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Mixed Fortunes for Batangueñas and Who Knows What Bamboo is Thinking

I had a peaceful night watching Saturday’s edition of the Battles of the Voice of the Philippines, since the coaches’ scorecards more or less matched my own. And not that I have any claims to musical expertise other than two sharp ears, but I rather thought last night’s decision-making was more scandalous than a Chito Miranda sex video.

But I invoke the rights and privileges of the armchair critic and look the other way as apl.de.ap slipped Penelope Matanguihan through to the next level even if her performance was arguably not the night’s best of her group.

She looked like she had a bit of gas when she started but recovered midway through the song “One Night Only” and especially with the high notes. If I am being honest, I thought Cara Manglapus won that by the thinnest of hairs; and this is just my way of saying it could have gone to any of the three girls.

And because I claim a provincial connection to young Penelope, I did not mind that apl.de.ap slipped her through; and will not mind if she goes all the way. She has a lovely voice, great technique and charm. What she needs is just a bit more seasoning.

God only knows what goes on inside Bamboo’s head, but his choice of Onesa was not unlike declaring Manny Pacquiao winner while the latter was still unconscious on the canvass after walking into a Marquez killer punch; or Lazarus being called from his grave by Jesus Christ himself.
For the record, I thought the girls all sang better individually. Together, the pitch went all over the place and was at times painful to listen to.

Opposite fortune, then, for the other Batangueña who competed over the weekend. Nicole Parada of Batangas City was, like young Penelope, in a trio. She competed Saturday night against two other Team Bamboo singers Angelique Alcantara and Deb Victa in doing Adele’s ‘Set Fire to Rain.’

It is always a tad more difficult to pick from a battle of three singers; but Nicole was arguably the weakest of the three. It was never a voice or technique issue for Nicole but more a reticence in her personality and a lack of confidence and charm.

Bamboo put Angelique through although I could have sworn that Deb probably shaded the contest. That said, it was never as though any of the three ladies definitively outshone the others. I did not mind Bamboo’s choice.

I did mind last night, though! I nearly fell off my chair when he picked Paolo Onesa over the father-and-son duet of Mark and Willy Cordovales. I mean, seriously, you have to gotta be kidding me!

God only knows what goes on inside Bamboo’s head, but his choice of Onesa was not unlike declaring Manny Pacquiao winner while the latter was still unconscious on the canvass after walking into a Marquez killer punch; or Lazarus being called from his grave by Jesus Christ Himself.

Onesa sang frightened and with an abject lack of belief and conviction in one corner; while the Cordovaleses sang with charm and wonderful melodies. If this was boxing, Onesa was down snoring on the canvass. It was a knockout!

apl.de.ap, Lea Salonga and Joey Ayala all thought so, too. Unfortunately, the verdict that mattered was Bamboo’s; and who really knows what goes on inside his head? Before announcing his verdict, he mentioned Onesa’s potential. But I reiterate, if a coach ignores the night’s performance, why hold the Battles at all?

I thought Sarah G also lost the plot when she put Junji Arias through at the expense of Sariaya’s Dave Lamar. First of all, those who grew up in the Queen generation – as I did – know that most of the band’s songs are not the easiest to sing even in the bathroom because of Freddie Mercury’s vocal range.

Bohemian Rhapsody, then? I thought Arias nearly snapped a neck tendon trying – nay, failing – to reach one particularly high note. Two other coaches cited his ‘control.’ Seriously?

He was painful to listen to and at times even disturbing to watch. He would have been more at ease with a Metallica or Megadeth anthem that was more for the growlers than the singers. Why choose a song, then, that exposed his limitations rather than showcased his abilities if the intention was to put him through?

For his higher range and more melodic interpretation of Bohemian, I thought Lamar deserved to go through. He was not perfect but better; and I would have thought that in a sing-off, better is what the game is all about.

Although Lea Salonga put Kim Mainit through at the expense of Taw Muhammad, I did not think too much of this as an issue compared to the others. Salonga probably finds novelty in Mainit being a boy who sings like a girl.

It could have gone either way even if I thought Muhammad had the better vocals; but I can understand Salonga’s decision because Mainit’s performance was without a doubt the more flamboyant.

Thankfully, Saturday’s battles and decision-making were not as hypertension-inducing as last night’s. Admittedly, Saturday was also for the middling singers who will probably not take the latter stages of the show by storm.

The opener was always a case of Sir Lord Lomibao having gone as far as he could. It was always an easy choice for apl.de.ap to pick Thor Dulay after the duo’s interpretation of ‘I’ll Make Love to You.’

Arnel Pineda and Sarah G also picked Thor; but in yet another indication that Bamboo sees the world differently from you and I, he picked Lomibao. Thankfully, it was for apl.de.ap to send one singer through to the next stage.

Young Japs Mendoza sang Maroon 5’s ‘Daylight’ with such a sad face in his one-off with Diday Garcellana that it would have been charitable to walk him through to the next round. Performance-wise, however, he was never really in it against Garcellana; and, I suppose, it was an easy decision for Salonga to put the latter through.

Sarah G made it look like she was having the utmost difficulty choosing between Yuki Ito and Kathreen Castro after the two sang ‘Baliw.’ Slow applause for Sarah G’s award-winning theatrics. It was always going to be Yuki Ito, who was innovative and confident.

He would have shamed Boy George; and to be perfectly frank, Castro was simply going through the motions. It must have been difficult to compete against a personality who had showbiz written right into his DNA.

Acknowledgment: Photos captured from video on http://www.iwantv.com.ph/.

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