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Good Pinoy Songs, Good Tunes


Whatever anybody says or would name me after I say this --- sorry guys I got to be honest. One thing any foreigner should know about the Philippines is that it's music industry is as ripe as any other and as dynamic as well. However, it is divided into the bakya crowd music, an elitist snub scene which hates the bakya crowd's choice for music, and the pop in between which is enjoyed by both. I belong to the snub scene. Having listened to Classical, and have loved the alternative and grunge rock 90's, grown up listening to the oldies, The Beatles, and jazzed up with Swing and Booggie dance lessons, and played Blues Guitar, as well as other genres from local and foreign label artists and indie groups, I do not easily give in to the likes of whatever is popular.

There are songs though that just gets in your head, and no amount of elitist denial can get them out of your system. These are the Billy Ray Cyrus songs of Dont break my heart/ My achy breaky heart... type of songs... the MMM Bop songs... Songs you can never get out of your head with their catchy lyrics and memorable tunes... There are songs that are just catchy and there are songs that just rock. However there are songs that just are works of art in themselves the fact that they make sense and speak of things not so easily transcibable into music. Think Crash Test Dummies MMM MMM MMM MMM and their other song alluding to T.S. Elliot's Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock: Afternoons and Coffeespoons. Deep.

Here are songs however, that I think need to be celebrated in themselves as work of art and not just commercialized tunes, and besides that --- uniquely Filipino:

Tuesday Vargas' Babae po Ako - literally (I Am a Woman) is a popsy ska that is laced with controversial lyrics written in Pinoy gayspeak - defending the singer's apparent sexuality as that of a woman and not gay. She is stereotyped by how she looks: she looks bakla, she looks gay, she looks like a man trapped in a woman's body but is 100% a woman. It's funny tune is a tongue-in-cheek response to the singer's comfort in her sexuality. Pretty deep for a dance tune, in fact. It is a very good way to read Filipino pop culture, and gender studies and see how the this country still needs to develop intellectually towards gender equality.

Rivermaya's Ground - a really haunting guitar riff that goes well with lyrics criticizing the powers that be who hold no regard for everyone else. It screams: would you come down, from your pedestal! Would you try and touch the ground." it is a lesson on social responsibility and sensitivity for the unfortunate - should be a must-hear for any Pinoy Rock fan.

I can also list Put3ska's Manila Girl, that very pure ska that should be our version of Brazil's Girl from Ipanema. Bamboo's Pinoy Ako - which should be the national anthem by the way. It captures everything you need to say about a Filipino. How the song sandwiched itself in a rant and rock riff, a screaming chorus that poetically is an intense cry that means I am proud to be one? Of course there is the Eraserheads' Magasin which is about the tragedy of finding out your real love is in pornography - and Ang Huling El Bimbo which is an attack on the subtle crimes that economic injustice does to young blossoming love. Deep songs as these will always be a reflection of our times, but they are great not just in their construction, but more because they have captured something so accurately that no amount of elitist rejection against musicality or lack of it can make you say they are such bad tunes.

In troubled times, we need more songs like these.
"Magkaisa..." remember that? Raise the bar.

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posted by Jdavies @ 9/01/2004,


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The Author


Jdavies lives in Quezon City, Philippines and has been blogging since 2002. A brand manager in a leading technology company and a freelance new media/web strategy consultant, he has refocused his blogging from personal, political & sociological observations, to marketing-related efforts and Internet trends that are relevant to his career and branding advocacies.

About This Blog

This blog is a depot of thoughts and observations on marketing trends which remain personally relevant to the Author as far as his marketing career is concerned. Having evolved from the personal blog of Jdavies, much of the earlier work contained herein are laced with personal speculation, political views, and similar advocacies. These posts are being kept for posterity's sake and for no other reason. No effort is being made to claim that the author will not contradict himself from his previous positions or that such advocacies are absolute.


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