You’ve already feasted on it by now: the beauty queen who sashayed onstage beatboxing for her talent showcase, looking every bit like the assertive turntablist vamp rather than the serene catwalk siren. Queenierich Rehman, the Philippines’ rep to Miss World this year, has circumvented the orthodox beauty-pageant route—which means either doing a Celine Dion song or romancing the dance-floor Fergie-style, or maybe even doing a violin passage for more high-brow measure—by taking to that time-tested skill in the hip-hop arsenal: beatboxing. The 23-year-old Pasay City beauty, who, Huffington Post initially reported, “[had] the pageant hosts introduce her act as a mystery” (italics mine), first sang in that mangled brand of RnB everybody seems to favor these days, then proceeded to floor everyone with a medley of hits by 50 Cent, Justin Timberlake, and Cali Swag District (“Teach Me How to Dougie”). Surely, Rehman, who in her Miss World bio describes herself as “a quiet person who is aggressive with what she wants to achieve,” does not mean to simply “make noise” as it is, but, I’m guessing, to highlight a musical idiom that’s still developing as we speak. The hoopla, admittedly, owes more to that act of defamiliarization rather than her top-caliber mad skills: clear indication of what people (okay, pageant viewers) are used to, the kind of “values” they expect in their beauty titlists. Which is why this street kind of act that is hardly “feminine” in usual terms—crude Eat, Bulaga!-style stunt on the one hand; bad-ass act by anyone, man or woman, on the other—stands out, when brought out in more populist settings. We, of course, know this is nothing new, but hey, if it gets more attention this way, I’m not about to burst anybody’s bubble. Should you be interested in more girl-spun beats, look up British beatboxing quintet The Boxettes, who just earlier this week started releasing a new series of vlogs. In closing I will not say “girl power,” because I’m not that guy. This is power, period.
Video of Queenierich Rehman beatboxing by Creamiee2521. Screen-grab from the same also used as homepage header. Image of The Boxettes by vintagedept, via Flickr Creative Commons. Some rights reserved.