Monday, October 30, 2006

Jeli and Arms out of competition

Lounge Siren Jeli Mateo and Zamboanga's Pride Arms Cruz are the latest casualties of Philippine Idol. They are also the first ones to taste the new two-hour voting period.

Stay tuned to Philippine Idol Updates for more info about this event.

Idol Radio now up!

As promised, the performances of our 9 remaining finalists are now here on Idol Radio x 2! The songs from both Pinoy Band Week and Life's Highlight Week are featured in two Idol Radios. However, Mau's performance of "I Will Always Love You" is yet to be uploaded as of blog time. Will update the radio once it's done. Thanks for your patience.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Philippine Idol producers have announced that voting will last for only two hours beginning with tonight's episode, different from before when there was a 24-hour voting period.

Two-hour voting becomes the great equalizer. Those with money (and those without) will all scramble to get their votes in during the two-hour window, and increases the chances of those with more fans to get their votes in, versus those with less fans who have the luxury of texting the whole 24 hours.

We welcome this change very much, and look forward to tomorrow's results with much anticipation.

Round of 9: Message Through Songs

Tonight’s theme is “Message Through Songs,” and the Idol finalists sing songs that have either special meaning or convey a special message from them to someone important. We start the show with Apple Chiu, who chose Someone to Watch Over Me by Linda Ronstadt. Apple’s rich voice is given a song she can really sink her teeth into, and she undulates through the George Gershwin original with enough yearning to make anyone feel the song. Save for a wayward flat here and there, Apple’s song is a pleasant change from her usual power tracks, and it works.
Pilita: This is my kinda song. You look wonderful! In what you give us, and how you present yourself, you show how much you’ve improved. Tonight, I love you.
Luke: Your voice is lovely and soothing. Galing!
Ryan: I’ve been waiting for you to sing something intimate. Tnoight, I like it. It’s intimate, I can hear the nice tones… I like it.

Arms Cruz chose If I Believe by Patti Austin.
Arms puts a lot of herself into the song, and her strong voice is put to good use with the song. Exhibiting extraordinary control, she certainly works the stage, but the 80s chestnut a boring song choice.
Luke: There were some parts na flat na konti, but you don’t notice kasi ang sarap kumanta. I know someday makahanap ka ng someone.
Pilita: Reymond or Drae? CHEAP!! Whatever happened last week when we had to be strict with you, you have all become so good! You’ve improved so much! You were very good.
Ryan: The choice is very good, you sing it very well. It’s one of your good performances – not the best, but you’re still good.

Ken Dingle chose Get Here by Oleta Adams
Why is a ballet duo behind him? CHEAP!!! The song actually kinda suits his voice, but he when he birits, well, the notes go here and there. Soothing for the most part, a very good performance, but Idol's never had dancers. Oi vey.
Pilita: Let’s give a big hand to the wonderful couple who danced! Ken, you surprised me tonight, you did. All your performances has always had something lacking. I’m so happy to see you improve for this evening.
Luke: I was amazed sobra. Yung range niya, babae. Ang hirap ng ginagawa mo. You did a great job tonight.
Ryan: Ken, I can just imagine all the Ken haters. Para silang tinamaan ng kidlat. That was a complete transformation and that is what this competition is all about. If we diss you, and you prove us wrong... I don’t think you’ll be out next week with this kind of performance. But kailangan tuloy tuloy na iyan.

Pow Chavez chose For Once In My Life by Spiral Staircase
Why are there dancers everywhere?! On the good side, Pow sings the song with conviction, and she certainly looks like she’s enjoying herself. On the bad side, we’ve heard this song so many times, that her version pales in comparison. That last note wasn’t so good either.
Pilita: Pow, last week I had to put you down because it was bad. I don’t know what happened to her. It looks like hindi ka na broken-hearted, ganoon ba iyon? Gusto pa rin kitang mkita in a beautiful gown, with bling bling everywhere. I hope I can see you like that because you look very good. Congratulations!
Luke: Gustong gusto ko yung belt niya. I enjoyed her performance. May konteng mga flat ang kapos na konte, and the ending medyo hirap, pero natumbok kahit papaano. Funky. You’re the man.
Ryan: Pow, I didn’t like the performance. It’s the song choice. Medyo blah ang performance, para kang nanunuod ng show nuong 1970s. The song choice has a lot to do with it. I hope you’re still there next week. It’s not a winning performance, not a bad performance.

Jan Nieto chose Kailangan Kita by Ogie Alcasid.
Jan’s song choice has a very wide range, which would normally showcase a singer’s range, and the first minute of Jan’s song is pure pleasure, with deep, rich notes and an excellent vibrato. However, when he launches into the ‘birit’ mode, it’s obvious he’s having a hard time. That last note skipped a beat, so eeeh.
Pilita: Kailangan daw niya ako, Mr. C. Ako daw ang kailangan! It’s so wonderful to see all of you like this, so nicely dressed, so wonderfully… From the beginning, John, talagang nagpayat ka. I hope to see you again next week.
Luke: I’m sure maraming babaeng magkakagusto ditto. Gwapo, e. But I think he has to work on tone, some flats along the way, at the end and start, breathing… I know mag-iimprove ka talaga. Good song choice.
Ryan: I didn’t like it. Walang ka-energy-energy. You have the looks to be a matinee idol. You have to hit a little harder. Masyadong relaxed. It’s a bit boring. Try to learn the song and be a part of it. Try harder.

Mau Marcelo chose I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston
Mau says she chose the song because it brought her a variety of styles (and because her mom taught it to her). The first part of the song is done by her in a flawless a capella, before she launches into the ‘birit’ mode – where she throws off the black poncho about her. While it’s nothing new (we’ve seen Lani Misalucha do it, and of course Whitney and every other drag queen in town), it’s yet another stellar performance by Mau.
Luke: *standing ovation* Wala akong masabi. Yun na iyon. Sana sa next album ko, mag-guest ka.
Pilita: Sometimes, I don’t have to say anything, everyone else is saying it. The only thing is that I think Mau knows exactly how good she is. I expected she came with that big overcoat, when she opened it, she’d be in a bikini or something. Very good, Mau.
Ryan: Lagi ka naming magaling. You have the audience in the palm of your hands. I’ll tell you something. Your choice of song, Whitney Houston… sana nagcontrapelo ka. Sana iniba mo yung look mo. When you came on, people laughed because they thought it was Halloween. Kahit nakakatawa, magaling.

Miguel Mendoza chose Sandra by Barry Manilow
Miguel pulls an ace out of his sleeve, starting his song by playing the grand piano as he launches into a song for his mother. He puts a lot of emotion into the song, and the usual flats aren’t present! It’s a virtually flawless performance, and I’m quite surprised. Between Miguel and Ken, someone doesn’t want to get voted out soon!
Pilita: Our youngest finalist, and I’m sure Miguel has gotten a lot of flak for being so young and not mature enough. I think last week you heard what Mr. C and you accepted it nicely, so now you’ve proved you can be better.
Luke: Kasama mo yung Mommy mo? I want to meet your Mom. Nakikita mo yung pagmamahal. It wasn’t the best performance, but it’s good that you can play the piano and sing… it was a good performance.
Ryan: It was a good performance. As a matter of fact, you showed us you play, but more than anything, tonight was the first night I really felt the song that you sang. You showed a certain maturity and an aspect in your personality. It’s good… keep on going. You can do boh high school and this one.

Jeli Mateo chose You Don’t Know Me by Ray Charles
This song was Jeli’s audition piece when she first tried out for a lounge act, and she got the gig. She vamps her way through the song in a slinky red dress (and a black tie, go figure). She apparently practiced in a different key, because she was sick, but for the most part, I was bored out of my wits, and I don’t foresee a longer future.
Luke: Sobrang improved siya from the rehearsals. Ngayon the parts I thought weren’t good, now I don’t see. Good performance.
Pilita: That song really, you need to be on a couch like that. It was like, “sit beside me.” Jeli, this is one of the performances that I like that you’ve done. Congratulations. Bagay mag-bossa.
Ryan: Whether you make it or not, remember this performance. For me that was your best performance. It still doesn’t mean you’re on top of the heap. Just remember, do the best that you can do with the voice range that you have.

Gian Magdangal chose Superstar by Luther Vandross
Gian knows he’s in trouble, having been in the bottom every single week, and decides to croon out the Luther Vandross version of the Carpenters’ chestnut, and does it with style and class – for the most part. Near the end, Gian starts to fall apart, with poor microphone distance and notes that just don’t hit the mark. What could’ve been a phenomenal performance ends up sullied.
Luke: Etong batang to magaling talaga. Wala akong masabi. Keep it up.
Pilita: Yes, indeed. I think I will give up on Jan Nieto and go to Gian! Honestly, from the beginning, I think you’ve taken his advice very seriously, and not doing the theatrics. Tonight, you’re wonderful.
Ryan: Gian, yun lang naman yon. Lose yourself in the song. It was a classy performance. Total atmosphere and feeling was several notches above what a competition usually presents. It was a very good performance.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Luke Mejares to sit as third guest judge

Former South Border lead vocalist Luke Mejares will fill in for Francis Magalona in this Sunday's Philippine Idol Performance Night. Although his career as a solo artist is not as impressive as when he was part of the country's prime bands, what is important is whether he could out-judge "Kilabot ng Kolehiyala" Hajji Alejandro and "Rock Balladeer" Wency Cornejo.

Meanwhile, Idol Radio will be up on Saturday afternoon featuring the performances during the Pinoy Band Week (come on, how can you call the band Freestyle as a "rock" band?). Tracks from this Sunday's performance night will be added on Tuesday (hopefully).

Don't forget to vote for the BEST PERFORMER this coming Sunday. Philippine Idol Vote PINs are available at all Netopia outlets.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

How can Philippine Idol be improved?

Lately, Philippine Idol has been taking potshots from virtually every sector of its audience. Many people have suggestions and ideas on how to improve the show, from technical aspects to voting possibilities. The show itself is still going strong, and is still an arm's length (Arms length, get it?) away from the other reality singing shows, but, of course, we, the fans, have the democratic right to suggest ways and means to improve the show.

Philippine Idol Updates correspondent Ganns Deen has posted two interesting entries on his personal blog, titled Saving Philippine Idol and Saving Philippine Idol (Part 2), in which he suggests many ways to improve the show, especially in terms of voting means, both of which have some aspect of merit. We invite you to check out his ideas and weigh in on the discussion.

As regular visitors to Philippine Idol Updates, what are some ways you think the show can be improved?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Mau, Gian, Apple

Unconfirmed reports claimed that had the elimination continued last Sunday, the Bottom 3 would have been Mau, Gian, and Apple. If the reports were true, this would have created another round of controversy in the results, following the trend of eliminating the best contestants.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Miguel's "Payback Time"

Eyewitness accounts confirmed that Miguel's family and green-shirt-wearing supporters left the Philippine Idol Theater after Ryan Cayabyab's straight-forward remarks for him to "finish school and be a good boy."

In an interview with Manila Bulletin, Cayabyab admitted that he prepared himself to say goodbye to the youngest contender. However, Miguel's good rendition of "Harana" last Saturday made him reconsider his comments.

Nevertheless, the fans did not take Maestro's take on Miguel lightly. They screamed so as to drown Cayabyab's words, even to the point of heckling him. And finally, the fans and Miguel's family walked out of the theater.

However, that does not mean we would see the end of Miguel. For all we know, his family and supporters have made some "payback" time in form of votes.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Second Non-Elimination Explained

In a recent blog entry, ABC reporter Jove Francisco dished out the juicy details on what really happened last Sunday. Remember that according to Ryan Agoncillo, the non-elimination last Sunday (the second this season) was due to the fact that the mobile network companies experienced certain setbacks.

However, according to Francisco, his candid conversation with ABC's Creative Head Perci Intalan revealed a deeper angle in this issue. Had the elimination continued, because the network is aware of the setbacks in voting, the eliminated contestant has the right to sue ABC. (Take note: each of the 12 finalists is provided with a lawyer by Philippine Idol.)

Franciso further asked Intalan as to who would have been eliminated, but he was tight-lipped about the issue. The reporter pressed Intalan, "Would we be happy of the results?"

"It depends," said Intalan.

Idols earn one week reprieve; new time slot up

In the most lackluster results show yet, Ryan Agoncillo announced that, due to technical problems on the part of Sun Cellular and Smart Telecommunications, no Idol candidate would be voted off this week.

Instead of a tense night, the judges were given a choice each to select one Idol contestant who would perform an encore (arguably the best three, therefore). Wency Cornejo chose Arms Cruz; Pilita Corrales chose Mau Marcelo; Ryan Cayabyab chose Gian Magdangal.

Please note that next week's performance night is scheduled on Sunday (after the PBA broadcast); results night would then air the next day, a Monday.

Fan feedback on how this new time slot would affect ratings, given the unpredictable ending time of the basketball games and that the next day is a working- and schoolday, with performers slated for later performance slots now disadvantaged, is not yet out. What do you think?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Philippine Idol Round of 9: Band/Rock Night

Philippine Idol kicks off with a rock song that I am completely unfamiliar with. ABC-5 and Ryan Agoncillo are making a big deal about how the judges are going to be meaner tonight. To that, I say, whatever. We want to be pro-active, not reactive, and I just think it’s a little unfair to Drae, Reymond, and Stef that the judges are now going to be more open and honest, “Tirahan kung tirahan.” Y’all should’ve done that Week 1, in the interest of fairness. Anyway, tonight’s judge is Wency Cornejo, he of early 90s band AfterImage. He’s never seen the show, or so he says. Meanwhile, Pilita and Ryan are both rather defensive about how they’re to comment. Ah, well, let’s launch into the competition, shall we?

Gian Magdangal opens the night’s show with the Eraserheads’ Pare Ko. Gian needs to nail this performance after a bottom two finish last week and a bottom four finish two weeks ago. After the VTR shows us a brief conversation with Raymond Marasigan, he launches into a spirited version that is generally strong, but not particularly memorable. Once again he uses the stage to his advantage, and comes across more honest and open than usual; in my opinion, there’s a little less theatricality tonight than in previous nights. Oops, one bum note – can’t blame him, the way he’s rocketing all over the stage – and oops, there’s another one, but overall, a decent performance that hopefully will keep people remembering him.
Pilita: Since all the newspapers said we would be mean tonight, I will still be nice. No matter what the song, it fits him. I’m not too well-versed in band songs, except the songs of Wency Cornejo. I like you, though.
Wency: You look comfortable onstage, you really did. What I don’t understand is, why did you choose that song? [Gian explains – it was a popular song with his barkada when he was younger. It is, in his opinion, the essence of a Filipino band song.] It didn’t work with his voice; it sounded generic.
Ryan: I’ve always rooted for you from the start. I’ll tell you how you can become a Philippine Idol. One, you should lessen the bigness. This is pop, so soften up a bit. Second, this is a stage, but you have to lessen the theatricality, because people are looking for a pop idol, but I’m still rooting for you.

Apple Chiu had a conversation with Kitchie Nadal over the telephone in preparation for her song, Huwag Na Huwag Mong Sasabihin, which is one of my favorite Filipino songs of all time, by the way. Hopefully, her alto will do it justice, but I’m not too hopeful because Apple’s voice is thick, unlike Kitchie’s. As she sings the song, she carries it well, and her outfit is so biker chic. Save for one extended note that didn’t fall into the chord at all, her almost frantic performance is certainly different from Kitchie’s. I don’t know what to feel.
Pilita: For me, I know that now, we’re singing band songs, so the outfit has to match. [Bling bling, Apple says.] Everything, from look to song, it fits you, but next time, I like you looking sexy. Very good.
Wency: I love the way she made the song her own. When she came in – for rock stars, there is such a thing as detached coolness – it’s not necessarily about knowing the audience, but bringing herself to the audience, and it was so cool. However, she had sharps and flats, so you have to be very careful.
Ryan: Strong performance. You’ve done three songs in overdrive. I want to hear you in something more intimate and personal. You’ve been pushing too hard.

Miguel Mendoza met up with Parokya ni Edgar for their track, Harana, and the band says, “Bring it from the diaphragm. When you sing, don’t forget to smile, shave…” How’s that for advice? Hahaha. Miguel sings it straightforward – eeh, he’s really smiling! The flats are still present, but it’s allowable because “nasisintunado sa kaba.” The vibrato works well, though, IMHO, and I think this is one of his better performances.
Pilita: For me, it did not work. Not for Miguel, because many people say he’s too young. There are some 16- and 17-year-old singers for whom it works. For me, although you sang it very well, there was something missing. Sorry.
Wency: Who arranged the song? [Ria Osorio, daughter of Mel Villena.] I don’t think it would’ve worked, but it really worked! Why did it work with Miguel and not with Gian?
Ryan: That was quite enjoyable. I was ready to diss you tonight, but it went pretty well, though. You know your flats and sharps. Your vocal chords are quite young, and being exposed to the stress of everyday rehearsals, so your vocal chords can’t handle it. But for someone your age, I think you’ve done it well enough. I think you’ve built up experience. My suggestion would be for you to finish high school, and you parents will love you anyway.

Jan Nieto is advised by Ito Rapadas to sing Tuloy Pa Rin with feeling. He’s pitchy all over the place, and he certainly doesn’t look as comfortable as he did in previous weeks. He admitted during the interview that he wasn’t sure what kind of feelings to communicate, and that’s kinda what shows, from the facial expressions to the stance he’s showing. Not his best performance.
Pilita: No falling earrings tonight. John (she never pronounces his name right), I’m not a fan of rock bands like that. I enjoy their music, and I respect a person like you (to Wency) composing songs like this, close to your life. Tonight, I will tell you that I did not like you tonight. He sang it well, but when I see him, I feel finesse, but with rock, you’ve gotta have pants with holes…
Wency: I don’t know what to say about his performance. It’s like it he didn’t smile much, but the song and beat was happy… I couldn’t feel you were enjoying yourself. You sounded good, but you didn’t connect.
Ryan: The performance was not solid, your notes were hello… it was not solid, so you didn’t come across as nice. You have to always prove yourself and show you have what it takes to be Philippine Idol.

Jeli Mateo sat down with Cooky Chua of Color It Red to talk about Paglisan. Cooky reminded Jeli to sing a song like she owns it. The first few bars feel like she’s chasing after the tempo. With Mel Villena adding some much-needed emotion to the song, Jeli takes it home trying to belt it out but with little success. She’s pitchy all throughout the song, which is a real shame because the song could’ve been really good in her hands.
Pilita: I think the song is a nice song. The way she interprets it is like a ballad, which is probably not right for tonight’s theme, but I’d like to congratulate her on her looks this evening.
Wency: I have to say this song is close to my heart, because I’d like to believe that I predicted this song would be a hit even if it wasn’t recorded yet. Jeli, I cannot help but compare, and sometimes, it’s not a bad thing to keep the arrangement as is. The start felt like you weren’t really prepared because the timing was really off.
Ryan: A lot of us know your vocal ability is lightweight. You suffer in comparison to the rest of the girls. I don’t know where you’re going from here. Every week, we see how weak you are compared to the other girls. You really have to work hard.

Mau Marcelo has selected Freestyle’s So Slow - a strange choice, given the thickness of her voice, but whatever. Jinky Vidal tells her about the message of the song, and recommends to Mau to sing it her own way and style so she can make it her own. She takes it easy with this song, keeping her notes simple for the most part of the song. Bad diction notwithstanding, it was once again a great performance for Mau, especially coming from last week’s Dulce debacle. She opts not to belt it out instead, instead injecting the song with a lot of soul that really works.
Pilita: I just realized everyone in yellow in the audience is for Mau. I don’t like your overcoat. [Para bang sofa? Natakot ako na baka maupuan ako kanina – Mau] The way you sang this song was done very well. Congratulations!
Wency: Yung outfit nakaka-off. The strongest performance tonight so far.
Ryan: Yun ang performance. I agree. Ikaw lang ang pinapalakpakan ng halos lahat ng tao dito. It’s so sad if we lose you. All that’s missing is – not the curtain – Mau, we want a winner. So, enough whining and crying. It doesn’t help, win or lose.

Ken Dingle selected Ligaya, and Raymond Marasigan of the Eraserheads admits the song was a little bit on the disco-funk side when everything else was R&B; he recommends that he plays around with the R&B side. Ken certainly does have a lot going for him, but not tonight. He’s very flat, despite the funky arrangement that was very good, including a section where he launches into a reggae portion. He’s winded by the three-quarter section of the song. Eep, he forgets the words! On the positive side, his stage presence seems very good. Unfortunately, the worst of the evening.
Pilita: They had one week to learn one song, you should’ve memorized the song. I think you’ve had enough time to prepare, and maybe you should’ve prepared for the song. Thank you.
Wency: What happened? [He forgot the lyrics.] It was such a big mistake. You should’ve come more prepared to memorize the song, it’s a big no-no. I’m very disappointed.
Ryan: You were very promising, but these past how many weeks, you’ve gone from bad to worse. Tonight was so bad. For me, your journey with Philippine Idol should’ve ended sooner. You have caused the ouster of Drae and Reymond, so I’m appealing to the voters to choose wisely, but all of you have very promising careers. That’s all I ask you to do. Work hard.

Just a note of fairness on Ken’s behalf: the Top 12 is voted, regardless of gender. We totally disagree with Mr. C on that comment. Ken had nothing to do with Drae and Reymond’s ouster. The bottom four the first week were Drae, Stef, Gian, and Pow. Last week, it was Gian and Mau. Ken had nothing to do with their ouster; he was safe. The bottom line is, Drae, Stef, and Rey’s voters didn’t come through for them enough. Don’t blame another Idol – especially one who hasn’t hit the bottom three yet – for another Idol’s ouster. It’s just in poor taste.

Arms Cruz gets the penultimate spot, and she chooses Makita Ka Muli by Sugar Free. An usual choice, and it’s sad we can’t hear their comments because the audio goes on and off. She starts off with a lower-range register that makes it difficult to hear her words, but when she launches into the chorus, the strength of voice comes strong. Shades of Filipina rocker chicks come into full play, and a few flats here and there aren’t too obvious. Some may like it, some may not. I liked it.
Pilita: Si Armarie, iyakin iyan, but she doesn’t know that from the moment we heard her in Davao, we knew she was going to go a long way. Congratulations.
Wency: All night, I’ve been waiting for someone to make my hair stand up. Pinatayo mo.
Ryan: Big girl, big heart, big voice. Kitang kita ang experience. Now we have to ask people to vote. Tonight, you and Mau are my Philippine Idols.

Pow Chavez gets this week’s pimp spot, and she takes the modern kundiman route with Forevermore. Joey Benin, Forevermore’s writer, suggests to do it her way. Pow’s version is pitchy, which is strange, because she normally delivers a standup rendition of anything she’s got. With a tentative introduction, shifting chords, and a more-nasal-than-usual delivery, I think tonight we see the chinks in Chavez’s armor.
Pilita: For me, for the first time since we’ve been here, listening to you, this is the first time you’ve had a lot of flats and sharps in your singing, which I am not used to hearing. Tonight, still, it depends with our people watching.
Wency: Pow, among all the nine, I think you came out as the most confident. The aura was effortless, it’s like “the night is mine.” For me, that was a fantastic performance.
Ryan: We’ve heard you sing this type of song for the past three weeks. It’s time for you to start raising the bar. It’s starting to plateau, and get boring. I predicted you would become Philippine Idol, so tulungan mo naman ako, kasi mapapahiya ako.

Based on tonight’s performances, in a perfect world, our bottom three predictions would fall on the following: Jeli, Ken, and Jan, with Ken getting the boot. Will we get it correct? Hahaha. We can never predict Philippine Idol accurately, can we? Hahaha.

Note! Starting next week, performance nights fall on Sunday, with results nights on Monday. Take note!

Note 2! We're not people to promote other people's blogs, but you've got to visit this one. It's such a funny post!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Wency Cornejo to Sit as Second Guest Judge

The much-awaited Pinoy Rock Week will have an equally eagerly-anticipated guest judge in the form of Wency Cornejo.

Cornejo is a former lead vocalist of the band After Image, which is one of the most successful Pinoy bands during the 1990's with hits such as "Habang May Buhay" (As Long as there is Life), "Mangarap Ka" (Dream On), and "Next in Line." As a band, After Image received several awards including a Quadruple Platinum Record Award for their album "Tag-Ulan, Tag-Araw" back in 1995.

After leaving the group in the late 90's, Cornejo became more popular as a solo artist. His string of ballads have become a staple for singing contests, including his most famous track "Kung Gaano Kita Kamahal."

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Francis M Indeed Leaving for Tour

Contrary to what some people speculate about Francis M being "gradually ejected" as judge for Philippine Idol, the King of Pinoy Rap posted his latest entry on his blog saying that he is indeed on temporary leave.

Francis M will be one of the performers for the Kumustahan Tour, a concert series dedicated to the Filipino communities abroad. Other artists on the tour include Rico J. Puno, Nanette Inventor, Bituin Escalante, and Jolina Magdangal. Some of the cities where Kumustahan will be held are London, Milan, and Dubai.

Keep posted on Philippine Idol Updates for the latest on anything Philippine Idol.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Idol Radio Down, Again!

The sudden rush of readers tuning in to Idol Radio made my file host exceed its bandwidth. Not that I am complaining.

However, with my busy offline work I apologize if I could only update Idol Radio come Sunday with a new batch of tracks from the upcoming Pinoy Rock Week.

Again, my apologies.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Week 4: Filipino Rock

The Top 9 of Philippine Idol will be singing the best of Filipino Rock and Acoustic genres. Here is the complete list of the songs that they have chosen:

* Akin Ka Na Lang (Be Mine Instead) - Itchyworms
* Harana (Old-Fashioned Love Song) - Parokya ni Edgar
* Huwag na Huwag Mo'ng Sasabihin (Don't Ever Tell) - Kitchie Nadal
* Ligaya (Happiness) - Eraserheads
* Makita Kang Muli (To See You Again) - Sugarfree
* Paglisan (Passing) - Color It Red
* Pare Ko (My Buddy) - Eraserheads
* So Slow - Freestyle
* Tuloy Pa Rin (It Would Still Continue) - Neocolors

Our sources say that Reymond would have sung "Narda" by Kamikazee had he remained in contention.

Are We Really Forgetting to Vote for the Best?

Isn't it ironic that the best performer last Saturday was given the boot yesterday?

Reymond Sajor was eliminated, while Gian Magdangal and Mau Marcelo were at the Bottom 3.

And just like last week, angry viewer were pouring in on different forums (whether from the official Philippine Idol forum at or through, still furious at the fact that they just could not eliminate the awful performers like Ken, Jan, and Miguel. Some vowed to boycott the program, others wanted the franchise to be given to another channel instead.

Oh well, that's us Filipinos, we feel before we think.

I myself felt really down with the elimination of Reymond. However, I am aware that he is less charismatic compared to other contestants. At least, Reymond proved that his inclusion in the Top 12 was not a mere stroke of luck (in form of sympathy votes when his mic went off while singing).

Reymond's performance of "Be My Lady" after his elimination received a thunderous standing ovation from the Philippine Idol audience. His talent has definitely grown as weeks passed by and I think he will have his break in the recording scene.

Meanwhile, Ryan Cayabyab let his fangs out when he was asked to comment about Reymond's elimination. He said that with the best singers being booted out, what would remain of Philippine Idol? Singing nursery rhymes?

I was so glad that the monster in him is starting to appear. I could not wait for this coming Performance Night as to how he would put those underserving finalists to shame.

However, I strongly disagree at what he said about the viewers do not listen to them. For one, we do listen, it is just that no matter how much we try our best to vote for the best performer those rich relatives of some contestants will still have the upper hand in voting.

Second, the judges did not listen to the pulse of the viewers in the online forums when they eliminated some contestants who are having real fanbase, instead opting for some contestants who may be talented during the audition phase but did not shine at all in the competition (add to that they are not charismatic to the viewers).

Lastly, we do listen to your comments but they were just too lame. Good thing criticisms are starting to appear last Saturday (even from the very safe, but very funny, Mamita) and we hope there will be more. After all, it's for the growth of the contestants.

Continue to vote for the best contenders in Philippine Idol, which makes it easier using the vote PINs that are available in Netopia outlets. We at Philippine Idol Updates urge you to buy three P100 vote PINs (amounting to P300), ask the personnel to have the PIN codes printed on a piece of paper, text the [contestant's name] space [10-digit PIN code] (take note that it is case-sensitive) and send to 2339. The number of votes depend on your cellphone's service provider. Smart and Globe would yield 120 votes, while Sun Cellular would make it into 150 votes. If you want, you could allot those votes to just one contestant only.

I am afraid that Jan and Miguel will buy (I mean, sing) their way into the Finale. Let's not wait for that to happen.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Stranger Than Strange

Did anyone notice something strange during the Metropop Week?

First, there was a technical kink at the opening number. Reymond forgot to sing the first line of "Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika" on time, creating a seemingly very long instrumental intro. Good thing the musical director Mel Villena is quick to recover.

Second is that the judges' comments were better than last week. They begin to criticize each performances (hooray!). I just hope Francis M picks the tempo that Hajji and the future guest judges would have done once he's back from Europe. I don't wanna be sarcastic in saying that the guest judges (from Arnell Ignacio, Tuesday Vargas, and now Hajji Alejandro) are better than some of the permanent judges, but hey, Idol do not replace judges in the middle of the season.

Third, Gretchen's daughter Dominique is like an anti-Christ personified. Her evil energy just permeates through the screen (along with her texting--and sleepy--girlfriends). I hope the PI staff would make sure to put enthusiastic viewers behind the judges instead (or better yet, leave that row blank).

Lastly, Ryan Cayabyab calling Jan his "Philippine Idol." I know it sounds strange, but I think Ryan had something else in mind when he said that. Since voting is still open, I don't wanna elaborate. Maybe tomorrow.

In the meantime, please wait for the update of Idol Radio. Thanks for your support.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Metropop Week Song Choices

Here are the songs that the Top 10 have chosen for the Metropop Week:

* Anak
* Ako ang Nagwagi
* Be My Lady
* Give Me a Chance
* Isang Mundo, Isang Awit
* Magsimula Ka
* Sometimes You Just Know
* Swerte Swerte Lang
* 'Til I Met You
* Umagang Kay Ganda

Meanwhile, the judges apparently learned their lesson and promise something different will happen this Saturday. Let's hope it's for the best.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Week 3 Theme: Metropop

Philippine Idol insiders revealed that the upcoming theme this Saturday is "Songs from Metropop." As you may all know, the Metropop Song Competition was home of the best Filipino songs during the 70s as well as when it was revived in the 90s.

It is still unclear wheter the 10 remaining Idols will choose from the winning songs like "Sometimes You Just Know" (which was sung by Jaya), or will include non-winning but competition-worthy pieces like "Ako ang Nagwagi" by Dulce.

Keep tuned in to Philippine Idol Updates for the latest on everything from STILL the best talent show in the Philippines ever! No need to commit suicide... *wink*

Monday, October 09, 2006

Idol Phenomenon Around the World (Part 2)

While we mope about the impact of last Sunday, let us review how other countries were swept by the Idol Experience.

First, we look back at Finland's Suomen Idols 2004. This is one of the performances (singing "Eternal Flame") of their first Idol, Hanna Pakarinen, who is currently busy recording her second album.

Next in line is Latin American Idol, which is currently airing its first season. One of its frontliners is Mayre Martinez of Mexico. Here is her rendition of Santana's "Corazon Espinado," which swept the judges off their feet.

Finally, we wanted to congratulate Eva Avila for winning Canadian Idol 4. This was one of her performances during the Finale, a beautiful track called "Wild Horses."

If only our contenders are just as good as them...Sigh...

Complacency Has No Place In Philippine Idol

This post was delayed for two days. Yes, I must admit, I was lost for words.

The contestant who was tagged by Ryan Cayabyab as the best performer during last Saturday's Soul Night was one of two who were eliminated yesterday! Drae Ybanez, along with Fil-Aussie Stephanie Lazaro, got the boot.

Shockwaves rippled through the Net with fans complaining on the results, pointing the blame on anything from the lenient judges who complemented bad performers (and making underdogs out of them), to the power-voting relatives of certain contestants.

Personally, I have no problem with relatives voting for their anak, pamangkin, or pinsan, just as long as they buy all of his or her album and make it platinum records.

In my opinion, two male contestants should not have been in the Top 24 in the first place. Put sensational Yova Alonzo instead of mediocre Jan, and place jazzy Emman Omaga instead of immature Miguel Mendoza, and we would have had a very good competition.

Anyway, enough of the grunting and the complaining. This just proves that COMPLACENCY HAS NO PLACE IN PHILIPPINE IDOL. If you want your bets to stay in the competition, vote more, more, and more. If we have to spend hundreds, even thousands, of pesos just to outvote those candidates with so-called "relative support," then we should.

In addition, here are my suggestions to the good staff of Philippine Idol:

* Ban the phrase "I hope to see you next week."

* Have the judges criticize ALL performers. Make them look at the tiniest of errors just like what they do in Indonesian Idol, and eventually making all contenders underdogs. And you know in our culture, we love underdogs. Besides, the finalists need that criticism for them to grow as an artist.

* And finally, have Rich Ilustre glue his butt at the director's chair.

Anyway, I am currently transferring the Idol Radio to a new site, including Drae's performance of "You're Not A Young Man Anymore." I apologize for the inconvenience.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Heart and Soul (and R n' B)

The Top 12 Finalists battled it out yesterday at the Soul and R n' B Week of Philippine Idol. The two performers with the lowest votes will be eliminated tonight.

Although I'm so rushed with time because it takes time updating the Idol Radio, I'll give my insights about last night's show:

* MAU messed up with the lyrics of Beyonce's flagship show "Crazy In Love." I agreed with the judges for her regarding her dancing. She should have either gave out more on her dancing or she should not have danced at all, focusing on her vocal powers.

* KEN struggled with his song "What's Goin' On?" Although Francis and Pilita gave him praises, I think he has yet to surpass his audition phase.

* APPLE gave out her best performance to date. Although "Natural Woman" is still "owned" by American Idol's Kelly Clarkson during her performance at World Idol, Apple's performance is still both respectable and enough to sail through next week.

* STEPH should have done that over-the-top performance she did in the wildcard if she wanted to own Tina Turner's "Proud Mary".

* JAN's performance is so meh. Next.

* REYMOND seemed struggling with singing soul songs like his piece "I'd Rather." Oh well, he did well.

* JELI's rendition of Mariah Carey's "Always Be My Baby" was just plain horrible, from the outfit to the pitch problems. And I feel so sad for Francis and Mamita that they are not honest enough with giving negative comments. Why are there in the first place anyway?

* GIAN ran all over the place, again. Gian's great, I really do think that way. But when he dances while singing, the magic in his voice simply vanishes.

* MIGUEL was a surprise. I do not want to elaborate.

* POW's rearrangement of Usher's "U Got It Bad" was great. Although it wasn't her personal best, her performance was one of the best this week.

* ARM seemed to be angry when she sang "Respect," like lashing out at her landlord after trying to evict from her apartment or something. But on the plus side, we witnessed her full potential with this performance.

* DRAE's performance of an erstwhile-unfamiliar "You're Not A Young Man Anymore" was unbelievably the best this week. Sadly, I couldn't find an mp3 of his performance as of now. I'll update the radio once it's available.

Here are additional notes and observations from last night:

* Francis and Pilita are just plain nice, bordering on the boring. All Idol judges, not just Simon Cowell, are known to be frank and critical of the contestants. Watch the clips of other Idol shows and see what I mean. Where have all the wit and humor they delivered during the audition phase gone?

* Pilita should stop going back to memory lane and referring past performances of each contestant (and even as far as performances outside Idol).

* Ryan C is becoming the monster that we expect from him. Arnel and Tuesday (or even Mitch Valdez) should accompany him next season. Just kidding.

* Gretchen Barreto just doesn't respect the PI judges. I don't care if you own the network, at least you did not set good example as a good audience member by not being attentive during the judges' comments, talking loudly to the person beside you during the live show, texting during the live show, basically everything that you did on cam last night.

* Finally, Philippine Idol should keep Rich Ilustre as the director. Mark Reyes' credibility as the co-director lost when he showed Miguel's butt with the caption "MEL VILLENA". That was just so wrong.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

PIU Exclusive: An Interview with Jhona Sison

FULL NAME: Jhonalene Gimoro Sison
NICKNAME: Jhona, Jho (sa mga mas close sa akin)
BIRTHDAY: December 09, 1984
ZODIAC: Sagittarius
OCCUPATION: wala hhehehe.. band vocalist
HOBBIES: singing, piano playing, internet surfing, playing warcraft, hanging out w/ friends, sometimes composing songs and writing poems
LIKES: yung mga taong may sense kausap. lalo na sense of humor coz i really like to laugh a lot. hahah. mga masayahing tao.
DISLIKES: hmm.. kabaliktaran nun. yung mga moody. mahirap ma-gets. ayoko sa mga taong ma-drama, OA, pa-cute, maarte, plastic, mayabang, at sinungaling
LOVE IS... (nyek! bat may ganitong tanong pa? hahaha!) uhmm... love is all in fire and yet is ever freezing.

Ever since appearing at the Manila Auditions episode of Philippine Idol, Jhonalene Sison has become a darling among the viewers. Appearing in an anime-inspired green costume (which she admitted buying from a thrift store), Jhona has been baptized by fans as the Anime Girl. Although she did not make it to the Top 40, several viewers believed in her talent as evident in their comments in this site's chatbox.

We at Philippine Idol Updates are so honored to have contacted Jhona for this online interview. Below are some tidbits that we want to know about her.

Paano mo nalaman ang tungkol sa Philippine Idol?
Sinabi sa akin ng friend ko

Dumaan ka ba muna sa Fast-Track Audition o dumiretso ka na sa PICC?
Dumiretso na po ako sa PICC

Ano ang feeling habang naghihintay ka sa PICC?
Mainit... hehhe. nagkukulitan lang kami nung isang friend ko at nung pinsan ko.

Hindi pinakita sa TV ang mga comments nina Francis M, Mamita, at Mr. C noong audition mo. Ano ba ang sinabi nila?
Nung pagpasok ko ng room, naka-smile silang lahat.
Ako: Hello po..
Mr. C: Hello jhonalene..
Mr. C: Jhonalene, nag-aaral ka pa ba?
Ako: hindi na po, nag-stop po.
Mr. C: nagtatrabaho ka na?
Ako: hindi rin po
Mr. C: hmm.. puro hindi ah
Ms. Pilita: so what do you do?
Ako: wala po, tambay lang po..
Ms. Pilita: you sing with a band?
Ako: opo, pero yung mga kinakanta po namin, mga hindi normal
Mr. C: ah.. sige nga jhonalene, parinig nga kami ng isang kantang hindi normal na sinasabi mo..
*i sang voltes v theme*
Mr. C: jhonalene, gusto ko ang boses mo..
Ms. Pilita: I like her. What do you think, Kiko?
Francis M: uhmm.. kung japanese idol 'to, panalo ka na eh.. Eh kaso philippine idol 'to.
Mr. C: jhonalene, parinig naman ng isang kantang normal..
*i sang "Moonraker" by Shirley Bassey*

Naging kilala ka bilang Anime Girl. Saan nagsimula ang iyong interes sa anime music?
I think since 1992 yata. 8 yrs old ako. basta yung kapanahunan nung "Cedie: ang munting prinsipe" Hehehehe!

Nalaman ko na bahagi ka ng "ongaku society." Ano ang ibig sabihin nito?
Ongaku means music in japanese. So it literally means, music society.
Ang Ongaku Society ay isang samahang binubuo ng mga banda at mga indibidwal na japanese music enthusiasts.

Ano ang pangalan ng iyong banda? Paano kayo nabuo?
Ipinakilala ako ng boyfriend ko kay dawn (leader ng New Fallen Snow). Ang New Fallen Snow ang una kong banda. Pero tinanggal nila ako sa band nitong January. Kaya lumipat ako dun sa banda ng friend namin ng borfriend ko. Yun ang Himitsu Heiki.

Pero sa ngayon, dala-dalawa ang banda ko kasi nakipagbalikan sakin yung una kong banda.

Ano ang first impression mo nang makita mo na ang mga katunggali mo noong Theater Eliminations?
May mga mahuhusay, mayroon din namang mga hindi ganon kahusay..
Normal lang..

Sinu-sino ang mga naging kaibigan mo doon?
Yung mga roommates ko. Sina Lilfer Charme at Pavi Elle. Medyo nakasundo ko rin si Erika Jill kaso di nagtagal kasi natanggal na ako.

Naintriga kami sa kinanta mo noong unang round ng theater eliminations. Ano'ng kanta 'yun?
Actually, di ko rin po alam ang title nung kantang yun. Ang alam ko lang ay indonesian song yun at ang kumanta ay si Rita Effendy. Narinig ko lang yun sa Asia Song Festival 2000 kasi yun ang nakakuha ng grand priza. and i really love that song. sana may makatulong sa akin na hanapin yung song na yun. hehehehe...

May nagsabing kasalanan daw ni Erika Jill dahil nagkamali raw siya ng tiyempo sa group performance niyo kaya ka hindi nakapasa. Ano sa palagay mo?
Nyaix! Di naman siguro.. di ko rin napansin yung pagkakamali ni erika dun kung sakali mang nagkamali sya. lumilipad kasi ang utak ko nun saka naka-concentrate ako sa dance steps kasi yun ang weakness ko. i really can't dance. yun din siguro ang dahilan kung bakit ako natanggal.

Pagkatapos ng iyong pagsali sa Philippine Idol, mas marami ba ang nakakapansin sa iyo at sa iyong banda?
Hindi rin.. kasi hindi naman nababanggit yung pagsali ko tuwing may gigs kami. sa ongaku society lang kumalat yun. ehehe.. pero may isa kaming gig na nakuha kami dahil kilala akong sumali sa Philippine Idol nung isang organizer. other than that, wala na..

Ano ang idinulot ng Philippine Idol sa career mo bilang singer?
Mas na-appreciate ko yung pagiging unique ko. Tsaka, sobrang honored ako na nakahanay ko yung ibang professional singers na talaga samantalang sobrang wala akong ka-expe-experience sa ganun. kaya parang na-astigan ako sa sarili ko nun. hahahah!

Saan at kailan ang mga upcoming gigs ng iyong banda?
For info, just go to

Complete Soul and R n' B Week Song Choices

Here is the complete song list of the upcoming Soul and R n' B Week of Philippine Idol. Take note that each song has already chosen by a particular finalist, which we would not reveal (but you can spoil it at the comments section or at the chatbox anyway).

- "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" by Aretha Franklin
- "You're Still A Young Man" by Tower of Power
- "I'd Rather" by Luther Vandross
- "Crazy in Love" by Beyonce
- "Always Be My Baby" by Mariah Carey
- "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love" by The Spinners
- "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" by Aretha Franklin
- "I Feel Good" by James Brown
- "Proud Mary" by Tina Turner
- "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye
- "U Got It Bad" by Usher
- "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green

Meanwhile, thank you for the suggesting some good file hosts. You guys are the greatest.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Wanted: A Better File Host

Since Idol Radio was launched last Sunday, we were shocked to learn that its bandwidth would be nearing its limit after just a day of publishing it. This simply means of the astounding response from our fellow Idol fanatics.

If you guys know of a free file host that has at least 10GB/month bandwidth, please leave a comment. Our current file host is

Did Jeli Say What?

Several Philippine Idol viewers have noted something strange during the Results Show last Sunday. According to viewer accounts, right after Jeli Mateo (I'll be using "Jeli" with a single L because that is her text-vote code to avoid confusion) was declared safe from the so-called Bottom Three--which as we all know was not conclusive--she apparently said something that was not heard but seen on camera.

Jeli opened her mouth two times and some viewers claimed that she said, "Bye Mau."

When Jeli was near the contestant's lounge, she went back to the stage and hugged Armarie. Only Armarie.

Hmmm...Methinks this Jeli-Mau rift is starting to get worse. What do you guys think?

Soul and R n' B Week

After a rousing Original Pilipino Music Week (spiced-up by a "Special Dedication" theme), our Philippine Idol finalists will be singing top Soul or Rhythm and Blues selections.

Here is the partial list of songs, thanks to our generous sources. Again, help us with the artists who sang some of the songs:

* What's Goin' On? - Marvin Gaye
* I Feel Good - James Brown
* R-E-S-P-E-C-T. - Aretha Franklin
* You Got It Bad - Usher
* Proud Mary - Tina Turner
* Crazy In Love - Beyonce
* I'd Rather - Luther Vandross
* Natural Woman
* Could It Be I'm Fallin' In Love
* Let's Stay Together

Several Idol fanatics have speculated that Mau will breeze through this round, while Armarie will have a difficult time with the theme (as one viewer said, "unless she would kundiman-ize the song").

But one thing is for sure: This would be another interesting week. Not only because we have a rather upbeat theme, but also because two contestants will be eliminated this Sunday.

So remember, don't just vote once, not twice, but a lot of times. Make your Idol bets stay in the competition.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Idol's First Non-Elimination

Wow! That was a surprise!

Last Sunday's Result Show ended with no one getting eliminated, probably the first time in Idol franchise history. Host Ryan Agoncillo explained that due to the problems encountered during voting, aggravated by the recent typhoon Milenyo toppling power lines in the Metro and disabling mobile phone signals, the producers at Fremantle decided to eliminate no one. However, the votes will be carried over next week and two contestants will be eliminated next Sunday.

There were several surprising events experienced during the braodcast of the Result Show. For one, it aired at an earlier time of 8:30 p.m. since the first games of Philippine Basketball Association ended way earlier than expected (but I guess the 30-minute cushion is being used just in case they have overtimes and injury timeouts), thereby confusing some of the viewers.

Another shocker was when the three contestants remained on stage were Jelli, Armarie, and Mau--with Jelli being called safe first. Armarie and Mau embraced each other crying, with Arms telling the viewers that Mau deserved the contest more, while Mau (frank that she is) exclaimed, "Bakit ako na naman ang huli?!"

However, we have to clear out that Jelli, Armarie, and Mau were not necessarily THE Bottom 3. Ryan A did not say anything about them having the lowest votes. The producers probably decided not to reveal the real Bottom 3 to avoid trending (with fans voting doubly hard to save their bets who would have been in the bubble, making it more unfair).

And because a lot of viewers did not watch last week's episodes, ABC-5 was gracious enough to broadcast the replays of both the Performance Night and Results Show this Thursday, October 5, starting at 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Idol Radio now available!

I should have done this earlier. Oh well, better late than never.

You could now listen to this week's performances of Philippine Idol finalists through Idol Radio. It is intended for our provincial and international viewers to get updated with the songs being performed. It is also originally intended to be posted at an earlier time so that our provincial viewers can judge the best performers and vote for them, but since it was posted way beyond the voting deadline, we hope this does not hinder your Idol enjoyment.

We promise to update the tracks at an earlier time. In the meantime, just press play. It is recommended for Microsoft Internet Explorer (because the code is customized for that browser, and since most of you use IE anyway). Just in case the radio does not display the tracks, you can try Mozilla Firefox.

Philippine Idol Webcast now available!

In the service of Filipinos living in the provinces as well as those overseas, you could watch tonight's Result Show of Philippine Idol live through the Web!

Our tech-savvy Idol fans have done their part in sharing this great talent search for every Filipino to see.

Just visit

Take note that this is not an official webcast (how I wish they would make one). So, watch it now before it's too late!


Philippine Idol Finals: The OPM Dedication Round of 12

Today, Philippine Idol Updates is proud to be blogging straight from the lion's den itself! Thanks to generous souls from ABC-5, Philippine Idol Updates sent a correspondent, Ganns Deen, to the Philippine Idol stage at SM Megamall Cinema 3, to get an insider's peek at the first finals' round. Here's what he had to say:

Hi, Philippine Idol fans! I'm blogging - not live unfortunately, because I know I'm not allowed to bring either laptop or digital camera into the Philippine Idol soundstage - for you straight from here in Philippine Idol land at the SM Megamall Cinema 3, and I tell you, the atmosphere here is electric! There were actually two lines here as early as 7PM, one for Philippine Idol and one for Trumpets' Joseph the Dreamer, setting up shop at SM Megamall Cinema 4, and from the looks of it, things are bound to be exciting at both places.

By 730PM, the line at Joseph the Dreamer starts to shorten as people are let into the theater, and the line at Philippine Idol starts to lengthen. I see a dreadlocked Mau Marcelo chatting with a friend; I also see a calm and smiling Gian Magdangal talking to another buddy. I get in line with the rest of the hangers-on who are hoping for tickets, and although I know that I have a ticket with me, it's kinda nice to chill outside with the people who matter - the fans, and are they coming in droves. A bunch of Drae Ybanez fans touting banners for the Rizal/Cebu native; a rowdy group of Arms Cruz supporters, apparently shipped in all the way from Zamboanga; excited Miguel Mendoza fans all dressed in green supporting the 17-year-old Lasallian. Unfortunately, these guys, the ones sending the text votes and coming to the Megamall to support their idols, won't be let in until 830, after the rest of us get our tickets. I hope they get seats.

We're let in at around 730PM (thank you, ABC-5!) and I'm stunned by the look of the new Philippine Idol stage. Gosh, guys, I can't even begin to explain how awesome the stage looked in person. The TV simply doesn't capture it, nuh-uh. A revamped stage touted the new Philippine Idol look, with audience left getting a delightful shot of Mel Villena and his band on the first level, and the three back-up singers on a new second level. To the right, a newly furbished hangout for the contestants. New lighting, including a stunning LCD for the audience, a rehashed center stage, at least six Philippine Idol logos everywhere. Wow, good job, ABC-5. This stage looks spectacular.

At around 830PM, a lady named Joseph takes the stage and begins prepping the crowd for the broadcast to come. The usual - no cellphones on, no food and drink, keep your butt in your seat during broadcast, but stand all you want during commercials. After Joseph's stirring of the crowd- which included ensuring all the contestants' families were in their respective sections of the ground floor, which we couldn't see from our spot on the second - we are introduced to a group called Boys (Voice?) Avenue, an F4-looking, Blue-sounding group of four pubescent boys who treat the audience to a very good mimicking of Blue's All Rise. The harmonies are good, the dancing is so 1997, but it serves its purpose in whiling away a few minutes while waiting for the broadcast to start.

At around 855PM, we see Ryan Agoncillo, dapper in a black suit with a light green polo underneath it. People get into places, and we go live! The Top 12 start the show with a frenzied and energetic performance of Sugod, and the night starts with a bang. The sound system, like the new stage, is stunning, and we wonder if the TV broadcast is able to deliver the same punch that we're getting live. We hope so, because this is concert quality, definitely broadcast quality. Excellent start to the show! Woohoo!

Tonight's theme is OPM Night, Songs to Dedicate to Someone Special. We're given the arrangement in order of how they'll appear: Arms Cruz, Jeli Mateo, Rey Sajor, Apple Chiu, Stef Lazaro, Ken Dingle, Jan Nieto, Mau Marcelo, Gian Magdangal, Drae Ybanez, Pow Chavez, and Miguel Mendoza, then we go to break. During breaks, Ryan Agoncillo chitchats with the crowd, making small talk and having to deal with the occasional "I love you, Ryan... C!" He certainly is a lot more kenkoy off-air than he is on, and perhaps that's part of the charm, we suppose.

Now, we launch into the Idol performances. [Philippine Idol Updates note: The following thoughts are those of Ganns, and not necessarily of Philippine Idol Updates.]

ARMS CRUZ. Singing Araw-Araw,Gabi-Gabi by Didith Reyes for her dad
The first performer on the first finals night, Arms has elected to sing an older track. Considering she got the final slot during the girls' first night, and now getting the opening performance, Arms seems to be going the route of AI5's Mandisa Hundley: powerful pipes that seem great for closing or opening the show. Arms does not fail to disappoint, delivering a solid, strong rendition of Reyes' torch ballad, although it doesn't do well for her pre-performance image as a stodgy singer who chooses old, stodgy songs. She looks great in a shimmering blue gown, her notes are strong and not pitchy, it's a great performance.

Pros: Strong voice, excellent pitch, great outfit, fantastic stage confidence.
Cons: Ancient song choice that may alienate voters unfamiliar with the song.

Francis Magalona: Very professional.Clean. You look beautiful, but I think your choice of song was too old-school.
Pilita Corrales: I think it has wonderful meaning. I disagree with FM. Arms can sing anything, old or new, whatever, with her heart and soul. But your song choice could've been better.
Ryan Cayabyab: Arms, we know you're a good singer. We're looking for a Philippine Idol 2006. Your style's a bit old. Freshen it up.

JELI MATEO. Singing Iisa Pa Lamang by Joey Albert for her Lola
You gotta hate being in Jeli Mateo's shoes. The woman is undoubtedly beautiful, but her strong point - a sweet, almost crystal voice - is ignored in all the hooplah. Can Jeli prove she deserves to be in the Top 12 with her version of the Joey Albert classic? In an emphatic word, YES. Jeli pulls out the stops, starting with a soft, yearning delivery, then taking it a notch in the buildup, back to a classic, although slightly flat - finish. Miles ahead of her previous performance.

Pros: Decent song choice, okay outfit (anything looks good on her anyway), good stage presence.
Cons: Relatively unmemorable performance.

FM: I love this performance. Much better. With your performance, there's a voice that can match your pretty face.
P: Really, I know you are going to prove you can match your pretty face.
It's embarrassing that you have to apologize for being prety. I'm glad you proved that pwede ka sa Top 12. Your strength is that your voice quality is nice. I'm sure some producer will ask you to do a CD.

REY SAJOR. Singing Hindi Magbabago by Randy Santiago for his Mom
If people gauge Rey from this performance as his first legitimate one - cancelling out the previous performance where his microphone conked out - we can see that he has the goods. Possessing Clay Aiken-like qualities in voice and mannerism, Rey rips through Hindi Magbabago like it was cotton candy, effortlessly hitting the high notes and sounding confident and brash.

Pros: Great song choice, powerful delivery.
Cons: So-so outfit, didn't necessarily use the whole stage.

FM: Ang maganda sa iyo, fast then slow, kaya mo. You're not to be pitied (in reference to mike incident -PIU). It was a delivery that was sure and confident, parang recording.
P: You lost your mike, but congrats, professional ka. I hope you can make it to the last.
You're part of the top guys. Fast you sounded great. Slow, you sound even better. It's an excellent technique that sounds natural.

APPLE CHIU. Singing Ngayon for her lola.
Apple selects a virtually unknown track, and didn't even identify the singer. Nevertheless, it's a good showcase for her smoky pipes, and her low registry is put to excellent use. It's a powerful delivery, but rather whitewash compared to the previous songs.

Pros: Excellent voice.
Cons: Unknown song choice could backfire on her.

FM: Your voice can sell. Buong-buo. Low qulaity good. No flaws.
P: I thought you wouldn't make it, but people become pretier better. I'm very happy you're part of the Top 12.
I have nothing to say.Apple has the fullest,deepest voice. Always remember though that it's about performance and song choice. You didn't do the song well enough, but I'm glad you're here.

STEF LAZARO. Singing Pangako Sa Yo by Rey Valera for her husband.
In a shimmery red/green gown and her hair all pouffed up, Stef looks like something out of Dreamgirls. In an effort to connect with the audience, she sings her first Tagalog song - a Rey Valera track - and speaks to Ryan afterward in Tagalog, although it's rather pilit. The song itself is rather meh: it doesn't showcase Stef's strong raspiness, and her being hoarse guarantees she won't pull off the high notes with the same aplomb. Being based in Australia, it remains to be seen if Stef's gambles will pay off. Will she get points for trying, or will she be seen as trying hard?

Pros: Good stage presence.
Cons: Song doesn't show off her raspy quality. Pitchy. Words have twang.

FM: Stef, you deserve to be part of the Top 12. You came back, but I'd love to hear the raspy voice again.
P: Congrats on your outfit.I'm happy to see you singing and talking in Tagalog. Flaws? A flat here and there.
This comment isn't about you. The contest has been good, but really, no one has exerted much effor.t It's very boring. Some stray notes.

KEN DINGLE. Singing Di Na Natuto by Danny Tan/Gary V for his mom
Ken's voice is back, and he uses it to full effect on a jazzed-up version of Gary Valenciano's Di Na Natuto, curling his voice here and there to match a head-bobbing action that is more distraction than funky. Nevertheless, he's obviously more confident today than previously. Ooh, Mel Villena on sax. Ken's voice is not a natural tenor, and you can tell because he strains his throat in reaching the higher notes, not coming from diaphragm. The effect: unsupported high notes that make him sound like he's shouting. Oi, his voice cracks on that last power note. Ouch.

Pros: Good song choice.
Cons: Lost the melody in all the kulots. Bum last note.

FM: He'll always find work. You did it in your own style. I don't like the kulots.
P: His kulot was just fine. I think you are a sexy singer.It's everything, and he's got it.
Ken, it was bereft of feeling. [People clap. What?! Bereft of feeling is NOT a good thing, people. C'mon, Ryan C., keep it simple!] Thank you for risking it, but embellishments mean more chances for stray notes. Wala for me, wala. Good luck.

JAN NIETO. SingingTuwing Umuulan at Kapiling Ka by Basil Valdez for his dad
Strange song choice to dedicate to a male, but whatever. Jan redeems himself from the Bridge Over Troubled Water fiasco, and delivers a confident, surefire performance of the subsequent Regine Velasquez chestnut. It suits his voice. His outfit doesn't match the song, but whatever. Few stray notes and a strange outfit don't a bad performance make, and Jan should be a shoo-in for the next round.

Pros: Great song choice. Great delivery.
Cons: Couple of flats. Weird outfit.

FM: Bagay dahil bumagyo. From no connection to potential Philippine Idol. Panalo.
P: Surprised ako sa iyo, Jan. First I liked you, but you have improved.
Normally, I'm critical of people who sing my song, but I'm happy. Meron ka pala, ba't di mo pinakita? The secret is enjoying your performance and giving it to the people.

MAU MARCELO. Singing Minsan Lang Kita Iibigin for her boyfriend.
FLAWLESS. When Mau sings, you hold your breath because you don't want to miss a note. I tell you, the entire Philippine Idol stage was hers, and the audience didn't move a muscle the entire time, save to give her a thunderous round of applause at the end of her performance.

Pros: Perfect song choice. Perfect delivery.
Cons: All things considered, Mau played safe.

FM: Why are your birits effortless? Vocally, equipped ka. Perfect CD quality.
P: Magandang-maganda ka, hindi ka pangit! Ikaw, perfect ang singing mo.
Mau has the gift of claiming a song as her own. Marami ang nagbabantay sa kanta mo.

GIAN MAGDANGAL. Singing Himala by Rivermaya for his sister, Maggie
Gian's a smart singer, almost calculating in his song choices. His latest, the rock standard Himala by Rivermaya, is the perfect showcase for his tenor, and he rips into this track with gusto, using the entire stage for his performance like a man possessed. Vocally, this man can do no wrong, and with his rock choice setting him apart from the others (it was the only uptempo track, if you think about it), Gian's a sure bet into the next round.

Pros: Excellent song choice, excellent delivery.
Cons: Can't think of any.

FM: He makes his stage his playground.
P: He's been singing for a loong time. I can see Gian taking the place of Gary Valenciano.
Thank you for saving the night. For me, tonight, you are the Philippine Idol.

DRAE YBANEZ. Singing Hang On by Gary Valenciano for the head of his foundation
Drae is obviously having an off-night, despite looking sharp. He's chosen a boring song, and his notes are pitchy allthe way. I am genuinely afraid for him.

Pros: Good outfit. *sigh*
Cons: Poor song choice, pitchy.

FM: Smile pa lang, Philippine Idol ang dating. Maganda ang pag-awit. May pag-asa si Drae.
P: Toby! Drae has always been good.May konteng kulang, though. Song choice.
Drae, your performance before was much better than tonight. This song needs emotion and wala, e. Sorry.

POW CHAVEZ. Singing Nakapagtataka by Rachel Alejandro for her mom
Pow raised the ante with her heartfelt delivery of Ikaw Lamang last week. Can she deliver the emotional goods? Absolutely. Pow's take on Alejandro's massive hit is pleasing, powerful and dripping with emotion. Pow delivers yet another stellar performance.

Pros: Excellent song choice.
Cons: Stray note here and there.

FM: Pow, where do you getyour voice? Your shoulder pads? Your hair? Night after night she puts the best performance on. I tie you with Gian.
P: Gumaganda si Pow. Ok ka sa akin.
That's part of the magic of Pow. Very feminine ang haplos niya sa kanta't damdamin. You are a modern kundiman singer. Tumatagos sa emotion.

MIGUEL MENDOZA. Singing Next in Line by After Image for his friends
I hate this song, but I'll try not to let that influence my critique of Miguel's performance. The bunso gets the pimp spot - yay for him! Miguel's vocal range obviously isn't quite fully developed, and his nasal delivery doesn't bring me any closer to liking the song - or him. On the bright side, he seems a lot more confident, and, as the so-called voice of the youth, he should garner enough teenage girl support to cruise into Round 2.

Pros: Decent song choice, good stage control.
Cons: Pitchy, nasal delivery.

FM: Swak ang kanta, good choice. Miguel has a big heart. That alone, he should make it to the next round.
P: Can you imagine he's only 17? I'm sure people will vote for you. You seem to be a kind person, because it comes out in your singing.
I'm sure you'll be there next week. Good choice of song, perfect ending to tonight.

With that, the 12 idols launch into a reprise of the show's starting song.

Because voting patterns are so darn unpredictable, I'm basing my personal predictions on song choice and delivery, ignoring previous voting patterns:

Contenders for Bottom 3: Drae, Apple, Stef, Ken, Jeli
Most Likely Bottom 3: Drae, Stef, Ken
Most Likely Ejection: Stef

Stage, sound, performances, I hope we get tickets again next week, so we can give you an insider's look at Philippine Idol. For Philippine Idol Updates, this is Ganns Deen. Be superblessed!


Ganns Deen is a writer, musician, and family man. He operates his own blog out of He is one of several people corresponding for Philippine Idol Updates.