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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Entertainment, Music

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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Music

The Big Shot Experience

DISCLAIMER: This blog entry is based on the author’s experience as one of the performers in the said event.


Last September, my family was watching ASAP when the TNT Boys did a production number with ASAP Divas Morissette Amon, Bituin Escalante, and Klarisse de Guzman. The TNT Boys revealed that time that they are going to hold their major concert in Araneta Coliseum, much to my delight, as well as my mom’s. They started to sell the tickets a month after this, which signaled me to go to Ticketnet to buy a ticket as the concert tickets might sell out fast as the concert day goes near. I initially wanted to write a review on the TNT Boys’ concert since they have been making waves both here and abroad.


Guess what actually happened? I ended up becoming part of their sold-out concert, much to my excitement. But how?!


One Wednesday afternoon, I was doing my EPAPC duties at home (through my laptop) when my phone beeped. I got a Facebook message from TNT’s vocal coach Froilan Canlas who invited me to do backing vocals with the BFFC Singers (a vocal group composed of his supporters and friends) for the TNT Boys’ production number on Showtime, two days from then. I said “Yes” since my schedule was free on that day and this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 

Backup singer mode ON. Hmmm…  Know the assigned piece by heart. Don’t be late. Don’t forget your costume (Including makeup!). Those were the top three performer’s commandments. It was a good thing that I was still able to remember those top three rules so I was at my calmest during our performance in Showtime. I remembered being too stiff during my previous days as a chorister, especially in media-oriented events. What I did was just to focus on the performance itself: the parts, the blockings, as well as instructions from the stage manager. I kept on reminding myself constantly to just look at the studio audiences to counter my nervousness. Overall, our performance went well. We just had to wait for a few days regarding our possible appearance in the TNT Boys’ Concert in Araneta.

To know more about our stint with the TNT Boys in Showtime, here is the link: https://thewanderingmuseician.com/2018/11/18/hear-the-angels-voices/


It was roughly a week when we learned that the BFFC Singers’ performance in Araneta will push through. We were advised that apart from O Holy Night, Jingle Bells and Carol of the Bells will also be performed. Two sessions (Only went to one as I had evening classes in graduate school on the other day.) of technical rehearsals in ABS-CBN were held days before the performance.

NOVEMBER 30, 2018
The stars are born!!! The Big Shot Trio TNT Boys held their sold-out concert called “Listen: The Big Shot Concert” at the Araneta Coliseum with a jam-packed crowd. The Kids’ Choice Host Eric Nicolas, “Ate Girl” Jacque Gonzaga, and “Kuya Escort” Ion Perez were the front acts which helped the audience become more energized throughout the show. The TNT Boys commenced their show with an arrangement of Jennifer Holiday’s “And I Am Telling You” with an explosive “TNT” LED background. All three of them channeled their stellar vocal power and blend as they brought the entire house down. 
They next performed a cover of the Bee Gees’ “Words” and “Too Much Heaven,” the first impersonation they did in the second season of Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids, which became a viral video. It was followed by a performance of Queen’s “We Are The Champions,” together with Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 1 Grand Champion Noven Belleza, Tawag ng Tanghalan Kids Grand Champion Jhon Clyd Talili, and Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 2 Grand Champion Janine Berdin. They ended the segment with Queen’s “Somebody To Love.”


Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids alumni Xia Vigor, Onyok Pineda, Sheenna Belarmino, Noel Comia, Esang de Torres, Chun-sa Jung, and Krystal Brimner did a reprise of the impersonations they did in the said show. Xia, dressed as Taylor Swift, performed “You Belong With Me” while Onyok, dressed as Steven Tyler performed “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing.” Sheenna made the audiences cheer with amazement as she performed Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” in the style and look of KZ Tandingan. Theater actors Noel Comia Jr. and Esang de Torres performed a la Mick Jagger and Liza Minnelli respectively where they showed their best in both vocal and stage projection. Chun-sa performed “All About That Bass” in both the vocal and fashion style of Meghan Trainor while theater actress Krystal Brimner showed the vulnerable side of Miley Cyrus as she performed “Wrecking Ball.” 


The TNT Boys brought the entire house once again as they returned onstage as Jessie J (Mackie), Ariana Grande (Keifer), and Nicki Minaj (Francis). They performed their winning piece in Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids called “Bang Bang.” Francis showed his swag-worthy but clearly-enunciated rapping skills and he was in Nicki’s character throughout the song.

A quick banter between the Big Shot Trio and singer comedienne K Brosas (dressed as Jessie J) took place before K performed a cover version of Jessie J’s “Price Tag.” 


The trio’s number with Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids coach Jed Madela was a powerful one, as they performed Sergio Mendes’s “Bridges” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Their performance of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” reminded me of Eumee’s performance during the Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 1 Grand Finals because of the song’s last instrumental part. Jed finished the segment with his version of John Lennon’s “Stand By Me.”

Wtih Mr. Jed Madela


In one of the interviews conducted on ABS-CBN, the TNT Boys revealed that a dance number will be included, which they actually did in the concert. They performed a medley of K-Pop songs (Wondergirls’ “Nobody,” Blackpink’s “Ddu-Du Ddu-Du,” 2NE1’s “Fire,” and Momoland’s “Boom Boom”)  with a futuristic LED background, reminiscent of video games.

They next performed Spice Girls’ “Viva Forever,” with two aerial silk dancers, storybook-like setting, and male choir (from BFFC Singers) in the band area. It was followed by a heavenly version of Beyoncé’s “Halo” and a powerful “The Greatest Showman” number, “A Million Dreams.” It was after this number when we were asked to standby.


The TNT Boys performed “Bawat Isa Ay Bata,” official theme song of Bantay Bata 163 where they have donated the cash prize they have obtained from The Kids’ Choice.


With Sir Froi on keyboard, the trio performed “I Wanna Look That Way.” As they performed the said song, the songs lyrics were flashed on the LED backdrop.

With Sir Froi, the man behind the TNT Boys’ stellar vocal blend, as well as the formation of the BFFC Singers


Comedian Vice Ganda was the biggest act among that night’s guests as the crowd roared when he appeared in his unicorn-like costume. The TNT Boys were wholeheartedly thankful for Meme Vice who was one of the reasons why the TNT Boys were formed.

They performed DoReMi (Donna Cruz, Regine Velasquez, and Mikee Cojuangco)’s “I Can.” Meme Vice was extremely spontaneous that he continued doing his usually impromptu banter. He encouraged everyone to watch his upcoming film “Fantastica” before he exited the stage.


The BFFC Singers (where I became part of), conducted by the Songsmith himself, opened the Christmas segment with their version of Ukranian carol based from the folksong “Shchedryk,” “Carol of the Bells.” I first learned this song back in high school and it was extremely crucial for the words to be clearly enunciated. This has been one of the challenging songs for choirs, not only because of its speed. Crispness is a must for this piece.

BFFC Singers!


Okay, back to the show, we, together with the TNT Boys performed Jingle Bells, complete with Christmas elements. I personally enjoyed doing this number as I found this quite cute. I ended up smiling during the entire song. We next did O Holy Night. This time, the boys’ whistles were executed more neatly.

A live choral doll? 🙂  I kept on thinking about Gossip Girl’s Blair Waldorf because of my bowtie. This is one of the cutest costumes I have worn in my entire existence as a performer.

Petula Clark’s “Downtown” and Jessie J’s “Flashlight” were the songs dedicated to the trio’s supporters. As they performed “Flashlight” a live feed of the Araneta audiences were shown. The show ended with the boys’ emotional version of Beyonce’s “Listen,” the song that became a road to their success.


Of all the choral performances I have been part of, I have enjoyed doing this the most. The atmosphere was quite light and I felt I was able to deliver with minimal tension. I have always reminded myself to keep calm, focus, and enjoy.


Going back to the concert itself, the theme for each segment was not only kid-friendly. The songs performed by the trio were inspirational, which are enjoyed by both the young and old. For the record, the TNT Boys are the youngest acts who showcased a successful concert at the Big Dome. Congratulations to the TNT Boys, as well to the people behind them, especially Sir Froi*, their vocal coach who continues to guide them not only to become better singers but to also remain humble and friends with each other. 

With THE TNT Boys


*- I personally thank him for giving me the opportunity to not only perform as one of the backing vocalists, but to also become part of the TNT Boys’ success that night. 🙂

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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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Entertainment, Music

(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, Television

The Breakdown of Birit and Ventriloquist Monotonies in Mass Media

Whew! It’s been almost a week since I had my thesis bookbound. Just a few days away before this semester ends…

Yesterday, I attended the talk of Mr. James Gabrillo, a PhD candidate from the University of Cambridge, who presented his dissertation on the Music in Mass Media , 1990s and beyond. In his dissertation, he has presented the evolution of music for noontime shows, specifically in the Tuviera-produced Eat Bulaga, as well as the meaning behind the Aegis band’s songs.

Part of his study on Eat Bulaga included some of the singing competitions that existed during the 1990s, such as the Birit series (Baby, King, Queen), Ikaw at Echo, and Lola’s Playlist. Ikaw at Echo, similar to its predecessor, Gaya-Gaya Puto Maya, deals more with singer ventriloquisms where each participant was expected to almost exactly copy his/her idol’s voice, getup, and stage projection.

I reviewed my notes from Gabrillo’s presentation and compared it with my thesis notes on Tawag ng Tanghalan, which is a tad more current. I just watched one episode of the show’s Ultimate Resbak (Wildcard Round). I noticed that there are lesser biriteras, compared to last season. And at the same time, the jury (more known as the hurados), preferred contenders who rather “own” the songs they have chosen, instead of just performing them similarly to the original recordings. “Owning” the song meant that the participant is able to incorporate his/her own style (“may sariling bali,” in Tagalog), apart from being a biritera or someone who deals more on vocal pyrotechnics. I have also observed that the production team does its best to break the biritera monotony which I rather found more beneficial for the development of OPM. The Original Pilipino Music genre seriously needs to stand out more. It seriously needs to be more than just vocal pyrotechnics and ventriloquisms.

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