Saturday, July 10, 2010

Performance Commentaries For Royal International Group (R.I.G) Artistes' Showcase 10 Jul 2010 @ Bukit Timah Plaza

It's been a while since I went for such artistes' showcases - there aren't many new artistes around in Singapore since most of the attention is shifted to Korean popstars. The last ones were an album release by Tay Kewei and a media press conference by Serene Koong. This one is different because it features a group of newcomers who have just started their lives as artistes under Royal International Group.

As usual, I arrived early to recce the place and explore Bukit Timah Plaza. It's been many years since I last stepped inside the place and it was renovated and many new shops replaced the old ones which I remembered. There was some live beauty pageant competition about usual beauty which featured people with non-hourglass figures and I thought it was a refreshing take on beauty but I did not stay to watch because my feet were eager to explore the place more.

The stage was quite well done - a cross-stage with plenty of illumination at each corner and flanked by two small floral stands. There seemed to be something missing though - feedback speakers, which meant the performers would not hear how they sound onstage at all.
R.I.G artistes were already at the venue before the event began and they were seated and waiting patiently at their seats. This was a major plus to the artiste management of R.I.G because punctuality is such an under-rated virtue and this first impression of punctuality will add a lot of brownie points in the minds of future sponsors and event organizers who usually have a lot at stake whenever artistes arrive late or behave irresponsibly.
The emcee,Wei Lun, kicked off the event at 3.30pm sharp and started warming up the audience for the upcoming series of performances and games. Late digging revealed that he was no ordinary emcee but actually an important figure of RIG - no wonder he has above average observation skills.
I believe this artiste is called Angie and she was the first performer for the event. It must have been nerve-wrecking for her because although her conversations with the emcee were friendly, her body language was pretty stiff as seen above.
Overall, she made a tremendous effort to warm up the stage for the rest of her colleagues at R.I.G. Thumbs up for her consideration.
I could not catch the name of this artiste but she seemed to know about stage movement and made some use of the beautifully-carpeted stage but she was still very nervous and kept missing the beats of her songs. At a certain point, she forgot her lyrics for a Liang Yongqi's song and got even more nervous, taking quite long before she could recover her composure. She has my compliments because it was not easy to recover after one has forgotten the song lyrics and broke momentum for so long. I know because I forgot my lyrics once too. Hahaha.
I thought she tried her best to regain her composure onstage but he was obviously disturbed after she left the stage. All I could say is that at least she finished her song instead of just waiting for the music to end. That reminded me of a contestant of some previous competition who ended up sobbing onstage because she forgot her lyrics. This artiste did not break down - she has more courage indeed.
The emcee then introduced the 3rd R.I.G artiste, known as Max.
I liked the quality of Max's singing voice because he was able to find some of the older Mandarin pop songs with decency - choosing Jackie Cheung and Daniel Chen's classic songs. I especially liked the second song because he delivered a kind of feel which most younger singers lacked whenever they sang such songs. However, Max seemed easily distracted by almost everything downstage and could not concentrate on his songs as well - rushing beats at certain points and he made such deliberate attempts to end some of the chorus lines that it seemed too forced and unnatural. I suppose Max must learn to find his own way to handle the song instead of rigidly trying to copy the original singers' ways of handling the same songs.
Overall, I thought Max would be able to fulfill more potential once he has learned more about singing and game participation skills (see below) and with age on his side, it would be plausible to contemplate a bright future in this line.
Max did below-par in this round of games where each of the three artistes who had performed had to find a partner from the audience and read out some tongue twisters aloud. Although he tried to circumvent the game by splitting the tongue-twister with his audience partner, he was not attentive enough to give a hand to his audience partner and merely stood beside the audience partner after the games had ended. In fact, I did not recall any of the artistes personally thanking their audience partners onstage or interacting more with them. I believe some brownie points were lost for lack of public relations skills onstage.
An important lesson for artistes is to showcase the human side of their stage personalities - to be able to interact freely with their audience onstage and be attentive enough to their needs and not neglect them just because the games were interesting to watch.
The fourth artiste from R.I.G is called Yi Ting and the poor new artiste was being bombarded till dumbfounded by the emcee with difficult questions. It must have been incredibly difficult to construct answers to questions about how her role in the artiste group was but she seemed composed enough and I wanted to compliment on her superior dress sense, which amplified her presence onstage even before she performed.
Yi Ting picked the classic English song "Sometimes When We Touch" but failed to deliver a good rendition of it because her lack of experience in singing was obvious from her lack of breath and weak vocal projection. She did not manage to buildup properly to the chorus and the song went pretty flat from there onwards.
Yi Ting then picked a fast number from Mandarin pop and yet she seemed to be able to enunciate Mandarin better than what the emcee had given credit for. Although she maintained very friendly facial expression to suit the song's theme, her body language and gesticulation needed more work. She seemed to enjoy the song though but could not relay that enjoyment to the audience.
The emcee stepped onstage again after she finished her two songs and emcee interaction improved tremendously compared to the earlier one. At least she wrapped up her performance on a lighter-hearted note. This artiste definitely had the presence onstage but would need quite some help to develop her stage skills if she is to shine further onstage.
Joseph, the young founder of Youthbox Singapore, went onstage to show his singing chops. Although he is renowned for his emo-ness on Facebook, Joseph displayed his brand of professionalism by delivering stable performances and much better presentation of body language onstage. His stage experience showed the relativity between what experienced performers could not compared to the inexperienced ones seen earlier on.
This elegantly-dressed lady is the artiste manager for this group of R.I.G artistes - Serena is her name. She was busy moving from group to group, not forgetting to interact with the various managers of the venue and other VIPs at the audience area. (Pardon the poor lighting because there was a spotlight right behind the audience standing area in the way)
Joseph at his work again. Nothing much to say about his singing but he could surely do with another outfit because I keep seeing him in the same stage outfit with that tie. Haha.
The emcee then surprised Joseph by arranging Elson, Joseph's idol, to sing an impromptu duet together. Joseph was, of course, elated and both of them took up the performance together with gusto.
I am not familiar with Elson's songs and since this one is an impromptu performance and a surprise present for Joseph, no performance commentary was made since both of them were having so much fun singing.
Well, both of them simply enjoyed the duet. Enough said.
The emcee then invited another new R.I.G artiste onstage, Joy, who was supposed to sing another duet with Joseph. Joy had some trouble interacting onstage because she kept forgetting to speak into the microphone but fortunately, she corrected her error later on during her performances.
I think it was a fast track from a Mandarin pop group called 大嘴巴 and both of them danced and teased each other onstage within the dynamic song. I thought it was one of the best performance for the day because it had so much entertainment value as Joseph and Joy had quite some synergy between them.
Joy was next to deliver a solo performance and I must say she was very energetic throughout, and being able to dance freely and stay cheery onstage are major pluses for new artistes. One must be comfortable in one's skin onstage and remember to deliver entertainment to the audience. She managed to do all these, which was pretty impressive for a newcomer.
She managed her songs with a fluidity that is rare for usually nervous newcomers but her control of her ending notes on some lines needed some work before her singing skills could truly mature well.
Another round of games where the artistes themselves were supposed to play some charade of sorts but I thought it was not exactly a good game to play because there was barely any audience interaction. These four artistes lost a valuable opportunity to do so just because the game was only between the artistes themselves. The prizes were some donuts, which was alright for a weekend snack I suppose.
The next R.I.G artiste to be invited onstage was known as YP. A tall, suave-looking young man who seemed rather confident onstage and I heard that he is due to release his very own EP next month.
YP's singing was rather coarse at the start with slurred lyrics at the verses but he managed to buildup properly towards the chorus portions. Other than Yi Ting, this YP is another young artiste who exudes calm confidence and a stage presence through his words and actions. No wonder he is picked to release an EP.

Another new R.I.G artiste called Clara was invited onstage to sing a duet with YP and this was the second of the very good performances for the afternoon because their coordination was very good and the harmonizing was seamless because both voices blended excellently into each other's. The only thing lacking was the lack of interaction between the two duet singers. See how far apart they are standing from each other.
Even when they are singing together and facing each other, neither of them budged an inch. Maybe they were too shy. Haha.
The social distance remained alienable even when they moved to the lower part of the stage and swapped positions. It was only till the end that they managed to interact directly by holding hands. I thought it was a awkward duet to watch (due to the shyness of the performers) but a pleasurable one to listen to.
Clara is also one of the most stable performers I have witnessed in the entire afternoon. She seemed experienced onstage - not a shred of fear nor hesitation and was fully concentrating on delivering her songs. She also had one of the best buildup for her songs though she sang off-key for one of the later choruses.
She is definitely another young artiste who has strong potential to grow in this area, given the opportunities and development space. I was actually looking forward to her second song but she picked a fairly weak song that failed to showcase her strengths to further impress the audience. A pity there.
Elson Soh, the final of the artistes to come onstage, was probably most suitable for the finale performances because his singing is stable and his presence is comfortable onstage. It seems he is very popular within Bukit Timah Plaza - late investigations reveal he was a favorite poster boy for sponsorships within the mall.
His choice of the first two songs were a little bit less lack-luster though because neither of the songs manage to reach any form of climax to draw enough attention to the audience (the punchlines within the songs were not obvious enough). The last two songs were much better, probably because they were his own songs and thus he was much more familiar with them. Word has reached me that he had just recovered from a surgical procedure and I could tell that he was not really pushing his vocals, as there was that tiny edge of caution whenever he hit the falsetto portions.
Lastly, all the RIG artistes were invited onstage for everyone to have a second good look at them. I thought they have potential to shine but they will need at least another half-dozen stage exposures to allow them to grow to be comfortable onstage and hone their performance skills.
Overall, I thought the showcase was a respectable one since most of them are very new to the stage but has shown some promise in entertaining the people. The venue, Bukit Timah Plaza, though homeground to Elson Soh, was however not an ideal location if all these young RIG artistes hope to gain more publicity because the number of people going through the mall is not still optimal, considering it was a weekend. Perhaps the management can consider, if they are ever reading this, to try rotating them through some of the other major neighborhood malls before eventually putting them onstage at the city center malls.

The emcee then announced again that there would be a PK challenge on the 8 August 2010 against three defending artistes from RIG. The winner of the competition gets to win a one-year contract from RIG. I have invited some of the competent singing enthusiasts that I know to try out at the competition. I hope it will be another enriching exchange of songs and talent then!

All the best to these young aspiring stars! ^__^