Pinoy music's lackluster 2008


This is a difficult piece to write. This must be how those executives in those big US firms feel as they take stock of what has happened during the past 12 months. Times are bad and it is also showing in the recording industry. 

This is not for want of trying. Despite the hard times, the local labels are out there batting with all their might for Filipino music. But the hard times, piracy, downloading and lack of new exciting stars resulted in what must be the worst year ever in the past decade.

There were hits. Bamboo kept the rock flame alive and he had Kailan. Also okay were Callalily’s Ako’y Babalik, Hale’s Leaf of Faith, 6Cyclemind’s Saludo, Betamax by Sandwich and Parokya ni Edgar’s Akala. But that was the problem. They were just okay. We had no Narda by Kamikazee or Pinoy Ako by Orange & Lemons, Spagheti by Sex Bomb or even a Pagdating ng Panahon by Aiza Seguerra, songs from the past that really took the country by storm.

So if you want a song of the year, the one by which you will remember 2008, all that I have to offer is Payong, the Tagalog adaptation of Rihanna’s Umbrella by a new artist called Ms. Ganda.

The success of the song made me recall what people in the business refer to as the Dark Ages of Filipino Music when all that the singers recorded were cover versions that were plakang-plaka or almost like the originals or Tagalog adaptations of foreign hits. But Payong was cute. It made money. We can certainly use that.

There were a few bright spots that positively affected films, television and concerts and I can think of two singers who had a hit with a new original Filipino composition. These were Piolo Pascual with, the theme from the TV series Lobo, Ikaw Ang Aking Pangarap, which has the makings of a future standard and KC Concepcion with the bluesy Imposible

KC, bless her, was one of the year’s brilliant newcomers with a good debut album and a blockbuster movie. Smart and beautiful, the year’s Nickelodeon’s gamely slimed wanna-be, she also has her heart in the right place and finds time in her busy schedule to be the ambassador against hunger of the United Nations in these parts. She also had a big hit, a cover of the oldie For the First Time, which was used as the theme for her first film.

Also a glowing presence was Sarah Geronimo. She sold out the Araneta Coliseum in a solo concert, had a blockbuster flick and some hits. These were the oldie A Very Special Love, which was the theme from her film and I’ll Be There, a landmark duet with Backstreet Boy Howie Dorough. Her song Ikaw, an original by Medwin Marfil of True Faith was named Song of the Year at the Awit Awards. But that was for 2007.

Also on the oldies trail were Regine Velasquez, Lani Misalucha, Ogie Alcasid, Lea Salonga, Rachelle Ann Go, Jay-R and even Gabby Concepcion. Nikki Gil did well with Joey Albert’s A Million Miles Away and bless her too, because she has made propagating reading her advocacy and that is just great. These artists did not come up with songs that other artists in the future would be able to revive but they did sell a lot of albums.

Musical theater was alive and well. In some cases, brilliant Atang, pricey, Cinderella, moving, Cory, so-so West Side Story and enjoyable Hairspray. In the case of the latter, I say that you can always count on director Bobby Garcia to come up with a well-mounted, entertaining show that will not insult the audience.

The concert scene was booming with exciting visitors like Maroon 5, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Al Jarreau, George Benson, Paul Potts, Petula Clark, Neil Sedaka, Swing Out Sister, Avril Lavigne, etc. 50 Cent was a no show but the usual suspects, Air Supply, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, etc, did drop by. 

 And the locals also did very well, from also usual suspects Martin Nievera and Gary Valenciano to the buy one take three Divas for Divas of Kuh Ledesma, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Pops Fernandez and Regine Velasquez, to the Golden Divas of Pilita Corrales, and the two Carmens, Pateña and Soriano to Randy Santiago, Raymond Lauchengco, Gino Padilla and Louie Heredia as the Men of the ‘80s to last nights Legends of OPM, Rico Puno, Rey Valera, Nonoy Zuñiga, Claire, Eva Eugenio and Joey Albert.

2008 was also the year we once more thrilled and danced to the music of ABBA, saw for ourselves that Arnel Pineda does deserve to be Journey’s new vocalist, and saw how the Eraserheads reunion proved that those guys are no APOs yet.

We prayed and will continue to do so for the recovery of Francis Magalona. We mourned the passing of Didith Reyes, a star who burned so brightly for so brief a time. And we now wait with bated breath for what wonderful things will happen next to Charice in her adventures in American entertainment.










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