12 New Songs From Filipino Artists You Need to Listen to Right Now
1. Islands (Acoustic)
The indie sweetheart came out with “Islands” late last year and while it was a solid effort—a foray into lounge-y electro-pop—I’m partial to this acoustic version. It’s familiar and nostalgic, and contains such intensely catchy lines like “I want to hold you, but my body’s moving away,” and “Cause when I say ‘be gone,’ my stubborn tongue is faking.” You know that really old playlist on Spotify called Your Favorite Coffehouse? This song ought to be on there.
Of the three songs the country’s hippest, most likable foursome dropped on New Year’s Day, this one is the standout. A gentle pop ballad, “Anino” sounds like the best of late 80s, early 90s OPM love songs (think Viktoria, the old FOJ), complete with a soaring guitar solo. Armi’s vocals have never been more raw or emotional, but you expect that with one of the best current Pinoy music has to offer.
I don’t know much about Daniel Taberna, but based on this song I imagine he’d be fun to hang out with. If your life were a movie, this is the track that would play in a montage of some of the best moments of your 20s. The build-up is tasty and confident, but the drop at 1:22 is when things really start taking off. Stellar.
4. Sweet Like Honey
I like a sweet, tender bubblegum pop song, and this one fits the bill. But instead of the contrived, overly manufactured drivel we get from mainstream songwriting factories, "Sweet like Honey" is actually good. Credit Denise’s syrupy vocals and her chill, laidback delivery. Teenage girls pining for their crush du jour have a new anthem.
5. Only You
Move over Troye Sivan, this guy’s coming for your gig. Not even 20 yet, Fern. (he spells it with a period) displays a self-assurance far beyond his years. He may have to get used to the comparisons with current synth-pop artists from the West (if he isn’t already), but this song is too good for him to worry about anything else. It certainly deserves a place whether you’re building a “making out” or a “late night drive” playlist.
6. Uh Oh
“Pardon me, I didn’t mean to rock your body,” the song starts. You gotta love a considerate beatmaker, but truthfully, we don’t mind one bit. It’s another synth-pop anthem, and one that does its best to get you off your chair and start snapping your fingers and swinging your hips. You might feel like you’ve heard this song before (the genre seems to be popular these days) but it’s darn catchy and irresistible, so who cares?
7. Frankie’s Blues
It sounds DIY and could use some upgrades in production, but there are hints of brilliance in this track. Set against a bluesy riff, Cedric sings about taking a ride and making small talk with a lady, right before he notices they’re on the wrong side of the road and about to crash head-on with a truck. And then he wakes up. It was just a dream. Or was it? My advice: Frankie needs to relax.
8. Golden Child
There’s something soothing about the way Elli admonishes someone to “stop living in your head for a while,” because “you deserve to live a life free from all the lies.” It’s the kind of track you can listen to on a lazy Sunday afternoon drive to the beach—or to your friend’s house to hang out.
It starts out with a casual strumming on guitar reminiscent of countless other tracks from WGWGs (white guys with guitar), but seconds after the drum track, the horns start blaring and you realize, nope, this isn’t another blatant acoustic ripoff. The message is simple: you have no idea what other people are going through, so quit judging people, which is the literal translation of the song’s chorus. Generao almost sounds like he’s rapping, and it’s cool.
Everything you need to know about the song is in the first line: “I want to be somewhere else.” And the song does it best to transport you to that other place. The percussion track sounds like a march, not sure where, but definitely away from here.
I’m not sure Ben&Ben are still local music’s best kept secret seeing as they have nearly two million monthly listeners on Spotify. This track in particular, a product of working with Los Angeles-based producer HARV, seems to have only increased the band’s profile since it came out late last year. It’s current and very now, but doesn’t lose that distinct Ben&Ben sound. If this is a sign of where the band is headed musically then I’m all for it.
I would describe this song as a mixture of Badly Drawn Boy, Johnoy Danao and Dong Abay. Mallari takes the best of his songwriting idols and puts his own stamp into an aww-shucks love song that has the potential of becoming a major hit. Recently signed with a major label, Mallari still has a lot of room left to grow, but with what he’s put out so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes the next big thing in Pinoy music.