Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dreamgirls Composer: Charice's version of "Listen" is better than the original

Many, including myself at times, would say of certain things that, generally, the original's the best. But Charice is obviously far from being part of what's general or usual out there.

And so while there are people who get peeved when her fans say that she's better than the original when she sings covers, a significant composer like Henry Krieger does not hesitate at all to say that yes, Charice did better than the original.

InDepth InterView: Henry Krieger Talks LUCKY DUCK, DREAMGIRLS, SIDE SHOW...

Recently, noted composer Henry Krieger was generous enough to take a comprehensive look back at his many accomplishments onstage and onscreen, turning back the pages of time and sharing memories of DREAMGIRLS...

PC: Charice did “Listen” from the DREAMGIRLS film on GLEE to much acclaim last year - she has done this column, as well, actually.

HK: Oh, yeah - I love her! Her version is better than the original.
That's a wonderful compliment from a great composer to a great singer.

To it I'll just add that it's not only that Charice sings it better. Even more than this, she has a very, very beautiful voice that sounds rich & deep in whatever song genre. And her performances are always passionate. I think this is a rare combination in singers, especially these days.

Read more:

Listen to Charice singing "Listen" on Glee:

Buy it at

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Behind the Scenes: Charice Album

Below is an original post by Mr Arnold Jallores in his blog, The Sound of Arnold!

He talks about the album production of "Charice", the Philippine EP and debut EP of Charice released in May 2008. This is different from the international debut album also titled "Charice" which was released internationally in May 2010 and reached the No. 8 spot in the Billboard 200, making Charice the first Asian artist to do this. (Read more about Charice's discography)

(I just adjusted a bit the layout of the original post, highlighted my favorite parts, and added the photos the author placed in separate posts.)
OK... now my life is back to being semi normal after a series of album productions starting off with sweet Charice Pempengco's self titled album.

Now i feel i can blog about this album since it is out on the market and i can look back and shed some useful info on the production of this album.

First off, cut number one: And I Am Telling You

Originally heard on the movie adaptation of "Dreamgirls".

Arranged by Arnold Buena, a talented and amazing arranger who uses high quality samples on his arrangement. None of the orchestral instruments were done live but if you listen closely enough you probably won't notice since the MIDI arrangement and samples are simply fantastic.

Charice didn't sing the way Jennifer Hudson did. She wanted to do it her way which Jon and I happily agreed. At least she doesn't just want to cover the song but to sing it in a style of her own.

Picture of me (author) and Charice Pempengco
taken during one of her vocal sessions for her self titled album.
Click the photo to go to the original post.

Cut number two: It Can Only Get Better

...A song originally done by Amy Diamond.

Now this song I believe can't be sung in any other way since it is about juvenile love. It's a teenage girl singing about how after all the pains you encounter, things will definitely get better. Hmmm now isn't that a song we can all relate to?

This song I arranged but i did change it a little bit since the original arrangement didn't have a band feel to it. No drums and no string parts, this I put in myself to make the song more lifting and heavier towards the middle and end part. The guitars were all done live by again... Me :-)

I just love playing guitars specially on an album which features a very competent singer.

If you listen closely to this song you'll hear an original guitar line that i felt complements the particular section it was in.

Cut number three: I Will Always Love You

Originally written and performed by Dolly Parton if i'm not mistaken. But we all remember Whitney Houston's famous rendition of this song.

Charice practically grew up singing Whitney songs... so this one is not so much of a difficult song for her and she sings it in its original key. I've seen Whitney videos on YouTube of her singing this song a key lower. Charice does justice on this song since she must've been singing it since she was four years old. hahaha

This version was arranged by my good friend Paulo Zarate who now has his own studio aptly called Studio Z!

Guitars by moi... this song originally had a saxophone solo in the middle part but now for this album Jon wanted a guitar solo so ... i used my fender strat for this song plugged straight to Protools with an amp simulator plugin.

Cut number four: Born To Love You Forever

Now this song is a Swedish song originally included on an album she recorded in Sweden.

The original arrangement was for the Swedish market which i believe likes songs with heavy synth textures and drum loops.

The arrangement for this song is once again done by.... guess? Well, me of course. Jon decided as producer that he wanted me to give this song a band feel to it of which i was only too happy to oblige.

Charice did all the vocals for this song... which called for quite a number of backup vocals as well and Jon decided to let Charice sing her backup parts as well so that the texture and stable vocal timing are retained.

Cut number five: I Have Nothing

This song posed quite a challenge since the original arrangement was done by David Foster.

And Leona Lewis has done this song as well. Jon wanted to keep the original Foster arrangement since we both felt that this was a very good arrangement for this song and it would not seem right to change it at all ... since this album was intended to be used by young hopeful singers as well hence the inclusion of minus one versions of all the songs in the album.

Of course the Foster version featured human musicians but Philippine production budget would not allow for a full orchestra for just one song, well unless you'll only sell one song on the CD.

Plus the logistics for doing such a thing would be ridiculous considering the amount of time we were told to come up with this album. This album was started after her "Ellen" performance and before her "Oprah" guesting. In the middle of production we had to take a short break because she had to go to do the Paul O'grady show in London. Charice had a hectic schedule.

I personally like the arrangement and I think it holds it own and it serves its purpose.

One very notable incident was that I arranged the song almost sync'd to the original and i purposely did not put in a click track or metronome count on the breaks of this song. Charice sang it straight through proving that she knows this song by heart and did not need a count to keep her in time. Now that's something I rarely see in a singer. :-)

(Author) with Charice Pempengco... who as far as i know is the first filipina singer
to guest in Oprah's show. :-)
Click the photo to go to the original post.

Cut number six: Mama

Originally done by Smokey Mountain.

Star Records wanted to include this song since they felt Charice could do justice to this song. It was kind of funny though since the lyrics include the lines "mama is a maid in London" which Mrs. Pempengco obviously isn't. We had a blast doing this song which was arranged by Gino "Blooze" Cruz, another excellent musical arranger and keyboard player.

Charice wasn't really familiar with this song so it took a little bit longer to sing than when she sings a song she knows by heart.

All recordings were done at Mixsonic Recording studios
Recorded by Arnold Jallores and Jonathan Manalo
Produced by Jonathan Manalo for Star Records Inc.

The original mix had vocals sitting on the mix but Star Records wanted more vocals upfront since after all it was a vocal album.

Mixed and mastered by
Arnold Jallores
Go to the original post: Charice Album

Monday, April 9, 2012

Vote for Charice in the 11th Annual Popstar Poptastic Awards!

Vote for Charice in the Female Singer category.

To go to the voting site:

According to the site, "all votes must be received by April 30th".

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Charice's New Look and Her Fans / Fingerprint

Updated on 9 April 2012
Taken in April 2012 at the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards 2012
(that was after her March 2012 taping in the the Korean show Star King)

Frankly, I'm happy that as Charice continues on her way to the top, she's doing it by working hard and seems to know better how to preserve her voice while at the same time singing on a higher level with amazing contrasts - when she wants to she can make her voice so much fuller or lighter, edgy or melodious, powerful or soft. Her Infinity Tour showed her greatness as a singer - and she's still only 19.

With regard to her new look, I'm learning to like the new hair but not as much as her long black hair. I think she looks so beautiful in the photo above while I'm not so sold on some of the boyish outfits like what she wore in Star King; though if you talk of extremes I'd rather those than see her baring flesh and/or performing in glorified underwear as is getting common now.

And the tattoo? Well, I won't encourage my students to have one but Charice wears hers simply - and amazingly for me, she still looks clean and wholesome.

So I'm not completely taken by her new look (and I neither liked her singing "Take You Down" and dancing to it in her tour). But what matters more is that Charice is still Charice - her attitude, her talk, her love for her family and fans. Besides, in her Infinity Tour, she showed her flexibility in style - with rugged attire in some parts while sleek and feminine (with killer heels) when she sang the ballads.

I think all these "fans" getting turned off and angrily airing all their "concerns" can only find reasonable ground for doing so if Charice were to turn indecent and vulgar and/or get hooked on vices. Because then she'd really be destroying herself and negatively influencing many of her followers.

Charice is growing up and just like any person who's searching and establishing her own identity, she can make some mistakes here and there. Give her space! After all, Charice continues to show herself a sensible girl.

In her Infinity Tour press conference in the Philippines, she said that when she does something, she always has reasons, and does not do something simply because she wants to. The girl thinks and her thinking - together with her humble, loving heart - has brought her to a good high road so far.

So if mere looks or style is such an overwhelmingly major concern for some people, then they should look for a more superficial star to follow.

Adding below the lyrics and video of Fingerprint, an original by Charice:
Lyrics from:
How can I be sure
When everything is so confusing
I'm old enough to learn
That I'm too young to know what I'm doing
Gotta break free
From what used to be
It no longer makes sense for me

How do I stand out
In a world that's all about fitting in
I'm certain of my doubts
But I wouldn't be me for no reason
My identity
Right in front of me
There's nobody else I wanna be like


I'm positive
That I don't know where I'm going
How do I make sense
Of all these crazy emotions
I'm up and down
Get turned around
But I'm still clear on my intentions


Do they see me like I see me?
Not even close
Do they know me like I know me?
Well I don't know
I'm still undecided but I realize that it's ok
Good things are worth the wait

Monday, April 2, 2012

"Charice Wins Favorite Asian Act at Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards 2012" Articles

First, this photo of the beautiful Charice with the Orange Blimp...

And her tweets:
Article links:

Charice named Favorite Asian Artist at Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards
"Millions of Charice's fans voted online, on mobile, on Facebook and on Twitter, showing us not only how popular she is across Asia, but also how active Nickelodeon’s audience in Asia is online,” said Syahrizan Mansor, Senior Director, Programming & On-Air, Nickelodeon SEA. “We couldn’t be happier for her or her fans, and congratulate Charice for winning the inaugural Favorite Asian Artist Awards.

Charice got six million votes from fans all over the world.
Charice Wins Favorite Asian Artist At 2012 Kids’ Choice Awards
Charice is the first singer to nab a blimp in this brand-new category.

Charice wins Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards’ 'Favorite Asian Act'

Charice “Favorite Asian Artist” at KCA!

Charice wins at Kids' Choice Awards in US

Top stars reign at Nickelodeon’s Choice Awards

Bieber, Berry slimed at Kids Choice Awards Charice wins Favorite Asian Act

Bieber, Swift Big Winners at Kids' Choice Awards, Agnes Monica Loses to Charice‬

Charice thrilled over win at the Kids’ Choice Awards;+Choice+Awards

Charice Takes Home Favorite Asian Act Award while US First Lady Obama Gets Slimed at Nickelodeon’s 25th Annual Kids’ Choice Awards

Charice wins at Kids' Choice Awards in US

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Charice Wins the Nickelodeon KCA 2012 Favorite Asian Act Award

After a successful Asian Infinity Tour, here's another achievement by Charice!

Congratulations, Princess! Congratulations too for having such dedicated, hardworking, passionate Chasters all over the world!

Tweet from @NickelodeonTV regarding the airing of exclusive-award winners:

TV Contest Director on What Makes Charice a Standout

Posting here excerpts from the article written by Mr Freddie Santos, the director of "Batang Kampeon", a tv weekly singing contest joined by Charice when she was 9 years old:
...Throughout the 70’s, singing champions came and went and in general, they were all very good singers, just nothing too great is all. Until the 80’s came around when a young provincial lass of 16 by the name of Chona Velasquez won the national finals. Slight in stature and hefty in voice, she caught the nation’s fancy, but only for a little while.

In the next couple of years after her winning, she went under the management of Ronnie Henares, was put in my charge for performance coaching and her name was changed from Chona (her nickname) to Regine (her baptismal name).

With the country still not heavily enamoured with her, Regine was sent to Tokyo to represent the country in the Asia Pacific Singing Contest and after some spectacular renditions of two Broadway showstoppers, hands down, she won.

Her victory stunned the Philippines like lightning and almost immediately, belting one’s heart and guts out (we call it BIRIT) became the new standard for triumphant singing.

It was when the country shifted to this mentality regarding pop singing that Charice Pempengco was born.

Unsurprisingly, it was this kind of singing that her own mother, a former singer herself, would teach her. When her family life began falling apart and Charice (aged only 4 at that time), her mother and brother had to flee from a hopelessly abusive situation with Charice’s father, it was “Birit” singing that saw them through. Singing contest after singing contest, in whatever barangay (village) of whatever province, Charice joined and sang and belted and hit notes impossibly high for most girls her tender age. She won some, lost many…but she never stopped.

When she was 9, she auditioned for the Batang Kampeon (Child Champion) Singing Contest, a television weekly which I was directing at that time. The BKSC was a brainchild of Ultimate Entertainment and was aired on Channel 13. Our tapings were all held at Broadcast City which housed the studios of both Channels 9 and 13.

For hosts, I had two of the most delightful, most iconic entertainers in Philippine showbiz. First was Pilita Corrales, herself a product of several radio singing contests. Gifted with a velvety alto, a whistle-bait figure, a naughty sense of humor and a unique, sexy performance style, she became known during the 60’s as Asia’s Queen of Song. Co-hosting with Pilita was Carding Cruz, the wackier half of former Las Vegas headliners The Reycard Duet which was a crowd-drawer at The Strip during the 60’s and 70’s.

The format of Batang Kampeon was simple. 4 weekly winners, 12 monthly winners, one grand champion. Charice won in the month of September.

Because I was the director of the show, I could not do any kind of coaching to the finalists. That was a bit frustrating for me because I had some very clear ideas on how to teach these kids to deliver solid performances. Instead, they have to listen to parents, relatives, neighbours and God knows who else and believe me, many a performance has gone awry due to some bad advice from such well-meaning people.

Some of such advice:

    Sing like Celine Dion
    Act like Mariah Carey
    Win like Regine Velasquez

The end result is, to my mind, almost always awful, yet the public almost always buys it. (At least, the Pinoy public does.) Some critics attribute it to our “colonial mentality”, a nurtured bias towards anything white and west. I attribute it to a “winning mentality” – whatever so and so did to win, you do the same and you have a chance. It’s not a matter of being the best, it’s a matter of what will get the judges’ nod.

And obey such advice every singing finalist on this TV show, boy or girl, tried to do. Sadly, during the Grand Finals, Charice couldn’t do it.

Oh, she tried, that’s for sure. Performing big and brassy was already muscle memory for these kids, it was just a matter of who was bigger and brassier. On that day, Charice was not. Take a look at the video compilation and see and hear for yourself after which, I will tell you my opinion on what of Charice made her a true standout then, and still does today. And it has only little to do with her voice.

Watch Charice Pempenco

(Or watch a re-upload with improved audio: - inkheart)


1. Do what you can… – Nobody prays to be in an abusive situation. But finding herself in one, Charice’s mother did the best thing she could which was to pack up her two kids and get the hell out of there.

2. With all that you’ve got… – Finding that her daughter could carry a tune, and not just lightweight ones, Charice’s mom entered her into countless contests, the winnings of which were enough to feed the family of three for a good number of years.

3. And in all that you get… – Treat every opportunity that comes your way with great importance and respect. You never know where it can lead, you never know what it can teach.

4. Find great JOY. – And this is what I believe continues to make Charice a standout. That smile is real. That gladness is real. At the age of 9, she knew what it meant to delight in what she was doing. Look at the video again in case you may have missed it. Do you see any violent past in her eyes? Any hunger in her facial expression? Any desire to win for winning’s sake? Whether or not such things are in her, notice that the moment the music starts, her joy, her genuine, immeasurable joy over music, takes over and to my mind, it is this that continues to be her most appealing talent.

5. And may that joy never end. – As many know, Charice was spotted in a YouTube video by a very impressed TV Host Ellen Degeneres and was asked immediately to appear in the host’s American TV program. This then led to another appearance on American TV, this time on The Oprah Winfrey Show where Charice’s international career began taking shape under the guidance of Ms. Winfrey whose greatest contribution to Charice’s music was introducing her to the brilliant composer/producer/mentor David Foster.

Shortly after such things happened, Charice came back to the Philippines for a couple of appearances. At the same time, another young talent was also making a visit home. Charlie Green, son of an English father and a Filipina mother (a Cebuana!), had just recently made waves on the UK program Britain’s Got Talent, impressing no less than producer/critic Simon Cowell.

With both Charice and Charlie in town, producer Precy M. Florentino, president of the Music Museum Group whose venues serve as the launch pads of many Filipino music stars, decided it was only right and just to recognize the achievements of these two youngsters.

Entertainment press and luminaries came in full force and as director/host of this event, I was able to watch Charice and Charlie perform live from up close.

Despite such cathartic events in their young lives, and no doubt with much thanks to their doting parents, those two – neither one of whom became grand champions in their respective contests – exuded joy that moved the audience to cheers and tears.

Singing from a place of no agenda and overflowing delight, they had become true champions. 
Read the full article at Direksions: Life Blogs of a Live Director: