Filipinos love music. I could actually say that this inconsequential archipelago actually gave boundless contributions to the world of music. Name Lea Salonga, apl.de.ap, Arnel Pineda, Bruno Mars, among others–all of these voices come from Filipino roots. And I am ever so proud of them! They are great at what they do, and they ignite greatness among us, Pinoys.
However, we Filipinos, as great music lovers as we can be, are quite inept when it comes to indie songs. Let’s admit it, most of the songs that we know are the ones only played on Myx Daily Top 10. Beyond that, we are actually out of reach of so many good songs (I have to exclude my husband from this generalization though, and maybe you too).
There so much more pure talent out there than the daily countdown you follow on your favorite music channel; artists who are themselves singers-songwriters. And nothing amazes me more than an artist who could sing and write his songs at the same time. To me, that is real talent. And while most people know of Taylor Swift, Owl City, and Jason Mraz if we talk about singing-songwriting abilities, there are those who share the same gift, but not the same portion of the spotlight. In fact, there are so many of them–artists who deserve so much fame, so much attention, just because they are good. Really good.
So, these are the artists I know of who possess musical genius but has not gone mainstream (yet), especially not in the Filipino mainstream. Theirs are the kind of songs my old self would have selfishly sung and kept to myself. But I am born-again, I am a new person now and the world deserves to hear a sound this beautiful.
Thus, this is my personal list, with bias to my personal taste, of song artists you may have never heard about but you need to know more about. My goal is that at the end of this post, you would go running towards your phone, frantically grab your headset, and listen to these awesome and genius artists.
In no particular order, here are the five best unheard-of song artists of the Filipino millennial era:
1. The Weepies
Everything that I said I’d do
Like make the world brand new And take the time for you
I just got lost and slept right through the dawn
And the world spins madly on
-The Weepies, World Spins Madly On
The beautiful sound behind The Weepies are two married individuals who got hitched with each other because of their shared passion to write and sing songs. Deb Talan and Steve Tannen wrote together and sang together and the duo created magic! The excellence in their craft is borne from their candid yet penetrative style of writing, empowered by the harmony of their voices and the mostly calming blend of their style of musical arrangement.
Some of the best songs of The Weepies are well, as quoted above, World Spins Madly On, Brand New Pair of Wings, My Little Love, and Can’t Go Back Now. The rest are reserved for you to explore.
2. Canyon City
And the signs that line the drive are just a guide through
And the place we’re trying to find is just a feel
I can tell you one thing wherever someone loves you
Don’t look back don’t worry be still
-Canyon City, Be Still
Canyon City is an indie music entity made possible by songwriter/producer Paul Johnson. Canyon City is not a band, it’s a singular voice, and one talent. It’s like Owl City from a different genre, but of the same level of ingenuity. Canyon City’s music is passionate and pure. The words in every song is crafted distinctively, mindfully, as opposed to many mainstream songs that are written so commercially regardless of how shallow they sound–just so that they will sell. There is a higher form of authority gained from truly writing and singing out of passion and pure love for music. And I think Canyon City is rightfully on the highroad of claiming that.
There are so many good songs coming from the genius mind of Canyon City, but the one song I love the most is Be Still. It is deep but it doesn’t drown.
3. Ben Rector
This isn’t easy This isn’t clear
And you don’t need Jesus ’til you’re here
Then confusion and the doubts you had Up and walk away
They walk away When a heart breaks
-Ben Rector, When A Heart Breaks
If I have to arrange this list in order, Ben Rector would hit the top spot. I love Ben Rector because the man is truly musically equipped. There are so many mainstream singers out there who doesn’t even know how to second-voice. But Ben, he deserves to be called a musician. He plays almost all band instruments well–the piano, the guitar, the bass–and he knows how to second-voice. He writes and arranges most of his songs. This guy deserves to have a bigger slice of the spotlight!
I could list so many good Ben Rector songs but these are my favorite: When A Heart Breaks, Beautiful, When She Comes Around, and More Like Love.
4. James Bay
I’ve realized you’re all I need
I hope I’m not too late
-James Bay, Need the Sun to Break
If you have seen the movie, Space Between Us, you probably have heard James Bay already. That’s how I heard of him–by hearing one of his songs, Need the Sun to Break, being played as a soundtrack. And it bewitched me. The song’s lyrics, if you’d read it, is not that enticing. But it was so beautifully harmonized by a very good musical arrangement. It’s not the lyrics alone that would make a song good, but a perfect interplay of sound, pitch, tone, and rhythm. I heard my first song of James Bay, and I looked for more. He’s not only good at his writing; He definitely has a great voice.
You must hear this man sing. So go ahead and search Need the Sun to Break, or better yet, dig up your files, and look for your copy of Space Between Us and wait for that scene in which this song is played. That scene was made awesome by this song in the background. Great musical scoring!
5. Dave Barnes
Wildflower, you finally found the all-alone you dreamed about
Maybe there’s no one there that can hurt you now But it’s quite a price to pay
-Dave Barnes, Wildflower
I almost cried when I heard of Wildflower and I didn’t even know why. Dave Barnes sings so passionately, so purely, it coerces you to think deeply about your life. It’s rare to hear artists like that. Dave Barnes honors love in his songs, and that’s something worthy of respect.
If you would like to hear or refute my thoughts on Dave Barnes, go ahead and check him out. Give him a chance. Listen to his song. Listen to Wildflower.
So, there goes my list. Go on and get that headphones. It’s time the world hears a sound as differently good as this.