“The phantom of the opera is now your mastermind.”

“The Phantom of the Opera” by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sarah Brightman and Steve Harley | I’m not a musical person, clearly, but I am posting this because for weeks Shalla has been singing the hook of the song, and last weekend we spent some time watching different versions of this song. Well, all right, it’s Nicole Scherzinger‘s, and watching that led us to Leona Lewis doing Cats, which is terrible acting-wise, and that led us to the rekindling of a recent conversation we’ve had, of how we should watch a musical sooner or later. It reminds me of how long it’s been since I watched a stage play. A decade? Anyway, we then watched Sierra Boggess‘ version, which fans (phans) say is one of the best. I don’t really know. But then, maybe I should be watching a musical soon. [NB]


“Doo doo doo, ah.”

“Always Be My Baby” by Mariah Carey | The “fun game” on board my Cebu Pacific flight to, er, Cebu last Friday was the “guess the song” one. I won that once, but as I had little sleep I never really gave it my all this time. The first song went “eh eh eh” and automatically I knew it was 2NE1 – but not that it’s “Fire”. Three people guessed it right. The second song went “doo doo doo, ah” and people actually complained – or so the flight crew leading the game claims – thinking no such song exists. There is. I even got the artist right: Mariah Carey. Of course it’s her iconic “Always Be My Baby”, a fact that I forgot because, due to an extraordinary series of events, when I think of that song I think of David Cook’s cover instead – because somehow radio stations believe that’s the only song he’s ever released, never mind that he has released three albums, with a fourth under way. He never did go “doo doo doo, ah”. But what if he did? I may have guessed “David Cook!” out loud on the plane. [NB]

“What’s so wrong with just a little fun?”

“We Still Got The Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues” by Wild Beasts | I’m not writing this because Wild Beasts are splitting up. To be honest, I know they’re around but never really was compelled to go further than that. But I’m writing about this track – released with their 2009 album Two Dancers – because I chanced upon this on another one of my radio recordings, and I was brought back to, well, 2009. I was listening to the then-alive NME Radio, and this was on high rotation, and it did do my way in – this, and the station’s stinger that always came after this song. Imagine hearing those while at work, in a relatively sterile office with rows of computers, writing about American television shows. A whole different world out there, indeed. [NB]

“…and by Wednesday, I can’t sleep.”

“Pieces Of Me” by Ashlee Simpson | My sister had a copy of Ashlee Simpson’s first album, Autobiography. It’s weird how we latch on to certain artists because of the sheer coincidence of when they debut. This was also around the same time we were in our early teens, dovetailing nicely with her Linkin Park stage. We were clearly getting into pop-rock like the rest of the world, and Ashlee seemed accessible despite our unfamiliarity with her sister’s work. “Pieces Of Me” felt like an anthem, even, despite the lack of an intensely personal connection: for me, perhaps it’s because the song is just so satisfying. And then it seemed to all be over when Ashlee released her second album, with a single that we really can’t relate to. Fast forward to today, and a lot of things has happened. I was watching television – it’s Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party, in this case – and I had to squint before realizing that Ashlee was a guest. I did not recognize her. [NB]

“…ngunit mayroon awiting iiwanan sa iyong alaala.”

“Handog” by Florante | To close this month’s Great Philippine Song Hits, a song that we’ve actually written about twice before – the first time was a cover by Noel Cabangon, which he did on the occasion of Dolphy’s death; the second was Dolphy’s actual recorded cover of this song for an album of retrospectives he did in his later years. If that does not scream “iconic”, I don’t know what does. Perhaps it’s also because of the universal theme, expressed with that morbid certainty of growing old and death: “tatanda at lilipas rin ako.” There’s an evitability there, the Filipino fatalism captured in one line. Florante was also one of the leaders of the Manila sound of the 1970s, positioning himself at that convenient overlap with the Pinoy rock movement of the same decade. His songs were also of a subtly nationalistic vein (see “Ako’y Pinoy”) but somehow he wrapped them in a pop sheen: polished, accessible, singable. And, again, that universal message that enables a popular comedian in his final years to sing this, giving us a tinge of regret for the inevitable – and a celebration of all that came before. [NB]