THEY say fame is fleeting. One day, you’re a hero, the next, your image is crushed to bits.
Today, those in the entertainment industry know full well the need to be constantly evolving, and to make the “kill” while still at the top and idolised by fans.
They understand instinctively that there must always be something new to draw in the public. You are lucky if you can remain in the industry for a decade. For some, it could be just a couple of years. After that, when popularity dwindles, the star’s lustre diminishes, slowly but surely. Unless you accept to play a more senior role as the village imam and the like, and make it big again.
And so, some choose to try other related craft, adding oomph to their current star power — one way to increase their shelf life, with the added preservatives.
In recent times, we witness many celebrities racing to gather the most feathers in their caps. Some do so to appease their fans, while others hope to be more marketable, hence, more trips to the bank.
Being a jack of all trades is considered an “in” thing, but as many as those who try their hands at multi-tasking, many, too, fail as they lose their focus. Rushing to branch out without giving much thought can lead to a road of destruction. Well, not really “destruction”, that’s an exaggeration, but you get my drift.
Those who work tirelessly to improve their craft bask in success, but there are those who have yet to achieve the success they desire.
Rocker and actor Datuk Ahmad Azhar Othman, or Awie, is a good example of an artiste who aces both singing and acting.
The 49-year-old started out as the frontman of rock band Wings in the 1980s. With several hits under the band’s belt, Awie was already comfortable rocking the stage until an offer of a starring role fell on his lap. It was the 1994 movie Sembilu, and Awie, who had no acting training, figured he should not miss out on such an opportunity. Playing opposite then screen siren Erra Fazira, Awie’s acting debut was the talk of the town. The movie was a box office smash as fans scrambled to watch their favourite rocker play romantic.
Awie must have realised that Sembilu was a big break for him. And, seeing the money flow in, he knew acting would be a craft he could muster. So, he worked at perfecting his newfound skill, playing one role after another, until he learnt that he could also do comedic roles.
Realising that he did not have a model’s physique, acting and singing are two talents he could make a living with. So, he continued to focus on improving what he does well. He is awesome in the studio and on the set.
Awie may just be among the handful of celebrities enjoying the best of both worlds. But, crossing over from acting to music is a tricky proposition. A career in music is not easy to pull off. While acting is a skill that can be learnt and mustered with lots of practice, singing is a different ball game. You either have the voice or don’t. So, if you croak like a toad or are tone deaf, from the cringed look of your friends during karaoke sessions, it’s best that you limit your performances to the shower.
In recent years, the local music scene has been flooded with many actors-turned-singers. Among them are Fattah Amin, Nora Danish, Maya Karin, Nur Fazura Sharifuddin, Amyra Rosli, Zizan Razak, Syamsul Yusof, Janna Nick and Diana Danielle.
All one needs to do is to produce a single or two, and hey, presto, a recording artiste title gets into one’s resume. How swell!
Never mind that their vocals leave a lot to be desired, but one thing we cannot deny is that their mere existence in the current mundane music scene adds a dash of colour and vibrancy. It makes for healthy competition among members of the music fraternity, and, certainly, the more the merrier. But, the concern here is the quality of music they bring to the table, as most of them rely on their popularity, and nothing else.
Boasting thousands and sometimes millions of followers on their Instagram accounts, fans continue to endorse their new skill (or lack of). Sure, they sound great on the radio, thanks to all the high-technology recording that can make almost anyone sound like an angel. But, what happens when they perform live? Cringe.
Don’t be a bidan terjun, rushing to come out with a single when you are not even vocal ready. Invest in proper vocal training and learn the techniques to expressively sing the songs on pitch with good tone first. If not, leave singing to the experts and focus on improving your acting, the craft that got you noticed in the first place.
When a renowned music producer told me that a good-looking, popular actor with passable singing talent can propel a tune to be a hit, I realise that the standard of our music industry is on the decline.
The only way to bring back the magic of its heyday is to ensure new talents are given proper guidance and training before they can even begin to call themselves a singer. Popularity does not equal quality — one can end up being popular simply because of an accent, like King Coco, an Instagram personality. Popularity can only bring one so far, but it is the great work one leaves behind that will be remembered for years.
Celebrities who intend to branch out need to first subject themselves to muhasabah diri and some self-analysis. Be honest and ask yourself whether this is a craft you can see yourself improving over time. At the end of the day, you only need to know what your real talents are.
Hizreen Azleena Kamal, is a passionista with a keen interest in showbiz and pop culture (online shopping included!). And, oh, she is also the Entertainment Editor.