Celebrating Mandopop

Mandopop is often regarded as dull and staid compared to its hipper, cooler cousin K-pop.

But that doesn't stop it from being celebrated.

On Friday night, a crowd of 4,500 gathered at the Suntec City Convention Centre for MediaCorp's Singapore Hit Awards 2013.

The celebration of the best in the Mandopop industry was spiced up with funky hairdos, suave androgyny and wacky personalities.

Good or bad, you be the judge. One thing's for sure, this year's awards ceremony would be remembered in more ways than one.

Most star-struck celeb

Some play it cool at award shows. But for several of the younger stars at the awards, Karen Mok was the unequivocal favourite.

Mandopop band Magic Power even referred to Mok as their "goddess" and invited her on stage to dance during their rendition of their song, Archer.

But the night's most unexpected starstruck moment came when Malaysian singer-songwriter Penny Tai suddenly stopped in her tracks, midway through an interview. She was fixated on a television screen, which was showing...

"Zoe Tay! That's Zoe Tay! I have to watch this," she exclaimed. Tai, a Johor native, grew up on a diet of our dramas and variety shows.

What's with the hair, Derrick?

R&B homeboy Derrick Hoh's newly bleached crop was striking enough to spark queries. Why the sudden motivation to go blonde?

Was the 27-year-old inspired by rebellious pop brat Justin Bieber? Or is he inspired by K-pop acts in a hope to drive girls crazy? By the way, I'm not alone with the K-pop association. One ardent fan of Hoh gasped as he strutted down the red carpet: "Gosh, he's looking more and more like G-Dragon!"

Possibly a compliment. Backstage, Hoh told me matter-of-factly that contrary to my assumptions, his new hairdo was not down to the Biebs or G-Dragon.

"It's actually inspired by Eric Moo," he claimed, without batting an eyelid. Moo, 50, is a veteran singer-songwriter, father of two and pioneer of the local Mandarin folk movement in the 80s. How very retro.

The most handsome star... is a she

So which star wowed the crowd with dashing good looks?

It wasn't the tanned Alien Huang or dancing machine Wilber Pan.

It was Hong Kong singer Denise Ho who looked ready for a GQ cover.

Her strong, chiselled features and charmingly deep voice made many of the men look like nothing more than pretty boys.

Ho, 36, famously came out of the closet at a gay pride parade last November.

When I asked her if she agreed with me that she outshone her male peers, Ho shrugged off the compliment.

"That's a tough question," she said. "Tonight, I'm just being myself, wearing what I'm most comfortable in."

Cut from a different cloth

It's easy to tell if a celeb's attire is well thought out.

Local songbird Olivia Ong looked splendid in her elegant dress. A simple blue frock, but one that was especially made for the 28-year-old by her Taiwanese designer friend.

She clearly made an effort, but there were stars whose choice just baffled.

Wilbur Pan, 33, who opened the show with an energetic dance medley, chose to wear a trench coat. Yes, in our climate, for a dance number.

He told reporters that he "just put on winter wear and headed for Singapore". Does he know where Singapore is situated?

He paid for it. Sweat dripped down his forehead as he spoke.

Dodgiest outfit of the night would have to be Zoe Tay's feathery green blouse. The guest presenter's peacock-inspired top certainly stole the limelight from the winners, but for the wrong reason.

Worst Acceptance Speech

And the award goes to... all the award recipients.

Every winner's speech on the podium was predictable and flat. It's as if all of them used the same boring template to thank their fans.

But it's not that they are incapable of being funny. Backstage, many of them had reporters cracking up with their candid replies.

Hong Kong pop trio Grasshopper were particularly amusing. When asked which award they most wanted to win, Remus Choy shot back with: "Best Female Artist!". Where was that spontaneity onstage?


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