Writer: Adrian Chia
Always one of the biggest events to be held by KEVII Hall, XQRJ once again put up a successful Grand Final on 1stFebruary 2010. Marking a break from past years, the 12th Grand Final was held in The Republic Culture Centre of Republic Polytechnic, located in Woodlands. During the event, 12 contestants representing 10 final original compositions would battle one another in terms of performance, originality and the quality of the lyrics and melody. They were to be judged by 4 highly critical, experienced and professional individuals from the Chinese musical scene.
At 7.45pm, the event began with a rousing hip-hop dance from Music Forest dance troupe. Hosted by Y.E.S. 93.3 FM DJ 萧嘉惠, the energy level of the audience was whipped up even further before the competition proper went underway.
The first pair of contestants Ping Seng and Yuan Teng performed their original piece entitled “长不大”. It was a soothing song portraying the deep inner feelings of the composer, who did not want to grow up in order to retain the memories and feelings of being young.
Next up was Zhan Bin, the youngest contestant of the night, with his song “挑战巅峰”. His style was plainly rock to the max, and he sang with so much energy and zest that he nearly screamed the whole song through the microphone.
The third song “海里的记忆” was an entry from Jiayi. The style of the song was exactly like the shy and quiet girl who composed it. Following that, Kim Kok, with his piece entitled “解药”, presented a story of a boy who was seeking an antidote to his heartbreak after his girlfriend left him. The fifth contestant, Chi Kien, was an interesting character. Before he started singing, he told the audience to shut their eyes in order to appreciate his song “逃” better. Unlike many other contestants, he did not come with a live band. Instead, he sang to a simple guitar accompaniment. He might not have the looks of a celebrity, yet he successfully captivated most of the audience with his heavenly voice and touching lyrics. His was the first song of the night to receive more compliments than criticisms from the judges.
After a short break, the competition resumed with “保存” from Yong Kang. It was not just another love song, as this particular love story earned the praises of the judges. The gist of the song was about a love-sick boy expressing his undying love for the girlfriend who left him, by preserving memories of the broken relationship. Besides the melodious tune, the judges also fell in love with the lyrics which was full of imagery.
The following contestant Geraldine Lau sang her entry of “无可取代”, which was deemed to have too many repetitions in the lyrics by the judges. Geraldine also received a few tips from the judges about ways to tighten up the structure of her lyrics. Sarah and Xie Ying, two contestants from Eusoff Hall of NUS, were next with their song “小王子与玫瑰”.
After listening to numerous entries of love songs, it was a refreshing change of style and theme as their lively song centered around the story of Little Prince’s love-hate relationship with the only rose on his planet. The song probably had the catchiest chorus among all the entries. Simon Chong, who performed “先让我明白”, had a tough time with the judges. One of them commented that the violin accompaniment was redundant, while another commented that his lyrics were confusing as he ‘added the past into the future’ in one of his lines. Ming Swin, the last contestant, adopted a rock style in “让她走”.
He also brought along a professional band and singer who sang on his behalf. The judges apparently did not like his song they commented that the style was rather stale.
When all the contestants had presented their pieces, members of the audience were asked to vote for the entry of their choice. As the judges took their time to deliberate the results, 3 groups of guest performers kept the audience entertained. Undoubtedly, the most entertaining of all was the performance by Jovi Theng, who was one of the judges for the night.
He wowed the crowd with two songs from his recently-released album, as well as the very popular “情非得已”, a song composed by him which many among the audience were certainly familiar with (recall F4 and the wildly popular Meteor Gardens). What a rare opportunity to listen to the original composer performing his own song!
With the clock ticking away and the night getting rather late, the results were finally announced. The 9 prizes were essentially shared between 4 entries. “解药” by Kim Kok won the Best Song and the Best Melody awards. Chi Kien’s “逃” was the biggest winner of the night, bagging the awards for best performance, the most popular song and the third prize.
The two girls from Eusoff Hall, Sarah and Xie Ying, were deemed the Best Composers and their song also clinched the second prize. The first prize was won by Yong Kang’s love song “保存”, which also won the award for best lyrics.
The event finally came to a close at 11.15pm amidst loud applause from the audience. Unlike many other concerts or performances, the XQRJ Grand Final was certainly very unique as the audience could listen to truly original compositions from budding song writers and be treated to a feast of live band performances. It was also truly remarkable that an event of such scale was organised by a committee with just 25 members. All their hard work, sweat and effort for the past few months have finally reached fruition. Congratulations to all the winners as well as the 12thXQRJ Committee!