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The History of Phillipine Pop Music
by Alex Cosper (5/31/13)


Two common types of music in the Phillipines are flat gongs and bosses gongs. A gong chime is popular instrument in the southern islands. The kulintang is a racked gong chime played in ensemble arrangements. The rondalla is a popular stringed instrument with Spanish roots, as Spain controlled the Phillipines from 1565 through the early 1900s until the United States occupied the country and began to influence the islands with English speaking culture. The U.S. gave the Phillipines independence in 1946, leading to a return of Phillipine culture. Starting in the 1970s OPM (original Phillipine music), became a term to describe the nation's pop scene centered in Manila. Other name for OPM have been P-pop and pinoy bands.

Due to the U.S. occupation during the big band era, the Phippines shared a common music history with America in the early development of the recording industry through the forties. Even during the 1950s the Phillipines after the nation became independent, American influence was still strong as rock and roll became popular. By 1963 the Rocky Fellers became the first Filipino rock band to hit the American charts with a song called "Killer Joe," reaching the national top 20. By the early seventies many Filipino bands were no longer singing in English, adopting their native languages for their recordings. The mixing of both Tagalog and English in songs produced a new genre of "Taglish" music.

The Manila Sound came to represent a huge body of melodic pop music starting in the early seventies. The rock band Hotdog introduced much of groundwork through a string of successful singles such as "Manila," "Bongga Ka Day" and "Annie Batungbakal." The term came to be used to describe a lot of popular music and not just rock, usually involving orchestration with catchy hooks. After awhile the Manila Sound became synonymous with predictable formula music designed to sell units based on whatever sound had the most commercial power. A wave of humorous songs dominated the genre for awhile until the late seventies when disco became the dominant Manila Sound. Labels that produced a lot of Manila Sound hits include Villar, Alpha and Victor Music. Following the disco era "OPM" became the term to describe the mainstream.

OPM of the 1980s included Regine Velasquez, APO Hiking Society, Sharon Cuneta, Janno Gibbes and Vina Morales. Even though keyboard-driven dance music was becoming popular, the folk movement survived with artists such as Freedie Aguila, who wrote protest songs such as "Bayan Country." Some of the successful pop acts of the 1990s were Eraserheads, Smokey Mountain, Ariel Rivera, Donna Cruz and Afterimage. Top acts in the 2000s include worldbeat act Cynthia Alexander Group, rockers Sandwich, electronic group Drip, hip hop artist D-Coy and jazz band Johnny Alegre & Absolute Zero. alternative band Up Dharma Down.

The music industry in the Phillipines is overseen by the Phillipine Association of the Record Industry (PARI). This organization works with lawmakers on copyright laws protecting intellectual property owners. PARI was formed in 1972 and has since issued the Awit Awards for artistic achievements and certifications for music sales. In 2013 gold certifications were awarded for albums selling as few as 7,500 units. The music trade group has also presented the Phillipine International Songwriting Competition. One of PARI's goals is to promote native artists to the world market.









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