Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Asian idols

Anyone among the Idols from the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia could have easily won in last weekend's first Asian Idol competition held in Jakarta, had the contest been judged based on merit. But since this is Idol, the winner was determined by text votes. Singapore Idol Hady Mirza shockingly won the title.

Everybody expected Indonesian Idol Mike Mohede to win. I thought so too. I was an observer in Indonesia for the Carter Center when the first Indonesian Idol happened, and the show was beyond popular; it was a force of nature. Everybody from Papua to Kalimantan was aware of it and watched it religiously, time differences and choppy satellite feeds be damned. And Mohede was a good singer and performer. In the show, he sang Mengejar Matahari (one of my favorite Indonesian pop songs) and I Believe I Can Fly, which I'm sure prompted 200 million Indonesians to reach for their ponsel. No less than President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono even watched the show live (he even sang karaoke to welcome the Idols to the palace, yikes.)

I really liked Malaysian Idol Jaclyn Victor. She looks very classy, like Motown-era Diana Ross, but with a better voice. She's supposedly a huge star now in Malaysia, and I can see why. But maybe she should stop joining international singing competitions, because a few months back she was beaten by Vina Morales at the Ikon Asean (Kjwan won for the group category).

Which brings us to Mau Marcelo, the Philippine Idol. She has the strongest voice among the contestants, and in a perfect world would have easily won the title. One of the judges though was right when he said that Mau didn't give her all. Her performance of Ako Ang Nasawi, Ako Ang Nagwagi came off as very studied and modulated, although she made up for it with her second song, Reach.

(Sidebar: The Philippine Idol franchise has been transferred to GMA-7, most probably because ABC-5 was not able to turn it into a huge hit. I thought ABC-5 did a competent-enough job with the show, and I fear GMA-7 will tweak it and make it baduy. GMA reportedly will change the title to Pinoy Idol -- maybe because they admire April Boy Regino too much -- and worse, they reportedly will not acknowledge the first show and its contestants and will not recognize Mau Marcelo as the first Philippine Idol. How fucking dare you, GMA-7.)

Singapore Idol Hady Mirza played his cards right by singing a song in Bahasa Malayu. Voting rules stated that texters should vote for two contestants, not just one, otherwise the vote would have been invalid. I think Mirza won by sheer luck: both the Malaysians and the Indonesians probably picked him as their second choice. Ok, to be honest, I also picked him as my second choice, because I figured he will never win because he had the lousiest voice and because of the fact that there are probably less Singaporeans than those who voted for Trillanes in the last election. I was dead wrong.

Did I actually just write a longish blog entry on Idol? Apparently this is a matter of great import. Here, enjoy my favorite performances:

Jaclyn Victor (Malaysian Idol) - For Once In My Life

Mike Mohede (Indonesian Idol) - Mengejar Matahari

Mike Mohede (Indonesian Idol) - I Believe I Can Fly

Mau Marcelo (Philippine Idol) - Ako Ang Nasawi, Ako Ang Nagwagi and Reach

Abhijeet Sawant (Indian Idol) - Junoon

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