While there are only three official winners, congratulations are due for all of the performers of Kollaboration 9. While some performances weren’t as strong as others, the whole night was nevertheless an enjoyable showcase of a broad range of talents—from magic, to comedy, to dance, to singing. And, of course, the cherry topper: BoA headlining with a performance of “Eat You Up,” which was followed up with a bonus performance of “Look Who’s Talking.”
I’m happy to report that both of my favorite Kollaboration performers walked away with two of the three prizes. Jane Lui won second place and a $2,000 cash prize, and Kenichi Ebina won the coveted first place and a hefty $3,000 cash prize.
Lilybeth Evardome won third place and a $2,000 cash prize, but I’m still pretty nonplussed about that verdict… She may be blessed with technical bravado (she’s a music teacher and comes from an operatic background), but she lacks the creativity and stage presence that Paul Dateh possesses. While perfection and personality are not mutually exclusive elements, the latter is the most interesting and artistically relevant, at least in my opinion. When so many people grow up classically trained, as is the case for most of the competitors in Kollaboration 9, the last thing I really want to see is the conventional.
David Choi performed his original piece “YouTube (A Love Song),” and in true YouTube star fashion, he was accompanied with his Powerbook, which was recording his live performance for—duh—YouTube. How’s that for meta-music? Anyhow, while I admire David Choi for winning one of the David Bowie songwriting contests, I never caught onto the buzz he was stirring up in YouTube land. That said, there is no doubt whatsoever that he’s a prolific and clever songwriter.
Hands down, the best performance of the talent show competition has to go to Jane Lui. Her piece, accompanied by a piano, was the only performance of the night that truly moved me; the song gave me the chills, literally. For a moment, I was almost convinced that what I was watching was a Jane Lui headlined show, which is a gig I’d totally lay down some money for. Tori Amos, how’s your voice been feeling lately? I think it’s fluttered along and found a new home with Ms. Lui.
Special performers included two of our favorite—and robbed—ABDC crews: Fanny Pak and Kaba Modern. I love Fanny Pak, but their performance wasn’t much to write home about… or rather, write to Ningin about. Kaba, Kaba, Kaba… they basically performed a retrospective of their ABDC dances, but no complaints here; it’s always amazing stuff, especially their “gun” dance. Also, it turns out that Kaba Modern’s Mike Song performed in the audience/amateur portion of Kollaboration when he was a wee 14-year-old back in 2001. Cute, huh?
JO KOY. Way too “punny” for his own good—I was in a fit of tears by the end of his act. You just have to check this guy out for yourself when he’s in your town… Or better yet, tune into his upcoming Comedy Central show.
Last, but blasphemy if she was ever least, was BoA. With members of Kaba Modern and Fanny Pak supporting her as backup dancers, BoA channeled the street fashions and choreography of the “Eat You Up” music video. For the most part, BoA only sang the verses and relied on the prerecorded chorus to work its magic, but to be fair, that’s just how dance-heavy pop acts end up translating into live acts.
“Look Who’s Talking” is a polished piece of pop and is reminiscent of the earlier Britney Spears years. Whether or not that’s your cup of tea, it was still awesome getting to see her perform; she really is a pint-sized entertainment powerhouse. I’m still looking forward to her U.S. album, but will any of the tracks rival the brilliance of her new Japanese single “Eien“? Probably not, but we’ll see.
FYI: Did you know Rino Nakasone choreographed “Eat You Up”?
Correction: Rino works with SM Town in the realm of choreography, but not for “Eat You Up”; it was choreographed by Misha Gabriel.
How judging worked: each performance was based on skill, stage presence, originality, creativity and audience response. Audience response was a combination of the general crowd reception and via text message voting ala ABDC/American Idol style.
Images by Jessica Oh
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