Entertainment Magazine

Return to the Sound of 'paraiso'--er, Smokey Mountain

Posted on the 16 May 2011 by Gibbs22manila @gibbscadiz
First time on YouTube--this video clip (below) of the original Smokey Mountain--Geneva Cruz, Tony Lambino, Jeffrey Hidalgo and James Coronel--in a reunion appearance at ABS-CBN's The Music of Dreams concert in 2001, some 10 years after they had disbanded. By then, the four members of Ryan Cayabyab's kiddie pop group were all grown-up, Geneva, Jeffrey and James having gone on to full-time singing or show-biz careers with varying degrees of success, and Tony retiring from the scene altogether to become, for a time, a professor at Ateneo de Manila.
(Wikipedia says Lambino now works at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., and is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication. Wow. Hidalgo, on top of his singing and occasional theater stints, was 11th placer in the Chemical Engineering national licensure exams, while Coronel now owns call centers in the USA, Philippines, India and Sri Lanka! I hope to God this entry is true.)
The four were joined at the concert by Kaya, then a new group that Mr. C had formed. It's interesting to hear how Kaya--specifically its lone boy vocalist--sings Paraiso, Smokey Mountain's enduring hit (actually, a hit by the group's second-generation members, which sung it to a smashing grand prize finish at the 1992 Tokyo Music Festival.)
When Smokey Mountain first came along (in 1989), the reigning mode of music was still plainspoken pop singing. Regine Velasquez and her birit were already on the rise, but the dominant sounds remained those by the likes of Kuh Ledesma, Zsazsa Padilla, Martin Nievera, Gary Valenciano, Joey Albert--soothing, melodious, strongly emotional vocals without the pyrotechnics. Smokey Mountain's first album was of the same mold--Kailan and Can This Be Love, for instance, were cannily crafted ballads that benefited from their young vocalists' simple, earnest approach to the songs--Geneva Cruz for Kailan, Jeffrey Hidalgo for Can This Be Love.
But, in 2001, with Kaya performing Paraiso, the soundscape had changed. Kaya's boy vocalist now sung the lines with the unmistakable curlicues of R&B. Pop was giving way to that new genre's more elaborate musical delivery, and in the Philippines, the sea change would be spearheaded by Jaya, whose early hits, beginning with Dahil Tanging Ikaw, represented an admittedly refreshing change in the local airwaves with their sleek, soulful vibe.
Listen closely, and you can hear that musical evolution in this clip--from the memory of the original Smokey Mountain's Paraiso sung without the kulot (Geneva Cruz's attempt at rockin' her lines notwithstanding) and a new crop of younger singers taking over and remaking it in their own manner--in the sound, flourish and inflection that would characterize their own musical generation.

PLUS: How they sounded then, in the flush of their teenhood: Geneva Cruz (Kailan), Jeffrey Hidalgo (Can This Be Love?), the Smokey Mountain of James Coronel, Shar Santos, Chedi Vergara and Jayson Angangan (Paraiso)--

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