The X Factor Philippines begins: Episode 1 Recap

So it’s finally here. You gotta admit that the plugs and promos are promising enough and they make the show look like a legitimate and respectful adaptation of the franchise. Unlike the horror we got when GMA7 mercilessly killed Pinoy Idol and all hopes that a Filipino Idol adaptation will be aired ever again on our shores.

The X Factor replaces the slot of Pilipinas Got Talent, which, after 3 seasons have been getting all singers as winners so maybe ABS-CBN decided to just do a singing competition to stop Kris Aquino from explaining to format owner Fremantle on air how varied their pool of talent is, even when it’s not.

What The X Factor – the show – has is the bigness, the gloss, the class and its superstar treatment of its talents making it not just any other TV talent show. Did ABS-CBN deliver? How was their treatment of this newest TV import? Click to read more.

The season starts with the same aerial shots we saw in the previews, and the requisite crowd shot which obviously looks cropped to look that there were more people. But the crowd’s not too big and you can tell from watching it on TV. Especially when you’re on wide screen format heh. Host KC Concepcion begins by saying how successful the show is in the UK and how it ruled the US. Uhm KC, it’s not a US success story… yet. They reformatted rifht after the first season, right/ ANd then she tells us that the PH edition is now one of the 38 editions all over the wiord and something about the Philippines being the home of the best singers on earth. Like, maybe Pinoy Idol Gretchen Espina or Pilipinas Got Talent champs Maasinhon Trio.

And then we meet the judges. 80s to early 90s archrivals Matin Nievera and Gary Valenciano, Beatles front act Pilita Corales and the new Charice who’s been recently announcing on TV how the old Charice (aka the one that got her all famous and all) wasn’t really her. But that’s another story.

Martin declares that The X Factor Philippines is the best avenue to find the very best. Let’s see.

21-year old Irish Serrano from Davao makes history as the first every televised audition of the show. She’s dressed in a strange gown that’s perfect for the event, if she’s auditioning for Little Miss Philippines. She’s not awful looking and she’s someone you’d expect to belt out some diva songs with vocal calesthenics. And then she opens her mouth to sing Half Crazy and Charice notes that she sounds like a man. Maybe she means it as a compliment. But she does sound like a man. The judges are baffled. They ask her to sing again but it’s the same deep deep voice, deeper than Jessa Zaragoza’s almost like the scary deep voice from Boyz II Men, so they all send her away and her friends cry because to them Irish is the definition of X Factor.

All of the sudden, this guy J.E. Mandapat, a 25-year-old call center agent from Caloocan is telling us how his drunkard father threw him a beer once but now he’s seen the light and is now a Christian. Must be a not so subtle Gary V shoutout. He sings I Don’t Have a Heart in a very karaoke way but he gets 4 YES’s and moves on.

Jhelsea Flores is next, who is a very pretty 19 year old chinita who registers well on TV. She looks like Zhang Ziyi or a Kim Chiu before the Gerald break-up when her eyes aren’t dead and sad. She sings Get Here but the acoustics in the audition hall must be very good cause the judges and KC raved about her beautiful voice but on TV, it just sounds very loungey. Naturally, they all give her a YES and Charice goes on to act like the head of the judging panel asking questions like “Emotional ba ang paghihiwalay ng parents mo?” No Charice. Dedma lang sila cause you know, they’re separating. no big deal. She goes on stage just to say yes and yes her self-written Twitter bio is accurate. Charice is guwapito.

Next is Mark Mabasa a 26-year-old freelance singer. Freelance singer? Isn’t that another word for a singer with no permanent employment? “My mom and dad is a singer,’ he says, which means his mom and dad is just one person. He looks cute on TV, the type votes would vote for but he doesn’t have a sob story like the previous Kim Chiu double (and many others in the future, we expect) which can be his downfall. He sings A Song For You with his strange facial contortions and angry faces and nostrils. This guy is smart. He speaks well and he looks like he understands what he’s singing. He belts out a monster note in the end and Martin and Gary are pleased, Martin especially who’s stopping himself from saying Fuck and Motherfucker because only TV5 allows cussing on air. Mark says his mom/dad is a big Pilita fan and they let her come out and a diva-off begins with Pilita and her duelling on Kapantay ay Langit. it was marvelous and the mom deserved 4 YES’s, like Mark who gets it.

And then clips of two groups – Boys on Track singing Dance with my Father and a group called MP$ singing On Bended Knees. Meh. Very generic. At least they don’t act like a Korean boy group – something very in demand in Party Pilipinas.

After the boy groups comes the gay group. D Biygs (they say it’s Visayan for Bongga) is like a gay TLC – a trio with two vocalists and a butch rapper. The sing-rap Yeng Constantino’s Hawak Kamay and it was a mess. I think there’s beat boxing, but I’m not sure because it’s just too confusing, especially with that painful falsetto in the end. Sadly, this isn’t Got Talent so there are no kris Aquino and AiAi to save the gays. So 4 NO’s for the gay TLC.

Can I just say I hate seeing monobloc chairs on TV cause they just look so tacky?

55 year-old security agency manager and body-builder Modesto Taran from Cagayan De Oro says he likes X Factor because it doesn’t care how old you are or how you look. No sir, that’s Pilipinas Got Talent. He’s also a smart and witty conversationalist which is a rarity in the Philippine music industry. Charice, always the scene stealer, asks him of his rituals and he said he does the Ma Me Mi Mo Mu vocalization except that it’s both Mos for the last two notes. He sings My Way by Frank Sinatra and Martin feels for him because, it’s true, he genuinely feels like a guys who’s waited all his life to sing this song to a welcoming audience. Modesto becomes emotional and so does Charice who breaks down, saying Modesto reminds her of her dad who likes singing that song. She sobs uncontrollably, explaining how Modesto got her deeply touched and all and then production has to stop the auditions. Pilita asks why Charice is crying, meaning she wasn’t really paying attention all throughout the Charice drama. He gets 4 YES’s by the way.

And then here comes the requisite funny guy bordering on weird slash creepy. 18-year-old Kedebon Colim from Cebu has a strange accent and even a stranger humor. He says he’s got a lot of crushes and they make his heart chug chug aa which makes Jolina think she should have copyrighted Chuva Choo Choo. Kedebon says he’s now including Pilita and Charice in his list of crushes and Pilita promises him lips to lips which sounds like a threat and Kedebon is challenged. He sings One Direction’s What Makes You Beautiful and the crowd goes wild because he is a natural entertainer and performer. His mom waiting backstage hugs KC and KC lifts her like she’s lifting paper because KC is an amazon. He’s flat and tune-less in the beginning but his energy picks up towards the chorus.

He gets the Pilita kiss which is his first kiss cause mom kisses don’t count. Kedebon hugs Gary V and he cries cause he’s his idol, leaving Martin the only unloved judge in the panel. Martin fakes call his mom to ask her why she doesn’t kiss him and why young singers like Gary V and not him. No he didn’t ask the second question.

That ends the pilot episode and it is actually quite promising. The judging panel is a huge huge upgrade from the Pilipinas Got Talent gorup who would basically love everything and everyone and/or would just say yes or no or you got it or some other shit that basically mean yes or no. Charice may have looked very annoying, making everything all about her, but I think that’s because of the editing cause it’s impossible for Martin to just sit there to be overshadowed. So far, no real music or performance critique yet but at least they speak what’s on their mind all sounding professional, believable and credible. And Pilita is always a joy to watch. Making me miss Philippine Idol which is the only real Idol franchise in the Philippines IMHO.

And KC Concepcion as the host. Is she in it? Haha. Yeah. She’s almost a wallflower. No connection with either the contestants/families/friends and the viewers. None yet. KC will improve, I think. She’s eloquent, she’s hardworking, she’s a performer, how can she not do it? But as of now, the telecast makes you think if the dimmed spotlight on the host is intentional. Intriga right there.

And so we’re off to a good start. The verdict – The X Factor Philippines is an adaptation that carries the country’s name that we will not be ashamed of. Fremantle should forgive us for what we did to their other TV gem – the Idol franchise. Let the new weekend habit begin.

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