His name is Arnel Pineda. First things first — watch this video of him singing Journey’s hit “Faithfully” (backed up by his Filipino band The Zoo):
Hat-tip to C4Chaos for his post “Journey Welcomes Arnel Pineda with Open Arms,” with this fascinating backstory about why guitarist Schon is swooning over a Filipino singer:
Filipinos are hopeless romantics who love music. That’s why ballads are big hits in the Philippines. Journey [was] one of the biggest bands in the Philippines when I was growing up. I remember listening to Journey songs on the radio, in restaurants, in buses, tricycles, and jeepneys. I bet people could still hear Journey songs playing in the background if they take a bus from Alabang to Lawton. Journey songs are that ubiquitous.
That’s why when I’ve heard that Journey’s new lead singer is a Filipino, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give it a shout out. Hataw!
Here’s the inspiring background story: Arnel Pineda is the lead singer of the band called THE ZOO. They do Journey cover songs in their gigs and have their videos posted on Youtube. One day Journey’s guitarist Neal Schon was on the look out for a new lead singer. In a Blabbermouth article, Schon said:
“I was frustrated about not having a singer, so I went on YouTube for a couple of days and just sat on it for hours. I was starting to think I was never going to find anybody. But then I found THE ZOO and I watched a bunch of different video clips that they had posted. After watching the videos over and over again, I had to walk away from the computer and let what I heard sink in because it sounded too good to be true. I thought, ‘he can’t be that good.’ But he is that good, he’s the real deal and so tremendously talented. Arnel doesn’t sound synthetic and he’s not emulating anyone. I tried to get a hold of him through YouTube and I finally heard from him that night, but it took some convincing to get him to believe that it really was me and not an imposter.”
As an aside, I’d love to know how Schon finally convinced him.
Don’t miss the YouTube videos of Arnel Pineda singing the Journey hits “Open Arms” and “Don’t Stop Believing.” The guy certainly has a great voice, and does an incredible Steve Perry. I got chills listening to his version of “Faithfully” above.
Of course, if the band is going to really thrive in its new incarnation, Pineda needs to be able help write great new music, as well. Can he? I haven’t listened much to The Zoo’s original songs on YouTube because the sound quality hurts pretty bad; I find it more distracting for new songs than for familiar tunes.
Here’s more from the Blabbermouth article cited above:
“Arnel brings a soulful and passionate voice to JOURNEY,” continues keyboardist Jonathan Cain. “His personality is very well-suited to our music. He’s a sincere, authentic person with a great smile and a big heart. I think fans are really going to love him. With Arnel’s soaring tenor, JOURNEY returns to our heritage sound.”
Schon agrees, “We feel reborn. I think there’s a lot of chemistry between the five of us. At first we were going to go into the studio and just write four songs, but now it’s escalated to a lot of great new and diverse material. The stuff sounds tremendous. Everyone’s so stoked about it. We feel very fortunate to have found Arnel.”
I believe it. In the “Don’t Stop Believing” video beneath the article, I see a guileless sincerity in Pineda’s face that really fits with Journey’s soul as a band.
It will certainly be interesting to see what they’ve come up with. I wish them the best of luck. It would be fantastic to see Journey have a second run of success.