Wednesday, 1st December '04
En Ying The Not-So-Roving Reporter, Reporting Live From The Confines Of Her Bedroom
Good evening Singapore (and readers elsewhere). This is En Ying the Not-So-Roving Reporter, reporting live from the confines of her bedroom. We had a wonderful match-up here tonight, and I have fifteen minutes to give you a blow by blow account of what went down at the Singapore Indoor Stadium starting at 7.45pm. So do forgive the typos and bad grammar, I'm in a rush. Singapore awaits with bated breath....
10 minutes to go to the results show! Mel just called with dance camp stuff. ARGH!! *fingers fly across the keyboard*
So after all the red carpet affairs, the whole show started with the 9 kicked-out finalists opening with a very energetic cover of Britney Spear's "Stronger", and not even Zaki's choreo could save the Idols from their own inability to control their flailing limbs... other than that it was a pretty stirring opening, but of course no one cared too much about THAT part of it.
Then Taufik and Sylvester came it... *boxing ring bell goes ting ting ting ting*. This is where music from Europe's "The Final Countdown" started playing in my head and from now on you can read everything in that boxing ring announcer type voice:
Entering from the left side of the stadium standing *average male height* and weighing *average male weight*, in the pimped out officially-sponsored yellow Chevrolet, the representative of the R&B and Stevie Wonder lovers and Mats of the world....
TAUFIK BATISA!!!!!!! *wave of screams drown out non-roving reporter who is slightly alarmed to spot her friend Tasha dressed up as a bride of Taufik sitting in the first row*
And entering from the right side of the stadium, standing at *shorter than average male height* and tipping the scales at what looks to be about 120 pounds, sporting huge old-school rocker sunglasses and leather jacket and guitar, and perched on a huge Harley Davidson behind grumpy looking angmoh bike-rider who looks like the bike seat isn't good for his family jewels, and mind you he will flash his Metal "\m/" ad naseum today....
SYLVESTER SIM!!!!! *non-roving reporter is annoyed by the interruption of mad girlies*
So the 2 blokes wave and strut their way onstage and Taufik does a few nifty Usher-esque moves Sly gives us the benefit of a few slides and bends on the guitar. It was cute but eyebrow-raising. R&B versus RAWK! in the big show-down.
Well, that was really quite an entrance, and Zaki's choreography was so much more interesting this time. Normally he holds back because, well, the Idols aren't exactly dancers.
But LAADDDDIIIEEEES AND GENTTLEMENNN!! We didn't come here to waste our time on opening acts! It's time to get down and dirty! This is how the games will go today, folks. Each contender will perform 3 numbers. One will be the Judges' Choice, one will be the Contestent's Choice from an earlier show, and one will be a song written specially from the winner from the composer of Guy Sebastian's "Angels" called "I Dream", the single the first winner releases. But lest I bore you, let the games BEGIN!!!
ROUND ONE... *ting ting ting ting!* FIGHT!
Cautious start by both sides, warming up to the madhouse that is the Singapore Indoor Stadium... we had the coin toss last week to determine who would begin the attack first (no thanks to Gurmit for gabraing the coin toss marvellously). So we begin with Taufik.
Contestent's Choice: Stevie Wonder's "Superstition"
Like I said, cautious start but it was pleasantly controlled right from the beginning. Slick dance moves were captivating at the start, but HEY! it's Taufik lah! Since it's a song already done before, there isn't much new to say, but I found one rather disturbing problem - his energy was too contained. He just seemed small and lost in the huge stadium. His energy was focused on the first few rows and he looked a bit nervous. I didn't feel the Taufik magic, and that was really worrying. Nonetheless classy and very good. Just kind of short of the spark I was looking forward to from this usually magical performer.
Judge's Choice: Bon Jovi's "It's My Life"
Let me say this in the most straightforward way possible. I would NEVER choose a Bon Jovi song for Sylvester. Never never. He doesn't have enough sei to pull it off. But I appreciated the effort though. He sang his face off, and you could see he threw himself head-first into the song. The pitch, however, was shocking. A good number of notes were flat (amazingly not a single judge caught it), and the diction was oh-my-gawd standard of bad. "IZ-MA-LIIII... IZ-NOW-WAR-NEHHVERR... AH-AINT-GONAH-LEE-FOH-AIRVAAA!!!" and "MA-HAR-IZ-LIII-CAN-OPAN-HAWEHH!! AH-TINK-AH-SAA-AH-DOOO-IT-MA-WEHH!!" are samplings of what I heard. It was like cracking another code. But HERE the Sylvester factor came through. You saw this skinny little boy belting his heart out like a hyena on speed, and in spite of everything, you loved the show. You know everything that went wrong, but yet you want to applaud anyway. And you really don't know if all that's a good or bad thing.
Round one results: I refused to make any votes. I couldn't decide. Power and spirit went to Sly, class and cool and stage-awareness went to Taufik, with a concession for the wobbly start because it must be simply terrifying to go out there first and face the rabid crowd. Obviously though, Sylvester was the more entertaining singer, simply because he gave me more to write (and gripe) about - and we all know that is what separates the star from the good singer.
ROUND TWO... *ting ting ting ting!* FIGHT!
Winner's Single: "I Dream"
I was pretty disappointed by this song too. I really wanted Taufik to do better because I thought he really deserved to be the Idol. Again the energy was small and for some reason his voice was unable to carry far to the back. When the backing choir from VJC came on, he didn't use the choir well and sometimes got drowned out by them. I can't say he didn't do well, if you know what I mean, but it was lacklustre coming from him. The voice took a slightly nasal turn too. It also didn't have the focus and control that had become characteristic of his work over the past week. It just was not great, AND my mum fell asleep. Not a good sign. Oh, Taufik!! Please pick it up!
Contestant's Choice: Jay Chou's "An Jing"
Sylvester in his Chinese element again! Not a remarkable performance either, but the timber of his voice seemed to improve hugely. It's not a hard song to sing, but his pitching and control were still very good. And it was again a heartfelt performance, so much so that even Douglas O, who couldn't understand Chinese, could tell that it was a sad love song. And I was quite satisfied when Gurmit asked Sylvester if there was something sad he was singing about and he went "No lah, you sing song just got to emote lor". I dunno, it just seemed to me that he's matured a long way from the petulant kid he was when he first joined the contest - the kid who refused to even try in "Disco" week and refused to put on glasses and act geeky for a photoshoot.
Round two results: I still wanted very much to vote for Taufik, because that was what I was preparing to do all day anyway. BUT, I have to declare that Sylvester took this round by the slightest margin.
ROUND THREE... *ting ting ting ting!* FIGHT!
Judge's Choice: Billy Paul's "Me And Mrs Jones"
YES! YES! THIS IS IT! THIS is Taufik magic back again. I don't know what took him so long, and I really do believe now that R&B he does well, but his true calling is, strangely enough, in Jazz. This was so well done, possibly the best performance of the show and certainly the strongest song tonight. The good old focus and control was back, the emotions were nicely captured and this boy has RHYTHM! You could just feel the crowd getting more and more excited as the further he got into it, and when he finished the roar of the stadium was something to behold. The jumping, screaming banner-wavers were just pink with joy. Dick Lee was totally on the edge of his seat and the looks of pride on all the Judges' faces were just so telling. Taufik had his moment right then and there. For that little moment Singapore Idol became something that we could really be proud of. It was really a knock-us-dead performance.
Winner's Single: "I Dream"
So there I was thinking Sylvester would be backstage pissing his pants. After that performance by Taufik I thought there was no way Sylvester could come even close. After all, Sylvester hasn't been known for versatility... least of all in the way of power ballads backed by a choir. It looked like time for a toilet break. WRONG. Sylvester gave the strongest performance I've EVER seen him give. If I thought he'd matured as a performer before, I wasn't expecting this. It was sincere, it was clearly pronouced, it was accented at all the right points and unbelivably, he made fantastic use of the choir. And how the hell he infused just the right amount of rockish-sounding screeches without losing the original flavour, I'll never know. To use an old cliche, he really made the song his own. It wasn't drop-dead terrific like Taufik's "Mrs Jones", but it was still WOW! He just stood there like he was having a conversation with the audience and gave us everything he had. He smiled, he gazed wistfully into the distance; you could feel him living the dream right then and there - like the song had given him the words to say everything his rather inarticulate self couldn't. Even if Taufik should have been crowned the Singapore Idol, Sylvester should have this song as his first single. You know how people say the horse chooses you, you don't choose the horse? This song chose Sylvester, and no one can take that song away from him now.
Round three results: Taufik took this round. But Sylvester won more than a consolation prize.
The final judgment? Let's say it's going to be the hardest call ever since I've watched ANY Idol show, American or Singapore.
[well, the pictures aren't going to take themselves!]