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The Voice Heading for a Radha-Javier Heavyweight Showdown

It has come to that point in The Voice of the Philippines when all the contestants have grown so much that many of the singers are barely recognisable from the nervous middling performers who went through the Blind Auditions just a few weeks back. All the coaches have earned pats on the back.

Some came to the Blind Auditions already seasoned performers: Mitoy Yonting, Radha and Janice Javier. Others were middling singers who looked and sounded like they would go no further than the first hurdle.

Kim Mainit, I thought, was one of these: a young man with a high-pitched voice who I thought Lea Salonga turned around for, I believed, only for novelty value. But Salonga is nothing if not thorough and enthusiastic; and weeks later, the young man they call Kimpoy has indeed become hot property.

How unfortunate that he was up against Radha last night; albeit, at this stage of the competition, there were no more also-rans left. How unfortunate, too, that at the end of a night when he gave his most accomplished performance in the competition, he had to pack his things and leave.

I did; but then again, I grew up listening to songs like that on the radio. At any rate, both apl.de.ap and the voting public sent Javier through, so that intriguing heavyweight match-up with Radha is becoming a real possibility.
I thought the Kim Mainit versus Radha sing-off was the most difficult to call among last night’s performances. Salonga gave the latter a 60-40 advantage; but although I myself thought Radha won the sing-off, I would have scored it much closer and left it to the public to speak its mind.

In the end, my own preference was down to Radha’s choice of songs. Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Time After Time’ is that sort of classic that has the ability to withstand the test of time; while Mainit’s song was something that I did not even recognise.

Radha, to be fair, was as always technically accomplished. But for somebody who comes across as sophisticated and elegant, she also curiously seems to lack in charm. Had Mainit chosen a more universally appealing song, I have no doubt that he would have given Radha a real run for her money.

With Radha through, things are indeed heating up for a salivating and intriguing sing-off with that other heavyweight of the competition, Bangkok-based Janice Javier of Team apl.

Javier seems to have already established a huge fan base so that she could hold back on the big guns and still rake in the text votes. I actually thought that Jessica Reynoso slightly out-sang Javier last night with her soulful and heartfelt interpretation of the OPM ‘Ikaw.’

Reynoso was a bit exaggerated in her enunciation of the Tagalog words; but otherwise her performance was nothing short of sensational. What was unfortunate was that she had to square off with Javier; else she would have been a certainty for the next round.

My problem with Javier was that, while she was as technically accomplished as ever, her choice of Aretha Franklin’s ‘Chain of Fools’ had the audience almost yawning. She just failed to make a connection; and my suspicion is because the song is just way too old for most in the audience to recognise.

I did; but then again, I grew up listening to songs like that on the radio. At any rate, both apl.de.ap and the voting public sent Javier through, so that intriguing heavyweight match-up with Radha is becoming a real possibility.

The other two sing-offs were relatively easy to predict. Between Eva de los Santos and Klarisse de Guzman, there was always going to be just one winner.

It was vocal range that got de los Santos through; so Sarah G asking her to hold back the punches was always going to be her death sentence. Not that I minded because I have always felt that de los Santos’ high notes bordered on the shrill.

She tried to be subtle in her interpretation of the OPM ‘Ikaw ang Aking Mamahalin.’ It never worked. Down low and mid-range, she sounded good but no more than that. At this point in the competition, one has to be much more than good.

In contrast, de Guzman was exceptional in her interpretation of ‘I Can Make You Love Me.’ She was as subtle as de los Santos in her approach but was more melodic. Hers is the sort of voice not dissimilar to that of Penelope Matanguihan in that her notes caress the eardrums.

It is always a pleasure to listen to de Guzman; but last night she was not just singing. She was also performing like a seasoned professional and conveying the emotions that the lyrics demanded. In fact, I thought she looked the total package.

Between Myk Perez and Isabella Fabregas, there was also always going to be one winner. Both gave accomplished performances; and each was as controlled and technically precise as the other.

The problem always was for Fabregas was that, up against Perez, her voice sounded ordinary.

Salonga always has a knack for verbalising my thoughts; and I thought she was spot again on when she said that Perez is the sort of singer who does not have to reach up to the high notes to draw the audience to him with his natural ability to convey emotions.

Singing ‘Chosen Moments,’ Perez at no point raised the decibels as is his style. Nonetheless, his jazzy and even lazy style just makes the listener hold his breath. The lad is that good!

The likes of Mitoy Yonting, Radha and Janice Javier may be the early favourites because of vocal range; but it will take a brave man or a fool to bet against Myk Perez. This boy has it in him to go all the way.

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

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