Emotional frailty as source of strength: Get to know PhilPop’s Metro Manila entries

PhilPop, the country’s premier songwriting competition, makes another huge comeback with an exemplary batch of music entries from the National Capital Region.

With a diverse showcase of sounds spanning R&B, contemporary pop and folk-influenced genres, the latest roster offers catchy, radio-friendly fodders that tackle romance, forgiveness, and regret with precision and sensitivity. 

Produced by PhilPop and distributed by Warner Music Philippines, this Friday’s commendable picks include two compositions by Aikee namely “Mapa,” interpreted by Chloe Redondo and Aikee himself, and “Bestiny,” interpreted by Kevin Yadao and Jr. Crown. Composer Kian Dionisio rounds up the Metro Manila cluster with his compelling original “Huling Sayaw,” interpreted by Nyoy Volante.

Two Entries

Prolific rapper and singer-songwriter Aikee Aplacador snags two entries at this year’s PhilPop 2020 finals round.

On “Bestiny,” Aikee expresses his frustration on navigating the harsh realities of dealing with unrequited love and friendship. Kevin Yadao and Jr. Crown trades verses with smooth effortlessness, singing atop upbeat melodies, warm R&B beats and indelible harmonies.

“Mapa” is Aikee’s tribute to the parents that served as guiding light in times of utmost difficulty and trouble. This time, the acclaimed composer recruits newcomer Chloe Redondo on the inspiring pop/R&B ballad.

Both songs channel Aikee’s pop and urban sensibilities, while harnessing his skill as a versatile songwriter with a knack for inescapable chorus and earwormy hooks. 

Life regrets as song inspiration

Kian Dionisio pens a heartfelt anthem of regrets and what ifs in life on “Huling Sayaw.” Delicately woven with lush keyboards and stripped-down arrangements, his song “Huling Sayaw” was inspired by Dionisio’s music career and the frustrations that come with nurturing the process. “I’ve been told that I was a late bloomer, not brave enough, and not driven enough,” Dioniso shares. “knew from the very beginning that I am a dreamer. But as I age, I started regretting all the opportunities and time that could’ve been so productive. If only I had started so much earlier, maybe I’m already living THE DREAM right now. This is one of my biggest regrets in life and I tried to incorporate the idea to the song.”

Acoustic pop balladeer Nyoy Volante interprets Dionisio’s melancholic piece with just the right amount of skill and restraint. Volante worked hand in hand with Dionisio in capturing the emotional frailty of the track, delivering it with his own touch while staying true to the original’s message.

“Bestiny,” “Mapa,” and “Huling Sayaw” are now available on streaming and digital platforms worldwide via PhilPop and Warner Music Philippines.

Image and details provided in a recent press release.

Melancholia as Universal Theme: PhilPop releases third batch of songs

PhilPop takes the competition to an entirely impressive scale with the official release of songs from the North Luzon clusters.

The latest batch balances compelling drama and introspection as it gravitates toward themes of unrequited love, romantic dissolution, and abusive relationships. Produced with professional polish and help from PhilPop, the newest selection includes “Paos,” composed by Angelic Mateo and interpreted by Keiko Necessario; “Balikan,” composed by Lolito Go and interpreted by Benj Manalo and the Collective; and “Agsardeng,” composed by TJ Paeldon and Abby Esteban, and interpreted by Miss Ramone.

Distributed by Warner Music Philippines, the homegrown songs are now available today, November 6, 2020 (Friday) on all digital and streaming platforms worldwide via PhilPop.

Paos: The beauty of unspoken emotions

Beautifully written with tenderness and warmth, “Paos” documents the repressed feelings of being tried and lost, but still wanting to be found. According to its composer Angelic Mateo, the song speaks about the aching truth in our everyday lives and the reality behind the unspoken emotions that reflect one’s bottom points. 

“This song is a way to remind people that everyone fights a unique battle.” Mateo explains  in a statement. “Moreover, it hopes to emphasize how people must not forget to genuinely understand what the other one is going through because reaching the bottom thorns and wanting to pause does not make a precious soul weak.”

The subtly produced track is interpreted by acclaimed singer-songwriter Keiko Necessario, who gave her own incredible spin on the serene pop ballad. Despite her own vocal inflection and stylistic take, Necessario remains faithful to the underlying message of the song, careful not enough to blur its intentions while owning the material with genuine understanding on what it’s all about. 

Balikan: a dissolution of romance

 “Balikan” is a post-breakup anthem that laments on the irreversibility of the past and mocks the prospects of reunion. According to composer Lolito Go, the song was inspired by his friend Jake Vargas’ split with actress Bea Binene. 

“I was challenged to write a song about it and that’s the time I wrote the first draft of Balikan,” the singer-songwriter shares. “The song revolved around a couple of lines I originally wrote 7 years ago for a popular ‘Hugot’ page on Facebook back when I was one of its content writers.”

The early iteration of “Balikan” leans on the acoustic ballad side, and was set to be performed by Jake Vargas. But after being selected as one of the fellows for PhilPop bootcamp, Go had a change of heart, and the song underwent changes in terms of how it was arranged and produced. The final version is reimagined by Benj Manalo and the Collective, whose Motown-inspired, funky feel deserves props.

Agsardeng: breaking the cycle of abuse

“Agsardeng” is an empowering song that tackles the breakage from the cycle of abusive relationships. According to Abby Esteban, one of the composers of the emotionally penned track, it follows the story of a person who is stuck in recurring domestic abuse, and finally decides to emancipate from its trappings to start anew. ”We wanted to write a socially relevant yet easily digestible pop song that could hopefully serve as a voice and inspiration to those who have survived and are still experiencing gender-based and domestic violence,” tells Esteban. “This is their story we are amplifying.”

Esteban and her co-composer TJ Paeldon used Ilocano and Filipino lyrics in its attempt to convey both the regional and global appeal of their entry, while catering to contemporary listening standards. Paeldon adds, “We are also aiming on promoting the Ilocano dialect mixed with our National language which is Filipino, for us it’s all about bridging the gap between Filipino and our Ilocano dialect so everyone can appreciate this song and also appreciate the beauty of the Ilocano language which makes a very large portion of the North Luzon cluster.”

As for the overall sound, Esteban and Paeldon are very particular with melding Ilocano native instruments with vintage-sounding synthesizers to recreate their version of a modern lullaby. Interpreter Miss Ramone adds her sultry and soulful take on the intricately nuanced jam, while making sure to keep up with the ambition of its sound design.

“Paos,” “Balikan,” and “Agsardeng” are are now available on streaming and digital platforms worldwide via PhilPop and Warner Music Philippines.

Image and details provided by Warner Music Philippines in a recent press release.

Regional heritage meets global appeal: PhilPop 2020 charms with first batch of songs

Distributed by Warner Music Philippines, the maiden batch reflects the diversity and appeal of the region’s music heritage, and champions authentic representation of the contemporary ‘Mindanaoan’ experience.

PhilPop, the country’s premier songwriting competition, has officially released the songs from the finalists of the Mindanao cluster on Spotify and other digital platforms worldwide this October 23, Friday.

Distributed by Warner Music Philippines, the maiden batch reflects the diversity and appeal of the region’s music heritage, and champions authentic representation of the contemporary ‘Mindanaoan’ experience.

The tracks available for streaming and download include “Akong Bilihon,” composed by John Cadeliña and interpreted by The Marshland; “Kasadya,” composed by Christian Chiu and interpreted by Jay-ar Vaño and XT on Sax; and “Pahuway,” composed by Sherwin Fugoso and interpreted by Ferdinand Aragon.

Akong Bilhon: An anthem of resilience

According to singer-songwriter John Cadeliña, “Akong Bilhon” is a song about contentment. “No matter how big or small the blessings you have or received, if you really appreciate it’s true value, then it’s more than enough for you to be happy,” the Pilipinas Got Talent season 2 finalist says. “I wrote it last June, inspired by the current situation we have—that despite the negativities, the weights on our shoulders, we should still look up for the silver lining.”

With its soaring arrangements and infectious melodies, the inspirational piece stresses the importance of optimism and resilience in dealing with the uncertainty of the times. 

John Cadeliña’s music project, The Marshland is the sole interpreter of the guitar-pop ballad. He counts the likes of Five For Fighting and City and Colours as major influences.

Kasadya: An eclectic sonic brew

Christian Tiu marks the passing of time on “Kasadya,” an irresistible number inspired by childhood nostalgia, Ilonggo culture, and the pandemic. Tiu’s official entry to the PhilPop 2020 Songwriting Festival looks back at the glorious memories spent with his family and grandparents.

Tiu shares, “During the pandemic, that feeling of isolation was even more accentuated.

The thought of spending time with our grandparents would be at the bottom of the list due to their vulnerabilities with the virus. In the song Kasadya, I was looking back to those times; reliving those memories and just embracing those nostalgic moments. I felt genuinely happy for those times.” 

Musically, “Kasadya” is an upbeat number that blends ‘80s pop with jazz, Manila Sound, ‘70s soul, and contemporary R&B sounds. It features interesting arrangements that mirror the artist’s intentional leaning towards retro-sounding appeal, while also incorporating modern touches to cater to the younger generation of listeners. The song is interpreted by Jay-ar Vaño, a singer based in Koronadal City and an active contributor to the Ilonggo pop scene, and XT on Sax, a renowned saxophonist.

Pahuway: An emotionally gripping ballad

Sherwin’s Fugoso’s stripped-down ballad “Pahuway” speaks about knowing what your heart truly desires and patiently waiting for its fulfillment. According to the folk artist, it’s a song about “longing, love, commitment, and dedication that stands against the test of time.”

Pahuway was inspired by a famous passage from Saint Augustine’s  Confession in which he states: You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you,” Fugoso explains. “His words hit me big-time, and for me, it is a must to write songs out of these very powerful words.  Pahuway portrays my longing for a cure for my daily dose of restlessness.”

The spiritual song digs deeper into the songwriter’s emotional psyche, but mines a less-is-more approach to showcase the vulnerability in Fugoso’s words. Award-winning Cebu-based artist Ferdinand Aragon interprets the song with the right mix of subtlety and warmth, and even going to as far as captivating listeners with his nuanced delivery and wounded vocal styling.

“Akong Bilhon,” “Kasadya,” and “Pahuway” are now available on streaming and digital platforms worldwide via PhilPop and Warner Music Philippines.

Image and details provided by PhilPop in a recent press release.

Vans and partners J.I.D and Bohan Phoenix launch Vans Musicians Wanted Competition worldwide

Vans, the original action sports brand and global advocate for creative expression announces the worldwide expansion of the brand’s celebrated music platform, Vans Musicians Wanted. Originally launched in Vans’ Asia-Pacific region in 2015, the Vans Musicians Wanted competition is a global music platform that provides undiscovered musicians a chance for their original music to be heard by a global audience. This year’s competition has evolved into a seamless digital experience, and will award one grand prize winner the opportunity to share the stage with Vans Ambassador and Grammy award winning artist Anderson .Paak.

Launching in partnership with the trailblazing talent from Vans’ final chapter of theTHIS IS OFF THE WALL’ brand campaign released today, Vans shares the compelling journey of two artists: Atlanta-based rapper, J.I.D and Chinese-born and American-raised artist, Bohan Phoenix, who express their personal identities through music. Inspired by their experiences of fusing cultural identity with raw musical prowess, Vans has partnered with J.I.D and Bohan Phoenix to serve as guest judges for the global competition. The stories of these two young artists within the hip hop industry serves as a catalyst for the next generation of musicians looking to come up from their bedrooms to main stage.

Vans’ ‘THIS IS OFF THE WALL’ campaign stories celebrate creative expression through the pursuit of artists making their own way forward in hip hop. The genre has become a distinct language of choice for young voices who continue to work to forge their own path by any means necessary. 

Born and raised in East Atlanta, Destin Choice Route, better known by his stage name J.I.D, has carved out a unique space for himself through his raw talent and unwavering desire for greatness. While creativity was a constant throughout J.I.D’s life, he originally pursued professional sports, but through injuries and uncertainty, he embraced music. Driven by his magnanimous work ethic, J.I.D’s focus on writing and dense wordplay has helped to establish him as a leader in a new wave of hip hop that values craft over hype, defining a new sound that is unmatched. Hear J.I.D’s origin story and the path he has taken in order to hone his craft at Vans.com/JID

JID

Born in Hubei, China and moved to Massachusetts, Bohan Phoenix was introduced to hip hop when his mother used popular movies and television as a tool to teach him English. One movie in particular sparked a love for music and culture that would go on to define his life moving forward. This introduction to hip hop led Bohan down a path of discovery and personal exploration that brought him to create his own music. By embracing his upbringing and dual cultural identity, he began to make music that blended two languages and cultures together to create something uniquely personal, pushing hip hop in new places. Watch Bohan Phoenix’s journey to self-discovery and how his multicultural upbringing has come to influence his identity as an artist at Vans.com/BohanPhoenix

To celebrate the partnership, Vans has teamed up with Bohan Phoenix to release his customized Vans shoes on Vans.com/Customs .

Bohan Phoenix

Joining J.I.D and Bohan Phoenix as special guest judges, European based singer-songwriter Nilüfer Yanya, and Grammy award-winning artist, Anderson .Paak  will review the top-5 artists from each region. Top-5 artists from APAC will perform at the Vans Musicians Wanted Virtual Concert this December, they will also receive free album distribution through Spinnup, Universal Music Group’s distribution service for independent artists. One grand prize winner will be selected to receive Vans product, Fender Gear, Vans Spotify and Apple Music playlisting, music video produced by Universal Music Group and one year of free and unlimited global music distribution from Spinnup (APAC exclusive), and the opportunity to share the stage with Anderson .Paak as the opening act in 2021.

Submit Original Music Now at Vans.com/MusiciansWanted

APAC Submission Open: Sep 2nd to Sep 30th

 Americas and EMEA Submissions Open: Sept 28th to Oct 11th

Details and images provided by Vans in a recent press release.