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Rito Asilo
Sat, May 15, 2010
The Inquirer
Charice strengthens bid for international pop stardom

PHILIPPINES, May 14, 2010 - IN 2005, CHARICE had to hurdle an early exit and a wildcard slot on 'Little Big Star' to muscle her way to the show's finals. To say the least, her third place finish was quite a puzzler - and a downer.

Back in those days, it wasn't all that fashionable to root for the shy but steel-voiced provinciana. Funny how things change in only five years' time.

Which is what makes the anticipated release of her international debut album, 'Charice,' even more bittersweet.

Who would have thought that the petite teenage belter would one day turn out to be 'Little Big Star's' 'biggest' loser' But, Charice's rise to the top must have been written in the stars. With the release of her David Foster-produced album, she strengthens her bid for international pop stardom.

Charice's 12-track recording can be compared to a big coming-out party- what better way to celebrate the YouTube darling's 18th birthday last Monday, one day before her album's release': It features radio-friendly tunes that are as carefully arranged as they are expertly rendered. They are lush, sing-and-groove tracks that enable the singer to showcase and sizzle in her own voice and style.

Copycat culture

We're happy to note that the new songs no longer require Charice to mimic Whitney Houston or Celine Dion - which is what we've been advocating for years. Our country's dime-a-dozen birit singers really need to put a stop to the local music industry's rampant copycat culture.

We have many powerful talents who find it hard to go beyond their otherwise crowd-pleasing performances, because they think that sounding like Mariah Carey or Regine Velasquez is the only way to go. So, they subconsciously relegate themselves to being merely 'polished' cover artists.

So far, Charice's album has two hit singles to its name: Her show-stopping cover of Diane Warren's 'Note to God' topped at No. 44 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, while 'Pyramid,' her catchy collaboration with Iyaz, was at No. 2 early this week (nope, it has yet to dislodge Rihanna's 'Rude Boy' from the top spot on the Dance Club Play chart).

The R&B cut, 'Reset,' which Charice cowrote with Peter Habib and Adam Nierow, is notable not only for its hip-funky arrangement, but also for smartly incorporating the singer's Pinoy identity into the lyrics ('Hey, pakinggan mo naman ako/ I think that this is the way na dapat gawin/ Reset, sana naman ika'y sang-ayon din/ 'I wish ika'y pumayag din'').

The synthesized sound of 'Pyramid' may be the album's catchiest, but you won't find anything more anthemic than Foster's 'In This Song,' which finds Charice singing about her hard-earned success: 'My belief in myself is gonna carry me through/ 'I'm never far from home if I open my heart and soul/ 'Everyday, there's a new bridge to cross/ But, I'm never too far from home...in this song.'

Seamless shifts

Anne Preven's 'Nobody's Singin' to Me' will remind you of Foster's 'Just For A Moment,' while 'Thank You' starts out with a stirring arrangement that later segues to a portion that demonstrates Charice's lovely, seamless shifts from chest to cottony head tones.

Some melodies tend to sound generic, but we wouldn't be surprised if a good number of songs in the lineup find favor with music's pop-weaned crowd: The sugar-laced 'I Love You' benefits from the softer tones of Charice's high register, further synergized by some catchy clapping.

Equally showy is The Corrs' rock-tinged 'In Love So Deep,' which bristles with youthful energy'as well as 'Did It For You,' which, in the bonus track of the album's local edition, she sings with Varsity Fanclub's Drew Ryan Scott.

Other top picks: Charice sings Carole Bayer Sager and Jorgen Elofsson's string-backed ballad, 'All That I Need to Survive,' with sparkling vocal lucidity.

'Nothing' is boosted by a groove that sticks and lingers, and the hit-bound 'The Truth Is' is buoyed up by a relatable sentiment that pleads to a loved one to 'read between unspoken lines.' - The Inquirer

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