It seems that the contestants are feeling the heat and pressure of the competition as the first round of eliminations took place last Saturday, September 6, on Celebrity Duets 2. First to exit was model and actress Melanie Marquez who got the boot after receiving the lowest number of votes from a nationwide audience.
Still in the running, however, are soccer player Phil Younghusband, chef JL Cang, beauty and wellness guru Cory Quirino, Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Bayani Fernando, beauty title holder Carlene Aguilar, actor and comedian Joey Marquez, and fashion designer JC Buendia.
Before completely leaving the show, Melanie performed her version of Madonna's "Vogue"—the song that she chose and rehearsed prior to her elimination. The Queen of Soul Jaya joined her on-stage.
After the eliminations, it was once again time for the singing showdown. Last week saw the unfolding of a new line-up of singing superstars, each complementing the style and song choice of the celebrity contenders.
First on the concert stage was wellness guru Cory Quirino who had comedienne Nanette Inventor as her partner. Cory moved and grooved to Olivia Newton-John's ‘80s hit, "Physical," wearing a pink-and-green aerobics outfit. Nanette danced with her on-stage, but in a similarly styled blue-and-yellow costume.
After the performance, the three celebrity judges then offered their comments.
Stage director Freddie Santos told Cory, "Ikaw yung wellness, si Nanette yung fullness," he observed. "Katulad ng lahat ng mga aerobics, nangailangan ka ng konting warm-up. Just be very careful with that. Because once you get going, tuloy-tuloy ka ‘e, ganda ng ratchada mo ‘e. So, konting bwelo lang," he advised.
"You started well, actually," observed musical director Danny Tan. "Nasa tono siya. Pero bago pumasok si Nanette, medyo nag-off ng konti. So be careful na maging consistent yung pitch...[yung] intonation," he advised the wellness guru. "Bilib ako sa choreography niyo. Talagang nag-work kayo as a team."
As for Celebrity Duets Season 1 winner Tessa Prieto-Valdes: "I'm always positive!" she exclaimed "Ang cute ng combination ninyo and everything. Of course, you know me...I'm always into cinematography [so] I love the combination. I like the outfit! I'm happy that you're still in," she told Cory.
Next was designer JC Buendia who opted for a rock jig this time around. Together with rock icon, Jett Pangan of The Dawn, JC sang U2's "Pride (In The Name of Love)". And like in most of his performances, JC designed his own costume for this number.
"Ang maganda kay JC," started Danny Tan, "pag nagpe-perform siya, talagang bigay-todo—yung energy niya...Tsaka nag-e-enjoy siya sa ginagawa niya. Para sa isang taong may sakit, magaling ka," he told JC, taking notice of the celebrity contestant's raspy and hoarse voice. "Yung tiyempo lang. ‘Pag ganung may beat, kailangan talaga nasa beat ka pag kumakanta."
"Nabingi ako," criticized Direk Freddie. "Medyo sorta kinda maingay. Ang ganda pa naman kasi nung umpisa ‘e. Pero talaga nung nagka-bwelo na yung kanta, medyo whoa-okay! In the name of noise na talaga," he dead-panned.
Tessa, however, was more generous in giving praises. "This is a much better song than last week. Rock and roll, man! JC to the end! I love it!" she exclaimed.
With consistently good performances, MMDA bigwig Bayani Fernando was again a crowd favorite. This time, Bayani sang the ‘60s OPM song, "Hahabol-habol" with rapper Andrew E. In his video primer, the chairman described his and Andrew's pairing as "paraang inihaw na talong at bagoong...masarap!"
Meanwhile, Tessa exclaimed, "Galing! Getting better every week," she told the chairman. As for Freddie Santos, "Tama ka," the director said. "Malinamnam yung pagkasama. Ang ganda nung number."
"Maganda ang performance," agreed Danny Tan. "Ang comment ko lang, sana nagamit ni BF yung back-up dancers. Kailangan may interaction sa dancers," he noted.
Like the MMDA chairman, Bb. Pilipinas-World title holder Carlene Aguilar swept a yes vote from the judges last week. With sexbomb Rochelle Pangilinan as her partner, she performed a blazing sing-and-dance number of Pussycat Doll's "Don't Cha."
"That was so hot," said Direk Freddie, referring to the girls' sexy midriff-showing outfits. "And yes, I wish my girlfriends were both of you. This is by the fact na halos walang tono yung verse. Wala akong naintindihang tono. Pero nung pumasok yung chorus, sige, swak na." he remarked.
"Best performance, so far," commended Danny Tan. "Ganyan dapat ang performer, sexy, beautiful, and bigay-todo. Ganyan palagi, Carlene. Very good."
"So far, you beat already last year's beauty pageant [contestant]!" cried Tessa, comparing Carlene to Bb. Pilipinas Universe Anna Teresa Licaros, who was the first to exit in season one. "All the way ka na!" she exclaimed. "Baka this year, it's gonna be a beauty pageant winner! Wonderful!"
Next up was comedian Joey Marquez, who sang with long-time friend Keempee de Leon. For their duet, they sang the OPM novelty song, "Bikining Itim."
Of their performance, Danny Tan observed, "Ginamit mo ang pagiging artista mo...very natural [yung] pagiging komedyante mo," he told Joey. "Maganda yan, ginamit mo ang strength mo. Entertaining performance," he said, taking notice of Joey and Keempee's ‘gay act' which the singers incorporated in their number.
"Bakit parang every week, hinahalikan mo yung ka-partner mong lalaki?" joked Tessa after Joey pecked Keempee de Leon on the cheek. "Pero I love it! Entertaining."
Freddie, however, opted for a short but extraordinarily sweet comment. "Tsong...Cheriffic!" he told Joey, who is nicknamed Tsong in the showbiz industry.
Next to last was chef JL Cang who performed APO Hiking
Society's classic song, "Prinsesa" with singer Wency Cornejo. Like most
contestants in the show, JL wore something that matched what his partner wore-a
pair of sunglasses.
"At least, hindi na siya nag-look sa floor, kasi may shades na siya!" observed Tessa. "And I think he's having more fun this week."
"Dude, hindi ito beer garden," criticized Direk Freddie. "Yun talaga ang naging dating sa akin. Para kayong dalawang lasenggo. Sana maibalik natin yung musika. Pero kwela sa akin yung pagka-kwela ninyo," he added.
"E, yun yung interpretation niya, so pasado sa akin yun," countered Danny Tan. "At saka si JL, yung singing medyo..." he motioned with his hands, signalling a so-so performance, "ganun...pero nadadaan sa confidence ‘e. Yun ang maganda dun."
But Direk Freddie was bent on giving a negative feedback. "Kaso hindi ito Celebrity Confi-duets," he told his fellow judge.
Last to perform was soccer heartthrob Phil Younghusband who went for the romantic song track last week. He chose Ariel Rivera's OPM classic, "Getting To Know Each Other" which he sang with SOP mainstay Maricris Garcia.
As though romantic stares at Marciris weren't enough, Phil also gave Tessa a bouquet of roses for the judge's birthday.
The Sea Princess was obviously thrilled. "Okay, I was gonna say something, you know...but oh my gosh, Phil, thank you so much! I'll see you in the finals."
"She liked your performance, that's what it meant," said Ogie, as he jokingly translated Tessa's comment for Phil.
"Phil, both you and JL are the heartthrobs in the competition," observed Danny Tan. "[But] the difference between the two of you-you are debonair, dashing, and you emote well. You have a better performance tonight. And you are interacting with your ka-duet. Very good."
"It was like a movie," Direk Freddie observed. "Para siyang sine...you know, perfect faces, perfect bodies, perfect fit...and like most movies," he paused, "maybe it should've been dubbed," said the director. But despite the negative comment, Phil simply flashed a smile.
Next week, another round of celebrity eliminations will take over the concert stage. Who gets to leave and who gets to stay? Find out next week on Celebrity Duets 2, Saturdays on GMA-7 after Pinoy Records.