Saturday, January 16, 2010

AJL Is a Song Festival For Songwriters and Musicians Not Singers

See Who Are Holding the Tropies

The Wikipedia says that TV3’s Anugerah Juara Lagu (AJL) honors the composers and lyricists of the songs rather than the performing artistes. However, by going by what we have seen, AJL has proved to be a battlefield for popular singers and aspiring ones and not songwriters and lyricists. The red carpet tradition of the Grammy Awards certainly made sure of this. It was certainly a day when the singers got all the prominence instead of songwriters and musicians as should have been the case. Even the fine band led by Ramli M.S. was also totally off screen. It should be day for the songwriters and lyricists.

However, in spite of poor pitch accuracy by many performers; the AJL24 has received enough raves if we go by what has been reported in the dailies which also reflect the Malaysian shallowness and understanding of what a song festival should be like. I feel that the AJL has lost its original sense of direction and focus as conceived in 1986 by its progenitors.

The choice of judges too is of paramount importance if there is to be a panel. The judges should be able to read and understand the music score of the song that is being judged. It follows that they should be also musically literate to do so. Their ability to judge the song minus the theatrics and audio visual frills is vital. They would have to look into musical aspects of the composition which must be the prime concern. Well educated and trained musicians in popular music would then be also able to judge the melodic schemes, compositional techniques and harmonic possibilities better. Certainly neither a corporate man nor a musically illiterate singer has a place in such a line up of judges. Perhaps it would be better to leave the judging purely to text messaging by fans as is the trend and not make a mockery of professional judging.

The technical aspects of the production itself were quite good with a very generous use if not an overuse of all possible audio visual logistics available in Malaysia except perhaps lasers. Some might even consider TV3 going overboard especially with the 140 units moving lights which blinded the audience as well as the cameras. The broadcast mix could have been better although the live mix was probably much better.

However, all said and done, TV3 is to be congratulated for organizing its Anugerah Juara Lagu 24 (AJL24) song festival without name changes and also continuously without fail for the last 24 years. On the other hand, for example, RTM has had the habit of changing names of entertainment contests too frequently such as its band competitions which started with Muzik, Muzik Muzik in 1968 to Juara Kugiran then to Pertandingan Pancaragam and more recently to Rentak Juara without any sense of tradition or continuation. Some rethinking for AJL 25 would be in order.

Joe Chelliah