The Voice of the Philippines got off to a slow start. Yeah, despite the Twitter buzz. Four of the biggest Filipino musical talents rockin’ out in the pilot night’s opening number and then things went downhill.

Their cover of The Script’s “Hall of Fame” wasn’t that memorable either. They could have chosen a tune with power chords and driving rhythm that spur the audience into dance. However, I can appreciate the difficulty of finding THE song that does justice to all four coaches: international musical theater star Lea Salonga, apl.de.ap of Black-Eyed Peas fame, rocker Bamboo Manalac and Sarah Geronimo, the pop princess who rose to fame by winning a reality singing show

THE VOICE-BANNERThe Voice of the Philippines” — the name itself doesn’t lend much to excitement. It sounds like an oratorical contest. The Twitter hashtag #TheVoiceofthePhilippines takes too much space. Just ditch those two little words, please.

(In a country where every little barangay sing-a-long has a diva or two, a title like “The Voice of the Philippines” sounds a tad pretentious, too. I haven’t heard anyone described as The Voice of America — which would probably qualify as a copyright affront on the US government-owned radio station — or The Voice of Britain; it’s always, “winner of The Voice”… USA, Britain, or wherever they come from.)

It could have been the old-model TV in sister’s bedroom. Watching the first episode of The Voice, I couldn’t reconcile the euphoric reactions of the judges to the sights and sounds on thE small screen.

THOR DULAY, photo from www.davaobase.com
THOR DULAY, photo from http://www.davaobase.com

Thor Dulay was the best of a mediocre lot. The self-proclaimed “Master of Soul” has been around for a while. A Facebook friend turns out to be a fan of the singer who sees himself an R&B artist — which is probably why he chose Apl over Lea.

But did the Ateneo de Davao graduate, who’s already sung for David Foster, really merit all four judges turning? While Thor hit some high notes, his voice tightened at the upper register and lacked timbre at the lower range. And no charisma either.

UPDATE: Reader Joy Lora wrote to say Thor didn’t just perform for Foster.

“He actually won a contest (Born to sing) wherein David Foster himself selected the winners,” Lora wrote. (For the rest of her note, please see comment box.)

It’s a clean voice, all right; Thor sings the right notes and evades flats and sharps. But we’re not looking for good voices, are we? We’re looking for good voices of star material. He didn’t look or sound like any soul master, more like a middling balladeer. I’m not sure that singing backup for Vice Ganda is a good indicator of potential. Does anyone remember being wowed or bowled over by the comedian’s musical numbers?

I didn’t catch Daryll Shy, the folk singer from Baguio who got the votes of Apl and Lea and chose the latter. No doubt that the Filipino star of West End and Broadway is a superb technician, so there may be some hope there.

The pretty Deb Victa got Bamboo by default. You’ve probably seen Deb’s twinkling eyes and dimples on TV —  as Lea Salonga  noted in a divine example of back-handed compliment. (Which aspiring artist/commercial model wants to be reminded she’s not that memorable a face?)

That Bamboo was the only one who turned — and he sure looked pleased by Deb’s looks — is very good news for her. Lea and Sarah, even at their kindest, would reduce her to jelly. Bamboo’s a stylist; he could free her from that hotel lounge singing, infuse some swag and strut and ooomph. Who knows? Her Facebook page hints at gray matter behind the ingenue image.

Bamboo's photo courtesy of The Voice website, ABS-CBN
Bamboo’s photo courtesy of The Voice website, ABS-CBN

A balut vendor who wants to sign for his family’s survival is a good backstory. And, hell, we’re all suckers for a rags-to-riches tale (see Nora Aunor or, lately, Jovit Baldovino). But there was nothing in Romel Colao to separate him from the millions of karaoke-loving Filipinos. His singing failed to move any of the judges.

His balut did, however, prodding an impressive display of kalye-eating style from Sarah. (That was a genius PR move, really.) Calao also got a belt from Apl. Two other guys, including one who churned out a pail-load of cheesy to curry favor with Sarah, got tepid platitudes.

The youngest judge  proved the sternest taskmaster. Her comments, on the emotive connections or lack thereof, were on spot.

Sarah, who is usually saccharine in those TV variety and talk shows, backpedalled on tweetums affectations. She might just be finally hitting maturity. About time, too.

Sarah Geronimo's photo from The Voice website, ABS-CBN
Sarah Geronimo’s photo from The Voice website, ABS-CBN

Lea, on the other hand, gasped and squealed over Cherry Mae “Chien Berbana of Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay. She must have heard something that didn’t quite sail through the airwaves.

From where we sat, Chien’s voice had power but overdosed on rasps and growls. Lea can teach her subtlety – maybe.

Lea Salonga's photo from The Voice website, ABS-CBN
Lea Salonga’s photo from The Voice website, ABS-CBN

She can also try to teach Chien vocal exercises to loosen up the throat and chest muscles on the upper notes.

I get that Chien was trying for an Aegis-vavavoom-rocker persona, but the hit duo slides effortlessly from alto to hallelujah-belting sans brassy grate. Still, it’s always a thrill to witness a raw talent being polished by the rigors of competition and Lea has a houseful of tricks (sorry, techniques) learned from decades of performing on the unforgiving theater stage.

Lea’s TV projection helps explains her frustration at not being able to win over Filipino showbiz patrons. She’s wrong in saying Pinoys don’t appreciate her voice. But what can stun a theater audience comes out a tad too loud and OA on the boob tube. Something’s just lost in the transmission.

Everyone loves Lea’s voice — when they get to hear it. How many Filipinos can afford theater, especially back when she was performing for Repertory Philippines? And while we’re talking musicals, I’m wondering what she isn’t playing Celeste’s part in “Katy”? And maybe have the Cultural Center of the Philippines take a pared-down version around the country?

The Voice may liven up and lighten up tonight. The sneak preview showed a lot of gorgeous faces and a number of good voices. Already, there’s buzz around Abby Assistio, the winsome lass with no hair.

Anyway, I’m happy there’s one talent show in town that doesn’t feature acrobats, sand artists, magicians, dancers and fire eaters. So I’ll stick around a bit for The Voice.

Did you think any of tonight’s contestants will make it tothe final round? Who? And why? Will the forced, wooden “wit” of the judges improve tomorrow?  Whadcha think?


  1. Good analysis. You’ve exactly expressed my opinions and ratings on the contestants.
    I’ll follow your next reviews.


    • Definitely good review, I don’t know any about The Voice (s) where it (they) originated, but I love watching singers pave their own ways to stardom via reality singing shows. This one is exciting, it was just amusing that the blind auditions are really tough not knowing how one artist look but depends only in the solely talent of a singing voice. Abby is one wold card , may I say and the handsome guy singing ” It will Rain” by no less Bruno Mars must come back for revenge. Sometimes, chances makes the real star come to shine the second try. I would bet for the two to fight again.

      Totality of the awesome judges, I love them all, they are building and creating great performers and true artist by scrutiny of the rule of the show. blind auditions is very exciting, I can smell the hungrier judges meeting their coaching line ups of artist to bag the ist ever The Voice of the Phil.

      And yes it’s relieving to not see flying fire bolting and magics that scare me and not lull me to sleep , sorry no offense. I would love to see that in diff. setting of talent shows, but singing voices are the music of one’s tired soul, seeking for inner peace and intriguing the vision of music . Having songs sung and played by true blooded artists. Way to go !


      • Now, that’s a good thought — a second life for Abby and the cute guy, Edward? Am not sure if The Voice gives wild cards like Idol does, but that would be fun… maybe next time they will be more ready.
        Thanks for dropping by…


  2. I feel exactly the same way – mediocre talent, inexplicable squealing from the judges, Lea being indiscriminating and very OA, Sarah surprisingly coming off as most credible with restrained reaction and thoughtful analysis. I hope Bamboo performs better in the balance of the season. I expect him to demonstrate good taste, sensitivity and depth.


  3. Hi Ma’am, I admire your blog and I respect your point of views. I am not an expert in terms of technicalities of music, so like most viewers of the show, my judgment is based only on what I hear and feel during a contestant’s performance. I do agree with most of your posts here but I would have to disagree regarding your assessment for Thor. I thought it was amazing for a guy to sing a Whitney Houston song so effortlessly and making it sound like his own. In a country full of biriteras, it is a welcome change to judge contestants based on the real quality of their voice and not how high they can hit notes. It might be a little unfair to judge him based on his job as a backup singer for a celebrity who is still doing voice lessons and is not really known for his singing prowess. It is a job and it doesn’t really mirror his real talent. If a kind nanny is working for a mean and violent parent, does that mean the nanny is violent too? No offense to Vice, I’m just stating a point. I hope you see where I ‘m getting at, that you cannot judge a person’s talent based on somebody else’s talent. Also, he didn’t just “performed” for David Foster but he actually won a contest (Born to sing)wherein David Foster himself selected the winners. The chairs of the 4 coaches turned because they were assessing the voice and not the look or the star quality of the contestant since they couldn’t see his face or how he projected himself. With all honesty, the judges are there to hear and choose talented individuals based on what they hear. Please don’t tell me all four very talented coaches are out of their mind for choosing to turn their chairs for Thor, and I also think that multi award winner, David Foster couldn’t possibly be wrong in choosing Thor as one of the winners in his contest. I am not saying that you do not have a point or that you are wrong since we all have different tastes in terms of sounds and singing styles, but I wish you wouldn’t take away a good performance from a deserving artist that you clearly don’t like. And yes, I am rooting for Thor because I have heard what he is capable of.

    Also, I am a fan of Sarah G., her comments are really spot on and out of all the coaches, she seemed to be the most honest. The only thing that bothered me was when she might have accidentally cut off Bamboo when he wasn’t finished talking and Bamboo seemed pissed off, I hope she apologizes to him regarding that incident because knowing Sarah, she might have just been too excited to speak. It is nice to hear how judges convince the contestants to pick them so each coach should give each other an equal chance to do it.:) That’s just my observation though.


    • Hey, thanks, Joy! For dropping by AND for those thoughtful comments. I’m not infallible and, who knows, Thor might stun us all when, say, the deadly duets come along 🙂 Thanks for the correction re winning that Foster contest. I shall correct and cite you for that 🙂
      Just one thing… I don’t like or dislike Thor. I write only on the basis of what’s heard and seen from my side of the TV set 🙂 Which is why the title — Lost in Transmission — because I realize that people in the studio/theater may be hearing something that gets lost on the airwaves.
      Drop by and keep on reading, okay?


      • Of course, I will keep on reading your blog, aside from those I mentioned above, I find your views to be refreshing and interesting instead of the usual blow by blow some bloggers are doing, I admire you for fearlessly showing us how you thought about the coaches, the contestant and the show. Thanks for explaining the title, and sorry for my strong comment, I just want to give the guy a chance since I have heard him sing live wherein he fell silent a whole room of rowdy people who became amazed by his voice, so I instantly became a fan. I strongly agree with you regarding the title… It should have been The Voice Philippines and in hashtag, #thevoiceph. Shorter and more like its international counterparts. Speaking of international counterparts, please check out The Voice UK, featuring Filipino singer Joseph Apostol, he is continuously wowing the coaches and the UK people with his voice and performance. His voice is common here in the Philippines but he does have a way of delivering his songs, plus he is super humble.Thanks.


      • I’ve heard about Joseph, yes, and will monitor him! Always great to see a Filipino shine elsewhere (and here, too!) Please don’t apologize for your views or your disagreeing with me. It will be a bad day on earth if all started agreeing with one another 🙂 Who’ll do the checking, the correcting. I always like learning new things — and you just taught me something. Cheers! And here’s to your bet finding his place in the sun! (Hahanapin ko din sya sa youtube 🙂


  4. if its not because of Lea hate tweet/reaction, i wouldnt be able to chance upon this blog. nice review. Im a Lea fan though, but i dont get the buzz about you hating Lea. Expect my regular visits here in your blog. nice!


    • I am also a super fan of Lea, and I know for a fact that viewers have different reactions to Ms. Lea’s Style. I think some critics thought or hoped that she would be the strict and serious coach, much like Sir Tom of The Voice UK. i guess they were just disappointed to find her trying her best to connect with the contestants and the millions of people watching at home. Unfortunately, they aren’t used to her “kakulitan”, which is why it translates to her being viewed as exaggerated or “OA”. I honestly think she is just enjoying her stint as coach and there is nothing wrong with that. Even other coaches have their share of negative reviews but I guess some are a tad harsher to Lea since expectations were higher. Even Sarah was criticized for being too choosy, and I’ve seen some tweets where Apl was also viewed as OA. Actually, I think with all the issues, people might be intrigued and watch the program more. Let’s just watch the next episodes, I’m sure people would eventually get used to all the coaches’ style of choosing the contestants and way of connecting with the viewers. She has already made a name for herself and at the end of the day, she is still Ms. Lea Salonga, Tony award winning artist, voice of many Disney princesses, and loved by millions. Tama po ba?


  5. Not much a fan of Lea but I love her energy and being her true self and at the same time remain to be straightforward on her comments.


  6. First of all, this blog is very credible. I salute you. I am already a big fan of Thor. His freshman album produced a song called Just One Dance is superbly romantic and soulful. Do I agree of him joining The Voice? No. He is already one of the best (underrated) voices around, and at the same time, I don’t think it’s fair that he competes with the amateur. So, it’s a mix emotion to this. Lea is a royalty. I’m not sure if she’s trying to be relatable, but she doesn’t need to. So far, I disagree with her choices. Also, her reactions and body language are not a bit, but severely OA. I am a big fan but I just hope my respect and admiration towards her will go down the drain after this season. Apl is always commendable on his vision and mission. His humility is impeccable. However, keep the professionalism and perhaps tone down on the admiration of pretty ladies. He needs to remember that this is a competition, and not a “Find a Bride” contest. So far, I like Sarah’s choices and Bamboos coolness. Sarah is a bit intimidated, I can tell. She needs to be herself and quit worrying of what his fellow judges thinks or what he has to say. I have high hopes for Bamboo to pick a good one. I think he is capable of picking the ONE. The current, the marketable and relatable Voice.


  7. Ah, this blog really sucks! bitter! a critic is always a critic, who thinks s/he knows everything – just like me as I write this! 🙂 give those coaches a break, come on! tayo na lang kaya magsila… gets mo?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s