“Mawalay man ang panget, hindi ka iiyak.”

“Humanap Ka Ng Panget” by Andrew E. | The early 90s saw two rappers with a parallel rise in fame, although they took two different paths. One is the late Francis Magalona, who took himself seriously (for good reason). The other is Andrew E., who didn’t. But that carefree attitude – that ability to speak to the common man about common experiences – gave him some degree of street cred, and a string of popular hits. “Humanap Ka Ng Panget”, released in 1990, was his first single, and set the template, somewhat: a no-frills track that focused on the story. His later hits played with the class divide (so many references to Alabang, particularly on this one) and the typical male’s, um, romantic adventures – not much machismo, just a bit of bravado, and a healthy dose of cheekiness. (YouTube comments on “Banyo Queen” suggest impressionable kids sang to the song not knowing what it really is about.) That’s what he did well. He was so self-assured, and yet he wasn’t throwaway. Interestingly his stuff feels very much stuck to its time period – perhaps it’s in how Andrew has mostly shied away from making music in recent years? He still releases the occasional album but he’s spent more time producing (he discovered Salbakuta, for one). Perhaps you notice his billboards selling socks now. I will always remember him buying a hotdog at an NBA exhibition game here. [NB]

“What are you gonna say when your soul goes out?”

“Dreams” by Lánre | It makes sense that I post this song on a rainy day. It’s got the vibe that fits the pitter-patter of the drizzle outside, you know, that sort of thing. Lánre is a British-Nigerian singer-songwriter, and she’s just released the new music video for “Dreams”, part of her EP Human. It’s simple enough, this one. A gentle guitar, that voice… that, and how it feels like nothing until halfway through the song when it seemingly reaches inside you and shakes you. Or maybe it’s the rain. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

“Ispagheting pababa at pataas!”

“Spaghetti Song” by Sex Bomb Girls | Well, yeah, we had to go there. We had to go there. This was popular, admit it – that weird phase in Philippine pop music where the front lines were the noontime variety shows. We featured, two years ago, Bayani Agbayani’s “Otso Otso” and that certainly went head to head with the Sex Bomb Girls’ “Spaghetti Song” – Magandang Tanghali Bayan versus Eat Bulaga on yet another front. (We know who ultimately won that battle.) It was a weird era, wasn’t it? Childish-sounding songs with weird innuendo, although most of the time it’s really the visuals that pile on the supposed smut. Remove that prejudice, so to speak, and you have a song with a dance routine that kids can do. Remove the visuals altogether, and you have a… well, a dinky song that makes you cringe because it is dinky. Yeah. It was a weird time. But these were popular songs nonetheless. Tells you about the power of television, again. [NB]

“I’ll be dancing solo with you in mind.”

“Solo” by Hannah Featherstone | Consider me in love with this track. It’s simple, it’s minimal, it’s hella groovy, and to boot, Hannah Featherstone’s voice flutters around like a butterfly, teasing and then running away. (And that lyric up top is brilliant, too.) Born in England and based in Paris, Hannah hit it with jazz after dabbling in classical piano and singing in gospel choirs. Well, that French connection makes a lot of sense now. I can hear this being played on FIP (and that can be very enchanting). This one’s a collaboration with a French electronica musician, Estienne Rylle, and I love the playfulness of the whole thing. Hannah’s got an album coming – it’ll be an English release, and it should drop later in the year. But, for now, this. Enjoy. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

“Butse kik, ek ek ek.”

“Butse Kik” by Yoyoy Villame | However, the first person to call his music “novelty” is Yoyoy Villame. The Bohol-based singer did that just to set his music apart – when he began performing crooners were popular, while he took inspiration from a handful of pop movements but, more importantly, rondalla music from his childhood. The template for “Butse Kik”, was a Dee Dee Sharp hit from 1962; the lyrics supposedly came from Chinatown stores he encountered while waiting for his car to be fixed, although none of the words are actually in Chinese. Initially released with his rondalla band of bus drivers (of which he was one) in 1971, “Butse Kik” became his most popular hit – but of course there are many others that have also wriggled their way to the Filipino collective. “Magellan”“Mag-Exercise Tayo”, “Philippine Geography”, “Piyesta (Ng Mga Isda)”… perhaps interestingly, Yoyoy’s songs manage to capture a moment in our psyche, and if you look hard enough, you play “Philippine Geography” and find a comment to today’s issues. But perhaps it’s a stretch. [NB]