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MTV's Missing X-Factor

10 Aug

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If not for show-stealer Leona Lewis and a few others, the recent MTV Asia Awards 2008 would be bereft of the celebs, glitz and glam befitting such an event. What a crying shame, writes RADIN SRI GHAZALI.

BIG awards should feature big names, no?

But at the recent MTV Asia Awards 2008 in Genting Highlands, fans hardly got to see any A-list stars except for Leona Lewis, OneRepublic and Panic at the Disco – fans could literally count the celebrities who walked the red carpet.

Sad to say, even major Asian stars were missing at the awards show.

Efforts should be taken to make the event grander the next time round by having more famous faces gracing the event.

The event kicked off with American star Jabbawockeez from San Diego. Then Pussycat Dolls, dressed in leather pants and not-so-revealing tops, took to the stage with its hit number Buttons.

They may be good performers but the girls’ vocals failed to impress.

Lead singer Nicole Scherzinger was pitchy while fellow member Melody Thornton overdid herself with her overpowering back-up vocals.

The girls also sang their latest single, When I Grow Up.

Next to perform was the biggest breakthrough act of the year, OneRepublic.

The crowd went wild when the band took the stage. Lead singer Ryan Tedder gave an impeccable performance with Apologise.

The band led the audience to sing along with them the song that brought them fame, thanks to music mogul Timbaland.

They then performed an upbeat number entitled Stop and Stare.

Asian artistes, of course, also graced the event.

A special collaboration from Singapore was Electrico and Stefanie Sun’s Save Our Souls, a song written for victims of natural disasters in Asia.

Electrico showed great showmanship, but Sun failed to live up to expectations with her weak vocals and dull stage presence: the winner of Favourite Artiste Singapore for five years running gave one of the most monotonous performances of the event!

New Irish band The Script did well. Its lead singer Danny O’Donoghue sang the band’s biggest hit, The Man Who Can’t Be Moved, brilliantly with jazzy vocals done in indie rock.

But it was Leona Lewis’ performance that stole the show.

The X-Factor winner took to the stage with Better in Time followed by her massive hit, Bleeding Love.

Hailed as the new Mariah Carey by Entertainment Weekly, Lewis gave an outstanding vocal performance. In her white lacy dress and with a simple hairdo, she came off as a beauty with extraordinary talent.

Korean boy band Super Junior with an entourage of 13 good-looking Rain wannabes made the crowd go wild as they showed off dance moves in Don’t Don.

Rock boy band The Click Five (which is no stranger to Malaysia) then took to the stage singing Empty to the accompaniment of rhythmic beats from kompang players.

One of the most awaited moments was the performance by Project EAR (East Asian Revolution) comprising Malaysia’s Pop Shuvit, Thailand’s Thaitanium and Dandee (Silksounds), Indonesia’s Saint Loco, Singapore’s Daly (Ahli Fiqir) and the Philippines’ Jamir and Lean (Slapshock).

The lads proved that the Asian rock scene is something to look out for when they gave a splendid rendition of Hey Now and Marabahaya.

Indeed what can be better than a local dose of rock by Asian homegrown boys? The collaboration is also the first of its kind to be done in an awards show.

Unfortunately, the bands had to perform on a cramped stage, away from the main platform of the night’s event.

American rock band Panic at the Disco closed the event. Known for their lavish performances, the band sang I Write Sins Not Tragedies and Nine in the Afternoon with a circus troop and a marching band in tow!

Meanwhile, award hosts Jared Leto and Karen Mok did not live up to expectations as befitting the night’s event. In the first place, there was hardly any chemistry between them.

Leto was too laid-back while Mok was too prim and proper. Still, Leto tried his best to go Asian by speaking in Korean, Mandarin and Bahasa Malaysia.

“Aku cinta padamu,” said the singer of 30 Seconds to Mars to the moshpitters.

As for the awards, this year’s winners were surprising.

Nicholas Teo’s win was unexpected as the Kuching lad beat big guns like Datuk Siti Nurhaiza, Faizal Tahir and Pop Shuvit.

“I’m sorry Siti,” said the 27-year-old Teo after winning the award, adding, “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be going home with this award tonight.”

Teo created history by being the first non-Malay singer to win the award. Siti and Mawi were the previous winners.

“I would have never won this award were it not for my fans here in Malaysia.”

Meanwhile, OneRepublic won the Best Hook Up award for their collaboration with Timbaland in Apologise.

“We are grateful that the song has taken us places. Working with Timbaland was a great opportunity to expand the band’s music,” said Tedder.

 

New Straits Times

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Is It Really RIP For EMI Singapore?

24 Jul

SINGAPORE: It began, as so many things often do these days, on the Internet. I was chatting with a friend on MSN one night, deep in discussion over whether Heidi Klum or Christina Aguilera was the bigger MILF, when he typed: “Hv u hrd EMI is clsg down?”

“OMG!” I replied. “No way!”

After all, EMI Music is, like, only one of the biggest record companies around – a veritable institution in these parts. Their portfolio is a treasure trove: The Beatles, Queen, Coldplay, Crowded House, Pet Shop Boys, Kylie Minogue, Daft Punk, Robbie Williams, Jolin Tsai, The Quests, Stefanie Sun, et al.

But hold your horses, we’re not talking about the demise of EMI as a whole – just EMI Singapore, and some other regional offices. Blog site One Two Music posted: “We heard rumours from someone working in EMI that EMI will announce that they are closing all operations in Asia. EMI has been struggling in the region, with under-performing international albums and successful Asian artistes (limited) to greater China only.”

Channel News Asia

Get High With FIR!

15 Jul

SINGAPORE: August 8, 2008 will definitely be one lucky day for all fans of popular Taiwanese band FIR, who will be staging a one-night only concert at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, as part of their debut world tour.

For the group however, they are not hoping to reap any extra luck on the day of 8s, a lucky number among Chinese.

In fact, the group believes the supposedly auspicious day chosen for their concert was picked because the date is easy to remember.

FIR, which stands for Fairyland in Reality, with lead vocalist, Faye Zhan, renowned producer Ian Chen (more affectionately known as Teacher Ian), and guitarist, Real Huang (otherwise known as ‘Ah Qin’) have fought off the temptation to hold a solo concert since starting out four years ago.

But four chart-topping albums later and numerous No.1 hits, which have become karaoke favourites, FIR finally feel adequately prepared to take to the big stage themselves.

Having held out this long says something for FIR, especially in an industry where stars often try to capitalise on their fame by pushing multiple albums in a short time, and hastily organise concerts without sufficient material to perform.

In Singapore, there will be more than enough to entertain the fans since FIR say they will be giving audiences a sneak preview of their highly anticipated fifth album.

Singapore was chosen as their first international stop, said FIR, because the little island holds a “special place” in their hearts, with the group’s numerous collaborations with Singaporeans, including singer Stefanie Sun.

Catching up with only two-thirds of a rather relaxed FIR (Real had faced some passport problems and wasn’t unable to make it to Singapore in time for this interview), I found that if there was one thing this group wouldn’t compromise on, it had to be the quality and message of their music.

The other was Ian’s use of his signature sunglasses in public, though he joked that if the crowd get excited enough, he might just take them off during the concert.

Evidently, this is one group that doesn’t take their success and influence lightly.

“We hope to convey a positive message (to our fans),” said Ian.

“I think a lot of the time it is easy to be influenced by your environment, but not as easy to influence it. This is the most powerful thing about our music,” added Faye reflectively.

When asked if Faye and Real’s recent engagement meant that fans won’t be seeing much of FIR anymore, the room tensed up for a very brief moment.

“Music is our life! It doesn’t mean that if you have one thing (marriage), you can’t have the other,” quipped Faye, as Ian chuckled nervously to himself.

“Though some may think four years is already a long time, relative to our lives, it’s not. I still foresee a long road ahead for (FIR),” she added.

As for the concert, fans can expect flamboyant costumes and even a special guest appearance from up and coming Taiwanese singer, Hsiao Jing Teng.

But FIR wants something in return.

“I hope that fans will open their hearts to us…” said Faye excitedly, “and that everyone will be really high… and know the words to all the songs!”

Hopefully fans will transform the concert into one big FIR “celebration”.

– CNA/os

Channel News Asia

Oriental Whirl: Wedding Bells In The Air

18 May

Gigi Leung turned 32 recently.
Gigi Leung turned 32 recently.

Who’s hot and in the news these days? So many stars, so limited space. Here’s my pick of the lot, depending on where my online forays take me.

– Hong Kong actors Tony Leung and Carina Lau will finally exchange rings later this year. Lau, 43, broke the news recently during a commercial appearance in the northeast Chinese city of Shenyang.

Taiwan media reported that the pair would officially announce the wedding date at the ongoing Cannes Film Festival. The pair have been dating for close to two decades. The dashing Leung was recently seen in the steamy Lust, Caution.

– If you missed this item in the mainstream Press, here’s a recap. Since March, many online stories have been circulating about the low-key wedding between Hong Kong singer-actor Leon Lai and his girlfriend, model Gaile Lok.

The wedding ceremony was apparently held in the Maldives.

Only a few close friends were invited, with one of them divulging that the couple picked Maldives as they fell in love with the romantic local scenery after visiting the place last year.

According to one report, Leon and Gaile first met a few years ago after she was invited to shoot a promo for his website. But it took a while before they fell in love, the spark ignited by their common interest in, of all things, red wine. Cheers to that!

– Singapore songbird Stefanie Sun was at a Beijing studio recently to record Stand Up, the theme song for a tribute film to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

The film titled The One is about China’s first Olympian and will feature four top Chinese-speaking celebrities -Stefanie, Jackie Chan, Lee-Hom Wang and Zhang Ziyi – on its soundtrack.

It’s about sprinter Liu Changchun’s struggle to represent China at the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. According to a report, the idea to form a quartet to sing the theme song came from the symbolic combination of four groups of Chinese artistes – Hong Kong, Taiwan, mainland and overseas Chinese, as represented by Jackie, Wang, Zhang and Stefanie respectively.

Due to their busy schedules, they will record separately and their voices will be later spliced together in the song. Award-winning musician Shu Nan composed the musical score.

– The One Foundation Project, initiated by Chinese kungfu star Jet Li last year, has raised over 10 million yuan (RM4.5 million) in its first year, and has allocated 2.3 million yuan for relief work.

It donated 100,000 yuan for disaster relief after the Pu’er earthquake in Yunnan province last June, another 100,000 after the Shandong flooding last August, and one million yuan to a youth education programme by the Red Cross Society of China.

– Hong Kong actress Gigi Lai is taking a break from work to look after her brother, who is still recuperating from a serious car accident last year.

She said that besides being a 24-hour sister, she will also be participating in charity work.

Asked about her brother’s condition, she reveals that his recovery will take time, a hint at how serious his injuries are.

– Speaking of Gigi, I can’t help but Google for my long-time dream girl, Gigi Leung even though she has not been in the news lately. The lanky lass turned 32 on March 25. Thirty two? It seemed like only yesterday when this fresh-faced girl burst onto the entertainment scene with her saccharine-sweet hits.

Of course, as many of us know, her reputation took a hit when she got involved with Ekin Cheng. But that’s old-hat.

What raised eyebrows, if you had not read about it, was her metamorphosis into hot babe at Vaness Wu’s not-so-recent concert.

Hong Kong stars have long entertained fans by shocking them at their concerts, especially consummate performers like the late Anita Mui, – with slinky bra top, hot pants and leather boots.

– Korean star Jang Hyuk will be making a cameo appearance in the Japanese drama version of My Sassy Girl. Titled Ryokiteki na Kanojo, it stars Tsuyoshi Kusanagi and Tanaka Rena. My Sassy Girl was a big hit when it made its debut in 2001 another Korean actor, Lee Wan, will also be making a cameo appearance.

 

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Made In Singapore

14 Feb

I have to admit that I’m a sucker for Internet forums. I don’t hope to glean much information that will change the world from them per se, but I just like to hear what people have to say about this and that. Which is how I chanced upon the S-Pop thread on sgForums (www.sgforums.com), where netizens were slamming the Channel U programme S-Pop Hurray! for its lack of imagination and its presumptuous nature.

Have you seen it? It’s a music-cum-interview programme that features Singaporean pop stars – past and present – celebrating the wonder that is Singapore pop music, or S-Pop.

But while I applaud its intent and premise – and, yes, I am a fan of Kit Chan and Stefanie Sun – I couldn’t help but give due consideration to a particular argument that kept cropping up on the forum: The lack of Singapore talent.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying artistes like Stefanie, Kit, Tanya Chua, JJ Lin, Eric Moo, Maggie Teng, et al are talent-less. The complaint was the justification of calling these artistes “S-Pop”.

As netizen New Creation wrote: “Almost every SG singer first went to Taiwan to develop their career … It’s hard to justify these singers as S-Pop when they are nurtured professionally in Taiwan and not in Singapore.

“At most we can call these singers Taiwanese singers with Singapore citizenship.”

Quipped another netizen, jc130701: “Apparently, last year’s National Day song doesn’t ring quite true for them, because it would seem that there are plenty of other places they’d rather be.”

Channel News Asia