Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Labsong Writer

There are great questions out there that are better left hanging much like the chicken and the egg debate. Like who tops Kris Aquino as the most irritating TV personality? Or to a person who is at the proverbial crossroads of his sexual path, to be or not to be? Or better yet to a struggling singer trying to impress the bitchy judge who himself is a poor imitation of Simon Cowell, to birit or not to birit?

But some questions, we can answer more easily. In fact, to some more passionately.

In this regard, the question I drown myself into more frequently is who is today's best Filipino songwriter?

First there is Ely Buendia who was the main songwriter of arguably the most influential band that ever came out of Filipino radio. He spawned the seminal hits Alapaap, Ang Huling El Bimbo and Magasin. He is the master of narrative songwriting, wrapping you with the stories of friendship, love and yes, of that lady who looked like Paraluman. Sadly, the band caved in under its own grand ambition. But he is still pushing the envelope with his new band Pupil.

Second, there is Rico Blanco who was the main songwriter of the consistently critically acclaimed rivermaya. The band in itself evolved with a few members gone and replaced but Blanco was clearly the sole driving force of the band. He concocted the hits Himala, You'll be safe here and Kisapmata. He has since left the band to pursue his own music. Now a solo artist, he is still able to feel the pulse of the masses with hits like Your Universe and Antukin, 2009's NU Song of the Year.

Last is the guy who used to be the face of rivermaya. Bamboo was never known as a songwriter in his Maya days but with his own band, ehem, Bamboo, he surprised most of us with his anthemic Noypi and Hallelujah. Scourging through their albums though, one could sense that the band is equally comfortable with soft jazz/reggae numbers. Plus, his looks mesmerized a thousand of collegialas thus helping push the band's albums to record sales. Personally, I feel there is much more to be desired in his songwriting. But that is a matter of personal opinion that is disagreed to by the number of fans who are passionate about the band's music.

Pinoy rock today has never been parched with talented composers. Among the most notable are Ebe Dancel of Sugarfree, Gabe Alipe of urbandub and Barbie Almalbis. Of course there is the oft-overlooked but absolutely sublime Cynthia Alexander. Each has his or her own strength from which to draw from, creating tales about love and life delivered in the blistering sound of the almighty amplified guitar. (Or in the wistful strums of the acoustic guitar.) Altogether wrapping us in bittersweet ecstacy. Ah, such is the story of the eternal romantic Juan.

Altogether, Pinoy rock has never been in a better place. A slew of new bands and artists crop up on TV and radio every now and then hoping to catch the ever fleeting attention of Juan. Thus these same artists try to top each other with better materials much like Bob Dylan did to the Beatles and the Beatles to Bob Dyland and the Beach Boys.

The uphill fight against piracy notwithstanding, Juan comes out the ultimate winner as he becomes richly immersed in different takes and perspective on the greatest subject of all: Kris Aquino este, love.

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