Saturday, October 16, 2004

Malay Mail Article On Malaysian Idol Grand Finals - Oct 13

WATCHING the Malaysian Idol (MI) Finale at the Arena Of Stars in Genting Highlands was totally unplanned, as far as yours truly was concerned.
I was innocently window shopping at Berjaya Times Square and ended up joining the 600-strong crowd of MI fans meeting the contest's 12
In between the finalists' performances, the emcee asked us questions, and dished out free tickets for us to witness the grand finals show and
the results show on Oct 8 and 9 respectively.
He happened to pick me ("You in the cream T-shirt") when I put up my hand and volunteered to answer his three questions on the full names of
the top-ranking MI trio, Jac, Dina and Vick.
I got it right, and thus it was the Grand Finale for me on Friday.
While I was there to enjoy myself something struck me.
Through Malaysian Idol, the spirit of muhibbah was wonderfully manisfested.
The series was proof that music is a common language and that Jac's overwhelming win was a vote for meritocracy. That we are a multi-racial
country able to put our differences aside to pick the best Malaysian as winner and represent the nation on the World Idol stage.
I have a confession to make. I only voted in the last two days of MI, and before this, I merely watched some of the weekly concerts on 8TV, and
followed only the Results Shows.
No prize for guessing who my pick was to take on Fantasia Barrino at the upcoming World Idol. Here's a clue - even Vince Chong (of Akademi Fantasia 1) and Linda Nanuwil (of Akademi Fantasia 2) were said by MI homepage surfers to be rooting for her.
The first thing I noticed when I joined the massive queue at the gates of the arena were the many MI T-shirts and visitors carrying placards and
banners of support for either Jac or Dina.
Shortly after I was ushered in amidst tight security, the crowd screamed.
Well, they couldn't help it. The 10 finalists had just entered via the red carpet. The two I immediately noticed were Vick Teo, for his height,
and Andrew Tan, for his long hair.
The screamers would also get into action each time gorgeous celebrities walked in via the red carpet. From the looks of it, apart from Jac and
Dina, the loudest screams were reserved for Roslan, Jee and Paul.
By the time hosts Jien and Aleya appeared, the 5,000-strong crowd were ecstatic.
A sense of deja vu washed over me when the 12 stylishly-dressed finalists performed an opening song together.
It reminded me of the Akademi Fantasia (AF) students singing the AF anthem Menuju Puncak at the end of every weekly AF concert.
Coincidentally, Menuju Puncak composer Aubrey Suwito, who led the orchestra for the evening, also composed Gemilang, the song which both Jac
and Dina had to sing in the finale.
Most of our seats had large orange-coloured cardboard hands with either `Jac' or `Dina' written on them.
Jac had her name written in red while Dina's was in blue.
When I found that the hands with the blue name were scattered on the floor, it was a pretty strong hint who the crowd supported.
The cheers after each song Jac and Dina sang in the competition later
also confirmed who the favourite was.
The surprise `appearance' of American Idol reigning queen Fantasia Barrino was a pleasant moment. Even if it was a videoclip recorded when
she toured Singapore recently, it was very personal and genuine.
Fantasia told Jac and Dina to "do your best and kick some butt."
She also had cute messages for judges Roslan, Gee and Paul.
The one for Roslan was especially funny.
"Please stop shoving pencils in your nose, Roslan!" said Fantasia, in reference to Roslan's habit of playing with his pencils during the judging
Jien acted as a quiz master at times. In the second evening, he quizzed the audience on who was the first, second and third American Idol seasons' winner, and who was the first, second and third American Idol seasons'
first runner-up.
While the answers of Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Clay Aiken and Diana DeGarmo were heard loud and clear, nobody seemed to be able to shout `Justin Guarini', and this made Jien remark jokingly that only the female fans would remember Justin.
There were several moments that moved many of us to tears, especially the sight of Jac and Dina showing their sisterly affection from time to
If there is a monument to the spirit of muhibbah in Malaysia today, I would say go no further than the scene of Jac and Dina performing together
and declaring themselves as `Soul Sisters', and not rivals.
The other moments were the performances of MI rejects Julian Cheah and Lee Kar Wei, who were invited on stage to perform their audition songs.
Julian and Kar Wei did so with gusto, and had clearly developed a sense of self-confidence which they lacked on their respective audition days.
Good luck to them. May they re-join MI next year. While the Arena was reasonably comfortable, I do hope the organisers of future MI grand finals
would put more user-friendly features such as partitions beside the steps on the judges' stage.
I noticed that one enthusiastic fan of Roslan, Paul and Gee who went to get their autographs tripped and fell off the stage stairs. Thank goodness
she was not hurt.
As for the SMS voting, I received a complaint from one of Jac's fan that the 20-odd SMS messages she sent to 3308 bounced back, even though she voted for her Idol long before the voting was announced closed by host Jien.
While Jac and Dina both impressed me with their respective performances, so did the other 10 MI finalists namely Vick Teo (my fellow Ipoh-ite),
Andrew Tan, Saipul Bakeri, Nicolette (Nikki) Palikat, Zamil Idris, Victor Lee, Rydiana (Rydee) Rahim, Fahmy Zakaria, Sufiah Mohamad Noor and Fazly
From the cheers of the crowd, the favourites among the 10 were Nikki, Rydee and Zamil. And it was purely because they sang their songs very well
on the second day.
The choice of voters for top three seemed very Muhibbah - a Bumiputera (Dina), a Chinese (Vick) and an Indian (Jac).
I remember having dinner at a Mamak stall in Bangsar Baru when the voters chose Vick for elimination, and chose Jac and Dina for the grand
The stall owner, a Bumiputera, told me: "Thank God the voters did not vote based on race, but merit. My choice for the Malaysian Idol is Jac
even though I come from Johor Baru, Dina's state."
Syabas, Malaysia, for voting based on talent.
And to the winner Jac, congratulations. You will certainly do Malaysia proud.
That much we're sure off.


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