At the AJL34 extravaganza, Naim Daniel scored his first gold in a song contest, Hafiz Suip made a good comeback and even satire gets a dramatic hand
NAIM Daniel Baharin is so adorable, especially to his female fans, that screams fill the concert hall whenever he takes to the stage.
As soon as the 12 finalists of Anugerah Juara Lagu 34 (AJL34) were unveiled by organiser TV3 late last year, many netizens predicted that Naim would win handsomely.
The 22-year-old singer-actor from Negri Sembilan first found fame playing the teenage version of actor Remy Ishak’s slow-ageing hero Budi Abdul Halim in KRU’s 2012 historical fantasy 29 Februari.
Naim has also released four singles, all of which have had good radio airplay.
Last Sunday, AJL34 which was held at Axiata Arena, Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur, turned out to be a special night for Naim.
One of 12 performers, he received a standing ovation from the audience.
Disguised as an anime hero complete with “metallic” makeup courtesy of fashion designer Hatta Dolmat, Naim captivated music lovers and put them under his melodious spell with Sumpah.
This poignant song about lost love, guilt, redemption and hope is Naim’s biggest hit to date which he wrote and composed with Omar K.
Naim gave an imaginative performance. With silver hair and a copper suit, the singer stood atop a giant rock, meant to be a dying planet.
And twirling around the “big rock” were a dozen dancers dressed in outfits that matched his ensemble.
Each of them carried a silver orb that resembled a crystal ball, and scenes of faraway planets, comets, asteroids and stars filled the screen behind them.
As predicted by many, Naim’s “cosmic anime tale” bagged the Best Song prize of RM50,000.
The win surprised Naim who tearfully said when he was receiving his trophy: “Thank you, my dear fans. Your support has brought me this far, and it’s a night I’ll never forget.”
Speaking to reporters after the 150-minute concert, Naim admitted that he was initially nervous when he took to the stage.
However, Omar advised him to relax and do his best, by sticking to his plan and “going all out” to entertain fans.
“It’s been a good fight. I was a little scared at first because of the great singers whom I was up against.
“But then, being nervous can be good because it makes me do my best,” said Naim.
Sarawakian vocal powerhouse Hafiz Suip, 30, made a strong comeback after a two-year hiatus by winning Best Vocals and Best Performance.
Both award categories carried cash prizes of RM12,000.
Hafiz received a standing ovation when he serenaded audiences with the family-oriented song Kisah Cinta Kita.
Literally about the loves of his life — his pregnant wife Effy Jasreel Abdullah and their 3-year-old son Riyadh — Kisah Cinta Kita was written by television drama producer Datuk A. Aida and composed by Ikhwan Fatanna and Ayden Ali.
Hafiz sported a slightly longer hairdo than usual and was dressed stylishly in a black suit.
Sounding more mature but just as melodious as before, Hafiz had the crowd singing along with him.
And when he got down from stage to hug and kiss Effy, who was seated in the front row, cheers erupted all over the hall.
Hafiz said that it was great to be back.
“It is my labour of love for my wife and children, not just Riyadh but his younger brother or sister who will be arriving next month,” he said.
“I feel like a superdad tonight, so thank you fans and friends.”
Hafiz admitted that the two female singers of AJL34 were his most formidable competitors, and he had the utmost respect for them.
“Aina Abdul and Ernie Zakri were very strong challengers. Aina really does the low notes well, while Ernie’s performance was cool yet full of fire.”
The second-prized song went to the only hip-hop act, first-time AJL performer Aman Ra.
Titled Bangun, it was a catchy motivational song which featured a black-and-white video of Aman zooming around Kuala Lumpur on his motorcycle.
The heartwarming video showed him thanking a pre-teen brother and sister who presented him with a hand-drawn Good Luck card for AJL34.
Aman, who took home RM35,000, rode his motorcycle onto the stage to the accompaniment of nine musicians.
Wearing a batik shirt and pants, he leapt from his vehicle and displayed slick dance moves as he rapped.
At every step, he called on his fans to sing, dance and clap along.
Bangun was the most upbeat song of the evening and even if audiences did not dance, they swayed and clapped along with Aman.
“Bangun’s strength is its catchy and upbeat tune.
“It is a song that gets us on our feet,” said Aman.
“Hip-hop isn’t very often present in AJL but I’m glad it has won again and is here to stay.”
Bob Yusof, another Sarawakian vocal powerhouse, saw his song Anta Permana finish third. Bob, song composers and lyricists Hael Husaini Razmi and Ezra Kong won RM20,000.
Bob, smartly dressed in a maroon suit, was accompanied by 10 dancers as he sang the enchanting Arabic-sounding melody.
Best known for singing 2013’s National Day song Di Sini Lahirnya Sebuah Cinta, he did justice to the song originally sung by pop queen Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza with his crisp and clear vocals.
A pleasant surprise soon came from behind Bob. Siti emerged on stage in a matching maroon dress, and they both sang Anta Permana’s final verse as a duet.
Even though Siti’s microphone had a slight malfunction, she sportingly sang her lines to everyone’s delight.
Singer-songwriter Haqiem Rusli’s song Lembah Kesepian won the Fans’ Choice Award.
A story of fatherly love, it was written by Goufran and Ibnu, and composed by Haqiem himself.
Haqiem, who wore a maroon suit and sunglasses, delivered a solemn performance which brought many in the audience to tears.
In the background, he was accompanied by moonlight and stars, and the sad serenade of a flute.
Haqiem’s guest star suddenly emerged during the chorus, in the form of top actor Datuk Rosyam Nor.
Fans cheered the award-winning film star, and gave him and the singer a standing ovation once they embraced to mark the end of the song.
Despite the controversies he had faced last year, Haqiem had successfully bounced back into top form and had given his best to fans.
Kugiran Masdo lived up to its retro image, performing the love song Dinda with a kampung theme.
They rocked around 12 bunga manggar trees and two strategically-placed dodol pots, accompanied by 36 dancers in multi-coloured kebaya dresses.
Aina was hauntingly beautiful with Sumpah as a “snow queen” in a misty, enchanted forest that slowly turned red, and back to white.
Even her dress “bled”, courtesy of special effects, to symbolise heartbreak.
Her deep voice a la Janelle Monae was a show-stealer. It was full of soul and had honesty written all over it.
Akim And The Majistret was joined by a guest magician who made the band members “appear” as images on the cards in his hands.
As soon as he disappeared, the band emerged from behind luminous doors to deliver their power-packed song Rampas.
Fairuz sang Ragaman and he strongly resembled the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee, with a crisp Singapore Malay accent reminiscent of the legend’s days in Jalan Ampas.
Wearing a red retro suit like the King Of Entertainment, he had as his theme a ronggeng club and six dancers with high hair.
Ernie sang a hard-hitting but jazzy anthem about women’s empowerment.
Ku Bersuara was accompanied by footage of crimes against women in the newspapers, and shadows of brave women fighting sexual abuse.
Ernie donned a long, purple dress, and was accompanied by 10 musicians and 20 singers, all dressed in black
Hazama appeared with his band amidst a green forest. Belting out Peneman, a painful song about friendship, he sported long hair and a thick moustache which he specially grew for his new film Rock 4.
Drama Band delivered Drama, a satire of a song, dressed as masked men a la V For Vendetta.
The band was accompanied by 24 masked dancers, including two who parodied public figures, and all of them spontaneously invited the audience to sing along.
The light-hearted song about Malaysians’ overreactions in various situations helped set the mood for the arrival of the “golden oldies” of AJL.
These veterans comprising Datuk David Arumugam of The Alleycats, Fredo Villenguez, Datuk Hattan and Datuk M. Nasir gave everyone a stirring interlude before the winners were announced.
They all paid tribute to Nasir’s award-winning compositions which included The Alleycats’ Kerana, Hattan’s Memburu Rindu, Flybaits’ Kenangan Lalu, Bloodshed’s Srikandi Cintaku and Nasir’s Suatu Masa.
The most popular among them was undoubtedly Nasir himself whose manly yet soothing voice ended the segment with the reflective yet majestic Suatu Masa.
The opening segment which kicked off at 9pm was a colourful and star-studded tribute to all the winning songs of past AJLs. The stars included Adibah Noor, Hazami, Lah Ahmad, Liza Hanim, Black, Jaclyn Victor, Marsha Londoh, Misha Omar, Dayang Nurfaizah, and Siti Nordiana.
AJL34 was co-hosted by Awal Ashaari, Haziq Hussni and Sherry Alhadad, and telecast live at 8.30pm.