A new era for local music, or just an idle dream

SINGAPORE : Some call it a triumph to silence the sceptics; others, an unexpected and lucky win.

But fluke or not, the crowning of Singapore's Hady Mirza as the first Asian Idol on Sunday is stirring the embers of hope among those who yearn nostalgically for the days when home-grown names like Anita Sarawak and Sweet Charity were top draws at the concert box office - locally and in South-east Asia.

Could Hady's win herald a revival of those glory days of the 1960s and '70s for Singapore's music scene?

Singapore Idol judge Florence Lian, for one, believes it has debunked the cynical perception that homegrown singers aren't any good.

"It just rubbishes the belief that Singapore only grooms Chinese singers. For me, the biggest hope will be that this win changes the buying patterns and thinking of music fans here," said Ms Lian, a senior vice-president at MediaCorp Enterprises.

"The win is something Singapore should be very proud of," said the first Singapore Idol, Taufik Batisah. "Hopefully, local listeners will open up their eyes and ears."

But some viewers were surprised that the 27-year-old winner of the second season of Singapore Idol could beat out strong singers such as Indonesia's Mike Mohede, 24, and Malaysia's Jaclyn Victor, 29.

"Truth be told, it wasn't Hady's best performance; even his rendition of U2's Beautiful Day seemed tepid when compared to his routines on Singapore Idol," said a viewer who declined to be named.

Even though he thought Hady redeemed himself with his poignant version of the ballad Berserah (Surrender), which Taufik wrote, another viewer wondered if the win was a case of chance over talent.

"Hady's performance wasn't as powerful as some of the more technically-gifted singers," said Ms Nurul Huda Ahmad, 27.

Mr Mohd Isa Talib, 32, however, argued that "what Hady lacks in singing ability, he makes up for in performance. He is good looking and has stage presence — that is a formidable combination in a contest like Idol".

But is Hady the man to lead a Singapore musical invasion of South-east Asia?

Consider his first commercial outing. Taufik's 2005 debut album, the Blessings, which contained mostly English songs, sold 36,000 copies. Hady's self-titled debut album — a mix of English and Malay songs — was released the following November and has sold just 12,000 copies.

Hady fan Mohd Ali, 24, put this down to flawed strategy.

"He was marketed more as a international product to appeal to an English audience, which limited him. He should have been targeted, instead, at the Malay market, both here and in Malaysian and Indonesia," he said.

This is why he thinks Hady should now ride on his Asian Idol success to capture the South-east Asian market — in much the same way that homegrown acts such as Tanya Chua found fame in the Mandarin market in Taiwan, after a disappointing start in the local English music scene.

But Singapore Idol judge Douglas Oliveiro, 50, remains sceptical.

"I think a lot of people will celebrate Hady's win but I don't it will make an impact on the local music landscape. We've been talking about such plans for 15 to 20 years, yet nothing constructive has come out of this, other than providing a little ray of hope," said Mr Oliveiro.

Hady himself remained typically modest.

"I don't think my being named Asian Idol will start a new chapter in the acceptance of Singaporean music," he told TODAY from Jakarta on Monday, minutes before boarding a plane home. "Winning this title is not about personal glory for me — the real honour was the chance to represent my country."

But Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC Baey Yam Keng reckons that Hady's win has given Singaporeans' sense of national pride a boost, and would be an inspiration for the many other talented artistes out there.

Mr Baey said: "Awards like these give people the confidence or the aspiration and motivation to break out of the domestic market."

source: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/entertainment/view/317984/1/.html


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