Madonna Hard Candy Album Launch Party at Zouk

It’s amazing how someone half a century old remains so relevant in this day. I quote a friend: “She seems to get better with age.”
Even more amazingly, what he said over ten years ago stays true even today. No, I am not talking about wine here. It’s Madonna, and she’s looking better than ever on here new album cover.

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Unfortunately, the iconic artist herself did not grace the event to launch her new album, Hard Candy held at Zouk. Oh well, it would be a miserable party by her cultural icon stature to attend anyway.

But still, credits to Zouk for throwing the party with all the bell and whistles paying tribute to Madonna and her new album. Snippets of Madonna trivia adorned the walls all over as I entered the main area. Models distributed various candy treats and over-sized lollipops with sticker of her latest album cover. The whole setting was awfully fun, in a cheesy kind of way.

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The music for the night was all Madonna’s music new and old. All were great, just that you probably couldn’t tell which one came from the new album that the event was supposed to promote. In between songs, the large screen aired excerpts of interviews with Madonna sharing about her music.

At the central dance floor, a boxing ring was erected for the main event of the party, Muay Thai. According to the host of the night, MTV VJ Taya, Madonna keeps in shape with this rigorous sport. Her well-toned arms are definitely testaments of the tough training associated with this martial art.

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MTV VJ Taya

Anyway, there would be two matches for that night between 4 ladies. I was darn suspicious that the matches would probably be intentionally staged a-la WWE. I mean, Girl-versus-Girl Muay Thai reeks of more of cat-fight than the esteemed sport. It didn’t help that Taya added that the fights would be given a “fun” twist.

The first fighter was introduced to the audience when her prancing around with a fencing sabre, clumsily poking an imaginary target. Then it got worse with the second fighter appearing in the ring looking like a geisha. Oh yah, both of them had video clips aired before their appearances exaggerating how bad-ass they are in the ring and how they kick serious butt with less than a total 18 months’ of training between them.
Riiight…

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So the fight went underway both fighters went head on and unleashed endless flurry of merciless punches and kicks against each other that would make bouncers look like wimps. Each blow emitted shockwaves that could be felt by the audience. No, wait, I was kidding. Actually, they pranced around each other and daintily kitty-scratched, er, I mean punched each other, and occasionally delivering surprise but off target tickles, er I mean, kicks.

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As the rounds came to an end, rather buff topless guys stepped on to stage with a placard to signal the next round, just like real boxing matches except with the roles reversed. They definitely earned plenty of wolf-whistles from the crowds.

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Then something interesting happened, one of the fighters adopted a awesome strategy of attacking the opponent’s fists with her face! It was so effective that her adversary relented with apprehension when blood trickled from her nose! The crowds approved with louder cheers in sadistic ecstasy to drum up the aggression in the fighters. Screams of approval for more blood were everywhere. “More! More! More!” they cheered.

When the match was over, the referee announced both fighters as winners.
“Kelong!” the crowds booed and jeered in good fun. Obviously, the results was staged. But there would be a prize for the favourite fighter that would be decided by the audiences’ cheers, the fighter with the louder support walks away with a brand new Samsung MP3 player.

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Next up would probably be one of the most embarrassing moments ever. Taya introduced a British lady kick boxer who has won 7 consecutive British Championships and a European Championship. She was invited to Singapore for the event, but there wasn’t anyone locally who would step into the ring with her. A challenge was then issued to the audience for anyone, male or female, who would spar with her. As you might have guessed, nobody took up the challenge, and the 7-time British Champion and European Champion was all alone doing her kick boxing display thing in the ring until her time was up and left.

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The crowd was expecting a more exciting second match following the blood from the first match and the display by the British champion. Their cheers significantly louder as the fighters of the second match arrived on stage.

Unfortunately, the fight turned out to be a less eventful one, with one fighter carelessly tripping over her opponents foot in the first round. The fighters were considerably less aggressive compared to those in the first match and it definitely look a lot more like an actual cat-fight with plenty of rather comical kitty-punches. But everyone there was still well-entertained by the fight. The presence of ample alcohol definitely helped to keep everyone happy.

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Predictably, both fighters were announced as winners but they got into a tie with both garnering equally strong support from the crowd. The host eventually awarded both fighters with an MP3 player each.

Oh, and if you didn’t notice, the best thing to happen for this whole event was that I still have no idea how Madonna’s new album sounds like. So now I probably have to buy, beg, borrow or steal to satisfy my curiosity.

The Rakes – Who needs radio when you’ve got indie?

I like indie (independent) music. It is always effortlessly refreshing. Here is a genre where there are no rules and no restrictions, just the love of making music. Other descriptive terms include experimental, unconventional, quirky, fun, original. Well, you get the idea.

But with major record companies hogging the frequencies, it is rare that we hear music from indie artists, unless they were signed and groomed for stardom by the record labels. Which is why it is great that Heineken Green Room have started bringing in refreshing indie gigs to their parties. This time, Heineken Green Room literally flew The Rakes over from half-way across the globe for a one-night-only gig at Zouk.

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The signature green ambience of Heineken Green Room

I arrived at about 10.30pm and was quite relieved that the gig hadn’t started. So when was it going to start? Then a assistant stepped on to the stage numerous times to fiddle with the instruments and stretching the audiences’ patience.

The Rakes Gig at Zouk, Singapore

The band finally appeared from the back of the stage just before midnight, delighting eager party-goers and probably appeasing disgruntled ones. The band quickly got the crowd psyched up with plenty of their energetic and quirky original music.

The Rakes Gig at Zouk, Singapore

Known for being well-dressed, they seem somewhat more casual at this gig in comparison. Must have been the the weather. Nonetheless, the group rocked hard for the audience in their signature geeky, unfazed in the chaos style, much like the title of their song, The World Was A Mess But His Hair Was Perfect.

The Rakes Gig at Zouk

The first few songs had the lead vocal, Alan furiously signalling to the sound controls to tweak the volumes of the various instruments and vocals. Once that was finally fixed, he proceeded with his infectious signature quirky dance moves while singing that got the crowds rocking.

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It was obvious that everybody on stage and off were enjoying themselves. The crowd seemed to have forgotten how long they had waited for them. Perhaps it is a similar attitude of patience that we should adopt for indie music as we trawl through the internet to find our own favourite brand of tunes.

The Rakes Gig at Zouk

Back on stage the guitarist played so hard his top ripped at the back! Ventilation is definitely helpful in our tropical climates.

The Rakes Gig at Zouk

And between songs, there would be the endorsement actions by members of the band. I am definitely going to show my appreciation to Heineken Green Room in the same way!

The Rakes Gig at Zouk, Singapore

I have to say that I am really impressed by the Lasse’s relentless energy on drums in particular. Being positioned right at the back of stage never obscured the intensity of his craft. In his frenzied performance, he exuded his own kind of charisma on stage.

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Drumming – a great work out

And just as everyone was high with all the great music, The Rakes left the stage. It took a long time of cheering from the floor before they returned to stage for an encore performance much to the appreciative crowd’s delight.

The Rakes would then stay on to spin for Zouk for the night, but many who attended have proceeded towards the exit, including myself. And by the time I got out, my ears were ringing, but I was humming the their infectious and catchy tunes.