The Local Outsider #6: Thea, Issa Rodriguez and Top One Project

The Local OutsiderI have an admission: I find that I have been quite busy to even consider throwing some names in for consideration on our monthly The Local Outsider columns. This latest edition took… a day, and some frantic searching? Well, not really. One was long on the list. Another was a serendipitous find. And then I remembered that this column is not just about the cool people, so I managed to throw in a few thoughts that way as well. Oh, and one more thing: next month will be chock-full of local music as we do that Great Philippine Song Hits thing again. But we’ll do this thing nonetheless. Redress the balance and all.


While reading the Facebook for Davao-based band Thea – aka Thea Pitogo and her crew – I was drawn into the fact that they were featured on Tom Robinson’s Fresh on the Net website. That’s very close to a play on BBC 6 Music. That is a big deal for me. And I can see why: while they label themselves as indie folk, they don’t exactly have that sound. There’s Thea’s voice, of course; there’s the lush, deep instrumentation; there’s the sense of adventure, of not wanting to stick to the rigid walls of genre. I’ve heard of these guys all over lately – again, our being late to anything that happens outside Manila; Rodrigo Duterte’s “Imperial Manila” tag did not start with him, after all – and I can understand the excitement. It is exciting. Invigorating, I might even say.


Meet Issa Rodriguez. Her name is confusing to me, but for petty reasons: I have a friend with the exact same name, except with a different way of spelling it. (Hi, Isa, formerly known as Isah. See?) (Also, I have a friend named Issa, and she’s really into her bands and stuff. We have not talked in ages.) She dropped the music video for her single “Misteryoso” just last week, and here’s my coming-in-blind verdict: I did not expect the combination of preppy, half-acoustic backing and that jazzy, chanteuse-y voice of hers. I mean, I’m definitely getting Julianne Tarroja vibes, but, again, with that voice. She’s much like Zia Quizon: a more-mature-than-expected voice from such a young person leading to a song that should appeal to everyone. Should.


Finally, this column was not meant to be just about the cool side of local music… so let’s talk about Top One Project. Last year GMA had this interesting attempt to create a boy band out of a television reality show. Knowing me, I have seen absolutely none of To The Top, and only now have I gotten to hear the group’s songs. Also, knowing me, those songs haven’t really caught my attention, although their single “Paggising” – written by Silent Sanctuary’s Chino David – has some good sentiments. What’s interesting to me is how this – and ABS-CBN’s flashier (and foreign-bred) answer, the just-announced Pinoy Boyband Superstar – is how this all hearkens back to a time when male vocal groups like Apo Hiking Society and Neocolours were dominant. But then again, it’s easy to see this as a response to both the popularity of One Direction and, to an extent, those Korean boy groups. I mean, you have Sandara Park as a judge on ABS-CBN’s new show. And you have Top One Project actually releasing behind-the-scenes webisodes, very much like the Koreans do. Ah, well. [NB]


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