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.