complete with leap-frogging acts had the crowd roaring and cheering.

Sheikh Haikel and Gemora praised the group’s creativity in fusing traditional pop and hip-hop, while Ajai hailed it as a truly Malaysian and Malay hip-hop sound.

Syafinaz praised Mimie for her strong vocals and described her as the “show stealer” of the evening. However, she advised the quartet to improve its overall vocal prowess.

The group’s second set was a collaboration with pop yeh-yeh king Jeffrydin which featured his hits Mas Mona and Kenanganku.

Sheikh Haikel, Ajai and Gemora described the performance as spot-on while Syafinaz described it as “strange but very entertaining”.

All-boy group Paragon Child comprising Rainner Melgarejo, 24, Jerwin Nicomedezi, 18, and Julius Lacandula, 20, failed to “blaze” in its first set, a collaboration with Ezlynn featuring Hi Hi Bye Bye and Hips Don’t Lie.

All four judges felt that the group “held back” too much and allowed the Ipoh-born singer and former Mentor host to shine.

Rainner, Julius and Jerwin redeemed themselves in their second set, singing a medley of Sayang Sayang, Seribu Tahun, It’s Gonna Be Me and Impossible Dream.

Syafinaz said the trio clearly shined in ballads, with group leader Rainner possessing the best vocals.

All-girl trio 3.5 sang two duets, Ceritera Cinta and Endless Love with Abdullah “Lah” Ahmad of V. E.

Sheikh Haikel found the singers Stephanie Lazaro-Bainbridge, 28, Sherylad Deza Virgen, 27, and Jellica Mateo, 24, a “little nervous” but hailed their great on-stage chemistry with Lah, whom Gemora likened them to Jim Carrey at certain stages of the duets.

Stephanie, Sherylad and Jellica also performed commendably in their second set, singing Survivor, Power Of Love, Deja Vu and Proud Mary.

However, Syafinaz and Ajai cautioned them about “screaming” too much.

The sole Indonesian group D’Reborn comprising siblings Christy Marian Marcelona, 23, and Raymond Colliam Loke, 22, and their close pals Alex Nubatonis, 23, and Daniel Tomodok, 28, had a slightly “messy” start in the eyes of the judges.

The group which performed Because Of You, Taman Rashidah Utama and Roman Picisan in its first set was described by Syafinaz as “rather nasal” and “too controlled”.

However, it impressed the judges in its second set, a duet with Dayang Nurfaizah that consisted of the songs Seandainya Masih Ada Cinta, London Bridge and Baby Boy.

Sheikh Haikel said the group’s performance went “up one notch” and he and Syafinaz agreed that Dayang brought out the best in the quartet.

Finally, the other Malaysian group Akasia comprising Suria Ramlan, 26, Siti Halijah Dolah, 27, Noorhafizah Sulaiman, 20, Nurul Ahmad, 25, and Ezdianie (Nanie) Omar, 22, appeared to have found its identity in both sets.

Performing Layar Batuta, Salam Terakhir, Destinasi Cinta and Joget Siapa Dia in its first set, the all-girl quintet was criticised by Syafinaz and Ajai for lacking intensity despite its vocal harmony.

In its second set, which comprised a medley of Ting Ting, Dondang Dendang and Hatinya Tak Tahan performed together with ethnic pop queen Noraniza Idris, the quintet was praised by all of the judges for giving its best performance.

The 13-programme Gang Starz 2 began on May 11.

The process for determining the winners remained the same as last year – 50 per cent was based on the judges’ marks and the remaining half on viewers’ SMS votes.

Hosted by award-winning rocker Faizal Tahir of One In A Million fame and award-winning television and radio personality Fara Fauzana Mohd Fadzil of Hot FM and Melodi fame, it also saw performances by guest artistes Matta and Season One champion The Lima, both from Indonesia.

The contestants’ team of advisers comprised composer and lyricist Azhar Abu Bakar (or Azmeer), singer Damien Seet of V.E. and choreographer Sazlan Mat Adnan.

The concert was televised live over TV3.

More than 10,000 people attended the event.

Azmeer said One Nation Emcees had been one of the most consistent groups in the contest and had a strong chance of winning from the start.

He said Paragon Child and D’Reborn were also outstanding competitors, despite occasional hiccups in some of their weekly Sunday concerts at the Shah Alam City Council.

New Straits Times

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