(Left) Charice at last Saturday's Miss Earth coronation night and (right) in 2010 during David Foster's concert in Las Vegas. Carousel Productions/Screengrab
MANILA - Since coming out as lesbian in June 2013, Charice Pempengco has decidedly "toned down" her style of high-decibel, "birit" singing to go with her new image, as seen in her recent shows and TV appearances.
This wasn't the case, however, during last Saturday's Miss Earth finals night.
The 22-year-old singer took the stage at the UP Theater in Quezon City for an intermission number, belting out the Beyonce hit "Pretty Hurts" about stereotypes of beauty and compromising happiness and well-being to achieve them.
The song was a fitting choice for Charice, who has openly expressed her frustration about being expected to look more feminine and "beautiful," and comments that suggest her decision to revamp her image has undermined her talent.
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In the weeks that followed her admission of her sexuality last year, Charice surprised her followers with her increasingly "boyish" looks -- for which she has made no apologies. The makeover extended to her style as a singer.
"I don't want to be that 'birit queen' anymore," she said in a July 2013 interview. "I can no longer be labeled a diva—not with my image now! Expect something a bit toned down, something right in the middle."
Charice made her American television debut in 2007 after videos of her singing diva classics -- Jennifer Holliday's "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" and Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" -- went viral online.
When she joined Canadian composer David Foster, her mentor, in his international concert tour, Charice delighted audiences with more renditions of ballads popularized by female artists.
She has since released albums internationally, nabbed a guest role in the TV musical "Glee," and appeared in the comedy movie "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," among others.
Last month, Charice once again faced Oprah Winfrey, her godmother, when she appeared in the "Where Are They Now?" special of the American talk show host's TV network.