Saturday, February 28, 2009

Campus Superstar Roadshow at Bugis Junction 28 Feb 2009 (6 Revivalists only)

Campus Superstars 3 Roadshow at Bugis Junction:

I took some time in the afternoon to go down to Bugis Junction to show support for primarily the six revivalists for the coming Monday's revival round. Unfortunately, I could not see all the twelve contestants onstage because it was beginning to rain at around 4pm so I had to find shelter or risk getting sick (which will be a bad thing if being sick affects continuing the performance commentaries properly).

As usual, I used a camera phone and I was taking the photos from quite a distance because I did not want myself to be captured on the MediaCorp cameras which were sweeping from side to side at the audience close to the stage.

No detailed commentaries about the six revivalists' singing because as Lee Teng had said onstage, all six of them will need more encouragement in the highly-stressful revival round so there's no point adding anything to their shoulders in specific details. Perhaps the only thing I would want the six of them to take note would be their volume projection control because almost all the six of them had singing which suddenly increased in volume at certain parts without warning or necessity. Maybe it was the microphone controls there but just be careful during revival round because volume projection control will be one of the considered factors in both the judges' considerations as well as my performance commentaries.

Enough talking, get on with the photos.

The four hosts of the day.
Lee Teng imitating Hsiao Jing Teng's way of singing and he was pretty good with it. Hahaha.
Adrian (with trembling hands). Hope he keeps his nerves during the highly-charged revivals.
Rachel Chua
Rachel Chua (her voice projection was clear and firm throughout the entire atrium)
Rachael Chang
Rachael Chang (brilliant smile - I could see the smile all the way from the back)
The six revivalists onstage.
Personal Random Photos Backdated:
Some French Beans with wedge potatoes salad which gained no favor from SC or myself - it was a very dry new salad dish from Swensen's. I advise against trying it because it was very dry on the throat and I ended up washing my share of it down with at least three glasses of ice water.
The chocolate fondue shared by SC and myself when I suggested an impromptu ice-cream treat last week because it was so warm and stuffy for that whole week. SC simply refused to dip the ice-cream balls into the chocolate but we had a lot of fun talking the afternoon away over the delicious dish because it was a good day to sit back, indulge in ice-cream and relax.
This was the carbonara spaghetti dish from one of the small restaurants near Bugis after the temple visit. The waitress there could not understand English properly and had to apologize profusely after she took such a long time to get our orders right. My family was displeased with the service but at least the waitress was nice enough to bring glasses of plain water when she saw our drinks were finished before our meal ended.
The human meat crunch and squeeze outside the temple of Guan Yin near Bugis. It was a legendary temple for Singapore so many people wanted to get good luck angbao packets from it. The incense smell was overwhelming and so was the heat that day but it was a family outing so I kept my mouth shut.
Another closer shot of the temple worshippers' rush despite the loudspeakers urging the worshippers not to run and rush, toasting one another's hair and shoulders with the incense sticks. The place was serious guarded by at least twelve visible Cisco guards with semi-automatic pistols in their holsters - it seems like the temple was doing all it can to prevent any chaos or trouble from brewing on that sacred day of Goddess Guan Yin's (it's actually a he) birthday.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Book Review: Lords of The Bow

I have just finished reading the above-mentioned book about Genghis Khan, one of the most prominent leaders of Mongolia and how he managed to unite the barbaric and highly-diversified tribes of Mongolia into a massive army of fierce Mongolian horse bowmen and lancers.

He was quite a brutal leader to his enemies, slaughtering them by the tens of thousands as he razed and plundered many cities of the Xi Xia and Jin Dynasty. He was very disciplined when it comes to military matters and did not hesitate to punish any Mongolian who failed to deliver up to military expectations. The book offered a glimpse of Genghis Khan as a father and a husband who tried to keep his large family of wives and sons in order to find a proper heir amongst them.

My memories of the book were strongest at one of the key battles fought when he led his army of forty-thousand across the sweltering desert to avenge years of oppression by the Chinese empires. In the first battle, Genghis Khan took the advice of a bright-eyed youth who volunteered to lead a hundred men to attempt to knock down a mountain pass fort's gates with hammers and a flimsily-constructed wooden shelter against the Xi Xia's ballistas (huge crossbows). Although only two of the hundred men survived the inital attack, Genghis Khan was able to launch a lightning cavalry charge, storming the fort by surprise and thus opening the gateway to the rest of the Chinese empires.

The reason - of the hundred men who went in with hammers, Genghis Khan actually provided ten of them with the best armour he had in the army and gave all the hundred men beautiful weapons and chests of glittering treasures to lure the Xi Xia soldiers to open the gates to loot those who fell. The costly ruse worked and as one of the greedy Xi Xia officers examined the chests by opening one of them, a flight of white pigeons flew out of the chest, signalling the remaining one thousand horsemen hiding behind the valley to charge in. The pigeons were also a signal to six of the ten-man team who survived the arrow showers to suddenly leap up from the sand (they were feigning death all the while) and held the fort's gates open until the Mongolian cavalry arrived. And I thought the pigeon thing was really ingenious of Genghis Khan..haha.

Nothing much else is going on this week - work, gym, blog-hopping, getting my lost hours' of sleep and going on an chocolate-fondue spree with one of the singing enthusiasts during last Saturday. Oh, I am also trying to design some medieval castle game of my own to play whenever I am bored so I was twiddling with the programs for quite a few nights.

Hope my readers are doing well with their lives! Will update again when I have more blog-worthy news! ^__^

Monday, February 23, 2009

Campus Superstars 3 Round 3 Part 2 of 2 Performance Commentaries

Blog post to be updated as soon as possible after the performances! Stay tune! ^__^

C1 黄慧婷 Joselin - 《我相信》 原唱者:楊培安
-肩, 现 notes were sounding weak at the end
- 乐园 was sung too careful, dragging the verse unnecessarily
- 发音不净 her notes at the chorus sounded strained
- 音散 the strained notes were not gathered or sustained properly
- judges' scores were 6.0+7.5+7.5+7.0= 28.0
- I would have given Joselin a 6.5 because even though I was aware that Joselin was sick, I wanted to be fair to other contestants who managed to protect their health during this competition round. Firstly, I applaud Joselin's immense courage for attempting what is generally regarded as one of the most difficult songs to perform during competitions because this song required tons of self-confidence and a solid technical foundation in singing because of the scaling techniques within. However, Joselin's illness is getting the better of her and she could not deliver that kind of vocal energy and vibrance necessarily to reach out to the audience. Yes, the stage-confidence was there and she did not fumble on the lyrics, but the overall feeble note delivery undermined the grades from my perspective and thus she did not move beyond a reasonably good grade.

C2 李奕贤 Jarod -《改变自己》 原唱者:王力宏
- notes did not reach out properly
- attempted accent warped most of his enunciation during all the verses
- microphone angle was still incorrect at certain portions
- chorus finally picked up significantly
- twisting his neck and slapping the microphone worsened enunciation problems
- judges' scores were 7.0+8.0+7.0+7.5= 29.5
- I would have given Jarod a 6.5 because even though I thought he made quite a mess of his enunciation during the performance, he did what was sorely pressing of him - moving away from sentimental love ballads just like Xiao Han Laoshi said and hence another 0.5 grade was awarded. I thought Jarod did try to give his best but he still did not really bring out his own rendition of the song. I kept feeling that he was trying to mimick Lee Hom's style of soft-rock but that parroting would reflect negatively. He also tried putting effort in his stage presentation of the song, which was quite a bright point in the performance but it was not properly coordinated and like Fei Hui Laoshi said, his facial expression was blankly compared to his bodily gesticulations.

C3 叶嘉敏 Jiamin - 《有你多好》 原唱者:蔡淳佳
- 原来 in the first verse was too low to be enunciated properly
- her heaving breaths were getting a little distracting
- very clear notes to deliver the chorus portions
- 2nd last verse 面 was broken off when it could be smoother
- judges' scores were 8.0+9.0+9.0+8.5= 34.5
- I would have given Jiamin a 8.0 because Jamin remains one of the most consistent performers in this competition so far. Her delivery was still the smoothest amongst all the contestants and thus has been able to garner both grades and votes to send her all the way till this stage of the competition. Unfortunately, Jiamin would not be able to move further if she is not going to show versatility onstage with more genres, more singing styles and more variation in emoting songs. Two of the judges seemed to think Jiamin had the glimmerings of a potential Superstar but I think she needs a breakthrough to truly impress the audience if she makes it through to the upcoming stages of the competition.

C4 丁文淞 Jeremy - 《专属天使》 原唱者:Tank
- 人间 was sung quite weakly
- verses and chorus did not have a clear emotional distinction
- 2nd chorus sounded choppy and thus wasted the potentially romantic tone
- judges' scores were 6.0+6.5+6.5+5.5= 24.5
- I would have given Jeremy a 6.0 because first, Jeremy did not manage to challenge himself with another genre of songs nor vary his singing style to show his versatility on the stage. Secondly, his rendition of the song seemed to lack that earnest feeling that necessitates the gist of the lyrics. I admit that he made very few mistakes in this song but the relative blandness of his rendition is costing him from my perspective. So many people are able to sing this song so I really expected him to deliver something superior than the masses' renditions but he fell short.

Good luck to all the contestants for the voting round tonight! By the way, take a leaf from Fish Leong's singing. For those who were observant enough or those who bothered to watch the repeated telecast, Fish's notes were enunciated clearly and with a kind of bounce that separates her from the mediocre singers. Learn how to treat each note with care and give that beautiful bounce whenever it was necessary. ^__^

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Reply to tags about 16 Feb 2009 Performance Commentaries

ridhwan supporter: Well, I am one of those people who is expecting Ridhwan to be technically as good as the other Chinese contestants because I ardently believe it should be a fair contest of singing skills and performance capabilities between the contestants, reflected in the judges' scores and as far as possible, in my performance commentaries. To me, it doesn't matter whether the contestants are Chinese, Malays, Indians, Caucasians, or any ethnic groups, as long as they are enjoying singing and giving their best but all should do their best to overcome technical problems.

musicrox: Perhaps but stage 3B would be quite a fight to watch out for, right? =)

pew: pew is better sounding than peunice. Hahaha. I did not check back Shawn Tok's version so I could not do any comparison but I still felt that Ridhwan, given his familiarity with JJ Lin's songs, could have given a much better rendition than what he did last Monday.

passer: Joselin sick? I did not know. If you see her, send my regards to her for speedy recovery.

Apparently, my commentaries seemed to have caught the attention of some of the prominent figures in Singapore's music scene because I was being contacted by one of them to comment on the quality of this year's Campus Superstars 3 contestants in the areas of vocal quality as well as suitability for cutting albums.

Surprisingly, this prominent figure managed to locate me over the MSN because another prominent figure in the local music scene was passing my blog address around. While I wondered who else might have my blog URL in hand, I pondered the questions posed to me carefully as I was quite tired from work and the recent heat and haze. I did not want to say anything misleading which might ruin the possible album chances of the contestants unknowingly. Although nothing is set in concrete at this stage of the competition, this prominent music figure do indeed has the resources to organize albums for the Campus Superstars 3 contestants.

A few names were mentioned in our exchanges and we discussed about their singing skills, stage skills, vocal quality, suitability for album marketing and even quality of character and the reason why I want to bring this up is because I want the Campus Superstars 3 contestants as well as singing enthusiasts who are reading my blog to know that these prominent figures do care about the younger generations and how they fare in their performances and henceforth encourage to give their best every time onstage.

Although the identity of this prominent figure as well as the names mentioned during our exchanges will be kept top-secret (I haven't thought of a code-name for this person yet) , it is important to remind all the CSS 3 contestants as well as those interested in going onto the public stage to perform that every single performance on a live stage counts as these may even reach the eyes and ears of those prominent music figures who may already be assessing these performances in their minds.

Good luck to all and I believe I am obliged to reply back to this prominent figure again who left a series of comments while I was offline but I'll do it tomorrow when my energy gives a clearer mind. In any case, my performance commentaries remains unbiased because I'll still be commenting as strictly and fairly as I can on a performance basis.

Have a good week ahead! ^__^

Monday, February 16, 2009

Campus Superstars 3 Round 3 Part 1 of 2 Performance Commentaries

Hi Campus Superstars 3 blog readers!

So sorry but without the official confirmation by the CSS 3 website, and none of the contestants' fanblogs have revealed their song choices, we can only wait until the competition starts in 30 minutes' time to find out.

All the best to the four contestants tonight! ^_^

C1 张慧诗 Rachael - 《至少还有你》 原唱者:林忆莲
- 我怕,愿意 were sung slightly off-key
- 力气 seemed to be swallowed up by her singing
- 们 note transition was not very stable
- judges' scores were 6.0+6.5+5.5+5.5= 23.5
- I would have given Rachael a 6.0 because she did not make any significant improvement in her singing skills at this late stage of the competition and I agreed with Zhan Lun Laoshi that she was being too careful with the song till the flavor of the song was overly-reined in. The song was indeed abit too difficult for Rachael to handle and thus she was unable to emote the full range of emotions intended by the songwriter.

C2 郑琪颖 Benita - 《恋之憩》 原唱者:张泛
- 幽幽, 水手 was sung slightly off-key
- 温柔 note did not seem to reach the desired high
- 回忆才天长地旧 buildup was not as distinctive as necessary
- judges' scores were 6.0+7.5+7.0+6.0= 26.5
- I would have given Benita a 6.5 because she made quite alot of mistakes in a song which I was familiar in. The techical mistakes were somehow soothed out by her confidence onstage but since the competition has already hit this stage, the criteria I set is consequently higher and I felt that Benita still did not have the 柔软度 in transiting between those beautiful lyrics so it fell a little short of my expectations of her command of the song.

C3 林瑞敏 Rachel Lim -《Beautiful Love》 原唱者:蔡健雅
- starting verses' notes were unsteady
- vibrato was overly-used when it was not unnecessary
- judges' scores were 7.5+8.0+7.5+7.0= 30.0
- I would have given Rachel a 8.0 because Beautiful Love is one of the most difficult songs to handle on a live stage but she did an above-expectation rendition of the song. As what Xiao Han Laoshi had commented, the song required a powerful feel and reach towards the audience and Rachel managed to bring that out even though she was fumbling with the unsteady notes at nearly every verse line before the first chorus. From there onwards, Rachel surprised me with a good control of the variations within the choruses and steadied out to give a good climax right till the end of her performance. It was that firm chorus control that won my grades over.

C4 Ridhwan Azman - 《翅膀》 原唱者:林俊杰
- 些 note was held back a beat too quickly
- facial expression was not in line with sad verse lyrics
- chorus was flatter than usual and did not build enough momentum
- 翱翔, 好了 reach was not stretched till desired length
- 眼泪 at the final verse was a beat slower affecting climax ending
- judges' scores were 6.5+6.5+7.0+7.0= 27.0
- I would have given Ridhwan a 6.0 because even though I noticed my grades were lower than all the judges, I thought Ridhwan had been singing too many JJ Lin-R&B styled of songs and never really moved far to improve his genre ever since the competition started. His rendition of this song was also not up to that kind of vibrancy and there were actually portions of downs and ups in the emotions of the song but he seemed to be stuck at only one mode of emotions. The incorrect angular holding of the microphone as pointed out by one of the judges in a previous round was not corrected as well. Without a distinctive improvement or self-challenge to his own vocals, Ridhwan is going to score downhill from here onwards from my end at least.

All the best in the voting rounds for all the contestants! ^__^

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day 2009

Happy Valentine's Day to all my blog readers!

It's another supposed non-official holiday to celebrate romantic love on this planet so for those readers who continue to find meaning in romantic love - my congratulations and well-wishes to you all!!!

I always mused to my friends around me that romantic love is like a game with no definite rules, no definite rewards and no definite penalties. I would like to think of it as a chessboard located on a constantly-moving rubics cube. There are no fixed pieces on the chessboard and there are no fixed black and white squares for the players to move their pieces. Whenever the players turn the rubics cube shaped chessboard, the game takes on a new perspective and the rules change again for the better or for the worse. That is why nobody in the world can say they have it all set in the realm of romantic love because people, issues and circumstances change constantly.

Nevertheless, romantic love is still such an important aspect of human existence because it is one of the differentiating emotions that separates us from the beasts and the non-animated objects on this planet. It drives human beings to say words, do things, perform heroic deeds, make a fool of themselves for the sake of their loved ones and if it affects them deep enough, they would do all those things again and again willingly.

Some people in our lives would have encountered multiple episodes of romantic love; some would have continued one single episode, some relived their memories of old episodes in their minds; some may undergo positive or negative transformations from previous episodes of romantic love while others may continue to crave for new episodes to happen.

Whatever your individual situation or perspective of romantic love is, let's make today a happy or at least a peaceful day over whoever or whatever activity you choose to spend this day over.

Once again, Happy Valentine's Day to all! ^__^

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What are we looking for in a love relationship?

I found the above cartoon strip through Kewei's blog and it's about the quest for love. I thought it was a nice perspective at the things we are looking for in a relationship and maybe we have been looking at the wrong places all these while.

That's my take on the cartoon strip's theme. Don't take my words for it. Why don't you readers click the cartoon above and follow through the next buttons to see if you have your opinions about it?

Have fun! ^__^

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Reply to tags about 9 Feb 2009 CSS performances n blogged commentaries

ridhwan supporter: IMO, they all sang badly tonite except the Jarod kid was ok but dnno why he got so low score...Ai JIa looks like hot favourite to go on and on. seems quite obvious Ai Jia's pronounciation is better than all the rest.. she seem to sing like taiwan singers.

I dun think Jiamin sang well at all... this song is too mature for her to sing.. it sounds weird when she sing cos she can't understand the emotions properly and it sounds weird.

They shud choose songs nearer their age... tt's why Jarod got low score also.. i think Benita also can't handle the song well.. too mature for her also.. sounds weird when she sing cos.. she don't understand the feelings in the song to sing it properly.

Ai JIa chose a fun song.. suits her age...the judges jus wan to hear a something different from her.. if I'm not wrong they wanna see improvement.

Rachel sang the song with not enuff conviction.... same as the last round Jeremy sang the dou jiang you tiao.

Reply: Well, all the contestants did improve a few things in their performances but some remained stagnant in certain areas whilst others slipped backwards. I still kindly stick to my opinion that Jarod did the worst last night despite his efforts but everyone here is entitled to his/her opinions or assessments of the performances. =)

passby: yeah... i agree... aijia out may be a good thing as she may be the champ of css if she revives as revival ones will be champ

Reply: Maybe. Maybe not. It really depends on how careful Aijia can manage her transformation. Don't forget there is still the possibility that other revival contestants or cleared contestants may make quantum improvements somewhere along the future rounds. Such fun anticipation. ^__^

: i guess benita is too jin zhang. thats why she can't sing well. but i believe she can sing much much better than this in next round.same goes to rachael.

Reply: I am admittedly quite worried about Benita's repeated health conditions that had been interfering with her potential performance. Flu, Fever, Asthma - all these can weaken her constitution over time and diminish her chances further in the increasingly competitive rounds. Hope Benita and all the other contestants can take care of their health better. -__-"

: jarod is sick,though it cant be an excuse,but he didn't say out that his sick even though his marks were low. and im sure jarod can do well,just that he is too nervous and everything.i guess the stress he's taking, esp after jiamin scores high. sometimes.choosing wrong song,cant blame them.producers want them to do it,but after all i feel jarod can sing well for TING HAI. just that he din show his potential. im confident of jarod the next round.

aijia did ok,but she was oversafe,and imagine her singing slow songs,i think it'll be bad.thats why i guess her out is not a very shocking thing though i expected her to stay for the next few rounds.look out people,jarod will do well,trust me.alot people voted for jarod,he will make it and be better.
and i feel.

rachael chang singing wasn't good at all.she can only sing such slow songs,no climax songs.jiamin was ok,but the song dont sound smooth. watever it is,i look forward to jarod's next performance,i believe,he wont let his fans and frens down again.he learnt his lesson.

Reply: Let's hope so. From the Pre-Concert till yesterday night, I felt that Jarod had been consistently making a series of disappointing renditions of the classic songs in the Mandarin pop genre. 《新不了情》,《I Believe》, 《听海》were all performed below expectations so I have little patience left for him. If Jarod cannot buck up his standards, and yet somehow continues through the competition, he would not be able to command decent respect from people in front of the stage. -__-

sam (from comments page): did u notice that actually jarod forgot the lyrics? yeah only a few words but how come none of the judges mentioned about it? anyway, i think ai jia's performance was good. so sad that she's out...

Reply: Did he? Perhaps but that was lost to me because I was busy jotting down his other more obvious mistakes during his performance last night. You are probably more observant than I am then. Thanks for commenting as well! ^__^

Joyce Stella: Dorothy, I think Benita is not nervous actually, but she is sick due to the event games that she played on Sat. Anyway, I think that the judges gave AiJia out caused they felt she never change her style, show the judges a different side of her that they wanted to see. in fact, a lot of them were saying that Hui Shi was the one who is doing badly yest, but surprisingly she got in.

Reply: I don't know why the judges did not seem to be bothered that Benita, Jiamin, Jarod and Rachael all sang the same genres of songs from their previous rounds too - sentimental love ballads. Perhaps their bar set for Rachel was much higher than the rest? Puzzled but resigned to the judges' final decision. Rachael's fanbase was extremely fanatic and she even had her own "artiste managers" doing groundwork for her so I was not surprised she got in last night.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Campus Superstars 3 Round 2 Part 2 of 2 Performance Commentaries

Blog post to be updated after the performances as soon as possible.

As I have not received serious and rational protests on the accuracies of my commentaries, I suppose they have been a source of reasonably decent feedback for the competition contestants, supporters, singing enthusiasts and general blog readers thus far.

Whilst waiting for Round 2B to start, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all you hundreds of readers and followers of my performance commentaries out there for your spoken or unspoken support of my performance commentaries.

I value your presence here because you form part of the interested community for constructive discussion of singing, music, entertainment and related performances.

Good luck to all the contestants tonight! ^__^

C1 郑琪颖 Benita -《蓝天》 原唱者:张惠妹
- 扎了 was dragged out a little too long
- 弦 sounds like it was not enunciated
- 退, 陷 could not seem to reach the desired high note
- last word of each line during chorus was over-emphasized
- judges' scores were 6.0+7.5+6.5+6.0= 26.0
- I would have given Benita a 6.5 because I could not really feel the song as in its supposed freedom experienced by the song persona between the lines seemed to be lost as Benita seemed to have over-concentrated on the details of the song and neglected emoting the song properly. Perhaps I had a high expectation of any rendition of this song but was disappointed as Benita was tripped up, giving neither the technical or the emotional aspect of the song a proper treatment.

C2 蔡艾珈 Rachel Chua -《C 大调》 原唱者:张韶涵
- 妥协, 世界 note was unsteady
- stage was not fully utilized properly to theme of song
- admirable falsetto control
- judges' scores were 6.5+6.5+7.0+6.0= 26.0
- I would have given Rachel a 7.5 because she managed to bring out the flavor of the song in its playfulness and self-confidence of the song persona. I noticed my score was different from the judges but I stood by my judgment because even though I agreed with Fei Hui Laoshi that Rachel did not have any significant breakthrough in her presentation of songs, I was even more adamant to point out that neither did the rest of the contestants in their genre of songs for Round 2B . I want to give Rachel the encouragement that she was the only contestant who fielded a fast and difficult track and nailed it to my listening and viewing satisfaction.

C3 叶嘉敏 Jiamin -《雨天》 原唱者:孙燕姿
- 愿 note was not as clear as desired
- 慢, 太晚 seemed to have sung off-key
- 越来越远 was dragged out necessarily
- admirable emotional commitment
- judges' scores were 7.0+8.0+8.0+8.0= 31.0
- I would have given Jiamin a 7.5 because I concurred with the judges about her excellent emotional management of the song, which was a visible notch higher than the rest of the contestants tonight. However, I did not think Jiamin outdid Rachel in terms of technical command because she did make quite a lot of mistakes and I thought she was still a little bit too careful with the song to be completely immersing herself in the rendition, especially at the second part of the song. Jiamin must learn to move away from sentimental love ballads if she pulls through this round whilst Rachel must learn to commandeer such ballads if they are to continue to score high in my commentaries.

C4 李奕贤 Jarod -《听海》 原唱者:张惠妹
- 我,梦, 外,从 notes were unsteady
- vibrato was not being reined in throughout most of the song
- 如 note was over-emphasized unnecessarily
- missed a beat right before 至少 due to swallowing
- 离开 was swallowed in the course of singing
- judges' scores were 6.0+7.0+6.0+5.5= 24.5
- I would have given Jarod a 5.5 because I was quite disappointed with his rendition of what was an excellent classic by the original singer. Although I could tell from his strained facial expression that he was trying his best to emote the song, his repeated and long string of technical mistakes were throwing whatever remaining concentration I had during his performance into disarray. I agreed with Zhan Lun Laoshi's comment that the song was beyond the grasp of Jarod and if he managed to pull through Round 2B, another failure to select a suitable song for himself would probably mean a more disastrous score for him.

C5 张慧诗 Rachael -《孤单北半球》 原唱者:林依晨
- 用,晚,两端 had difficult reaching the low notes
- facial expression did not fully complement chorus portions
- E 给你的照片 seemed to be missing from the song
- judges' scores were 7.0+7.5+6.5+6.0= 27.0
- I would have given Rachael a 6.0 because I thought her performance was enjoyable enough even though she suffered repeated bouts of not being able to reach the low notes during all the verses. Qi Yu Laoshi mentioned about her incorrect camera facings during her performance whilst I would like to comment on how her facial expression could have more room for improvement especially the chorus portions as she was looking rather rigid then. I thought I picked up a missing half of one of the verse lines near the end of Rachael's performance but without a playback at the time of typing, I could not verify as none of the judges mentioned it. Either case, the suspected missing lyrics was not obvious enough and Rachael confidently sang through it without deliberately hiding it.

Good luck for the voting portion of the competition! ^__^

Sunday, February 08, 2009

VIP Chinese New Year n Birthday Gathering 07 Feb 2009

Yesterday was a Chinese New Year for VIPs as well as a birthday celebration for one of them. Unfortunately for my readers, no photographs would be provided for this entry because it was really not an appropriate event to be snapping pictures away because these VIPs did not give permission for their photos to be taken and published on this blog.

As the venue of the gathering was at my house, so my mother decided to prepare a mini-feast to entertain the guests. She was a very persistent chef and I got chased out of the kitchen for the entire morning because she said I would be in her way. -__-"

The VIPs arrived in the afternoon and we had quite a number of home-made dishes on the table including seafood fried rice, fried egg noodles, green vegetables, fresh salad, bean sprouts with salted fish pieces, roasted duck, mutton stew, yusheng and fruit-jelly platter. Dessert was a yummy chocolate birthday cake for the birthday VIP. After an hour's worth of eating and joyous chatter, the VIPs retreated to the living room for an after-meal chat and I brought a few of them for a quick tour of the house, showing my workstation and bedroom and whatever interesting collection of things I had inside.

Karaoke was in session in the late afternoon so the whole bunch of us went over to an undisclosed K-box branch to continue the celebrations. Most of us were too bloated with food to start off the session properly but as the session continues, the fun builds up and everyone ended the three hour session on a high. As the group was big and we kept shoving songs to the birthday VIP who had to oblige, my song list for yesterday's session was shorter than usual but it was still fun to pack in the following songs and I was glad to get them done properly:
《月光》- 黄靖伦
《夜夜夜夜》- 梁静茹
《洋葱》- 杨宗纬
《爱爱爱》《Love Song》- 方大同
《擦肩而过》《眼底星空》- 李圣杰

After singing, we decided to hop over to a more secluded shopping mall to ease back for a small dinner and managed to settle on Sakae Sushi and filled up dinner time with quieter talk over Japanese food before retiring home for the night. Another round of celebrations was enthusiastically chirped in by the birthday VIP and it is scheduled tonight. Hopefully, I can get some photos in for the upcoming round of celebrations.

Time to prepare for some work now. Have a good Sunday, my blog readers! ^__^

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Book Review: Attila The Hun and Funny Japanese Advertisements

Book Review: Attila The Hun

As known from my previous blog posts, I would pick up the occasional historical book about epic heroes and villains to read about how they had shaped the world that we have come to know of.

Recently, I just finished reading Attila The Hun by Marilyn Tower Oliver (published by Lucent Books in 2005). It's about Attila, a very powerful and savage king of the Hunnic tribes believed from Mongolia around 450 AD. Attila, was born in a culture of warfare and brutality and subsequently became a leader of the Hunnic tribes through patience, cunning and proven skill on both the battlefields and the diplomatic negotiations. Finally uniting the loose alliance of Hunnic tribes into a formidable army of highly-skilled Hunnic cavalry and infantry, Attila unleashed hell upon many opponents during his eight years' reign as leader of the Huns.

He was considered a extremely dangerous threat and arch-nemesis of the Western and Eastern Roman Empires because his military exploits often ended with the burning of cities, massive bloodbaths, mutilation of captives' body parts and enslavement of captives. Yet, Attila also kept his opponents confused with alternating threats of wars and peace, demanding huge tributes of gold and silver from both Roman Empires.

Although there were many interpretations of Attila by the ancient Roman and Greek historians as a barbaric and bloodthirsty king (there was no known written Hunnic language), he was also feared by many religious scholars then as The Scourge of God who supposedly cleansed the lands of Christianity of those who were not pious enough, and revered by the Hunnic tribes as a god descended to aid the Hunnic people to greater power and prosperity. The handful few who successfully stood against Attila were subsequently honoured as saviours of civilization and humanity where some even became patron saints.

Attila died a sudden and mysterious death during one of his many weddings when he was found with fatal internal bleeding from his nose, which was attributed to his excessive consumption of alcohol during the previous night's celebrations. He left a huge legacy of fear and respect through plunder and pillage for many Romans, Greeks and barbarian tribes then and was regarded as one of the top five villains in the history of mankind even till today.

Funny Japanese Advertisements:

Here's some humorous advertisements to lighten up my blog and my readers' day. I usually don't surf Youtube for such advertisements but at the recommendations of one of my students, whom I shall henceforth codenamed as The Yearning Tablet, I decided to put up two of what I considered to be really amusing advertisements. Have fun laughing! ^__^

Monday, February 02, 2009

Campus Superstars 3 Round 2 Part 1 of 2 Performance Commentaries

Reply to tags:

passby: benita is C1? Hmm..information is different on my end. Oh well, we'll wait for the official site's update for next week then. Thanks for tagging!

pew: Hmm...good question. Although the general consensus was that Ridhwan improved the most for yesterday night, I personally thought Rachel Lim did a very good job on the vocal aspect. For most of the time, if her stage presentation skills did not hinder her overall performance, I thought Rachel's control of the extremely difficult song was admirable (only a handful of my friends can commandeer that song). The reach was there and the feel was right too.

fiona: Jeremy was much more confident than he was in the previous round but he tipped over to presenting his performance as way too casual for the song, staying well within his comfort zone given his range of manageable notes. I wouldn't go so far to say his performance is "insincere" but Jeremy did give the impression that the song was simply too easy for him.

I had expected Joselin to really give a good rock performance for that song but she was still too conservative - seemingly to have alot on her mind during her performance. I thought she was cocooning herself for reasons beyond my understanding and could not outdo herself since the Pre-concert performance.

Ridhwan was given more praises because of his relatively large improvement since his earlier near-defeat performance at Stage 1B but like Xiaohan laoshi, I noticed Ridhwan has been consistently picking R&B-styled songs and he may run into the same problems as Jeremy by playing too safe. Again, Ridhwan's familiarity with Chinese language is not within my considerations since he knows exactly what he is getting himself into - A Mandarin pop singing competition.

Of course, all my readers are entitled to their own opinions as to who improved the most. As long as it's a healthy, non-flaming discussion, there is simply no reason not to have alternative views from different readers.

My advice to the five contestants at Stage 2B on 9 February would be: Choose your songs carefully to showcase your improvements from your last known performance. If you are unable to have any breakthrough, you shouldn't be surprised if your scores from the judges start to stagnant or even fall.

Blog post to be updated after the performances.

Good luck to all the contestants tonight!

C1 蔡梦真 Shelly - 《星光》 原唱者:S.H.E
- 散, 艳 were sung slightly off-key
- chorus and verses were not clearly differentiated
- dance moves were not executed sharply
- 何必向往 lyrics were forgotten
- 光 note was not held long enough
- judges' scores were 5.5+6.0+3.5+4.0= 19.0
- I would have given a 5.0 because Shelly forgotten her lyrics and I agreed that her notes were quite jumbled throughout the song. If only Shelly could have designated some parts of the song as climaxes to push the song through better...

C2 丁文淞 Jeremy - 《豆浆油条》 原唱者:林俊杰
- accent was overly-deliberated
- he was managing the song way too alike to the original singer
- 需要 was nearly eaten up by his singing twice over
- 让我 was enunciated incorrectly
- judges' scores were 7.0+6.5+5.0+5.0= 23.5
- I would have given a 6.0 because Jeremy performed overly-safe and did not demonstrate an ability to challenge himself to better the original rendition. My score was given so because he had a technical superiority in terms of controlling the song properly but did not go on to differentiate his version to make the song uniquely his onstage.

C3 黄慧婷 Joselin - 《热情的沙漠》 原唱者: 欧阳菲菲
- 也 was not enunciated properly
- there did not seem to have enough breath left after each line during the verses
- the buildup to the chorus was not as strong as expected
- chorus endnotes require a little more punch to hit the max attitude and flavour
- judges' scores were 6.0+7.0+7.5+6.5= 27.0
- I would have given a 6.5 because it is not an easy to carry off but Joselin made the song her own at certain junctures. However, because I have heard many versions of the same song by many singers before, her rendition is still relatively weak in terms of drawing the audience into the song's mood when she could have let loose a little bit more, 野性多一点点 .

C4 Ridhwan Azman - 《空秋千》 原唱者:林宇中
- most of the first notes of the first verse started a little too low
- the chorus did not have the intended swing upwards at the designated places
- 太 was mildly mis-enunciated.
- judges' scores were 6.5+7.0+6.5+7.0= 27.0
- I would have given a 7.0 because Ridhwan managed to improve upon his previous song and I appreciated a difficult start to challenge himself by sitting down to start the song. Although I agreed with Xiaohan laoshi about giving himself a better challenged song the next time round, I thought Ridhwan had chosen his song more appropriately than the previous three contestants who had bitten a little bit more than they could handle so a bonus 0.5 was given.

C5 林瑞敏 Rachel Lim - 《月牙湾》 原唱者:F.I.R.
- 好吗 at the first chorus was sung a little bit off-key
- finally opened up at chorus because verses were a little bland
- good touch in management certain endnotes in opera-style
- stage posture could have been a little bit more active
- last note was held well for a good ending
- judges' scores were 6.0+6.5+6.5+6.0= 25.0
- I would have given a 6.5 because Rachel gave a decent performance for an exceptionally difficult song. She did a good job with the sustained falsetto choruses and micro-management of the choruses' endnotes but it was negated by a relatively poor rendition of the verses which could have been more colorfully vocalized Her rather awkward and passive stage gesticulation also took out some marks from a potentially strong performance.

All the best for the voting round!