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Battles and Sing-offs

By: - Columnist
/ 12:15 AM July 07, 2016
 “THE VOICE Kids” coaches (from left): The author, Bamboo and Sharon Cuneta

“THE VOICE Kids” coaches (from left): The author, Bamboo and Sharon Cuneta

It’s been a tough weekend for us all on “The Voice Kids.” We’ve just finished filming the prerecorded parts of the show and as much as the excitement of finding amazing young talent doesn’t ever get old (and, boy, did we ever find a gold mine this season!), I could do without the Battles and Sing-offs, the two stages of the show that are always heart-wrenching.

This season marks our newest coach Sharon Cuneta’s first time through the wringer, and although she had some idea of what she’d be facing, she did not anticipate the agony of making many of these cuts. Truth be told, although Coach Bamboo and I have seen our share of them, it never really gets easier.

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For this season, we each had eight battles to coach, three kids per battle, 24 young people to guide through this process, investing ourselves as time went on.

Listening, changing things, teaching, sharing our own processes and whatever else we can impart, only to cut down two-thirds of the team.

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At the start of coaching sessions and band rehearsals, there were no standouts, such that I couldn’t even pick a favorite. All the battles were evenly matched, which meant that these cuts would be very difficult to make.

A lot of the time, I would make my pick, change my mind, then change yet again. I knew that though there would be one happy kid following a decision, there would be two who would need consoling. We took our time giving a lot of hugs, especially to the little ones who couldn’t help crying.

After many of Sharon’s battles, she would slowly walk back to her chair, either with tears streaming down her face or looking more and more exhausted. “I didn’t know it would be … like this,” then she would clutch her chest. I then replied, “Welcome to ‘The Voice.’”

No, folks, it doesn’t get easier.

Sing-offs posed another challenge, because we would see which kids were the most ready for the Live Shows (which begin on Aug. 20 at the Resorts World Manila).

Talent was already a given, but this next stage would be a testing ground for who would rise to the occasion and who’d let nerves get in the way of making their dream come true. And on Sing-off day, we’d see it, whether on our own teams or someone else’s.

At the end of this most brutal final cut, once three artists have been chosen to advance to the Live Shows, we each have five kids to hug and console.

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Of course, I am unable to give away any of the specifics (you’ll have to watch the show to find out what happens!), but I’d like to share a few thoughts that ran through my mind as we were recording:

Tiny kids are extremely brave, uninhibited and free when onstage performing. They have not yet developed insecurities or hang-ups.

There’s none of the self-awareness that many older people have, nor do they care what anyone else thinks. Our youngest kids are 6 years old.

There’s always room for surprise. I had a couple of kids who sounded OK at their initial auditions, but showed an eagerness to learn once in the coaching room.

They were open, willing and quick. I marveled at their progress and the big smile on their faces when they did something great. That’s what makes what I do worthwhile.

Many of these kids display remarkable maturity, which might be a result of what they’ve been through in their lives, experiences I would never wish upon my worst enemy.

Of course, we also have plenty of (thankfully) happy kids from wonderful families, parents and grandparents who are incredibly supportive of their little ones. It’s a wonderful sight to see.

To be honest, this was such a great batch of kids that, past the show, I’d like to still be around and keep an eye on them, to watch how they develop and grow as artists. I have a feeling these extraordinary young people will keep surprising me.

Please keep watching, and be amazed. We most certainly continue to be.

“The Voice Kids” airs on ABS-CBN every Saturday after “Maalaala Mo Kaya” and every Sunday after “Goin’ Bulilit.” Outside the Philippines, you may watch online via TFC.tv.

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