Four-cor­nered show­down

New Straits Times - - Groove - Dchua@nst.com.my

MEN­TOR Mile­nia’s in­cum­bent men­tor, Hazama Azmi, is not tak­ing chances, de­spite the strong fol­low­ing his pro­tege Sai­ful Muham­mad Noor a.k.a. Usop has on so­cial me­dia. Usop, ac­knowl­edges Hazama is a crowd favourite be­cause of his hu­mor­ous na­ture, but pop­u­lar­ity does not trans­late into marks in TV3’s re­al­ity tal­ent show which sees its fi­nals on Sun­day.

“Usop may not have singing ex­pe­ri­ence but he ex­cels in 1990s pop and rock with his pow­er­ful voice. It’s his first time in a ma­jor con­cert, yet he car­ries him­self with con­fi­dence,” says Hazama in an in­ter­view at Balai Berita.

“But Men­tor’s win­ners aren’t de­ter­mined by fans’ Short Mes­sag­ing Ser­vice (SMS) votes. These only form 30 per cent of the pro­teges’ marks, the judges award 50 per cent.”

Hazama’s fear for Usop is over-con­fi­dence. “I tell him any­thing can hap­pen in the fi­nals. All four pro­teges in the fi­nals have their strengths, and Usop’s is his con­sis­tency.”

Hazama knew that Usop would be­come his pro­tege. “In the au­di­tions for pro­teges, I was blown away by his per­for­mance of 1990s rock songs! He gives his heart and soul to mu­sic.”

Usop will be singing Bayang (made pop­u­lar by Khai Ba­har) and Datuk M. Nasir’s Malam in the fi­nal con­cert, the lat­ter a duet with for­mer Men­tor cham­pion Salma Asis.

Kulim-born Usop, 20, counts him­self lucky to be­come Hazama’s pro­tege, since he has al­ways ad­mired his men­tor. “Hazama and I share a love of pop and rock and serv­ing up a gen­er­ous dose of hu­mour.”

While Hazama gives his pro­tege con­struc­tive crit­i­cism for his weekly per­for­mances, Usop says he does so in a witty man­ner.

“My men­tor has al­ways been nice. I’ve learnt so much from him and I’m glad he tol­er­ates my hors­ing around!”

Tomok be­lieves his pro­tege, 20-year-old Keda­han Roza­imi “Along” Rosli, can win the grand prize of RM100,000. He says: “While Along was ini­tially stiff, he grad­u­ally loos­ened up. His as­set is his manly voice.

“Along can sing rock, pop and bal­lads and is ea­ger to learn. This is why he’ll go far.”

In the fi­nals, Along will be per­form­ing Datuk Sudirman Ar­shad’s Merisik Khabar and Me­mori Berkasih, a duet with Siti Nor­diana. “Both songs are his forte as they are sentimental. I’m com­ing up with a sin­gle for him.”

Along, says Tomok, par­tic­i­pated in the first sea­son of Idola Ke­cil and his ex­pe­ri­ence has come in handy for the com­pe­ti­tion. “He honed his bari­tone voice in the pre-teen tal­ent search and his ex­pe­ri­ence may bag him the grand prize.”

Alor Star-born Along has al­ways as­pired to be­come a suc­cess­ful singer and song­writer like his men­tor. “While I’ve had singing ex­pe­ri­ence in Idola Ke­cil, its stan­dards were lower than Men­tor’s.”

Along adds that he is lucky to have a men­tor like Tomok be­cause he is straight­for­ward in point­ing out singing mis­takes, and of­fers good sug­ges­tions on how to per­form bet­ter. Black, Akim, Tomok, Hazama, Sy­eera, Elica, Along and Usop.

Han­i­fah “Black” Hanafiah has cau­tioned his pro­tege, Sya­heera Aziz or Sy­eera, 19, from Jo­hor Baru, to avoid scream­ing. “Sy­eera has been do­ing great, de­spite her lack of singing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“She has learnt fast, de­spite be­ing ner­vous in the be­gin­ning,” says Black.

Sy­eera will sing Sekadar Di Ping­gi­ran (made pop­u­lar by Fran­cissca Peter) and Dayang Nur­faizah’s song Di Pintu Syurga, a duet with Misha Omar. Black does not pres­sure her to win be­cause pres­sure will work against her.

“I want Sy­eera to per­form her best. This makes her strive harder in the com­pe­ti­tion.”

Sy­eera, he says, ex­cels in tra­di­tional Malay mu­sic as well as jazz, and he will give her sec­ond song a za­pin-style ar­range­ment. Sy­eera thanks Black for ex­pos­ing her to var­i­ous mu­si­cal gen­res. “Black is a gen­tle­man who en­cour­ages me to en­joy what I’m do­ing. He rea­sons that if I en­joy my work, I will strive hard to ex­cel in it.”

Akim Ahmad’s pro­tege from Tam­bunan, Sabah, An­gel­ica Pau­jin, 17, is the vo­cal pow­er­house and bal­lads are her forte. “She was a con­tes­tant of Idola Ke­cil 3, and while she has no prob­lem with her voice, I’m oc­ca­sion­ally dis­ap­pointed with her lack of feel and fo­cus,” says Akim.

He has ad­vised her to re­hearse with the show’s mu­si­cians and im­prove her pos­ture. An­gel­ica, bet­ter known as Elica, will per­form Nicky As­tria’s song Sa­mar Bayan­gan and a duet with Men­tor 3 con­tes­tant Hael Hu­saini Razmi.

“I’ve al­ways wanted to get Elica to the fi­nals. She is very con­sis­tent,” says Akim.

“I’m in the midst of writ­ing and com­pos­ing a new sin­gle for her.”

Elica de­scribes her men­tor as a knowl­edge­able “big brother”. “He gets an­noyed if I re­peat­edly make mis­takes, but apart from that, we get along great.”

The pro­teges will com­pete in the fi­nal show­down of the Men­tor Mile­nia con­cert, to be aired live on TV3 at 9pm on Sun­day.

It will be broad­cast from Seri Pen­tas 2, Plaza Alam Sen­tral in Shah Alam and hosted by Mar­sha Lon­doh and Issey Fa­zlisham.

Datuk Hat­tan is the per­ma­nent judge and Fauziah Ahmad Daud is the guest judge.

In the au­di­tions for pro­teges, I was blown away by his per­for­mance of 1990s rock songs! He gives his heart and soul to mu­sic.

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