Viewers are lambasting new local TV singing competition The Final 1 because they say it has turned the competition into a "popularity contest" rather than one that susses out true singing talent.
Upset over the competition results broadcast live on Channel 5 on Wednesday night, fans have taken to social media sites including Facebook and Twitter to air their grievances about the show's voting system.
They complain that because the results are based solely on public fan votes - the judges' opinions have no weight - the show has "unfairly" put popular contestants at the forefront while the ones with "real singing talent" end up at the bottom of the ranks.
Such complaints poured in online after singing contestants Hydir Idris, 21, and Kamsani Jumahat, 23, ended up on the week's Bottom 5 list on Wednesday night, even though many fans felt that they were among the most talented vocally.
Judge and singer Kit Chan had picked the duo - as well as Yuresh Balakrishnan, 20, who made it to the Top 5 - for "best vocal performance" of the week.
Tweets with the hashtag #thefinal1 were among the top topics that were trending in Singapore the same night.
Twitter user Hey Shona (@ashhazza) tweeted: "Kamsani and Hydir voted out? Seriously?! Wonder why the one with talent will always end up being voted out on The Final 1."
Meanwhile, twitter user Shahril Shalleh (@shahmanto) said that the show should be renamed "The Blind 1".
The Final 1, which debuted on April 24, aims to discover the next big singing star, who will walk away with $50,000 cash and a recording contract worth $50,000.
The judging panel, made up of music producer and Hype Records label head Ken Lim, Singapore Idol winner Taufik Batisah, and songer Kit Chan, narrowed down more than 1,000 entry hopefuls to the top 40 contestants. But it will then be up to public fan voting via SMS, telephone and Facebook to decide who continues in the competition.
This is the second week where viewers got to cast their votes. Every week, a group of 10 contestants sing before the judges, who give their comments about the performances. TV audiences are then allowed 50 minutes to vote for their favourites and the results are then broadcast live.
Based on these votes, the contestants with the most votes for the week will be ranked among the Top 5 while the remaining five will be in the Bottom 5 list.
Being in the bottom five does not mean contestants are eliminated. If other contestants in the Top 5 in another week win fewer votes, Bottom 5 contenders could still be in the running to be among the Top 20. The Top 20 results will be announced on May 22.
There will also be a wild card episode later on where the judges can rescue two eliminated contestants and put them back into the contest.
Judge Lim, 49, is frank when asked about the fairness of the show's public voting system. He tells Life!: "We always wanted it this way so that everyone in Singapore gets the chance to have his say. And I think the voting system is fair, but the results are subjective. Even if the results are based only on the judges, there will be people who think they are unfair because we all look for different things. Either way, viewers have to accept the results."
He says that being a musician takes a lot more than just having a good voice. "Look at the industry and you'll see that it takes a whole package to work. There are many commercial singers who don't have the best voices and yet they are popular and do well in the industry. At the end of the day, it's about how much support you can get from the public. I don't agree or disagree with this, but this is just how commercialism in the industry works."
Contestant Kamsani agrees with Lim's rationale that singing is not everything. The Lasalle College of the Arts student in music says: "There are many great singers out there who don't sell records because they don't have the extra something to get more public support."
Still, he wishes that the public votes could have started a little later in the contest instead. "Maybe it would be better if the public had more time to get to know each of us first, rather than jump straight in right from the start of the contest," he says.
Many TV singing competition winners are largely based on public fan votes, including hit shows American Idol and The X Factor.
Lim adds: "My advice to the public is that you vote more for the people you really feel for and not leave it to chance. You can complain all you want, but the question is, have you done enough to keep the ones you like in the competition?
"And to the contestants who are among the bottom, don't give up. This is not the end. You look at (former American Idol contestant) Jennifer Hudson, who was not a winner and yet much more successful than many Idol winners. So just keep at it."
The next performance episode of The Final 1 airs on Channel 5 on Wednesday at 8pm. The results show will be at 10pm.
What do you think of the ranking of Kamsani Jumahat and Hydir Idris? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org
This story was first published in The Straits Times on May 10, 2013
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