Monday, November 20, 2006

Movies & Musicals: Gian, Mau's stars shine bright

The night with the movie and musical theme starts with the five finalists – Jan Nieto, Miguel Mendoza, Pow Chavez, Mau Marcelo, and Gian Magdangal – singing Seasons of Love from Rent. All the vocalists are in topnotch form – yes, even Miguel – and it is genuinely hair-raising. This particular song finds the spotlight shining on Pow – she gets the high notes and the ad libs, and it’s quite delightful to hear Pow stepping out of her comfort.

Tonight’s special judge is Francis M. Haha, that’s a joke. Magalona, of course, makes a return to the judges’ table, as the show welcomes Tony Award-winning actress Lea Salonga. Salonga promises to “pull no punches.” Each artist gets two songs each – one from movies and one from musicals – and starts the intro with a cheap mini-movie.

Pow Chavez sings So Far, So Good from About Last Night and finally wears a dress, but only in her movie. She selects a Sheena Easton song, and sings it decently, with a good energy and little bum notes. I like her hat.
Pilita: Idol material ka – very good, definitely, but – she looked so beautiful in that dress. I am still waiting to see you in a nicer – medyo gumanda ka – in the second song.
Francis: Pow, alam ko magaling ang boses mo, you deserve to be part of the five, but when you wear clothes, wear them live! I left and you’re still Pow.
Lea: I don’t want to ever see you in a dress. Kung hindi ka comportable, de hindi ka comportable when you sing. Number one, I was telling Kiko, very clear and clean, medyo when you got to the falsetto, it’s windy. On the whole, it’s a great way to open the show.
Ryan: You last steam near the end, nauubusan na. The truth is, I liked the movie better.

Miguel Mendoza promises to deliver youthful exuberance, singing Growing Up from Bagets. The video showcases a BAgets return. One thing that Miguel definitely has going for him is that he has exquisite pronunciation – he sings each word clearly. His notes are okay, but I question the Idols’ scriptwriter’s choice of description, because he doesn’t show ‘youthful exuberance.’ And the MTV shows he can’t dance.
Francis: Malinis ang pagkanta, different from the original.
Lea: I grew up on this song. On a whole, you’re right about the shirt. For someone who’s 17, you did well.
Pilita: I heard very nasal and some not right there notes, but since you’re doing two songs tonight. I was not very impressed with this one.
Ryan: You know what I feel about you. They know what I feel about Miguel. Tonight, I like your smile. That’s it.

Gian Magdangal selects Sana Ay Ikaw na Nga from Eto Na Naman. It’s a terribly cheesy video that accompanies the song, and well, yech – standard love fare, with a busted heart for Gian as Apple Chiu introduces her ‘husband’ Justin. He croons this one out with a lot more emotion than we’re used to, and he doesn’t generally belt it out, which is good because lately, his pitch hasn’t been the same. Hopefully, it’ll work, because some may find it boring.
Lea: First of all, happy birthday. You know how difficult this is for me because I actually know you. You’re gonna get it the worst. All of our musical friends are threatening to kill me. I love that you wore your heart on your sleeve on how you sang; I knew what you were feeling. You acted it as well as you sang. You were actually feeling. Besides the odd flat – and always watch the last note – I found no fault and I really enjoyed you.
Francis: Ako, I always praise Gian. Some people think he’s good with fast songs, this one, a slow song, magaling pa rin. Good.
Pilita: Gian can sing anything. He has proven that from the beginning. Happy birthday. You are one of my favorites.
Ryan: * sigh * Okay, Gian, I was waiting for something tonight. I wanted to cry, but I didn’t feel it. I’ll tell you something, among the boys, you’re the best singer, but I need you to touch my heart because I didn’t feel it. I feel cold. I wish you work on that.

Jan Nieto opts to sing Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang, which comes with a controversial movie: him cheating on “wifey” Suey Medina, using Jeli Mateo. Hmp! It’s a brave choice of song; personally, one of my favorite Filipino songs. He starts it out off-key, eeeh, and his facial expressions are just too much this time around, I suppose to better communicate the angst of the song. His voice is strong, but there’s no buildup, so let’s see what the judges have to say.
Francis: Jan, well, I caught you acting. Haha. I felt you were just going through the motions. You weren’t really feeling it. Technicalities, you were hitting the right notes, so that’s all.
Lea: First the good news. Note-perfect, okay. I cannot fault the singing, but parang you were told where to go, and you tried to hit those spots as you were going about the song. The facial expressions, I don’t know about this right now. I can close my eyes, and it’s fine. Visually, it’s something that you can work on.
Pilita: I was crying because he cheated on me! Visually, I liked what I saw, the way you sang, and what I really like about you, Jan, you really try very hard, and you did it tonight.
Ryan: I think what Lea and Mamita were saying, you looked awkward doing all these facial expressions. The singing was okay, very good for me. But I’ll give you one award: for best performance as an actor on-screen.

Mau Marcelo does a spoof of Diamonds are Forever, with her as the kidnapped celebrity rescued by Brad Turvey. The Shirley Bassey original is a piece of cake for Mau, who is all decked out in a purple gown and a spectacular hairdo. She breathes out that “forever!” Divang-diva! I absolutely loved it!
Pilita: Yes! Yes! My God! Mau, you look beautiful! Honestly, you do! The song suits you. There were just a few times na hindi ka nakaabot but maybe because you’re so engrossed with your beauty and your movement a la Pilita Corrales…! Very good!
Francis: I grew up listening to Bassey. I think you are stunningly beautiful, and, of course, Mau, tonight, vocally, you’re the diamond.
Lea: I think the audience reaction was more telling than anything we could say. There’s one sustained note that got me, but on the whole, that is an incredible performance, vocally. It’s in your body, and your movement looked organic. Everything seemed to come from you, and the fact that that performance just made everybody in the back go crazy, I’d put my money on you. That’s the best performance of the night so far.
Ryan: Great singing, Mau, you know that. One additional award: best supporting extra.

With the return of the musicals, Pow launches into I’ll Give My Life for You from Miss Saigon. Is she crazy, with Lea in the judges’ table?? Oh, look, she’s in a dress! My heart is stopping! Actually, note-wise, almost flawless, save for a few kinks.
Pilita: I think I’d like to see Pow in her pants! Pow, congratulations, as far as I am concerned, I think you did it fantastically well.
Francis: Pow, I think you’re a good actress, and I think that you proved your versatility. Good job.
Lea: This was my song, I was like, you’ve got to be kidding me. You did it well. It’s like a train emotionally, and you’ve got to keep going. That last note is important because that’s the note that people will remember, and a lot of it was great, but careful you don’t lose steam in certain parts that will be memorable.
Ryan: Pow, I had my eyes closed, so most of the time, it was very good.

Miguel awkwardly croons out Can You Feel the Love Tonight, a ridiculously safe choice, and sings it by numbers. I am not pleased by Miguel’s ad libs, and the nail in my coffin for this painful three minutes is the dancing lion couple in the background. Yech – polite applause.
Francis: I think of the five, I think Miguel is the least vocally. This one I can say, one can teach technique, but you can’t teach looks. And that, you’ve got. I’m looking at you as a record producer, and you can sell albums.
Lea: You seem like a sweet guy, so I’ll be kind. You sing it, and a lot of it has to do with the fact you’re 17, and I think that’s the one thing that’s kulang. It’s coming across like something you’re taught in kindergarten. There’s potential, I’m wanting something more than I’m not getting.
Pilita: It’s something lacking in his singing, his expressions, maybe it is the youth, but for me, I don’t know, your voice seemed tired tonight. Are you feeling well? Are you in love with Jeli?
Ryan: I have nothing to say, Miguel. That’s it.

Gian selects Greased Lightning from Grease, and well, what have we to say about this camp classic? Do you really want to select a song by, of all people, John Travolta? Ick. To his credit, he kept that last note going.
Pilita: Wala akong masabi. Ang galing! Gian Carlo, you are still there to be an Idol!
Lea: Now you understand, getting the back of the house crazy? The first song didn’t carry as effectively as this, regardless of what everyone had to say. Obviously, you were comfortable because you’ve done so many musicals. I think the first one, we came into discussion even after the judging was over, with this, you just rolled and rolled, and the audience was with you. If you can get the audience with you from start to finish, you’re in heaven, and the rest is gravy.
Francis: The stage is your playground, you’re a natural, every time you perform, it’s 100%.
Ryan: As we musicians say, mismo na mismo yun.

Jan sings Corner of the Sky from Pippin, and I can’t understand most of what he’s singing. With the women dancing around him, his shirt all down to there, he’s milking the Hunky Idol tag for all its worth. What’s with the
Francis: I liked this performance better than the last.
Lea: You’re a good looking guy and a good singer. However, there’s a lot in your performance I found uncomfortable. I don’t want to see ‘uncomfortable’ in a singer, and I don’t want to see a poor singer on the stage. I couldn’t get the poses, I didn’t know what was going on. It isn’t a rhythm thing. I think there’s just something that’s just not connecting, I’m not sure what it is.
Pilita: His movements are awkward, you’re still very good looking, I don’t care.
Ryan: Of all contestants, you’re the most improved, vocally and it looks that you’ve gotten the right way of singing. You looked awkward in the poses. Other than that, I think the singing was very good.

In a masterful move, Mau selects And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going from Dreamgirls, and channels every ounce of melanin into the Jennifer Holliday classic. While not as close as Holliday’s (or even Jennifer Hudson’s) performance, it was the highlight of the evening.
Francis: Iba yung palakpak ng tala’t paghanga, for both performances we hear the applause of paghanga.
Lea: I liked the first song better, it’s like you felt the diamonds better. The second song, I didn’t feel it as much. The emotional investment didn’t seem as much, the notes were there, but the emotions were kinulang. I’m pretty happy with the performance.
Pilita: As a performer, we’ve seen Mau – and her fashion sense so much better, may slit pa! – but I’ve heard this song done much better than the way you did it tonight. But still it was very good.
Ryan: Sa akin, Mau, panalo ka pa rin.

Who were the judges’ choices?
Francis said the five there have the right to be there. They all have their characteristics.
Lea chose Gian and Mau as the best of the lot. Mau for movies, Gian for musicals. Jan needs to get rid of the poses, relax and enjoy. This is the most fun job, it’s a thrill every time we get to sing.
Pilita says Pow was notable because she was so different and she knows how nervous she was to sing Lea’s song. That, and Gian.
Ryan said Mark Reyes, the director, is the winner of the show.