Evolve and stay relevant, will you?

Those with huge ego and think that they’d always be revered might need a little attitude adjustment

pic credit: Jamal Abdillah Facebook

FELIX Irwan Saputra does not look like a superstar. In fact, the Indonesian chap with crooked teeth and receding hairline is rather ordinary-looking.

Judging from all his YouTube videos, one could easily say that he is not the most spectacular guitar player on earth, too.

Yet, the Indonesian guy, who was once upon a time a contestant on “The Voice Indonesia”, is now singing to millions of adoring fans via his official YouTube site.

All he has to do is sit and sing his heart out. His videos are mainly static single camera production, by the way. No gimmick, no effect. What Felix offers is just great unpretentious singing.

He does not even sing original compositions either, as he mainly does covers of popular tracks that were already recorded by other big names.

Songs by Chrisye, Ebiet G Ade, Chakra Khan, Ungu, Padi, Rossa and many other big names have been covered by Felix.

Felix’s covers of Michael Bublé’s tunes, as well as Adele’s composition are not too shabby either.

His official YouTube channel is now subscribed by almost three million people and each of his covers has millions of views, too.

(We shall not speculate if he is making more money than Sugu Pavithra, Malaysia’s YouTube sensation who recently made headlines for the wrong reasons).

Now, is Felix a “real artist”, some might wonder. Well, if it were up to some of the old folks in the music business, Felix, along with all the musicians and singers who make their names via YouTube, is not.

Well, these “veterans” might be stuck in a time warp. Perhaps, these old-timers forget that the world is constantly changing.

Just think about it. Some 20 years ago, a singer would seem to be out of synch if he decided to utilise analogue recording for his song production, as others in the business had already moved on comfortably into the digital realm.

That was still during a time when one would have to be “discovered” by recording labels to be considered worthy, mind you.

Those days, artist and repertoire executives would have their eyes on all the potential faces in talent competitions and clubs. The process was not that simple either.

Each potential signee might also have to go through a rigorous process that would qualify them to be the next big thing. Sudirman Arshad and Jamal Abdillah (picture) — both champions of “Bintang RTM” — are among the great examples.

Then, you’d have club performers who became big recording stars, including bands like Alleycats, Carefree, Sweet Charity and soloists like Francissca Peter and many other names who might have quit the industry by now.

Then came the reality-based talent competition like “Akademi Fantasia”, “Malaysian Idol” and “One In a Million”, which even overshadowed “Bintang RTM”, the mother of all talent shows.

Despite the success of these shows which had also introduced a slew of new sensations from the alumni, the more insecure old-timers, who might have felt “ambushed”, cried foul and decided to not “certify” the new faces as “true artists”.

Some even called the new names (who mainly became overnight sensations via viewers’ votes) as “artis mee segera” (instant noodle artist).

Years later, many of the “mee segera sensations” have proven to be quite legitimate with quite a number of them winning awards at respectable music events along the way.

Today, the “mee segera” generation has to compete with more talents who have caught the attention of millions via YouTube and various other social media platforms.

The veterans? Many of them are getting restless again with quite a number making snide remarks which taste rather bitter.

Well, maybe it’s time for the seniors to join the bandwagon and see if they have what it takes to compete on all the newer platforms. No, people do not buy compact discs anymore, and the younger people might not even know how to operate a cassette or open reel tape players, let alone know how the turntable works.

The world will continue to evolve and each day, a new technology will emerge. Those who think they got it figured out might be obsolete the next day. Soon, people like Felix would be yesterday’s news and new voices would appear with newer styles to snag the market share.

Those with huge ego and think that they’d always be revered for the hits they might have churned out decades ago might need a little attitude adjustment. Just saying…


Zainal Alam Kadir is the executive editor at The Malaysian Reserve.