MANILA – For the first time since it aired, the viewing public weighed in with their votes on “The Voice of the Philippines” and made surprising choices as the hit TV talent competition aired its first live show on Sunday at the Newport Performing Arts Theater of Resorts World Manila.
Voters picked Baguio musician Darryl Shy over early front-runner, former Kulay member Radha for Team Lea, and also selected Myk Perez over another early favorite, singer Lee Grane, for Team Bamboo.
The unique voting scheme for the live shows allows viewers to send in their votes only during commercial breaks – a first on Philippine TV. The voting for each team opens after the performances of the three artists, and closes after a full commercial break. The poll results for all the teams were announced at the end of the show.
The artist from each team who gets the highest percentage of votes will be the first one to be saved. The coach will then have to choose who between his or her two remaining artists gets to stay and gets eliminated.
Shy, who sang Loggins & Messina’s “Danny’s Song,” received positive comments with his coach, Broadway star Lea Salonga, saying it was his best performance of the song since rehearsals. “You took everything that we were telling you to do. That was gorgeous,” she said.
“Ang ganda lang talaga ng kulay na binibigay mo sa kompetisyon na ito. You’re a true blue folk singer and a storyteller,” coach Bamboo Manalac added.
Viewers seemed to agree, with Shy receiving more than half (51.41%) of the votes.
Salonga then had to choose between Radha, who sang Tina Turner’s classic “River Deep Mountain High,” and Fil-Am contestant RJ dela Fuente, who performed “I’ll Stand By You” from The Pretenders.
“Miss Radha, you’re a diva, you’re a pro, bakit nandidito ka?” coach Sarah Geronimo told her. “Fantastic concert performance! Hindi competition feel ang binigay mo.”
Salonga also praised the underdog dela Fuente, reminding the contestant that “you deserve to be up there.” “You knocked out that song like crazy. It exceeded by own expectations,” she said.
As expected, Salonga saved Radha, who will continue on in the competition.
The night’s other major upset was when viewers gave Myk Perez 54.8% of the vote against the popular Lee Grane.
Perez, who accompanied himself on the guitar, performed a mashup of Katy Perry’s “California Girl” and Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely,” and was praised for the tight arrangement.
“Hanga ako sa mashup, sa performance. I just love people who play and sing at the same time,” said coach apl.de.ap.
“Ang saya nun. Very creative arrangement and that’s all you. That was excellent,” raved Perez’s coach Bamboo.
Grane, for her part, chose the Bob Dylan ballad “To Make You Feel My Love,” which also had the coaches raving, with Salonga saying her performance “justified” Bamboo’s controversial decision to allow her to move on to the live shows.
"You’re out of this world with the right song. I don’t have to say anything. You just proved it right there,” Bamboo said.
That left Talia Reyes as the obvious long shot with her version of Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know.” While Bamboo praised the singer-songwriter for her “versatility” despite her youth, it was already obvious that the rocker will save Grane to move on in the contest.
Indeed, when he made his save, he gave a short quip: “It’s got to be Lee.”
Viewers made more popular choices with the other teams, picking backup singer Thor Dulay for Team Apl and theater actress Morissette Amon for Team Sarah.
Dulay, who performed with a fever, gave a soulful rendition of Gary Valenciano’s “Narito,” which earned a standing ovation from his coach.
“You have bought the thunder,” Bamboo raved. “You almost blew the roof up.”
Dulay competed against street vendor Cora dela Cruz, who rocked out with Sampaguita’s “Nosi Ba Lasi,” and young singer Jessica Reynoso, who became emotional while singing Fantasia’s “I Believe.”
“Ang unique-unique mo. Panalong panalo ka sa enerhiya mo, sa galaw mo, talagang napapaindak mo ako sa performance mo,” Geronimo told dela Cruz.
“I really hope this girl gets through,” Salonga said of Reynoso. “When you got emotional in the end, that’s when you got me at the heart.”
When it was time to give his choice, apl said: “Cora, may espesyal sa ‘yo na wala ang iba. Talagang authentic ang voice mo, very unique. Pero sa pagkakataon na ito, kailangan kong pumili. Ang ililigtas ko ay si Jessica.”
Meanwhile, Amon received the highest percentage of votes during the night with 57.16% for her stirring rendition of Christina Perri’s power ballad “Jar of Hearts,” that had Geronimo gushing, “You’re a much better version of me,” noting that Amon is only 17.
Amon competed against the show’s oldest contestants, Eva delos Santos, who played the piano while singing Carole King’s “So Far Away,” and rocker Junji Arias, who also played the piano in the early part of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing.”
Salonga said she felt delos Santos “oversang” although she liked the beginning and ending of the song, while Bamboo praised Arias for going for the high note.
But Geronimo eventually chose to save delos Santos.