Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Singer Review: Jessica Sanchez and KZ Tandingan

I know, I know. It's not my style and forte to review diva-pop female singers, but today I feel like doing it anyway. Also, I'm not a singer, but I can review a couple of singing-related stuff, so here goes.

First off: Jessica Sanchez.

I am aware that most of us feel ridiculously annoyed with the OA social media reaction over this half-Pinay American Idol runner up, but you know what they say: you can't criticize someone unless you make a research about him/her. So here's my review:

Jessica's vocal style is pretty average, added to the fact that she looks like Sarah Geronimo or Geraldine Flores (a semi-finalist from Pilipinas Got Talent and a church singer for ABS-CBN's Sunday Mass). However, there IS something that makes her 'a bit' unique. I just can't pinpoint it yet. I mean, there has to be something, otherwise Idol's judges aren't worth anything.

Aside from most of her Idol songs played on TV that I've already listened to (e.g. I Will Always Love You), I've also did some YouTube research and listened to her version of "The Prayer" and an original song called "Fairytale", a track from her upcoming album. Her version of the Christian song is quite good, but I was kind of disappointed that she didn't sing in Italian. Or maybe that was part of the usual 'marketing strategy' thingy, because obviously, mass media thinks singing in runes means you work for the devil or some cults, like they thought with Asereje or Gangnam Style. Well I can't do anything about that; everyone has their own perspective of things, I guess. Other than that, it was worth noting how she shifted the keys in the English-translated Italian chorus, and that's probably what makes her version unique, I guess. Plus, the song fits her vocal range quite well, but I'm not saying that it's the perfect genre for her.

As for "Fairytale", I overheard people saying that they were disappointed with this, but I still listened anyway. The beat was okay but the chords sound a bit like "Good Time" by Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen, although I don't know which came first. It was a 'typical-house-based-pop-song' but hey, at least the lyrics had a bit of poetry on it. And besides, it's just one of the many songs to be released so I can't judge early yet. Another thing I noticed is that the vocal range is sort of in a 'safe zone' for Jessica. I don't know if she chose this so her vocal chords can't be strained too much for later songs with higher notes, or she simply likes it. Or maybe her talent manager chose it. I don't really know anyway, but I want to hear the rest of her album when it comes out, so I can judge properly.

Overall, Jessica Sanchez has a good voice, compared to most pop acts today. I think that if her composers, arrangers and managers would really let her be independent in music style, she won't end up 'just like every other mainstream act'. Not saying this as a fellow Filipino, but as a music critic and a composer. But if I would have the opportunity to make her a song for her to sing, it would probably be something of an electronic ballad, quite similar to Owl City, but with a powerful feminine flavor.

Next up: KZ Tandingan.

Let me remind you first that my artist name is Kazaki, and I have started since 2007. Clearly, this isn't just some coincidence. Or whatever you think of it anyway. I was surprised that this X-Factor Philippines grand winner covered songs that were linked to me:
  • "Someone Like You" by Adelle - I had a J-pop/Ballad song with the same title.
  • "Superstar" by Carpenters - I intended to cover this in the future, but got lazy anyways.
  • "Killing Me Softly" by Roberta Flack - I COVERED THIS LIVE WITH MY PIANO. :D
  • "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" - I did an unreleased orchestra version of this. O:
One thing worth noting about the "Killing Me Softly" cover was an unexpected TAGALOG/FILIPINO rap solo by KZ. It surprised me and kind of impressed me, actually. Also, I really like this song and I'm glad she chose it, because it's about the pains of being a fan and a musician at the same time, and wanting your idol to notice your works. I've been there several times, actually. But unlike KZ, I still live in the deep, dark, shadows of the local OPM / electronic scene. But I have no regrets, really - it's a long story and a long discussion / debate anyway.

Alright, let's move on to her vocal style. She looks to me like a Bossa Nova / Soul singer, judging from her vocal style, but since Charice is her mentor, they might have shared techniques which is why some of her singing techniques are similar to Charice's. Not saying she copied her, but you can say she's just pretty much a bit influenced by her. Charice is a whole different story altogether - I think her voice would fit more for rock, metal or hardcore, not diva-pop, if you ask me. This is because her vocal style packs a lot of heaviness and power, perfect for smashing guitars and drums on the stage. On KZ's style, however, she isn't limited to soulful acoustic songs and similar stuff - she could do a couple of ambient or indie-style tracks, because she has a lower vocal range than her mentor. I do wonder if she can sing (and rap) like a guy with that voice; in that case, she can be like Nicki Minaj who can portray different characters with different vocal styles. Haha.

I can't judge KZ yet in the whole because I have yet to listen when she releases a full and official album, regardless if it's full of covers or not (I hope it's not; I'm personally sick of cover-filled albums). And if ever I'm going to make her songs, it would probably be Nicki Minaj-sounding but with a Filipino taste. I'd like to hear her rap more because we seldom hear Pinoy female rappers today - or maybe that's just me under Nicki's influence. LOL


To summarize the two reviews, I think I had a bit of fun in doing some research on these mainstream acts. I mean, they may be quite stereotypical when it comes to music (as with most mainstream singers and 'pushed' celebrities), but I guess you'll just have to be more inquisitive and...I don't know. Maybe I'm insecure about Jessica and Charice who are both younger than me, or KZ because she shares the same name as a NicoNicoDouga Vocaloid producer (composer of "Last Night, Good Night" to be exact) and shares some cultural references to Kazaki (me as an artist/composer/singer/whatever). Then again, maybe not. Maybe I'm just bored. :)

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