In “Your Face”! #TVTuesday #TuesdayTunes

Oh, I missed these hash potatoes! So today, it’s #TVTuesday and #TuesdayTunes post.  Double fun, woohoo!!! Today, I am sharing one of my current favorite shows, Your Face Sounds Familiar (YFSF) Kids Edition.

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The YFSF Kids of Season 1: (From Left) AC Bonifacio (2nd Runner-up), Lyca Gairanod, Justin Alva (3rd Runner-up), Elha Nympha (1st Runner-up), McNeal “Awra” Briguela (WINNER), Alonzo Muhlach, Xia Vigor, and Sam Shoaf

Saying “Your face sounds familiar” sounds really weird and like utter nonsense. The premise of YFSF, however, explains it.  Okay, background with a little bit of disclaimer:

YFSF is a singing and impersonation competition owned by the Endemol Shine Group, known abroad for producing many reality TV shows (Big Brother and others). YFSF was franchised by Philippine TV network giant ABS-CBN and the first regular season started in March 2015. There came another regular season and then, the first-ever season of the Kids edition was aired in January 2017. It gained international attention when then-7-year-old Xia Vigor performed as Taylor Swift and the video of that performance went viral.

The second season of the Kids edition is currently running and the kids’ performances are making much more waves. That’s thanks to the already-big attention the YouTube reactors’ community has been giving Filipino artists.

YFSF has a set of screen and theater artists–singers, dancers, actors–competing against one another onstage every week. Weekly shows are divided into two parts with the first half of the performers shown on Saturday and the remaining ones on Sundays. That gives ample time on the second day (well, eve) to announce the week’s winner and show the participants pressing the “iconator” (just a coined term as abroad, it’s called “randomizer”, even simply a “buzzer”). That’s the button that every contestant presses to reveal his/her next icon.

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Xia Vigor impersonating Taylor Swift. Image courtesy of Elle.com

Competitors are each assigned celebrities that have become music icons or made waves in the industry one way or another. That’s regardless of the age of the icon, race, sex and gender (so expect cross-dressing in some performances).

But this is a step up from the usual impersonation stuff. A major part of this involves the makeup artists and prosthetic. Every week, performers are madeup and often–not always–made to wear prosthetic. The idea is to not only sound and act like the icons but to LOOK like them. This is where my disclaimer enters.

In the past, I saw some foreign YouTubers express concern prior to seeing an actual performance that the performer might be doing “blackface”, which people could find offensive. Then they got to watch and realize it’s not the case (especially when they saw it was a great performance!). It really isn’t meant to be offensive, not at all. It always depends on the look of the icon. It has nothing to do with being racist. So if s/he’s white, then the performer’s Pinoy brown color is turned lighter (sometimes, the prosthetic can be a tad weird and creepy-looking, though). So if we’re playing the race card, might as well call it “whiteface”. Or “yellowface” even, depending on who’s being impersonated.

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The YFSF Kids of Season 2: (Clockwise from Top Left) TNT Boys, Chunsa Jung, Marco Masa, Krystal Brimner, Telesa “Esang” De Torres, Noel Comia Jr., Xymon “Onyok” Pineda, and Sheena Belarmino. Image courtesy of Rappler

Just to be clear, not every performer is a good singer, or even dancer. He or she is judged on how well s/he has projected him/herself as the icon being impersonated.

Anyway, to show how talented our kids can be, I am sharing a few videos from this season’s (season 2) kid performers. They seem long, but that’s because the videos continue until all the jury members have made their comments. There are lots of funny stuff that follow a performance, but feel free to stop playing. (BTW, copyrights to all the images and videos here belong to ABS-CBN, unless otherwise specified. I got some from other sites, but of course, they’re still mostly from ABS.)

I’m starting with my biggest bet, Sheena Belarmino. People know her more as a singer as she was a grand finalist of the popular singing competition Tawag ng Tanghalan (TNT)  that was part of the noon-time variety show It’s Showtime. That ended late last year. Prior to that, however, she was a finalist of Dance Kids from 2015 to 2016. You can say she is a powerhouse of a talent. As of last count, she’s won thrice already, currently the most number of times this season. However, she’s also currently ranked 3rd-4th . That has something to do with how the jury individually assigns scores.

Watch her perform as local artists Sarah Geronimo and KZ Tandingan and judge for yourselves. Sheena showed Sarah’s swag as the latter performed the song onstage (the hair and expressions were based more on the “Tala” video). That was Sheena’s first win. Everyone was definitely impressed. BUT she even topped that recently by showing more swag impersonating KZ’s viral performance of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” on the recently concluded Singer 2018 singing competition (Jesse J. won) in China. Sheena even wore the same outfit. She blew everyone away! I think you will agree. And she also got a wonderful surprise after she sang… 😉

Meanwhile, also check out her performances as Ariana Grande, (so good!), Chris Brown, and local artist Jessa Zaragoza (for which she also won, though I’m not crazy about it…The link I shared is just of Jessa singing at an event — she’s not wearing a gown and not doing much of the movements she’s been known for).

Next, the TNT Boys! They are composed of Kiefer Sanchez, Mackie Empuerto and Francis Concepcion–all grand finalists of the TNT Kids singing competition, like Sheena. Among all the contestants, they are undoubtedly the most popular due to their emotional rendition of Beyonce’s “Listen” in the GGV show. Actually, for fun, they were asked to sing it while pretending to be fighting (Francis bullies Kiefer, then Mackie defends Keifer who tries to pacify both of them). It was a hoot! And it became viral. Suddenly, the group TNT Boys was born and they have now performed in Little Big Shots US and UK. Since then, a lot of their performances onstage and offline have been going viral, particularly their YFSF numbers. They’ve won twice and are currently ranked 1st.

Below are two of their performances. The first is of The BeeGees. They didn’t win but this was the first video of the season that went and is still going viral around the world. The BeeGees loved their performance and actually tweeted about it. The next is–get this–their impersonation of Destiny’s Child! It was their first win and very well-deserved. These boys are so talented! I loved their performance of The Supremes as well, it’s my personal favorite–classy with less flair. Their second win, though, was their Mariah Carey and BoyzIIMen one and,  you guessed it, it’s gone viral as well.

Now we have Krystal Brimner. She was a relatively unknown in the mainstream showbiz world until YFSF. Some people may recognize her from the movie Honor Thy Father where she played a vital part. Theater aficionados may remember her playing the title role of Annie, for which she won Best Child Actress and Best Female Lead Performer from the 2016 Platinum Stallion Media Awards and 2016 Philstage Gawad Bahay Awards. Based on her performances in YFSF, it’s obvious she’s been using her training to good use.

Krsytal is currently ranked 2nd. I am not sure if she’s an audience favorite, but I like her. For me she’s done a LOT  of great impersonations. Below are the two performances that made her win: as Jesse J. first, then as Alicia Keys. I would also recommend her impersonations of Miley Cyrus (on her first week, when she made her mark as a talent to reckon with), Stevie Wonder, and Dionne Warwick.

Last on my list is Esang De Torres. Among the top four, I think she’s the one who first made her mark on national TV. She was such a cutie joining the MiniMe contest of It’s Showtime, where she “impersonated” her idol Lea Salonga. But it was in joining The Voice Kids that made her. Coached by none other than her idol, Lea, she was the team’s grand finals bet. It was apparent that she had a singing talent that was perfect for the stage that, with a lot of encouragement from Lea, Esang joined the theater world. In fact, she was one of those who played the title role of Matilda. Like Krystal, it’s obvious she’s putting her theatrical training at work. She gets better everytime.

She’s won once so far, but her often-high weekly scores have tied her at 3rd to 4th rank with Sheena. I liked a lot of her performances as well. I am first sharing one of my faves, her impersonation of John Legend. The next is her doing a Christina Aguilera, her first actual win Feel free to also check out her Cher, Lea Salonga, Cyndi Lauper, and Bonnie Tyler. As fo this writing, she just did a Freddie Mercury, which was also good, by my standards.

 

And my list is done! Basically, I think the TNT Boys getting into the finals is already in the bag. Sheena, my most fave, doesn’t always get the highest scores, so I’m crossing my fingers. Krystal, if she keeps doing what she does, would most probably be in the finals, too. I am crossing my fingers for Esang as well, but she does consistently get high scores…

I am actually surprised and very glad to know that my top ones are those who are leading the ranks. The girls are my faves, but biases aside, I thought that they should be in the top three.

Anyway, guys, I hope you enjoyed reading my post and watching the vids. I enjoyed putting this together. I could do another set next week, if I have the time 🙂

Wishes and Songs Part II #TuesdayTunes

I am excited to share this next set of performers!

But first, remember I promised I would explain Filipino music last time? Then, I will explain. Let me start by sharing someone’s thoughts regarding our musicality and how we are, in general, as a nation of singing addicts, all from a non-Filipino’s point of view  😉

David DiMuzio is a music artist in his own right and has lived in this country, so he knows what he’s talking about when he discusses Why FILIPINOS Are The BEST SINGERS In The World.

For the record, I don’t think that we are the best singers in the world simply because there are no statistics to prove that. I don’t think there’s been any study done to see who’s best, and if there was, I’d say that’s a stupid waste of money that could’ve been used for more relevant endeavors.

That said, I do believe that it seems we do have quite talented artists over here even though–*GASP!!!*–not everyone can sing well. Just to give you my humble estimate, 90% of us sing, so there’s the 10% who don’t or can’t. The 90% comprises these:

  • 40% good singers who can, at least, carry a decent tune
  • 30% really good singers qualified to join local amateur singing contests
  • 15% exceptionally great singers qualified to join much bigger competitions and, perhaps, be recording artists
  • 5% most fortunately blessed singers that soon become legends for their amazingly distinct talents

I agree with all of what David DiMuzio said. Although regarding that part about almost all households having karaoke,…Well, I suppose, if he is referring to owning a player, DVDs of sing-along songs and, hopefully, a mic, that’s possible enough even for poor families. But the actual karaoke, what we now call as videoke (not hard to guess why), is now a modern jukebox that is usually rented for 24 hours for parties and during occasions. Anyone, especially guests, can hang around and take turns belting out songs that can be heard kilometers away.

Anyway, David’s right, we love the ’70s and ’80s music. To add, we love and patronize even older songs because our parents and their parents did, too. Children from all walks of life grow up listening to music their parents also grew up listening to, so those are what are usually played at home and, often, on the radio…

Alright, ’nuff said about that. Let’s go to the artists already!

This trio, I already introduced in Part 1 of this two-part series. However, they’re so good, I decided to first share another one of their “jam sessions” on the Wish bus. This is a vid featuring Kyla, Yeng Constantino, and KZ Tandingan. Unfortunately, I could not find an original video so I’m sharing a reaction video instead. I do promise you, you can hear them clearly (jump to 0:40, if you need to). And thanks to Terrence Jr. for this!

Some of the Wish bus videos of artists I am featuring are reaction videos. That’s because the original performance videos are already missing (it’s a long story, but something Wish FM addicts know of). Don’t worry, I have chosen reaction vids where you can hear the artists clearly, and the reactors have done the least reactions during the presentations (based on my search, anyway)…

Now, this artist was one of the most requested artists to appear on the Wish bus and was their first-ever Artist of the Month. I honestly think the appearance was only made possible as she was/is endorsing a popular company’s new service. Who cares, though? It seems everyone who heard and saw that quite recent performance–on the radio, right outside the bus, through watching YouTube–loved her song. Dubbed as Asia’s Songbird, Regine Velasquez-Alcasid brought the house down when she did a cover of her past cover of the song  Araw-Gabi (Day and Night).

A little background: Regine first made waves when she won first in Ang Bagong Kampeon (The New Champion) at 14. She is best known as a “belter” who can reach such crazy high notes. (I personally am more in love with the lower registers she’s shown here).  She soon became the standard for high belters and many from the younger generation have been idolizing her then and now, trying to follow in her footsteps…Given this background info, you can now guess why she was most requested and why there was such a big crowd outside the bus, as can be seen from her Wish video.

Meanwhile, here’s someone whose talents I highly respect and appreciate. She’s showbiz royalty and I’m happy she is not just riding on her famous parents’ popularity (the mom is an actress-singer, the dad was called the Comedy King of the film and TV industry). This is Zia Quizon whose voice I have loved ever since I first heard her sing on TV.  She’s got a not-so-usual voice quality that you could definitely love.

For the bus, she sang Creep, Crazy, and The Scientist, all YouTube hits, and I could easily just share any of their originals. BUT, it is her version of Hotline Bling, a song which original version I totally hated, that I love most, and it was the most-viewed of her numbers, I believe. Watch and listen to her sing below. I have also posted a reactors’ video because Zia’s vids of this keep getting taken out of YouTube. So in case it doesn’t work anymore, check out the reactors’ vid (jump to 0:52 if you want). Thanks to HugknucklesTV!

Next is another non-belter. In fact, Sue Ramirez is more of an actress than a singer. She does have a nice, sweet singing voice that she likes to share once in a while. For instance, here, she sings popular TV drama Dolce Amore‘s theme song Your Love, which is a ’90s band Alamid original.

I like Sue, but I’m not crazy about this version of the song, so I was surprised to find out that foreign reactors were so smitten by her that her rendition became viral in no time. I did not expect that at all. I think it’s the charm that worked like magic, based on various reactions I’ve seen and on the number of reactors suddenly crushing on her. I leave it to you to decide.

She did sing, at least, another song that you might like more: Ako sa ‘Yo.

Another young artist has made it in our list of special singers worthy of mention. She is Sassa Dagdag of The Voice Philippines – Kids Edition season 2. Sassa has got this distinctly husky singing voice that makes her stand out. Her various song renditions, especially of If I were a Boy and Halo, were/are others’ easy favorites. Mine, though, is her interpretation of La Vie en Rose. For me, that was a really awesome performance, the most impressive of her renditions.

The Wish bus performance got taken down, though, so I am again sharing a reactors’ video. The vid is clear, the sounds are also, the reactors kept the comments to a minimum, enough for us to enjoy viewing (jump to 1:02). Thanks to MGN: The Echo!

Last, we’ve got a girl group, the 4th Impact. They are actually sisters and we have kind of seen their “transformation”, starting from years ago when certain TV shows first featured/introduced these then-very simple lasses. They grew up joining singing and dance contests to be able to help their family. In fact, up to now, these much-more stylish girls still keep joining–sometimes winning–in various talent competitions abroad. Most notable of their successes are winning twice in the World Championship of Performing Arts (2006, 2013) in separate categories, and bagging the fifth place in The X Factor UK (2015).

The group has had several name-changes until they settled with “4th Impact”. Basing on this performance, however, I believe that they can always change the name, but no one can ever deny their talent.

I thought that to corroborate David’s observation of how our singing artists hone their skills through competitions, here is an example of how great they can already be even before they officially become celebrities.

Below is a number performed the recent Wish Music Awards that featured finalists of the contest Tawag ng Tanghalan, a segment of the variety show It’s Showtime. For some reason, there’s only one guy here, Noven Belleza, who happens to be the eventual champion. It could be because of the genre. All the other guys had their separate number.

I have two personal faves. First is Gidget Dela Llana who was a part of the first set of semi-finalists (I was able to kind of follow some of them then). I was happy with her song choices on the daily rounds and she gave them justice wonderfully. Even when others seemed to be belting out higher notes, she was able to prove herself as a worthy competitor.

My second fave is Eumee Capile (I honestly could not find yet a relevant page to link to) whom I admit having not watched until her Wish performance (hey, I was at work, alright?). So much power!!!…

That’s it, folks! There are so many to share, but I concentrated specifically only on several. And if this set now screams of Girl Power, it’s unintentional. I chose only from what/who went viral and what I personally liked. Honestly, so far, only a few male Wish artists have sent me fangirl-ing. They do deserve to be given the chance, so I think I’ll do that in the future.

Before I really go, I leave you with this Wish Awards medley number from Zia, Sassa, and KZ. there was the original video that was better, of course, but you know what happened. Thanks, at least, for fans like Dannie Buenaventura…ENJOY!!!

 

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Did you enjoy these? You did?!!! Good. Which did you enjoy most, though? Who did you like best? Let us know at the bottom, please! I loooove feedback (as long as it’s wholesome)!!!

Born to Sing #AskWednesday

More than two weeks ago, I promised to let you know more about singer Hanna de Guzman. Perhaps you missed that post, but that’s when I shared her awesome duet with A Great Big World’s Ian Axel.

I already gave a bit of intro from that page. I think I’ll let this interview do the talking, so to speak (and pun intended) 😉

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The beautiful Hanna De Guzman

1.  When did you realize that you were born to sing? Did someone influence you?

I’ve known since I was a child actually. According to my mom, Jessie Retizos, when I was just about ten-months-old (I guess), I would just throw away my feeding bottle whenever I heard music and start humming to the tune of any song from the radio. Then at three, I would just get her hairbrush and use it as microphone while I stood on a table, singing any popular song during that time. At five, I would be singing as Mommy played the piano.

Sometimes, I accompanied her to band rehearsals, so I grew up with that kind of environment where my uncle would play bass guitar and drums and Mommy would play the piano, especially when she composed songs for Ms. Pilita Corrales and the late Didith Reyes

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Exhibit A: Hanna, aged 8 then, singing her heart out as uncle Nato Burog played lead/bass guitar

Music has always been a part of my life, it has been my passion since I was a child. My mom did not really influence me, it’s just that I really grew up with that kind of environment. And if there was someone who might have influenced me to really sing, it was my uncle, the late Renato Burog, who was a great musician (singer, pianist, bass guitarist). When Tito Nato (Uncle Nato) first heard me sing at six, he told my mom, “At last, we have a singer in the family!”

2. When was the first time you joined a singing contest? Kindly share to us…

Tito Nato urged me to compete in an amateur singing contest in San Pablo City, where all my fellow contenders were aged 20+ and, believe it or not, I was only eight-years-old at that time. Good thing there was no age limit! He was my first voice coach during that time and the first winning piece I sang was “Tomorrow” by Lea Salonga. I was so happy then because I was the youngest contestant yet I won a consolation prize!

It was indeed an unforgettable experience for me because at such a young age, I competed with not just amateurs but even professional singers already. That was the time I really told myself, I was really born to sing… 🙂

3. How would you describe to us your singing voice? What are your advantages and limitations, if any?

Eversince I was a child, I’ve always had a somewhat husky voice. When I joined a chorale group back in college, which was the UPLB Choral Ensemble, they classified my voice as Alto 1, Soprano 2.

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The current UPLB Choral Ensemble. Image is is copyrighted to them, of course

Alto voice had always been my comfort zone and when I started to learn some techniques and developed a wider voice range, that’s when I began to also sing some parts of Soprano 2 where I have/had to use falsetto (false voice). I guess being able to sing as both a Soprano 2 and Alto 1 is an advantage. [Ed. But where’s my advantage??? I’ve always said I’m Alto 1, Soprano 2. I think I am Alto 1, my high school music teacher–and this was the same director of the Glee Club from which the Ensemble originated–she would say Soprano 2…But why, why, WHY don’t I have Hanna’s kind of voice??? *envious-much*]

My limitations, well my voice sometimes gets affected whenever there is a weather change since I have allergic rhinitis, so I see to it to really stay away from drinking cold beverages and eating too much sweets especially when I have a performance.

4. I assume that singing has helped you at least once in your personal life. Can you share to us how, please? How about in your more professional life?

Whenever I have personal problems and am feeling lonely and depressed, I just sing to release my emotions. Singing has been my outlet. It really fills the emptiness in me.

In my professional life, singing puts back the balance in my life. I really enjoy it whenever we have company parties and programs because I get to sing again. It lessens the stress and pressure from work and helps me to remember I am still a normal human being. My best way to de-stress is through singing again.

5.  Any plans of becoming a recording artist or maybe following in your mom’s footsteps? How about doing on-stage musicals?

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The equally beautiful and very talented Jessie Retizos, Hanna’s mom

At my age? Well, we can never tell. I never stop dreaming of becoming a recording artist, because that has always been my ultimate dream. I guess I am just waiting for the perfect opportunity.

To follow in my mom’s footsteps, I once tried to compose a song, so back in 2003, I joined a jingle-making contest sponsored by a wellness-and-beauty products company. I composed the music and wrote the lyrics for the song “Achieve” that I also interpreted. Luckily, I won the Grand Prize…As for on-stage musicals, back in college, I once auditioned for Repertory PhilippinesMy Fair Lady, unfortunately, I did not make it to the final screening.

6. You joined the popular Tawag ng Tanghalan competition back in March. I personally felt you should have won that round, bias aside. But how did you find the whole experience as an actual participant?

Joining Tawag ng Tanghalan was such a good learning experience for me. It was not exactly planned after all. I just happened to watch one of their episodes and I challenged myself to see if I could still do it even at the age of 40. So I secretly auditioned alone and luckily got in. Honestly, my goal in joining TNT was not to win, really, but just to be able to perform on national TV without being “gonged”. [Ed. Many much-older singers have joined and even won, for the record. Meanwhile, being gonged literally means that: the judges decide to not let you continue if they don’t like your performance and you usually find out the hard way–someone hits a giant gong and your several moments of glory are finished.]

[Ed. UPDATE: Sorry if the vid seems to be delayed. I think they’re just screenshots. The sound is working well, though. The original vid I shared when I posted this is now set on private, for some reason. It’s got me peeved, but…Oh, well…]

I just wanted my kids to watch me on national TV and that would be it. So when I saw the face of the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Rey Valera, enjoying while I was singing, I felt I was a winner already. Being able to sing the whole song with no flat notes or by not being out of tune, I felt it was already a big achievement. I learned my lesson, though. Next time, I will not just aim to perform well, but to really WIN and Go for the Gold!

7. What about this Smule-ing thing, what made you decide to do all those duets? And where do you get all those awesome singing friends?

I just missed singing then and upon checking my Smule account, I found out I had been getting numerous invites already from one of my best friends, Richard Delos Angeles, who now resides in Italy and happened to be one of my contenders in the Inter-School Singing Contest back in high school. So when I listened to some of his recorded songs and saw that I could do a collab with him, I immediately recorded songs with him. Then I also did a collab with another best friend, Chriselle Samiano, who’s in the USA and we did a recording of the song “All of Me”…

Of course, I miss our duets of years before, so thanks to Smule, though we are a thousand miles apart, we get to have our virtual duets.

8. Were you at all surprised about the invitation  from A Great Big World? How did you feel?

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Hanna gets to sing a duet of “Say Something” with artist Ian Axel

At first, I was surprised since I was just a new user of Smule. I checked them out in YouTube, they had a duet with Christina Aguilera with that song “Say Something”, that’s when I realized how lucky I really was to be invited to have a collab with them. And I really enjoyed singing that song with Ian!

9. Is there anything that should stop you from singing?

I cannot think of any…As long as I live, I will keep on singing and praising the Lord through my songs!

10.  What is your biggest achievement as a singer? What do you still hope to achieve?

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The Happy Family. Mommy Jessie, Hanna and the kids

My biggest achievement as a singer was to be able to serve the Lord through my songs. I used to be a Psalmist in San Pablo City Cathedral and whenever I sang the words of God, I realized my purpose, that was to sing not just to entertain people, but to evangelize as well and touch their hearts, singing the words of God. Another achievement is being able to pass on my God-given talent to my two kids. Seeing them singing and performing like me is priceless.

I hope I can still continue to serve the Lord through my songs and to make my kids be good performers, realize that their purpose of having their talents is to share and use our voices for God’s greater glory!

 

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Thank you so much to Hanna for sharing herself and her talent! You are so blessed 🙂

BTW, all images, save from that of the chorale, belong to Hanna…For more interviews, just search for #AskWednesday using the search box, easy does it. Meanwhile, perhaps you’d like to share about yourself as well. Feel free to email me at j.gi.federizo@gmail.com and provide me a background.