by Ho, Stephanie
Taufik Batisah (b. 10 December 1981, Singapore–) is a singer, songwriter and music producer. After winning the first Singapore Idol – a television singing contest – in 2004, he enjoyed popular success with a series of albums. Beyond Singapore, Taufik has also gained recognition in Malaysia and Indonesia.1
Early life and education
Taufik was born the youngest of three children. After his parents’ divorce, Taufik and his brothers were raised by their mother. He started taking on part-time jobs to help out with the family’s finances, working as a mascot when he was 12 years old and then as a pizza delivery boy when he was 17.2 His aunt, Maria Bachok, was a well-known singer in the 1960s and 1970s.3
His brother Muhidden recalled a young Taufik belting out a Hindi tune that the latter had come across in a Bollywood movie, and that there was always music in the family home whenever Taufik was around.4 Taufik has said that it was Michael Jackson who got him interested in singing during his primary school years.5
Taufik was educated at Boon Lay Primary School and Jurong Secondary School, and subsequently completed a diploma in marine engineering at Singapore Polytechnic.6
Taufik’s start in the local music scene began with Bonafide, a hip-hop and rhythm and blues (R&B) duo he formed with secondary school classmate Mark Subramaniam and which became well known within the local hip-hop circuit.7 During his time with Bonafide, Taufiq performed under the stage name Fique.8 The duo subsequently merged with another local hip-hop group and became known as Bonafide Vintage Flav’r in 2003. However, Taufik left the group when he got through to the Singapore Idol competition the following year.9
In 2004, MediaCorp Television launched Singapore Idol, a local version of the popular singing competition in the United States, American Idol. Then conscripted for national service, Taufik decided to join the contest as a means of increasing the profile of Bonafide. “I joined for the exposure. I wanted people to take notice. I thought if I could just get on television, then it would open doors for me and my band, Bonafide. We had always planned to go up to KL [Kuala Lumpur] after my national service, to try to get a record deal there,” he said in an interview with magazine 8 Days.10
During the competition, Taufik gained fans with his “savvy and soulful R&B numbers”.11 By the time the number of contestants had whittled down to five from the initial 100, local daily Today said of Taufik: “We’re not only looking at a potential Idol, we’re staring at a superstar in the making.”12 One of the competition judges, Ken Lim, also described Taufik as a star performer who is capable of “devis[ing] a good act”.13
Taufik’s persona and performances were not without detractors: Some have criticised him for appearing “arrogant and cocky”. In an interview, Taufik explained, “I’m insecure about my looks and how people see me. As a result I’m afraid to make eye contact. I wanted to sound as professional as I could. I wanted to appear confident and look like I knew what I was doing.”14
Nonetheless, he was able to win over the majority of voters in the final round of the competition, held on 1 December 2004. Taufik beat Sylvester Sim by garnering 62 percent of the 1.1 million votes cast. His prize included a one-year recording contract with major record company Sony BMG and a three-year artiste management contract with Artiste Networks, an arm of Hype Records.15
Albums and career
Taufik’s debut album Blessings was launched in January 2005.16 Despite his popularity at the time, there was some uncertainty about how well the album would do. Kelly Chew, then managing director of Sony BMG Singapore, said, “The project is a daunting task for us since no local English album has sold beyond 3,000 units in recent times.”17
These fears proved unwarranted as pre-sales figure of the album exceeded 10,000 copies, reaching gold status upon its launch.18 By the third week of actual sales, the album had gone double platinum, becoming the first local English-language album in over a decade to sell over 30,000 copies.19 The same year, Taufik was asked to perform the national day song, “Reach Out for the Skies”, with local actress and singer Rui En.20
In November 2006, Taufik released his follow-up album, All Because of You. Unlike his debut in which he had minimal production input, Taufik wrote and produced eight of the 11 songs on his sophomore effort. He said, “The process was tedious but really enjoyable and I learned a lot of valuable lessons… It takes a lot of hard work and dedication. You have to set a direction for yourself and write songs that people will like, not be too selfish or self-indulgent.”21
The album also featured three tracks in Malay, including “Usah Lepaskan” (Don’t Let Go), a song he co-wrote with local singer-songwriter Imran Ajmain.22 The inclusion of these songs signalled Taufik’s entry into the Malay music scene, not only in Singapore but also regionally. Ken Lim, Taufik’s mentor and director of Hype Records, said, “As soon as [All Because of You] is finished, we will start work on the Malay one. We feel that his career has peaked in Singapore and for it to improve, he will have to go to Malaysia.”23
Taufik’s next two albums, Teman Istimewa (“Special Friend”; 2007) and Suria Hatiku (“The Sun of My Heart”; 2008), were both predominantly in Malay. They helped Taufik break into the pop-music scenes of Malaysia and Indonesia.24 “Seribun Tahun” (1,000 Years) from Teman Istimewa was co-written with Imran Ajmain, and garnered more than a million views on video website YouTube. It was also chosen as the theme song for a Malaysian drama serial.25
Suara Hatiku was an album of ballads and love songs with an acoustic feel which were different from the R&B songs for which Taufik was known. Explaining the shift in aesthetics, he said that ballads were challenging to write but enabled him to “show a different style” and avoid being pigeonholed in one genre.26 For the album, Taufik studied Korean and Chinese ballads to improve his song composition.27
Two of Taufik’s songs, “Sesuatu Janji” (A Promise) and “Aku Bersahaja”, achieved chart success in Malaysia, while other songs were used for Malaysian television serials. In 2012, Taufik’s single, “Sky’s The Limit” – another duet with Rui En – topped the chart of local radio station 987FM.28
In 2014, Taufik released his fifth album, Fique. He wrote 12 of the 13 songs on the album, having selected them from “hundreds” of his compositions penned between 2008 and 2014. The album included a cover of “Kenangan Mengusik Jiwa”, performed as a duet with her aunt, Maria Bachok. The song was famously sung by Maria’s late husband A. Ramlie, also a popular pop singer in the 1960s.29
Recognition and other fields
Taufik continued to be one of Singapore’s most popular performers, winning the award for most popular male artiste at the 2006 Anugerah Planet Muzik (APM), the biggest music awards show celebrating the best Malay music in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.30 In 2008, he won three titles at the APM: Most Popular Act, Most Popular Song and Best Act in Singapore.31 Two years later, Taufik swept six of the 14 trophies at the inaugural anugerahHitz.sg awards event for local Malay artistes.32
Taufik’s popularity did not diminish four years later in 2014: At the year’s APM, he won for the most popular song (Singapore), most popular artist as well as social media icon. All three awards were decided by fan votes on social media.33
Taufik attributed much of his success to his fans and sees their support as the reason for the continued expansion of his musical career, saying, “[Winning awards is] good recognition, good motivation to keep doing what I do. When it comes to music, there are ups and downs. It’s never easy.”34
In 2010, Taufik moved into acting with a role in Dick Lee’s musical Fried Rice Paradise. He said, “I like to try something new every year, and this will be it. It will definitely prepare me for other parts of the entertainment industry which I’m looking to explore.”35
Taufik was back on television in 2013 as a judge on the English-language singing competition, The Final One. Taufik said of his role, “My approach is as big brother. I am basically older than all of the contestants... I’m going to be really encouraging and I’m just going to be on their side all the way.”36
Taufik’s next turn on television was in a lead role as a doctor in Demi Adriana, a telemovie by local Malay channel Suria. The show began airing in January 2015.37
In addition to his music career, Taufik was appointed as a “smoke-free ambassador” for the Health Promotion Board in 200538 and as a Malay-language ambassador in 2010 for the Malay Language Month.39 He received the Singapore Youth Award in 2006, and expressed the hope that the award would inspire other young people to pursue their dreams as he did.40
– Most Popular Male Artiste, Anugerah Planet Muzik
– Favourite Male Artiste (Singapore), MTV Asia Awards
– Most Saleable Artiste, Pesta! Pesta! Pesta! Awards
– Kids’ Choice Wannabe Award (Singapore), Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award
– Most Popular Male Personality, Pesta Perdana 9 Awards
– Kids’ Choice Wannabe Award (Singapore), Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award
– Most Popular Singapore Artiste; Most Popular Song (Singapore); Best Popular Song (Singapore) (“Usah Lepaskan”), Anugerah Planet Muzik
– Most Popular Singapore Artiste; Most Popular (Singapore) for Berserah; Best Singapore Artiste, Anugerah Planet Muzik
– Singapore Youth Award 2008 (Arts and Culture)
– Top Local Malay Pop Song (“Usah Lepaskan”), Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (COMPASS) Award
– Most Popular Artiste (Singapore), Anugerah Planet Muzik
– Best Artiste; Best Composer (“Nafasku”); Best Album (Suria Hatiku); Most Popular Song (“Nafasku”); Most Popular Song (“KepadaNya”); Most Popular Artiste, AnugeraHitz.sg
– Most Popular Artiste (Singapore); Most Popular Artiste (Regional); Best Collaboration (Regional) (with Indonesia’s Rossa; “Aku Bersahaja”), Anugerah Planet Muzik
– Best Asian Artist (Singapore), Mnet Asian Music Awards
2005: Blessings (Sony BMG).
2006: All Because of You (Hype Records).
2007: Teman Istimewa (Hype Records).
2008: Suria Hatiku (Hype Records).
2014: Fique (Hype Records).
1. Eddino Abdul Hadi. (2014, October 6). The Life! interview with Taufik Batisah. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
2. Tan, J., & Anwar Hashim. (2004, November 26). This is Taufik…Today, p. 46. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Thomas, S. (2004, December 5). All in the family. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Tan, J., & Anwar Hashim. (2004, November 26). This is Taufik…Today, p. 46. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Eddino Abdul Hadi. (2014, October 6). The Life! interview with Taufik Batisah. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
6. TaufikBatisah.net. (n.d.). Background info. Retrieved from TaufikBatisah.net website: http://www.taufikbatisah.net/site/page10/page2/page2.html
7. Eddino Abdul Hadi. (2014, October 6). The Life! interview with Taufik Batisah. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
8. Eddino Abdul Hadi. (2014, October 2). Taufik’s return. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
9. Bonafide, M. (n.d.). Bandwagon guest writer: Mark Bonafide. Retrieved from Bandwagon website: http://editorial.bandwagon.sg/bandwagon-guestwriter-mark-bonafide; Thomas, S. (2005, June 3). Bonafide merger adds Flav’r. The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Wee, T. (2004, December 30). Idol chat. 8 Days, p. 27. Singapore: Caldecott Publishing. (Call no.: RSING 791.4505 EDTG)
11. Wee, T. (2004, December 2). Way to go. 8 Days, p. 42. Singapore: Caldecott Publishing. (Call no.: RSING 791.4505 EDTG)
12. Tan, J. (2004, August 20). Idol or Survivor: Singapore? Today, p. 44. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Razali Abdullah. (2004, November 5). The Idol review. Today, p. 46. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Tan, J. (2004, November 18). How far have they come?Today, p. 44. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Wee, T. (2004, December 30). Idol chat. 8 Days, p. 28. Singapore: Caldecott Publishing. (Call no.: RSING 791.4505 EDTG)
15. Thomas, S. (2004, December 7). Taufik won by a landslide. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Siti Rohani. (2004, December 9). Win, lose, draw. 8 Days, p. 38. Singapore: Caldecott Publishing. (Call no.: RSING 791.4505 EDTG); The final countdown. (2004, December 1). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Zul Othman. (2005, January 14). Taufik’s album goes gold. Today, p. 52. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Wee, T. (2004, December 2). Way to go. 8 Days, p. 42. Singapore: Caldecott Publishing. (Call no.: RSING 791.4505 EDTG)
18. Zul Othman. (2005, January 14). Taufik’s album goes gold. Today, p. 52. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Tan, M. (2005, May 6). Taufik or Tau-fake. The New Paper, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Reaching for the skies at N-day party. (2005, August 11). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Yap, G. (2006, November 22). Taufik delves within so that he can reach out to his fans. Today, p. 34. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Narayanan, S. (2006, November 24). Wish list for his perfect woman. The New Paper, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Narayanan, S. (2006, April 11). But is it too little, too late, Taufik?The New Paper, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Narayana, S. (2007, October 24). Will M’sia fall for Idol from Singapore?The New Paper, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; I have to stay on my toes. (2007, December 27). The New Paper, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Eddino Abdul Hadi. (2008, December 15). Fame and family in the bag. The Straits Times, p. 44. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Like father... Ahmad like son... Imran. (2009, April 5). New Sunday Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
26. Toh, C. (2008, December 4). This one’s for Aishwarya…Today, p. 38. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Eddino Abdul Hadi. (2014, October 6). Taufik reaches out to Malaysia. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
28. Ong, S. F. (2007, November 16). Short spins. The Straits Times, p. 104. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Eddino Abdul Hadi. (2014, October 6). Taufik reaches out to Malaysia. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
29. Eddino Abdul Hadi. (2014, October 6). Taufik reaches out to Malaysia. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
30. Juliana June Rasul. (2006, March 27). Newbies, veterans shine. Today, p. 36. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. Eddino Abdul Hadi. (2008, April 22). Taufik’s the big winner. The Straits Times, p. 64. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
32. Juliana June Rasul. (2010, April 6). The Taufik Batisah awards. The New Paper. Retrieved from Factiva.
33. Nabilah Said. (2014, October 20). Taufik takes three awards. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
34. Noor Ashikin Abdul Rahman. (2012, December 17). ‘I came with no expectations’. The New Paper. Retrieved from Factiva.
35. Juliana June Rasul. (2010, May 17). From TV to stage. The New Paper. Retrieved from Factiva.
36. Seah, M. (2013, April 23). Judging the judges. Today. Retrieved from Factiva.
37. Eddino Abdul Hadi. (2014, October 6). Taufik reaches out to Malaysia. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva; Sura. (2014, December 3). Teledrama: Demi Adriana teaser (generic) [Video]. Retrieved from YouTube website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79oz1gYBBgY
38. Ramani, V. (2005, August 18). Meet the newest smoke-free ambassador. Today, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
39. Taufik Batisah among ambassadors for Malay language month. (2010, June 11). Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved from Factiva.
40. Outstanding young Singaporeans honoured at youth award ceremony. (2008, July 6). Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved from Factiva.
41. Taufikbatisah.net. (n.d.). Background info. Retrieved from http://www.taufikbatisah.net/site/page10/page2/page2.html; Media Development Authority. (n.d.). MDA music e-brochure. Retrieved from MDA website: http://www.mda.gov.sg/Documents/Ebrochures/music/files/assets/basic-html/page39.html
42. Allmusic.com. (n.d.). Discography. Retrieved from Allmusic.com website: http://www.allmusic.com/artist/taufik-batisah-mn0001981113/discography; Eddino Abdul Hadi. (2014, October 6). Taufik reaches out to Malaysia. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
The information in this article is valid as at 20 March 2015 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.