“조금만 기다리면 알게 될 거야.”

“비밀정원” by Oh My Girl | We’re still in a bit of GFriend hangover, so forgive me for posting another K-pop track. In the lead-up to last Sunday I rediscovered this, the latest single from Oh My Girl – at least before their comeback in a couple of weeks – and was able to articulate something in this song that I couldn’t before: this song gives me the chills. I’ll even say this song, alongside GFriend’s “Time for the Moon Night”, bring me closer to “close to tears” than other songs, at least those released this year. Asian pop acts can really do dreamy and elegiac, yes? Or I’ve been exposed to it a lot these past few years? This one sails, and just when you think it should be over – because it’s hit the three-minute mark and Korean pop songs don’t get longer than that – it swells, and then you see Arin sing the penultimate line, and something in you snaps. Oh My Girl isn’t a stranger to this sound – 2015’s “Closer” is one of Shalla’s favorites, I think – but, for some reason, this took things further. And then they sang about monkeys allergic to bananas[NB]

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“Iisa lang ang iyong mundo.”

“Sala” by Pupil | It’s a shame the official upload for this music video is a low quality one. I understand the music video is supposed to look cheap, but not like this! But I digress. I’m posting about Pupil’s “Sala” – the lead single from their 2007 album Wildlife – not because of anything in particular. I just remembered this song from out of the blue last week, while scheduling a bunch of blog entries in anticipation for busy weeks ahead. My head automatically went to the final third of the song, when the choruses begin to clash into a maelstrom of upbeat catharsis. And then Ely Buendia goes, “kung ano man ang matagpuan ay ‘di ko na alam.” That, for some reason, hit me hard when this song was on high rotation on the then local-friendly radio stations when I was in college, and it still hits me that way eleven years later. Pavlovian response, perhaps? [NB]

“Stand up on your own, go out there and strike out.”

“Aretha” by Rumer | With news that soul legend Aretha Franklin is “gravely ill”, my mind went back to this song. I actually have a copy of the album where this song came from – Seasons of My Soul, the 2010 debut from British singer Rumer. It’s buried somewhere now, a bit of a relic of a time when discovering a new artist felt really high-stakes because you only could buy their album and base everything on some vaguely glowing, PR-driven reviews. But then her voice is worth it: there’s an easy comparison to Karen Carpenter, but you can’t really put her on a middle-of-the-road box like you’re wont to do… or it’s just me. Anyway, this song – it’s clearly a tribute to Aretha, but it’s not really a paean to her music, but rather an ode to the impact her music (and her activism) has made through all these years. It’ll take a lot of time to go through her discography, but impact-wise you can’t go wrong with this little ditty. [NB]

“‘Di magtatagal, tayo ay liligaya.”

Great Philippine Song Hits“Sige” by 6cyclemind | Twelve years ago, 6cyclemind performed in La Salle. To mark the occasion I came to the gig wearing a bootleg (let’s put it that way) 6cyclemind shirt – it’s really the cover art for their second album Panorama – and tried my hardest to make then vocalist Ney Dimaculangan notice me. He did, and gave me a thumbs-up. The band may have somewhat disappeared from view in recent years, particularly after Ney left the band to go solo (and Tutti Caringal, the band’s drummer – and simultaneously vocalist of Protein Shake – stepped up to the frontman role) but I can’t help but look back at their heyday with a smile. Some will call them “baduy” but to me they weren’t: they somehow straddled the line between relating to mainstream sensibilities and churning out, yes, elegant songs. They are elegant, yes: elegant in their crunch, and in their sentiments. “Biglaan” still packs a punch. “I”, same thing – a gem waiting to be rediscovered. Even I had fun listening to later single “Magsasaya”. But of course I am choosing “Sige”, a song that endeavors to go big about the smallest moments, and succeeds. It seems an apt way to wrap up Great Philippine Song Hits for this year – or for ever, we’ll see. This has been a fun trip[NB]

“Ako’y sawang-sawa na.”

Great Philippine Song Hits“Mambobola” by Zsa Zsa Padilla | My parents owned some of Zsa Zsa Padilla’s albums, but by then she was more known for her ballads and her ability to deliver those with her distinctly big voice. Do you call it big? I’m not sure if that’s the right adjective, but there was a sense of drama she lent to those songs that I don’t hear from many others here in the country. But her career stretches far back, of course, and it’s interesting to see the places she’s occupied in many distinct phases of Filipino music. She started her career with the seminal Hotdog at the tail end of the Manila Sound era, and by 1982 has ventured solo. “Mambobola”, released in 1986 – is Wikipedia right? I’ll assume yes – has sat nicely alongside her earlier ballads, and has endured long enough that you still hear her perform it these days. Says a lot about the longevity of one of our, admittedly, quieter musical legends this side of the world. [NB]