After the first elimination round held last week, the remaining seven contenders of Celebrity Duets 2 stepped up to the challenge and whipped up more solid performances last week, September 13. For their singing showdown, most of the celebrity contestants went for serious performances instead of bubbly, funny numbers that characterized the first few weeks of the competition.
It seemed that women are getting the initial blows of low text votes in this star-studded singing competition. After actress and model Melanie Marquez was voted out two weeks previously, beauty and wellness expert Cory Quirino unexpectedly followed last week despite receiving good comments from the judges.
Still in the competition, however, are chef JL Cang, MMDA chairman Bayani Fernando, soccer player Phil Younghusband, beauty title holder Carlene Aguilar, host and comedian Joey Marquez, and fashion designer JC Buendia.
Unlike the previous weeks, the contenders were given the option to choose their singing partners last week. First to perform was Joey Marquez, who chose long-time friend Richard Gomez as his ka-duet. Joey opted for a slow song this time and sang Larry Graham's "One In A Million".
"Yung last line mo, ang galing...very, very good," observed musical director and Celebrity Duets 2 judge Danny Tan. "Ang maganda sa'yo," he told the comedian, "magaling ka pumili ng ka-partner mo. Palaging may chemistry ang pinipili mo. Good."
Lone female judge Tessa Prieto-Valdes agreed. "I'm so glad you didn't kiss your partner this time," she joked. "Every week you're improving. Better and better. Please stay ‘til the end!" she told the comedian.
"Alam mo nahirapan talaga ako ‘don," pointed out stage director and fellow judge Freddie Santos. "Gwapo si Richard, ‘e...so, naidaan nila sa itsura," he remarked.
Celebrity chef JL Cang went next, this time performing a duet with singer and actress Angelika dela Cruz. JL and partner Angelika mounted a fancy number complete with a wrought-iron park bench and a faux bar situated on-stage. The duet performed Rodel Naval's "Lumayo Ka Man Sa Akin."
Danny Tan was obviously not impressed with JL's performance. "Number one, bad choice of song," he told the chef. "Secondly, parang yung kumakanta sa underpass ng Quiapo," he observed, referring to JL's pair of dark sunglasses matched with a black leather jacket. "I think you owe it to your fans na makita nila yung mata mo, so you can communicate with your fans. Next time, no more shades. Nawala yung charm niya, ‘e," he added.
"Don't feel sorry!" exclaimed Tessa after JL apologized to Danny. "Kasi this is fun and everything. But our musical director, Raul, is so right...you have to take the music seriously, even if you're kenkoy and having fun and everything. He knows that [and] he means well," she advised.
"Grabe, nahirapan talaga ako sa number na ‘yon," admitted Freddie Santos. "Pero nararamdaman ko yung sama ng loob niya dahil hindi siya makalapit kay Angelika," he reasoned, echoing JL's statement wherein the chef admitted that he felt bad after not being able to go near Angelika.
"Kaya yun na rin sinasabi ko sa aking sarili...kaya siya sintonado, kaya siya pumipiyok, kaya nakatago ang kanyang mata..." paused Direk Freddie. "Dahil sa ang layo niya kay Angelika," the director said emphatically. "Forgiven."
Fashion designer JC Buendia performed a duet with friend Ayen Munji-Laurel, singing "Love Will Keep Us Together." As in the previous weeks, JC designed his costume for this performance as well as his partner's flowing dark red gown. Designing costumes is his edge, he admitted, saying "I work on the visuals. Syempre, designer ako."
After his performance, the designer thanked one of his regular clients—President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo—for watching him the previous week. "Ma'am, thank you for watching me last Saturday," he said. "Now, if you can vote for me..." he continued, injecting laughter to it.
Direk Freddie was first to give comments. "Panay initials ang pinaguusapan natin, ‘no...GMA, JC..." Then he followed with his own ABC. "A-all right, B-better. And C-may c-ndak yung kanyang number," he wittily remarked.
As for Maestro Danny: "Yung first part mo, mas maraming notang tumbok," he observed. "Kaya lang nung duet niyo ni Ayen, na-excite ka na naman. Nag-sharp na naman siya," he noticed. "[But] you know, you remind me of a children's concert, ‘cause you're so bubbly, playful, and masaya," he told the cheerful designer.
Tessa admitted with a smile that she didn't want to show bias in giving comments, especially since her gown that night was designed by JC. "Yung combination nila is sapak...really galing...swak na swak," she said instead, after noting that vocal talent isn't the lone criterion in this competition.
Soccer player Phil Younghusband followed after with his and partner—acoustic hotshot Nyoy Volante's rendition of Side A's "Ang Aking Awitin." They both serenaded the audience as they sang on top of high barstools with Phil's ka-duet Nyoy strumming his trademark guitar.
On his improved Tagalog, Tessa remarked, "I'm so impressed. His Tagalog is better than mine, grabe." And she added, referring to Phil's performance, "Your duet together is awesome."
Freddie Santos followed. "Phil, repeat after me... Awa...ng...Diyos. You did okay," he told the football heartthrob.
After Phil mimicked Direk Freddie's lines, Danny Tan interpreted Freddie's comment for Phil. "Ibig sabihin niya, gumaling siya...sa awa ng Diyos," he said. "Phil, you know that you don't have the best vocals in the competition," he told the celebrity contender, "but you are working very hard. And for that, we salute you...for working so hard and for improving every week. Very good. Good vocals."
Next was Carlene Aguilar who sang international popstar Jojo's billboard hit, titled "Beautiful Girls." She performed the song with R&B rising star Duncan Ramos.
Before her performance, Carlene jokingly admitted that she's banking on her sexiness to win in this competition. She also said that she's 101% confident of her good standing in Celebrity Duets 2, attributing her confidence to her training as a beauty queen.
But it seemed that Tessa wasn't so convinced. "Parang hindi bagay yung outfit mo," she told Carlene, eyeing the beauty queen's conservative Oriental-inspired outfit. "I think since you're saying na you're the pinaka-sexy here, you should show it off more. Parang dapat, shorter," she advised.
"Musically, you're better now than ever," said Freddie Santos. "Pero in terms of energy and performance...kung last week, hot...eto, not so hot. Pati yung energy level, medyo mababa, ‘e," he observed.
Danny Tan agreed with Carlene. "Tama yung sinabi mo na ikaw yung pinaka-sexy. So capitalize on that...strength. Kasi kahit na ganyan yung song, pwede mo pang lagyan ng sexiness in your movements. Kasi magaling ka, tsaka maganda ka. Sexy talaga," praised the Maestro.
MMDA chairman Bayani Fernando then performed Bobby Darin's standard, "Beyond the Sea" which he sang with singer Janno Gibbs.
"I'm getting to like this game. Nacha-challenge ako," admitted BF who commended his and his partner's rapport and chemistry. To complement their chosen song, BF and Janno were dressed in an all-white ensemble, with BF sporting a sailor hat. The duet also had female back-up dancers all wearing matching sailor-inspired costumes.
After his performance, host Ogie Alcasid asked the chairman about his feelings on the competition. "Mukhang umiinit ang labanan," replied BF. "Now, I'm beginning to feel like...showbiz," he joked.
"Tatlong linggo ko nang hinihintay marinig itong ganung uring kanta na magmula kay BF," said Freddie. "And I'm very happy na finally we have a chance to hear that. Kasi usually dinadaan sa kwela, ‘e. But eventually, it has to get to ‘Ano ba talaga yung boses niya? Ano ba talaga yung kaya niyang gawin?' At now, narinig talaga natin...eto, may boses talaga yung mama," he praised the chairman.
"That was very professionally done," praised Danny Tan. "I like your hand movements...may sense. Performance level. Hand movements...very natural ang dating. Hindi siya pinagaralan. Ang galing."
As for Tessa: "How can I not be positive? There's so much positiveness around me! I was smiling the whole time. Parang you're really practicing, so siguro now our kalye is magulo na! Wala nang nagha-handle!" she joked. "It shows that you're really practicing. It's coming out. Galing."
Last to perform was beauty and wellness guru Cory Quirino. She performed Donna Summer's "Last Dance" with funnyman Arnel Ignacio. Cory confessed that competitions such as Celebrity Duets 2 undoubtedly give emotional and mental pressure to contenders, so she recommended voice lessons, lots of sleep, and exercise. She also admitted that she capitalizes on her dancing to win in this contest.
After her lively performance, Ogie threw in the typical how-do-you-feel question, to which Cory replied. "Gusto kong magpahinga sa bahay dahil sa exercises and rehearsals and all. But I'm enjoying it more."
As for the judges' comments? "That lady on stage is one very confident, sexy lady," observed Maestro Danny. "Walang inhibitions, all-out. I'm enjoying your performance, nakakalimutan ko na yung musical side kasi nag-e-enjoy na ako sa'yo, ‘e," he laughed.
"This is your best outfit, number, dance... with my favorite, Arnel!" exclaimed the Sea Princess Tessa. "He made me win last year! So I hope he's your good luck charm this year also!"
And for Direk Freddie: "Ang pamagat nung kanta, "Last Dance," pero promise, hindi ito last week mo," he said briefly.
However, it seemed that the judges weren't right in their predictions because after the second eliminations, Cory Qurino was the one to go home. The beauty and wellness expert joined Phil and JC in the Bottom Three.
The singing competition heats up. Who will get to leave and who will survive next week among Bayani Fernando, Carlene Aguilar, Phil Younghusband, JC Buendia, JL Cang, and Joey Marquez?
Find out next week on Celebrity Duets 2, airing Saturdays after Pinoy Records on GMA-7.