I’m the definition of mainstream trash with hipster garbage on the side (
has anyone ever cared to define that aesthetic ever?); my musical tastes are limited to (American) Top 40 hits and the occasional female indie solo artist. I don’t go out of my way to look for new things to appreciate in music, and I don’t really have the will to challenge what contemporary media forces down my throat. But apparently I should.
Going through YouTube with my sister and my happenstance encounters with good live performances on TV have showed me a whole new world outside of One Direction and Marina. There are loads of (local!) artists and songs out there which are amazing and lovely to listen to; unfortunately, they aren’t marketed as hip or cool or whatever right now. They aren’t even branded as counterculture. They just aren’t anything.
So to share my experiences and my renewed love for local music, I’ve picked some artists and performances (new and old and everything in between) which can maybe inspire a similar appreciation of Filipino music and talent. I love all of them:
1. Sarah Geronimo
She’s obviously got a large fanbase in the Philippines, but I feel like the supreme awesomeness of Sarah Geronimo gets severely downplayed in the social circles I move in. Is it because she’s not western enough (well she’s also been trying out that kind of music lately, apparently)? Or because of her mass-oriented narrative?
I’d suggest it’s because of a form of cultural elitism, but that would be too deep and radical for this art post.)
Anyway, I love most of her dance+song numbers in the Sunday ABS-CBN show ASAP. But what really called out to me was this cover of the song Salute by Little Mix (which happens to be a favorite!). I mean, yeah, she’s the total performer and the Pop Princess and all that. But she’s also pretty hot???
She is now one of my mothers.
Just watch all of her performances on ASAP ?? She can rap, sing Adele while sitting down…
Sidenote: We’re still a bit pissed at whoever’s directing the ASAP camera angles.
And she doesn’t just do covers. Sarah G has released tons of hit songs over her many years in the business (I assume; I can’t remember any at the moment). My sister also introduced me to this relatively new song by Sarah G called Kilometro. Apparently it’s pretty famous? Or at least it gets radio play?
It’s in Filipino (so yay). The styling of the video’s kind of got a KPop vibe to it; it’s still pretty cool. It also placed in some sort of international contest for songwriting (so yay again).
Mostly it’s the romantic in me that likes the message. Also there’s the fact that it’s catchy as hell. Kilome-kilome-kilometrong layo…
Oh look, an old favorite!
I don’t know his full discography or anything, but I do know and love two of his songs: Lando and Upuan.
The two songs (and I assume most of his released material) paint a very raw and honest picture of Philippine culture. His works are a testament to the function of music as social criticism. So hi, random haters, music can have ‘substance’.
Lando is the story of two lovers divided by socioeconomic status (a line that’s pretty well-drawn in the country) and by fate. Upuan is a hit on every morally and politically corrupt person in a seat of power.
Music-wise, the rhythm and rhyme are good. There’s an especially haunting quality to the hooks.
Fun fact: I like his songs so much that I attempt to rap either one of the two every time I go sing karaoke. I mostly fail.
AND NOW FOR…
3. Darren Espanto & JK Labajo
These two kids (technicallymaybe teen heartthrobs now, whatever) have a lot of talent. I haven’t heard any original material from them, but I have heard them sing covers (from their stint at The Voice Kids up to the videos I’ll share now). And I can say they’re brilliant.
Isn’t that just one of the most effortless and spot-on performances you’ve ever heard? That kind of talent just boggles the mind. I had the pleasure of hearing him live once (as part of the audience of The Voice PH Season Something), and his voice really is as strong and clear in real life. Maybe even stronger. And his smile is charming.
Juan Karlos Labajo is a neat little bundle of clean charm and good talent. Armed with a guitar and an emotive face, he’s really bringing on some Ed Sheeran-style of musicianship. His voice sounds very sincere and quite moving.
And also: I love this whole touring studio bus + video recording concept from Wish FM. It’s kind of like what some American stations have, except BETTER because they are IN A BUS and the bus is ACTUALLY MOVING. God. My mind was mindblown when my sister and I realized that there were real-time commuters watching the artists perform through the bus windows.
4. …And more.
I feel like I can write about a whole lot of other local artists. Maybe some of the Harana Boys (ha!)? Or a little bit of faith on the Chicsers? Or some good old fashioned Bamboo, or Yeng Constantino, or Gary V, or… So many artists and performances to choose from.
Well. If you’ve got any song or video recs, hit me up!
Thanks for reading!
xxx Support local! xxx