Adventures of the Lion
There was a time when I kinda hated what was happening with OPM. It started becoming a really bad knock off of foreign songs. A song sounded like this, while another sounded like that. It was just really bad. Cringe-worthy is an understatement even. That kept the industry sinking and sinking because of its own doing. And just to reiterate, lemme just borrow these words from Cherry Gil's character - "second rate, trying hard copy cat" of what was happening in the global scene.
But those days are gone. Because the industry learned - that it's not about copying, but adapting to the ever-changing taste of the listeners without losing its authenticity and identity. The industry also started welcoming fresh new blood with more than just your conventional thoughts of doing things. It didn't hurt too that we have OPM greats who are there to give guidance by sharing their best practices through songwriting camps. Thank you Elements Music Camp and Filscap!
It is a good time for OPM once again! And if you still think that it is dead, I dare ask you where you have been lately. There's a revolution going on! It's either you take part in it or miss out big time.
Napakaraming magagandang kanta. Well-crafted. Pinag-isipan. Punum-puno ng puso. Pinagbuhusan ng panahon, talino at talento. Marami pa rin namang mga "blah." Pero sabi nga ng Ex Batallion, "Hayaan Mo Sila." And on this blog, I wanna talk about the 3 latest releases that I keep on listening to over and over again for different reasons.
Hot Off The Oven
Here they are in no particular order:
"Duyan" by Sarah G.
Sarah G.'s reinvention from your typical "biritera" to a more contemporary pop artist is just phenomenal. Instead of losing her fans, it multiplied exponentially. More people embraced her. Reason why she is the country's undisputed "Pop Princess" or queen even. This just goes to show that it is not always about the high notes but "artistry."
Just in time for her 15th year in the musicbiz, she releases "Duyan."
This new collaboration with award-winning songwriter/producer tandem, Thyro and Yumi is just exceptional. Well, what can you expect? Their record speaks for themselves.
Thyro and Yumi never fail to deliver lyrically. Each word from every line of the entire song is just well-thought of. Nothing was placed there just for the sake of rhyming or just because wala na maisip. Alam mong hindi trabahong tamad. Everything is strategically placed.
"Yumakap ka't tayo'y sumayaw kasabay
Ng ritmo, kumpas at pintig
Ng tugtog dito sa'king dibdib
Genius right? It is also refreshing to see unusually used Filipino words like "imbay" and "nakadantay" in the lyrics.
Another thing I love about them is how their work is notoriously oxymoron-ish. Just check how "Dati's" words are nostalgically sad but its melody and instrumentation are uplifting and good vibes. This time around, sweet lyrics with soulful singing against sexy beat and instrumentation. Gahd! Don't even get me started with the rhythmic pattern on the 4th verse. Eargasmic! Sent shivers down the spine and every nerve of my body.
"Ako Muna" by Yeng Constantino
Just in case you haven't realized, it's been three years since Yeng released an album. And just when you thought, she is going one direction, she pleasantly surprises with something unexpected.
Yeng's journey in the musicbiz is not all uphill. After 3 consecutive number 1 hits, hindi naman din lahat nang nilabas nya naging ganon kalakas. And there was a time where it felt na parang naliligaw sya. As someone who knew her as the country's "Pop Rock Princess" and knowing her conviction in music, it was confusing to see her side by side (not that she couldn't coz she did) belting songs with Sarah G., and Rachel Ann Go.
I was the happiest after hearing her album, Metamorphosis. I thought that is her. Every single song had Yeng Constantino stamp on it whether she wrote the song or not. It's awesome how they married eclectic with pop sound and produced such a beautiful exotic record. And just when I thought, she'd continue heading this way, she dropped a ballad, the record-breaking, "Ikaw" from her album, All About Love.
After receiving the invitation to the private listening session of her latest album Synesthesia, I was both nervous and excited. I guess I'll always be that "Kuya" who'd always look after her. I forget that she is no longer 17. Gosh! She's even married already. Haha.
During the session, Yeng shared how the entire album was written in "empathy" as she is an empath. Simply, she has this ability of feeling what other people feel.
While it wasn't revealed then yet what the follow-up single would be after "Pinipigil," we know now that it's "Ako Muna." "Ako Muna" is inspired by her sister, Ate Cookie's story. After getting broken from a relationship, it was her bitter-sweet realization that relationships are not always the answer. While "love" brings us into a different level of high, we can't get there without self-love. The song reminds us that we need to be whole on our own.
"Aanhin, ko ang paghahanap ng magmamahal
Kung sa sarili ko ay 'di pa masaya"
What is brilliant with Yeng's songwriting is that she needs no flowery words to bring her visions into life. In fact, I think that her strength is putting the simplest, most common words together but smacks on you like a bullseye. She hits you at maximum impact like no other.
Another thing that I love with what they did to this song is its arrangement. Behind Yeng's heartfelt rendition is an untraditional arrangement rich with current-sounding instrumentations without being jarring. That takes a certain level of maturity, professionalism and creativity to deliver that. Great collaboration with producer and arranger, Jonathan Manalo and Ria Osorio.
"Hanggang Dito Na Lang" by Jaya
When it comes to soulful singing, no one in the country can beat Jaya. Kaya nga she's the Philippine's Queen of Soul. No one even comes close. For a while though, I thought she went missing. Or maybe got lost. Maybe that's just me or maybe that's really what happened. Nothing wrong if I am right. We've all gone through hell.
As a lover of soulful music, I couldn't be anymore thrilled the first time I heard her through "Sometimes You Just Know." Her rendition of the song helped composers, Danny Tan and Edith Gallardo bag the 1996 PhilPop Grand Prize win. That was her first national TV appearance. And that was a statement that she had arrived.
Her first album smashed the charts achieving 8x platinum status releasing hit after hit after hit. There wasn't any sign of stopping. But as fate would have it, ang buhay minsan ay parang gulong. Minsan nasa taas ka. Minsan nasa baba. But it's all water under the bridge right now. Jaya is back with a vengeance with an original from award-winning songwriter/producer, Rox Santos, "Hanggang Dito Na Lang."
I had no expectations listening to it the first time. But the moment the intro music played, I was drawn in. The melancholic arrangement of Iean Inigo instantly brings you back to that familiar place of emotional conflict. And as soon as Jaya started singing, there was just no turning back.
Napakasakit nang pagkakasulat. Ramdam na ramdam mo yung bawat letra. Walang pinakawalan na sandali. It just kept on escalating. Pati yung emotional build up, ang intense. Ang hirap bumitaw.
There is just so much pain in these lines:
"Di maintindihan sakit na nararamdaman
Pipilitin kong kalimutan ka
Hangang dito na lang"
It is reminiscent of making that all-important decision of letting go and hoping to find liberation in it.
With "Hanggang Dito Na Lang" the Jaya we all loved is back. And she is here to stay. That is for sure!
Mabuhay ang OPM!