A Closer Look at Pinoy Pop Superstar's Final Seven
() - May 6, 2006 - 12:00am
Seven grand contenders. Seven remarkable voices.

This is what we will get to witness tonight in the Grand Showdown of "Pinoy Pop Superstar," GMA 7's top-rating search for the country's next singing star.

The PPS finalists amazed us with their superb performance at SM City Cebu a few months back during their roadshow, giving Cebuanos a preview of what's going to happen during the "Grand Showdown."

Just recently, members from the local press were able to chat and get to know these young aspiring singers better. The PPS2 finalists are Aicelle Santos, Harry Santos, Gerald Santos, Irra Cenina, Rosemarie Tan, Elise Estrada and Denver Regencia.

From the jam-packed urban districts of Manila and Davao to the grandeur of Canada and California, seven brilliant voices emerged to compete in the grand finals night, which will have a delayed telecast this Sunday after "Da De Di Do Du."

First female grand contender Aicelle Santos made history when she became the first eight-time weekly champion. This Psychology student has already joined several contests that honed her singing prowess. She was one of the finalists of another talent search in the rival station where she competed against Erik Santos.

"Hindi ako nawalan ng pag-asa but instead I took it as a challenge. Sumali parin ako and luckily eto na ang chance. Sana suportahan ninyo kami," she said.

Seven-week champion and first grand finalist is Harry Santos. His version of "To Where You Are" is a poignant makeover of Josh Groban's in the "Pinoy Pop Superstar's" Grand Contender's Album. Harry exhibits a comparable vocal treatment with the original singer, sometimes matching Groban note for note.

Second grand contender and the youngest of them all Gerald Santos is seen by many as the most promising contender. Despite being the youngest among the contenders, Gerald did his best and made his way to the finals. He became the grand champion for seven weeks in a row. His strength has always been vintage ballads.

"Nakasali na po ako sa mga iba't-ibang contests sa mga baryo at luckily naman po ako yung nanalo. Ang masasabi ko po sa mga aspiring singers ay dapat huwag mag quit at constant practice po," he said.

PPS-2 Grand Contender Irra Cenina is a combination of wits and talent. This DLSU graduate plans to pursue law studies (and is in fact considering University of San Carlos) after the contest. "I wanna do everything for my family, I wanna give them the best there is. Kung papalarin akong manalo, matutulungan ko sila," he said.

Irra used to join amateur singing contests and singing contests in the malls. He digs RnB, slow jazz and ballads.

In the album, the sultry "If I Could" offers listeners an almost ambient yet sumptuous sample of Irra Cenina's talents. Surrounded by a landscape of soft guitar and piano work, showcases a different vocal quality. Irra's voice is rich in quality but strong enough to shift from genre to genre, a rare attribute among vocalists these days.

Meanwhile, determination seems to be the key to Denver Regencia's success. After failing to qualify in the Manila and Cavite auditions, he showed up at the Davao auditions and this time, he finally booked his ticket to the show and eventually clawed his way to the top.

Representing Canada this year is 18-year old Elise Estrada. Elise said she used to sing in musical and school plays. " I used to sing at a young age in plays. They say that I am a sexy singer though I think that I am not," Elise says jokingly during the press conference.

Elise's interpretation of "Natural Woman" in the PPS2 Album is a breathy albeit potent version of Carole King's powerful song. She reaches vocal heights in the middle of the song with no signs of faltering.

Rosemarie Tan, 18, is representing the United States in the competition. She has already performed in the New York musical, "The Apollo," which justifies her theatrical voice reaching unbelievably new pinnacles. Interestingly, some years back, this Filipino-American lass auditioned and was granted the hard-to-get golden ticket to compete for the internationally popular "American Idol," but had fallen short of certain required paperwork.

Who do you think will become the next "Pinoy Pop Superstar"? It will only be known tonight.

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