Thursday, December 31, 2015

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2015: #20 - I Will Always Love You - Mmatema Moremi / Idols South Africa 11

Mmatema Moremi
Idols South Africa 11

Reality Singing Show Rule #245: Thou shall not sing Whitney Houston. Yes, Mmatema violated that rule, but the panel didn't actually mind. She had the right mix of tone, precise pitch, and modulation to pull off this iconic song, and guess what, she absolutely did. There were no unnecessary runs as pointed out by one jury member and it was just some good old fantastic singing. 

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2015: #21 Work It Out - 4th Impact / X Factor UK 12

4th Impact
X Factor UK 12

It's hard to pull off an uptempo performance as it is, but to absolutely nail it complete with solid harmonies and a relatively extensive choreography was just stupendous. The ladies were oozing with stage presence, as per our panel, and the vocals were consistently good through and through. 

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2015: #22 Nobody's Supposed To Be Here - Mmatema Moremi / Idols South Africa 11

Mmatema Moremi
Idols South Africa 11

Stunning. Mmatema has been on of the most consistent vocalists in her season, and this felt like an intermission number of a star who's back to perform her latest song. Sure, it came off a little old school - given the song choice - but she looked like an absolute pro with her stance, her vocals, and her commitment to the song. It's actually quite compelling to watch her performance build up to something much more bigger with ease and an admirable quiet confidence.

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2015: #23 Somebody To Love - Jordan Smith / The Voice US 9

Jordan Smith
The Voice US 9

Over-the-top? Yes, but that's how you sing a Queen song! Jordan Smith was an instant front runner as soon as he opened his mouth to sing Sia's Chandelier during his blind audition, but sealed the deal with this rousing vocal performance. It was everything you needed to hear on a Somebody To Love track. The grit, the range, the strong falsetto, the solid lower register, the seamless transitions. His vocals were too spectacular that he managed to dethrone Adele from the top of the iTunes chart as soon as this was released. Pretty impressive, no?

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2015: #24 Mad World - Joey Cook / American Idol 14

Joey Cook
American Idol 14

One panel, TJ Roque, said it best, a performance of Mad World especially on American Idol will always be compared to Adam Lambert's showstopper. It's deemed inevitable, but Joey Cook's rendition was just as haunting and lovely. There were some interesting melodic choices thrown in her version, the performance aspect was well thought out, she was very focused and very connected and her vocals were sublime.

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2015: #25 Writing's On The Wall - Krzysztof Iwaneczko / The Voice Poland 6

Krzysztof Iwaneczko
The Voice Poland 6

With a huge standard deviation, Writing's On The Wall was definitely the most polarizing performance this year, but it had enough votes despite ranking the absolute lowest on two [2] panel members to actually push the performance in the Top 25. That's not to take anything away from the performance though as those who ranked him high actually found Krzysztof take on the Sam Smith's song impressive especially given the degree of difficulty of the song. The vocal transitions, control, range, and emotional deft were all spot on.

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2015: The Honorable Mentions

On it's third year, the Olympics of Reality Singing Shows is back! Last year, DAM NATION made things a little interactive with an extended help from seven [7] reality singing show aficionados. This year, we made things even grander and bigger. 

1 - The pool of awesome performances expanded not just from the usual suspects - American Idol, The Voice US, and X Factor UK - but from 27 different editions across 14 countries.

2 - The jury now consists of 30 people from different countries. Some were invited and some signed up when DAM NATION opened up the field to more reality singing show fans. 

3 - Results this year will be posted one at a time complete with scoreboards from the jury. Starting today, every performances that have been voted into the Top 25 will have their own post. 


Just so people know, DAM NATION gave the jury a shortlist of 60 performances and asked them to rank according to their personal preferences. Tallied the scores up, and came up with a definitive list of 25 Best Reality Singing Show Performances of 2015. Sounds fun right?

First, let's get on with the five [5] honorable mentions!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Movie Review: Honor Thy Father

I may be grading Honor Thy Father to a curve, but this has to be one of the better Filipino films I've seen in years. It was not without its flaws - some characters were rather underwritten and a couple of plot devices seemed a little contrived - but it was expertly structured and set up, the sequences were pretty nail-biting and well staged, and the narrative was unexpectedly layered with subtexts relating to our culture. Erik Matti's direction was masterful and the performances were first rate. Meryl Soriano was suitably tentative as Kaye, but it was John Lloyd Cruz' take on the role that had me in awe. The shift in image for him as an actor was jarring but oddly convincing as he managed to entirely remove the gloss of his previous rom-com performances to something grittier. There was an intensity and quiet toughness with genuine sincerity to his portrayal. Honor Thy Father was largely character-driven, but it was far from a quiet, intimate drama. The fear, aggression, thrill and emotions were well represented throughout the film and that made this not only an engaging drama, but a gripping thriller. Something I genuinely didn't expect. 8.5

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Movie Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Not going to jump on the bandwagon and claim that I'm a big fan of the Star Wars franchise - I'm not - but it's true, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a downright good film. It delivered on a technical standpoint as it had a plethora of testosterone fueled action sequences and an abundance of mind blowing visual effects, especially the sweeping canvas of different worlds - possibly one of the most visually impressive films I have seen this year. The narrative was pretty much straightforward, but with a good script, stellar direction and a surprisingly well-timed humor scattered throughout the film. The story developed into something very familiar though with some of the plot devices coming off a little uninspired. The pacing was also a tad uneven with the first half perfectly paced and perhaps lingered on longer than it should have at the latter part of the movie. As for the acting, they were mostly good, but it was the captivating Daisy Ridley who stole the show. Adam Driver was quite disappointing though. Star Wars: The Force Awakens, to me, was far from being a perfect film - at times, it felt bloated and clumsy - but it was still one great piece of entertainment. 8

Friday, December 18, 2015

X Factor UK 12 Wrap-Up: 25 Best Performances

To that obligatory DAM NATION count: 28 episodes. 68 live performances. 13 finalists. 4 deadlocks. 0 act from the Overs (thanks Simon). This has been a pretty interesting season. To my ears, one person clearly stood out week in and week out - no single bad performance - but there were actually a pretty good numbers of acts that delivered some compelling numbers.

I've been doing two (2) wrap-ups at the same time: X Factor UK and The Voice US - and I must say that what separated the two are the quality of entertaining performances. The Voice clearly had better vocalists - duh! - but the level of production complete with choreography and riveting arrangements made X Factor UK A LOT more fascinating show. But of course, that's subjective. Ha.

this is VERY subjective and I guarantee that there will probably be some performances that are nowhere to be found on your list that may be as high as 10 or something on here. But please respond maturely, flames don't make me particularly happy.

Without further ado, here are X Factor UK 12: 25 Best Performances!

X Factor UK 12: 25 Best Performances
Watch DAM NATION's List of X Factor UK 12: 25 Best Performances! #XFactorUK #XFactor #SimonCowell #RitaOra #NickGrimshaw #CherylCole #LouisaJohnson #CheChesterman #MasonNoise #RNB #4thImpact #LaurenMurray #MonicaMichaels #AliensUncovered #KieraWeathers #SeannMileyMoore
Posted by THE DAM NATION on Friday, December 18, 2015

Thursday, December 17, 2015

DAM NATION: December 2015 Playlist

.. and then we're done for another year! Wow. Unlike the past two months, I actually had a hard time coming up with, at the very least, fifteen (15) songs for the last month of the year. But I digress. Here you have another list of 15 songs that I (personally) fancy, that are already doing good on it's own and maybe some new singles from different artists that will probably - or maybe not - be hits in the next coming weeks in whatever format.

Enjoy! Until next year!

1 Love Yourself Justin Bieber
2 Invincible Joe Moore
3 Stand By You Rachel Platten
4 Adventure of A Lifetime Coldplay
5 Burning House Cam
6 Better When I'm Dancin' Meghan Trainor
7 When We Were Young Adele
8 I Know What You Did.. Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello
9 Roses The Chainsmokers (ft. ROZES)
10 Hula Hoop OMI
11 Used To Love You Gwen Stefani
12 Cake By The Ocean DNCE
13 Hollow Tori Kelly
14 Piece By Piece Kelly Clarkson
15 Stone Cyrus

Password: Who topped DAM NATION's post of X Factor UK 12: Top 4

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Voice 9: Top 4

I couldn't get myself to care for this Finale. I don't know. There's something about this season that just didn't work. Sure, there were a plenty of talented artists this season, but given how predictable the results will be by tomorrow, the whole thing became completely boring. I'm hoping Emily Ann Roberts will pull an upset - it's a long shot, but I digress.

Oh, and yes, I deliberately didn't include the duets in this review. It's a waste of time on my part, I think. Haha.

On with the show!

Monday, December 14, 2015

X Factor UK 12: Finale

I knew it. The moment Louisa Johnson opened her mouth to audition, I knew she'd be a force to reckon on this show. I admit, I slightly doubted her win last night as Reggie 'N' Bollie shockingly came out strong and fighting, but Louisa had the consistency and momentum on her side. Plus, her overall body of work throughout the season has been incredibly impressive.

As for the entire Season 12? I thought it was interesting. There were NO annoying contestants and other than Reggie 'N' Bollie, I found the elimination order to be just about right. Oh, and Rita Ora and Nick Grimshaw - along with the new hosts - were good additions to the show. No, they weren't particularly crazy like Sharon Osborne or Louis Walsh, but I digress.

Until next season!

For the meantime, wait for the Wrap-Up post, which I will post in the next couple of days!

X Factor UK 12: Top 3

This was a rather odd Finale. Why? Coming into the Finale, I figured Reggie 'N' Bollie was just a fodder to it all and we'll eventually end up with a Louisa-Che Finale. After tonight, I thought the duo made a solid case as to why they deserve to stay in the competition. They will NEVER be the best singers, but they provide that much needed diversity in terms of entertainment value. As for Louisa, she was still fabulous and Che remained, well, as Che. 

I was so sure that Louisa had this in the bag since the day she opened her mouth to audition, but now, I'm having that doubt.

Oh, and I did not include here the duets as I don't think they matter - in general - but just so you know, I enjoyed Reggie 'N' Bollie the most. Shocker. 

On with the show!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Movie Review: The Little Prince

Let me say this right off the bat, I have NOT read The Little Prince - so I can only go by with what I saw since I certainly can't comment and compare this from the actual book - but for the most part, I must say that I was genuinely entertained. Sure, the tone of the film was too low key that some may find it a bit bland and uneventful - especially kids - but there's something refreshing about it. On a technical standpoint, everything was above reproach. The stop-motion animation was a superbly executed, it was visually vibrant, the backdrops were exquisitely rendered, the soundtrack and scoring was sublime, and the voice acting was well done. I thought the characters were nuanced enough for kids to grasp, but not too simplistic for adults. It was a rather poetic narrative as well and while the pacing came off a tad uneven, I really didn't mind. If I have one gripe about the film, it would have to be the forced and flat last act. It could've been a lot better. to say the least. The Little Prince was delightful, different and visually wonderful. I don't think it's for everyone and it wasn't perfect by any means, but I was left with a pleasant feeling inside. 8

The Voice 9: Top 9

If this was last season, I would be annoyed by the idea of cutting nine (9) people to four (4), but tonight, I genuinely don't mind because, at this point, I just want this season of "Religious Voice" to end and crown Jordan Smith already. Look, I have nothing against the him - he seems to be a very good and talented kid - but the constant pimping became incredibly annoying this week. I know. I know. Subtlety was never The Voice's strongest suit, but come on!

On with the show!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Movie Review: A Good Dinosaur

There's very few films that I'd see based solely on a name attached to it. One of these would be a film by Christopher Nolan or David Fincher and another would be a film by Pixar. They have produced some of the best animated films EVER and anyone who has seen classics like Toy Story or Finding Nemo or Up will realize that that is more than enough to make you go and see A Good Dinosaur. So, how did this movie live up to the legacy of Pixar? Quite frankly, it's not my favorite, but it had its moments. The visuals were richly detailed, the landscape was quite lush and sumptuous, and the character designs were awesome. The narrative was a little predictable and the story developed at a slower than expected pace with a relatively dry first half, but the build up was measured and it got better as the story progressed. Oh, and that delivery of the final act made it all worthwhile with Pixar's unique tradition of sending grown men out of the theater pretending that they NEVER shed a tear. Haha. A Good Dinosaur was almost a forgettable film until it ended with that fuzzy feeling that was all too familiar to ignore. A story with a lot of heart. 7.5

Sunday, December 6, 2015

X Factor UK 12: Top 4

It's the semi-finals week and we've got a couple of solid performances as they tackle songs that will get them to the Finale next week. Quite honestly, I had a solid Top 3 in mind, but this episode made me think twice. Reggie 'N' Bollie, to be honest, started out as the good 'ole joke contestant, but in hindsight, they've been more than entertaining throughout the season. Does that warrant a spot in the Finale? I'm not sure, but I prefer them over another bland singer in the mix. But we'll see.

On with the show!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Voice 9: Top 10

I wasn't expecting much from this group - I've been constantly underwhelmed the past few weeks - but they somehow delivered some pretty solid performances this week. It's interesting how messed up and unpredictable my ranking went, but I stand by it and that makes for an interesting final two (2) week for this incredibly bland season full of religious songs. Ha. 

On with the show!

Movie Review: A Second Chance

A Second Chance is very much a personal experience for a viewer and one's like or dislike for the film will rely heavily on their own life experience and the status of the relationships they're currently in. Maybe I'm not in that stage that I needed to be in to appreciate A Second Chance, or maybe I'm still too idealistic, but I genuinely preferred One More Chance more than this one. To me, this film, arguably, lost the magic and charm of its predecessor, although there was still so much to commend about it. Both Bea Alonzo and John Lloyd Cruz remained stellar as Popoy and Basha and their chemistry was still undeniable. The maturity they brought to their characters was pretty spot on and that made for a believable squabbling couple. The script was also incredibly well-written - if a little over-the-top and slightly pretentious - and the supporting cast, once again, provided dimension to the narrative. The fights, while astonishingly realistic, came off as a plot device more than anything though. A Second Chance was intriguing at the very least and provided some interesting insights and arguments. Not my favorite, but good enough. That is all. 7
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