Last Sunday's Battle Round episode of The Voice Teens saw Sharon Cuneta shedding tears after hearing the two girls she's coaching sing the Willy Cruz-penned classic "Sana'y Wala Nang Wakas."
The Megastar had all the reasons to be emotional, considering that the track is one of her biggest hits in the '80s and that Cruz, whom she considers "a good, good friend," recently passed away.
"I have not listened to this song since Willy died. I want you to feel the words for me," she said during the videotaped rehearsals wherein she praised Alyssa Grace Datu and Patricia Bonilla for being a good combination.
Coach Sharon picks Alyssa Grace Datu over Patricia Bonilla: "Sana'y Wala Nang Wakas"
Come the showdown proper, Alyssa, the Daddy's Diva from Canada, sang the first verse before Patricia, the Maasahang Anak from Lucena, came in ready to belt out her vocals. Near the end of the song, the latter missed out a couple of words then quickly recovered. It proved to be costly.
Coach Lea Salonga differentiated the two by saying that one voice is simple and the other is showy. She went for Alyssa.
Both coaches Sarah Geronimo and Bamboo picked Patricia because she's vocally aggressive and her sound "felt right."
Sharon, though, has the last say. While she said that both singers are pitch-perfect, she commented that Alyssa surprises her for hitting high notes effortlessly even if she sounds more comfortable on the lower end, while Patricia has the tendency to lose track of the lyrics because of too much vocal styling.
"I wish I didn't have to choose," she noted, before eventually choosing Alyssa whose daddy flew in from Canada to support his daughter.
Good TV as it was, Bamboo pressed the button to steal Patricia while she was quietly on her way out. He felt she "did a good job."
While the rock icon may be right in his assessment, it was clear Alyssa had more control over her voice in delivering the right emotion for the movie theme classic. It's a case of a singer being able to properly speak the words instead of just shouting them out in free flow. At some points during the performance, one could cringe sensing that Patricia may hit some bad notes because she's letting loose way far.
As if to emphasize that they were singing a first-rate OPM, coach Sharon acknowledged that she did the movie of the same title "when I was 20."
"Sana'y Wala Nang Wakas" is the last of the three noted songs Cruz wrote for Sharon to sing in her prime as a box-office star. The other two were "Bituing Walang Ningning" and "Pangarap Na Bituin."
The following is a rundown of how I see the other vocal showdowns, without necessarily agreeing with the judges' decisions.
Coach Sarah chooses Bryan Chong over Archie Aguilar: "Heaven Knows"
"Heaven Knows" was a major hit by Rick Price in the early '90s, battling out with Bon Jovi's "Bed of Roses" for the most number of weeks at No. 1 during the heydays of Campus Radio's Top 20 at 12. It is a vehicle for voices that can provide strong falsetto and emotive phrasing.
Bryan's voice nailed it immediately as he passed through the lines "From the time I wake up/ Till I close my eyes." That delivery strikes like a knife in the heart, nearly as good as it's heard on the original. He has the making of a Brix Ferraris sound hardly captured nowadays. He also excels backing up.
Archie is good but not exceptional.
Coach Bamboo chooses Queenie Ugdiman over Patricia Luna: "The Sound of Silence"
The duo of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel shared voices for this haunting, timeless piece that became their breakthrough hit in the '60s. It is said that it has to do with the growing public disenchantment following the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
It's easy to pick Queenie over Patricia because she sounds more hurting.
Obviously one should feel believably hurt when singing a song that starts with the line, "Hello darkness my old friend."
When she got through the line, "People talking without speaking/People hearing without listening", and she made sure to emphasize the pain when dealing with the word "without," it was game over.
Patricia sings well. But she doesn't possess an alluring accent.
Coach Sharon chooses Mike Escutin over Miko Ruiz: "Perfect"
One Direction may never equal the number of superb hits churned out by gen-gap rival Backstreet Boys. But sure this song can be placed alongside any of those pop BSB tunes.
While performing Mike and Miko had to approach Sarah and Lea as if wooing them with their charms. They didn't have to do that, as Lea's reaction would tell.
Mike appeared to be more pushy in asserting his presence, but Miko has that boy-next-door appeal even in his singing, which, in terms of book sales, should have a longer shelf life.
Coach Lea chooses Erica Ladiza over Jomar Pasaron: "Makita Kang Muli"
Former Sugarfree frontman Ebe Dancel has a high-pitched voice that makes this piece more friendly to female voices. Sarah noted that Jomar struggled with high notes then commended Erica's husky-ish vocal texture.
Though Erica is clearly the better-sounding singer, she must have been extra lucky that she had a relatively weak opponent to dispatch. Blame it on your cough, Jomar.
Coach Sarah chooses Tanya Dawood over Sophia Ramos: "Since You've Been Gone."
A Kelly Clarkson upbeat hit fitted both the young hopefuls' vocal skills. Hard to pick with this face-off, with Tanya's more defined and ferocious vocal character slightly edging Sophia's "heartfelt singing," or as Sarah described it.
Coach Sarah chooses Fatima Lagueras over Mikko Estrada: "Ikaw Lamang"
This Zsa Zsa Padilla classic piece has been covered by other artists that people may find it confusing who actually popularized this in the first place. Fatima and Mikko, both in striking red, didn't earn much praise from the coaches, with Bamboo claiming there are "control issues everywhere" and Lea feeling some stress points overpowered the song.
Somehow it's a matter of picking the one with less slip ups. Fatima almost lost the handle when tackling the crucial "Tila araw" phrase at the tail end. Still, it was enough for her to advance.
Coach Bamboo chooses Reign Andrie Ng over Isabela Ng: "Here"
A good piece to upstage someone, Alessia Cara's "Here" is a tough challenge only those with highly spirited soulful voices can take. Isabela started the ball rolling and was running the game smoothly. But as the longer the performance went, the faster the other girl was taking over the matter.
Simply put: Reign reins!
PEPsters, do you agree with the choices of the coaches?
Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Ed's Note: The "PEP Review" section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial staff.