Friday August 13, 2004

Malaysian Idol's dazzling dozen

By RUBIN KHOO

Malaysian Idol mania reaches fever pitch today, and RUBIN KHOO accesses the pop hotshots with the big battles ahead.


IF you think the competition has been pretty intense so far, brace yourself as the quest to become the first Malaysian Idol heats up. The votes are in, the 12 finalists have been selected but the competition has just begun.
The stage has been set for the weekly concerts. Amidst the backdrop of a spanking new set and under the glamour of bright lights, the final 12 will strive to sing their way into the hearts of the Malaysian public in an effort to stay in the race. And to enhance the atmosphere, the concerts will be held in front of a live audience.
Thus far, the competition seems to have been dominated by the men. Of the five female finalists, two, Jaclyn Victor (Jac) and Faradina Mohd Nazir (Dina), made it to the finals straight from the workshops. The other three, Nicolette Palikat (Nikki), Sufiah Mohd Noor (Sufiah) and Rydiana Abdul Rahim (Rydee) made it in on the wildcard. Is this going to be the trend for the rest of the competition or are the girls going to fight back? Well, whatever the trend so far, expect the unexpected as all contestants vow to be different now the “real” competition has begun.
Teo Hui Mau (Vick): Vick came in with the highest votes from the first workshop. His formula may have worked so far but the 19-year-old hairstylist from Ipoh now says to expect something “totally different” from him. Already he stands out with a unique look but it is quite likely that his hair is going to change in the coming weeks.
Andrew Tan (Andrew): The public’s choice in the second workshop, Andrew captured the hearts of Malaysians with a mellow number. He says he will be doing the usual, so expect something melancholic from him. Things have been pretty hectic since he made it to the finals, so he hasn’t really had time to evaluate his past performance. But since he had the highest number of votes in the second workshop, maybe he doesn’t have to.
Jaclyn Victor (Jac): Jac is one of the competition’s strongest candidates. She has toured the club circuit for the past eight years but says things are pretty “scary”. Jac, who attained the highest votes in the third workshop, says she too will be doing something different. No longer constrained by limited musical accompaniment, expect Jac to experiment with various musical genres.
Nicolette Palikat (Nikki): Nikki triumphed over eight others when she was picked as the public’s wildcard. Having had time to reflect, Nikki comes in with her priorities straight and with a focus on what she enjoys most, singing. Her two-week break prior to the wildcard show enabled her to approach things differently.
“It was good to be home, it has a lot to do with how prepared I am now,” says the 19-year-old from Sabah.
She now adopts an almost purist approach to the competition, focusing only on her singing.
Sufiah Mohd Noor (Sufiah): Expect a blast tonight as the soulful Sufiah is back. Not making it in the first round turned out to be a “blessing in disguise” for the 26-year-old who was the judges’ pick for the wildcard. She returns to the competition more confident and with a focus on making herself more pleasant to the public. Her future, she says, has been sealed. The contest has given her the drive to make singing her life.
Rydiana Abdul Rahim (Rydee): Her place in the finals comes as a surprise. Rydee was the second judges’ choice for the wildcard. Tonight, she is going to do “something really different,” says the 21-year-old who really likes to sing. From now on, Rydee intends to approach the competition by picking songs that she’s really comfortable with.
Ahmad Zamil Mohd Idris (Zamil): Zamil has spent the last couple of weeks preparing for the finals. He intends to sound more pop and has focused quite a bit on his presentation. The bank officer, who has taken unpaid leave to pursue his dream, has also worked on losing some weight to better his performance.
Mohd Fahmy Zakaria (Fahmy): It’s first time lucky for the student. Despite appearing somewhat reserved than the other contestants, Fahmy says he is raring to go. With little experience, Fahmy is nonetheless well prepared for the competition and criticisms. He has spent the past few weeks improving his vocals and psyching himself up mentally. He is also in the midst of preparing for his STPM examinations at the end of the year.
Faradina Mohd Nazir (Dina): Dina balances her preparation for the weekly finals while also pursuing her degree in Performing Arts at UiTM in Shah Alam. Having had her hairstyle criticised during the first work-shop, Dina laughs that she will definitely be doing her hair differently.
Victor Lee (Victor): Victor’s entry into the finals came as a big surprise for him. Most of the votes were attributed to his friends and relatives. He too takes the judges’ comments seriously and has been looking into developing his image, after being criticised for appearing “too simple.”
Fadzli Zainal (Fazly): Retro boy Fazly says he will adapt his performance according to the requirements of the song. He has been focusing on his presentation since he made it through. Nonetheless, he too comes in with an advantage having been singing seriously for the past six years.
Mohd Saipul Bakeri (Saiful): The “veteran” performer from Sarawak is focused on one thing: singing. That he made it to the finals was a surprise, he says, given the tough competition. But now that he has, singing is what he intends to do. His strength in the competition is that he is comfortable with various genres.
Parent site: "Focus on Malaysia"