The Voice of the Philippines: 4 more bite the dust
MANILA, Philippines—Unless you’re a relative or big-time pal of one of the contestants, or simply a diehard follower of this modern iteration of bygone singing tilts “Tawag ng Tanghalan” or “Ang Bagong Kampeon,” you might start deeming “The Voice of the Philippines,” now 26 episodes old, a tad monotonous.
Director Johnny Manahan and company seem to recognize this. With how the last few shows have turned out, the “Voice” workers appear to be constantly on their toes, trying to keep viewers interested despite the show’s familiar format and the now all-too-familiar faces and voices of the Pinoy “Voice” contestants.
Thus, it was quite a coup when the program’s September 8 episode featured a mid-show production number starring the episode’s 8 (out of 16) contenders with coach-judge Lea Salonga and, whoa, The Oracle from the “Matrix” movies.
Patti Austin graces 'The Voice of the Philippines' with her presence:
Kidding aside, it was Patti Austin, who was on our shores for a few solo gigs and an opening-act stint for George Benson.
Dueting with Salonga as the contestants sang and hung back, the American pop-jazz singer co-crooned on her own hit, “In My Life.”
She was even generous toward the end as she let Lea, to quote the late Joe Quirino, “Take it away” in hitting the tune’s climactic high notes.
The Grammy-winning Austin was a congenial guest. When host Toni Gonzaga asked her what she thought of the contestants and their vocal skills, Austin remarked, “Not too shabby” - a quote that should have made the contenders, as well as “Beavis and Butt-head” creator Mike Judge, proud.
Are you ready, are you ready for this?
An apparent directive to the “Voice’s” platoon of writers is to keep the show thematically interesting through a storytelling angle here and there.
Purely an assumption on this viewer’s part, but how else to explain the rather literal use of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust,” as sung together by the September 8 episode’s 8 contestants, as if to portend half of them going on to proverbially bite the dust by the end-show elimination?
‘The Voice of the Philippines’’ Morissette Amon and Maki Ricafort in action on September 8:
To be fair, while this was the show’s 3rd live-show episode, the contestants’ way to survive slightly differed in format from the two previous Sundays.
This time, an assigned pair of contestants per team would duke it out via a separate number each, but their fate on the show would rest on a combination of two things: their respective coaches’ scoring of their performances and the number of earned text or online votes.
The total score per coach is 100% and the total viewer score is also 100%.
The scoring scheme was flawless across the show’s 4 teams - Teams Lea, Sarah, Apl, and Bamboo - and would have been uneventful save for the outcome for Team Lea. (We’ll get to that in a bit, in a shorter time than those of the show’s commercial breaks.)
How long can they stand the heat
Morissette Amon and Maki Ricafort of Sarah Geronimo’s team were up first, respectively rendering truncated takes on Heart’s “What About Love?” and The Police’s “Every Breath You Take.”
(Gonzaga later announced that fuller, pre-recorded versions of each performer’s latest competition piece can be downloaded from itunes.com/thevoiceph to the tune of 69 US cents a pop.)
If drama is what it takes to win this gig, then Amon picked the right piece.
Ricafort, for his part, did a serviceable job but made the ill move of sounding like Sting instead of singing the tune more naturally.
Darryl Shy and Mitoy Yonting are polar opposites, vocally and visually:
Two of the show’s standouts, Team Lea’s Darryl Shy and Mitoy Yonting, were up next via a pair of Filipino classics: Asin’s “Balita” for Darryl, Dulce’s “Paano” for Mitoy.
This was clearly the episode’s most interesting segment, given the extremes epitomized by these two 40-somethings: Shy is a low-key and folksy player with a modest, James Taylor-like tone, and Yonting is a balls-out, megawatt presence with a tenor baritone that might make Elton John blush.
Shy, with his guitar-strumming persona and common-man charm, even rendered that Asin classic in Visayan toward the song’s end.
He deserves kudos for rendering that ditty, one which, its perpetual significance aside, is not exactly fodder for dressed-to-the-nines singing tilts like this.
On the other hand, Yonting, ever the crowdpleasing attention magnet, roused the show’s live audience to cheer and clap on their feet, then inspired Salonga to notice his “halimaw” (monstrous) voice.
Lee Grane Maranan sings her 'Voice' swan song then Paolo Onesa makes a 'Skyfall':
Lee Grane Maranan and Paolo Onesa of Bamboo Mañalac’s team followed suit with R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” and Adele’s “Skyfall,” respectively.
Viewers might contend that this was the episode’s least remarkable segment, yet I would give props to Onesa the Zamboangueño for his interesting song choice.
The night’s matches ended with Apl.de.ap teammates Penelope Matanguihan and Thor Dulay, who did The Carpenters’ the Leon Russell song “Superstar” (The Carpenters' version of which is what we know best) and Stevie Wonder’s “Lately,” respectively.
Both singers were emotional high-hitters, but Apl (or one of the scriptwriters) was right on the money when he said that this marks the “start of [Thor’s] stardom.”
Penelope may be a budding 'Superstar,' but 'Lately' it’s Thor who remains mighty:
And another 4 gone, and another 4 gone
Given this episode’s (and next Sunday’s) viewers votes-plus-coaches’ scores scheme, each of the 4 teams have one survivor and all 4 will move closer to the final round.
3 of the coaches gave a 60%/40% scorecard among their respective contenders.
Sarah gave 60% to Morissette and 40% to Maki.
Bamboo gave 60% to Paolo, 40% to Lee Grane.
And Lea gave 60% to Mitoy, 40% to Darryl.
Apl scored differently: 55% for Thor, 45% for Penelope.
As Gonzaga later announced, most of the coaches’ scoring turned out to be similar to the accumulated viewer votes (which were made via text messaging and online, through “vote cards” and “e-pins” from vote.abs-cbn.com).
Morissette, Paolo, and Thor emerged as their respective teams’ higher scorers. In contrast, Darryl earned more audience votes than Mitoy: 55.89% for Shy, 44.11% for Yonting. However, in adding Salonga’s scores, Mitoy (104.11%) closely trumped Darryl (95.89%).
This is the results-revealing final segment of ‘The Voice’s’ September 8 episode:
Based on viewer feedback online, Maranan, derisively deemed a favorite of Mañalac’s, will be the least-missed among the episode’s eliminated foursome. On the opposite end, it’s pied piper-like Shy who had elicited much shoulda-been-saved commentary - essentially putting Salonga in a damned-if-you-do-or-don’t conundrum, given Yonting’s own, loaded fan base.
Perhaps for a fleeting moment that night, in the privacy of her thoughts, Salonga echoed a line off Yonting’s channeling of Dulce: “Paano ba ito?”
Yonting, on the other hand, might have been singing another Dulce hit back in his dressing room: “Ako ang nagwagi...”
Time will tell what would become of the new ex-“Voice” contestants, and it would be interesting if any of the remaining record labels would take a record-deal gamble on, say, Shy.
Time will tell as well if the 4 who made it through would even yield the one eventual “Voice of the Philippines” winner.
The only sure thing now is that the show has 6 episodes left, as the “Voice” race tightens toward the show’s September 29 finale. - Rappler.com
‘The Voice of the Philippines’ airs on ABS-CBN and The Filipino Channel. Its published PHL schedule is 9pm on Saturdays and 8pm on Sundays.