Film Diary: The Breakup Playlist

As a cinephile, my expectations of a romantic musical are quite high, especially since I am a fan of John Carney, creator of the beloved indie Once and the mainstream ensemble Begin Again. If you haven’t seen both films then it’d be easier to embrace this Piolo Pascual-Sarah Geronimo starrer, which is a favorable change of melody among Star Cinema’s monthly (and sporadically Viva Film’s) churning of commercial romance. But as a reconciled Gino and Trixie belt out their signature hit at the end, I found myself singing along. All the pretentions about THE BREAKUP PLAYLIST are stowed for a more critical filtration. I give credit where it is due and for this particular film, I’d be singing some praises (and subtly call out flat notes on the side).

Fashioned as another ‘could-be fatal’ mainstream romance, THE BREAKUP PLAYLIST is surprisingly indie at heart. It may not bear the poetic and clever flare of That Thing Called Tadhana but writer Antoinette Jadaone finds the commercial and creative harmony that her earlier released You’re My Boss ruefully lacks. For this particular cinematic case, the genre’s rejuvenation is fitting. After all, it showcased the much-anticipated pairing of the industry’s two biggest stars. But the star power could implode the overall output if the narrative aspect is ignored for the sake of guilty sugar-coated pandering. Fortunately, the creators (also noting Director Dan Villegas), are learned of such criminal onscreen offenses and redirected their attention to the story, setting and situation of its characters, thus organically steering a journey for its two protagonists. Gino and Trixie are more than just lovers; they are dreamers whose passion for music became their stage for commercial success, romantic relationship and personal growth. Hiring the ‘pop star royalty’ and ‘ultimate heartthrob’ to play relatively modest and struggling characters is an irony that may not work most of the time, but Geronimo and Pascual’s adapted personalities fit agreeably in the scaled-down indie music scene. Indulgently throbbing of heartbreak songs and thoughtfully inspired from its humble musical burrow, THE BREAKUP PLAYLIST builds an identity that sets it apart from its homogeneous and forgettable contemporaries. A book may be judge based on its cover but a single song doesn’t create an impression for a whole playlist. It may be frankly intense of emotions (to the fault), but you’d be a surprise on how subtle is the contextual heftiness the film offers.

Sarah Geronimo as Trixie.

Sticking to its title, the movie is divided into five ‘tracks’ that retreats and jumps (to the past and present) in the eventful years of Gino and Trixie’s relationship. The narrative cuts aren’t exactly inventive in manipulating the pacing but through Villegas’ guidance (like the unconventional flow of English Only, Please), the editing is refreshing especially if THE BREAKUP PLAYLIST wants to portray the formulaic love story. The dialogue, given the predictability of the consequences, occasionally slips to the ‘heard’ territory where catchy one-liners land with precision, but there’s a fresh scene that smartly incorporates foreign album titles into a playful (better yet flirty) repartee. The opening act is a meaty appetizer of the looming break-up’s gravity, followed by a sympathetic song-and-cry number as Trixie tearfully watches Gino perform without her. A steeled Trixie is introduced in the first track (‘The Reunion’, 2015) as she is reunited with her former band for a business proposition; her attitude a vast contradiction to the soulful and gentle law student who first encounters Gino as her adviser in a summer music camp (‘How We Met’, 2009). The track names would have been ingenious if they were titled after an ‘original song’, but such preference is better put off, along with the other nitpicking stones cast on the movie (which I’ll discuss later on).

Photo grabbed from Star Cinema Forums website.

Paano Ba Ang Magmahal” is THE BREAKUP PLAYLIST’s banner song, composed by the talented Yeng Constantino and originally performed by Erik Santos and Lizel Garcia in 2012. Geronimo and Pascual’s duet is pulsating of passion and made gritty by the alternative rock vibe, a welcome diversion from the typical pop love songs of the preceding romance flicks. Here’s where the film is committed in living its chosen setting, by acclimatizing to the underground venue of independent music. Popular rock artists are enlisted for supporting roles (Rocksteddy’s Teddy Corpuz and The Dawn’s Jet Pangan as band members) and cameos as themselves (Wolfgang’s Basti Artadi, Spongecola’s Yael Yuzon, and ex-Sugarfree vocalist Ebe Dancel), that bring legitimacy to the story’s immersion to indie. Rarely does a local film put ‘Original Pinoy Music’ (OPM) to the spotlight (I forever roll my eyes on this certain critique) and OPM becomes the most valuable element in THE BREAKUP PLAYLIST. As the more adept singer, Geronimo crosses from pop to rock ballad with an inspired somberness that matches Trixie’s personality. Pascual may not possess the musical chemistry with her but it does make him in-character of Gino’s egotism and insecurity. The movie doesn’t delve much into the dynamics of Pencil Grip but Trixie and Gino’s band doesn’t feel like a perfunctory device for the sake of story-telling. The self-awareness on its setting is worth appreciating because for once, the genre is not retold with a too-good-to-be-true narrative, but one where the ending is neither happy nor sad but realistic.

One of the film’s climatic moments.

THE BREAKUP PLAYLIST isn’t the most novel romantic drama of the recent times but the potency is undeniable given the emotional maturity that it allowed its characters to experience. Geronimo shows depth as an actress through Trixie’s multifaceted role as a lover, daughter, and a woman grown. Pascual remains irresistible whose ragged attractiveness doesn’t outshine his personal struggles. As staples of the genre, both are reliable in more than fleshing out the emotions of their characters and their acting prowess are more recognized because of the better onscreen material. Though definitely inspired from international releases, THE BREAKUP PLAYLIST is no Once and most especially Begin Again since Carney’s filmography has always geared to platonic love. The Villegas-directed film should be treated independently as a sporadic feature where two blockbuster stars personify the sincerity of love in a modest approach. With a narrative that doesn’t beat around a bush and a reassuring goodwill to OPM, these added features makes the movie more layered and rich in substance. Constantino also lends her musical genius on two other songs that are equally fervent of Trixie and Gino’s feelings. In the end, the film is a love story. What matters is how romance is retold and presented and among its monthly releases, Star Cinema and Viva Films finally achieved the correct melody.

THE BREAKUP PLAYLIST is a well-intentioned romantic drama that earns points for its narrative discernment, emotional rawness, and genuine self-awareness that many of its contemporaries miserably lack. It may not reach its full potential but inexplicably, it’s a rejuvenating step in re-tuning the genre, credits to Villegas and Jadaone. Hopefully, this type of movie will not be a one-hit wonder.

Rating: 3.0/5.0

Next Romance attraction for the month of July: Capsule Reviews

Film Diary: Closer (Tribute to Mike Nichols, Part 2)

CLOSER (2004)

Love and lies are what makes the world go round in CLOSER, Director Mike Nichols’ adaptation of the award-winning stage play that dips into precarious corners of romance among its four characters who are driven of passion, jealousy, and deceit. The film is teeming of discourse and introspection on its central idea – love plagued by infidelity and dishonesty that are eloquently conveyed in the modern-day setting. It explores the dynamics of its beguiling quartet through the permutation of impassioned pairs, contesting over their notions of love and relationships. The intriguing premise around its striking ensemble may have drawn viewers closer, but the quarter of the whole is more satisfying than the overall. For all its grand romantic rhetoric, CLOSER is more of a collection of vain abstractions than an empathic character study. The passion is palpable but impersonal, thus not transcending to where the medium intends it to be.

vlcsnap-2015-04-19-15h01m28s250

No matter how personal its themes are, CLOSER tends to feel aloof. Maybe because of how imposing yet unambiguous its proposition is. How untruthfulness can destroy relationships is the universal truth after all, but the film attempts to overcomplicate itself that the tension doesn’t feel organic anymore (that could spell the difference in effectiveness between on stage and onscreen). The experimental couplings don’t necessarily achieve the desired compelling results but two actors in particular are revealing that they upstage the other two. Natalie Portman in her surprisingly provocative demeanor (before Black Swan) and Clive Owen in a commanding supporting role (both were Oscar-nominated) brought their characters’ passion as close as it can get to the audience. The actors may have stood as prop for the film’s subject matter but Portman and Owen are more affectingly flawed than Julia Roberts and Jude Law. It’s not their fault anyway, as the romantic drama is weighed down by imbalance that favors its contrived emotional milieu than the essence of its characters.

vlcsnap-2015-04-19-15h17m48s95

Though CLOSER is more engrossed in idea than the persona, it is articulate on the pronouncements of love, lies and lust and becomes persuasive of the world it presents. The dialogue is eloquent regardless of its agitated, sensual and somber nature as the script is also penned by the same playwright, Patrick Marber. Being the director who observes the truthfulness of human emotions, Nichols doesn’t shy from the rare, blistering romantic drama that CLOSER successfully channels. His realism shuns the melodrama with the ample amount of frustration and insecurity that sharpens the bluntness of each line. While the frank conversations maybe devoid of metaphoric significance, the film compensates through the sober strums of Damien Rice’s “The Blower’s Daughter” that opens and closes CLOSER in similar scenes with Alice Ayers (Portman) as the only redeemed character. Her disarming beauty, stubborn precocity and envied youth are somehow objectified that sets the story in motion. But her entanglement with Dan (Law), Anna (Roberts) and Larry (Owen) was, for what it’s worth, settles her in the most resilient position. And she does say the most concise break-up line in history.

vlcsnap-2015-04-19-14h17m50s203

A romantic roundabout that speaks the malice of love, CLOSER is more observing than feeling. The film’s objectivity on love and its unattractive dimensions are baffling, considering how fundamental the supreme emotion is to the existence of its characters. Nichols’ second-to-the-last film showcases one of the most depressing insights on love… but parts with the importance of loving one’s self. How can someone love if he/she is incapable of accepting his/her true identity and banishing his/her insecurity? (At least that’s how I grasp the film’s less self-absorbed message.)

CLOSER is an inviting romantic drama whose payoff deviates from what was anticipated. Love should bring people closer, not farther. But perhaps it’s the film’s intention to create such scenario to ponder the consequences… With that, I compromise.

RATING: 3.0/5.0

Film Diary: The Graduate (Tribute to Mike Nichols, Part 1)

I could only say little about the renowned director Mike Nichols who had long been making inimitable films decades before my ordinary existence. His understanding of the human ethos is directed through the intimate exploration of the many faces of tragedy, be it the perfectly recognizable post-college malaise in THE GRADUATE and the treacherous trials of love in CLOSER. These two flicks are quite seductive on their own; the former famously identified by its iconic quote and the latter through its quartet of attractive leads. Nichols is also notable for selecting the felicitous accompanying folk music that enriches the overall cinematic experience. Without further ado, here are my takes on two of Nichols’ mainstream films.

@@@@@

THE GRADUATE (1967)

vlcsnap-2015-04-18-13h04m44s155

Hello darkness, my old friend…

In describing coming-of-age films, ‘timeless’ comes into mind when the movie is still ripe of its emotional resonance, years since its release. The genre’s potent ability to evoke such feeling and memory makes the metaphysical bond with the film more personal. It’s not just by recognizing the emotive gravity of that moment, but also finding one’s self in that scene at one point in a lifetime.

If there’s a film that accurately captured a moment in my life, it would be Nichols’ Oscar-winning film (as Best Director), THE GRADUATE, starring a gangly and fidgety Dustin Hoffman who finds himself lost post-graduation. Simply put, this coming-of-age film perfectly understands and embodies the empty void the ex-student feels after finishing one’s education. It’s the only movie that articulated excellently the existential crisis I felt after graduation. What do I do with my life after finishing school? How do I begin the rest of my life after completing the only thing that I’ve been doing since kindergarten? THE GRADUATE doesn’t grill its lead character about philosophical and radical rhetoric fitting for his scholarly standing. The young, promising intellectual introduced as Benjamin Braddock was weathered to become uncertain and unguarded whose compulsiveness to evade his career indecision took him off the road. The ending may not be the most optimistic but it is realistic. Awkwardly funny yet affecting of its youth’s cynicism and idealism, THE GRADUATE is consistent in evoking the authentic malaise that people who were once in Benjamin’s shoes had felt, including me.

vlcsnap-2015-04-18-13h33m41s114

First meeting.

Benjamin’s infamous affair with Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) becomes his main diversion during his post-collegiate and pre-occupation existential limbo. What follows was a whirlwind of events that brought out Benjamin’s assertiveness from his timidity. The essence of coming-of-age films is rooted on the self-discovery and personal growth that bloom from life-changing decisions of its precocious and/or impetuous young characters. Benjamin wouldn’t recognize the man he had grown at the conclusion. However, his neutral impression in the last scene finds him on the same page in the beginning, haunted by uncertainty.

THE GRADUATE is a poignant splice of life easy to identify with. The feeling of ambiguity, anxiety and apprehension altogether simmer into the vulnerability of not knowing what to do in the future. Amidst the troubles on the heels of his recklessness, Benjamin discovers passion in pursuing what he wants and fights for it in the end. While the film is ambiguous on the regret over his climatic choice, the ending establishes the necessary maturity of his character existing in the permanence of uncertainty. THE GRADUATE is sympathetic on his predicament but it also emphasizes the inevitability of growing up (making more informed choices as the first step). The fear of what the future could bring can’t be overturned and Benjamin realizes it in the end. All he could do is be committed to his life-changing decision.

vlcsnap-2015-04-18-13h43m32s131

Benjamin (Hoffman) catching a break.

Remarkably blending with Benjamin’s personal journey in THE GRADUATE is Nichols’ fine choice of folk music from Simon & Garfunkel, whose quintessential melodies foster the film’s soul. Comforting yet brooding of the lead’s problematic situation, “The Sound of Silence” plays as Benjamin arrives from the airport; his uneasiness already palpable and the same song lulls during his nightly rendezvous with Mrs. Robinson. “Mrs. Robinson” is an ode to the movie’s ageless and most famous pop cultural reference. “Scarborough Fair” bookmarks Benjamin’s change in priorities as dictated by his heart.

Timeless and endearing, THE GRADUATE is one of those films that nurtures the being. While it led me to look back to my unemployed days/post-graduation days worried from purposelessness and failure, it also inspired me to look ahead. It’s a scary, uncertain tomorrow but the only direction for the graduate is forward. Speaking for every graduate, I‘m entitled to make mistakes, as long as I learn from it and use them to become better version of myself.

No more turning back, okay?

vlcsnap-2015-04-18-15h00m50s192

P.S.

Now I know why Summer from 500 Days of Summer cried. I didn’t cry anyway, but I felt what she felt. And so should you.

Rating: 4.0/5.0

UP NEXT: Why “Closer” makes me glad I’m single.

Film Diary: Interstellar, Gone Girl (Part 2)

GONE GIRL No other sentence in Gillian Flynn’s novel is as foreboding and encompassing as “There’s a difference between loving someone and loving the idea of her.” It highlights a distinction between perception and reality, and what can be perceived is not always the truth. Sometimes, it takes knowing someone to his/her marrow to ascertain the real person in front of you. He/she could be playing other people or playing against you – a sneaky role-playing game Flynn creates in an ugly and unwinnable duel of marriage. Set in the reverberating milieu of economic recession and made bitterer by the poisonous wordsmithery of its engrossingly hateful characters, GONE GIRL breathes the bruising nastiness of relationships and deliberate manipulation of the charismatic that can either lead to self-preservation and self-destruction. Flynn weds the ideas of irreconcilable personalities and psychological gimmickry in her two beguiling characters that fascinatingly embodied the fact and fiction of their contrived dilemma. The literary and cinematic medium worked hand-in-hand in enlivening Flynn’s twisty matrimonial tableau, which are reminiscent of the little, inside jokes soulfully binding Nick and Amy. Amidst the prevailing cynic heartbeat and loathing personas, GONE GIRL is a compulsively consumable work of fiction whose ferocious spirit is raw and recognizable in real life – all the more irresistible and mesmerizing to its audience, readers and film-goers alike.

@@@@@

Nick (Affleck) giving a speech before the vigil for his missing wife.

I spent months dodging spoilers before finally seeing the DVD and though I have an idea of the twist halfway, I am still astounded of Fincher’s latest auteur. On its own cinematic existence, GONE GIRL engrosses with its menacing atmosphere shrouding the disintegration of marriage as provoked by its brilliantly acted, convoluted characters while being shaped splendidly as a savory mystery-thriller in its pre- and post-production components. There are just so many aspects to rave about, not to mention the themes (which I’ll tie to the book discussion later on). Between the animosity of its married duo and their willful deception to the media frenzy that they ignited, GONE GIRL is fundamentally, a story about bad people whose his and her versions of the true story are unreliable but irresistible – like any domestic drama hoi polloi feast but made more sophisticated to the senses.

Pike as Amy Elliott-Dunne

Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) is the latest, memorable onscreen couple whose relationship becomes the subject of Fincher’s stylish scrutiny. Affleck’s turbulent past romance enabled him to be strangely comfortable in his character’s indecisiveness, insensitivity and obliviousness who is constantly pelleted due to his tactless behavior in his wife’s disappearance. Carrie Coon as Margo, Nick’s twin sister, is affecting and tactful in the allegations against her brother. But ultimately, GONE GIRL is owned by Pike whose portrayal of Nick’s calculating, duplicitous and psychopathic better half is the vicious heart of the film. Pre-Fincher, Pike is a perennial supporting player whose radiance in her poised, learned but tamed roles don’t go unnoticed. But GONE GIRL finally let her loose; a revelatory showcase of her jarring capacity as an actress that could squirm her Bond Girl guise. Pike becomes the epitome of an Ice Queen; the coldness condensing in her conniving looks and her undeniable beauty unwarranted of the gritty and ghastly allure she exudes in the movie’s shocking moments. She is one of the indispensable elements that make GONE GIRL darkly enthralling. The rest is expertly delivered by Fincher’s team by their profound and visceral grasp of the source material.

“This man may kill me.”

Creating the mood for a mystery film is a meticulous ploy. But the fiduciary connection with Fincher is robust that GONE GIRL is no less gorgeous on design and reminiscent of the perturbed photography of Zodiac with heightened trepidation through unconventional decibels. The serenity of the environment captured in an ominous glow is disquieting as the supple camerawork immerses terror at Nick digesting the malevolent surprises Amy had in store for him on their fifth wedding anniversary. Before plunging to the alternate accounts of the Dunnes on page, GONE GIRL’s editing faithfully doesn’t spoil the book’s narrative structure and provokes the revealing twists and turns that make the film vividly entertaining. Enlisting Trent Raznor and Atticus Ross for the film’s original score proves to be part of Fincher’s radical film-making as their nonconforming music is vital to the movie’s DNA. The sonic output is a reflection of the apprehensive atmosphere – the placid suburb and the Dunne’s genuine romantic foundation heard in the soothing, minimalist symphonies; only to be infringed by distressing electronic abnormalities as the suspicion grows stronger and the mystery becomes more precarious. To name a few, Amy’s unyielding determination races in “Technically Missingwhile the eerily relaxing “Sugar Stormrelishes on the Dunne’s courting period. A horrifying accompaniment to an equally horrific scene, “Consummation” warns of the horror of Amy’s devious plan to Desi Collings (Neil Patrick Harris) and “Like Home” is a futuristic, hazy, relaxing tune to Nick and Amy’s telling resolution where the resounding anxiety is there to stay in their inescapable marriage.

Don’t they look harmless?

Kicking off as a mystery, GONE GIRL settles as a psychological thriller through the mind games it poses among its characters and audience. Punishment, pride and power over each other have kept Nick and Amy together even if they are apart. The film also throws a shade on journalistic sensationalism that the Dunnes’ utilize for their benefit. Who couldn’t resist a story of a beautiful, intelligent, known woman who went missing on her wedding anniversary with hints of foul play and was tragically, seemingly pregnant? Or a repentant husband talking to his wife through millions of viewers who has then learned that the media is as malleable as the façade he hides from the incriminating evidences against him? The frenzied coverage is as unreliable as Nick and Amy that the truth is tangled with deceit. GONE GIRL is also a daring and provoking machination of gender issues and while Nick’s emasculation and Amy’s misogynist’s motives raise controversy, the film (which I repeat and firmly believe) is centered on two bad people that happened to not reach their intended objective (the dissolution of their marriage) despite their pure intention. Nick and Amy bring out the best and worst in each other; like any other married couple. It’s just so happens that they’re bad people and maybe that’s the reason why they deserve each other.

RATING: 4.0/5.0

Some thoughts on Fun.’s ‘Some Nights’ album

If I were to describe Fun.‘s Grammy-nominated album, Some Nights into three words, it would be enigmatic, psychedelic, and melancholic. If you want to hear me out why, then continue reading.

It all began with the comedy-musical series Glee‘s rendition of We Are Young (one of the show’s most momentous and best group performances) which finally elevated Fun. to the global music-sphere. Although Some Nights was the band’s second album, they were nominated (and won) at the Grammys for ‘Best New Artist’ and ‘Song of the Year’ for WAY. Loving the single and curious of what kind of music Fun. has in store for its newly forged fans, I eventually spent ‘Some Nights’ with the band.

Fun.’s type of music is new to my ears. I stashed my playlist with slow rock, alternatives, folk, some jazz… and the sudden shuffle to a techno-warping ballad made Fun. so interesting. It felt as if I was transported into a surrealist’s painting where instead of its visual style of art, an enigmatic melody will guide your ears along each track. Your mind will deliberately grasp the reality of the lyrics as you move along with the song’s fantastical tune. (I hope you get what I am saying). Examples are Track #5 It Gets Better and #10 Stars. While reminiscent of Owl City’s electronica tunes, Fun. flavored rock and pop genres with synthesizers to bring out funkiness to the songs. Solo performances also come into play and added more element, like We Are Young‘s drum intro and Stars‘ bass guitar bridge. These rare combinations of musical efficiency created the psychedelic background (and feeling that IGB exudes) that could be Fun.’s signature style.

Listening closely to the songs, you’ll discover that Fun.’s lyrics are not that fun at all since the key theme was the perspectives of being alone = melancholy (you can just figure it out with the titles All Alone, All Right, Why Am I The One) which have all undergone the funky, melodic treatment. But Fun. bridges melancholy to euphoria through its anthem-like tracks of WAY and Carry On (which has a Les Miserables vibe). Some Nights album also conjures infectious choruses like the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Some of which are:

Tonight, we are young. So let’s set the world on fire. We can burn brighter than the sun(You’ve all heard and sang of it.)

Yeah, it’s all alright. I guess it’s all alright. I got nothing left inside of my chest but it’s all alright. (You’ll be singing it to yourself when something bad happened.)

When your lost and alone, and treated like a stone. Carry on. (Best when sang with a group for rapport.)

Bands nowadays can synthesize their music and personalize the output but what makes Fun. stands out is no other than the man behind the commanding and mysterious voice. Nate Ruess is chameleon-like which perfectly blends on Fun.’s musical environment. He carries the enigmatic music of Fun. with him as his voice morphs from ballad to rock, pop, electronica, and hip hop. He can belt out to the highest notes and eventually succumb to the lows in flawless transitions. His voice is full of energy and agitation that subconsciously pleads ‘Here us out! We’re an indie band from New York!’ Don’t worry Fun., it all paid off.

Some Nights back cover

We Are Young is the best track for me in the album since it’s the song that really connected to Fun.’s audience. The anthem-like tempo and engaging lyrics make WAY as one of the defining songs of today’s generation. Carry On can fill up the void after WAY. I also like the arrangement in the song that mixes percussion and synthesizers as the soft melody in the verses slowly builds up to climatic chorus. All Alright also will induce listeners on the marriage of alternative and techno music, plus its syndrome-like refrain. Stars is at first a weird conception but eventually you’ll be surprise of how Nate Ruess’ vocal prowess can make a difference.

Those are just some of my thoughts on Fun.’s Some Nights album. We Are Young is just a fraction of what Fun. can offer to the audience. If you want to listen to something that’s a legitimate cross between rock, pop, and techno, here’s the album for you. If you’re running out of creative juices, this album will inspire you. Winning ‘Best New Artist’, Fun.’s next album will be extremely anticipated. But for now, Some Nights will bring you the pleasure of eargasm to rule your nights.

Just another American Idol blog: The Artist VS. The Performer

Image

So yesterday, the white-guy-with-guitar from Georgia, Phillip Phillips (a.k.a. P-Squared, the stoned one – I hope you’ll get this) was finally crowned as the newest American Idol. To be honest, I really expected that this guy will win, without me actually following the season. I only tuned in to American Idol after hearing about the momentous ‘Save’ of Jessica Sanchez. When I watched her performance the night before (she sang Jazmine Sullivan’s Stuttering) I was wondering what the heck was wrong with America for letting this girl land the bottom three. It was totally ridiculous! (And I bet the ridiculously photogenic guy will agree.) I mean, come on. Though I’m Filipino and Jessica’s a Filipina-Mexican, America should have appreciated her voice! Anyway, the judges made the Ctrl+S, so fast forwarding to the Top 3…

It was a tough pairing-to-do for the finale. I bet that a Jessica/Joshua faceoff is more exciting than with Phillip around but Americans love Phillip! They didn’t let him taste how it feels like to be on the bottom three. Nevertheless, I salute Joshua Ledet for giving the best Idol exit EVER. He may shout a lot but in terms of vocal prowess, the two J’s deserves to be in the final faceoff. But at least Joshua has a lot of moments to savor in the finale. He got the other finalists sing as his back-up. (It was refreshing to see Colton Dixon, by the way).

So where is this ‘Just another American Idol blog‘ heading? It had been clear to me what last night’s faceoff really is. It’s not about the small-town guitarist versus the powerhouse diva. It’s about (and this is debatable) the ARTIST VERSUS the PERFORMER.

One may ask what is the difference of both, and it can be better portrayed using a Venn Diagram. The area in between is a special category for very gifted individuals who can be the artist and the performer. You can think of the singers that may fall in this category and I admit that I’m only a music enthusiast and not really an expert and a know-it-all in the industry so I’ll segue to the Venn Diagram, American Idol edition.

Phillip, is no doubt, the artist. He may not be able to belt out like Jessica, Joshua, and Skylar Laine but in his every performace, he sits with his band and just amaze me on how he Phillip-Phillips the song. Since I only tuned into Idol after the ‘Save’ (I didn’t bother anymore watching their previous performances because I know they’ll be better on the succeeding rounds), I first watched Phillip and his rendition of In the Midnight Hour. I actually liked it! The funky vibe, the jazzy setup, his weird but cute facial expressions when he makes his sounds – but this is not the formula of Phillip-Phillip-ing a song. It’s an unexplainable feeling of comfy he shares to his viewers. Though their are some songs that the P-Squared didn’t work out, like Give a Little More and Time of the Season, I still like him and his style. I have to agree with Jennifer Lopez that his performance of Volcano is the most poignant and the best he’s given for the entire season. Everything he did was effortless and his win was also effortless. Enough said. Other ‘artists’ in the competition are Elise Testone and Colton.

On the other hand, Jessica is the performer but not just any other performer! She’s a diva in her 16 yrs. old self. Admit it, her duet with Jennifer Holiday is the HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT. She kept up with the Grammy winner and she outperformed herself when she sang the song on the Top 4 round. She is technically, the best singer in the competition. She doesn’t need to shout like Joshua (watch her performance of You Are So Beautiful) and she doesn’t have to run around the stage like Skylar. She’ll just stand on the middle of the stage or sit on the piano or sit on the stage. (Come to think of it, it’s harder on that position because the degree of breathing varies when you stand, sit, kneel, etc.) Though she also has  some faults on song choices (some that makes her mature removing the youthfulness in her and some that deviates from her genre), she nails her performances effortlessly too! Jessica is simply wonderful girl with a voice than can conquer the charts someday. She may not be the American Idol but she’s already a World Idol for me. And just to add, she’s the long lost diva of our generation! Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, and the others have NO MATCH on her! She’s the only one in the American music industry to have that kind of voice! She is, the one and only. Enough said.

So that’s it! With regards to The Artist vs. The Performer type of singers, I thought Adele is a performer especially on how she makes heartfelt performances. Jennifer Lopez is also a performer, including Whitney Houston, Celine Dion… For the artists, I think bands fall on this type, especially the established ones like Queen, The Beatles – those who really made a following through their music. As for those who belong to the Artist-Performer, Michael Jackson is an epitome. Lady Gaga may also be on this one but it’s hard to distinguish which from which so this remains debatable and would be better if the argument is based specifically on a certain subject.

Congratulations to the new Idol winner! I hope his career won’t befall to the previous winners. WGWG is becoming a mediocrity in Idol and though Jessica is a step closer, she’s a winner on her own. I look forward on their new singles and may the odds be ever in their favor!

Image