Which Voice coach are you for?
KAPAMILYA DAY - Kane Errol Choa (The Philippine Star) - June 27, 2013 - 12:00am

It’s four superstars like we’ve never seen them before.

Viewers finally got a taste of the country’s much-anticipated singing-reality TV show The Voice of the Philippines, and what goes on in its unique “blind auditions” process, where they saw in the first four episodes apl.de.ap speaking Kapampangan with a twang, Sarah Geronimo giving a massage, Bamboo getting teary and emotional, Lea Salonga heartily grooving to performances, and the four of them eating balut.

Though the four coaches bring individuality and expertise to the table, the show draws out in all of them their competitive spirit that somehow forces viewers to not only root for their favorite artists, but for their favorite coach and his or her team as well.

The premise of the show sets it apart from other talent competitions. Each of the coaches has to build a team of 12 through the blind auditions, where the coaches sit with their backs against the hopefuls who audition by singing on stage. If the coaches like what they hear, they press their buttons that will trigger their swiveling chairs to turn to the stage, which means they want the artist to be in their team. An artist gets by default the only coach who turns around; but if two or more do, the power is transferred in the hands of the artist, who must choose his or her coach.

It sounds so uncomplicated, but what follows is pure entertainment when the four coaches pitch themselves to the artists and fight with each other using their various gimmicks and strategies. And it’s where the personalities of apl, Sarah, Bamboo, and Lea most shine.

“It’s the first TV show that offered something like this. You get to see how these coaches react to raw talent. There is interaction between real, world-class artists and the new ones,” says Karen Posadas, a marketing executive at a courier company.

Viewers seem to agree, because The Voice of the Philippines gained a national TV rating of 30.5 percent on its premiere telecast on June 15 and was only second to Kapamilya drama anthology Maalaala Mo Kaya as the most watched program in the country. On June 16, it was the most watched with a national TV rating of 27.7 percent, according to data from Kantar Media.

The Voice of the Philippines is just one of the many global TV franchises that have been successfully localized by ABS-CBN, including reality and game shows Pinoy Big Brother, Pilipinas Got Talent, Minute to Win It, Kapamilya Deal or No Deal, The X Factor Philippines, MasterChef Pinoy Edition, The Biggest Loser Pinoy Edition and 1 vs. 100.

Right from the get-go, Lea was seen as the most energetic and vocal in the bunch, her face and behavior evidently excited whenever she hears a spectacular voice. But the coaches are like actors in a teleserye, and Lea is just doing her role and is competing to build her team. The coaches anchor the show, and if they don’t deliver well onscreen, they wouldn’t be able to pull in enough viewers. While some netizens deem Lea overzealous, others are more approving.

Freelance writer Carline Reyes said of Lea, “To some people she’s OA, but if you’re the contestant, it would mean a lot to see the coaches enjoying the short time you were onstage, especially because it’s not only their comments on your performance that are important, but also how they felt while you were performing. Plus, the fact that it’s Lea Salonga.”

Carline also gives credit to the charismatic apl’s ability to connect with the artists by bringing up his humble beginnings. This was evident when Apl spoke in Kapampangan to comfort a Kabalen who failed to get past the blind auditions and when he stressed Asin is his favorite band in his sales pitch to artist Cora dela Cruz, who performed an Asin song.

“In selling himself, apl makes sure that he doesn’t just give artists opportunities and possibilities to enhance their talent, but he lets them know that he understands where they are coming from as well. It’s important for a coach to understand that because it’s the contestants’ aspirations that made them join The Voice, and will motivate them to win,” added Carline.

Sarah, on the other hand, comes off as the coach who focuses remarkably on the technical aspects of an artist’s vocals. It takes a long while into an artist’s audition before she turns around, but she is distinctly eager when she wants an artist so bad. Once, she even offered water and gave a massage to artist Taw Muhammad, who ultimately chose Lea.

“Sarah is very keen in selecting her team members. Hindi basta-basta. She seems to be looking for the full vocal package. She’s optimistic and sincere in wooing the artist she wants to belong in her team,” Karen shared.

Bamboo’s biggest moment in the show so far came when he was moved to tears by artist and now team member Lee Grane’s tender performance. Like Sarah, Bamboo seems very selective and hard-to-please.

“I think he’s looking for soul and depth. A technically flawless vocal doesn’t seem to win him over. He’s looking for certain kinds of artists; he’s picky, and that’s understandable,” added Karen.

So far, Team apl has Cora dela Cruz, Thor Dulay, the Lorenzana duo and Sir Lord Lumibao; Team Sarah has Junji Urias, Eva Delos Santos, Morissette Amon and Michaellen Temporada; Team Bamboo has Deb Victa, Lee Grane Maranan and Isa Fabregas; and Team Lea has Darryl Shy, Chien Berbana, Taw Muhammad and Radha Tinsay.

The competition among the coaches and artists has just begun. apl, Sarah, Bamboo and Lea still have a long way to go before they complete all 12 artists needed for their respective teams. It is interesting to see how the four coaches will mentor their team members in the next round of competition, the Battle Rounds. What will their styles be? Who will emerge as the best coach?

For now, it’s about the artists’ voice and dreams. With no embarrassing auditions and unnecessary tricks, The Voice gives a refreshing spin to the talent reality TV show format and trims down the competition to only pure musicality and talent. Pangarap ang puhunan, boses ang labanan.

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