Exceptional singers make ‘Himig Handog’ tunes soar
Winnowing the grain from the musical chaff hasn’t been easy for this year’s “Himig Handog P-Pop Love Songs” competition, which will have its finals tomorrow, Sept. 28.
From over 6,000 entries, the reinvigorated songwriting tilt has decided to add more finalists this year—an exciting, 15-finalist field guaranteed to follow in the hit-making footsteps of Joven Tan’s grand prize-winning “Ano’ng Nangyari Sa Ating Dalawa?” (interpreted by the bracingly “anti-birit” Aiza Seguerra) and Jungee Marcelo’s catchy hit, “Nasa ‘Yo Na Ang Lahat” (sung by Daniel Padilla), last year.
The entries are a homogeneous mix—but, the fact that they focus “only” on the exhilarating vagaries of love and romance makes the lineup more cohesive, and devoid of pretensions—although, while we have no intention of raining on Jugs Jugueta and Teddy Corpuz’s loopy parade, the novelty number they’re interpreting, Eric de Leon’s “Walang Basagan Ng Trip” isn’t really about love, except for its one-line reference to courtship.
The songs are served well by exceptional singers, among them Angeline Quinto, KZ Tandingan, Bugoy Drilon, Morissette Amon, Juris and Jed Madela, who don’t treat their songs as contest pieces (because they know that it’s a songwriters’ competition), proving that a good tune need not be shouted or bleated in roof-raising, “birit” fashion to be impressive.
In Edwin Marollano’s “Mahal Ko o Mahal Ako,” KZ Tandingan is torn between the man who loves her and the one she loves. Jed Madela sings about unreciprocated feelings (Jude Gitamondoc’s “I Don’t Want To Fall’), while Bugoy Drilon (Rolando Azor’s “Umiiyak Ang Puso”) and Jovit Baldivino (Raizo Brent Chabeldin and Biv De Vera’s slow rock-tinged “Dito”) sing about failed relationships.
Thanks to modern technology, Daniel Padilla’s nasal grunts in Meljohn Magno’s “Simpleng Tulad Mo” are made bearable and aurally appealing, like last year’s runaway hit, “Nasa ‘Yo Na Ang Lahat.”
Jessa Zaragoza reminisces about the one that got away (Sarah Jane Gandia’s “Bumabalik ang Nagdaan”), while Juris sings about a romance that can never be (Nica del Rosario’s awkwardly structured but beautifully sung “Hindi Wala).
In Melchora Mabilog’s “Mahal Kita Pero,” about young love, pretty Janella Salvador shows off the steely, theater-grade pipes she inherited from her mother, “Miss Saigon” alumna Jenine Desiderio.
Marion Aunor is a fine composer, albeit with a limited vocal range (her cover of Sharon Cuneta’s “My Only Love” in her debut album is extraordinary, however). Along with Rizza Cabrera and Seed Bunye, she’s been tapped to interpret Jungee Marcelo’s wit-infused “Pumapag-ibig.”
Our top picks, in this order: Singer-songwriter Hazel Faith dela Cruz’s “Everything Takes Time” and Jose Joel Mendoza’s “Hanggang Kailan” (sung by Angeline Quinto); Joven Tan’s “Pare, Mahal Mo Raw Ako” (the appealing Michael Pangilinan); David Dimaguila’s idiosyncratic song-and-rap number, “Halik sa Hangin” (Ebe Dancel and Abra), and Francis Louis Salazar’s “Akin Ka Na Lang,” interpreted by the constantly evolving Morissette Amon, who no longer sounds like Sarah Geronimo!
Fueled by its wistful, radio-friendly melody and Pangilinan’s career-boosting performance, Tan’s intriguing entry is drawing attention for its same-sex theme—about a straight guy who finds out that his best friend is in love with him!
Quinto’s show-stopping rendition is radio-ready “Hanggang Kailan’s” strongest suit. It demonstrates the songstress’ instructive judiciousness in “birit”-singing—and proves that her luscious soft tones are as gorgeous as her breathtaking stratospheric trills.
But, the entry we couldn’t get enough of is Hazel Faith’s adorable tune about young love and the importance of waiting—a heady fusion of breezy singing, a relevant theme and winsome lyrics: “Patience is a virtue/ Don’t rush things coz everything takes time/ You gotta wait a little longer/ Gotta get a little older/ Take it slow—and you’ll get there somehow!”
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