Music, Television

Hear The Angel(s) Voices!

Last Friday, November 16, the Big Shot Trio TNT Boys launched their Christmas single, their own version of “O Holy Night,” on ABS-CBN’s “It’s Showtime”.

Aside from promoting their upcoming concert, “Listen: The Big Shot Concert,” they performed the said song with the BFFC singers (or Best Friends of Froilan Canlas; a choir composed of friends and supporters of Songsmith and the TNT Boys’ vocal coach Froilan Canlas) and the TNT Band (headed by the concert’s musical director Elhmir Saison). The instrumental parts were arranged by Naldy Rodriguez while the vocal parts (both the TNT Boys’ and the BFFC Singers’ parts) were arranged by Canlas. 
Having invited by the Songsmith himself to become part of this production number, I personally enjoyed doing this stint. Looking forward to more opportunities similar to this!

With the Songsmith himself, Mr. Froilan Canlas
BFFC Singers with Mr. Froilan Canlas

This particular version has a grand choral entrance, which multiplies the power of the instrumental parts. As the choral part ends, Keifer starts soft in the first stanza and so does Francis. Mackie’s “A thrill of hope” part reminds me a bit of Mariah Carey’s version because of his vocal shifts. The song gradually progresses when all of them sing in harmony during the “Fall on your knees” part. The BFFC singers re-enter with the variation of the opening passage before their contrapuntal “A thrill of hope part.” The song grows bigger when the TNT Boys and BFFC singers sing together in “Fall on your knees.” The most climactic part is during the key change in “O night divine” from a B-flat to a D-flat. In this particular part, the boys’ sing in the whistle register. The song tones down a bit in the last “O night divine” after their counterpoint with the BFFC singers. Before the instruments fade little by little, both groups sing the same line, “O night divine,” which ends with the boys’ whistle register. Then they sing the line, “O night divine,” in a soft unison before the “O holy night” counterpoint with each other. The song ends softly with the BFFC singers’ and the TNT boys’ D-flat chord.

Want more from the Big Shot Trio? Catch the TNT Boys in “Listen: The Big Shot Concert” on November 30, 8pm at the Araneta Coliseum, together with Vice Ganda, Jed Madela, K Brosas, Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 1 Grand Champion Noven Belleza, Tawag ng Tanghalan Kids Grand Champion Jhon Clyd Talili, Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 2 Grand Champion Janine Berdin, fellow Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids performers Chun-sa Jung, Xia Vigor, Noel Comia Jr., Esang de Torres, Krystal Brimner, Sheenna Belarmino, and Onyok Pineda. Box, Upper Box, and General Admission tickets are still available at Ticketnet Outlets.

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Music, Television

Himig Handog 2018: Love Songs and Love Stories Top 10 (REVIEW)

This Sunday, October 21, Himig Handog will feature “Dalawang Pag-ibig Niya” (a collaboration between Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids Season 2’s “Precious Darling” Krystal Brimner, Tawag ng Tanghalan Kids “Inday Wonder” Sheenna Belarmino, and MNL 48) and “Mas Mabuti Pa” (by Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 2 Grand Champion Janine Berdin). “Kababata” and “Sugarol” will also be featured. The grand finals will be held on November 25, 2018, also aired in ASAP.

This article will give you guys a sneak peek of each entry, as well as my reviews.

Here are the top 10 entries for this year’s Himig Handog Love Songs and Love Stories.

“Dalawang Pag-ibig Niya” is a collaboration between Tawag ng Tanghalan Kids’ “Inday Wonder” Sheenna Belarmino, Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids Season 2’s “Precious Darling” Krystal Brimner, and all-girl group MNL 48. The song was written by Bernard Reforsado of Albay. It is an EDM (Electronic Dance Music) fit for pre-teens, almost similar to K-Pop (think of Momoland) and J-Pop. The song speaks of a girl having a crush on someone who rather chose the girl who is more “pabebe” (acting cute) than her. It also talks about social media romances, such as stalking and existence of posers.

“Hati na Lang Tayo Sa Kanya” is interpreted by Tawag ng Tanghalan’s “Powerhouse Performer” Eumee and actor JC Santos. Written by Joseph Santiago of Quezon City, it talks about a woman’s willingness to share the love of her life with another woman. In fact, looking at the song’s lyrics, it is fit to become a soundtrack of a mistress-themed drama (e.g., The Legal Wife). It is a power ballad where Eumee’s voice was a mix of Jessie J and Lara Fabian (Remember Broken Vow?). While Eumee’s vocals characterized the “wife,” Santos’s speech signified the man being fought for. However, the song’s interpretation could have been more effective if another female singer would have a contrapuntal part with Eumee’s parts. The most I could idealize with this song is that the second female part would act as the “third wheel” or the “mistress.”

“Kababata,” written by John Micheal Edixon of Parañaque was an R&B ballad interpreted by Kyla and Kritiko. Reminiscent of Gloc 9’s themes, Kritiko’s parts narrated how his childhood with his girl friend went, until the girl underwent a major tragedy in her life. Kyla’s ad-libs in the part, “Bakit nila sa’yo ‘to nagawa?” signified the girl’s suffering, screaming for help.

“Mas Mabuti Pa,” is a collaborative work between Mhonver Lopez and Joanna Concepcion, both from Laguna, and sung by Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 2’s Grand Champion and “New Gem of OPM,” Janine Berdin. It is a pop-rock ballad, which spoke of a girl who gave up giving all her love as her efforts were rather snubbed. Despite her young age, Berdin was able to interpret the song to the extent that I got teary-eyed in most parts. She was also able to variate her dynamics as she maintained her husky pop-rock voice.

Robert William Pereña (of Dubai)’s “Para Sa Tabi,” is a light R&B song by BoybandPH. It talks about a man’s struggles being the “third wheel,” and reminds men not to rush things, especially love. The “Mama, para” hook was LSS-inducing that it would potentially become a radio hit soon. Their vocal blend was stellar, especially in the last line, “Diyan sa tabi,” that I would seriously recommend everyone to watch their ASAP performance video of the said song on YouTube. Attached is the link.

Kyle Raphael Borbon (of Davao)’s “Sa Mga Bituin Na Lang Ibubulong,” performed by actor JM de Guzman, is an indie ballad, synonymous to Sud’s. Unlike the rest of the entries, it is rather toned down.

“Sugarol,” written by Jan Sabili of Muntinlupa, is sung by actress Maris Racal. It is a waltz-like ballad, which talked about taking risks, despite experiencing false hopes in the past. The song could have progressed better if variations will be done in every stanza.

Sarah Jane Gandia (of USA)’s “Tinatapos Ko Na,” interpreted by Jona, talks about the closure of a romantic relationship. The song started quietly, which channeled Jona’s pure vocals as the instruments slowly entered. This song proved that Jona was more than just a belter. She was able to variate her dynamics, which enhanced the song’s heartbreaking theme.

Philip Arvin Janilla (of Antipolo)’s “Wakasan” is sung by Agsunta. The title may actually fool you because the song does not talk about closure. It talks about how society did not want the persona to become someone’s boyfriend. However, despite all odds, the persona does not give up until he is able to be with his loved one.

Last of the ten is “Wala Kang Alam,” sung by Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 1 First Runner-Up and “YouTube Idol” Sam Mangubat. It talks about how a man got left out of the blue in the middle of his struggles. It may pass as the male counterpart of Lopez and Concepcion’s “Mas Mabuti Pa.” It is a heavy ballad, synonymous to the ones sung by Martin Nievera and Gary Valenciano. The instrumentation, which was heavy on timpani and strings, were reminiscent of Homer Flores’s arrangements for most of the teleserye soundtracks.

Of all the ten entries, here is my top 5: Hati Na Lang Tayo Sa Kanya, Kababata, Mas Mabuti Pa, Tinatapos Ko Na, and Para Sa Tabi. While Para Sa Tabi may become a potential radio hit, the most heartfelt interpretations were Hati Na Lang Tayo Sa Kanya and Tinatapos Ko Na.

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Entertainment, Music, Television

The Breakdown of Birit and Ventriloquist Monotonies in Mass Media

Whew! It’s been almost a week since I had my thesis bookbound. Just a few days away before this semester ends…

Yesterday, I attended the talk of Mr. James Gabrillo, a PhD candidate from the University of Cambridge, who presented his dissertation on the Music in Mass Media , 1990s and beyond. In his dissertation, he has presented the evolution of music for noontime shows, specifically in the Tuviera-produced Eat Bulaga, as well as the meaning behind the Aegis band’s songs.

Part of his study on Eat Bulaga included some of the singing competitions that existed during the 1990s, such as the Birit series (Baby, King, Queen), Ikaw at Echo, and Lola’s Playlist. Ikaw at Echo, similar to its predecessor, Gaya-Gaya Puto Maya, deals more with singer ventriloquisms where each participant was expected to almost exactly copy his/her idol’s voice, getup, and stage projection.

I reviewed my notes from Gabrillo’s presentation and compared it with my thesis notes on Tawag ng Tanghalan, which is a tad more current. I just watched one episode of the show’s Ultimate Resbak (Wildcard Round). I noticed that there are lesser biriteras, compared to last season. And at the same time, the jury (more known as the hurados), preferred contenders who rather “own” the songs they have chosen, instead of just performing them similarly to the original recordings. “Owning” the song meant that the participant is able to incorporate his/her own style (“may sariling bali,” in Tagalog), apart from being a biritera or someone who deals more on vocal pyrotechnics. I have also observed that the production team does its best to break the biritera monotony which I rather found more beneficial for the development of OPM. The Original Pilipino Music genre seriously needs to stand out more. It seriously needs to be more than just vocal pyrotechnics and ventriloquisms.

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Music, Sociology, Television

PINOY BODABIL, A NEW CONCEPT OR SIMPLY A SERIES OF HUMOROUS OBSCENITIES?

Last February, during the Radyo Bodabil Symposium held in UP Diliman, Dr. Maria Rhodora Ancheta  presented her paper on the Pinoy Bodabil, which focused on the repertoire of Katy de la Cruz. She mentioned the difference between the American vaudeville and the Filipino Bodabil. It was stated in her paper that while the American vaudevilles consisted of slapstick comedy antics, animal shows, and acrobatics, the Pinoy Bodabil, as a variety show, focused on joke narratives, which were mostly sexually suggestive. One of the most popular Bodabil artists was Katy de la Cruz. In this article, several questions, in line with previous explanations will be presented.

Since the Philippines was a consistently conservative culture, how did the listeners react to de la Cruz’s lyrical content? They may not be explicitly sung but most of her songs contained sexual innuendos. For instance, her song “Saging ni Pacing” may not just refer to simply a bunch of fruit. It may mean something else like infidelity or something more obscene. Hence, “Saging ni Pacing” may be translated to Pacing’s Banana. It was later retitled to “Pacing” for censorship. As for “Balut”, which is another de la Cruz hit song, it may not just refer to simply the duck egg itself. It may likewise mean that the balut is a good aphrodisiac, something that can increase sex drive.

Since it was mentioned that the Bodabil was the Filipinized version of the American vaudeville, how come it became a fusion of previous forms of entertainment from the United States? As mentioned by Dr. Ancheta in her paper, the Pinoy Bodabil often dealt with sexual naughtiness, which was rooted from the American Burlesque. Like the Pinoy Bodabil, the American Burlesque likewise showed sexually suggestive jokes.

Lyrically speaking, why was the Bodabil considered Filipinized, the fact that a huge chunk of de La Cruz’s songs were mashed up with previously released English songs? Some of these were “I Don’t Know Why” and “A Tear Fell”. If it was indeed Filipinized, why weren’t these songs fully translated in Tagalog? Could this be caused by the American censorship? It is possible. Because basing from written history, the Americans banned the Filipinos to use the Filipino language so to further pacify them, they sent a team of “Thomasites” or English teachers from the United States to teach the Filipinos in English.

These were just the few questions presented.  Probably, these questions may be answered in future research dissertations. These questions dealt more on how “Filipino” the Bodabil was, in the middle of American Imperialism influences.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I previously wrote this for my Special Topics in Musicology class during the Second Semester, A.Y. 2016-2017.

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