After last Saturday, there was no denying it – it was predominantly because of the impressive K-pop line-up (2NE1 & Girls’ Generation) Mediacorp had managed to secure that 6000 people clamored for tickets to the inaugural Asia Style Collection 2013, a runway show cum pop concert.

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“Everybody, come on now!” AKB48 & SNH48 coming together to rally the crowd.

The start of the show, which begun with a series of Japanese music acts interspersed with runway shows by Japanese designers, was met with an extremely muted reception. AKB48 and their Mandopop counterparts, SNH48, opened the show to a stoned out crowd who sat in near-silence while the girls tried their darndest to pander to the crowd, incessantly chirping their individual introductions in stilted English, and faltering at times. The juxtaposition was cringe-worthy and I felt almost apologetic to the group of Japanese ladies I was seated next to – they were the only ones who seemed excited.

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Thelma Aoyama – tiny girl with a huge stage presence.

That said, hats off to Thelma Aoyama the part Afro-Trinidadian, part-Japanese R&B singer. She was the first of the Japanese acts who managed to successfully rally the zombified crowd. After running through a couple of high-energy songs like an Energizer bunny without a fully present audience, she (wisely) paused and said, “You guys are shy, aren’t you? I would wanna tell people I loved performing in Singapore, but that’s only if you stand up and pump your fists in the air. Right now, I would just tell people it’s – okay – in Singapore.” (Smart lass.) But, boy, I must give it to her – this petite lady has a big voice and unstoppable energy. By the end of her set, I was completely taken by her. She was my music discovery of the night.

Above: AI in her foil costume. Source: StyleXstyle Facebook page.

Another Japanese act that impressed the crowd was hiphop singer/rapper, AI. She came out in a full metallic suit and a mask (yea, I was confused about her wardrobe choice too. Is aluminium foil the new black?), her deep soulful voice blowing away the crowd.

But the true stars of the night were the Koreans (Is there ANY surprise?). The announcement that the program was moving into the K-Pop Collection segment was met with shrieks and cheers from the crowd, who had seconds ago been deathly silent. When the commercials before the K-pop Collection went on for a tad too long, people started to fidget and grumble. Even screenings of Bobby Tonelli’s dripping-wet abs in The Little Black Beauty Box’s advertisement could not stop the impatient clucks from the ladies – Houston, we have a problem.

After some very entertaining runway shows from some Korean labels – models synchronize-dancing to PSY’s “Gentleman”, anybody? – the magic finally happened.

2NE1 appeared.

2NE1 rocking it! Source: StyleXStyle Facebook page.

All hell broke loose – in a good way. People clambered onto their seats to get a better view, while those seated further back started moving forward to fill in empty seats nearer the stage. However, in a strange case of Murphy’s Law (where anything that can go wrong, will go wrong) – the audio system, which had been functioning perfectly throughout the past 3 hours, started malfunctioning. There was about a minute of technical difficulties, when shrill feedback blasted throughout the EXPO and disallowed the members’ voices to be picked up. (As an eternal optimist, I can now safely inform you that – yes, 2NE1 sing live, and sing live very well.)

Yet as consummate performers, 2NE1 continued performing and singing (soundlessly) unfazed, nary letting on that there were any issues. And the fans played along. The glitch was soon fixed and the audience chanted along, on their tippy toes and with pumping fists, for the entire duration of the 20-minute set – cementing the reason why “[They’re] The Best”.

2NE1 – I Am The Best

Thelma Aoyama feat. Soul Ja

AI feat. Snoop Dogg