Mudita Journal

Journey Finds a New Lead Singer, and He’s Filipino … and He’s Good

December 15, 2007 · Filed under: Music, Reviews

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.

  • Janine

    Amazing. He has awesome voice quality =] I’m Filipino myself, but I grew up in Saudi Arabia. I have no idea what’s going on in the Philippines. I can’t wait to go back there! =] I’m in love with his vooooice ^_^

    • Anonymous

      My wife and i just left a Journey concert at Jones Beach, Long Island. Where is Steve Perry? Bring him back! This new guy just doesn’t cut it at all, in several ways. People were streaming out after a few songs. Foreigner was the real deal tonight.

  • Sidwalk_kid

    Do I see a Youtube trend here? Just watch this guy belting out audience requested songs at Hard Rock Cafe in Manila. He was “discovered” the same way as Charice Pempengco and now he’s the new Journey frontman. Freakin uncanny. Enjoy you guys. :P

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HjcCzgCCX0

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMW-CQ1brX0

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTMK-vesLWU

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1NoFk5sVVE

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbhKHyoy4S4

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiGITj1pZXw&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLHOQz8N8Gk

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pf-2Rk_uIPU&feature=related

  • may

    Check out his composition.. “Free Bird” and “Its Over”…

  • http://none betarugo

    i’ve seen this guy sing in the strip of olongapo back in da days i was in the military. he was with this group (amo band) at club cal jam. i had my eyes
    close all sober when i heard a voice that sounds like steve perry. i thougt
    it was journey actually. when i look, it was a young boy on stage. i said to myself this guy hopefully will go a long way. that was 1987, it went a long
    way alright, but this time it’s for real. those were the best years of my life, it brings back a lot of memories. good luck to you bro! peace out.

  • dianalynn

    As far as the nationality of arnel pineda keeps getting so much attention I dont see the big deal;weather hes hispanic ,african american,or chinese ,what does that have to do with anything.Incase most of you didnt know; steve perry is portugese and Im sure theres probably a lot of proud portugese that dont feel the need to mention that fact every chance they can as if its some rare thing portugese can sing.Hes a person first I dont know what race has to do with anything.

  • jake simon

    I strongly believe there are other people out there who could sing much better than Arnel, looking for a good break and waiting to be discovered. But right now, the timing is so right for Arnel, its like “it was really meant to be”, he is so lucky as his voice was the right key for Journey’s “notes”, it suit’s the journey sound well. He is such a lucky guy whom can truly replicates SP’s voice very well.. Come to think of it, Arnel is so talented, I’ve seen his other clips, he’s truly good, you can feel the power of his voice within, it can move soul just by the sound of it.
    I have read his biography from wilkipedia and honestly I was moved by his life-background, such a heart whelming story.
    Well, you now got your chance to make things better for you, and for journey’s fans as well.
    To all Journey’s fans out there let us give him a chance, he deserve it, his voice could testify.
    Finally, I hope he would do better and would stay humble throughout his journey in his career..
    Go man! prove yourself to the world and show them what you’ve got..

    Good luck.

  • BlueDiamond

    hearing him sings brings me to memory lane.

    what a powerfull voice… so gifted with emotion and soul.

    Life is a Journey…

  • FoxeeB

    I used to live in HK and I saw Arnel sing every weekend at a bar called Grammy’s – he was fantastic then as I am sure he is still fantastic. Knew he would make it one day – he’s an awesome guy and friend. Lisa, Karen, Charmaine and Debbie

  • Joel Rubia

    I coudn’t believe that Journey is back and has a singer so much like the voice of Steve Perry. I am a fans of Journey back in the old days, and Steve Perry’s voice is some what very different from other singers. I’m glad they have a new singer and very suited to the Journey’s type of songs. I wish they will have a concert here in the Philippines, I would gladly be there to witness it. Journey…your beautiful.

  • http://www.muditajournal.com PAUL G

    I’m a huge journey fan. I listen to their music all the time. I always thought that no one can replace Perry until now. Arnel sounds like Perry but he also has his own distinct voice. All I can say is that Arnel is awsome and good luck to the band.

  • Jeff W

    Man, this guy sounds more like Steve Perry than Steve Perry ever did, if that’s possible. Absolutely incredible performance, and some big shoes to fill. Sitting here watching a Journey concert on VH1 Classic, as skeptical as I was when I saw it was coming on tonight, I’m definitely amazed at how well he rolls these songs out as though he was the one that did them in the first place.

  • Lecia

    AMAZING, AMAZING… just saw Journey in Denver last night, going to Vegas to see them again next week. The guy is a fire and he is bringing it back. Great feel good story, you go man, rock it out! To: dianalynn, your correct, Race should not matter! But it’s America and as Cornell West has said, RACE DOES MATTER! it’s just how it is. It is awesome for him, his family, his race and country. Living in his shoes, he never imaged either from his race, that he would be the lead singer of a major Rock Band, with a 99 percent white race fan base. Hey but It is, what it is! And what is, is that the guy rocks, and I’m a reborn again Rocker! Rock On! He Rocked it out last night, people were walking to their cars talking about this guy and how they have not been to a concert like that in years. Bring it back Journey…. finally a major concert worth the cost of the ticket!

  • http://? cindy

    I just went to a journey concert and WOW is all i could say. He does a great concert. It was different but not that different. So all i can say is you rock!

  • Suzanne

    I saw them in Dallas last night……All I have to say is Steve Perry who?

  • mercy

    There are a lot of Filipinos who sing so good but Arnel is the one that really caught my attention. ARNEL voice is so powerful and he sings with passion. I always love the songs of Journey but never knew who the singer was and the members of the band. . . . . . .
    Keep up the good work ARNEL. . . . you deserve every bit of it and thank you Journey especially N Schon and J Cain (all the members of the band too) for welcoming ARNEL with OPEN ARMS.
    We will definitely watch your concert (tickets are sold out in Greek Theater) and buy your records.

  • Larry McInnis

    When I was stationed in Subic Bay from 1985 to 1990, I would visit Cal Jam Club. I remembered Arnel singing on stage and wondering how could a voice like his go un-noticed. I had a feeling that he would make is big in music. I’ve always enjoyed listening to Journey (that may be strange because I’m bi-racial – African American and Caucasian). One of my favorite songs was and still is “Whose Crying Now.” Being stationed in the Philippines for several years, I knew Filipinos had great talent whether it was music, tailoring, furniture makers, etc. Continue to be humble, that’s what make me love Arnel’s voice. Peace out.

  • Maria

    Saw them in concert July 31st and they were awesome! ARnel sounded exactly like steve perry

  • Dangrace

    Arnel is like a breath of fresh air for Journey. The past Perry replacements sucked, they couldn’t capture the heart and soul of Journey’s music. Finally, Journey found not only an excellent Perry replacement maybe even better esp. after listening to him, Awesome vocal range! Arnel is not trying to replace Perry since there will always be only one Perry. Arnel has his own unique qualities that fortunately captures the spirit of Journey’s music and there is definitely soul, passion and heart in his voice.

    To those who would rather waste their time hating or demeaning Arnel and/or the band for choosing him are pathetic. A person’s skin color does not say anything else about the person except just that- hi skin color. Some people are so miserable in their lives they couldn’t accept it when someone else is given the chance to succeed. Arnel like that wonderful girl Charice Pempengco overcame a lot of obstacles. I am proud that an Asian is finally able to break down the barriers in the entertainment industry. Is it so hard for those hatemongers to accept that people from other races are talented to and may even be better than their own? C’mon we’re all educated and civilized, right?

  • Bridget

    I saw them last night in concert and it was amazing. He does great live. I think he has a fantastic voice and did a great job. He’s so energetic too on stage that he keeps the energy level up and he’s always smiling which I thought was great.

  • Ed

    I went to the Journey concert in Birmingham last Saturday, TOTALLY AWESOME, and i am trying see them again if i could find
    good seats anywhere in this country or canada. JOURNEY ROCKS AGAIN… Just not Arnel but the entire band, i couldn’t help noticing the smile Neal was wearing also, the band is having fun that is great…… good luck to Journey i will see you again soon.

  • Joe from Jersey

    All I could say is CONGRATULATIONS to Neal Schon, Jon Cain and the restof the band. You got yourself a KEEPER. Arnel has successfully shown the fans what a true a rockband JOURNEY really is, and can also belt out ballads that can melt everyone’s heart. There’s just no comparison.

    ROCK ON, JOURNEY!!!!!!!!!!

  • DAVE

    Some people have commented that they don’t see why so much focus has been placed on Pineda’s nationality – also mentioning that Perry was Portuguese. The reason ought to be obvious. The Philippines is a poor country and Pineda came from a very humble background. His is quite a success story and brings hope to a lot of impoverished people.

  • Barb

    Saw these guys last night at SPAC NY Unbelievable…had wondered what Journey w/o Steve P would be like and all I can say is AWESOME!!! I’m an old school Journey fan and they’re BAAACK!!!!!

  • Michele

    Wow … just came home from the Journey concert in St. Louis … Wow! He is wonderful … the concert was great … if you get a chance go see Journey … again!

  • Maggie

    I just came from the Journey concert tonight in Minneapolis and I had to look up who this amazing talent was that was playing with Journey! Unbelievable, is all I can say! I am ready for the new CD to come out with Arnel as the lead. Great job Arnel! Great choice for Journey as well!

  • http://google bo

    for the past 4 weeks now, I have been listening to the re born journey band. I gotta tell you, my hair are all standing up like being electrified by this guy arnel.. we all know how perry and schon sound, but this guy arnel is AWESOME. I have listend to Journey back in the days and few songs i like , lights and faithfully. but I was more of led zep and pink, dio and you know the rest. Remember those ‘Day on the Green ” concert.
    Here’s my point, most of the band in those days are now pretty much gone, you see them every now and then at the fair and summer concerts. The new generation of rock n roll are way much different, its not as simple as it was…Now, when Arnel was discovered by Neil it was FAITH. Neil must have some good karma up there and he was given that destiny to see Arnel.God must have planned it. Do you realized how many people are so happy with this
    re born band. Great, this is one of the last pioneer in rock n roll.
    Arnel, is 40 and running around the stage like in the old days.
    Welcome Back Journey, you guys sound so much better now. ARNEL
    is a miracle. you made so many people happy. Neal, thank you for giving Arnel the chance. Arnel thank you for resurecting journey…

  • James Hartshorn

    The Philippines is a third world country where people struggle to make it from day-to-day. Filipinos are very talented but opportunities does not easily come by. So, when you see someone with a humble beginning like Arnel make it big, it is but natural we (Filipinos) celebrate his success with great pride. I’m sure Journey could have found another lead singer from countries like India, etc. Arnel is just so lucky to be the one to have been choosen.

  • http://news.review-of.com/ News Review

    He’s an awesome singer.. No wonder he was chosen as Journey’s lead singer.. I hope, as others do, that Pineda will bring success to this awesome band and I believe he will.. He indeed makes his fellow Filipinos proud..

  • Mayrene

    I watched Arnel’s “Open Arms” performance on Youtube, and all I have to say is WOW!!! I love Journey and their songs. I would sing their songs on Karaoke all the time. Arnel sounds sooo fluid, and I was literally entranced by his voice. I cannot wait to see Journey in concert when I get home on leave from Iraq. Good job guys!!!

  • Virgil A. Argel

    Went to see Journeys concert at Sacramento. You made the global Filipino proud!! Awsome voice, Arnel!! Long live JOURNEY!!!!!

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  • Fortadogarmany

    I “LOVE” Journey I purchased the greatest hits more times than I can remember, because it kept getting legs and disapearing. This newest member is fantastic if you close your eyes you can almost hear Steve Perry singing again. Hope they come to a Venue near me.

  • Fortadogarmany

    I “LOVE” Journey I purchased the greatest hits more times than I can remember, because it kept getting legs and disapearing. This newest member is fantastic if you close your eyes you can almost hear Steve Perry singing again. Hope they come to a Venue near me.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_W4JXSZDQLIHMRJHSWI7J2PJ5ZE PaulineB

    I loved Journey since the 70’s. I loved Steve Perry’s vocals. Sorry that he’s not with the band anymore. He’s truely missed. But I still love the band. I saw Journey on the today show and when I saw the new lead singer I was very amazed how much he sounded like Steve Perry. I hope he will be with the band for a long time. I wish Arnel Pineda the best. Good luck to him and the band.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_W4JXSZDQLIHMRJHSWI7J2PJ5ZE PaulineB

    I loved Journey since the 70’s. I loved Steve Perry’s vocals. Sorry that he’s not with the band anymore. He’s truely missed. But I still love the band. I saw Journey on the today show and when I saw the new lead singer I was very amazed how much he sounded like Steve Perry. I hope he will be with the band for a long time. I wish Arnel Pineda the best. Good luck to him and the band.

  • DropShotNeil

    My wife and i just left a Journey concert at Jones Beach, Long Island. Where is Steve Perry? Bring him back! This new guy just doesn’t cut it at all, in several ways. People were streaming out after a few songs. Foreigner was the real deal tonight.

    • spokencitizen

      you are nuts …if you were an actual musician you could appreciate the incredible vocal range this guy has…and as long as the band is happy with him and are able to keep performing and making other fans happy that is all that counts….and not your biased opinion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sunny-Mooney-Sheila-McKay/1684470591 Sunny Mooney Sheila McKay

    im sorry but i went to see steve perry sing…not this guy…it was like watching a cover band which i could do in any bar and it wouldnt have cost me 300.00 for the tickets   :[

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sunny-Mooney-Sheila-McKay/1684470591 Sunny Mooney Sheila McKay

    im sorry but i went to see steve perry sing…not this guy…it was like watching a cover band which i could do in any bar and it wouldnt have cost me 300.00 for the tickets   :[