MANILA, Philippines?If you?ve had your fill of local contemporary music?s predilection for grungy pop-rock tunes and saccharine-flavored revivals, get a copy of ?Pinoy Dream Academy Season Two Scholars Sing Cayabyab? for a hearty serving of new compositions from everybody?s favorite music man, Ryan Cayabyab.
More inspired than the recent ?Ryan Cayabyab Singers? album, ?Scholars Sing Cayabyab? contains delightful tracks that will have you singing along from beginning to end. If you liked the catchy playfulness and Pinoy wit of RCS? ?Ba?t ?Di Mo Sinabi?? and the optimistic vibe of KC Concepcion?s ?Ngiti Lang,? you?ll find a number of tracks here that are just as easy on the ears.
The 11-song playlist?which includes the bonus track, ?Awit ng Pangarap,? sung by ?PDA?s? first Grand Dreamer, Yeng Constantino?is basically middle-of-the-road OPM. The collection?s top tracks, Jay ?Bugoy? Bogayan?s ballad, ?Paano Na Kaya?,? and Ińaki Ting?s ?Ganun Ba?,? capture the album?s over-all musical spirit?the songs are playful, youthful, contemporary, and they ooze with optimism. Another notable number comes from the academy?s resident heartthrob, Van Pojas, who soars in the melodically complex ?Another Goodbye Song.?
The group?s most talented performers are given beautiful but vocally demanding songs: Bugoy demonstrates complete vocal control in ?Paano Na Kaya?,? a ballad that benefits from his R&B stylings; Laarni Losala shows off her range and versatility in the show-stopping ?Manalig Ka,? and Liezel Garcia comes up with a sultry and polished rendition of ?I?d Rather.?
Interestingly, while the other scholars are given safe songs to mask their limitations, Losala is once again assigned a tune that requires her to show off her belting prowess. (On the TV show, she?s always required to sing similarly difficult songs, while a number of her less-talented ?classmates??with less-demanding tunes?struggle to stay on the note. Of course, it?s good to see how this stretches the talented singer, but it always wreaks havoc on her nerves.)
Like Losala, Miguel Mendoza is given a rousing ?contest piece? (?Hero?), but the song is dragged down by a churchy arrangement and a heavy-handed interpretation. Cris Pastor (?Bakit Ganyan??), one of the most improved scholars in the academy, and Bunny Malunda (?Narito Lang Ako?) sing safe, radio-friendly songs that are within their limited range.
Sen Nichols and Apple Abarquez sing the compilation?s two covers: Ariel Rivera?s ?Wala Kang Katulad? for the former, and ?Limang-Dipang Tao,? the classic OPM ditty from Mr. C?s groundbreaking ?One? album, for the latter.
But, singing remakes is always tricky, because it presents the risk of being compared to their original interpreters. The fresh arrangement of ?Limang-Dipang Tao? helps Apple escape that unfair fate.
Unfortunately, it?s Sen who, despite hitting all the right notes, suffers from the comparison. If a performer neither sings better nor brings something new to a well-loved hit song, he ends up sounding like a copycat?and that?s not something that would jumpstart a career in the performing arts.