After delivering what is basically a downscaled discount version of the 2015 Miss Universe pageant last year, returning back to friendlier turf proved the charm for this year’s Miss Grand International, with an uptick in contestants from 74 to 77 (with no withdrawals this time) plus a grander stage and improved production values.

This year, the pageant employed two celebrity Filipino hosts: actor/presenter Xian Lim and Miss Grand International 2016 1st runner-up Nicole Cordoves.  Xian was his usual unobtrusive self, though he did make efforts trying to get the predominantly Vietnamese crowd going–but I think he went overboard at the end as he unnecessarily extended the announcement of the winner for at least three minutes.  Nicole’s spiels are flawless–she definitely will have a thriving career as a world-class presenter.

This pageant borrowed a key element from another pageant:  Like Miss Supranational, it peppered its key segments with piped in contemporary music–if it’s a current hit, they would employ a cover version, or they employ the original if it’s by a fledgling artist.  The opening number, for starters, uses a cover of “Power” by Little Mix featuring Stormzy.  Admittedly the version played in the pageant is not as impactful as the original, but well, you are reminded well enough about that hit that you can imagine if they can afford the rights to play that song here.  Also, in this sequence, the 77 contestants were in basic blue satin Ao Dais peppily dancing and posing to this empowering number.

For the Top 20 swimsuit segment, all the girls are clad in pink bikinis, with the non-finalists doing an opening dance and the Top 20 strutting to the same cover of this song:  “Falling” by Alesso.  After a few minutes with the results tabulated, the Top 10 are then selected.

After a break, this pageant has this sequence unique to it where the Top 10 would deliver speeches about world peace.  This year, the non-finalists paraded in evening gowns carrying pretty Vietnamese lanterns while a semi-instrumental version of  “Heal the World” by Michael Jackson played.  Then the Top 10 emerge in elegant white ao dais and delivered their “impassioned” speeches.

After the speech segment and a commercial break, the Top 10 got to individually parade in evening gown, this time to the orchestral mix of the song “Lights Down Low” by MAX featuring gnash.  It seems they edited the parts where gnash did his rap and repeated the falsetto climaxes sung by MAX.

Of course then the Top Five were chosen.  They reversed the process from Miss Universe as the Top Five first paraded in gowns, set to  “Love is Alive” by Lea Michele, and then they did the final question and answer, and after the final walk of the reigning queen, the winners were then announced.