'The Voice': Hello, live show, bye, 4 singers
MANILA, Philippines—“I refuse to make this a sad moment. This is a celebration.”
Thus spoke Bamboo Mañalac toward the end of the August 25 episode of “The Voice of the Philippines,” which marked the kickoff of the program’s live-show phase.
The singer-songwriter-coach’s words were meant to defuse any grief among those who got eliminated and to sustain the un-“American Idol” program’s deliberate positive vibe.
Still, viewers, especially those tuned in at home, most likely could not help but pity some of the people on the show.
Two sets of people, actually: the four contestants who neither earned enough audience votes nor their coach’s save, and the hundreds of live viewers at Resorts World Manila’s Newport Performing Arts Theater.
The latter group also deserves pity because, for all the show’s entertainment quotient, the thing stretched to two and a half hours, running from around half-past 8 to a little past 11 in the evening.
The prolonged running time perhaps helped give the accounting firm SyCip Gorres Velayo & Co added minutes in tabulating the viewers’ votes, but it’s mainly due to extended commercial breaks.
Home viewers who live near a convenience store would actually have enough time to score some of the stuff being advertised and come back home in time for the show’s next segment.
Life’s like that and that
The August 24 episode was labelled a “life show,” a prerecorded prologue to the following evening’s live show, focusing on the first 12 out of 24 remaining contestants who would be subjected to the live round.
This life show revealed the contenders’ respective live-show pieces and gave a refresher on whatever tearjerking life detail can be told about them.
Thus, the matter of money being hard to come by was the common denominator for Junji Arias, Cora Dela Cruz, and Darryl Shy, segueing into a casual jam on the Eraserheads’ “With a Smile” — an amusing coincidence, given that Shy’s wife, Ann Angala Shy, had been the E-heads’ manager.
Personal insecurities are supposedly a mutual issue for Jessica Reynoso and Morissette Amon, the narration of which led to their joint rendition slash singoff of Mariah Carey’s “Butterfly.”
The lack of a lover, meanwhile, was the identified concern for RJ Dela Fuente, Myk Perez, and Talia Reyes, serving to justify their combined take on Maroon 5’s “Love Somebody.”
A loved one’s death was the tie that bound Radha Tinsay (with her Kulay groupmate Jeannie Oakman) and Lee Grane Maranan (her father), paving the way for their shared cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge over Troubled Water.”
And the “Voice” being their potential shot at the overdue music business success was the stressed point for Thor Dulay and Eva Delos Santos, resulting in their vocal-jam assignment, Whitney Houston’s “One Moment in Time.”
It’s Sunday night live
On live-show night, 3 members each of Teams Apl (.de.ap), Bamboo, Lea (Salonga) and Sarah (Geronimo) took separate turns in performing onstage for the competition proper, delivering their respective songs in full.
It was a far cry from the battle rounds, sans any fellow competitor to upstage onstage and with the songs now unabbreviated. (Most of the contestants were joined onstage by the “J Star Dancers.”)
Three Team Lea members went on first: Darryl Shy, then Radha Tinsay, then RJ Dela Fuente.
Shy, defiantly homespun-looking and armed with his trusty acoustic guitar, was first out of the proverbial gate for a hushed rendition of Loggins and Messina’s 42-year-old ditty, “Danny’s Song.”
Salonga praised Shy for following her advice about bringing out “the joy... the emotion” of the song and remarking that his “wife is a lucky woman.” (Curiously, Ann the lucky woman never got seen during the audience shots, though their kids were.)
Radha was the first J Star-accompanied performer, for her take on Ike and Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High,” a performance wherein she took vocal risks that, per Lea, nonetheless “paid off.”
Then it was RJ’s turn, dishing out The Pretenders’ “I Stand by You” power-ballad style, his rendition a marked improvement from his much-debated battle-round moment and enough to prompt Salonga to quip that his “detractors should now eat their words.”
Later on came Team Apl’s first three live-show contenders: Cora Dela Cruz, Thor Dulay, and Jessica Reynoso.
Given her gravelly, Sampaguita-Lolita Carbon-like vocal, it seemed inevitable that Cora would render Sampaguita’s rock-leaning pop hit “Nosi ba Lasi” — a performance that made Allan “Apl.de.ap” Pineda “proud.”
Thor followed suit with Gary Valenciano’s “Narito,” a virtually soaring rendition that compelled Bamboo to quip that “he looked for a seatbelt” as Thor notched high note after high note.
Jessica rounded out the three-in-a-row set via Tamyra Gray’s “I Believe,” a powerhouse performance that gave Apl “goosebumps” and made him feel “bilib na bilib.”
Would Dylan win this sort of thing?
For Team Bamboo, it was Talia Reyes, Myk Perez, and Lee Grane Maranan who went live.
Talia went on pop-rock singer-guitarist mode to render Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” (whose cuss-laden line got sanitized from “when you f*** her” to “when you’re with her”).
Myk was next for the night’s most musically interesting piece: an unlikely yet smooth mashup of Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” and Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely,” which Bamboo hailed as “creative.”
Then it was Lee Grane’s turn, for a vocals-and-guitar take on the Bob Dylan original that Adele had remade, “Make You Feel My Love” — a rendition that, online comments indicate, found the contender vocally unintelligible and thus became more Dylan than Adele.
As for Team Sarah, the consecutive live-show turns were by Eva Delos Santos, Junji Arias, and Morissette Amon.
“Mommy” Eva, addressed as such for being the show’s eldest contestant at age 51, made like Carole King in rendering “So Far Away,” replete with her own piano-playing for the first few stanzas — a performance that Lea deemed “oversung” in parts but which Sarah considered heartfelt.
Junji also put his fingers on the ebonies and ivories for his rendition of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” letting loose with some of his stubborn growls as the song built to a climax.
Morissette was the episode’s final soloist via Christina Perri’s melancholy “Jar of Hearts,” her near-tears take on the bitter ballad prompting her coach and dead ringer Sarah to state that “You’re a better version of me.”
Viewing then voting (then debating)
Viewers got to double as voters this time, with each set of performances concluding with text and online channels being open to votes until the next set.
Whoever got the most votes per team was saved, with the fate of every team’s resulting “bottom two” then resting on the coaches, who are entitled to one “save” each. (We get to hear, as a viewing bonus of sorts, the live audience heartily “coaching” the coaches as to who to pick.)
The episode’s buena mano, Darryl, earned the most votes in the Team Lea trio. While some netizens expressed surprise at this outcome, it is to “The Voice’s” credit that it doesn't limit its hopefuls to the usual belt-out, instrument-free divas.
And while RJ did not disappoint this time, he did not have much of a chance against the music-biz pro that is Radha, whom Lea opted to save.
Among Team Apl’s own live-show trio, it was Thor who got the most votes, putting Cora and Jessica in danger of elimination. Apl opted to keep Jessica out of that danger.
For Team Bamboo, it was Myk who was most-voted, his Katy-Stevie mashup apparently paying off. Bamboo then had to choose between Talia and Lee Grane and, in choosing the latter, earned much gnashing of teeth anew from judgmental netizens.
But perhaps the live-show outcome most debated online involved Team Sarah.
Morissette managed to earn the most votes. Then, between Junji and Eva, Sarah opted to save her team’s “Mommy,” dashing the hopes of Junji (who just turned 37 last August 5).
Here is Darryl Shy’s vote-winning rendition of the 1971 Loggins and Messina ballad, “Danny’s Song”:
Next weekend’s “The Voice” episodes will be a sequel to last weekend’s own life show-then-live show, focusing on the 12 other contenders who have yet to take their live turns.
Will the voters make the right choices? Will the coaches save the deserving souls? Will “The Voice of the Philippines” ever stop reminding me of the 1980s sitcom “Chicks to Chicks” with its flood of commercials?
So many questions, but the answers will be forthcoming as the show edges toward its September 29 finale. - Rappler.com
‘The Voice on the Philippines’ airs on ABS-CBN and The Filipino Channel. Its published PHL schedule is 9:00 p.m. on Saturdays and 8:15 p.m. on Sundays.