Stellar sounds of 2021

SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil - The Philippine Star
Stellar sounds of 2021
There were a lot of Ben&Ben songs in 2021, including the unsettling Lunod with Juan Karlos (second from right) and Zild (rightmost).
Photos from artists’ official Instagram accounts

I came across a post a few days ago that said, “The best time machine is a song.” How true indeed. Nothing evokes memories better than a song. Sights, scents, feelings, maybe even taste, intensify when they are experienced with a music score. As we came to the end of 2021, I say that these are the songs by which the year that was will be remembered in times to come.

There was a lot of Ben&Ben. The band, established by twin Benjamins Paolo and Miguel, has evolved into a solid collective with a unique blend of alt pop and emo music in its repertoire. And we listened to its Upuan, Ilang Tulog Na Lang, Bibingka, Elyu, Kasayaw, Pasalubong with Moira dela Torre and later in the year, the unsettling Lunod with Juan Karlos and Zild. Solo-wise, Moira also did very well with her Paubaya.

Efforts to duplicate the success of the South Korean boy bands were also prevalent. While they must all be commended, several of these fell by the wayside. The most successful among them was SB19 that scored big with MAPA, Bazinga, Alab and others.

However, I say that those groups with an original Pinoy style like December Avenue with Sa Ngalan ng Pagibig and Bulong; Magnus Haven with Imahe and Landas; The Juans with Anghel, Dulo; and Bandang Lapis with Nang Dumating Ka, Sa Kabilang Buhay will do better in the longevity race than manufactured clones.

Hip-hop, which was so big a few years ago, was last year relegated to the backseat. It was sustained only by some hits from Skusta Clee, Bumalik Ka Na; Flow G with Hangga’t Maaari; and ALLMO$T, Sexing Maliit. Though they rapped with complete dedication and were quite inventive, our rappers were not able to withstand the surprising onslaught of the boys behind what we now call the new harana.

Romantic, introspective and rather sexy, these new idols brought their kind of sweet, quiet charm to local music. The females swooned for their aching serenades and made hit songs for Arthur Nery with Pagsamo, Higa and the duet Pelikula with Janine Teñoso; Zack Tabudlo with Habang Buhay, Hindi Ko Kaya and Binibini; Adie with Paraluman, Luha and Dungaw. Even James Reid got into the harana mood with Hello.

Out there in foreign shores, 2021 saw the emergence in a big way of the then 17-year-old Filipino-American ingenue Olivia Rodrigo, who composed and performed drivers license, Good 4 U, Traitor, Deja Vu and other tracks from her big selling and also critically acclaimed debut album Sour. Adele, who was out for five years, returned with an album named 30 and the single Easy on Me.

Justin Bieber was all over the charts with The Kid LAROI for the No. 1 selling Stay, plus Peaches, Lonely and Ghosts from his Justice album. The Weeknd stayed on top with Blinding Lights and a collab with Ariana Grande, Save Your Tears. Ed Sheeran also returned to the charts after four years with an addition to his symbols series. His latest is Equals = which was launched with the engaging tune Bad Habits.

Lil Nas X, who was expected to be a one hit wonder with the phenomenal Old Town Road, has become bigger than ever with Montero (Call Me by Your Name) and Industry Baby, featuring Jack Harlow. And what can you say about another talented half-Pinoy named Bruno Mars? He formed a group with rapper and singer Anderson. Paak that they named Silk Sonic and they did make silky soul with their first single Leave the Door Open.

Also stellar in 2021 were sounds from Taylor Swift with new originals in Evermore and Folklore and a rerecorded Red; Dua Lipa with Levitating from Future Nostalgia of two years ago, the album that just keeps on selling; the cross dressing Harry Styles and his dreamy Fine Line; Doja Cat, with Kiss Me More, featuring SZA from Planet Her; Drake with Certified Lover Boy; and the much lamented gone too soon young guns of hip-hop Pop Smoke with Shoot for the Stars, Reach for the Moon and Juice WRLD with Legends Never Die.

Ooops! I almost forgot. South Korean boy band BTS continued to grow its already massive army by singing My Universe with Coldplay and releasing a smooth buttery dance concoction titled what else, but butter.


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