Another year for everyone. A fresh chance to start anew and better what for many may have amounted to a less than stellar year past.
Yet for all the political noise and economic woes the country faced, for the local music scene at least, it was an exciting year indeed. A year that found renewed interest in band music. We witnessed the rising crest of the latest wave of bands. Surprising and fresh new talent as well as the rebirth of many of the industryís veterans. Realignments and rebirths, as well as exciting debuts.
The year past saw bigger venues with bigger crowds. Fans flocked to gigs, and bands played with more heart. Media even helped spread the music more giving bands a wider acceptance among the populace. It was a good year for bands.
A writer friend I met in Mayricís said this current wave is the third in Philippine music. In his opinion, and I found myself agreeing in the din of the live music and cold draft beer, this current batch has produced certainly much better music in terms of arrangement and musicality. Instrumentation is certainly more varied, more technical and more intense. Songs now are more intelligent in terms of lyrics. This trend was even reflected in the music videos with the latest crop showing more creativity, higher production values, and certainly more entertainment punch.
The bar has been raised, collectively, by all the bands that released superb albums this year. It certainly is harder to get away with releasing mediocre songs nowadays. The current crop has forced everyone to put more effort and intelligence into their songwriting, us included.
When before you could get away with songs written by the half-drunk barkada over cheap beer at the corner store, now itís a totally different story. Somehow, the audiences have become slightly more discerning. How could it not, there being more choices to listen to out there. Better choices.
Which brings me to my point. To bring the standards of our music up, only the musicians can take the lead. There can be no other way. The masses donít complain if they are fed only crap. Theyíve been used to that for generations already. Why should they complain now? As artists, musicians should continually elevate their craft and educate their audiences by writing and producing songs not to please the audiencesí limited tastes but to expand them. It almost sounds too messianic I admit, but music is supposed to save and liberate.
This year, may the challenge be met by this most promising generation. But what lies ahead other than more fans and more accolades? What new grounds and frontiers can we set our sights on? Before this latest generation loses momentum and fades into history, what milestones can we aim for?
I offer one: global recognition. I would have wanted global domination but for now, Iíll settle for less.
I enjoin the local music industry to penetrate the global audience. Filipinos have made many small inroads in the international music scene it is true, but our presence is not felt if at all. Certainly, much has been said about Filipinos being natural musicians but what have we to show for it?
I remember years ago, ďThe RageĒ band made an appearance on local TV shortly before they were set to leave for the US. Juan Miguel Salvador proudly exclaimed to everyone that they were not coming back without a Grammy. Such a proud statement I can now say in retrospect. Likely too much in fact, but back then, I actually believed him. It is so easy to believe anything if you desperately want to believe it, and the young teenager that I was back then was a true believer. I knew Filipinos could make it abroad. The Rage band certainly believed it themselves and they certainly had what it took, only lady luck had other plans.
Iím in a band now and I still am a believer as Iím sure many others musicians of this generation are too. Cebu can be the next Liverpool or Seattle. Why not? With the internet and the world moving towards globalization, we certainly are closer to achieving international recognition now more than ever. So whatís keeping us?
Somewhere out there is a new band forming in a nondescript garage somewhere. They probably have no lofty dreams like I do. No master plan. Not even a clue as to what being in a band is really about. Just raw talent and attitude. Unaware they could be destined to be the band that leads Pinoys into the global stage. The future Pinoy global rockstars in the making and waiting for the right time.
As the new year unfolds, let us all be on the lookout.