Right this moment, the Annual Screamfest, that is, our barangay’s annual amateur singing contest is ongoing right next door. We’re on the 12th contestant, and right now my head is screaming murder, I just want to bang it on the nearest wall before my brain liquefies and starts oozing down my nostrils.
I haven’t listened to local radio nor stuck it out watching local Sunday noontime music shows for the longest time and this is the reason why. I am sick and tired of all the screaming that passes for “awesome singing” in this country. Not a single one of these 12 contestants – now 13, the next one just went onstage – sung a low-key song that does not require (1) prolonging the end of each line unnecessarily, maybe to show that they can hold a note for 10 hours?; (2) doing runs on each line more than a roller coaster does; (3) doing a key switch an octave or two higher on the last repeat of the chorus; and (4) hitting a suuuuuper-high note in the end that only dogs, cats and mice in the vicinity can hear, and if the arrangement calls for it, they’ll hit not one, not two, but maybe three or more until the big vein in their throats burst and blood starts spurting everywhere.
Seriously, who the heck came up with these super-over-the-top, pang-contest re-arrangements of classic OPM ballads? I want to lock him in a room all by himself and make him listen to this crap that he came up with just to see how long he can take it before starts screaming for mercy. Some songs like the Joey Albert original Ikaw Lang Ang Mamahalin are best heard in their low-key originals because they’re supposed to crush our hearts, not our eardrums. Martin Nievera’s Ikaw Ang Lahat Sa Akin is a challenging song as it is because of its wide range (that “bukas na walang hanggan” line is tough to sing if you don’t have a solid low register), but the new version is re-arranged in such a way that every single note is sung on the high register, as if the only gauge of a singer’s competence is if he could sing high notes. Na-ah. The gauge to a singer’s competence is if he could sing ON-KEY. This is something that 90% of our present generation of singers don’t have. Most of them just belt and do runs. Very, very few singers can actually sing in tune.
This is why I am now hooked with K-pop (and J-pop, for that matter). K-pop is so straightforward. The melody is so simple, and the singers stick with it when they sing. K-pop and J-pop may be baduy (cheesy) to some, but it’s this inherent baduy-ness in them that makes them work. You don’t even have to understand the lyrics to be able to hum along with them. Yes, most Korean and Japanese artists can be trumped by any Filipino singer when it comes to voice quality, but at least Koreans and Japanese singers know exactly what kind of artists they are. They have no delusions that they have to break the sound barrier just to be called a good singer. And most of all, at least they sing original compositions.
That’s another wonderful thing about K-pop and J-pop. They still haven’t run out of ideas for original songs. Unlike in this country where I don’t even remember the last time I heard a hit OPM song that’s not (a) a remake/revival; (b) an adaptation of a foreign hit song (and most of the time, they don’t even bother to change the version up to make it fresh to the ears); and (c) a novelty song which is a rehash of an already familiar melody or theme. I think – and I can’t believe I’m saying this – this is why the Manny Villar campaign jingle (“nakatulog ka na ba sa dagat ng basura…”) became a hit. It’s an original song, it’s very simple and very straightforward. It’s refreshing to the ears.
I think we should stop calling songs recorded by Filipino artists as OPM. OPM stands for Original Pilipino Music. There’s hardly anything ‘original’ in popular music in the Philippines these days.
On to some good music…
I had wanted to blog about this a couple of days ago but I was sidetracked by my Full House – Pinoy version rant.
This is the YouTube version of We Are The World, and I am deeply impressed with this for two reasons. (1) All the singers who participated in this are really good; and (2) I cannot imagine the logistics involved in making this video possible. These singers literally come from all over the world and they probably just sent their parts in for the editors to stitch the audio and video together. The magic of technology in its most awesome form.
Is it weird that the only time I started having goosebumps while watching the We Are The World 25 video was when the rap parts came in? I dunno, I think it’s because I am a child of the 80’s and the original We Are The World is one of the theme songs of my generation. I was more touched by the original than by this one. That is, until the rap parts started coming in.