Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Countdown to DEWA: My top 35 favourite songs by the diva Ning Baizura (Part 2: 20-11)

The countdowns continues with the second part of the threesome . Enjoy


#20 ALANGKAH In the original iteration, Ning’s husky vocals complements the fresh production by Hari. The lyrics, written by Tesh R.S (of Casey’s ‘Seribu Impian’ fame) is positive and uplifting, centre's around ambitions, dreams and fantasies. The track is also one of the very few in Ning’s entire catalogue who’s remix is officially available. The Gergasi Mix, which is exclusively available in the ‘Kasi Gegar ‘ Compilation ups the ante with some vinyl scratching, thumpier bass, additional adlibs and samples, giving the song a distinctive urban flavour.

Alangkah [Gergasi Mixx]

#19 ASMARA Perhaps the best up-tempo number the TEGUH album, this Mark J Fiest produced track is just dripping in R&B soul goodness. Ning performs with a decidedly confident swagger befitting the click and sexy beats.

#18 KAU & AKU This much beloved track always reminds me of a breezy day at the beach. The jazzy written by Ross Ariffin makes full use of Ning’s easy-going delivery with lyrics written by herself. As vanilla as the sentiments, the song is also one of the most controversial in her a career. A spat with her recording company back then resulted in a ban from her performing all songs from the sophomore album. That meant that the performance for the 1994 Juara Lagu finale had to be replaced with the boy band Kool, which remixed the song to suit their catcy dance steps. Ultimately, the performance won the ‘pop rock’ category, which also meant that Ning shared in the trophy and cash prize for the contribution as lyricist.

#17 PERCAYA / JUST BELIEVE The suave and sophisticated first single from the TEGUH album (and later reincarnated in English in the ALWAYS album), represents Ning’s evolution to experiment with a more urban sounding R&B. Produced by Mark J Fiest, the intention of the Malay and English double underscores Ning’s grand ambition of making her mark in the international arena. Unfortunately, the it didn't come to fruition as Ning was cheated by here management back then, one of the many setbacks in her tumultuous career.

#16 WATER AND SALT The only ballad from the electronic and dance heavy EASTTOWEST, album the song is indeed an understated gem. Completely unadorned save for acoustic piano, flute (by the renowned maestro Andrea Griminelli) and strings to accompany Ning's yearning and melancholic vocal performance. Simply mesmerising!

Water and Salt [Fan Video set to the short film, ‘Malaikat di Jendela’ (Angel by my Window)]

#15 SENANG TARI Renowned local media blogger Sultanmuzaffar, in his review of the ERTI PERTEMUAN, exclaimed this song as ‘bijaksana!’. And that is indeed the most apt way of describing this intriguing track. As the theme song to the acclaimed short film ‘Pua’, this track written by Farihin Abdul Fatah and Ain stands as one of the most unique songs in Ning’s collection; a mix of arabesque percussion and instruments interspersed in a trance pulse and beat, giving it a futuristic bent to the song. Ning’s vocal delivery is understated and sensual, while the French monologue in the beginning only adds to the element of mystery. Virginia Kennedy, who directed the music video sees Ning reimagined as a gothic goddess, recalling inspired cues from Madonna’s Frozen and Nothing Really Matters videos, respectively. Bijaksana indeed…

Senang Tari [Theme song to the short-film Pua]

#14 DEKAT PADAMU The title track from Ning’s debut album is simply sublime. The song, written by Jari is soothing with its saxophone accompaniment, while Ning phrases the lyrics by Lukhman S with elegance and poise. Towards the end, she presents here trademark whistle register, but still controlled and never overdone.

#13 WARNA I luv, luv, luv this track! There is a certain kineticism and energy to the song that I really couldn't put my finger on, but it never fails to put a smile on my face and makes me wanna stand up and dance: the vibe is simply that irresistible. If Ning is considering a set list for the live concert scheduled this July, I would hands down recommend this song as the opening performance. JP Abdullah managed to create essentially gospel infused pop song (think Mariah’s Emotions), while Ning performed here self-penned lyrics with soul and finesse. Plus the unmistakable adlib has made the song even more memorable. Proof? Simply quote ‘Pah du-duh, pa du-duh-pa!’ to a fan, and they now exactly which song you are referring to…

#12 KEMBALI (2003) This song embodies a significant juncture in Ning’s ever-winding career. for it presents with the most unique of challenges: After an almost insurmountable controversy, how does one ever make a comeback? In Ning’s case: by addressing the issue head on, and more importantly by releasing an irresistibly catchy yet poignant song with aim to reintroduce Ning to the local music scene. The first single from the SELAGI ADA… NING album is produced by Ajai, with lyrics written by Ning herself. The contemporary R&B pop song, which features a masterful string arrangement by Fauzi Marzuki, A sophisticated music video directed by Virginia Kennedy, which features CGI elements also complements the song beautifully. Her ‘return’ has definitely been cemented in 2003 when she emerged the surprise winner of the Anugerah ERA Choice Female Vocalist.

Kembali [Music Video]

#11 PENJARA KASIH You know its gonna be epic, when it starts off with a saxophone prologue. And what a glorious ballad it is, forever embellished by her fans as the ’bagai ikan’ song. Written by Jari, the song presents an element of drama utilising a heart-beat rhythm to serve as a undercurrent to the song. Ning’s voice has never been more clear and flawless. The meaning full and deep lyrics by Lukhman S narrates a controlling relationship (Aku perhiasan mata, pada yang sudi memandang. Jari jemari yang tidak membelai, terhalang oleh kaca berharga), while the killer chorus with the legendary ‘goldfish in a bowl’ analogy eventually builds up to a rousing finale. And just like that, the song bookends with the sax instrumental again. Like i said, epic.

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