You remember Anggun? She was big in the 90s, the Indonesian-born, French-naturalized music star who came out with the hit song “Snow in the Sahara” in 1997.
To refresh your memory:
Well, she’s now one of judges of “Asia’s Got Talent” (Thursdays on AXN), joining Taiwanese cutie Van Ness Wu, producer-songwriter David Foster, and Spice Girl Melanie C.
I met Anggun on a recent assignment for the old Yahoo Philippines when I covered the showcase of the talent competition held at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. She is beautiful, of course, but I also immediately liked her vibe. I also learned that:
1. She bonded well with Melanie C.
David Foster called them the “wickedest witches of the East and West.” She feels judges must have chemistry. “It’s really important for us to get along but we genuinely like act other, we actually go to dinner together.”
2. She’s emotional as a judge.
“It is entertainment but it’s also very emotional, some acts they’re just oh so beautiful, we cried… and sometimes we know their stories, sometimes we don’t because we as judges we are (in) the same (boat) as the public. When an act comes on stage we don’t know anything about them so we discover them like everybody else, so whatever it is that they have to offer, we let our emotions just lead the way.”
3. ‘Good is the enemy of great.’
She is quoting David on this one, explaining that sometimes you see a lot of good singers but they fall short. It’s what she calls “problemes de riche,” the problems of the rich, “like when you have so many (choices), you just look for excellence.”
4. It’s tough to tell the truth.
If good isn’t good enough, it’s still a tough sell, especially if you have to say it to someone’s face. “We try to be honest but at the same time we don’t wanna be harsh, too harsh on them knowing that a lot of them just might probably be the first time they’re on stage facing a lot of people”, and what we’re going to say they’re going to live with it forever, maybe.”
And she’s had practice walking the fine line, as she was also a judge in the Indonesian franchise of “Got Talent” and “The X Factor.”
5. Asia, represent!
If you know how to combine your heritage with what’s contemporary, you’re in. “One of the most important part of AGT is the fact that if you come from Asia… you should show us something different (and) not another a copy of someone,” she said.
“I’m really a defender of being proud of where you’re from. Do not change anything—enhance it, don’t change (it). You can (be inspired) from what the western culture has to offer, but do not change yourself because, yes, we are unique.”
In fact, Anggun may now carry a French passport, but she still thinks of herself as Indonesian. She speaks to her seven-year-old daughter in Bahasa Indonesia.(Her husband is French writer Cyril Montana.) “I never spoke to her in any other language. For me, it’s kind of a no brainer.” Whatever she imbibes from the French culture doesn’t change her, she said, “it’s just another layer of my personality.”
6. Success is…magic!
“Having a talent is one thing, hard work is another and, of course, all together you also need a bit of luck.” She said that for that to happen sometimes you have to provoke it, you just have to keep pursuing what you believe in. “Sometimes, you just need to be the right person at the right place. There isn’t any formula cos otherwise it will be too easy, everyone can do it. But it really is the magic that happens between talent, hard work, and the factor of luck.”
“Asia’s Got Talent” premiered on March12 and airs Thursdays, 8:30pm on AXN.”