Are these Singapore Idols still idols?
It has been over a decade since the debut of Singapore Idol, the reality television singing contest modelled after the popular American Idol.
Although the competition initially got dream chasers and TV viewers psyched up, it never quite attained the amount of success its US counterpart did.
Singapore idol managed to air for three seasons, with the last being in 2009.
Post-Idol journey, where are these Singapore Idol alums now?
MustShareNews finds out what happened to 14 Singapore Idols you used to go gaga over:
1. Taufik Batisah
Taufik won 682,000 of 1.1 million votes cast, making him Singapore Idol’s very first winner. His victory scored him a recording deal with Sony BMG and a management deal under Hype Records’ artiste management arm, ArtisteNetworks.
Thereafter, Taufik clinched a string of endorsements for brands including Samsung, HSC drinks, 7-Eleven stores, Harmuni Rice, and even Swatch.
In 2005, Taufik released his first English album Blessings, which included his winning song in the competition I Dream. The album was well received and sold over 36,000 copies, securing a place in the Singapore Guinness Book of Records as the best selling local English album in the past decade. The same year, the singer also held his first solo concert showcase An Evening With Taufik.
Taufik has released five solo studio albums to date.
In April last year, Taufik wedded production manager Sheena Akbal, who works in an events company.
2. Sylvester Sim
The first runner-up of Singapore Idol’s first season secured 418,000 of 1.1 million votes, losing to Taufik Batisah.
Sylvester released his debut Chinese album Take Flight 起飞 in 2005, and his self-composed songs such as suo yi (所以)，xiang long shi ba zhang (祥龙十八掌), and di yi ge yuan yin (第一个原因) hit the Hong Kong charts. The album was so popular it was sold out on the day of release.
A week after Singapore Idol‘s finals, Sylvester was invited to work with Jolin Tsai’s concert in Singapore. Sylvester could also be seen on the small screen in guest appearances in variety shows like NKF charity and movies Already Famous and Everybody’s Business.
He was also in the auditions of the Chinese singing competition The Voice of China, where he emerged the Top 6.
However, 2016 doesn’t seem to be as smooth sailing. On 12 Jan, the singer was accused of having an affair with a female singer from Unplugged bar at Dempsey, where he is an entertainment manager.
Their suggestive text conversations were leaked by the woman’s husband and went viral online. Sylvester has been married to singer-dancer Sisy Wang since August 2012. Regarding the alleged affair, he told Wanbao:
Every lounge singer is my ‘BB’. I have a responsibility to care for them. As for the texts about kissing and bathing, they were just some ridiculous jokes. But we are absolutely innocent.
Sure, Sly, whatever you say. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Anyhow, Sylvester has released his new Mandarin single A New Hope, available on Spotify and KKBox, and announced the launch of his songwriting competition Are You My Lyricist. Fans can also anticipate the release of the singer’s new album, which he hopes to launch by the end of the year.
3. Olinda Cho
The female finalist behind Taufik Batisah and Sylvester Sim, Olinda finished as second runner-up in the competition. Her Idol journey was not an easy one — she had to put up with incessant comments about her size, and her subsequent slimming endorsement with Body Perfect saw her slim down dramatically.
In Oct 2007, she released her debut album, Rewind.
In 2013, Olinda started modelling agency Nu Models, together with model-turned-actress Sheila Sim and two agents from Sim’s former agency.
Under her artiste management company, Olinda is training and mentoring young talents.
4. Daphne Khoo
The Singapore Idol contestant finished up in fourth place (or third runner-up) and also hosted the competition’s online programme, Idol-On-Demand.
In 2007, Daphne launched her debut album titled Desperate, which earned her the Best Breakout Solo Artist at the Singapore Music Awards the following year. She had also launched a few unofficial singles, and one for idol-based show Shooting Stars.
In early 2012, Daphne was diagnosed with stage 1 of a rare form of ovarian cancer and had her left ovary and left fallopian tube removed along with a tumour 13cm in diameter next to the ovary.
Despite being advised to completely remove her remaining fallopian tube and ovary, Daphne did not do so as she hopes to have her own children. The next year (2013), she was diagnosed with stage zero cervical cancer, which is often curable by removing the entire tumour. The survivor also underwent nine weeks of chemotherapy and regular health checks every three month for the first two years post-surgery.
The optimistic musician is determined not to let her illness bog her down, and is still actively pursuing music. Get a dose of Daphne on her YouTube channel, or catch her on air on Power 98 FM from 10am – 2pm.
5. Maia Lee
Best remembered as the girl with tattoos, Maia channelled wild child vibes during the competition; an image still deeply entrenched in many.
Maia and Sylvester dated during their Idol days and the couple even registered their marriage, but broke up after the media got wind of their marriage application.
In 2005, Maia became a writer/ celebrity guest interviewer for The New Paper. That year, she also released her debut solo album, Emotionally Advised. The next year, she wrote as a Celebrity Star Blogger for STOMP.
In 2009, she signed with film production company Kelvin Sng Productions.
Maia is a controversy magnet, making headlines multiple times for all the wrong reasons. By age 26, Maia had already given birth twice as a single mother.
Maia has since cleaned up her act and has been trying to remove her 33 tattoos since 2014. The mother of three got married four years ago, and now runs a children’s clothing line Poppykins Boutique she founded in 2009.
6. Hady Mirza
The winner of Singapore Idol’s second season, Hady garnered about 70% of one million cast by television viewers. Hady later signed under former Singapore Idol judge Ken Lim’s record label, Hype Records.
In November 2006, Hady released his debut self-titled album Hady Mirza, which achieved Platinum status within 4 days.
The next year (2007), he won the first Asia Idol competition held in Jakarta, where Idol winners from several Asian countries — namely Singapore Idol, Malaysian Idol, Indonesian Idol, Indian Idol, Vietnam Idol, and Philippines Idol — faced each another.
At the yearly Malay music award show Anugerah Planet Muzik 2007, Hady bagged the award of “Most Popular Artiste (Singapore)” and “Most Popular Song (Singapore)” for his self-penned Malay single Merpati.
Hady had stayed away from the spotlight since 2013, and chose to concentrate on FRHM Youth instead, an organisation he co-founded to promote a Muslim education and way of life among youth.
On 29 March 2014, Hady surprised fans when he suddenly tied the knot in Johor Bahru. Not much is known about his wife, except that she goes by the name Nurjannah Nur Wahid, a Malaysian from a simple family from a village in Pontian.
Now, the 35-year-old plans to focus on his new business venture selling tempe ikan bilis sambal (spicy fermented soybean and anchovies) via his Facebook page Tempting Tempe, and unfortunately has no plans to go back to singing.
7. Jonathan Leong
The season’s runner-up garnered a huge fanbase during the competition, who called themselves the “Jonatics”. A year after Singapore Idol, Jonathan was offered a record deal from Ken Lim.
He went on to perform at many high-profile events, concert venues and television shows such as the President’s Star Charity Singapore and Miss Singapore Universe. In 2008, Jonathan tried his hand at acting, with his debut role as a calefare in drama Calefare.
The multi-talented artiste was the only Singaporean performer in 2010 theatrical production Voyage De La Vie, where he played the lead role of The Boy. In 2011, he released his solo album titled 神秘英雄 or Mystery Man.
In December 2015, Jonathan married ex-Star Search contestant Jeneen Goh.
These days, it seems like Jon is busy being #instahubbyjon to Jeneen. Aww…
8. Paul Twohill
Who could forget the once floppy-haired singer?
His distinctive hairstyle certainly stood out among the other contestants, with him looking like a typical metal band member. With a unique surname, Paul left a deep impression on many. In the competition, Paul made it into the top 10, but was ultimately eliminated before the selection of the top 5.
But that wasn’t the last we saw of him. He soon appeared in Clicknetwork’s online show Chick Vs Dick alongside personality Yan Kay Kay where they did a series of challenges in the battle of sexes. The popular webshow had a change of host when Kay Kay decided to leave, and is no longer airing. Nonetheless, Paul is still hosting another web series named Wonder Boys on Clicknetwork. Together with his co-host Charles Benedict Ng, they answer life’s “most important questions”.
Now all grown up, he’s opted for a cleaner look and is done with chasing his dreams as a pop singer.
In 2013, Paul pursued a degree in Professional Communication with RMIT University. He is now a Business Development Manager at Passport Asia.
9. Joakim Gomez
The good-looking Joakim first stole the limelight when he participated in Singapore Idol’s second season.
In 2007, he made his first small screen debut, which led to more opportunities on television and stage acting.
When he was serving his NS, Joakim got his big break at hosting when he was selected by the NDP committee to host the National Day Parade 2012 alongside bigwigs like Gurmit Singh, Sharon Au, Jean Danker and Suhaimi Yusof. Since that opportunity, Joakim felt that hosting is his calling in life.
The Singapore Idol alum said in an interview with The New Paper in 2012 that he wanted to shake off his Singapore Idol label, and be remembered as someone who can really talk instead of someone who can’t really sing. The then 17-year-old managed to finish fifth despite criticism over his vocals.
These days, fangirls can catch the deejay on air on weekdays 4-8pm on 987FM, and 5-6pm on Saturdays.
10. Sezairi Sezali
During the competition, Sezairi won the hearts of many and was subsequently crowned the winner of Singapore Idol’s third season. In 2010, he released his debut album Take Two featuring his first single Broken, which became 987fm’s highest ranked Asian song.
In 2014, he released his first Malay single Sayang, which was well received in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Last year, Sezairi signed with major label Sony Music. He is also working on a self-titled EP based on his relationship with his longtime girlfriend of six years, Syaza Qistina Tan.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Sezairi has also diversified into acting, and appeared in Wild Rice’s pantomine The Emperor’s New Clothes and local historical film 1965. On the last day of Sezairi’s shoot on the set of 1965, he proposed to his girlfriend.
On 23 Jan 16, he solemnised his marriage to his long-time girlfriend, where Singapore Idol alumnus Tabitha Nauser (see point 12) was a bridesmaid.
Following in the footsteps of the other two Singapore Idol winners, the last Singapore Idol is also off the market – sorry girls.
11. Sylvia Ratonel
The season’s runner-up, Sylvia successfully became the first female finalist in the history of Singapore Idol. This title kickstarted her music and entertainment career, and she soon signed a full-time contract with MediaCorp.
In March 2010, she sealed a recording deal with Universal Music Singapore and released her eponymous debut album Sylvia Ratonel on 27 October 2010. Out of the four singles released from her album, three became Top 10 hits on Singapore radio charts, which made her the most successful female singer from Singapore Idol.
Last year, Sylvia caused a stir when she announced her conversion to Islam:
View this post on Instagram
Today I begin like a new born babe. I thank the many people I've met through out my life that has helped me in my journey to this point and to continue to learn as much as I can to be a better muslimah and a better human being. I can't express how much I am thankful for the support system that I have from friends and family. Wishing all a very blessed Sunday. Nur Sylvia Ratonel
Sylvia has shared that her big day will be on 12 March this year. We sure hope to still see this babe pursue her music endeavours after marriage!
12. Tabitha Nauser
Tabitha emerged the second runner-up in the season. The next year, she was selected to represent Asia to sing Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games theme song Everyone. She has also collaborated with other big names, including American Sean Kingston, British Steve Appleton, Australian Jessica Mauboy and South African Jody Williams.
Last year, Tabby sang the 2015 Southeast Asian Games song, Unbreakable. The talented artiste won Radio Star 2013 and subsequently joined 987FM last year, forming #squadgoals with former Singapore Idol Joakim Gomez.
13. MJ Kuok
Kuok Meng Jun, or better known as MJ Kuok, withdrew from the competition after being voted into the top 13 by the public due to personal reasons. The Stanford graduate went into advertising and real estate development in Hong Kong for three years, but eventually felt that music was his calling.
During his days at Stanford, Kuok grew to love electronic dance music (EDM) after attending music festivals like Coachella.
Kuok eventually decided to carve a name for himself in Singapore instead of the US, and goes by the moniker MMXJ in the EDM world. In September last year, Kuok released his debut single Kings, featuring local singer-songwriter Gentle Bones. The DJ-producer founded his own start-up Oceana Label, and hopes to be able to release other artistes’ music under his label.
14. Jonathan Cheok
Your eyes are not playing tricks on you — they’re the same person. We’re talking about former Singapore Idol Jonathan Cheok, now famously known for his YouTube channel CheokboardStudios.
Prior to his participation in Singapore Idol, Cheok was in SIA but felt that he was just a “high class waiter”. Although he managed to make it to the top 24 of the competition, he did not manage to get a breakthrough with MediaCorp in the entertainment scene, and decided to pursue a YouTube career.
This proved to be a right move as he has managed to successfully carve a name for his YouTube Channel. The channel now has over 178k subscribers, and is known for their comedy skits.
What a ride their Idol journeys must have been.
As Singapore Idol has proved to us, competitions are not necessarily the be-all and and-all. Some Singapore Idol alums have successfully managed to leave a deep enough impression for audiences to remember them, while others have fallen off the radar.
Nonetheless, most of them are still chasing after their music dreams — Singapore’s entertainment industry is still looking up.
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Featured image via Instagram, Instagram, Vicious Cycle Zine
With reference to Wikipedia, TODAY, Wikipedia, Five Stars And A Moon, Wikipedia, The Straits Times, Asia One, Wikipedia, The New Paper, Wikipedia, The New Paper, TODAY Online, Wikipedia, Toggle, Asia One, The Straits Times,