The Spinners

Archive for the ‘Pop’ Category

♪ Nakapagtataka (Hajji Alejandro, 1979, Rachel Alejandro, 1991) ♪

In Dodo Dayao, OPM, Pop, Richard Bolisay, Track Reviews on December 15, 2010 at 5:20 am

Gladys Knight will tell you, being trapped in a loveless relationship is a bitch. Hajii Alejandro takes the old romantic trope and pulls back. The doo doo chorus girls egg him on to break down, but he holds everything in. No one has mastered the trick of making a love song emote, but Hajii does it here. Briefly. Then loses it forever. The saddest OPM ballad. Ever.

– Dodo Dayao

Rachel’s take on her dad’s signature song is every bit sappy, every bit pressed, and every bit enunciated, but that’s what time does. If nothing happens in the years between then it becomes pointless. It’s longer by a minute—a six-freaking-minute pop single—but Rachel lets it linger because she has all the time in the world to wallow. Which means she has opportunities to do vocal calisthenics, to up the ante, to fail. She’s in amazing control of her voice, quivering at times, but solid from start to finish. Hajji has some girls working for him in the chorus whereas Rachel runs the powerhouse by herself, belting tenderly, letting her own personality seep through with bursts of Wala na! Wala na ‘kong maramdaman, nailing it, crushing it. She’s truly in for the kill. Two lovers’ point of view, a man and a woman, father and daughter, Frank and Nancy, one song, two greatest hits.

– Richard Bolisay

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♪ Sana Dalawa Ang Puso Ko (Bodjie’s Law of Gravity, 1994) ♪

In Dodo Dayao, OPM, Pop, Track Reviews on December 15, 2010 at 12:22 am

A fat man torn between two lovers. Not a joke song, no. A love song, actually, a soul song, a bigamy song, obviously. And the most supple soul song about bigamy since Billy Paul fooled around with Mrs. Jones. If any of this is remotely autobiographical, then Bodjie Pascua is the Ron Jeremy of lovestruck nerds everywhere.

– Dodo Dayao

♪ Bulaklak (Viva Hot Babes, 2005) ♪

In OPM, Pop, Richard Bolisay, Track Reviews on December 14, 2010 at 10:00 am

I’m not sure if it’s worth it to be a pop star in the Philippines because the requirement is like being a maid in a huge, hard-to-please house: you should know how to sing, dance, and act in front of your employers, you should be pretty, you should not be too fat, you should be nice to everyone, you should be dumb . . . and by golly, that’s a lot of talent in exchange for a few years of popularity, and when they get tired of you you’ll just be the stuff of “Nasaan na sila ngayon?” gossip columns, and there: blah. Everyone knows that Viva Hot Babes are sexier than the Sexbomb Dancers and are more gifted (gimme those mucky magazines), not to mention generous in terms of showing their assets. From movies and magazine spreads to adult videos and scandals, they have easily amassed followers, but it is with the release of their first album in 2005 that they became household names, that even kids were allowed to be familiar with them. (What a leverage, you say.) Among those hits from the record are “Kikay,” “Basketball,” and “Batuta ng Pulis” but surely it is “Bulaklak” that gave them their biggest hit. Turning the then-innocent children song into an anthem of dirty old men and twinks, “Bulaklak” is nicely arranged not to sound obscene (ang kapal kapal / ang kapal kapal / ang kapal kapal ng bulaklak, now isn’t that brilliant?) and the music video that accompanies it completes the flowery package. After all, with those dance moves and insinuations, they couldn’t be talking about their coochies, could they?

*included in the upcoming “A Decade in POP: OPM in 50 Songs”

– Richard Bolisay

♪ Hayop Na Combo (Yoyoy Villlame) ♪

In Dodo Dayao, OPM, Pop, Track Reviews on December 12, 2010 at 4:53 am

Yoyoy’s delivery is slapstick enough that you can’t tell if he’s a savant putting us on or every bit the guy who ran around in an orange caveman shag for a living, but the primary-colored surrealism of this country-honky ditty does Tex Avery for sheer cartoon lunacy.

– Dodo Dayao

♪ Ikaw Ang Aking Mahal (VST & Co., 1980) ♪

In KZ Otarra, OPM, Pop, Track Reviews on December 8, 2010 at 9:09 am

Ikaw lang ang aking mahal / Ang pag-ibig mo’y aking kailangan / Pag-ibig na walang hangganan / Ang aking tunay na nararamdaman

Is there an OPM love song simpler than this?

“Ikaw Lang ang Aking Mahal” is rather typical, but it’s a classic tune nevertheless. It’s a straightforward bola. No moon and stars, only undying love. You’re the one I love.

I admit that I love singing this song in videoke, but who doesn’t? The notes are easy to reach. The lyrics are easy to remember and relate to. In a way it’s also relaxing, especially after trying to sing all the Queen and Aegis songs on the list. It’s just perfect and old school. No one can say no after being serenaded by this song.

– KZ Otarra

♪ Macho Gwapito (Rico J. Puno, 1979) ♪

In OPM, Pop, RM Topacio-Aplaon, Track Reviews on December 8, 2010 at 9:01 am

The king himself, Sir Rico J, is the true “kilabot ng mga kolehiyala.”

With all due respect to Mr. Hajji Alejandro, Rico is the better singer, the better pleaser, and indeed, the macho dancer. There is love embraced in sweet masochism as he starts owning the stage every time he performs, and as he captivates his audience with his oozing masculinity.

“Macho Gwapito” still roams radio airplays and TV commercials. It’s a comical theme song, a staple tune commonly sung in ASAP and Party Pilipinas’ weekly birthday celebrations. Rico J’s signature is written all over it. Not even Bitoy or Bossing can deliver a song as sexual and funny as he does in this song.

Consider this: he puts an end to Einstein’s career for inventing the greatest formula of all.

Rico J. Puno is equal to machismo plus women times sex and sensuality. Hence: RjP = m + w x s2

– RM Topacio-Aplaon

♪ Hinahanap-hanap Kita (Regine Velasquez, 2003) ♪

In Cover, OPM, Pop, Track Reviews, Tyler Draper on December 8, 2010 at 5:43 am

I have a dark secret. As a kid, my favorite singer was Celine Dion. I can’t blame my infatuation with Celine on the female influences in my life at the time. My older sister was listening to grunge, and my mom was listening to Dave Matthews Band. I remember hearing Celine’s “Because You Love Me” on VH1 and being strangely drawn to it. I just wanted to hear it all the time. Up to now I still make fun of my youthful crush/enjoyment/obsession with Celine Dion. My current Animal-Collective-loving, mainstream-radio-scoffing, indier-than-thou self is confused with the ten-year-old me who used to sit cross-legged on the blue carpet in my bedroom singing along to “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.”

Then I went to the Philippines. Then I heard Regine Velasquez. And now I have to face my demons. I actually heard the original Rivermaya version of “Hinahanap-hanap Kita” first, and I liked it. I thought the songwriting is solid, the lyrics are romantic without going overboard, and the few Taglish lines are clever. To me, the Rivermaya version was pleasant, pero di naman ako na-inlab. When I heard Regine’s version, I was enamored. I didn’t want to like it. I wanted to laugh at how soft and safe it sounded. Despite my head’s initial rejection of the song as another boring, radio-friendly song, I couldn’t shake the same feeling I had when I first heard “Because You Love Me.” To quote Ms. Dion, I felt like “it was all coming back to me now”: my buried musical past, the texture of the carpet in my childhood bedroom, the strange feeling of being lifted by a song that I thought had no artistic strength. All of those old emotions came back. “Hinahanap-hanap Kita” found my demons, convinced them to play nicely, and let them back into my life.

“Hinahanap-hanap Kita” is a simple song—or at least it should be. Like most pop songs, the key is major, and the melody is polite. I would argue, though, that the song has some hidden complexities that make it appealing to me. Regine sings the ballad in her typical powerhouse voice, but there is an underlying vulnerability that comes from the lyrics. Despite its apparent simplicity, the song contains an interesting duality. Regine is singing submissive lines like adik sa ‘yo but sa totoo lang, ako ang adik sa kanya. At one point, she insists that her male counterpart is the one bringing ligaya to her life, but she’s actually the one bringing ligaya to me. And she sings it all so powerfully. She doesn’t pout when she says—and this is my favorite part of the song—sabay goodnight, sabay may kiss, sabay bye-bye. She could easily sing that line with her bottom lip sticking out and whimpering, but she doesn’t. She crescendos through the line. It’s lyrically meek but vocally commanding. I can’t stop listening to it.

I wrote this review thinking I would just hide behind the “guilty pleasure” tag. Everyone is entitled to guilty pleasures, so I figured I could just do this review with a wink and my tongue in my cheek, therefore escaping any scrutiny that might come from admitting how much I like Regine and her song. However, calling it guilty pleasure is not fair. It’s better than that. It’s an example of a great singer singing a well-written song about infatuation that just happens to follow the conventions of the oft-boring, radio-pop genre. I can safely say I won’t ever need to dig up my old Celine Dion albums, because I can just listen to “Hinahanap-hanap Kita” instead.

– Tyler Draper

♪ Papaya (Edu Manzano, 2007) ♪

In Dance, OPM, Pop, Richard Bolisay, Track Reviews on December 8, 2010 at 5:36 am

Game KNB? wasn’t really fun until Edu Manzano stepped in and filled the shoes of Kris Aquino. Her fuss over the contestants’ personal life made watching it uncomfortable, whereas Edu, on his part, did the talking with the right smack of confidence and humor. The replacement became a hit, and to add better recall, the host launched his album on the show called World’s Greatest Dance Steps. Its carrier single, “Papaya,” is viral. Of course, Edu had to do the moves. The steps are silly but fun, and they’re so addictive even contestants are game to do it. It’s a good thing that “Papaya” has no lyrics: it is really meant to get you up, shake your booty, and move your fingers up and down. It became strikingly associated with Edu (whose role in the song is mere promoter) that when Ambassador Kristie Kenney guested on Umagang Kay Ganda, she took pleasure in dancing “Papaya” on national television. Months later, the hosts of Good Morning America were also into it, calling it the new “Macarena.”

*included in the upcoming “A Decade in POP: OPM in 50 Songs”

– Richard Bolisay

♪ Love Has Come My Way (Heart Evangelista, 2002) ♪

In Compilation, OPM, Pop, Richard Bolisay, Track Reviews on December 8, 2010 at 5:02 am

The first Himig Handog Love Songs spawned a lot of hits: “Hindi Na Bale” (Jessa Zaragoza), “Kung Ako Ba Siya” (Piolo Pascual), “This Guy’s In Love With You, Pare” (Chito Miranda), “Hanggang” (Wency Cornejo), “Kung Ako Na Lang Sana” (Bituin Escalante). Basically all the songs in the compilation, hearing them for the first time on the radio, were fresh and interesting, but it was Heart Evangelista’s “Love Has Come My Way” that easily became a classic. At the time Heart was managed by Star Magic, a bubbly if not trying hard host of Myx, and still hadn’t ruined her life being involved with Jericho Rosales. That’s when we really took her seriously, and this song seemed to close that part of her for good. Even when she screams “I LOVE YOUU!” in the bridge, we sing along with her and think she’s just being sweet. And when she tells And itch will always be a happy day / because love has come my way . . . how perfect can it get for an honest-to-goodness hearty laugh?

*included in the upcoming “A Decade in POP: OPM in 50 Songs”

– Richard Bolisay

XLR8 (XLR8, 2010)

In OPM, Pop, Thor Balanon on December 7, 2010 at 3:55 am

If one could only separate intent from mens rea, then XLR8’s self-titled debut could have been more enjoyed as what it should have been: twelve tracks of catchy electronic pop that defies mainstream OPM.  But there it is, the evidence pronounced, from the album cover to the opening of “You’re so Hot” and “I Wish Lang,” it’s all too obvious. Whoever created this group has Super Junior, and K-Pop in general, on mind.

COPY PRINCES? Facebook and fan forums have been on fire with arguments since XLR8’s debut, with the haters calling the group a bunch of plagiarists. First of all, don’t blame the kids. They’re cute enough (Hello, Hideaki!) and it seems like they only do what they’re told. Secondly, the group’s formation may have been inspired by the growing popularity of K-Pop boy bands, but the inspiration part is more derivative than influenced. A little more originality in the attack and arrangement of the songs would have been better because from the auto-tuning to the beat breaks, the dancey tracks in XLR8 are often reminiscent of Super Junior, 2PM, or Big Bang. The ballads, mixed with a little urban flavor, are musically more interesting but also show the vocal limitation (to put it nicely, because, hello, Hideaki!) of the members. Oftentimes, it’s just a couple of guys singing together, smooth but without texture. The songs come out robotic, drained of youth and emotion.

FAST FORWARD. You see folks, there are rules in putting together a boy band. Let’s say that in a group of five, two have to be really kakakilig cute because that’s where the fandom starts. The other two, or the average-looking ones who could be cute from a particular angle, bring the moves. The fifth member, the one that makes you wonder why he is in a boy band in the first place, is the resident belter, the one that gives the group cred. (This is all tongue-in-cheek but do try to observe.) With XLR8, and fangirls please don’t kill me, there’s not one great vocalist. I’ve seen their live performances on Party Pilipinas and I have to say that even their dancing isn’t synchronized. South Korean boy bands are trained for four to six years before they make their stage debut because their public demands perfection. Members that commit mistakes on stage are singled out and admonished by netizens.

A recent call for auditions for a new local boy band lists “Must be chinito” as its first requirement. Here we go again. Emulating shouldn’t just be in terms of styling or gestures. One can’t fast forward talent development. Thank you for the cute guys, but we also need great singing, dancing, and the palpable hunger to succeed. We need substance, not necessarily in the form of lyrics or song structure, but in group dynamics, the perfect symmetry of calculated flirting and gymnastics, of distinct personalities moving as one.

JUST POP. P-Pop (or Pinoy Pop), Viva Records’s label that rides on the Asian music trend, is also something I find problematic. Since it’s new, I hope that the music the label carries evolves to something distinctly Pinoy in the future, but for now, it’s merely a follower, a pale echo, of what is trendy. Whatever happened to the songwriters of Sarah Geronimo’s “Sa Iyo”? That’s personally how I thought P-Pop would sound like. And if P-Pop is mostly emulation—Eurasia’s “Working Girls” sounds like 2NE1’s “Fire” while XLR8’s “You’re So Hot” is built around Super Junior’s “Sorry, Sorry” riff—then I don’t think it’s wise to append “Pinoy” to it. Besides, “K-Pop” or “J-Pop” is from an outsider’s point of view; since we are in the Philippines and Pinoy pop is what is playing on the radio, then shouldn’t it be just pop?

– Thor Balanon