Entertainment, Music

OPM: The Year in Review

2018 is the year for Original Pilipino Music.

This year, more bands emerged in the OPM scene, especially with the launch of Coke Studio’s second season (which could have been culminated with a Christmas concert that was later postponed to early 2019). Some of the strongest acts this year were December Avenue (with their songs “Bulong” and the smash hit duet with Moira dela Torre, “Kung Di Rin Lang Ikaw”), IV of Spades, and I Belong to the Zoo (with their songs “Balang Araw” and “Sana”).

Ben&Ben became stronger in 2018 with their songs “Kathang Isip,” Exes Baggage OST “Maybe the Night,” and Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral OST “Susi.”

The Voice Kids alumnus JK Labajo, together with his band, juan karlos, has also made it into the music charts with songs “Sistema” and the chart-topping hit, “Buwan.”

As for the solo acts, The Voice Season 1 alumna Moira dela Torre and Tawag ng Tanghalan’s YouTube Idol Sam Mangubat dominated 2018.

Apart from a duet with December Avenue, dela Torre has released more original songs, such as “Tagpuan” and Glorious OST, “Saglit.” She has also released a cover version of Rey Valera’s “Kahit Maputi Na Ang Buhok Ko,” which became the official theme song for the film, “The Hows of Us.”

On the other hand, Mangubat released three chart-topping singles, namely “Pagka’t Nariyan Ka,” “Clueless,” and Himig Handog 2018 entry, “Wala Kang Alam.” His concert last September, entitled “I Am Sam,” was also a sold-out event.

For the hiphop category, both Ex Battalion and Shanti Dope released chart-topping singles.

Vocal groups such as BoybandPH and MNL 48 also made it this year. While MNL 48 released Tagalog translations of “Aitakatta,” “Pag-ibig Fortune Cookie,” and “Talulot ng Sakura,” BoybandPH dominated the music charts with their songs “Hanggang Kailan Kaya” and Himig Handog 2018 entry “Para Sa Tabi.”

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More (and MOR) Hits!

I have been binge-listening to MOR 101.9’s Dyis Is It lately to keep myself updated with the latest OPM hits. Here’s what I have discovered. The artists who have been topping the charts are Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 1 alumni Sam Mangubat and Froilan Canlas, as well as PBB Lucky 7 alumni Edward Barber and Maymay Entrata.

Apart from their followers’ support through votes, why did their song become the top hits at the moment?

  1. Wala Nang Iba by Froilan Canlas

Launched last November 23, 2018 on ABS-CBN’s “It’s Showtime”, it talks about a guy who is about to confess his feelings to the girl he has been liking but initially too shy to admit. The song was written by Noell Fuellas, Canlas’s former student in songwriting.

2. Wala Kang Alam by Sam Mangubat

Originally one of the entries for this year’s Himig Handog, it talks about a guy who expresses his disappointment towards the girl who hardly understood his struggles. The song was written by Mel Magno and Martin John Arellano.

3. BMG by Edward Barber

BMG, an abbreviation for “Be My Girl,” talks about a guy who promises to give his greatest love for the girl he likes. The song was written by Mikel Arevalo.

4. Bituin by Maymay Entrata

Originally launched as a promotional song for ABS-CBN’s Star Hunt (the television network’s audition program), it is a dance-worthy EDM song. The song was written by Yeng Constantino.

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Entertainment, Music

Common Misconceptions on Music Students/Music Practitioners

Hello guys! How are you doing? Just a few days to go before Christmas and here’s to more performance and entrepreneurial sidelines. However, despite the existence of sidelines for mostly music students, people still assume that there are little to no opportunities for music students. People often assumed that studying music is THAT easy.

“Puro kanta at tugtog lang naman kayong mga music major eh.”

This is one big misconception against music students. During my undergraduate studies in UP, Music Theory was one of our make or break subjects. Since it garnered 5 units, flunking Music Theory causes a major delay in our music studies. Another major element is that we also have Music Literature classes to help us understand whatever piece we perform, in terms of historical value. Not to mention, in my musicology classes, we do a critical analysis of (almost) all of the musical pieces we encounter. Not to mention, pop is even included, with Simon Frith as one of the most notable pop musicologists. We also do field research in studying every music community, be it classical, indigenous, or even pop!

“Wala namang pera sa pagiging musiko/pag-aaral ng music.”

THINK AGAIN. There are a lot of people from the music industry who are formally schooled in music, whether in UP, UST, PWU, CSB, or even MINT. Apart from National Artist Ryan Cayabyab, some of the notable people from the music industry who actually studied music in college are veteran music arranger Homer Flores, Jona, Moira dela Torre, Froilan Canlas (Tawag ng Tanghalan’s “Songsmith”-slash-vocal coach), Gerphil Flores (Yup! David Foster’s Golden Girl.), Louie Ocampo (He even graduated from Berklee!), Jerrold Tarog (Yes! The man behind the films “Heneral Luna” and “Goyo.”), Armi Millare of UDD, and many more. Most of the session band musicians (e.g., TNT Band, The Arrangers) in major TV networks even studied music in college. Wedding and bar musicians even earn from performing. Most sound engineers also earn a huge sum of money, due to numerous recording projects.

These are just two of major misconceptions on music students and music practitioners. There are actually more. To my dear friends who study music and/or have a music-related job, feel free to leave a comment. 🙂

 

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(Not Only) Birit To Win It: The Various Types of Today’s Singing Contest Participants

Tawag ng Tanghalan, Birit Baby, Birit Queen, Star Quest, Star for A Night, Star in A Million, Search for A Star, Pinoy Pop Superstar, Pinoy Dream Academy, The Voice, The Clash, name them! Singing competitions have always been part of the Filipino culture, not only on television, but also in various communities (especially in the provinces’ festivities), school programs, and even in corporate Christmas parties.

Back then, a contestant can only win if she can belt the highest possible notes a la Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, and other contemporaries. For the case of male participants, they can only win if they can croon either a la Basil Valdez or Martin Nievera. However, the singing contest culture in the Philippines is quite different nowadays. More and more genres are becoming more acceptable in the mainstream and singers of non-birit genres are now having wider fan bases.

Wait a second, what are the different types of singing contest participants?

The Bigtime Biriteras. Their vocal power and range are sky-is-the-limit, which usually impress the panel of judges, as well as the audiences. Bonus points for being able to sing in their whistle registers a la Mariah Carey.

THE SETLIST (commonly performed songs):
Mariah Carey’s songs: Hero, Vision of Love, Love Takes Time, Emotions (heavy on whistle registers), Through the Rain

Celine Dion’s songs: To Love You More (popularized by Star For A Night Grand Champion Sarah Geronimo during her stint in the said competition), All By Myself (originally by Eric Carmen; Everybody slays on the long “anymore” change key.), It’s All Coming Back To Me Now (originally by Pandora’s Box), My Heart Will Go On

Whitney Houston’s songs: Saving All My Love for You, One Moment In Time, I Will Always Love You (especially the long “I” in the last refrain), I Have Nothing, Run To You, Queen of the Night

Regine Velasquez’s songs: Narito Ako, On the Wings of Love (originally by Jeffrey Osbourne; became a big hit in Velasquez’s best-selling album R2K), You’ll Never Walk Alone (originally from the musical “Carousel”), What Kind of Fool Am I (originally from the musical “Stop the World – I Want to Get Off), I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing (originally by Aerosmith; also became a big hit in Velasquez’s best-selling album R2K), Pangako (composed by now-husband Ogie Alcasid for 2001 film “Pangako, Ikaw Lang”), Dadalhin, Pangarap Ko Ang Ibigin Ka (from 2003 film of the same title; also composed by Alcasid), Shine (originally sung by Ima Castro)

Aegis’s songs: Halik, Luha, Basang-Basa Sa Ulan

Songs from the musical “Dreamgirls”: One Night Only, And I Am Telling You (I’m Not Going), Listen, I Am Changing

Chaka Khan’s “Through the Fire”
Little Mix’s “Secret Love Song”
Loren Allred’s “Never Enough”
Wendy Moten’s “Come In Out of the Rain” (popularized by Star In A Million First Runner-Up Sheryn Regis during her stint in the said competition)

Lani Misalucha’s “Bukas Na Lang Kita Mamahalin”
Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”
Dianne Reeves’s “Better Days”

The Balladeers. Being the male counterpart of belters, their winning formula is their crooning style and vocal power.

THE SETLIST (commonly performed songs):
Josh Groban’s songs: You Raise Me Up, To Where You Are

Basil Valdez’s songs: Ngayon at Kailanman, Kung Ako’y Iiwan Mo, Hanggang Sa Dulo ng Walang Hanggan, Kastilyong Buhangin, Say That You Love Me (popularized by Martin Nievera)

Martin Nievera’s songs: Kahit Isang Saglit (originally by Vernie Varga), Ikaw Ang Pangarap (from 2007 teleserye “Lobo”), Be My Lady, You Are My Song (The last part of the bridge, “With you in my heart in my soul, you’re my love you’re my song” is peppered with triplets, which makes the song more challenging to perform.)

Gary Valenciano’s songs: Wag Ka Nang Umiyak (originally by Sugarfree; used for primetime series “Ang Probinsyano”), Tayong Dalawa (originally by Rey Valera), Natutulog Ba Ang Diyos, Narito, Gaya Ng Dati, Take Me Out of the Dark, Ikaw Lamang (from 2005 film “Dubai”)

Leo Valdez’s “Magsimula Ka”
“This Is the Moment” from Jekyll and Hyde (popularized by Star In A Million Grand Champion Erik Santos during his stint in the said competition)

The Rock Balladeers. Mostly male singers, their weapons are their vocal range and angst. For the case of female singers, huskiness is more of their singing style, rather than a flaw.

THE SETLIST (commonly performed songs):

Journey’s songs: Open Arms, Faithfully, Don’t Stop Believing

Queen’s songs: We Are the Champions, Bohemian Rhapsody (“I see a little silhouette-o of a man, scaramouche, scaramouche…”), Too Much Love Will Kill You (popularized by Pilipinas Got Talent Season 1 Grand Champion Jovit Baldivino during his stint in the said competition)

Air Supply’s songs: Goodbye, All Out of Love, Here I Am, Even the Nights Are Better, Just As I Am; A medley of their songs, which included The One That You Love, Now and Forever, and Without You, made Noven Belleza win the first season of Tawag ng Tanghalan.

Bad English’s “When I See You Smile”

The Improvisers. They are the new “dark horses” in televised singing competitions. They slay the stage by “owning” (more of experimenting with) the songs they perform. Experimentations may include runs, falsettos, scats, and dynamic variations. For them, every song may be reconstructed into a contest piece, as long as they are able to perform it excellently in their own genre. More freedom is given to the resident music arranger/s as well. X-Factor Philippines Grand Champion KZ Tandingan (Check out her version of Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly.”), Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 1’s Songsmith Froilan Canlas (Check out his heavily jazzed up version of Pilita Corrales’s “Dahil Sa’yo”.), and Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 3 10-time Defending Champion now Grand Finalist Elaine Duran (Check out her R&B blues aria version of Up Dharma Down’s “Oo”.) fall into this category.

These are just some of the commonly encountered types of singing contest participants. However, delivering a heartfelt performance is the most important, regardless of the singing style being performed.

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Entertainment, Music

Remembering Rico J. Puno

“Macho gwapito raw ako, kinagigiliwan dahil may pangalan.”

Whenever I hear the name Rico J. Puno, the first thing that comes into my mind is the song “Macho Gwapito.” Since the peak of his career in the 1970s until a few months ago, this song has always been part of his repertoire in every show he became part of, whether on television (Remember when he blurted out, “Are you happy?” during his performances in Pilipinas Win na Win?) or during concerts in the country or abroad.

Aside from “Macho Gwapito,” Puno’s other major hit songs were “May Bukas Pa,” “Kapalaran,” “Lupa,” and many more. He has also released his own version of Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were,” with additional lyrics in Tagalog.

This morning, a news has been circulated on Facebook which saddened the Filipino music industry.

The Macho Gwapito legend has passed away, due to cardiac arrest. He may have already passed away, but his music will always be remembered.

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PHILPOP 2018 Top 10 Finalists (A Review)

During the Pinoy Playlist concert held at the Maybank Performing Arts Theater on October 18, the Top 10 finalists for the Philpop Festival were announced. From the Top 30, the Top 10 finalists were selected, based on the following criteria:

                            50% – judges
                            25% – online streaming
                            25% SMART People’s Choice (through SMS and Twitter’s
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With a total of 100%.

The Finals Night will be held on December 2 at the Capitol Commons in Pasig City.

Here are the Top 10 entries for Philpop. In this post, I will describe some of the song’s details, in terms of lyrics and musical content, as well as my verdict.

  1. Ako Ako 

Ako Ako” is a pop-rock song composed by Jeriko Buenafe and interpreted by alternative rock band Feel Day and theater actor Hans Dimayuga. It talks about two men fighting over a woman who is struggling to choose between the two. The “Sabi niya ako” counterpoint was seamless that it actually represented how the two men argued over the woman they like.

2. Di Ko Man

Di Ko Man” is a fresh take on OPM. Since the Filipino music industry is dominated by the Tagalogs, BisPop has become alive once again, after the eras of Max Surban and Yoyoy Villame. Composed and interpreted by Ferdinand Aragon, it is a Cebuano song with an indie-ish acoustic feel. It talks about the traditional concept of love: untainted and innocent.

 

3. Isang Gabing Pag-ibig

Isang Gabing Pag-ibig” is a ballad composed by Carlo Angelo David and interpreted by Tawag ng Tanghalan’s “Balladeer Extraordinaire” Jex de Castro. It talks about experiencing love at first sight. De Castro’s voice was full of emotions in the chorus and bridge parts and his dynamic levels were varied. Not to mention, de Castro’s voice was reminiscent of Lee Ryan, lead singer of British boy band Blue.

4. Kariton

In a sea of love songs, “Kariton” is a song that rather focuses on a social issue.  Composed by Philip Arvin Jarilla and interpreted by Acapellago, it talks about the daily struggles of every Filipino who makes a living with his kariton (cart). Countertenor Almond Bolante’s solo parts in the first stanza were powerful, as well as his ad-lib parts towards the latter part of the song. The harmony, arranged by JC Jose, was also performed seamlessly. The keyboard and guitar progressions added strength to the song.

5. Laon Ako

Laon Ako” is written by Elmar Bolaño and Donel Trasporto and interpreted by singer-comedian Kakai Bautista (Remember Rak of Aegis?). While “laon” means that something is not that fresh anymore like rice, it has a feminist theme, which tells that having a significant other is not that important to make a woman become fulfilled. Apart from her birit routine performed on television, Bautista’s vocals were rather light, which matched with the song’s theme.

6. Loco de Amor

“Loco de Amor” is a humorous song composed by Edgardo Miraflor Jr. and interpreted by the BennyBunnyBand. With the song’s Afro-Latin musical theme, it talks about a man who has an affinity with an allegedly Spanish girl. Hence, the heavily corrupted Spanish lyrics. Since “Loco de Amor” is loosely translated as “crazy in love,” some words and names associated with sex were even included, such as the association of “sabor” (taste) to a girl and “Mang Kanor,” an infamous person associated with sex scandals.

7. Nanay Tatay

Nanay Tatay” is another song that tackled a social issue. Composed and interpreted by Chud Festejo, it talks about the different types of street children: beggar, Sampaguita vendor, and even a drug pusher. It also talks about child trafficking. The usage of the “Nanay, tatay” game song was witty, which added impact to the song’s overall narration. The “Isa, isa dalawa,” hook added impact to the song’s overall theme.

8. Pilipit

Pilipit” is a song written by Sean Gabriel Cedro and John Ray Reodique. Interpreted by Julian Trono, it talks about a man who is struggling to confess his feelings to the girl he likes.

9. Tama Na

Tama Na” is a ballad composed by Michael Rodriguez and Jeanne Columbine Rodriguez. Interpreted by “Suklay Diva” Katrina Velarde, the song talks about closure of a failed relationship and starting over a new one. The song’s instrumentation needed more variations to allow Velarde to variate her vocal ability as well. Velarde’s voice was undeniably powerful, however.

10. Yun Tayo

Yun Tayo” is a pop-rock song composed by Donnalyn Onilongo and interpreted by the Gracenote band. It talks about frequent cancellations of plans (lakad, in Tagalog) by making various excuses. The song’s feel is suitable for driving.

 

Those are the Top 10 entries for this year’s Philpop. Given the comments I have stated, my top entries for this year are the following: Aragon’s “Di Ko Man,” de Castro’s “Isang Gabing Pag-ibig,” Acapellago’s “Kariton, Bautista’s “Laon Ako,” Festejo’s “Nanay Tatay,” and BennyBunnyBand’s “Loco de Amor.” 

 

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ALBUM REVIEW: Love, BoybandPH

Two years after winning ABS-CBN’s Pinoy Boyband Superstar, quintet BoybandPH has released its second album under Star Music called Love, BoybandPH. A listening party was also held, weeks prior to its launch.

It is composed of nine tracks, namely, Kaligayahan (Happiness) Interlude which has two parts, “Kung Di Mo Natatanong” (If You Haven’t Asked), “Hanggang Kailan Kaya” (Until When) – the album’s carrier single, “Please Lang Naman” (Please), “D’Tyo” (Not Us), “Drive”, “Tagahanga” (Fan), and “Pa’no Ba” (How). “Tagahanga” was penned by pop-rock singer Yeng Constantino while “Please Lang Naman” was written by Moira dela Torre. “Pa’no Ba” was created by Tawag ng Tanghalan’s Songsmith Froilan Canlas, the group’s vocal coach.

The Kaligayahan Interlude (both parts) channels the best of the group’s vocal harmony, in terms of balance. The voices are even at the start of the song while the melody is clearly heard during the stanza parts. The bass part is also distinct.

Kung Di Mo Natatanong is reminiscent of 1990s Bubblegum Pop Boyband Ballads commonly played during Junior-Senior Prom dances. Counterpoints may have existed in the chorus part but they are seamlessly done, along with the song’s main melody.

Hanggang Kailan Kaya, the album’s carrier single is a mix of boyband harmonies and electronic pop. Some parts may be modified through music technology or “auto-tuned” but the vocal parts remain distinct and not overly artificial. Overall, this song is danceable.

 

Dela Torre’s Please Lang Naman has a sound fit for television commercials. Along with its guitar patterns commonly used in sway-worthy music, the song’s character is light and easy. It focuses more on the BoybandPH’s member’s individual vocal prowess. However, the “woooh” parts could have sounded better if they are sung with a bit of swing feel.

Both “D’Tyo” and “Drive” have a danceable feel. Drive’s recurring instrumental pattern is distinct, as well as its bass lines and sawtooth riffs. However, the boys’ voices are more remarkable in D’Tyo than in “Drive.”

Constantino takes a little break from her usual pop-rock songwriting practice in “Tagahanga.” Compared to her previous works, “Tagahanga” has more of a pop sound, which is peppered with electronic beats yet the boys’ vocals remain unadulterated.

“Pa’no Ba”, penned by Canlas, is an R&B ballad, which is reminiscent of Boyz II Men’s and 98 Degrees’s ballads that existed in the 1990s. The song’s melody is not only remarkable. The background vocal parts are also even, especially in the chorus part. In fact, nobody from the quintet sticks out in the chordal parts. Russell Reyes’s and Niel Murillo’s ad lib parts are distinct yet sung seamlessly.

Of the tracks mentioned, BoybandPH’s vocal harmonies are best channeled in “Kaligayahan Interlude” (both Parts 1 and 2), “Kung Di Mo Natatanong”, and Pa’no Ba. My only suggestion for “Pa’no Ba” is to have an acoustic version released soon to make the song’s meaning come out better.

Overall, this album deserves a rave, not only because the entire album sounds current. With Canlas’s and Kiko Salazar’s guidance, the quintet’s vocal harmony is “eargasmic” because of its balance and seamlessness. Looking forward to more purely a cappella songs from BoybandPH.

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