Sometimes in life, I witness someone so talented and driven that it inspires me to work harder on my own craft. Charice Pempengco is the most recent example of this.
I recently stumbled upon videos of a fantastic young singer from the Philippines named Charice Pempengco on YouTube. It seems as though I’m a little behind the times, as Ellen Degeneres and Oprah Winfrey discovered Charice Pempengco a few months back, and Charice has since gone on to widespread fame after appearing on Oprah three times now.
I am a huge fan of talented vocalists; I won’t listen to any musicians or bands whose vocals aren’t at least up to par (which is why I can’t stand punk music and a lot of pop rock). I’ve recently taken my obsession to YouTube, as it’s the perfect venue to compare vocalists in live performances. In fact, there are many videos that splice separate performances of the same song by different artists together, which makes my life easier when I’m trying to compare different vocalists.
The last big-hype vocalist to come along was Leona Lewis. I searched for all the big-time songs that young female vocalists sometimes use to announce themselves to the world. These songs generally consist of power ballads made famous by Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion and other legendary divas. While I do love Leona Lewis — I listen to her album quite often — I definitely thought her promoters did her a disservice by promoting her as the next big voice in the world, as Leona is more in the mold of an Alicia Keys, a great stylized vocalist with a unique quality to her voice. Compared to the Mariahs and Whitneys of the world, though, Leona falls well short. Her lower register is almost non-existent, her chest voice range is also limited causing her to switch into falsetto a bit more quickly than I would like (though she does have a fabulous falsetto).
Enter 16-year-old Charice Pempengco. Now, I’ve heard a lot of good young singers who were considered great because they sounded like adults (Bianca Ryan and a young Christina Aguilera for instance). Charice Pempengco goes beyond this classification, as she is the best female vocalist in the world right now regardless of age. Her low register is powerful, steady and clear while her chest voice is full and lush and has the greatest range of any chest voice I have ever heard. Combine this with an equally great head voice and an incredibly full falsetto and you have the best vocalist I think I’ll hear in my lifetime.
After watching her performances on YouTube, I became transfixed to my computer monitor and literally stayed awake for overnight listening to her music, basically having to go to work the next day with zero sleep. Below I have compiled a list of must-see (and must-hear) performances by Charice Pempengco thus far in her career. I’ll be updating this article with new performances as they happen, so check back often.
Charice’s vocal range can be considered mezzo soprano though her upper register can be classified as dramatic soprano. The highest note I’ve heard her sing live is a G#5 in One Moment in Time.
I did see one hiccup as far as vocal performances go, though, and that was Charice’s rendition of Against All Odds (she was following the Mariah Carey version). Given, it was an improvised performance that was not planned, but it does sound like Charice does not have the same range in her head voice as Mariah Carey does, though really no one but Mariah has had the range (Charice does beat Mariah in the range of her chest voice though).
Charice Pempengco has now been signed and is working on an album produced by David Foster, which should help correct her one flaw (if you can call it that), which is finding her musical identity. Fortunately for Charice, though, there are two ways to prove yourself, either find your own style or outdo the masters at their own styles. Sometimes finding individual style is important because you don’t want to come off as a second-rate Whitney Houston when singing her songs, but when you can actually destroy the original version with your vocals alone, perhaps originality isn’t all that necessary. David Foster has produced a couple of arrangements specifically for a couple of Charice’s performances, and I look forward to hearing more arrangements that can take advantage of her unique vocal strengths.
Video I – Charice Pempengco Performs One Moment In Time on ASAP
This is the first song that clearly demonstrated to me that Charice has basically surpassed all divas in her generation along with the previous generation, which was a particularly thin generation as far as divas go, having only really produced Christina Aguilera, who is definitely great but not at all on the same level as the all-time greats. Charice on the other hand can stand toe-to-toe with the Mariah-Whitney-Celine generation.
One Moment In Time is one of Whitney Houston’s signature songs, and Whitney performed this song live at the Grammy Awards during her prime in a very-much hyped and important performance, so it’s a good song to use for comparative purposes (you can search YouTube for Whitney’s performance if you’d like to compare).
Charice’s performance is absolutely ridiculous. Not only does she show great control in her vocals, but her performance during the climax of the song completely blows Whitney out of the water, which isn’t something I thought was possible. At one point in Whitney’s performance, she has to drop an octave after hitting her high note. Not only does Charice hit the same high note, but instead of dropping an octave for the following notes, Charice extends the climax and actually moves UP a key beyond what Whitney is able to do, even hitting a G#5.
Video II – Charice Pempengco Sings, ‘I Will Survive’ on Good Morning America
Charice Pempengco appeared on Good Morning America with David Foster. The arrangements were produced by David Foster specifically for Charice, and the results are spectacular. I can’t wait to hear Charice sing songs that were written specifically for her. This is definitely the most polished that Charice appears, as she is under 15 and still developing in most of the other videos shown below.
Video III – Charice Pempengco Sings, ‘The Prayer’ with Tyler Hamilton Edmonton
Charice Pempengco sings David Foster’s song The Prayer with Tyler Hamilton during David’s charity concert. Charice shows her control and great ability to harmonize on a classically styled song, showing that she can be operatic in addition to her pop ballad stylings.
Video IV – Charice Pempengco Sings, ‘Listen’ at 15 Years Old
This video is credited as being the first ever of Charice Pempengco on YouTube. Charice has already surpassed Beyonce easily at this age singing this song on basically a karaoke machine. It’s funny how great Charice sounds that a lot of the commenters still think she was lip-synching, haha.
Video V – Charice Pempengco Sings, ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’ On Paul O’Grady
This is one of the songs that it seems all the new divas have attempted to sing and thus it’s a great display of Charice’s powerful voice in comparison with her contemporaries. Charice’s version is equal to Jennifer Hudson’s Oscar-winning rendition, though a little more crisp but with less emotion impact.
Video VI – Charice Pempengco Sings, ‘Run To You’ on Boy & Kris
Run To You is an impossibly difficult song to sing live. In fact, search on YouTube and you will not find a video of Whitney Houston singing it live at all. There is a version of Christina Aguilera singing it live, though, and Christina definitely avoided some of the bigger notes and had difficulty throughout the entire song, which says a lot as Christina Aguilera is perhaps the top vocalist of her generation. Charice Pempengco seemingly has no difficulty with maintaining chest voice on some notes that Christina isn’t able to achieve even with head voice.
Video VII – Charice Pempengco Sings, ‘Alone’ in San Diego
Alone has quickly become a great power ballad with the signature high note coming during the climax of the song. In fact, there’s a video on YouTube comparing multiple songstresses attempting just that single note alone. The last notable version of this song was sung by Carrie Underwood on American Idol. Charice Pempengco blows Carrie’s version and even the original version away with her control on all the notes including the money high note, showing no strain at all in delivering the chorus.
Video VIII – Charice Pempengco Sings, ‘God Bless America’ at Obama’s Pre-Inaugural Ball
Charice Pempengco delivers yet another stunning performance with very little musical accompaniment, which is great because it allows us to hear Charice’s voice in its purest form.
Video IX – Charice Pempengco Sings, ‘I Believe’
Charice Pempengco sings Fantasia Barrino’s signature ballad, I Believe, a song many felt could only be sung by Fantasia. Once again, Charice blows away the original. This song is a great demonstration of the power and control of Charice’s low register during verses.
Video X – Charice Sings, ‘I Have Nothing’ and ‘I Will Always Love You’ at Andre Agassi’s Grand Slam For Children
Charice Pempengco blows away a crowd of billionaires and millionaires with her spot-on vocal performance of Whitney Houston’s classics from The Bodyguard. Charice is the only singer other than Whitney Houston whom I have seen stay in chest voice throughout almost the entirety of both songs.
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Posted by GM, submitted by jn and tipenski