What surprised Asia’s Got Talent judge Mel C about Pinoys

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Without a doubt, former Spice Girl Melanie C (or Mel C) believes that the Philippines' got talent.

Mel C, who first shot to fame in the ‘90s as one-fifth of the all-female British group Spice Girls, is part of the judging panel of Asia’s Got Talent alongside legendary music-maker David Foster, Taiwanese pop star Vaness Wu and Indonesian rock artist Anggun.

The STAR joined a phone chat with Mel C recently, and she said that she found it “really, really interesting” to discover incredible singers from the country. The question now is: Will the Filipino hopefuls on the show have what it takes to go far into the competition and be the first-ever Asia’s Got Talent champion?

The 41-year-old Mel C (also formerly nicknamed Sporty Spice) has done many noteworthy stuff post-Spice. First, she went solo which resulted to over 12 million records sold from her six albums, the first of which she released in 1999. In the UK, she is the second female artist with the most number of No. 1 singles.

Then, Mel C ventured into the world of stage, earning plaudits as well as a prestigious Laurence Olivier Best Actress nod for her West End debut in Blood Brothers. She was also tapped by UK musical theater stalwart Andrew Lloyd Webber to be a judge on Superstar, a primetime talent search for her co-star in the Jesus Christ Superstar musicalBut surely, her career with the Spice Girls — how the girl group became a pop culture phenomenon and one of the most commercially successful musical acts of all time — that will come in handy as she and the rest size up and search among the sea of contestants for that one Asian talent who holds the most promise to shine on the world stage. 

Asked what compelled her to accept the show, Mel C said, “It was an interesting opportunity that came up to me and it appeals to me as it’s something quite different. I’ve grown up in the UK and I’ve grown up with this show, you know. And Asia, I thought, to be much more interesting, especially that so many countries and cultures involved. I was quite intrigued to see things I haven’t seen before. Also, I knew — and I wasn’t disappointed — that the standards would be very high as well. I think I made the right decision.”

Asia’s Got Talent will premiere tomorrow night at 8:05 on AXN, with subsequent episodes airing Thursdays at 8:30 p.m.

The singer offered a glimpse into the auditions by describing the experience as quite the emotional ride. “I think we literally felt every single emotion every single day of the auditions. We laughed, we cried, sometimes we couldn’t look (at the aspirants)… The thing I love the most about the show is the diversity. Really, there is something for everybody,” she said, adding that what happened backstage provided the most touching moments, with family love and bonding figuring prominently in the contestants’ quest for success and stardom.

On the Filipino hopefuls in Asia’s Got Talent:

“It was very interesting seeing that there were certain trends in different countries as to what they really excel at. From the Philippines were very, very strong singers, and it’s something that I didn’t know. These Filipino acts would come on and they’re these incredible vocalists, so that was something which I found really, really interesting. Singing is my absolute passion so lots of musical people from the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia and all the other countries like Japan had very strong dancers, and China had very strong acrobats, and great traditional acts from all countries actually. So, yeah, it was a real mix — a very, very interesting show.”

On what makes a talent stand out:

“We saw many different acts from so many different countries in Asia, and for me, it has to be something that really wowed me, and really moved me. So there has to be a range of emotions for a person I’d like to go far into the competition. I would like to see somebody who is incredible at what they do, who really touches me and leaves me very entertained.”

On talents who didn’t make the cut:

“Actually, this is something which I found really interesting about working on Asia’s Got Talent as opposed to working on Britain’s Got Talent or America’s Got Talent, is that even when artists are being criticized, Asian people as a whole are very gracious. I think you might get a little more aggressive reactions from people here in the UK or in America, but we just found very respectful reactions (in Asia) and people took any criticism or advice on board, which for judges are very lovely because you really don’t want to feel like you’re upsetting people.”

On her fellow judges:

“The chemistry between us is very great. I think it really works that we all experienced and became successful in different countries, we have empathy for the performers on stage. It makes a very strong judging panel. We get on very well, everybody has a great sense of humor, so we poke fun at each other but when it’s time to get serious, we do that, too.”

On the type of judge she is:

I’d like to think I’m a firm but fair judge. Being a performer, you know how vulnerable you can feel up on stage, and people who are there, they’ve worked very hard, they’ve rehearsed…but for some people, it was the first time (to leave their hometowns and countries) and got on the plane and came over to see us in Malaysia (for the auditions). People are nervous. So I think you have to be honest, you don’t want to mislead people about their talents, but you have to be considerate towards people’s feelings.”

On lessons from her experience as a Spice Girl that Asia’s Got Talent hopefuls can also learn from:

After being the Spice Girl and having the opportunity to work all over the world, a big wish for all the people who do well in Asia’s Got Talent is to take their act globally and really showcase Asia across the world. I think like all performances, hard work pays off. You have to rehearse, you have to be dedicated, and I think for myself and the girls, that really works for us. I don’t think any successful performer can rest on their laurels or be lazy, you do have to work very hard to achieve your dreams.”

On the possibility of a Spice Girls reunion:

I don’t know. We were very lucky to perform at the Olympics in 2012. We still see each other socially. We see each other quite a lot. We stay in touch. I was with Emma Bunton (Baby Spice) last week. We support each other. In fact, myself and Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice) live quite close to each other in London so we often see each other when our kids play together. I think our relationship is stronger now than it ever was. Because of our experiences together, we feel more like family than just friends. But I don’t know! We’re all moms now, and we have our own careers in different areas, so I think it would be quite difficult to get everybody together (as Spice Girls). Of course, next year, will be the 20th anniversary when (our first No. 1 single) Wannabe was released, so I think we have to celebrate in some way.”

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