“Faridul Anwar Farinordin

Although it had its endearing moments, the glitzy AIM 2004 was a draggy affair that lacked direction and excitement. FARIDUL ANWAR FARINORDIN writes.
POP princess Siti Nurhaliza reclaimed her position in the industry by winning the major awards at the Anugerah Industri Muzik 2004 (AIM 2004). Her win in the Best Female Vocal Performance category, beating other hot candidates† Ning Baizura, Siti Sarah, Ziana Zain and Liza Hanim† should silence those who think her glory days are over.

Perhaps Ajai summed it the best when, during his acceptance speech after receiving the Best Pop Album album for Sit?s album, E.M.A.S. (for which he is one of the producers), he said: “”Until today, no one can beat her (Siti).””

(The album also won the Album of the Year award).

Siti, through her many wins abroad, was also honoured with the Anugerah Kembara — for the second time! It was understandable when Siti, while making her acceptance speech for the special award, held back tears while thanking those who still believe in her.

Endearing moments — such as Siti’s speech — were few and far between throughout the awards show, which stretched for almost four hours at Dewan Merdeka, Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur. As a result, the whole affair turned rather draggy.

One of the night’s favourite moments, which received a standing ovation, was the retrospective rock segment, featuring legendary rock groups May, Wings and Lefthanded.

Accompanied by a chamber orchestra under the baton of Ramli M.S, they performed a medley of their (rearranged) hits — Ku Di Halaman Rindu, Sketsa Sebuah Cinta, Sejati and Srikandi Cintaku (originally popularised by Bloodshed). One may have wondered why there was yet another rock segment. After all, rock outfit Search had opened the show with Pawana, followed by the undisputed queen of rock Ella’s medley rendition of her hits Sembilu, Gemilang and Simbiosis but all was forgiven when these “”rock giants”” were united on stage.

Nevertheless, the segment posed one big question: Is going retro the “”in thing”” this year?

Perhaps it was an attempt to revive the dying music genre. Shouldn’t we just move on to other types of music? Wasn’t it rock too that took centrestage at last year’s show?

Even the well-known rock enthusiast, promoter Ali Bakar (who presented the award for Best Ethnic Pop Album), commented that AIM should also take the initiative to re-introduce pop yeh-yeh and Melayu Deli. Good point.

Meanwhile, other performers that night were quite bland.

Another reunion came in the form of Blues Gang. Long absent from the industry, it was thrilling to see Ito and gang perform Apo Nak Di Kato on stage once again. But the enthusiasm soon fizzled when Ito, who seemed to be in his “”own world””, made no attempt to interact with the audience whatsoever.

Other performers that night included nasyid group UNIC, Reshmonu (a duet with VE), Anuar Zain with Indonesian powerhouse Ruth Sahanaya and a segment featuring nominees in the Best New Artiste category — pop band Alam, Afdlin Shauki, Naufara Yasin, Ezlynn and rock outfit Amuk.

Oh yes, and that uninspiring cover of Mariah Carey’s My All — with Bahasa Malaysia lyrics by Lukhman S — and performed by Siti Nurhaliza, Misha Omar, Siti Sarah, Liza Hanim and Ning Baizura.

As the performers took to the stage one by one, the segment quickly turned into a “”battle of the divas”” when their outfits rather than their vocals competed for attention. The audience was left with mixed emotions after the segment, as apart from Siti Nurhaliza and Ning Baizura, the other singers’ vocal potential was not fully unleashed.

The choice of song was pretty puzzling too. Have we run out of good Malay songs? Since the night marked the anniversary of Saloma’s passing, wouldn’t it be fitting for the pretty lasses to pay tribute to the singer with a medley of her songs instead?

Award presenters should be told to stop engaging in silly banter and just get on with the programme. Unless, of course, they really have cute things to say, like Amy Mastura.

Amy, who presented the awards for Song of the Year and Album of the Year with Tiara Jacquelina and Air Asia chief executive officer Tony Fernandes, told the audience that Tiara (who plays the title role in upcoming epic movie Puteri Gunung Ledang) “”was flown in from Gunung Ledang courtesy of Air Asia””.

(A note to AIM producers: PLEASE prepare better scripts for the presenters the next time! There’s only so much we can take from corny lines like: “”How are you?””, “”Nice outfit.”” or “”I’m so honoured to be paired with you.”” And this happens at every awards show!)

Apart from Reshmonu’s printed pants, Joe Wing’s bleached goatee and Ning’s Vegas showgirl outfit, AIM this year didn’t offer much excitement, though it ended on a high note with a rousing collaboration between singer/composer M. Nasir and rock outfit Spider of the rearranged hit tune Mentera Semerah Padi.

The sketch featuring Ning, Afdlin and Reshmonu in a Malaysian Idol-like audition scene looked promising but as it dragged on, one wondered where it was heading.

And though Harith Iskander and Bob Lokman eventually did a pretty good job of hosting the show, they kicked off to a rocky start. Harith’s spoof of Idol reject William Hung was over the top and annoying to say the least. Hung is, after all passe. Meanwhile, Bob took a safer route and played himself all the way.

All said, the event lacked direction. What we got was a mish-mash of this and that, from retro to contemporary and back to retro again. Although individually the performances were good, it could have been better packaged to illustrate the desired theme. Then maybe the 3½ hours wouldn’t have been too painful for the audience.

Let’s hope AIM will have a clearer direction as to what it aims to achieve next year.

The full list of winners

* Album of the Year: E.M.A.S (Siti Nurhaliza, Ajai, Aidit Alfian, Aubrey Suwito, Azmeer, Helen Yap, Julfekar, Wong, Zulkefli Majid, Zuriani)

* Song of the Year: Ajai/Nurul — Selagi Ada Cinta (Ning Baizura)

* Best Group Vocal Performance: Too Phat (360 degrees)

* Best Male Vocal Performance: Reshmonu (Monumental)

* Best Female Vocal Performance: Siti Nurhaliza (E.M.A.S)

* Best Pop Album: E.M.A.S (Siti Nurhaliza)

* Best Pop Rock Album: Seperti Dulu (Exists)

* Best Nasyid Album: Gema Alam (Raihan)

* Best Hard Rock Album: Sinar (May)

* Best Ethnic Pop Album: Sekarang Dah Jadi (Tan Sri S.M. Salim)

* Best Indonesian Album: Salam Kedelapan (Gigi)

* Best New Artiste: Ezlynn

* Best New Local English Artiste: Reshmonu

* Best Local English Album: 360 degrees (Too Phat)

* Best Music Video: Ho Yu Hang, Jordan Suleiman, Mussadique Suleiman for Arms of Marianne (Pete Teo)

* Best Musical Arrangement in a Song: Aubrey Suwito for Bukan Cinta Biasa (Siti Nurhaliza)

* Best Album Cover: Carl Dunford, Dain Said, Hayati Mokhtar for Rustic Living for Urbanites (Pete Teo)

* Best Engineered Album: Chee Too, Damien Shorty Soul, Reshmonu, Simon for Monumental (Reshmonu)

* Anugerah Kembara: Siti Nurhaliza

* Anugerah Wirama: Datuk A. Rahman Hassan”