To the tune of two revivals

This week I crossed paths with two distinct melodies that rattled my brain.

One I like... and one I hate.

You can Youtube the songs if you’re interested.

We are about to preview two revivals. Christian Bautista will go head-to-head with Jay-R.

I wonder who’ll win?

Game starts now!

CHRISTIAN BAUTISTA’S BEAUTIFUL GIRL: Amongst the “Champions”, I like Christian Bautista’s style the most. I don’t dig anyone singing like Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston minus the hip-hop melody. Besides, all gay impersonators rant to that tune... and they even out-vocal the women that sang “I Will Always Love You” or “Open Arms” or what insane tune that has been the LSS of the past two decades. To an extent Christian is like a young Jose Mari Chan. They are both crooners. They are believable singers that could sing like a foreign act when they sing English tunes. And they can cater to the upper social classes without damaging their current look and feel. Until Seiko Films destroyed the warm fuzziness of Beautiful Girl (Gretchen Baretto starred as a she-devil seducing Jestoni Alarcon, among others), the song was super hit in the late 80’s. This was when The Dawn was the only prominent rock act heard by the mainstream public and Gary V and Martin Nievera ruled the airwaves. Christian modernized the melody but kept its tune which is one of the plus factors of the song. Bautista chose a song fit to his character and I expect this to rule in some Southeast Asian country where girls go bananas for him. You should remember that “The Way You Look at Me” is kind of the league as Beautiful Girl. As for Joe Mari, I don’t think he shouldn’t be mad at the outcome because it worked extremely well. Basically Christian Bautista covered Beautiful Girl to please Jose Mari Chan and I sincerely believe that the beauty pageant circuit will definitely use this song in their events again and again and again!

Yes, I am sounding like a broken record.

On the other hand...

JAY-R’S HIMALA: I still believe that Rivermaya’s best song ever produced is Himala. The haunting tune is mixed with awesome words and Bamboo’s raw emotion and it fits well. When I first heard Jayson Fernandez sing Kisapmata in Quatro with my friends as a guest of the diminutive singer Lala, I knew that he can’t cover Himala just as well as Bamboo did. Looking back, I think Rico Blanco could even have a hard time covering it because Bamboo’s vocal range is hard to reach. I can safely say that no band guy could ever mimic Bamboo’s combo of range and swagger (although the same range and swagger Bamboo possess can also be heard (while not distinctively alike) in Wolfgang’s Basti Artadi, P.O.T.’s Karl Roy and Razorback’s Kevin Roy. Hale’s Champ would sink here because his range can’t go there. That means Ely, Raimund, and Medwin is out too. Chito Miranda can never nail this except when he makes this a bit comedic. Jet Pangan has range but I doubt if his angst (or lack there of) can pull this (remember their cover of Message in a Bottle). Sponge Cola, Cueshe, 6cyclemind, and the rest of the Pogi Rockers would be insane trying to do Himala because it could spawn negative backlash from the critics. I will say this that ChicoSci and the rest of the emo rock bands might have a chance with this music because the song is basically shouting and screaming blade cutting and extreme blaming for oneself. Amongst the legends, I believe Gary Valenciano and Martin Nievera can pull this off although I think they should work hard on the grit of their voices because not sounding angry could hurt the song.

Which reminds me… Jay-R!

First of all, there are a ton of songs that could suit his R & B-ness. True Faith’s Perfect is one song. Kulay’s Delicious is another. Even Parokya ni Edgar’s Sampip and One and Only You could fit him. Introvoys had “However Which Way” which he could put his spin into it. Hell, even a random Urbandub song could suit him perfectly. Amongst the Rivermaya classics, I know 214 has been overused but the songs Bring Me Down, If, You’ll Be Safe Here, Shattered Like, and A Love to Share are better songs to cover than Himala. I think the R & B Prince took more than he could chew with the song. First of all, any person that tries to revive this will get the same response. While Jay-R Siaboc and Yeng Constantino also revived the song, they put a spin on it by making it a duet and the emotion of longing was evident in their rendition. Do I think they did it well? Yeng did it well but Jay-R Siaboc didn’t. The problem with these “Champions” or singing contest circuit people are they always like to sing stuffs a la “The Promise” or “The Gift” or “Be My Lady” for that matter while it shouldn’t be like that. In a way I also thought his range was forced in some parts. I have no problems with Yeng Constantino because with Kitchie Nadal, Barbie Almalbis, and Acel Bisa all currently staging sporadic appearances, Yeng is the next best thing when it comes to a girl rocker. But overall, I like the way their melodies blend with each other… and the fact that they were faithful in the reason behind the music.

What if Himala was sung by a girl? Well, much to the chagrin of many, I would like Regine Velasquez and the rest of the “vintage” favourites to sing this tune. I just hope they have the swagger and angst that makes the song awesome.

Returning to the R & B Prince, one of the most obvious rants I have against the singer is that he sang Himala like he was singing this in front of a crowd in a dedicated manner. Why are you singing like you are happy? THIS IS NOT A SONG FOR THE HAPPY! This is a story of a desperate man in search of a miracle! How can you sound so cool and suave!?! It’s like he’s merely begging to get laid!

I saw the MTV of this tune and I got to admit, it was romantic and feel-good and Iya Villania is very cute and charming and hot but again, just like the last line of the previous paragraph this rendition is basically as if he is sex-starved! Himala is deeper than that. This was one of the breakthrough hits of the 90’s because this was when Rivermaya was battling the Eraserheads for band supremacy. While the Eraserheads emerged as winners, Rivermaya’s Trip album was one of the biggest albums of the history of Pinoy rock!

Maybe it’s just me but perhaps his Fil-Am-ness has something to do with the way he sang the tune. That’s why I rather see him cover English OPM songs. Himala aside from the huge range, had lots of deep Tagalog words in its context. Imagine had he sung South Border’s Love of my Life rather than Himala in that effect? That would have ruled! Perhaps my biggest gripe over the rendition was I was waiting for the long growl in the end that never happened in this version. That growl (Isaaaaang himalaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa) made Bamboo stand out from the rest of the other vocalists. Just like Yasmien Kurdi’s version of Kisapmata, the Bamboo growls in the end were the energy boosters that the songs are yearning to dish out! Taking that ending out means the song is incomplete which is why a cringed at Jay-R’s version and why I like the Siaboc/Constantino version more.

I can safely say Christian Bautista’s revival wins versus Jay-R’s and I hope these guys will do another rendition that people will rave about. Maybe Christian Bautista should try Alamid’s Your Love and maybe Jay-R could do Rockstar’s Parting Time with a R & B feel.

American Idol gave these artists a curse by giving the audience an ear to hear quality music.

Blame them!

Game over!