Asia’s Next Top Model Cycle 3 has just successfully wrapped up. I’ve been rating the girls on their performances. Due to insistent public demand, now it’s time to take a look at what the show did great and what we, the fans, think need to be improved.
1. The Chandelier(?) Theme Song
Plagiarism! LOL. But seriously. I have to give credit to the people behind the catchy Chandelier-ish opening theme song. The lyrics were hard to decipher at first, but after episode 5, and with the help of the comments, I finally did. I still hear the tune while writing this. Won’t stop on top. I am so looking forward to next season’s theme song.
2. The New Deliberation Room
With a new theme song, comes a new set for the deliberation room. And I love it! I love how it ties in to this cycle’s overall branding and graphic design. It’s clean, bright, sleek, and stylish. I love that it’s very minimalist, not a lot going on in the background. The focus is solely on the girls and on the judges. This is miles better than last cycle’s dark and tacky set.
3. The Judges
I’m actually having a hard time recalling who were the people in the judging table this cycle. Not that I don’t remember their names but I didn’t know who were guest judging and who were the regulars. Mike Rosenthal (I still miss you, please come back) was not even in the finale so was he just a guest judge in the earlier episodes? Not sure. But what I’m trying to say is that if we were to judge the girls’ overall performance in the show, the same people who have witnessed the journey from beginning to end should have been sitting in the judges’ table. Strictly speaking, only Georgina and Joey (correct me if I’m wrong) were present in all 13 episodes.
The most memorable guest judges were (1) Mr. Rosenthal, who (aside from being beautiful) masterfully took great photographs of the girls, (2) Subaru boss Glenn Tan, who was at his most frank and harshest this cycle, and (3) Harper’s Bazaar SG EIC Kenneth Goh, who gave great insight into the modelling industry in Asia.
4. The Host
Let’s admit it: in the beginning of this season, we were all doubting Georgina Wilson‘s hosting skills. She seemed too stiff and robotic. She delivered lines like she was reading off a teleprompter. But then it happened! Slowly but surely, she started showing a lot more emotion. You could feel that she was genuinely rooting for and supporting the girls in their journey. When Barbara wanted to give up her spot for Monika, Georgina had the perfect balance of concern and disappointment.
The strange thing was, when Georgina finally hit her stride, her role in the show seemed to diminish. This was around the Top 6, or even as early as Top 8. She wasn’t present at some of the shoots, and she was only present at 2 or 3 challenges. She even made a remark that she didn’t get to meet Bruno the mixed martial artist. As the host, she needed to be present in as much of the girls’ modelling journeys as possible.
5. The Girls
The show had a good mix of girls with different strengths and weaknesses. The editors and writers really highlighted and contrasted the girls, e.g. the girl with the most and least modelling experience, the editorial vs. the commercial girl, the girl who looks like a model on print vs. the girl who looks like a model in person. This gave an interesting insight into what makes a top model.
I’m sad though that we have less countries participating this cycle. Where are the representatives from East and South Asia? Most of the countries represented are from Southeast Asia. And we get 2 or more representatives per country for some of them. (I’m looking at you Indonesia and the Philippines!) The show needs to showcase a greater range of Asian beauty. Which leads me to my next point…
6. What Does Asian Beauty Even Mean?
The show seems to have a type. They’re looking for an “Asian beauty” to represent the continent in the international scene. But the show’s definition of an Asian beauty is definitely too narrow. Just look at this and last cycle’s winner. And, this might be a stretch, this is probably why we’re getting less and less South Asian representatives every cycle. It’s also probably not a coincidence that the girl with the darkest skin this cycle got eliminated first. So to the ever runners-up Philippines and Japan: if you actually want to win next cycle, you know what to do. You need to send a young (early 20s or younger), Asian beauty (see Sheena and Gani), with a slightly OTT personality.
On another note: I don’t understand why the judges needed to continually call out, for example, Gani for her short height, or Barbara for her (relatively) old age. All of the finalists passed the competition requirements. They needed to be a certain height, in a certain age range, and from a certain continent (i.e., Asia) to be eligible to join. The production, or whoever chose the finalists, could have just cut them before the Top 12. Or the judges could have eliminated them early just for not having the qualities they expected from a model. You can’t magically add a few inches to your height, or you can’t (yet) travel back in time to be younger. So to expect that from the girls is a bit strange. All for the sake of being a “true” Asian beauty, I guess.
7. The Makeovers
I don’t understand how Joey proudly claimed that the girls were getting drastic makeovers. None of them did. Nothing as emotional as Sneha‘s haircut from last cycle. I would consider Melissa‘s pixie cut the most relatively “drastic” makeover. And that proved to be a great boost to her performance.
8. Photo Shoots
Sigh. It was pretty obvious that the show had a budget cut. Obvious enough that it showed in the quality of the photo shoots we got this cycle. The girls spent most of the photo shoots inside a studio. The only two shoots where I didn’t mind the studio setting were (1) in their Subaru body paint shoot, and (2) when the girls were suspended by harness wearing Alex Perry. It might also have to do with Singapore not being the most affordable location. Compare that to last cycle going to a car factory, to the Batu Caves, and to the rainforest, and that’s just a few of the locations I could name off the top of my head.
Oh. I just remembered the shoot which probably would win an award for the worst photo shoot theme in AsNTM history. It’s Episode 8 (The Girl Who Is On A Mission). Most of the girls didn’t look their best that day but the sad thing was, it wasn’t their fault. It just seemed to not have been planned well. The brief was confusing, the styling recycled, and the celebrity guest (who was said to be mentoring the girls) MIA in most of the shoots. (Indonesian celebrity Andien was only there for the Indonesian girls’ shoots.) All in all, it was just a bad day. Well, we all have those days. #SorryNotSorry
I would not have a problem with photo shoots that were tied up with one or two brands but this cycle (correct me if I’m wrong) had probably the most number of sponsored episodes. Closeup. Zalora. Subaru (twice). The requirements of the brand could be a factor in inhibiting the models from showing all they really got. More editorial please! (Not those so-called “motion editorial” stuff that they did, which were, in fact, just 15-second TV commercial spots.)
Was it just me or were the shoots this year a tad too quiet. Like I could almost hear elevator music coming from the set. Every year, I pray for at least one mind-blowing theme and this cycle didn’t give us any. I would have wanted to redo the Chinese zodiac theme from Cycle 1, because Cycle 1’s execution didn’t do the theme justice. AsNTM still has not given us photo shoots as outrageous as these but at least they were far from boring.
The show also needs a new Daniel Boey, an equivalent of ANTM’s Mr. Jay. Someone aside from Joey (who was a breath of fresh air every single episode) should be present in all photo shoots to look after the girls, and not just in the judging panel.
9. Where are the Runway Challenges?!
I’ve been saying this since the previous cycle: Where are the runway challenges?! Again, the show only had literally a couple of (proper) runway challenges: their first challenge with the turntable, and the final runway walk with the Top 3. I don’t know if you can count the quick-change challenge during Top 5 as a runway challenge. AsNTM: We need more runway challenges. You said it yourself in the show: modelling is not just about photo shoots.
10. High Fashion Finale
This cycle’s finale is the most high-fashion out of all the cycles. I always love seeing haute couture fashion creations. The designs on the runway looked great. Particularly memorable is the blue dress Monika wore with sass.
I’m disappointed at the so-called “reunion” of all the girls. Where were the other eliminated girls? Why didn’t only a select few of them walk the runway with the Top 3? I’m guessing the culprit is still the budget: for housing the girls and/or bringing them back in from their home countries.
I also hope that for the next cycle, the show tries out a Top 2 final instead of a Top 3. I imagine that it would make for a far more exciting show.
11. International Destination?
Cycle 1 had the girls travel by ferry to Batam, Indonesia, and by plane to Hong Kong (left photo) for photo shoots. And although Cycle 2 didn’t really venture out of Malaysia, the girls at least flew across the Malaysian archipelago to the island of Borneo (right photo). Cycle 3… well… as I mentioned, they spent a lot of time inside the studio, or with the concrete jungle as their backdrop. The girls did ride a ferry in Episode 2, albeit just across the harbor. And they did get to spend some time aboard a cruise ship, although that wasn’t actually going anywhere.
In the other Next Top Model franchises, the models traveling to the international destination is a signal that the competition is nearing its end. It’s an exciting treat for both the girls and the viewers to see the models in a different location. Next cycle, I hope they do get the budget to travel outside the host country. I would suggest a quick trip to Myanmar. I was there just last month, and there are a lot of great locations to shoot.
Overall, I think this was an okay cycle. It’s not as full of drama and color as the previous cycle. I really liked how the girls were challenged with the different aspects of modelling, sort of like a crash course on Modelling 101. Some aspects still need to be more present, e.g. the runway challenges, but I’m satisfied with how everything as a whole turned out. The production needs to sort out their budget issues stat. I’m confident Subaru will be back as a sponsor next cycle, but the show needs even more sponsors, preferably fashion-related. (And I’m still hoping Mr. Rosenthal returns as a permanent judge or photographer. *blush*)
What are your thoughts for this latest cycle of Asia’s Next Top Model? What are you looking forward to for Cycle 4? Sound off in the COMMENTS below.