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ASEAN’s Best Band

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New Emissary

ASEAN’s Best Band

A new large-scale talent contest has determined the next big music group in South-east Asia.

I’m still trying to resist getting sucked into the reality TV talent show frenzy that began nearly a decade ago with the emergence of hugely popular shows from the West like Britain’s Pop Idol and American Idol, and which have in the last few years started penetrating Asian mainstream pop culture, from India to Singapore.

I learnt my lesson early after seeing the first couple of seasons of American Idol in full back in the early 2000s that being a fan is a major time commitment—for that show, it means committing to two days a week (performance night and results night) for an entire season, or a third of the year. And the problem since has been that AI in particular has produced some internationally successful pop stars, so there’s a small part of me that still feels that, with each skipped season, I’m missing out on seeing a performer who will likely become a household name for years to come emerge from an unknown into a superstar right before my eyes.

Nonetheless, I like the concept of a new large-scale talent contest I’ve discovered that takes place almost entirely on-line, and is committed to discovering the best music group in the South-east Asia region.

Tonight, the first-ever annual ‘redAMP–Are You ASEAN's Best Band?’ contest will come to an end, with the unveiling of South-east Asia’s top band at a big concert event in Kuala Lumpur.

Not only will the lucky winner be recognized within the setting of the highly-publicized event, the group will also walk away with a bag of prizes which includes $15,500 worth of band development services, a recording contract with a major international label and a chance also to perform as the opening act at an international concert.

The contest, sponsored by and MTV, began on May 24. Unsigned bands from any ASEAN nation were welcome to enter, and of the over 2500 submissions received, a jury short-listed ten groups, which were announced at a press conference in Bali in late June. The top ten finalists, who hailed from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, were then voted on by fans via the website, Facebook and SMS messaging. On July 9, the three groups who scored the highest number of votes were announced. While all three (plus one wildcard group) will be performing alongside other already successful artists and bands at the concert tonight, the one with the top votes will be revealed and crowned.

The top three groups are Indonesia's Golden Dragon, the Philippines’ Pancake 80 and Thailand's Sixty-Nine.

So who will take the title?

Golden Dragon was formed back in 2000, and 10 years of dedication is pretty impressive for an unsigned group who aspire to become ‘the first commercial Mandarin music band to emerge from Indonesia.’ Their music style is 80’s inspired rock and roll with hints of pop.

Sixty-Nine is a six-member group from Thailand that plays ‘smooth, funky jazz music.’ The young musicians, from Chulalongkorn University, have been performing together at bars and events for ‘a long time.’ It was their song about global warming and the political unrest in Bangkok, ‘Global Burning,’ that ‘pushed them up the redAMP 2010 ladder.’

Pancake 80's music is a combination of alternative, rock & roll and new wave music of the 80’s mixed with new sounds and ideas from different genres. With an affinity for pancakes and 80’s music, Pancake 80 consists of six friends who ‘share the same love and appreciation for music.’

May the best band win!