“…maginoo, pero medyo bastos.”

Great Philippine Song Hits“Ang Tipo Kong Lalaki” by DJ Alvaro | I’ll be honest: I have a slightly different memory of this song. When I listened to this again this went a different direction and I thought, “was this always how the song went?” But then, I think I remember this song from a TV ad. Was it for beer? I can’t recall. They put the pangasinan-born DJ Alvaro in the novelty category, but then, despite the innuendo (again, not that much) her songs were really sincere with her tongue in her cheek. I mean, listen to “Papa Ka Ba?” – you don’t exactly cringe like you do with, say, “Otso-Otso”, but you have to admire the wordplay. You have to admire the street, er, swag that are in her songs. She flew under the radar, in hindsight, and the novelty tag diminished what actually are smartly written, and catchy songs. The hook of “Ang Tipo Kong Lalaki”, the wordplay of “Papa Ka Ba?”, and the sheer catchiness of this song. Bu-bu-bu-bu-bu-booooobs. [NB]

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“Maalala mo sanang may nagmamahal sa’yo.”

Great Philippine Song Hits“Ulan” by Cueshé | Looking back, Cueshé was the band many loved to hate, for some reason. Was it because they’re cheesy? Their hits during the mid-2000s – “Ulan”, “Stay”, “Sorry” – were cheesy, but in hindsight, this country did produce a lot of these pop-rock ballads, and they’re not always the kind you don’t ever want to be associated with. Was it because former vocalist Jay Justiniani looked too pretty for the part? That hairstyle was cool then, though – this was when we were all fresh off Meteor Garden. But then people pointed out that “Stay” essentially ripped off Silverchair and boom, a reason for the cool kids to really drill down their dislike: plagiarists! I’ve always wondered what happened to Cueshé, one of the many from Cebu who made it big nationally during the alternative wave in the middle of the last decade. Their rock may have had an expiration date, but listening back today, at least to their bigger hits, I can’t deny how anthemic they were. I see their name in bars across the metro, sporadically, but they haven’t had the profile they had back then. Were we too mean? [NB]

“You gotta know that I love you from the start.”

Great Philippine Song Hits“Itsumo” by Dice & K9 | I’ll admit, once again, that hip-hop is my weak spot. I’ve never really been into it. I know there’s a really strong hip-hop scene in the country, but I can’t make myself dip my feet. Must be years of perceptions, or tastes calcifying. How different things would have been if this blog leaned towards hip-hop, no? I wouldn’t have been confused that Mobbstarr is a new name for the group I knew as Dice & K9, who most of us likely knew from “Itsumo” back in 2003 – that one song with English verses and a Japanese chorus (supposedly from Hikki) whose low-key production drew a lot of us in. (Also, it’s not really a new name.) Somehow, that tied in with the them when kids played Ragnarok and had this playing on the radios that filled the computer shops. (I never played that game.) Feels carefree. But, yeah, the Cebu-based group are still around, and while the hip-hop scene is much harder to get into than the indie one, if you judge from the number of entry points, these guys still tower above many others. The “royalty” tag isn’t a flimsy one. [NB]

“…basta’t sasakyan mo rin ako.”

Great Philippine Song Hits“Sasakyan Kita” by Gladys and the Boxers with K | All right, so this may not have been a really big hit. I remembered this song with yesterday’s entry in mind, and particularly how I liked it despite it being lumped into the trend of so-called novelty songs in the early 2000s. Is it a novelty song? “Sasakyan kita” – in English, loosely, “I’ll ride you” – is sexual innuendo, isn’t it? This is a Lito Camo song, after all. It’s in the verses. But for some reason this doesn’t feel too much compared to what else was available at the time. It’s street slang. “I’ll go with you.” (That’s me being loose again.) It’s pleasant. It’s got a good sentiment. It helps that anyone can damn well sing along to this. Also worth noting is the strength of the group’s members, particularly the two of them who lent their names: Gladys Guevarra and K Brosas, both comedians, television hosts and singers, of the mould people tend to dismiss – the comedy bars, mass entertainment, thinking on your feet, nothing too cerebral, but pleasant if you’re in the mood nonetheless. All right, maybe this is me waxing sentimental. Good times. [NB]

“Hanggang sa kamatayan, pag-ibig ko’y walang hanggan.”

Great Philippine Song Hits“Muli” by Ramon “RJ” Jacinto | It helped that he’s from a prominent family – the Jacintos were titans of the banking and steel industries – but Ramon Jacinto really liked music. Inspired by the rock and roll scene of the 1960s, he led RJ and the Riots; around the same time, he set up a radio station at his parents’ backyard – DZRJ would later prove influential in spreading Filipino bands throughout the 1970s and 1980s. While in exile in the United States during Martial Law (and feeling homesick), he penned this song, his first in Filipino, and secretly sent it over to Manila, enlisting a friend from another influential family – Emilio Tuason, who then owned 99.5 RT – to give it airplay but not quite reveal who is behind the song. The circumstances around the song meant over forty years later “Muli” remains one of those Filipino standards that don’t get quite a look in. I don’t know why. It’s a slow burner, and a pretty good guitar piece, if anything. Ultimately RJ is a guy who likes music, and was able to indulge in this hobby – and brought everyone along for the ride. What a life that must be. [NB]