MANILA, Philippines - When we first heard that the ?Asian Idol? regional singing tilt finals were instituting the ?double country? voting scheme, we felt uneasy.
We knew that it was being imposed to prevent ?country favoritism? (for example, Indonesians voting only for the Indonesian bet). But, we sensed that some voters could manipulate it by voting for their country?s representative and the perceived weakest finalist?and that the scheme could blew up in their faces, if that weakest bet received an inordinately huge number of ?throwaway? votes!
Was this what indeed transpired during the voting phase of the recent ?Asian Idol? finals? Only the official tabulators could say for sure. But, many viewers were thrown for a loop when one of the ?weaker? bets, Singapore?s Hady Mirza, emerged as the first Asian Idol, beating the tilt?s more ?favored? finalists.
Singapore being only a ?small? country, it was deemed unlikely that its bet could garner enough votes to emerge a serious contender?unless enough viewers appreciated his talent and charisma enough to forget ?country loyalty? and vote for him.
Cool yet dynamic
That, too, was possible, since Hady surprised many viewers, including us, with his impressively cool and yet dynamic performance in the finals.
Whenever we?re in Singapore, we make it a point to sample its local entertainment, both on TV and in clubs, and we?ve generally felt that Singaporean singers tend to sound a bit dated, both in singing style and repertoire.
But Hady was definitely notches above this desultory norm, and ended up as one of our own best bets. So, when he won, we weren?t as stunned as some other viewers must have been.
We were also surprised by the stellar quality of the performances turned in by Malaysia?s Jaclyn Victor and Vietnam?s Phuong Vy. To our mind, Mirza, Victor and Vy were standout ?Idol? material because they sounded and looked good.
With some exceptions, this is the stellar combination that ?makes? outstanding singing idols. Even more positively, these three young bets could also do well internationally.
Indonesia?s Mike Mohede and the Philippines? Mau Marcelo also impressed viewers with their exceptional voices, but their girth made them look sluggish and dowdy compared to the younger, trimmer bets.
India?s Abhijeet Sawant was another voice-and-looks package, but his ?balladeer? projection was less dynamic. Of course, with India?s huge potential ?voting? population, he could still have come out on top?but that didn?t happen.
Despite the surprises and disappointments involved, the first ?Asian Idol? regional tilt was a success, because it produced a number of relatively new singing stars who, like their US counterparts, could help energize the Asian and international music scene for many show biz seasons to come.