Himig Handog 2017 on its eighth edition is packed with a powerhouse of extremely catchy pop tunes of the Pinoy sounds of today with a few throwback feels. Being a fan of songwriting competitions, dare I say, that this batch is the best roster of entries I have ever feasted my ears on. Here’s a rundown of the 10 finalists for this year’s competition:
"Bagyo" by Jake Zyrus, composed by Agatha Morallos
“Sabi ng isip, wag nang tanggapin..
Sabi ng puso’y, muling mahalin..”
Track #1 on the album is this haunting tune sung with heart-wrenching vocals by Jake Zyrus in his deeper timber as he transitions, only proving that you need not belt to showcase that you are a great singer. The song speaks of an emotional turmoil that is akin to a storm about whether or not to pursue this love at bay. It feels like a pop version of ‘Chasing Cars’ by Snow Patrol when it comes to its melodic pattern, going against the usual pop formula of having a clear verse and refrain yet it escalates because of Jake’s earnest rendition.
"Bes" by Migz Haleco, composed by Eric De Leon
‘Pag hindi na kayo, pwede na ba tayo?’
An alternative ballad reminiscent of current hits like Sud’s ‘Sila," "Bes" is bound to resonate among hopias all around, which are abundantly present in this generation. It’s catchy as hell with an infectious hook in its chorus that I singled out as the song’s iconic line above. Migz Haleco’s raspy vocals fit the song to a tee, accompanied by guitar strumming you can already almost hear at any sari-sari store some dorm room hall.
"Extensyon" by Iñigo Pascual, composed by Michael ‘Aikee’ Aplacador
‘Kapag nandyan si Ex, siguradong may tensyon’
This entry is a smart play on words and rhymes and can be regarded as one of the more usual sounding songwriting competition entries which I usually gravitate away from. (Nah, it’s just not my thing.) But this track is quite an exception to this rule of mine. A big part may be the awesome vocals of Iñigo Pascual who is slowly yet surely stamping his claim on being one of the Philippines’ pop princes and stepping out of his dad’s shadow. Add to that the rap bit of its composer, Aikee, layering another facet to the track to make it even more groove-worthy.
"Naririnig Mo Ba?" by Morissette, composed by Joan Da and LJ Manzano
‘Wag, wag, wag ka namang lumayo...’
Of course, in every songwriting festival, there has to be diva power ballads. I’m actually surprised that there are only two in this batch. This entry benefits from the magnificent belting prowess of Morrissette and packs a whopping hook with its iconic line above. I’m actually wondering why they entitled it as such. I would have just entitled this track, "Wag!"
"Sampu" by Jona, composed by Raizo Chabeldin and Biv De Vera
‘Sa sampung sinabi mo, isa lang ang totoo..’
The other power ballad in the bunch interpreted by another one of the few divas that I admire, Jona. I’m personally not a fan of belters but Jona can belt to me all day with that soothing timbre of hers. The hook, i singled out above, sets this power ballad above the rest with a new take on a song for "martyrs," which Filipinos are suckers of.
"Tanghaling Tapat" by Unit 406, composed by Gabriel Tagadtad
‘Sa panahon ngayon, tanghali na lang ang tapat...’
Here’s another very current sounding entry with a beautifully written melodic chorus that’s catchy AF, written by the band’s lead singer. At first pass on the album, this song didn’t really stand out for me but it’s the type of track that really grows on you and takes root. Now it’s my top pick and my personal fave. Plus, hey, that end of chorus line is quite genius, don’t you think?
"Tayo Na Lang Kasi" by Kyla and Jason Dy, composed by Soc Villanueva
Yet another entry by Mr. Villanueva, a songwriting competition veteran who seems to have mastered how to entice screening committees of such festivals. Though I feel that most of his songs are too much of festival baits, I particularly like this song because of its artistry even if it’s the most uncommercial entry if I may say. If you noticed, there isn’t an iconic line aside from it’s title coz it’s not really that singable. The track is more about the groove that it tries to sell along with its throwback to the early 90s vibe plus the excellent vocals of my personal R&B king and queen of the Philippines, Jason Dy, and Kyla.
"The Labo Song" by Kaye Cal, composed by Karl Gaurano and Teodoro Katigbak
‘So please lang, wag ka nang bumalik ka na, please...’
Aptly titled as such, this entry makes a word play on ironies and opposites making the song’s subject, emotionally schizophrenic. It’s quite bizarre lyrically which is actually a good thing but it’s pretty melodic with a contagious hook in the chorus that you would love to sing to, that’s why it is one of my faves.
"Titibo-tibo" by Moira Dela Torre, composed by Libertine Amostoso
‘Kahit ako’y titibo-tibo, puso ko ay titibok tibok pa rin sa yo...’
This song was love at first listen for me and it’s what has brought me to check out the whole album on Spotify upon hearing it on the viral playlist, deservingly so 'cause this tune is totally infectious. Even if it’s kinda gender specific, everyone can’t help but get this song stuck in their heads coz it just sounds so hip and so now plus the story behind the song is quite charming. For sure, Moira had a lot to do with its virality but it’s a perfect example of a perfect song and artist combo.
‘Wow Na Feelings’ by Janella Salvador, composed by Karlo Zabala.
‘Hindi ko na alam kung ipapadama o hidden na lang tong wow na feelings na para sa yo..’
This entry is quite a unique animal all its own. Its has some riffs reminiscent of Thyro Alfaro compositions, but also has the cheekiness of some narrative novelty songs— as quite obvious in its chosen title. Janella shines as usual and as always, breathing life to this track with her stellar vocals. But, I have to admit, this entry is my least favorite but I get why it made the cut. It’s still pretty catchy, at least.
My top picks in order then are:
1. "Tanghaling Tapat"
3. "Tayo Na Lang Kasi"
My other personal faves are Bes, Bagyo, The Labo Song and Extensyon, which actually make up for seven out of the 10 entries already. What did I tell you? I really loved this year’s batch! I also predict that any of my top 3 picks might actually end up as the grand winner. Just a fearless forecast though I’m usually wrong when it comes to songfests. Kudos to Star Records for another great batch of entries! Good luck to all songs, interpreters and its composers on it’s Grand Finals on ASAP on Sunday!
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Photo taken from Janella Salvador's Instagram account (@superjanella)