The electrifying second season of the singing competition Celebrity Duets continued as the eight celebrity contenders performed another set of songs that shall be the basis for eliminations starting next week.
The eight celebrity contenders: Metro Manila and Development Authority (MMDA) chairman and secretary Bayani Fernando; actress and model Melanie Marquez; fashion designer JC Buendia; football player Phil Younghusband; beauty queen Carlene Aguilar; celebrity chef JL Cang; beauty and wellness guru Cory Quirino; and host-comedian Joey Marquez took the concert stage once again, this time singing with a different celebrity partner. The celebrity contenders did their best to impress the judges with their production numbers during the August 30 episode of Celebrity Duets 2.
The panel of judges—comprised of musical director, composer and arranger Danny Tan, stage and TV director Freddie Santos, and reigning Celebrity Duets champion Tessa Prieto-Valdes—gave a mix of positive and negative comments after each celebrity performance.
First up was the ever-statuesque Melanie Marquez who sang the jazz staple song "Fever" with the sultry diva Vernie Varga. For their performance, the femme duo came out looking particularly sexy in striking red gowns and carried most of their duet amid an equally fiery couch backdrop.
Melanie's production was received well by the judges. "I think dapat pinapanood ka ng mga amateur singers na sumasali sa contests," remarked Danny Tan. "Kasi right from the start, in character ka. Hindi ka nawawala sa character. That's very good for a performer. For that, bilib ako sa'yo," he told Melanie.
Tessa Prieto-Valdes was her usual vivacious self and gave an equally cheerful comment. "Viva! Sizzling hot!" she exclaimed. "Buti na lang nanalo na ko. Kasi kung last year sumali ka, naku...tight competiton. Keep it up!" she praised Melanie.
But despite the all-out production number, judge Freddie Santos wasn't really convinced. "Kung pwede lang talaga, sana may remote control ako at na-mute ko," he criticized. "Kasi alam mo, ang ganda talaga nung sense of production pero feeling ko na-distract ka sa dami ng nangyayari," he told the beauty queen. "Yung music na-backseat tuloy," he observed. "Wag mong pabayaan na yung production aspect mag-overwhelm sa singing mo."
Celebrity chef JL Cang went next and sang APO Hiking Society's "Yakap sa Dilim" with singer and actress Agot Isidro. Tessa found his performance okay. "Mas masarap yung luto mo ngayon compared to last week," she said. "Pero kulang pa rin. Parang kulang ng seasoning," she reasoned.
"Mukhang iba talaga yung panlasa ko," countered Freddie Santos. "Wardrobe, better...song choice, better...voice, better...performance, better last week. This week, not-so-better. You need more butter to make it better," he told the chef.
The singing chef, who was praised for his energetic performance the week before, unfortunately went through a lyric blip last week, which for the most part didn't go unnoticed by Danny Tan.
"Wag mong papahalata na nagkamali ka, kasi tumingin ka sa musicians, so parang, ‘uy mali'," he said. "But then what you lack in musicality - which means na hindi naman masyadong masama, nasa tono naman - nababawi mo sa performance. At yun ang plus factor mo. Mayroon kang charm," he told JL.
MMDA chairman Bayani Fernando, who was also praised last week, was paired this week with the singing doctor Nonoy Zuniga. Both donned matching coats and gave a jazzy performance of the ‘70s song, "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine."
"Grabe yung mga fans niya!" cried Tessa, referring to Bayani's large and lively audience. She jokingly told the chairman, "You have to last until the end kasi kung hindi, wala ng tao dito sa audience."
"Nadala na rin, ‘e," said Direk Freddie. "Kasi napansin ko yumuyugyog na ngayon si BF. Last week, talagang nine-nerbyos pa, ‘e. Aba, ngayon may kasama ng shakey-shakey," he reasoned. "Okay ‘to ha. I think finally you're starting to really warm up to this, which means you can only get better from this point."
"Ang problema lang is," Danny Tan counteed, "siguro dahil sa kaba, nakakalimutan paminsan ang lyrics. Pero nakakabalik naman kaagad sa kanyang linya...sa kalsada," he praised. "Maganda yung kanyang pagka U-turn ngayon. Definitely, you have one of the best vocals dito sa competition. Very stable." But he advised, "Maning-mani sa'yo yang kantang yan, so I expect something new and something challenging next time."
Next was half-British football player Phil Younghusband who performed with R&B Prince Jay-R. The two singing heartthrobs wore similar preppy attires and sang Andrew Gold's "Never Let Her Slip Away."
Tessa was undeniably cheering and hooting after Phil's performance. "That song is so cute, and you're so cute! I hope you last also until the end, okay?" she told Phil.
With his more relaxed singing, it seemed that Phil's performance was enough to convince Direk Freddie. "You came on there, you enjoyed yourself, you gave yourself focus...This time around, the thumb is all the way up for you," said the judge, who didn't approve of Phil's performance the week before.
"You're more relaxed tonight, better than last week," observed Danny Tan. "When you're relaxed, you tend to perform better." He added, "I think all you have to do is stand there, and you get all the votes," he joked. To this, Tessa laughed heartily.
Beauty queen Carlene Aguilar performed next with SOP's Aicelle Santos for the Colbie Caillat song "Bubbly." Not only did the girls blended vocally, they also meshed well on-screen because of their matching printed orange halter-tops.
But still, Direk Freddie told Carlene, "Mag-ingat ka sa pagpili nung kanta. Don't just pick a safe song. This song should've gone somewhere," he told the Bb. Pilipinas-World title holder.
Danny Tan added, "Nung nag-duet sila, I couldn't tell kung sinong nag-second voice at kung sino nag-melody." He told Carlene, "which means parang nag-harmonize yung boses niyo."
Tessa seemed to have the same positive opinion. "It was so cute!" she happily exclaimed. "Aicelle has super voice. And you kind of blended with her, which is good. Give your all. Perform like it's your last performance," she advised.
Designer JC Buendia, however, opted for a different kind of performance. Besides designing a custom-made gown for his partner Jinky Vidal of Freestyle, he also sang a Broadway classic from West Side Story titled "Tonight."
But JC's Broadway effort didn't go all too well with the judges. "I think you were pushing too much vocally," Danny Tan pointed out. "So parang, nagsha-sharp, nagfa-flat...mostly sharp. Konting control. Wag masyadong mang-gigil," he told JC.
"Too early to sing naman broadway," Tessa remarked. "Ang hirap! Stay away from ballads. I know how that feels. Siguro mag-ballad ka in the middle, okay?"
As for Direk Freddie, "Very brave. Very courageous. Very admirable. Deserving of a national heroes' holiday," he joked. "[Pero] nakikita ko sa mahiwagang bolang kristal," he jokingly massaged his clean-shaven head, "mukhang tatagal ka pa dito," he told JC.
Beauty and wellness guru Cory Quirino stepped up to the game and sang "Bailamos" with Jukebox King Renz Verano. Cory and Renz pulled a Latino-inspired number—with Cory wearing red roses in her hair and Renz in a black tuxedo holding a single-stemmed red rose. To complement their production, back-up dancers also filled the stage.
But for Freddie Santos, the grand production number didn't compensate for the lack of vocal power. "Pretty much the same thing na sinabi ko kanina tungkol kay Melanie," he said. "Do not let the production overwhelm your singing. Kasi first and foremost, musical contest pa rin ito. Pero maganda yung chemistry niyo ni Renz," he told Cory. "Alam mo pag nag-swak ka dun sa ka-duet mo, usually that is enough, ‘e."
"Performance-wise, wala akong problema kasi very professional," remarked Danny Tan. "You're a pro, wala akong masabi. Just be careful with vocals. Kasi mas malinis last time. Ngayon mas maraming off. Pero carry pa rin kasi the totality of the performance was really engaging and mesmerizing," he reasoned.
But Tessa praised Cory anyway. "You look great! You're wonderful, wonderful, wonderful," she told the wellness guru. "And please ha, the borloloy's important...very important. I like borloloy." On Cory's props, she remarked, "I like the flowers. I like the drama. I like the ending. Keep it up!"
Last to perform was comedian and actor Joey Marquez. He gave an energy-laden performance of "Babaero" with the song's original singer-his partner Randy Santiago.
Danny Tan noticed the improvement in Joey's performance level. "Mas nag-enjoy ka sa performance ngayon. Mas relaxed ka, so mas gumanda ang performance mo. Mas loose, mas nakaka-affect sa amin na nag-e-enjoy din kami panoorin ka."
"Next to Phil, I also like you," shared Tessa. "Ang galing mo! I love that song. It's so bagay. Talagang this is Celebrity Duets! Galing kayo mag-duet," she told Joey.
"I think isang bagay na makikita natin buong gabing ‘to, yung kahalagahan ng pagpili ng kanta," Direk Freddie pointed out. "Kasi number one, kung yung kantang pipiliin mo nakaka-relate ka katulad ng kantang ‘to," he joked, "napansin mo, ang kapal nung conviction of truth nilang dalawa. Nilang dalawa, hindi lang ng isa. Halatang-halata, may truth," laughed the director.
Next week, the first round of eliminations shall take place on the concert stage as the voting lines have officially been opened. Don't miss another exhilarating episode of the musical competition Celebrity Duets 2 next week after Pinoy Records on GMA-7.