(From left) Stacy, Nadia, Riz, Nubhan and Toi.
Tomorrow being the finale of Akademi Fantasia’s sixth season, DENNIS CHUA treks through the essentials.
THE 10-week “adventure” for viewers of Astro’s most popular production ends tomorrow with a colourful grand finale at Stadium Putra in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur.
Akademi Fantasia Season Six (AF6), the first season of the reality talent show without zany Aznil Nawawi as host, will find its champion from amongst finalists from Perak, Sabah, Johor and Negri Sembilan.
They are Nadia Haswani Hasnan, 18 (Taiping); Idris (Riz) Zaizizi, 22, (Grik); Stacy Angie Anam, 18, (Kota Kinabalu); Nubhan Ahamad, 22, (Kuala Pilah); and Khairul Nizam (Toi) Baharom, 31, (Johor Baru).
At the end of the two-hour final live concert over Astro Ria at 9pm, the champion will walk away with a four-room bungalow located at the A’Famosa Resort in Malacca, a Peugeot 307 XS, RM25,000, holidays in South Africa, and New York and a Sony PlayStation.
Last year, the reality show crowned its first female champion, Norsyarmilla Jirin or Mila. Mila recently won the Discovery International Pop Festival in Varna, Bulgaria. This time round, the chances of a female AF champion emerging are high.
Nadia, Stacy and Riz are hugely popular with fans and the permanent judges Fauziah “Ogy” Ahmad Daud and Ning Baizura. Both agree these three are the strongest contenders for the crown.
As Fauziah put it: “Nadia, Stacy and Riz have been the most consistent, and by the eighth performance, I could see them in the finals.
“Nadia works hard to give a good performance and it shows. The same with Stacy. Riz, with his experience in singing contests, also never disappoints.”
Ning also felt that “the trio are truly talented and they work hard to give viewers what they want every week, minor hiccups aside.”
Stacy has been leading the pack in terms of SMS votes since the seventh concert.
Prior to that concert which saw Bukit Mertajam boy Alif Razali shown the door, the Kadazan-Dusun Stacy shared positions one and two with Alif almost weekly.
Fans and critics alike regard him as being meticulously prepared for every performance.
The former Gang Starz Season One singer who was with the band Evoke has won praise as the show’s “saving grace” whenever mediocrity was the order of the day.
Among Stacy’s best performances were when she sang Makhluk Tuhan Paling Seksi, a song made popular by Indonesian pop star Mulan, Dont’ Speak and Beat It.
Ogy has praised Stacy for taking on challenging songs and making them her own, a task which occasionally eludes the other female contender Nadia.
While Nadia has a tendency to imitate the original singers, which has drawn criticism from principal Ramli MS and occasional guest judge Adlin Aman Ramlie, few find fault with her powerful vocals which upstage that of her role model Mila.
It is no surprise that she is lead vocalist in the contestants’ weekly rendition of the Akademi Fantasia theme song Menuju Puncak.
Like Stacy, she delivers English and Bahasa Malaysia songs with ease; she is equally at home singing Beyonce’s One Night Only or Elyana’s Kalis Rindu.
Riz, who participated in Malaysian Idol 1, and competed under pop group Equal Star in Gang Starz Season One, has been this season’s “alpha male” both physically and talent-wise.
Riz generates the loudest cheers from the girls in weekly concerts.
The judges loved his take on romantic ballads such as Anuar Zain’s Ketentuan Hati and Imran Ajmain’s Seribu Tahun, as well as his rendition of Muse’s Time Is Running Out.
However, his attempt to Rock Around The Clock lacked oomph and earned him a tongue-lashing from Ogy.
Nubhan, with his “kampung boy” looks and melodious voice, initially charmed fans and judges with his takes on Malay pop hits such as Ruang Rindu by Letto and Tak Bisa Memilihmu by Sixth Sense.
However, the English songs, such as Bryan Adams’ Summer Of ’69, showed Nubhan’s limits.
Toi, the only father among the boys, may be a world-class angklung player but most of his weekly performances have been thrashed by Ogy and the equally acerbic Adlin.
However, he surprised everyone during the ninth concert with an excellent rendition of Handy Black’s hit song Kau Yang Bernama Seri.
Of the nine eliminated contestants, two created history in Akademi Fantasia, despite their less-than-outstanding performances.
They were pop queen Datuk Siti Nurhaliza’s elder sister Siti Norsaida Tarudin, 32, and Toi’s 44-year-old hometown friend, Hairina Abdul Halim aka. Mama Rina.
Siti Norsaida, a mother of four, failed to impress judges most of the time, and seemed a tad too nervous on stage.
Mama Rina, a divorcee with a daughter and two grandchildren, failed to break free from her lounge singer image, which she had cultivated in the last two decades.
AF6 marked the return of no-nonsense Ramli MS to the principal’s chair after four years.
The acclaimed composer and music director who is marking his 30th year in the music industry is best known as AF1’s sharpest critic and the principal of AF2, which was arguably the most popular and successful season.
“I have decided to give Akademi Fantasia another go. It is a programme that enables me to educate and train new talents for the music and entertainment industry,” he said.
AF6’s biggest surprise was the raising of the contestants’ maximum age limit from 29 to 45.
The move did not go down well with many fans as they felt that older talents would only be successful if they had been discovered in their 20s.
As for Aznil’s successor as host, AC Mizal of AC Di Sini fame, appears to be finding it tough filling in the shoes of the country’s No. 1 television presenter.
Nevertheless, AC has pleased fans by speeding up the elimination segment at the end of every weekly concert, doing away with the melodrama.
The daily Diari AF peeks into the lives of the students in their classroom, featuring zany Sarimah Ibrahim and Zainal Alam Kadir who are just the right persons to brief viewers on the goings-on at the Academy.
Intelligent, witty and always smiling, they have proven more than capable of assisting AC in his gargantuan task.
New Straits Times