Saturday 18 October 2014

Is Taufik Batisah truly Singapore's idol?

"Ten years after being crowned Singapore Idol, Taufik Batisah is still on top of his game."

That line in The Straits Times FB post got wondering: Exactly what "game" is Taufik on top of?

Is it the game of being a Malay-language pop star? Then yes, he certainly seems "on top" of it, having won the Most Popular Song (Singapore), Most Popular Artist and Social Media Icon awards at the Malay music awards show, Anugerah Planet Muzik last night.

But if the "game" is being a Singapore Idol, then I would say not quite.

My impression is that the objective of Singapore Idol was to find an English-language pop star.

Since English is the common language among the different races here, it makes sense that to be a truly Singapore's idol, you should be an English-language pop star.

Which was why SI was shown on Channel 5, an English-language channel. The Malay, Tamil and Chinese-language TV channels have their own talent shows.

After winning the first Singapore Idol in 2004, Taufik released his first album, Blessing, which was an English album. His second album, All Because of You, was a mix of English and Malay songs. His next three albums were all Malay.

The second Singapore Idol, Hady Mirza, who won in 2006, followed practically the same path but accelerated - his first album was mostly English but already contained one Malay song. His next album, Sang Penyanyi, was all Malay.

Take Two, the English-language first album of the third Singapore, Sezairi Sezali, who won in 2009, came and went in 2010. Last year, he was courting the Malay market with the single Sayang.

Yes, I know there's no market for a local English-language recording artist.

The only one I can think of who has made any lasting impact in recent decades is... Dick Lee?

Kit Chan may be known for singing Dick Lee's Home, but her career was built on her Mandarin recordings. Ditto Stephanie Sun, Tanya Chua and JJ Lin.

If any of the Singapore Idol winners had been Chinese, one suspects he or she would eventually record Mandarin songs too.

But wasn't the premise and promise of the three Singapore Idol competitions (where Dick Lee was a judge) and last year's already forgotten The Final 1 was to find a break-out English-language singing star and change the market?

I feel misled.