Music

The Big Shot Experience

DISCLAIMER: This blog entry is based on the author’s experience as one of the performers in the said event.


Last September, my family was watching ASAP when the TNT Boys did a production number with ASAP Divas Morissette Amon, Bituin Escalante, and Klarisse de Guzman. The TNT Boys revealed that time that they are going to hold their major concert in Araneta Coliseum, much to my delight, as well as my mom’s. They started to sell the tickets a month after this, which signaled me to go to Ticketnet to buy a ticket as the concert tickets might sell out fast as the concert day goes near. I initially wanted to write a review on the TNT Boys’ concert since they have been making waves both here and abroad.


Guess what actually happened? I ended up becoming part of their sold-out concert, much to my excitement. But how?!


One Wednesday afternoon, I was doing my EPAPC duties at home (through my laptop) when my phone beeped. I got a Facebook message from TNT’s vocal coach Froilan Canlas who invited me to do backing vocals with the BFFC Singers (a vocal group composed of his supporters and friends) for the TNT Boys’ production number on Showtime, two days from then. I said “Yes” since my schedule was free on that day and this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 

Backup singer mode ON. Hmmm…  Know the assigned piece by heart. Don’t be late. Don’t forget your costume (Including makeup!). Those were the top three performer’s commandments. It was a good thing that I was still able to remember those top three rules so I was at my calmest during our performance in Showtime. I remembered being too stiff during my previous days as a chorister, especially in media-oriented events. What I did was just to focus on the performance itself: the parts, the blockings, as well as instructions from the stage manager. I kept on reminding myself constantly to just look at the studio audiences to counter my nervousness. Overall, our performance went well. We just had to wait for a few days regarding our possible appearance in the TNT Boys’ Concert in Araneta.

To know more about our stint with the TNT Boys in Showtime, here is the link: https://thewanderingmuseician.com/2018/11/18/hear-the-angels-voices/


It was roughly a week when we learned that the BFFC Singers’ performance in Araneta will push through. We were advised that apart from O Holy Night, Jingle Bells and Carol of the Bells will also be performed. Two sessions (Only went to one as I had evening classes in graduate school on the other day.) of technical rehearsals in ABS-CBN were held days before the performance.

NOVEMBER 30, 2018
The stars are born!!! The Big Shot Trio TNT Boys held their sold-out concert called “Listen: The Big Shot Concert” at the Araneta Coliseum with a jam-packed crowd. The Kids’ Choice Host Eric Nicolas, “Ate Girl” Jacque Gonzaga, and “Kuya Escort” Ion Perez were the front acts which helped the audience become more energized throughout the show. The TNT Boys commenced their show with an arrangement of Jennifer Holiday’s “And I Am Telling You” with an explosive “TNT” LED background. All three of them channeled their stellar vocal power and blend as they brought the entire house down. 
They next performed a cover of the Bee Gees’ “Words” and “Too Much Heaven,” the first impersonation they did in the second season of Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids, which became a viral video. It was followed by a performance of Queen’s “We Are The Champions,” together with Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 1 Grand Champion Noven Belleza, Tawag ng Tanghalan Kids Grand Champion Jhon Clyd Talili, and Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 2 Grand Champion Janine Berdin. They ended the segment with Queen’s “Somebody To Love.”


Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids alumni Xia Vigor, Onyok Pineda, Sheenna Belarmino, Noel Comia, Esang de Torres, Chun-sa Jung, and Krystal Brimner did a reprise of the impersonations they did in the said show. Xia, dressed as Taylor Swift, performed “You Belong With Me” while Onyok, dressed as Steven Tyler performed “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing.” Sheenna made the audiences cheer with amazement as she performed Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” in the style and look of KZ Tandingan. Theater actors Noel Comia Jr. and Esang de Torres performed a la Mick Jagger and Liza Minnelli respectively where they showed their best in both vocal and stage projection. Chun-sa performed “All About That Bass” in both the vocal and fashion style of Meghan Trainor while theater actress Krystal Brimner showed the vulnerable side of Miley Cyrus as she performed “Wrecking Ball.” 


The TNT Boys brought the entire house once again as they returned onstage as Jessie J (Mackie), Ariana Grande (Keifer), and Nicki Minaj (Francis). They performed their winning piece in Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids called “Bang Bang.” Francis showed his swag-worthy but clearly-enunciated rapping skills and he was in Nicki’s character throughout the song.

A quick banter between the Big Shot Trio and singer comedienne K Brosas (dressed as Jessie J) took place before K performed a cover version of Jessie J’s “Price Tag.” 


The trio’s number with Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids coach Jed Madela was a powerful one, as they performed Sergio Mendes’s “Bridges” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Their performance of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” reminded me of Eumee’s performance during the Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 1 Grand Finals because of the song’s last instrumental part. Jed finished the segment with his version of John Lennon’s “Stand By Me.”

Wtih Mr. Jed Madela


In one of the interviews conducted on ABS-CBN, the TNT Boys revealed that a dance number will be included, which they actually did in the concert. They performed a medley of K-Pop songs (Wondergirls’ “Nobody,” Blackpink’s “Ddu-Du Ddu-Du,” 2NE1’s “Fire,” and Momoland’s “Boom Boom”)  with a futuristic LED background, reminiscent of video games.

They next performed Spice Girls’ “Viva Forever,” with two aerial silk dancers, storybook-like setting, and male choir (from BFFC Singers) in the band area. It was followed by a heavenly version of Beyoncé’s “Halo” and a powerful “The Greatest Showman” number, “A Million Dreams.” It was after this number when we were asked to standby.


The TNT Boys performed “Bawat Isa Ay Bata,” official theme song of Bantay Bata 163 where they have donated the cash prize they have obtained from The Kids’ Choice.


With Sir Froi on keyboard, the trio performed “I Wanna Look That Way.” As they performed the said song, the songs lyrics were flashed on the LED backdrop.

With Sir Froi, the man behind the TNT Boys’ stellar vocal blend, as well as the formation of the BFFC Singers


Comedian Vice Ganda was the biggest act among that night’s guests as the crowd roared when he appeared in his unicorn-like costume. The TNT Boys were wholeheartedly thankful for Meme Vice who was one of the reasons why the TNT Boys were formed.

They performed DoReMi (Donna Cruz, Regine Velasquez, and Mikee Cojuangco)’s “I Can.” Meme Vice was extremely spontaneous that he continued doing his usually impromptu banter. He encouraged everyone to watch his upcoming film “Fantastica” before he exited the stage.


The BFFC Singers (where I became part of), conducted by the Songsmith himself, opened the Christmas segment with their version of Ukranian carol based from the folksong “Shchedryk,” “Carol of the Bells.” I first learned this song back in high school and it was extremely crucial for the words to be clearly enunciated. This has been one of the challenging songs for choirs, not only because of its speed. Crispness is a must for this piece.

BFFC Singers!


Okay, back to the show, we, together with the TNT Boys performed Jingle Bells, complete with Christmas elements. I personally enjoyed doing this number as I found this quite cute. I ended up smiling during the entire song. We next did O Holy Night. This time, the boys’ whistles were executed more neatly.

A live choral doll? 🙂  I kept on thinking about Gossip Girl’s Blair Waldorf because of my bowtie. This is one of the cutest costumes I have worn in my entire existence as a performer.

Petula Clark’s “Downtown” and Jessie J’s “Flashlight” were the songs dedicated to the trio’s supporters. As they performed “Flashlight” a live feed of the Araneta audiences were shown. The show ended with the boys’ emotional version of Beyonce’s “Listen,” the song that became a road to their success.


Of all the choral performances I have been part of, I have enjoyed doing this the most. The atmosphere was quite light and I felt I was able to deliver with minimal tension. I have always reminded myself to keep calm, focus, and enjoy.


Going back to the concert itself, the theme for each segment was not only kid-friendly. The songs performed by the trio were inspirational, which are enjoyed by both the young and old. For the record, the TNT Boys are the youngest acts who showcased a successful concert at the Big Dome. Congratulations to the TNT Boys, as well to the people behind them, especially Sir Froi*, their vocal coach who continues to guide them not only to become better singers but to also remain humble and friends with each other. 

With THE TNT Boys


*- I personally thank him for giving me the opportunity to not only perform as one of the backing vocalists, but to also become part of the TNT Boys’ success that night. 🙂

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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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Music

The “-Ber Months” Playlist in the Philippines

The Yuletide Season in the Philippines (unofficially but somehow) begins today! During the so-called “-ber” months, television networks, especially during morning shows (ABS-CBN’s Umagang Kay Ganda and GMA Network’s Unang HIrit) and news programs (ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol and Bandila; GMA Network’s 24 Oras and Saksi; GMA News TV’s State of the Nation) start counting the remaining days to Christmas Day, December 25. Also, radio stations in the Philippines start playing recordings of Christmas carols on-air.
Before everything else, let me show you something.

Jose Mari Chan

My photo op with THE Jose Mari Chan during the 75th Anniversary of Quezon City concert at the Araneta Coliseum. (circa 2014)

According to a meme posted on Facebook, singer-songwriter Jose Mari Chan is “in control of the malls’ and radio stations’ playlists” during the -ber months. Chan’s songs, especially “Christmas In Our Hearts” and “A Perfect Christmas” have been two of the most frequently played songs on the radio during the -ber months. According to an FHM article written in 2017, the late Bella Tan, then-head of Universal Records initially thought that “A Perfect Christmas” was more fitting for radio airplay than “Christmas In Our Hearts.” However, “Christmas In Our Hearts” became a monster hit in the early 1990s and the album bearing the same title has gained the Double Diamond Record Award, one of the few best-selling albums in the Philippines of all-time.
“Let’s sing Merry Christmas and a happy holiday.
This season may we never forget the love we have for Jesus.
Let Him be the one to guide us as another New Year starts.
And may the spirit of Christmas be always in our hearts.”

 

Trio APO Hiking Society’s biggest Christmas hit was “Twelve Days of Pinoy Krismas,” which bears the same melody as “Twelve Days of Christmas,” but with a Filipino twist.
“Ika-labing dalawang araw ng Pasko, binigay sa’kin ng nobya ko,
Labindalawang parol, labing-isang tuta
Sampung inaanak, siyam na case ng beer
Walong litsong baboy, pitong berdeng unan,
Limang pulang lobo!
Apat na payong, tatlong sakong bigas, dalawang payong,
At isang basketball na bago!
May pirma pa ni Jawo. Naks!”
APO has also released “Himig Pasko.”
Vehnee Saturno’s “Sa Araw ng Pasko,” sung by some of the pioneer recording artists of Star Music (formerly Star Records; which included Carol Banawa, Jolina Magdangal, Roselle Nava, Jamie Rivera, Ladine Roxas, among others), is also one of the most frequently aired Christmas songs. It speaks of how Filipinos wished their relatives would come home during Christmas. It also speaks of how wonderful Christmas is in the Philippines.
‘Di ba’t kay ganda sa atin ng Pasko?
Naiiba ang pagdiriwang dito.
Pasko sa ati’y hahanap-hanapin mo.
Walang katulad dito ang Pasko.
Lagi mo nang maiisip na sila’y nandito sana.
At sa Noche Buena ay magkakasama.”
“Ang Pasko ay kay saya kung ngayo’y kapiling na.
Sana pagsapit ng Pasko, kayo’y naririto.
Kahit pa malayo ka, kahit nasaan ka pa,
Maligayang bati para sa inyo sa araw ng Pasko.”

Christmas-themed love songs are also recurrent in the -ber months playlist. Apart from Chan’s “Perfect Christmas,” Gary Valenciano’s “Pasko Na Sinta Ko” and Ariel Rivera’s “Sana Ngayong Pasko” have also become standards. Both songs spoke of loneliness during Christmas. However, Valenciano’s “Pasko Na Sinta Ko” focused on regret.
Foreign singers have also made it in the Filipino airwaves during the -ber months. In fact, Jackson 5’s “Give Love On Christmas Day” is one of the most frequently played songs since it talked about the true value of Christmas, which is love, not necessarily materialism.
Moving on to musiconomics (music and economics), both GMA and ABS-CBN annually release Christmas station IDs accompanied by a song. Of all ABS-CBN’s Christmas station IDs, most of the people remember 2009’s “Star ng Pasko” and 2017’s “Just Love Ngayong Christmas.” During the Kapamilya network’s “Star ng Pasko” campaign, the so-called Parol Ni Bro (Santino’s endearment for Jesus Christ, in reference to TV series May Bukas Pa) were sold while during the “Just Love” campaign, “Just Love” shirts sold fast like pancakes.
Star ng Pasko talks about how God never left our side, despite whatever storm has come. In fact, the song was released on the same year when typhoon Ondoy hit the country and left some of the areas heavily flooded.

“Ang nagsindi nitong ilaw, walang iba kundi Ikaw.
Salamat sa liwanag mo, muling magkakakulay ang Pasko.”
On the other hand, “Just Love Ngayong Christmas,” talks how the different gestures of love are shown, especially during Christmas.

Ngayong Pasko’y pag-ibig ang kailangan ng daigdig.
Kay ganda ng lahat if we will just love.”
Music plays a huge role in setting everyone’s mood for a particular season, especially days or even months before the season. ’Tis the season to not only shop for gifts, but to also give back through other ways.

 

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Entertainment, Music

ALBUM REVIEW: Love, BoybandPH

Two years after winning ABS-CBN’s Pinoy Boyband Superstar, quintet BoybandPH has released its second album under Star Music called Love, BoybandPH. A listening party was also held, weeks prior to its launch.

It is composed of nine tracks, namely, Kaligayahan (Happiness) Interlude which has two parts, “Kung Di Mo Natatanong” (If You Haven’t Asked), “Hanggang Kailan Kaya” (Until When) – the album’s carrier single, “Please Lang Naman” (Please), “D’Tyo” (Not Us), “Drive”, “Tagahanga” (Fan), and “Pa’no Ba” (How). “Tagahanga” was penned by pop-rock singer Yeng Constantino while “Please Lang Naman” was written by Moira dela Torre. “Pa’no Ba” was created by Tawag ng Tanghalan’s Songsmith Froilan Canlas, the group’s vocal coach.

The Kaligayahan Interlude (both parts) channels the best of the group’s vocal harmony, in terms of balance. The voices are even at the start of the song while the melody is clearly heard during the stanza parts. The bass part is also distinct.

Kung Di Mo Natatanong is reminiscent of 1990s Bubblegum Pop Boyband Ballads commonly played during Junior-Senior Prom dances. Counterpoints may have existed in the chorus part but they are seamlessly done, along with the song’s main melody.

Hanggang Kailan Kaya, the album’s carrier single is a mix of boyband harmonies and electronic pop. Some parts may be modified through music technology or “auto-tuned” but the vocal parts remain distinct and not overly artificial. Overall, this song is danceable.

 

Dela Torre’s Please Lang Naman has a sound fit for television commercials. Along with its guitar patterns commonly used in sway-worthy music, the song’s character is light and easy. It focuses more on the BoybandPH’s member’s individual vocal prowess. However, the “woooh” parts could have sounded better if they are sung with a bit of swing feel.

Both “D’Tyo” and “Drive” have a danceable feel. Drive’s recurring instrumental pattern is distinct, as well as its bass lines and sawtooth riffs. However, the boys’ voices are more remarkable in D’Tyo than in “Drive.”

Constantino takes a little break from her usual pop-rock songwriting practice in “Tagahanga.” Compared to her previous works, “Tagahanga” has more of a pop sound, which is peppered with electronic beats yet the boys’ vocals remain unadulterated.

“Pa’no Ba”, penned by Canlas, is an R&B ballad, which is reminiscent of Boyz II Men’s and 98 Degrees’s ballads that existed in the 1990s. The song’s melody is not only remarkable. The background vocal parts are also even, especially in the chorus part. In fact, nobody from the quintet sticks out in the chordal parts. Russell Reyes’s and Niel Murillo’s ad lib parts are distinct yet sung seamlessly.

Of the tracks mentioned, BoybandPH’s vocal harmonies are best channeled in “Kaligayahan Interlude” (both Parts 1 and 2), “Kung Di Mo Natatanong”, and Pa’no Ba. My only suggestion for “Pa’no Ba” is to have an acoustic version released soon to make the song’s meaning come out better.

Overall, this album deserves a rave, not only because the entire album sounds current. With Canlas’s and Kiko Salazar’s guidance, the quintet’s vocal harmony is “eargasmic” because of its balance and seamlessness. Looking forward to more purely a cappella songs from BoybandPH.

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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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Entertainment, Field Work, Geography, Music, Sociology, Travel, Urban Ethnomusicology

Friendly Tips for Urban Ethnomusicologists (Field Researchers)

Mabuhay! My apologies for not blogging lately for I have been focused on doing my undergraduate thesis on the Ethnography of Live Professional Musicians in Metro Manila. In my thesis, I have been doing immersion trips in various live music scenes in Metro Manila, such as bars, TV studios, campus concerts, and even private events. Nevertheless, I’m having fun in the process. 🙂

Without further ado, here are some of a few tips to rock (en-roll) your urban ethnomusicological research.

  1. Reserve for your slot early in the TV studio. Nowadays, ABS-CBN is offering studio tour packages in order to watch either It’s Showtime (Php 205) or ASAP (Php 250) as a studio audience, without the need to go to the ABS-CBN Audience Entrance during dawn. However, the reservation should be done around two months before your desired date. Always check the KTX (Kapamilya Tickets) website (https://ktx.abs-cbn.com/) for available slots. Tickets for ASAP get sold out easily though 😦 For special cases, a letter of request (which should state your principal purpose) may be forwarded to the producers.
  2. If you would desire to watch a concert which involves performers with wide fan bases, buy your ticket as soon as the selling period starts. During the Cosmos UP Fair, a lot of people were not able to enter the Sunken Garden for the tickets have already been sold out, hours before the show. Since I went to the UP Fair solely for my thesis, I bought the ticket once the selling period has already started. Some concerts easily sell out like pancakes, such as the recently-concluded concert of Moira dela Torre at the Kia Theater. Even bar concert tickets get sold out easily!
  3. The PUVs and TNVs are your besties! Some venues may not have enough parking space so it’s best to take either the public utility vehicles or transport network vehicles (e.g. Uber, Grab) to bring you to the venue. However, exercise extra caution when traveling late at night. Safety is still your top priority.
  4. Always bring a small notebook and a camera. Unless the venue restricts video and photo documentation of performances, it is best to do documentation of the event by yourself to be able to note more details which you weren’t able to note during documentation. Videos are  “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” field records. In case there are video and photo documentation restrictions, feel free to request for videos from the company’s archives.
  5. Think about your questions carefully before conducting an interview. It is best to observe the event first before inviting someone for an interview. Doing such process may enable you to discuss your observations with him/her in which he/she will be able to interpret your observations better, as well as to refer you to more appropriate sources.
  6. Don’t just focus on observing the performance itself. It is best to interview both casual audiences and regular audiences (more of fans) to get their opinion towards the performance, as well as audience demographics. If allowed to do so, feel free to interview some of the production staff, as well as the performers themselves. For the case of mediated musicians or showbiz personalities, focus more on their performance practice, rather than the staple showbiz talkshow topics. Ask permission from their manager, as well. (Making a separate appointment is more recommended for interviewing showbiz personalities.)
  7. Dress accordingly. Some bars would strictly enforce the “smart-casual” dress code, especially in bars located in hotels. As for weddings, it is best to ask your contact person for the event’s theme and dress code. Decent casual (top and jeans) attire is recommended in most bars (e.g. 19 East) and TV studios so as not to upstage the hosts and performers.
  8. Enjoy, but always keep a keen eye and ear on important details. This is the number one rule for field researchers in general.
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