Battles begin anewBy Lea Salonga | Philippine Daily Inquirer
Turns out, I didn’t need antacids. But the decision-making process wasn’t any easier. Yes, folks, we are at the Battles once again, one of the more stressful stages of “The Voice Kids.” Or of any “The Voice” competition. Singing in a boxing ring can’t ever feel like a romp in the park.
The Battles, if you recall, is that phase when pairs go up on the boxing-ring-like stage and duke it out. The singers’ coach then chooses a victor. For TVK, it’s a little different: Every grouping is a trio. When one singer is elevated to the Sing-Offs, the other two are thus able to comfort one another. We see plenty of that happening.
The rehearsal and coaching process can be very informative for the coaches, who get a heads-up on their wards with regards to attitude, emotional connection, intonation and performance. Pretty standard stuff. But, these being kids ages 8 to 14, I was a little scared that we’d have attention span issues, especially with the littler ones.
Boy, was I ever wrong! My younger kids are able to sustain their focus and concentration during coaching sessions, looking me right in the eye, absorbing the lessons being imparted at that very second.
I threw a counterpoint at one kid; done. I threw a harmony at another; also done. It is so refreshing, seeing them work as hard as they do, without baggage or ego. I have found the process so far to be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. I gotta say these kids are at times easier to teach than adults.
This weekend is our first Battles weekend. My team is up first. As in, on Saturday and Sunday, the only singers you will get to watch are mine—18 artists, six battle rounds. After the final battle round on Sunday, the Sing-Off will take place and the final six get whittled down to two.
Even the coaches can’t say how artists will perform. One child who shines in rehearsals may make a complete fool of himself during the actual performance. The only thing we can do is focus on the moment and take it all in.
I can’t speak for the other coaches; their methods and routines are different from mine. So I’ll just speak about my kids here. First allow me to say how proud I am of each one. They’re all so different, so unique and, needless to say, incredibly talented.
Groupings were made considering age, voice type and genre. Battle songs were picked following the same criteria. And musical director Bond Samson farmed the songs out to arrangers who would bring the best out of each number: Homer Flores arranged “May Bukas Pa” for Tonton, Echo and Genmarie; Bond himself did “Love Song” for Koko, Fritz and Camille; Gerard Salonga handled “Firework” for Mariane, Darlene and Karla; Mon Faustino worked on “When You Believe” for Angel, Grace and Giedie; Cezar Aguas was picked for “Anak ng Pasig” for Rein, Angelique and Jimboy; and finally, Gerard again was placed in charge of “Hey, Soul Sister” for Kobe, Shanne and Lorenzo.
Without revealing more than I ought to, let me say that we (Annie Quintos, resident vocal coach, and myself) ran into a few bumps.
One very shy girl looked at the floor all the while that she sang. Her incredibly generous group mates helped bring out her more spunky side.
With one trio there were concerns that the lyrics (and shining moments) weren’t divided equally.
A teenager in the throes of puberty required a key change smack in the middle of the song.
One child was doing too much physical stuff for a song that didn’t require it; another needed to infuse the performance with energy.
However, all in all, I am just floored by how amazing these kids are—disciplined, focused, professional. I feel very privileged to work with them.
(“The Voice Kids” airs 6:45 p.m. Saturdays and 7:30 p.m. Sundays on ABS-CBN. If you miss an episode, check out iwantv.com.ph to catch up, and if you’re out of the country, visit TFC.tv.)
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