Singaporean is first ‘Asian Idol’

MANILA, Philippines—Singaporean Hady Mirza’s “Asian Idol” win on Sunday night has been described as a “surprise” or “upset” victory.

The 27-year-old bested five other “Idols” from around the region, including Filipina Mau Marcelo, in the singing tilt held in Jakarta.

Apart from bragging rights as the first Asian Idol, Mirza won a world tour.

He told Channel News Asia on Monday, “Winning was never on my mind … especially since I was up against contestants with better vocal [skills]. I just wanted to do Singapore proud.”

During performance night on Saturday, judge Paul Moss of Malaysia put Mirza to task for his strained performance. In contrast, Marcelo was praised by the judges—as were Indonesia’s Mike Mohede and Malaysia’s Jaclyn Victor.

Marcelo’s rendition of “Ako ang Nagwagi” even merited a standing ovation from judge Anu Malik, a leading Bollywood music director.

Marcelo, Vietnam’s Phuong Vy and Mohede were consistently in the top three of an online poll conducted in the competition’s official website. Mirza was often in the bottom two, along with India’s Abhijeet Sawant.

So why did Mirza win?

One explanation is offered by Perci Intalan, head of Creative and Entertainment Production of ABC 5, which aired the contest locally: “Hady must’ve gotten more of that crucial second vote outside his home country.”

As a rule, text senders were asked to choose two contestants, to level the playing field and prevent hometown votes from influencing the outcome.

Terra Daffon, ABC 5 senior vice president for Corporate Affairs, agreed: “Perhaps that was what happened. Voters paired strong candidates with weak ones like Singapore and India who were trailing in the online survey.”

Daffon further speculated: “It’s possible that the voting glitches we experienced here (Manila) happened everywhere except Singapore where the voting was processed.”

Text votes in Manila were delayed by eight hours and the delays continued until Sunday—night of the results show.

Intalan explained that the glitch was caused by “a clog in the telephone companies.”

On Saturday’s show, Singaporean judge Ken Lim asserted that the first “Asian Idol” should possess “commercial appeal.”

On Monday, Lim reiterated on Channel News Asia that “looks and voice” had won the title for Mirza.

As for Marcelo?

She seems unruffled.

She was more thrilled about working with “American Idol” champ Taylor Hicks, a guest on finals night. “He’s a Richard Gomez lookalike!”



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