Worth a listen: February 2021 in music

Audiophiles, want to know what’s up in the world of music this month? Check out my rundown below!

Dark pop songstress Naomi G upholds feminist virtues on new song “Prey”

Singapore-based artist Naomi G has released her contemplative pop single “Prey” in an attempt to reclaim greater tenure as a woman knowing her worth in a relationship. The track, invocative of Banks’ chilling despair on some notes and The Weeknd’s midnight sentiments on others, resolves itself by criticizing structural behaviors that oppress women and upholding virtues that are necessary to curb patriarchal pressures. 

As Naomi G puts it, “I wanted to empower young people who are faced with unwanted or unhealthy sexual attention that causes them to psycho-socially feel like ‘Prey’. This song is an anthem of power to those who have been gaslighted, dominated, manipulated, harassed and controlled based on their gender and looks. This song is a movement about saying no quickly and firmly, whilst understanding all the microaggressions that be before getting into any kind of deception.”

“Prey” is a brooding synth-pop jam that begins with motif-roving synths whose presence comes in forcibly and dips out in an exhale after the purposeful exercise of each line. A minimal percussion drives it, morphing into a choppy, playful, and hard-hitting stomper that’s enough to catch listener’s attention. 

The resulting musical concoction builds up into a riveting climax where dark pop, trap and hip-hop accents come together seamlessly, complementing pop feminism in its own terms. 

“Prey” is the second single for Naomi G’s debut EP which is scheduled for release over 2021.

SZA makes a splash on PH charts with hit single “Good Days

The numbers are in: SZA’s “Good Days” is officially her biggest hit to date in the Philippines and elsewhere in the world. In the country alone, the soulful single remains unstoppable with its No. 2 peak at Spotify Philippines Viral 50 and a top 15 placement at Spotify Philippines Top 50.

Over at mainstream radio, the critically acclaimed R&B songstress is performing well on several top 40 stations. This week, “Good Days” ranks No. 5 on 99.5 Play FM, a major pop station; No. 7 on Wave 89.1 FM, a rhythmic and urban-leaning station; and has gained prominent spots on Magic 89.9 (No. 23), and more.

“Good Days,” the second track following 2020’s “Hit Different,” is one of her two new headline releases since 2017’s groundbreaking multi-platinum debut, CTRL—an album that garnered significant critical attention for “laying bare the kind of vulnerability most often whispered in private” and for its “believable insights into one woman’s quest for erotic self-determination.”

Written and produced by SZA, Jacob Collier, Carlos Muñoz, Carter Lang, and Christopher Ruelas and mixed by Shawn Everett, the laid-back tune was released as a surprise drop on Christmas eve last year. More than a week after its debut, the buzzy empowerment anthem skyrocketed at No. 1 on US Spotify Streaming Chart, and has since peaked within the top 10 of other major music markets including the US, UK, Australia, Ireland, Belgium, and New Zealand.

To date, the track has racked up more than 75 million streams on Spotify and more than 20 million cumulative hits on YouTube in just a month.

Aside from its commercial triumph, “Good Days” also made an indelible impression among music critics. Hip-hop magazine, The Source praised the new song for “mastering bliss and serenity all at once.” The publication adds, “In particular, the rawness of her vocals creates an ethereal energy that dives deeper into SZA`s unmatched creativity as a songwriter.” British music bible, NME called her comeback single “worth the wait,” citing how her voice has grown more sophisticated and carefree through the years.

Elha Nympha reasserts confidence with new soulful single, “Do It”

Elha Nympha arrives with both finesse and maturity on “Do It,” her comeback single under MCA Music Inc.

Now exploring a more sophisticated take on R&B, pop, and neo-soul, the former champion of The Voice Kids Season 2 reasserts confidence and sass in delivering a romantic confession that appeals beyond her particular demographic.

When she sings, “Come on over a little closer / Take me where I’ve never been,” she takes full control of the quiet storm brewing: her voice fluttering effortlessly over dreamy arrangements and soft keyboard tones, taking the spotlight with ease.

“Do It” is a suave R&B jam that tackles the beauty of taking bolder steps when it comes to love. Upon hearing the song for the first time, Elha got excited to record the material as it barely sounds like anything she’s recorded in the past. “I’m happy with where the direction of my music is going,” the 16-year-old star said in a statement. “Do It unravels a more vulnerable side of my artistry, and this is exactly the kind of music that I want to keep making—something that is young and current, but very much me.”

“Do It” has earned comparisons with the likes of SZA, Jhené Aiko, and H.E.R., embracing the fundamental agency of womanhood and young love in all its messiness and glory. While Elha is elated with the feedback that she’s been getting from her mentors and music listeners, she wants to forge a path of her own and make music that is distinctly a product of her own sense of style and adventurousness. The promising pop sensation admits, “As a fan, I can definitely see myself doing the same kind of music. But there’s more to my sound than being pigeonholed into a category. For now, I’m ready for where this journey would take me, musically. I’m definitely looking forward to creating something that is original and unique.”

SB19’s Justin De Dios stars as Alex Bruce’s love interest in “Yakap” music video

SB19 fans (or A’TIN) are in for a treat as their very own Justin De Dios makes a surprise cameo in the music video of Alex Bruce’s endearing bop “Yakap”—released on February 5 (Friday) on video-sharing platform, YouTube.
Justin De Dios portrays Alex Bruce’s love interest in this visual spectacle filled with incredibly surreal and romantic scenes. “It’s a fun and creative concept,” De Dios said. “I really like the fact that the MV showcases both the ‘maangas’ and cute sides of Alex.”

Appearing like a P-pop charmer that Alex Bruce has been pining for in her dreams, De Dios was seen exchanging smiles with the young hip-hop sensation, sharing cute moments together as they engage in pillow fights, fake tattooing, and other onscreen activities.

According to the R&B/hip-hop star, working with Justin De Dios was totally fun, especially given how friendly and warm he is with everyone on the set. Alex Bruce fondly shares in a statement, “I’m really into Korean dramas, and Justin somehow looked the part: innocently good-looking and very much charismatic. As a leading man, he really shone effortlessly in terms of acting, and gave us the kilig that we truly deserve.”

De Dios returns the favor by praising Alex Bruce’s artistry and talent. “I am really impressed with her skills. I wanted to introduce her to A’TIN as she could be a source of inspiration for a lot of young dreamers too.” He recounts how Alex was very shy during their first meet, but as the shoot went on, they eventually got along very well. “She’s an interesting kid, and we had a lot of fun talking to each other about random things. One thing I also noticed while working with her is how close she is to her parents. It’s very adorable!”

Alex Bruce is grateful to the production for allowing her to showcase some of her personal artworks and Beanie Boos collection. “I love owls, so there’s plenty of them in my shelf—as seen in the music video. I had a great time drawing and showcasing my artworks for the very first time. I hope it won’t be the last.”

“Yakap” was penned by Bruce as a tribute to young love, and was conceived as a three-way collaboration featuring the fourteen-year-old teen star, her Australia-based dad, and music producer Cursebox. The song garnered significant attention in late October 2020 for its infectious pop sensibilities and to quote Rappler, for its “first brushes at puppy love.”

Foo Fighters release tenth studio album: Medicine at Midnight

Foo Fighters have finally released their highly anticipated 10th studio album, Medicine at Midnight under Roswell Records/RCA Records.

Following delays due to the unprecedented challenges of releasing an album during the pandemic, Medicine at Midnight finally landed late last week with nine tracks of power-driven, anthemic rock tunes that drummer Taylor Hawkins described as more “pop-oriented” than previous releases.

On its first day, the American rock band’s latest record peaked at No. 1 on several iTunes album charts worldwide, and is raring for one of rock music’s biggest debuts on major music markets this year, including the United States, UK, Australia, and more. It also garnered significant traction from several music publications worldwide, with Wall Street Journal calling it “one of Foo Fighters’ best albums of this century,” and British music publication, NME declaring the new release as “the soundtrack to the summer we all crave.”

Medicine at Midnight’s release wraps up Foo Fighters’ week-long partnership with Spotify, which featured surprise ‘Midnight Drops’ of exclusive video, audio, and playlist content— an occasion marked by the band’s larger than life appearance on Spotify’s Times Square billboard.

To celebrate the release of their new album, the Foo Fighters will host a special six-part radio series: Medicine at Midnight Radio on Apple Music Hits. Each band member will host an hour-long episode where they’ll explore their personal inspirations and reflect on the creative process behind the album. Fans can tune in every day next week, beginning Monday, February 8th at 4:00p PST on Apple Music Hits at apple.co/FFRadio and simultaneously on the band’s new limited-run SiriusXM channel, Foo Fighters Radio (channel 105). Dave also joined Zane Lowe on his daily Apple Music 1 show earlier this week to chat about the album.

Medicine at Midnight is produced by Greg Kurstin and Foo Fighters, engineered by Darrell Thorp and mixed by Mark “Spike” Stent.

Foo Fighters are Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett, Pat Smear, and Rami Jaffee.

YouTube sensations Agassi Ching and Jai Asuncion star in Sponge Cola’s “Siguro Nga” music video

Content creators Agassi Ching and Jai Asuncion are featured in the latest music video of Sponge Cola’s “Siguro Nga.”

The onscreen and offscreen love team amassed a fandom in social media with pranks, viral videos, and challenges. In “Siguro Nga,” JaiGa—as they are popularly known for—portray a fictional romantic couple in disarray.

According to the band’s vocalist and guitarist Yael Yuzon, Agassi is a dear friend whom he plays basketball with every Tuesday. “I also produced the song he wrote for Jai during the stricter quarantine period through file sharing,” he said. “I also watch their daily vlogs. On some level, I felt like I was always involved in their love story. It just made sense to cast them.”

The video shows Agassi Ching singing “Siguro Nga” in a neon-lit karaoke bar, while Jai Asuncion is in the very same room with friends, silently crying and hurting inside. Separated by their own version of realities, both characters try to move forward with the changes in their respective lives, albeit having a difficulty wiping out their memories together—especially with the song forever binding them in spirit.

“A person’s go-to videoke song says so much about who they are and what they are about,” Yuzon reveals. “I’ll just leave it at that.”

Guitarist Armo Armovit shares that the visual treatment focuses on honoring people who are no longer present by living lives with meaning and memory. “We want them to feel nostalgia for a person in their past who was a meaningful presence in their lives; sadness for the loss, but also, hope for the future.”

The music video also comes with a meta-karaoke version of the track that allows fans to sing their hearts out and engage with the narrative.

Inspired by the hit K-drama, StartUp, Sponge Cola’s “Siguro Nga” was written by Yael Yuzon as a tribute to one of its beloved characters, Han Ji-Pyeong. Its lyric video features various footage from Seoul, South Korea that includes locations from the series.

Zack Tabudlo maps his music journey with new single “Iyong-Iyo”

The beginning of Zack Tabudlo’s Island Records journey saw the young singer-songwriter going full speed ahead. His song ‘Sigurado’ hit the Top Viral PH charts and stayed there for four weeks, following its feature in the online series Your Home. There’s also ‘Cruel,’ whose music video was released a few months ago and has racked up more than 70,000 views on YouTube and more than 240,000 streams on Spotify.

Zack’s biggest single to date, the first one under Island Records Philippines, is the sultry ‘Nangangamba,’ whose play count on Spotify clocks in at over a million streams.

And Zack shows no signs of slowing down, as evidenced by his latest single ‘Iyong Iyo.’ Written by Tiny Corpuz and performed by Zack Tabudlo, ‘Iyong Iyo’ sees Zack putting it all on the line and giving everything—literal possession. “Kahit pa ba sa kabilang buhay, ‘di maglalaho,” he croons in the glimmering chorus, showcasing his lyrical penchant for themes like romance and longing. Gentle harmonies and mellow instrumentation make you feel like you’re floating, and allow Zack to flex the upper register of his vocal range, his high notes triumphant and sincere.

“I was really in touch with making the album art of the song as well, having a Halloween-like ghost costume in it which shows a person under a white cloth with holes in it, but has this heart glowing from his chest,” says Zack. “He wants to be like the ghost to really feel the same connection, with his heart glowing, symbolizing how much love he feels for the ghost.”

According to Zack, the song was inspired by the original Thai song for the “Let’s Fight Ghost” series, which is set to air on March 2021. The acclaimed singer-songwriter and producer shares, “I wanted to take it to a different world with different styles and vibe compared to the original. It has a very slow blues-pop feel to it production wise. I wanted to go for something mellow having the foundation from the original one but has a “slow dance” feel to it instead of going full ballad.”

Ben&Ben surprise listeners with Valentine’s-themed track “Inevitable”

Filipino folk-pop outfit Ben&Ben have officially dropped a soaring new single called “Inevitable” this Valentine’s Day via Sony Music.

Inspired by recent events surrounding the band’s lives, their latest song encourages listeners and music fans to live in the moment freely and truthfully without the need to succumb to expectations.

Ushering into a reinvigorating sense of calm, the empowering track ascends to a place where love can be inevitably beautiful even in its simple, unassuming terms. It was written by Paolo Benjamin (lead vocals and acoustic guitars) during a random afternoon run by the beach near the place where Ben&Ben live—coming into fruition after a solitary moment spent with nature and the spiritual force above him. Paolo reflects, “Inevitable is a song that tries to describe the nature of fate, and how all our actions somehow lead us to some better place that is destined for us. It’s also a song about being real with someone, and that no matter how scary that may seem at times, there is freedom in bearing your truest nature with someone dear to you, even if that someone is yourself.”

Production-wise, Ben&Ben retain the sonic hallmarks of their prior releases, while employing ultimately rewarding experiments in texture and tone. Its ‘world music-meets-acid jazz’ sound displays the band’s newfound musical direction, melding sporadic bursts of colors with their otherworldly approach. Thanks to the song’s eclectic blend of sitar-sounding riffs, propellent rhythms, jazzy chords, and ethereal arrangements, the nine-piece band ventures beyond the confines of their radio-ready sound without alienating the distinct pop sensibilities that made their songs a streaming and crossover hit in the Philippines, and elsewhere in Asia.

“The songwriting in itself presents a concept of the state that is both a surreal mystery and a peaceful certainty, so we wanted to create an aural representation of what these lyrics felt like,” Miguel Benjamin (lead vocals and acoustic guitars) reveals in a statement. “Our process started with a mix of acoustic guitars, which I tweaked with sitar effects as the main intro riff; kind of like a representation of the two contrasting feelings working together. We then built everything around this contrasting union with Jam’s drums and Agnes’ bass carrying the steady base of the song, and then Pat’s piano, Poch’s electric guitar and pads, Keifer’s violin, Andrew and Toni’s percussions; Andrew, Miguel, Poch, and Toni’s backing vocals, and some ambient sounds.”

Unlike their usual process where the members of the band jam their song a few times before recording the material, “Inevitable” was born out of a shift in production perspective. “With this song however, we decided to record a demo individually then went to record our parts a few days after without knowing how the song would sound like in the end,” Poch Barretto (lead guitar, backing vocals) said. “During the time we were creating the song, one of our bandmates, Toni, was also recovering from a major surgery and had to record her parts from home. Thankfully she was able to send her parts on time with the help of our producer.”

Despite the several challenges during its recording phase, “Inevitable” ended up reaping significant attention before its actual release. The song eventually made it as the official theme of Smart Communications’ newest commercial ad featuring Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin—stars of the highly acclaimed and popular Korean drama, Crash Landing on You. Patricia Lasaten shares, “Many of us are mega fans of the CLOY couple, so this is definitely a dream collaboration with Smart. We can’t help but be kilig and at the same time wish that our co-fans who would hear the song would also connect it with the evolving story of Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin. It’s also our gift to the fans, and to the couple as well. We’d like to thank Smart for this amazing opportunity.”

Details provided in recent press releases.

Worth a listen: January 2021 in Music

The local and international music scene continues to evolve and thrive despite the limitations resulting from the global pandemic. In this post, I have listed the hottest news in music for the first month of 2021 for you music lovers to enjoy.

In 2020, Bryan Estepa released two new songs, continuing on from the success of his exceptional 2019 album Sometimes I Just Don’t Know. The second of those singles, ‘Admit Now, Pay Later’, received a video premiere on Rolling Stone Australia, was featured on NME Australia and had strong national radio airplay – including selection as one of the featured Singles of the Week on 2ser FM in Sydney. Now the Sydney-based Filipino songwriter reveals the second of his collaborative efforts with multi ARIA and APRA award-winning Australian songwriter Josh Pyke.

Estepa has always had an undeniable ear for hooks. Combined with classic pop and rock arrangements, (like his heroes You Am I, The Beatles and Wilco) his songs always possess a timeless quality. He’s proved it over and over again across six acclaimed albums and live shows in Australia, Japan, the USA, UK, Spain, Sweden and the Philippines.  

On ‘Trick of the Light’, Estepa combines heavenly melodies and a melancholic air on this irresistible slice of indie guitar pop, singing about acceptance, letting go and allowing yourself to feel whatever it is that comes out while you’re treading new waters. As always with his songwriting, there are layered poetic brushstrokes in the way Estepa blends and informs his songs with multiple meanings, as he explains. “I also like the idea that the presence of light does not necessarily signal happiness or life but can also mean that emotions and perception can be blurred by its appearance.”

Working with Pyke, Estepa was impressed with the producer’s instinct and ability to enhance the inherent strengths of Estepa’s songs. “It’s exciting watching Josh work! You sense that his creative light is always on and he needs to get his ideas out quickly before it starts to flicker. He takes on what I think the song’s direction might be but adds a couple of detours that are normally right on the money.”

Pyke is quick to reciprocate the praise. “Bryan’s a great writer and collaborator. He’s got a classic pop sensibility but is really open to feedback and experimentation which made my job as producer really fun and free.”

Sonically, there’s a beautiful weightlessness to the production and instrumentation that gracefully carries the song. Guitars sparkle and lightly jangle amid some sublime piano, backing vocals and percussive elements that add unique detailing to the melodic richness of the track.  

ZAYN scores another No.1 album in the Philippines with ‘Nobody Is Listening’

January 2021 in Music

ZAYN’s third studio release Nobody is Listening makes history once again as it debuts at No. 1 on iTunes Philippines Top 100 albums chart a few hours after its release. Co-written by ZAYN, the project highlights his R&B influences and showcases deeply personal lyrics. Nobody is Listening sees ZAYN in complete creative control, from designing the album cover art to his sound, he has created a moment in music that is all his own.

The album contains the previously released singles “Vibez” and “Better,” both of which were embraced by fans and critics alike, with Wonderland proclaiming ZAYN was here to “save 2021” with the release of “Vibez” and Billboard calling “Better” a “straightforward R&B track, expressing love in spite of disagreement and designed to showcase one of the most skilled voices in modern pop.” The latter single has accrued over 105 million streams across all platforms, and upon release the video received a half a million views in the first 10 minutes.

ZAYN’s critically acclaimed debut album Mind of Mine saw him become the first male solo artist in the world to simultaneously chart at #1 on the UK and US album charts in the first week of release. The album’s lead single “Pillowtalk” hit #1 in 68 countries around the world and was recently included in Billboard’s “Songs That Defined the Decade” list.

His follow up, Icarus Falls, captivated fans and garnered over 5 billion worldwide streams across all platforms in less than a year, a staggering feat for any artist. Alongside his solo success, ZAYN has also collaborated with a variety of artists, including Taylor Swift and SIA and most recently lent his vocals on “Trampoline” with Shaed, which received an iHeart Music Award for “Best Remix.” Alongside building a reputation as a world class music artist, ZAYN has become one of music’s biggest fashion icons. He has graced the cover of every major magazine from Highsnobiety to Vogue. In addition to being named “Most Stylish Man” at the GQ Man of the Year awards, he also was awarded “New Artist of the Year” at the American Music Awards and “Top New Artist” at the Billboard Music Awards. Nobody is Listening was released via RCA Records.

American recording star MAX and SUGA of BTS drops a star-studded remix of “Blueberry Eyes,” feat. Lil Mosey and Olivia O’Brien

After the global success of their maiden collab smash, Acclaimed pop sensation MAX and SUGA of BTS are committed to redefining the top 40 landscape with the release of “Blueberry Eyes” remix, featuring breakthrough hip-hop star Lil Mosey and singer-songwriter Olivia O’Brien.

“Having Lil Mosey, the mastermind behind ‘Blueberry Faygo,’ add his story to ‘Blueberry Eyes’ felt too iconic not to create the ultimate blueberry hit song,” said MAX. “The cherry on top is getting to add the legendary voice of my friend Olivia O’Brien. I’m so excited for this final chapter of ‘Blueberry Eyes’ with my brother SUGA and honored to work with all of these incredible artists on this new version of the song.”

On the day of its release, MAX and Suga were featured on the cover of Apple Music’s New Music Daily playlist and the song went No.1 on iTunes in 66 countries as well as trended No. 1 worldwide on Twitter and No.1 on YouTube’s Video Hot List. “Blueberry Eyes” has also been featured on several of Spotify’s coveted playlists including Today’s Top Hits, Pop Rising and Mood Booster, to name but a few.

The song follows the release of MAX’s “Blueberry Eyes” feat. SUGA of BTS [Steve Aoki Remix], which has more than 5 million global streams and 2 million views on YouTube.

MAX has been labelled a “Young Pop God” by GQ and named a “top popstar to watch” by Billboard. Since the breakout success of his debut album ‘Hell’s Kitchen Angel’, he has garnered more than 1.2 billion streams and toured the world multiple times over. He yielded an inescapable smash with his 3x platinum hit “Lights Down Low,” which generated over half a billion streams globally, soared on the Billboard Hot 100, reached No. 7 at Top 40 radio and earned him an iHeartRadio Music Awards nomination for “Best New Pop Artist.” Most recently, MAX released his sophomore album ‘Colour Vision’ featuring his current single “Blueberry Eyes” feat. SUGA of BTS.

Ritt Momney’s “Put Your Records On,” now a hit in the Philippines!

Ritt Momney’s rework of Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On” is now a certified smash in the Philippines. The sleeper hit that catapulted the 21-year-old producer and singer-songwriter into global fame, has now reached a top 10 peak on Spotify Philippines’ Top 50 this week, and continues to impact mainstream radio stations such as Monster RX 93.1 (No. 8), 99.5 Play FM (No. 8), and more.

Jack Rutter, the man behind the Salt Lake City-based music project, is amazed by the attention that his take on the 2006 classic is receiving. “I didn’t expect the cover to be anything more than a fun little release in between albums,” he shares in a statement. “I was super surprised to see it taking off on TikTok. It’s been the coolest thing ever to see people from other countries enjoying it.”
The hip-hop-flavored, electro pop tune initially gained significant traction via online video platform, TikTok before it blew up on several music markets worldwide, including a top 10 placement on Australia and New Zealand’s official charts, and a No. 1 peak on Spotify US and Global Viral 50 charts late last year.

Released a few weeks ago, its music video finds Jack Rutter “imagining himself as a future pop star stuck in a psychedelic dreamscape.”

Ritt Momney’s version stays truthful to the pop sensibility of Corinne Bailey Rae’s hit record, but his trademark lo-fi production somehow gives the track a fresh, contemporary spin. “I really didn’t change much, and I think it’s really important to remember that what makes it good is the songwriting that Corinne and her co-writers did on the track,” says the multi-talented crossover act. “I may have modernized it a bit, but I hope people don’t give me too much credit for that.”

Corinne Bailey Rae, the original artist behind the soulful track, gave Ritt Momney her blessing in an intimate Zoom chat sometime last year. Like Ritt Momney, her original version became a huge hit when it first came out, peaking at No. 2 in the UK Singles Chart, and becoming a staple in several singing shows across the globe.

Details and images were provided in recent press releases.

Sponge Cola releases “Siguro Nga,” a song inspired by K-drama series, Start-Up

Sponge Cola is no stranger to writing music inspired by their love for cinema and pop culture. In fact, the four-piece alternative rock outfit named their debut full-length album, Palabas to acknowledge the compelling impact of shows—be it a theatrical play, a dramatic film, or an episode in a television series—in making us understand our own lives, the lives of those around us, and the lives of people whose contributions to humanity deserve to be celebrated at all cost.

With this creative pursuit comes a tribute to the blockbuster K-drama series, Start-Up, which is currently heaping praises all around the world for its gripping story on young entrepreneurs aspiring to make it big in the competitive world of Korean high-tech industry. Sponge Cola released “Siguro Nga” as a song born out of vocalist and guitarist Yael Yuzon’s love for Han Ji-Pyeong, a prominent character whose unconventional upbringing and misfortunes in life enabled him to become a principled, self-made man with a tough exterior and unbeknownst to everyone—a tender heart.

“Immediately after the shock of episode 9, I literally picked up a guitar and began writing the song,” Yuzon shares in a statement. “I didn’t know how the story was going to unfold, but at that point, I felt like it wasn’t going to work out for Han Ji Pyeong’s character. And while heartbreak wouldn’t ravage him, it leaves him with an undulating kind of pain.”

“Siguro Nga” builds on this nuanced character study of a man realizing that he’s lost the love of his life, after spending a great deal of time living a lie to protect the person he’s pining for, from emotional harm and trauma. It’s a soaring acoustic number that is propelled by a genuine reverence for empathy and romantic yearning, but never quite reaches a climatic run arrangements-wise, as it ends on a miserable note, with the subject of the song stuck in a rut, hoping to relive his past to undo his mistakes.

According to Yuzon, the song arrived in the middle of recording phase for their forthcoming album to be released next year. “The process was a bit more theatrical than what we’re accustomed to,” he admits. “As a singer, I had to be in character, which made the recording process a bit grueling.” In order to capture the very essence of the song, Yuzon had to experience some of Han Ji Pyeong’s crucial scenes in the series, including having to bask in the rain for minutes and reliving the memories of standing next to a corn dog stall. “I also had to face someone looking at me with ‘those eyes’ while pretending to be fine. Couple that with the idea of multiple takes, it was tiring but ultimately fulfilling.”

Armo Armovit, the band’s lead guitarist explains how the arrangements for “Siguro Nga” came to play. “Like most of our songs from the previous albums, we started by recording a very basic acoustic guitar as a foundation. Yael himself played the rhythm to make it consistent with how he initially wrote the song and his melody. Everything else on top of that are layers of sound to decorate and enhance the song’s emotional content.” Bassist Gosh Dilay adds, “We tried some experimentation in terms of overall sound– but we reserved a version specifically for future live performances of the song.”

“Siguro Nga” was recorded at Love One Another studios, and was mixed and mastered by Joey Santos. Armovit, who praised Santos for doing an excellent job in designing sounds and layering them to tell a story, was very much happy with the final product. “His familiarity with a wide range of music, and ability to create the appropriate textures for the song was a very welcome and refreshing addition to the production process. Everything you hear that isn’t the usual drums, bass, vocals, and guitar are all him.”

Sponge Cola’s “Siguro Nga” is out now on all digital platforms worldwide via Sony Music Philippines.

Ben&Ben music video of KathNiel-starrer “Sa Susunod na Habang Buhay”

“What if every time one dies, they go back to their first date with one of them carrying memories from their previous run?”

Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla stars as a romantic couple stuck in a time loop in the new music video for Ben&Ben’s “Sa Susunod na Habang Buhay.”
Helmed by the band’s resident director Jorel Lising and written by Gaya Sa Pelikula creator Juan Miguel Severo, the song’s visual narrative explores the complicated relationship dynamics of two lovers who have lost and found each other in a fated cycle of events.

Complicated love in a time loop

Severo reveals that “Sa Susunod na Habang Buhay,” a song that deals with the “possibility of another life to succeed in love,” complements the KathNiel starrer that he has in mind. Having written Hintayan ng Langit, an evocative piece that examines eternal romance in the afterlife, Severo decided to do away with another reincarnation story for his interpretation of the material.

“Then it hit me, what about a couple stuck in a time loop?”, the prolific writer points out. “What if every time one dies, they go back to their first date with one of them carrying memories from their previous run? It took the band, Direk, and I a couple of zoom calls, brainstorming ideas to compound on that concept and get everything laid out before I presented it to KathNiel.”

Severo’s writing lends to a beautifully understated film that allows KathNiel to tackle their role with nuanced sensitivity and depth. To make it more impactful on screen, music video director Jorel Lising makes use of non-liner, fragmented storytelling as a way to capture the couple’s memories in its undiluted form. Lising adds, “It all comes from the content of the song – it’s a strong piece that speaks about love lost and an intense sense of longing, so the process of developing the treatment and Severo’s script came from that. The challenge for us was to maximize the emotion based on that kind of narrative.”

Working with KathNiel

According to the band’s co-vocalist and acoustic guitarist Miguel Benjamin, the journey behind the music video was both a dream and a serendipitous sequence of events. “About two months ago, an interesting exchange came up while our keyboardist Patricia Lasaten was working on the music of Juan Miguel Severo’s Gaya Sa Pelikula,” says Miguel. “As a way of showing appreciation when we offered our song ‘Ride Home’ to the series, Juan Miguel graciously offered us in return to write a script for the ‘Sa Susunod Na Habang Buhay’ MV, and pitch it to KathNiel, as they are good friends. We pushed through, and to our surprise, they loved both the idea of working with all of us and the script. This was a big thing for us because we never expected that these great artists would be open to doing a music video with us, given their stature and busy schedules.”

Despite the time constraints, Lising didn’t experience difficulty working with one of the biggest love teams in recent memory. The nine-piece collective’s frequent collaborator recounts that he only has few adjustments for every take, thanks to KathNiel’s astounding professionalism and craft. “We didn’t have a whole lot of time with them, but they definitely possess star power quality on camera. Every frame we took of them has a strong presence that comes with lots of experience, especially since they’ve been acting for so long now.”

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

Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys redefine modern pop with new single “Matches”

New Glory deluxe edition available now at digital service providers featuring “Matches,” “Swimming in the Stars” & “Mood Ring (by demand).”

Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys surprised music fans all over the world with the release of their collaborative track “Matches”—out today via RCA Records. The Ian Kirkpatrick and Michael Wise-produced track is featured on the new edition of Britney’s 2016 album, Glory, along with recently released songs “Swimming In The Stars” and “Mood Ring (By Demand).” 

Backed with infectious, clubby beats and intricate production details, “Matches” sounds prime for top 40 radio and streaming dominance. The song is featured in various New Music Friday playlists across the globe, including the Philippines—one of its formidable markets. The song is currently at No. 2 on iTunes Philippines, while the deluxe edition of the album that it’s part of, has peaked at No. 1 a few hours after the track’s release.

Just last week, “Swimming In The Stars” was released along with the new limited edition deluxe vinyl of Glory. 

ABOUT BRITNEY SPEARS

Multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning pop icon Britney Spears is one of the most successful and celebrated entertainers in pop history with nearly 150 million records worldwide. In the U.S. alone, she has sold more than 70 million albums, singles and songs, according to Nielsen Music. Born in Mississippi and raised in Louisiana, Spears became a household name as a teenager when she released her first single “…Baby One More Time,” a Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 smash and international hit that broke sales records with more than 20 million copies sold worldwide and is currently 14x Platinum in the U.S.

Her musical career boasts countless awards and accolades, including seven Billboard Music Awards and Billboard’s Millennium Award, which recognizes outstanding career achievements and influence in the music industry as well as an American Music Award and the 2011 MTV Video Vanguard Award. So far, Spears has earned a total of six No.1-debuting albums on the Billboard 200 chart and 34 top 40 hit singles on the Billboard Hot 100 — four of which went to No. 1. Spears has been nominated for seven Grammy Awards and won for Best Dance Recording in 2005.

Not only has Britney’s music touched the lives of millions, but she has also used her global platform and voice to support the LGBTQ community, from the Dream Act to anti-transgender bills in Texas. As a longtime ally of the community, she most recently received GLAAD’s 2018 Vanguard Award, which is presented to media professionals who have made a significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance of LGBTQ people.

After her cutting-edge pop concert Las Vegas residency, “Britney: Piece of Me,” at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino ended in December 2017, Spears took her show on the road with a “Piece of Me” global tour in summer 2018. Britney has been creating fragrances for over ten years, and her scents are available in over 85 countries around the world.

ABOUT BACKSTREET BOYS

For 26 years the Backstreet Boys have delivered the finest pop music one has to offer, making them one of pop’s most influential performers. With countless #1s, record-setting tours, numerous awards and worldwide sales in excess of 130 million, BSB has been recognized as the best-selling boy band in history.

In early 2019, BSB released their GRAMMY nominated 10th studio album “DNA” on RCA Records. The album debuted at #1 and features the Top 10 hit “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.” The critically acclaimed and chart topping single was nominated for the “Pop Duo / Group Performance” 2019 GRAMMY, and was BSB’s first hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in 10 years. Upon its release, the single went straight to #1 on iTunes Top Songs and Global charts and charted in over 22 countries.

In May 2019 the Backstreet Boys kicked off “The DNA World Tour” – the group’s biggest arena tour in 18 years thanks to the global success of their #1 new album. The DNA World Tour has seen the group sell out arenas all over North America, Europe, Asia and South America. 

Over the years, the Backstreet Boys have continually captivated millions of people with their impressive catalogue of hit songs and creative partnerships. Most recently, we saw the group’s highly successful Las Vegas Residency “Larger Than Life” become the fastest selling residency in Las Vegas history; along with hilarious collaborations with Jimmy Fallon and James Corden; a #1 Country radio single with Florida Georgia Line; and viral remixes of their hit song “I Want It That Way” by Chance The Rapper and Lil Uzi.

Image and details provided by RCA Records in a recent press release.

The Itchyworms brings festive cheer with “Have A Merry Christmas” and “Maligayang Pasko”

The Itchyworms keeps the holiday cheer going with the simultaneous release of two Christmas songs “Have A Merry Christmas” and “Maligayang Pasko.” In honoring the time-tested tradition of writing Yuletide-themed originals that are meant to bring people closer to home in feeling and essence, the pop-rock quartet is keen on uplifting our spirits during the pandemic.  

Drummer and lead vocalist Jazz Nicolas points out the important of Christmas songs in a very crucial time like this. “We need to be reminded of the joy and hope and the spirit of giving. It’s the time of year when the world falls in love, so it’s important to listen to Christmas songs all year round.” 

Kelvin Yu, the band’s bassist, echoes Nicolas’ sentiments. According to him, Christmas songs are those anchors in our lives that we can always expect to be there for us no matter what the situation is. “There will always be Christmas songs: during good times, it further uplifts us; and during not so good times, it can provide us with that warm hug that everyone needs come December,” Yu shares.

Have A Merry Christmas: A Modern Holiday Standard

According to lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jugs Jugueta, “Have A Merry Christmas” is inspired by a meme featuring Jose Mari Chan, inarguably one of the most popular holiday tunesmiths ever. “When the Jose Mari Chan meme first came out, it was funny,” says Jugueta. “But then, people just do it every year and it becomes not as funny anymore. Anyway, one time I posted a challenge to my Facebook friends: instead of posting about Jose Mari Chan, why don’t you write your own Christmas song? ‘Have A Merry Christmas’ is an attempt to do so.”

Intricately arranged with Beatlesque pop harmonies, swoony string arrangements, and catchy, sing-along moments, “Have A Merry Christmas” fills the air with comforting message of joy and positivity. In describing the musical process behind the Christmas bop, Chino Singson, The Itchyworms’ guitarist, envisions a lush template in mind: “The melodies are definitely Britpop, and our classic shuffle a la Akin Ka Na Lang and Chocophotoland completes the aesthetic vibe.”

Written by Jugs Jugueta, “Have A Merry Christmas” is a “smorgasbord of Christmas tropes or cliches all rolled into one song.” Nicolas adds, “When you mix them all together, you get a song that pretty much says, Merry Christmas!”

Maligayang Pasko: A jazzy, tropical-infused jingle

Helmed and produced by Jazz Nicolas, “Maligayang Pasko” takes you back to the ‘70s and early ‘80s era: a laid-back, groovy tune that winks toward Manila Sound and city pop. It’s a nostalgic Hallmark anthem whose groove, to quote Nicolas, “is partly based on a latin or bossa nova beat, mixed with funky guitars.” 

The multi-instrumentalist member of The Itchyworms also add a little bit of camp experimentation in the mix in an attempt to highlight the band’s sense of musical adventurousness. Nicolas recalls, “I was very excited to use a combination of a vocoder, which is sort of a voice synthesizer and a text-to-speech type program to sing the chorus harmonies with us. I programmed three tracks of text-to-speech saying ‘mah lee guy young pass koh’ and tuned each them to sing in harmony.”

This organized chaos resulted into a Christmas song dipped in Tropicália and jazzy elements, and serves as an exploration into an unfamiliar sonic territory.

Both “Have A Merry Christmas” and “Maligayang Pasko” exude the timelessness of holiday songs, and its significance in bringing festive cheer to everyone, despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic. As Kelvin Yu puts it, “I feel that Christmas should still be celebrated this year, especially with the important people in your lives. This year has been tough on everyone, and has made us all appreciate our loved ones, and we can keep them close and celebrate life with them every day, and not only on Christmas.”

The Itchyworms’ “Have A Merry Christmas” and “Maligayang Pasko” are now available on all streaming platforms worldwide via Sony Music.

Image and details provided in a recent press release.

Global superstar Jason Derulo teams up with Nuka on future pop smash “Love Not War”

After topping the charts and going viral in the Philippines and the rest of the world with the infectious bop “Savage Love,” global superstar Jason Derulo returns with another future smash. The multi-platinum pop artist joins forces with Nuka on brand new single “Love Not War (The Tampa Beat),”—out now on Robots + Humans/Columbia Records. The hypnotic siren-infused instrumental finds Jason Derulo in his element, singing over tropical beats and summery, pulsating rhythms.

With a staggering 40 million followers across TikTok, Derulo is the biggest musician across the platform. The undeniably catchy yet enigmatic instrumental from 19-year-old New Caledonian producer Nuka captured the attention of many and amassed over 200 billion impressions worldwide.
Derulo being a big fan of the viral sensation, sifted through the videos and across the internet, sought after the creator. Regardless of the miles that separated the two artists, the power of music brought the two artists together to create new hit “Love Not War (The Tampa Beat).”

“Love Not War (The Tampa Beat)” follows on from a string of anthemic singles released by Derulo over the past year, with “Savage Love” being his fifth UK #1 with over 550 million global streams and the latter “Take You Dancing” amassing over 205 million global streams and counting.

Filipina-Singaporean R&B star Gail Belmonte channels personal heartbreak on new single “Restart”

“Restart” is the most personal of Gail’s releases so far, and takes a slower pace, music-wise.

Filipina-Singaporean singer-songwriter Gail Belmonte has finally dropped “Restart,” her last release for 2020. The electro-R&B ballad caps off a trio of singles that mark her debut as a solo artist signed under Umami Records. 

“Restart” immerses listeners into a harrowing tale of breakup and romantic dissolution. Written by Belmonte based on personal experience, the poignant track dissects a kind of love that the singer-songwriter thought was the only thing that she’ll ever get to have. “It was deeply upsetting at the time but I learnt so much, including the fact that there will be new beginnings, even if it seems like it won’t be happening anytime soon or in the ways we want,” reveals Belmonte.

“Restart” is the most personal of Gail’s releases so far, and takes a slower pace, music-wise. A steady 808 kick plays throughout the song, while the mood flows with a more sober approach. “I wanted this to be like the sound of a heartbeat, grounding the song musically from start to finish,” shares Gail. 

“Please, don’t forget one thing – it’s to remember me. I’ll love you for eternity”, Gail sings at the end of the bridge, and reflects, “those words seem to stop time for me for a little while. They really highlight the weight that love and heartbreak hold.”

Gail is currently working on her self-titled debut EP scheduled for release in 2021, as well as an upcoming collaboration with R&B singer Angelo Martinez on an acoustic EP.

Listen to Restart via Umami Records

About Gail Belmonte

R&B/soul singer-songwriter Gail Belmonte makes music full of heart, with a voice that radiates beauty and effortless delivery.

Born and raised in Singapore, of Filipino descent, Gail Belmonte loved singing and performing from an early age and has been practising professionally from the age of 18. Gail was champion in the vocal solo category of Singapore talent competition Impresario 2016, a finalist of China Super Vocal 2016, a finalist in Mediacorp Singapore’s The Final 1 (2013), and also appeared in Season 4 of ABS-CBN’s Pilipinas Got Talent (2016). Gail made her theatre debut in Pangdemonium’s staging of the Tony award-winning musical, Fun Home, in 2017.

Gail Belmonte has featured on tracks by artists like fulses, thecolorfractal, Fingerfunk and Tim De Cotta, and is finally ready to put out her own music with 3 singles planned for release in 2020 via indie label Umami Records, in which she explores the effects of love, heartache, falling apart and putting yourself back together again.

About Umami Records

Umami Records is a Singapore-based indie record label founded in 2013. Much like the “5th taste” reputation of its namesake, the label strongly believes in discovering new, interesting sounds that run underground and away from the mainstream. The label’s tight-knit, curated roster includes releases from Linying, The Steve McQueens, brb., Evanturetime, CampFire, Martin Baltser, Phoria, Oriental Cravings, and more.

Image and details provided by Umami Records in a recent press release

Gloc-9 teams up with UE Jam Sessions for the acoustic version of “Lalaban Tayo (The Renewal of Honors)”

Chart-topping and best-selling rapper Gloc-9 contributed a verse on the acoustic version of UE Jam Sessions’ aptly retitled track, Lalaban Tayo (The Renewal of Honors).

With a rousing message that champions the unwavering spirit of Filipino bayanihan during the pandemic crisis, the award-winning hip-hop artist called for solidarity in a bid to rise above the uncertainty of the times. As Gloc-9 effortlessly put it in summary, “At kung hindi na makalakad, ika’y aakayin / lagi mong tandaan na makakaasa ka sa akin.”

As featured main artists, the UE Jam Sessions delivered a stripped-down but empowering take on an anthem that serves as tribute to the unsung heroes: our frontliners. 

“UE Jam Sessions is here to remind everyone to stay safe in the comforts of your homes for it would be of great help to all our frontliners who have their hands full at this time of pandemic,” Executive Producer Tommy Tanchanco said. “Amidst COVID-19, we must keep our spirits high and face the battle head-on. Hence, through music, we extend our gratitude to our modern-day heroes.”

In a collective statement posted on their social media pages, UE Jam Sessions also dedicated the song to the people behind the outreach programs and donation drives, and those who offered voluntary services: “We salute and applaud your continuous dedication to serve our fellow countrymen during this difficult time. Thank you for all the sacrifices that you have been putting over the past months. Lalaban at lalaban pa rin tayo.”

UE Jam Sessions’ “LALABAN TAYO (The Renewal of Honors)” Feat. Gloc-9 is now available on all streaming platforms worldwide. 

Rock heroes Foo Fighters debut “Shame Shame” on SNL, announces new album, Medicine At Midnight

The latest from Foo Fighters earned glowing reviews from music critics on the day of its release

Foo Fighters sent Studio 8H at 30 Rockefeller Plaza into a rock n’ roll frenzy with the first-ever performance of their new single “Shame Shame” on the November 7 episode of Saturday Night Live, hosted by friend of the band Dave Chappelle.

“Shame Shame” is the first taste of the band’s forthcoming 10th album, Medicine at Midnight, due out February 5, 2021 on Roswell Records/RCA Records. The latest from Foo Fighters earned glowing reviews from music critics on the day of its release, with Stereogum calling it “a refreshing twist on their signature sound that doesn’t reach for trends” and praising the new direction for its “percussive, and slightly funky” approach.

The tenth studio album is produced by Greg Kurstin and Foo Fighters, engineered by Darrell Thorp and mixed by Mark “Spike” Stent. It packs the following nine songs into 37 minutes:

Making a Fire

Shame, Shame

Cloudspotter

Waiting on a War

Medicine at Midnight

No Son of Mine

Holding Poison

Chasing Birds

Love Dies Young

Medicine at Midnight is now available for pre-order, and includes a limited-edition purple swirl vinyl version, available exclusively at http://smarturl.it/FFOnlineStore.

Photo Credit: Danny Clinch

Them Bloody Royals dance the pain away on “We Children Of The Night”

Them Bloody Royals revisit the glory days of ‘80s synth pop with the release of their new song “We Children Of The Night.” Bringing effervescent joy back to the dance floor, the Filipino four-piece band’s new single struts confidently around pulse-pounding rhythms, sparkly synthesizers, and angular guitars in an effort to knock the walls down—at least for the entire party run.

Outside of its jagged spirit and blissful retro appeal, “We Children Of The Night” is more than just swagger and sweat; it’s an attempt to capture the feeling of losing one’s self in the moment, drunken and ready to dance the pain away. Lyrically, it showcases “the excitement of meeting new people, flirting with strangers, and having fun,” as vocalist Sib Sibulo puts it.  “The song dances around with the idea of falling love, the thrill of it, but also not wanting to fully commit to anything.”

Behind the incessant groove that repeatedly thumps on ‘We Children Of The Night” is a common sentiment shared by broken people trying to escape from their personal horrors. Sibulo has a better way to describe it: “You can be so broken and jaded with the idea of getting into serious relations, that you just wanna say, “fuck it, I just wanna have fun.” 

On the happy-sappy chorus, the lead singer even pleads, “Here we are / Wishing this night would never end / We fall in love, we fall apart,” as if finding refuge ephemeral romance would make you forget about your struggles in life and love. 

Production-wise, the song in general – the entirety of it – is the result of Them Bloody Royals’ attempt to reinvent and outdo their previous work. “We wanted to see if we could come up with a legitimate banger, and set a good pace for the next things down the pipeline,” Sibulo shares.

Written and produced by Them Bloody Royals, and recorded at Pointbee Multimedia, “We Children Of The Night” is out now on all streaming and digital platforms worldwide via Lilystars Records.

Image and details provided by Lilystars Records in a recent press release.

Ben&Ben hopes to empower listeners with massive new anthem “Di Ka Sayang”

Filipino folk-pop outfit Ben&Ben marks a definitive new era in music with the release of their new single, “Di Ka Sayang,” now out via Sony Music. 

Now more confident than ever with their newfound direction, the nine-piece collective drops an empowering anthem that respects individuality without prejudice.

Empowerment in the face of adversity

According to guitarist and vocalist Paolo Benjamin, “Di Ka Sayang” was inspired by a conversation with his brother Miguel Benjamin in a hotel room last year during one of their out of town shows. “Migs and I were having a conversation on our career choices and how hard it was to fight for who we really are and what we want to do in life, amidst societal and family expectations,” Paolo explains. “A year later, we decided to release it, at a time where we feel it is most timely, with everything tough going on, and with many of our dreams being crushed by the pandemic and other circumstances.”

Inspiring confidence and fearlessness in the face of adversity, the MTV Europe Music Awards-nominated band confronts everyday challenges of life with light and motivation. But instead of perpetuating the erasure of our collective struggles, their song “Di Ka Sayang” encourages listeners to get out of the rut and be in charge of their own decision matters, no matter the costs.

A massive statement

Written by Paolo and Miguel Benjamin and produced by Jean Paul Verona along with lead guitarist Poch Barretto, percussionist Toni Muñoz, keyboardist Patricia Lasaten, and violinist Keifer Cabugao, the anthemic rocker arrives with a massive statement: tribal beats and esoteric details that evolve into a soaring, pop-rock production, but whose unrelenting energy and sonic ambition feel like a natural progression from their past releases. 

Pat Lasaten recalls how the arrangement and production of “Di Ka Sayang” challenged the team to have fun and explore an entire new world of possibilities in terms of lyrics and musicality. “Our goal from the start is to create a vibe and sound like no other song of ours before: one that would immerse the listener into the message of the song, and into a mood that we wanted the message to be experienced in.”

This creative mindset allows Ben&Ben to hone their trademark sound without rethreading into past themes and venture into ideas outside of their comfort zones, especially now that the band has all the time to make new music under one roof. 

Vocalist and guitarist Miguel Benjamin shares in a statement, “We’ve also been exploring new soundscapes and writing about themes other than love and heartbreak, and we’ve been having a lot of fun in the process. Liwanag, and everyone who listens to us can expect more of these things to be shared to anyone who is willing to listen.”

Kintsugi-inspired music video

It also continues to spread its winsome streak as it dropped the official music video on Youtube. Helmed by Jorel Lising, the band’s frequent collaborator and the director behind their hits “Pagtingin” and “Nakikinig Ka Ba Sa Akin,” the visual accompaniment of the song follows the band performing in random intimate spaces with ‘Kintsugi’ artform as the backdrop.

According to vocalist and guitarist Paolo Benjamin, the inspiration behind the pottery repair method as the binding theme came from their production designer, Ms. Dianne Khu. “During the planning of the video, things came together in a very organic kind of way and we thought it fit the concept perfectly,” Paolo said in a statement. “Kintsugi is the Japanese art of piecing together broken parts of pottery with gold glue. By doing this, brokenness is made whole in a way that is much better than it previously was. Our percussionist Andrew even has a tattoo of ‘wabi-sabi,’ which is the Japanese philosophy of accepting and finding meaning in the imperfections in life and nature. We really saw Kintsugi as a powerful way to represent self-acceptance.”

Honoring the importance of embracing one’s flaws and accepting brokenness as something that you need to display with pride and not hide, the song sends a vital message to listeners who are going through difficult challenges in life, especially with the pandemic crisis taking a toll on everyone’s mental health. Vocalist and guitarist Miguel Benjamin points out, “This year has been the toughest year for many people from our generation, and a lot of us are in this state wherein a lot of plans, dreams, hopes, and goals were compromised, cancelled or rather ‘sayang.’ Even for us personally as a band, we had a hard time dealing with these same struggles. What we wanted to share however, is that we are never alone in our hardships, and that there is still hope in a better tomorrow.”

Ben&Ben’s “Di Ka Sayang” is now available on all digital platforms worldwide via Sony Music.

Image and details provided by Sony Music Philippines in recent press releases.

Filipina singer-songwriter Meagan Trees inhabits wisdom beyond years on “Take Me Away”

Meagan Trees has always brought an understated sense of spontaneity into her storytelling approach, leaving plenty of room for both personal awakening and introspection to take off and not miss a mark. On her latest single, “Take Me Away,” the Dumaguete-based singer-songwriter reflects on the importance of being vulnerable and taking risks—something that most of us aren’t willing to become.

Delicately produced and delivered with heart-stopping quietness, “Take Me Away” inhabits wisdom beyond years. There’s nothing messianic about it; no platitudes to feed the ego, and no gatekeeping of moral ascendancy to prove a point. What makes the song truly human is that it’s willing to embrace every bit of the experience—be it good or bad, and that there’s beauty in wanting to wake up your inner child and be open to possibilities, no matter where it takes you.

According to Meagan Trees, the song was based on a late night adventure with a friend. “We went to the beach at 3am and I thought that was such a cool, wholesome, happy experience which then led me to write ‘Take Me Away’ the next day,” the folk songstress shares.

In terms of the production details, “Take Me Away” doesn’t feel like an intuitive concept or a meticulous foray into sound design. “This song was pretty much free flowing,” Meagan Trees points out. “A few good friends, Simon and Jorbas, pitched in their ideas, I explained how I wanted this song to feel, and we came up with something very simple yet euphoric. My brother then added the guitar parts which I think made the song very youthful.”

Its impulsiveness birthed an ethereal folk ballad that’s lovingly spare but filled with emotional resonance, a song that values the ‘journey’ more than the destination itself.   

Meagan Trees’ “Take Me Away” is now available on all streaming and digital platforms worldwide via Lilystars Records.

Image and details provided in a recent press release.

Alex Bruce drops infectious new jam “Yakap”

It’s been a very challenging year for the music industry in general, but not for Filipina rapper Alex Bruce, who continues to enjoy commercial and critical plaudits—thanks to her slickly produced, empowering anthems.

Her Wish 107.5 Bus performances of “Mind As A Weapon” and “Pull It Off” have garnered more than a million hits respectively, while the latter earned the young prodigy a record for the youngest female artist to have scored a top 3 on Wave 89.1’s weekly chart. To top it off, the 13-year-old rapper/songwriter has recently teamed up with global hitmaker August Rigo, whose songwriting and production credits include BTS’ “Black Swan” and Justin Bieber’s multi-platinum album, My World 2.0, for the trap banger “Go Crazy.”

With barely two months left for 2020, the feisty newcomer isn’t showing any signs of slowing down with the release of “Yakap,” an endearing love song in hip-hop/R&B form.

Intricately laced with dreamy atmospherics and infectious beats, “Yakap” finds Alex Bruce dealing with her first-hand experience on puppy love and infatuation. Her latest single plays out like a simp-worthy jam: thematically appropriate for Alex Bruce’s age, but charismatic enough to sweep listeners off their feet.

“Yakap is all about my crush,” the bubbly newcomer fondly shares the inspiration behind the urban jam. “Well, if you guys didn’t know, I’m 13 turning 14 this Christmas, and like a normal teenager, I started to experience weird things like puppy love. So for me to express my feelings, I wrote a song about this person.”

The song was a three-way collaboration with Alex Bruce, her dad, who is currently in Australia, and music producer Cursebox. The songwriting, recording, and production were done in a span of two weeks, with the involved heads brainstorming and working together though Zoom meetings to discuss matters related to the new track. Alex adds, “Sometimes it’s hard because I have online class and it’s still very different from homeschooling that I’m used to. I’m still adapting to this kind of set up, all of us are.”

For what it’s worth, “Yakap” truly has the makings of another game-changing hit. It’s another testament to Alex Bruce’s incredibly compelling talent as a rapper, singer, and lyricist—a triple-threat that will surely go to places in the many years to come. 

Yakap” is now available on all digital platforms worldwide via Sony Music Philippines.

Image and details provided in a recent press release.

Little Mix reigns supreme with the release of “Sweet Melody”

Co-written by Ariana collaborator Tayla Parx, and co-produced by No.1 hitmaker MNEK, ‘Sweet Melody’ is a pulsating and infectious pop song emblazoned with gigantic harmonies and a driving rhythm.

Award-winning British pop group Little Mix made an impressive entrance on several music charts in the Philippines with the release of “Sweet Melody,” the new single off their upcoming album Confetti.

The sassy banger emerged triumphant on its first day of release, as it trended at No. 1 on Twitter Philippines, and debuted on top of the iTunes Philippines’ Songs chart during the same timeframe.

The sassy banger emerged triumphant on “Sweet Melody’s” first day of release, as it trended at No. 1 on Twitter Philippines, and debuted on top of the iTunes Philippines’ Songs chart during the same timeframe. 

Co-written by Ariana collaborator Tayla Parx, and co-produced by No.1 hitmaker MNEK, ‘Sweet Melody’ is a pulsating and infectious pop song emblazoned with gigantic harmonies and a driving rhythm.

Its edgy and highly choreographed music video is also making waves on YouTube Philippines as it climbed to No. 10 on its trending list with more than 7 million views on the third tracking day.

More about Confetti

This November, the world’s biggest girl band will finally release their highly anticipated sixth album this November, Confetti.

Jade, Perrie, Leigh-Anne and Jesy have been working on the album since last year, perfecting a collection of thirteen solid gold pop songs that showcase their sensational talent for creating music that crosses generations.

Confetti sees the band team up with the cream of current pop creators including Tayla Parx and MNEK, pop supremos TMS and long-time collaborator Kamille.

About Little Mix

Little Mix have established themselves as the world’s biggest girl band – they have sold over 50 million records worldwide, collected over 18 million Spotify listeners, received over 3 billion YouTube views, and collated 12 billion streams worldwide.  

2019 witnessed the band win their second Brit Award – for Best British Video for ‘Woman Like Me’, and perform the same song live at the ceremony. They also won two Global Awards for Best Group and Best Song, followed by their 4th EMA Award for Best UK & Ireland Act. 

2020 Top 10 hit ‘Break Up Song’ has so far been streamed 75 million times and
incredibly became their 15th UK Official Charts Top 10 hit with 300k UK sales. This November will see the band both perform at and host the 202o MTV EMA’s.

Little Mix are currently on primetime BBC One every Saturday night with a brand new TV series Little Mix The Search. The series, made by ModestTV, sees the band creating bands and becoming mentors to a new wave of talent. The singers who have made it into new bands gain access to Little Mix’s inner circle who have contributed to their phenomenal success, including vocal coaches, song writers, producers and stylists. 

Little Mix’s “Sweet Melody” is now available on all digital platforms worldwide via RCA / Sony Music.