MUSIC

The best and worst cover songs from the Wish FM bus

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In the Wish 107.5 Mobile Radio Bus, the very first FM station-on-wheels in the country, Filipino artists — such as KZ Tandingan, Morissette Amon, Luke Mejares, and even Matteo Guidicelli — sing Top 40 hits, catering to Filipinos’ love of music.

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Radio station Wish 107.5 claims to make “your wish come true.” The FM station also caters to song requests every Monday to Saturday, satisfying listeners’ ears by playing hits all day.

To boot, Wish also grants wishes not related to songs with its “Wishing Wall,” a freedom wall that the station puts up in malls and universities, where people can write their biggest dreams. The station has granted several of these wishes so far — from a birthday celebration to an amusement park trip, from a battery-operated radio to school and medical supplies.

Many people want hits, and in the case of the Filipino musical sensibility, people want to see hit singers sing hits by other hit singers. This materializes in the form of the Wish 107.5 Mobile Radio Bus, the very first FM station-on-wheels in the country, launched in August 2014.

In the bus, both up-and-coming and established Filipino artists are asked to sing Top 40 covers, sometimes given a chance to sing their originals. The Wish Bus, splashed with orange and blue paint and equipped with external speakers on top, drives around the city, so that not only the radio listeners get to enjoy the music, but also the people on the streets, who get the chance to see their favorite singers up close.

The session is broadcast live on the radio every Monday to Saturday, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., as well as uploaded on YouTube on the station’s official channel, so that people can watch their performances online again and again.

Despite its potential to pander to Filipinos’ hit-loving sensibility, as some of the station’s critics may say, the Wish Bus is nothing short of ground-breaking, taking radio broadcast to another level by spreading it across all media for all audiences to enjoy. The Wish Bus videos have sparked reactions from all over the world, some of which have even provided more opportunities for lesser known artists who have been featured.

Some of the videos have been viewed over a million times. The featured artists reshape and reappropriate these song hits to become YouTube hits, making the song her or his own, and in turn, the listeners’ own.

Here are the Wish Bus videos, from best to worst, ranked according to number of views and nature of audience reaction (positive or negative), both from commenters and YouTube reaction content makers.

                                                                           The Best

               Michael Pangilinan sings “Your Love” from the “Dolce Amore” original soundtrack

Michael Pangilinan first pursued his career in the entertainment industry in 2012, when he joined The X Factor Philippines, rising to the Top 20. He has released a self-titled album under Star Music and is a member of the boy band, Harana. He achieved further success in 2015, when he won first runner-up in the second season of ABS-CBN’s Your Face Sounds Familiar.

His cover of “Your Love,” which garnered 9,568,727 views on YouTube, was released about a month after the TV series “Dolce Amore” ended, the soundtrack of which includes the song, sang by Juris and originally performed by Alamid. Pangilinan’s rendition lies somewhere between the strong delivery of Alamid’s Gary Ignacio and the gentle airiness of Juris’ vocals. There are about 27 positive reaction videos on YouTube to Pangilinan’s cover, which are filled with reactions to his delivery of the hook, “Tu amor….”

                                                   KZ Tandingan covers “Tadhana” by UDD

KZ Tandingan, the first season champion of The X Factor Philippines, is hailed as “Soul Supreme” for the sheer power of her voice. After suffering from a throat problem that stunted her singing in high school, she found beauty in alto tones, when she could no longer hit high notes like she used to. It’s no wonder that Tandingan dubbed UDD — whose frontwoman Armi Millare is an alto powerhouse — as one of her biggest musical influences. Tandingan’s cover of UDD’s “Tadhana” boasts her vocal dynamic. She starts out with calm and subtle verses and ends with a powerful outro, where she throws in her vocal breaks. The cover has 11,292,114 views, with about 20 positive reaction videos.

                                              Bugoy Drilon covers “One Day” by Matisyahu

Bugoy Drilon was the runner-up in the second season of Pinoy Dream Academy in 2008. Though his voice is inclined towards pop ballads and R&B, his recent foray into other genres, like reggae, shows his flexibility as a singer. His Wish Bus cover of “One Day” by reggae vocalist Matisyahu is a prime example of a genuine vocal dynamic that falls perfectly in line with the song choice. The video has 17,131,007 views. Besides the hundred positive reaction videos to his cover, Matisyahu himself has commented on and shared Drilon’s video saying, “Wow! This dude knocks it out the park!” The reggae singer has even invited Drilon to perform with him in the U.S.

                                              Darren Espanto sings “Chandelier” by Sia

Fifteen-year-old Canadian-born Darren Espanto first took the spotlight at the age of 10, when he won the finals of Pinoy Singing Sensation in Edmonton. Here, he joined the first season of The Voice Kids Philippines and won second place. His cover of “Chandelier” by Sia has 17,928,817 views, and won him Best Wishclusive Performance by a Young Artist as well as Wishclusive Viral Video of the Year in the first Wish 107.5 Music Awards. His cover of “Chandelier” by Sia has garnered more than a hundred positive reaction videos. The same can be said for his other covers for Wish, which also have more than a million views. His effortless belting of high notes has amazed celebrities, such as Nicki Minaj, Ashton Kutcher and Jessie J.

                         Morissette Amon covers “Secret Love Song” by Little Mix feat. Jason Derulo

Morissette Amon was the runner-up in Star Factor in 2010, and has impressed Sarah Geronimo enough for her to be part of her team in The Voice Philippines Season 1. She has been named as Wish Female Artist of the Year for her viral covers for Wish Bus.

Her cover of “Secret Love Song” by Little Mix is currently the most viral Wish Bus video, amassing 34,590,001 views. Amon is praised for her ability in hitting notes almost perfectly, whether high or low, as well as her skill in singing whistle notes effortlessly (which is why some have compared her to Mariah Carey). Her whistle register is apparent in occasional pre-high note squeaks in her Wish Bus cover, which has charmed over a hundred reaction content makers on YouTube. This and her other viral videos have made her a favorite.

                                                                        The Worst

                             Perkins Twins cover "Let Me Love You" by DJ Snake feat. Justin Bieber

Recording artist Perkins Twins, composed of fraternal twins Christian and Jesse Perkins, provides the voices behind the song “Ikaw Na” (composed by Vehnee Saturno), the opening and closing theme song of Boy Abunda’s Ikaw Na segment in the ABS-CBN late night newscast, “Bandila.” Signed to Universal Records, they have released an album called “Can’t Stop,” and are currently on tour in SM malls in the country. Their acoustic cover of DJ Snake’s “Let Me Love You” has 87,555 views and no reaction videos as of yet, though some YouTube commenters have reacted by bringing up their flat vocal notes rising here and there, as well as the sometimes sloppy harmonizing.

                                    Kaleidoscope Eyes covers "The Remedy" by Jason Mraz

Pop rock band Kaleidoscope Eyes is composed of Gab Cabangon (vocals and guitar), Nash Ignacio (percussion), Joshua Blay (lead guitar), and Andrew de Pano (bass). The band puts their own spin on Jason Mraz’ “The Remedy,” and plays smoothly in terms of structure, though certain YouTube commenters have reservations about the way Cabangon sings it. With 38,235 views, the video has gathered comments about the way the song was arranged, with the short pre-mash-up announcement at the end, as well as Cabangon’s occasional flat notes and the way he chased the lyrics. Though “The Remedy” might not have worked so well for Kaleidoscope Eyes, YouTubers have reacted more kindly to their Wish Bus cover of the slower and more pursuable song, “Burnout” by Sugarfree.

                        Luke Mejares covers "How Deep is Your Love" by Calvin Harris and Disciples

Before pursuing a solo career, Luke Mejares was a vocalist of R&B group South Border. He has released three studio albums under his solo project — “Stop, Luke and Listen,” “Pangako,” and “Kasayaw” — under Sony BMG and Ivory Music, the label where he’s currently signed. With his smooth and gentle voice more inclined to the grooves of R&B, it makes sense that some may find a few slightly unsettling elements in his cover of “How Deep is Your Love” by Calvin Harris and Disciples, which is an upbeat dance track. The video has 59,526 views, where some have commented about his “wrong” song choice. Mejares generally sings smoothly especially in the verses, but falls a bit flat in some choruses, where he tries to apply his smooth and slow R&B singing to a dance track that tries to rush his vocals in a few places where it shouldn’t.

                                           Louie Reyes covers "If I Ain't Got You" by Alicia Keys

Louie Reyes is a former member of the The New Minstrels, a ‘70s group known for their soothing ballads and sweet orchestra of timeless voices. Reyes provided her share of soprano notes in their vocal repertoire, which came in the falsettos and the restraint of kundiman vibratos.

However, Reyes’ cover of “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys might be another example of an unsuitable song choice, or rather, choice of key. Though the song is a ballad, it requires many vocal breaks and fast vibratos, which call for force and no restraint. Reyes was able to hit most of the high notes, albeit falling flat in a few, but not without much struggle, especially during the vibratos. Most of Keys’ songs are hard to sing, and any singer who dares cover one, including Reyes, makes a brave move. Her cover has 49,335 views, and no reaction videos as of yet.

                                    Matteo Guidicelli covers "Cake By The Ocean" by DNCE

Matteo Guidicelli is an actor, model, go-kart racer, and triathlete. As for his singing career, he has released a self-titled album in 2016 under Star Records. His acoustic cover of DNCE’s “Cake By the Ocean” has the least views on Wish’s YouTube channel so far, at 241 (apparently, the first upload of the video was deleted). Though Guidicelli has produced dance tracks the likes of DNCE’s songs, for this particular cover, he largely misses rounds of notes, especially the high ones. He is unable to hit most of the chorus breaks that require forceful falsettos: “Talk to me, baby ...” He tries to replace them with notes from the same key, but is unable to balance them with his general chest voice and the falsetto attempts. In the original DNCE track, Joe Jonas, the pop group’s vocalist, achieves this balance by merely using his falsetto register for the entirety of the chorus. For this cover, Guidicelli might have been better off taking the tip from Jonas himself.

                                                                               ***

Erratum: An earlier version of this article stated that Michael Pangilinan is related to Rochelle Pangilinan. Michael has no relation to Rochelle. CNN Philippines Life has revised the article to correct this error.