Wednesday, May 21, 2008

the verdict

There is karaoke and then there is kroaknight.
There are singers and then is a KROAKING.
I am still speechless.
What i thought  would be an extension of sunday nights at opus turned out to be a jaw dropping outstanding night of talent.
Not just that, but the ambience was amazing too.
I felt truly privileged to be part of it all.


comments shamelessly lifted from Sandeep Chowta's judging sheets. 

Aditya Menon : Innovative Rendition, Decent performance. Can’t judge his ability to sing from this song. He sounded ok.
Alexis D’Souza: Pitching is all over the continent. Not her genre that’s for sure. Nothing in her voice for this song.
Arti Desikan: Too much dominance by backing vocals. Good Throw. Pitching issues. Decent performance.
Anaitha Nair: Pitching issues. Good song selection. Well supported by backing voices.
Andy. V: Knowing his forte, he was superb. Great adaptation to disco. Great Performance.
Judy Das: Benefit of doubt. No Throw. First contestant. Sound system.
Megha Girish: Pitching issues. She didn’t sound comfortable. Maybe a semitone down would have worked. Decent performance.
Neville De Nazareth: Opened song on one key and then started song on another. Pitching issues. Doesn’t sound like his genre. Good effort.
Roohshad Garda: Kept the nostalgia alive. He kept getting better towards the end.
Roopika Muthanna: Pitching. good to hear someone’s voice dominating the backing vocals for a change. Not her genre. Pitching faultered towards the end. Too much shouting
Sendil kumar : Too much reverb when singing. No Throw. Voice sound stronger when backing track joins him. Maybe its not his genre.
Sharon Chang: Pitching issues. Decent performance
Venkat Subramanyam: He doesn’t sound very comfortable. But He is a good singer. Adapted it well for his voice.

Aditya Menon: Not audible. No clarity. Maybe he is just a good rock singer.
Andy V: Great Control. Well adapted, awesome timbre considering it’s a female song . brilliant .
Megha Girish: Great voice texture. Missed a few of the notes at the bottom. Loses her power in between. totally her genre . Great Effort.
Roohshad Garda: Didn’t pitch right in the beginning. Not audible with some of the low notes . nice voice texture .
Roopika Muthanna: Good in parts. Pitching issues. She didn't feel comfortable.
Venkat Subramanyam: This guy is so good. one of my favorites . Not one of his best performances though


The First Round – Disco

13 people march up to the guillotine – 13 very nervous people

Why do you put yourselves through this torture? Why?

No I’m serious, why?

I think everyone was under par, confidence seemed to be at an all time low. From 13 one selects 6 that go through to the second and final round. This is based on their overall performances on that night. Anything that has happened up to that moment, good or bad, is of no consequence and for those that are hell bent on getting through to the second round, it’s really a make or break moment and absolutely anything can happen. It all comes down to those 3 or 4 minutes you have on stage. What a nightmare.

For those about to sing – I salute you

Round 1 – Disco

Anaitha – If You Could Read my Mind

Your subtle ease and command on stage were your biggest plus points. You have a great voice too but maybe haven’t realized that yet and hence don’t use it to its full potential. I was sad to see you not get into the second round as I think you gave a good honest performance. If one could go back in time I would suggest re-working the song to make it showcase the voice you have. You need those one or two moments to show off and wow the audience.

Sendil - Another One Bites the Dust

I’ve heard you in Opus and I’ve heard you on the CD and I think you have a great voice. On the night this didn’t come through though. Probably down to a bad song choice. I don’t think it suited you and I know you could have done much better with something a little less glam and more your style.

Judy – Turn the Beat Around

I met her some time before the show. Good lord was she nervous. For some people nerves turn into adrenaline and someone high on a sudden surge of adrenaline can make for a great performance. I don’t think this happened with Judy. I love this girl’s voice and I think she has huge potential, unfortunately one isn’t scored on potential. I’m not gonna criticize her performance or her singing, I’m just gonna say this: Judy, you need to read Asterix and the Normans to understand how you can turn it upside down and make it work for you and not against you – fear can give you wings (it’s a fun read anyway).

Aditya – Super Freak

I really liked what you did with the song, you are a good performer and seem to understand what it’s all about. I think a song like this doesn’t come naturally to you but you took it on as a challenge and it worked. It’s a great thing to move in and out of your comfort zone so effectively. Good stuff.

Alexis - Murder on the Dance Floor

I’m at a loss for words here because you are one of my favorite voices on the CD and I saw little of that on stage. Firstly I think it came down to your song choice. With a huge variety of “singer” songs to choose from in the disco category this was not one of them. Probably everything else stems from there. You really needed something where you could have shown off that amazing voice you have and also something that you could have grooved to and had fun with on stage. DO NOT beat yourself up about this and do not beat me up for saying it either, it’s a lesson to be learned, learn it and move on, you have a great voice, now what’s it gonna take to make you loosen up on stage?

Venkat - Miss You

It was good to finally see you do something like this. You didn’t do it badly at all, in fact I thought it was quite good. You definitely should do more stuff outside of Sinatra and Bennett though, roll with it.

Nevil - Staying alive

You picked a song that is sung in falsetto. My question to you is this: Is that your real singing voice? I’m guessing here but I think the answer is no. You did it well though, I do give you that, but it came across as a novelty song as opposed to a “singing” song and novelty is not gonna get you far in a singing contest. It’s maybe difficult to find a disco song that would suit your voice but definitely not impossible. As mentioned before, I think you have a great tone and feel and you can get very far with that. Work on your stage presence – get comfortable – and do your thing.

Aarti - Lady Marmalade

Why Aarti why? Why would you go for a song that is almost ALL about attitude? It’s a singer’s song too, but… I see you more so as a traditional kind of singer, traditional diva stuff you know? But then of course I could be wrong. Anyway, it was nice to see you diversify like that. I liked what you were wearing, specially the shiny hair!

Sharon – I Wanna Dance with Somebody

What a super song for you to sing. I think it was a great song choice, I think you did well and I know you could have done better. I could not believe it – you were nervous? But… but… anyway, nervousness aside, you sang well and you looked like you had a great time. I look forward to hearing you sing in Opus again.

Megha - Hot Stuff

Pretty good but not up to your usual self. Was it nerves? I didn’t think you had it in you to be nervous. Again I think I am wrong. Vocals were not bad, performance was not bad but it was not mega (forgive that).

Roohshad – My First, My Last, My Everything

The Biscuit’s theme song (Ally McBeal), that’s at least how I know it. One of the better performances of the evening. No snazzy dance moves, no pyrotechnics but a good sense of stage and presence. Reasonably strong vocally, nice little touches here and there. Overall – good stuff.

Roopika - Don’t Leave Me this Way

A great voice and a decent performer but you did not shine as you can. I don’t want to keep repeating myself but this is a singing contest not sex – there’s a time and place to be safe. You did however get into the second round and by comparison I think you deserved it. But seriously, you need to let go, roll about with the punches, get knocked out a few times, get up and say “Ah, so that’s how it feels”. You learn your lines well but I don’t really want to hear lines.

…You trade in your reality for a role. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask – JM

I’m not a huge fan of his words, but he did make some sense…

Andy – You Sexy Thing

You sang well, your performance could have been better. It’s often the subtle things that count. Those glasses for instance, yup, the ones covering your whole face, maybe not a good idea. Much has been said about eye contact, so I shall not go there. Overall though – a neat job

Round 2 – Soul/RnB

Down to the final 6, nerves conquered, they line up against the wall.

Ready! …Aim!

Megha – Listen

What a performer. You put yourself out there, you sing your heart out, and everyone loves you for it, thank you.

Aditya - Hard to handle

This went very wrong for you. It was just a really bad song choice, from 10 seconds into the song it seemed evident that you felt the same way about it, the Black Crows version would have been great and a welcome change. Sure you would have nailed it.

Roohshad – Smoke Gets in your Eyes

I think you tried your best and it worked for you. Good show, these sort of songs suit you (I find them boring and cheesy) and you have a great tone for them as well as the attitude. I would suggest doing more stuff like this but having a modern edge to it. Re-work the vocals a bit etc. Nice.

Roopika – Vision of Love

What was up with that? You were good but why were you so holding back? You had it in the palm of your hands and you just let it slip away like you didn’t really want it. I don’t know what to say.

Musicality – Good (should have been excellent)

Stage presence – Okay (could have been excellent)

Venkat – Try a Little Tenderness

Really good. You’re quite fun to watch on stage, a side of you I haven’t noticed before. RnB or soul or whatever that was seems to be out of your comfort zone but you did really well with it, good for you. It’s great to see people doing something which is a challenge for them. I’m yet to see you do Baby Got back though, maybe you should do it as a duet with Roopika sometime, should be fun.

Andy – Without You

What were you thinking? Why on earth would you want to attempt a song like that? To win the contest??? Hmmm… well you did do that. It was a gamble and it paid off, congratulations (I mean it)… you were one of my favorites, but here’s what I think of your final performance:

It lacked feel, was far too watered down and your stage presence left much to be desired. It was a very brave choice of song and I think you over stepped your limits.

The End

It was very difficult writing that stuff up there. I do believe all 13 singers are in fact really good without exception and I’m not just saying that. But contests are difficult and they really do boil down to those few moments you have on stage. For those that are unhappy or disappointed with what they did, all I can say is, don’t take it too seriously, maybe there are lessons to be learnt, maybe you just had a bad day, only you can be the judge of that.

Mayank, Barry and his merry troop of ghouls – great, great stuff, excellent.

A super after party, great atmosphere, everyone having a really good time.

Gina, Shonali, Carlton and everyone else who organized this – really, really super show. It was great fun for me to be a part of this and I hope everyone else had a great time too.



Thursday, May 15, 2008

kroaking season 3 CD

CD Review by Sharmon Ibrahim

Home after a hard day? Kick up, pour yourself a shot of something smooth, and turn her on.
Alexis, you are a breath of sweet, fresh air

Ha! You’re a funny guy… As quoted recently in the Daily Bugle – “…but I never thought he had it in him!”
I think you nailed it

Silky, mature, honest and heartfelt. Super stuff

Sitting in the studio, from the first note, the sound of your voice is distracting. What a beautiful tone

I heard you last year and I heard you this year. What you do, you do well, and then you do it better. I’d love to hear you sing Sir Mixalot–Baby Got Back

Soaring effortlessly through valleys and peaks. Visions of cozy fireplaces and ski lodges. Marshmallows and mittens… (I have no idea, don’t ask) Really nicely done

What a different song for you to do. One of the most distinct voices – angelic, sweet, serene, spank-me-I’ve-been-a-bad-girl tone – great to hear you move away from the usual power-diva songs and do something like this ever so well

Classic neo/pop rock singer. It’s all about the sound and you have it

An aural exhibition of control and phrasing – it sounds really great too

In the studio you mentioned that you were not really a singer (or something to that effect). Well… you sound great. An interestingly lovely tone and a great feel, you really seem to mean the song

That rocked, really. From your performance in the semi finals to this. What to say… well… I’m very interested to see what you have up your sleeve for the disco and RnB rounds

Wow! I was quite concerned when I heard you were doing this song. Y‘see, I had a huge crush on Joan Jett… uh… and Suzi Quatro… and Agnetha Faltskog, Debbie Harry too but… this is about you, sorry… Super stuff woman! Ow!!!

Andy – NO WAY – ANDY
Tight leather, headbands, wristbands and big blond hair – no, this is not S&M Fortnightly. 80s hair metal is what they call it. You go for those notes and you get them.

What a vocally glam song to attempt. It could have gone wrong, very wrong. You both sound stunning in places and in others you just sound really good. I was looking forward to a cat-fight in the studio actually, that was the only disappointment. Ha!

Another voice to be heard. Super tone and feel. Quite distinguishable – Mark as only Mark can be

Oh… My… God… This is truly special, what a voice and what delivery. Most courageous, a lesson to be learnt: do your thing, and do it fully. Una voce dolce e potente. Bravo! Bravo! Encore!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Results: Pre Finals 3 ( 7th May)


By Stanley Pinto

Dear Carlton,

Last evening, your friendly contretemps with Mark about whether what was going on onstage was ‘Fun’ or ‘Hard Work’, got me thinking. And here’s what I concluded:

Kroaking is fun. It’s about standing up, usually pissed, and singing to a sound track that happens to be there, to a bunch of equally inebriated friends, even if you cannot carry a tune and haven't ever sung, not even in the bath. It’s about being silly, and making a fool of yourself, and all that really matters is that you joined in the fun of being silly. Fun.

Kontest Kroaking is different. It’s about singing for glory. It’s about being fundamentally a good singer, and selecting a song that’s appropriate to one’s voice, and working the accompanying sound track for the express purpose of demonstrating one’s talent. It can be Fun to the confident singer – but it is Hard Work too. The singer must work hard to be effective and to be the best on show.

To my mind, Carlton, last night may have been Fun for the audience, and of course it was, but contestants who didn’t recognise that they had to put in some Hard Work would inevitably pay the price of losing.

Most of the singers last evening were primarily good singers. I expect they had to be, to get to the semi-finals. To that extent, it was all most entertaining and enjoyable. But … and there’s always a ‘but’ when I write a critique, isn’t there!

There’s more to just being a good singer if one is to compete in a Kroaking Kontest.

There is, for instance, one key pre-requisite: selecting a song that makes the most of one’s particular voice skills. And then there’s another: Individuality. Innovation. I would explain that best by saying that a good singer who chooses an appropriate song and then puts his own spin on it will always, to my mind, be a winner over a singer who is great, and chooses an appropriate song, and delivers it as a perfect copy of the international singer who made it a hit.


Andy has the most perfect, pure voice. He never hits a bad note. His pitching is exemplary. His ‘When A Man Loves A Woman’ was terrific. But he’s a Me-Too, too. I want to hear Michael Bolton, I will listen to Michael Bolton. There wasn’t a Michael Bolton before Michael Bolton came along – and that’s why he was successful. There was a newness to him, and he could sing, so he made it to everyone’s music collection. Will Andy? I’d have to be his friend, or his bitch, to buy his Me-Too recording of Michael Bolton’s original. But he is a grand little man and a truly gifted voice. I hope he takes it to the next level soon.

In that sense, Aarti’s attempt to re-work ‘Let It Be’ was most creditable. It helped that she’s a fine singer too. I’d buy her recording of it, along with several other singers’ recordings of that song, and stack it on my shelf alongside the original McCartney (it was McCartney, wasn’t it?) version. In fact I do have a few versions of that song already.

But Kroaking Kontests are also about putting on a show… and what a show Sharon Chang put up with her “You Just Keep Me Hanging On”. That girl is a star! I’d marry her just to have her perform regularly for me. And you don’t have to wash your mind out with soap, Carlton, because she’s sexy too!

There were several other high spots, of course. And a few that were just a little better than Fun. And that’s OK. We came to have a good time – and that’s what we got. Except when some fool stood up at the end and sang some Music To Leave and Go Home Too. Who was he, fer Chrissakes!


Enter Wembley Arena to the united chorus of seventy-five thousand people screaming their heads off as Axl Rose steps up to the microphone to the intro of Welcome to the Jungle…
Hang on… that's not Axl… that's Venkat! So why does he have a cigarette in his hand? Uh-oh…

Having said that, onto the contestants…..
Your first song, Can't take my eyes off you, was not a bad song as far as the song choice goes but did it suit you? I think not. Needs much more emotion than that, is a tough song for the most seasoned singer and performer, apart from it being a lil out of your range I think. However, Piano Man I do believe was a different story. I liked it. It was pitchy yes, but at times you really had it. Billy Joel is really tough and you did it justice in your own way.

CCR – bad choice for a singing contest (I'm gonna be saying that a lot). What you did wasn't bad, your tone is different and that's a good thing. The second song I liked very much actually, you distinctly reminded me of Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins) for some reason. I think you felt the song and did really well with it. Your act on stage is strong and confident if lacking in charisma but you did good and I liked it. Both the songs wouldn't showcase singing talent however and that's where I think you lost out.

Pretty Woman? Not only Pretty Woman but then it goes into the Shankar Eshan Loy Pretty Woman. I think that was quite a gamble, you would have really needed to work it with the crowd, some amazing dance steps, a few costume changes, back up belly dancers, pyrotechnics and maybe Aishwarya Rai on one arm to distract from a song that has little to do with singing talent in the first place – it didn't pay off. Again, bad song choice (very bad). The Bon Jovi song was a better choice (since it's Bon Jovi) but still it didn't go far and was not memorable.

White Rabbit – I'm gonna say it straight off – bad song choice. You didn't do it badly, but seriously, how much acid have you dropped? Rule #1 – sing about stuff you know. The Dido song was much more suited to you, and was not bad at all. You need to work on being at ease on stage – you own it for those few minutes – so own it! It makes ALL the difference, and that's what true performance is about, not breaking a few moves here and there, command!
Let it be – one of the two good song choices of the evening. It started well, went on well, but didn't go anywhere near where it could have gone. You are a good singer and perhaps this biased me in a way (I expected more). It's a jam, and there's ample freedom to DO YOUR THING. Even a cp would have done wonders for the whole deal (crowd participation). You look good on stage, if a bit hesitant, loosen up woman! Your second song was nice, I liked it. You seem much more suited to a song that is more structured and set. Move out of your mould, do something different, do something more challenging to yourself.

The first contestant on stage – a tough thing. You seemed a bit nervous, nobody can blame you for that. Did you feel the adrenaline pumping? The pressure to perform? This is your one chance, screw it up and you'll never see her again… however, you can use all this to really bring it on! The song Happy Together – all together now – BADSONGCHOICE
Nirvana, not bad, not bad at all, in fact I think you did it really well, a good song, but a bad song for a singing contest. It IS a singing contest – Kurt Cobain – a most influential name in modern rock today, a singing virtuoso, NO!

Your first song – quite interesting to see you sing stuff like that. Not bad, but why? Your second song however, I think it was the highest peak in the evening. Singing, command, attitude, prescence, performance – you did your thing – this is what it's all about. Song choice was not great actually, ample room to bugger it up, but you pulled it off… superbly.
I liked your voice, and you entertained me on stage. You are uninhibited, and a pleasure to watch and this can take you very far. Both not great song choices but not too bad either. Again, I think it's cos you pulled it off that it worked. Good job over all, am looking forward to hearing you with more vocally challenging songs.

Am not sure what to say. You almost won last years contest. I really can't wait to see what happens this year at the finals. Your first song (personally I hate it) – the best song choice of the evening. I expected you to nail it and you didn't disappoint. The Queen song was equally good, or perhaps better. You are no doubt a good singer with a wide range of songs that you would make your own and you are not scared to experiment. I do believe you would do justice to anything from Ella to Slayer.

All about Song Choice:
#1 – Choose a song you like
#2 – Choose a song you think you are good at
#3 – Choose a song that suits your vocal range
#4 – Choose a song that will showcase your vocal talent
#5 – Choose a song that you think will entertain the listener
#6 – Do not be safe, safe will get you no where
#7 – Do not be over adventurous, unless you can pull it off
#8 – Do not be uncomfortable vocally with the song you choose or the lyrics
#9 – Do not try to be what you cannot relate to
#10 – Do not try to copy, do not try to make it your own, do not try – just do your thing and do it fully

The Finals:
You are gonna be nervous, use that to your advantage
Warm up
Get lots of alone time during the day, make it a point
Talk as little as possible throughout the day
Drink LOTS of water (room temperature) throughout the day
Avoid dairy products (milk etc)
Avoid much sweetness (I mean sugar etc)
Have nothing cold to drink, no cool drinks, even at room temperature
Sleep a LOT the previous night
Either think of nothing the whole day or think of your performance
Drink no alcohol, not even a drop
If you smoke, try to cut down a tad on the day, if it's difficult, don't cut down at all, but don't increase or don't cut down drastically
If you feel great, you are gonna be great

All the very best to each of you, have a great time!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Results: pre final 2 (30th april)

Kroaking Semifinals Week 2

This week, to re-coin a phrase: "The EYES have it". Those who knew their words communicated best, as they are using their eyes to connect with the audience. Constantly looking to the left to read the words is as distracting as if you had a baby's dummy in your mouth. Simple rule to all contestants: every time you lose eye contact with your audience, you lose a vote.

Nevertheless, very high standard this week, and I am intrigued to find out who got through as quality was very equal.

Judy - Good voice which would work better if you warmed up. It's hard going first, and you had a little problem with pitching. Second song was much more confident. But never assume everyone knows the words - I lost a lot through lazy consonants. I just wanted you to let yourself go and...USE YOUR EYES!

Suraj - Great voice, great communication. You chose two contrasting songs that really suited your voice. When you smile. it's magic. So don't frown (practice in front of a mirror - you'll find out what I mean!) You really believed what you were singing and communicated that. Maybe your wardrobe, hair, make-up etc. needs a re-think (look in the mirror!)

Alexis - powerful voice for a little lady (sorry - hope that doesn't sound patronising!). Great songs. But your eyes let you down: the audience is in front of you, not the word-screen to the left. Practice using the mike in your hand off the stand so you can move around more.

Roohshad - terrific, loved the crooning. Brilliant fill with the dance on L-O-V-E. My advice is to find songs that say "this is Roohshad" not "I can do Michael Buble, Frank Sinatra etc." and... know your song. End of first song was a bit of a mess.

Venky - very brave choice "Ol' Man River" and you pulled it off. Great voice: your vibrato tickles the listener! You purr like Chewbacca...and what were you chewing? Not nice!

Neha - it took a while for you to warm up into your first song. Second song was much more energetic and came across as more confident. You have a very low range, but pitching was better on the higher notes. Explore your higher register more.

Roopika - you really choose interesting songs that show off your voice, which is magnificent. However, please warm up: it took a little while to settle into your first song. Pearl of wisdom: this is not T.V. where you need to draw an audience in. Here, you are on stage and need to give out to the audience. The answer is to keep your eyes open at all times and use them to connect to the audience. Closed eyes tend to make you look self-indulgent (and you lose that vital connection).

Mark - Sorry, your first song just did not "come together" because you didn't know your words. And the repetitive refrain at the end just got boring because you didn't do anything with it. "I live my life for you" was a vast improvement because you knew the words and it showed off your voice much better. Great potential but you need to work on your technique, and know how to warm up to get there.

Good luck to everyone - sadly I shall not be able to make week 3 or the finals as I shall be in UK. I'll be thinking of you next Wednesday when I shall be a school in South London training a boys' choir for two epic pieces I have written about the Tsunami for a concert at the Royal Festival Hall on May 12th. For me, this is the big time!



KroaKing season 2 every wednesday