Jerry Donato – The Philippine Star

October 5, 2021 | 12:00am

The search for the next The Clash grand champion has commenced.

Christian Bautista, Lani Misalucha and Ai-Ai delas Alas, who comprise The Clash Panel, again take on the task of discovering new singing talents despite the pandemic. As judges, the triumvirate will narrow them down to the one last standing at the season finale. Like in any competition, only the best and the most deserving will make it.

“We would add extra excitement and concern,” said Christian of his and fellow judges’ stance in critiquing every Clasher’s performance in a recent virtual media call. “But it’s still going to be critical.”

The singer-songwriter shared that the contestants have different personalities and levels of drive in joining The Clash Season Four. “Others just wanted to give (singing) a try, while others (think that) for this year, this is all they have, this is all that they’re betting on,” added he. “And there’s someone you will see who’s putting in that effort. Kailangan gawin namin to the best of our abilities as judges, to really give it (the chance to become a champion) to the most deserving.”

As part of the judging panel, Christian said, “We never put them (the contestants) down, we never make them feel bad for themselves.” He, Lani and Ai-Ai are there to identify the mistakes made by The Clashers and inspire them to deliver better performances.

As for Lani, she said that her judging style will be the same and “we need to be straightforward (in doing our critique), hindi pwedeng mag-baby. What’s important is when you say a straightforward comment, you make sure that it will help him or her. You criticize him or her in a way to uplift her spirits and to make him or her think (better about that aspect of the performance).”

Ai-Ai delas Alas: ‘Someone with a unique style that will cater to all kinds of audiences.’

Lani added that she and Ai-Ai would leave the side of being strict to Christian. “He is very meticulous,” said she, “nahihimay, himay niya talaga ang lahat, ng isang performance ng isang Clasher.”

Ai-Ai, on the other hand, made sure that she has something up her sleeve in judging every Clasher’s performance.

“Every season, I have gimmick like there’s Birdy and now I have a grading system,” said she. “And I’m also the type who looks after the overall impact of the (contestants), including the clothes, the appearance and the emotion, dun ako nag-ta-tackle ng kind of judging ko.”

Although they may have a particular aspect of the performance to assess, the judges are definitely on the same page when it comes to characteristics a grand champion possesses. Perhaps, these are the same traits they have seen in previous winners like Golden Cañedo, Jeremiah Tiangco and Jessica Villarubin.

“A contestant who has the determination and a big talent,” said Christian. “An artist, who shows us that he or she is deserving, wala naman kaming type na hinahanap na dapat ganito, kung sino lang yung deserving. (We don’t look for a particular type of a contestant).”

“We look for someone who is hopefully a total package,” added Lani. (Aside from having) great talent and (delivering an impressive) performance, he or she should have a personality and is charming, sana rin mabait siya, although mahirap nga ata na mahanap lahat yung mga aspeto na yun o ingredients para maging isang grand champion.”

Ai-Ai, for her part, said she looks for a contestant’s “unique style that will cater to and capture all kinds of audiences.” She also emphasized that a grand champion shouldn’t have an uncooperative attitude. “Malaking bagay yun,” said she. “Let’s say this person is really good at what he or she does, and possesses all the good qualities, but no one wants to work with him or her.” That will create problems as the singer jumpstarts a promising career, hinted Ai-Ai, who recalled that they met talents who did forgo attending rehearsals. “Paano sisikat yun kung ganun,” said she. Lani couldn’t help but agree with Ai-Ai by saying, “there are a lot of people you need to get along with and work with (in this industry).”

How do they look at their role and responsibility as The Clash judges?

“I think (our work is) more of giving the contestants pieces of advice,” said Ai-Ai. “If they will listen to (what we think), then it’s OK… Minsan kapag wala silang boses, I tell them to (get enough) sleep and take a rest, their voice is their puhunan (their investment) in this contest. It’s more of giving pieces of advice.”

During the first two seasons, Christian shared that there were “little sessions” when The Clashers could approach the judges because there was no COVID-19 pandemic then. The judges could somehow “mentor” the contestants by clarifying their comments on the performances.

Lani Misalucha: ‘We look for someone who is a total package. He or she should have a personality, sana rin mabait siya.’

“Now it’s a bit challenging because we have to be socially distant but like what Ms. Ai said, I hope that when we give a critique to a contestant, other Clashers should learn from it,” said he. “Kunin na nila yung critique na yun, gawin na nila at makinig na, baka makatulong na (ito) sa kanila (They should listen to it and apply it to their performance).”

With that, The Clashers should gain new insights from the mistakes of others. Yes, the contestants can listen to the judges’ critique and consider it, but as Lani put it, “You cannot impose on someone what you have (commented)…You can’t ask them to change it last minute.” Like everyone else, the judges hope The Clashers will use the critique to their advantage.

Christian, Lani and Ai-Ai will never get tired of giving The Clashers substantial comments to their performances. After all, they are up for finding the one who deserves to be called a grand champion.

(The Clash Season Four airs Saturday nights at 7:15 and Sunday nights at 7:40 on GMA.)

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