The audition process was more nerve-wracking the second time around for Akademi Fantasia alumna Rosma.
Rosma, who was a contestant on the first season of Akademi Fantasia (AF) back in 2003, is sharing with Star2 her experience auditioning for AF Megastar, where past winners and contestants from the popular reality singing show duke it out for the title.
“Everytime I perform on stage I get nervous. But for this particular audition, the nervousness was out of the ordinary. It felt more intense than the first time I auditioned. Later, I asked the others about their auditions, and it seemed one of them even threw up!” Rosma recalls during an event in Kuala Lumpur promoting the show.
“When I went into the room for the audition, I was so nervous, I almost had no voice. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I introduced myself and I told them to give me a moment before I performed.”
Rosma sang her rendition of Faradhiya’s Bertakhta Di Hati. “And then I was asked to sing the chorus of Menuju Puncak (the show’s theme song). I think they were trying to test us to see if we could still remember the lyrics. Thankfully, I did.”
Rosma’s anxiousness did not get the better of her as the Kuantan-born singer is one of 24 contestants chosen to compete on AF Megastar. “When they told me I got the job, I couldn’t believe it,” she says.
Indeed, Rosma faced stiff competition. After all, throughout the course of the show’s 13 seasons, the show has amassed 179 alumni, a rather sizable pool of talents.
Unfortunately, on last week’s episode, Rosma did not advance further into the competition. The pool of 24 contestants were cut in half. The AF Megastar top 12 finalists are Bob (AF2), Idayu (AF3), Marsha (AF3), Adira (AF8), Amir Jahari (AF9), Azhar (AF2013), Indah (AF2013), Ewal (AF2014), Syamel (AF2015), Shahir (AF8), Sufi (AF2015) and Amir (AF2016).
Big-name winners like Mawi are noticeably absent from the line-up (even on the initial top 24 list). Although winners are automatically offered a spot on the show, some couldn’t be make it due to scheduling conflict.
Asked whether this will affect the show’s ratings, Astro Malay Channels head Raqim Ahmad responds: “AF Megastar is about seeing a different side to the singers. When we look at our other show Gegar Vaganza (a singing competition comprising experienced singers), some of them don’t have really strong fan bases, but they bring something new to their music which will attract viewers.”
Hidup Dalam Mati hitmaker Syamel, who is known for his powerful, raspy vocals, is ready to show viewers a different side to his artistry.
“I don’t want to prove (my vocal abilities) too hard. I want to give viewers what they want to hear. Maybe they want something they can sing along or dance to, and that can still give them goosebumps. It doesn’t mean you have to shout or sing very loud to give them goosebumps,” Syamel reasons.
“All the contestants on the show can sing. So you have to be creative and come up with a performance people don’t expect.”
Chance to shine
Sufi, who defeated Syamel for the top spot in 2015, also hopes to spring a surprise on viewers. “I hope to sing songs that I’ve never sang and play instruments people may not know that I can play.”
The Singaporean singer says being on AF Megastar is a dream come true.
“Before I became a singer, I watched the show a lot and told myself I wanted to be on that stage one day. Then I won, and now, I never would’ve thought I’d be competing against these amazing singers.”
As for Marsha, who has gone on to act in various TV and film projects since her time on AF, she sees returning to the AF stage as a way to remind fans of her love for singing.
“I want to show people my capabilities as a singer. People have been saying, ‘You don’t sing anymore.’ I get that a lot even though I actually still sing in private functions.”
Still, the Kadazan-Dusun performer says the main reason she joined the show was the idea of being reunited with the AF family.
“It’s more like a reunion for me, it’s about getting back that chemistry, that family bonding during my AF days. It’s about having fun. It’s not about, ‘am I going to be in the finals?’ I don’t really care about that.”
Marsha will be reunited with two other contestants, Amylea and Idayu, from her season.
Speaking of Idayu, many expected the singer, whose vocals has been compared to Mariah Carey, to go far in the competition.
The powerhouse vocalist looks back on the moment she was eliminated: “I was eliminated on the fourth week of the show. I wasn’t that shocked actually. I knew the competition was entirely dependent on public voting. I was prepared. I knew I could go home anytime.”
AF Megastar might just be what Idayu needs. The all-star edition will see a change in the show’s format. Firstly, as the contestants have all gone through AF’s training and are no longer “students”, the show has done away with its lessons segment.
Also, public voting is dialled back a notch. In the past two episodes, all 24 performed and only the judges (Datuk Ramli MS and Syafinaz Selamat) decided who advanced to the weekly elimination rounds.
From this week’s episode onwards, the judges’ decision will make up 60% of the results, while public voting is allotted 40%.
Idayu, who is now the managing director of a car business, says: “I’m happy with the new (scoring) format. It means I have a chance to shine.”