There was a time in my life that I was disenchanted by the Anugerah Juara Lagu award; all the songs were blah and the singers ... don't let me go on and on. This was the time when Siti Nurhaliza bagged all the awards annually since everyone else sucks out loud so much, it was like the sink plug of the universe had popped out.
But two years ago, I started to watch the AJL again, thanks to bands like Hujan, Meet Uncle Hussain and Estranged. They renewed my faith in local talents to write music that are not just ear candy, but also songs that resonate with one's spirit and emotion (wow! how emo!).
Last night was the 24th AJL; the line up of the finalists is very impressive. Most of them are young singer-songwriters (either solo or band) like Yuna, Aizat and of course, the darling Hujan. What made this year's competition really interesting is that they got rid of all the categories shit and left it to just the best songs that made the grade. The competition was really stiff; everyone pulled out all stops to give their best performance and they rocked the stadium down. It was wonderful to watch, although I could do with less of the ultra lame presenters.
Hujan gave a whole different breath to Aku Scandal by jazzing up the intro and dressing up like a swing band. Their performance was livened up by the Raingers cutting up the rug just below the main stage. Wonderfully energetic and Noh was in his element after 20 seconds into the song. I suppose performing in such a huge venue that was darn near sold out diluted some of his vinegar. Thankfully, it didn't take him long to get into the swing of things.
Yuna was in her trademark colourful outfit and guitar. Her delicious vocal dominated the arena without shrieking and throat convulsions. Ziana Zain and Jaclyn Victor, take note.
However, Hujan did not win. Aizat won the best song, the one written by Pete Teo for the movie Talentime. Not surprising as it encompasses the plethora of Malaysian heritage, what with the classical Indian female vocalist intro, the er hu accompaniment (played by a Malay musician, no less) with the screen showing tributes to various notable Malaysians such as Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Yasmin Ahmad, Mokhtar Dahari and so on. Yuna won the runner up and the third went to the Superman-freak, Michael Jackson wannabe Faizal Tahir (is it obvious that I don't like this guy?).
Anyway, them's the breaks. Here's to a more wonderfully colourful Malaysian music scene this year and beyond.