jam.jpgA singer/group that does a cover version of a song that is considered a classic takes on an enormous responsibility. He has a responsibility to analyze the song even before deciding if it’s the right one to do a cover of, a duty to put his own roots into the song, and an obligation to raise the song and the memory of it to a higher level of consciousness.

George Michael did this very well with his cover of the Queen’s “Somebody to Love”, singing with the remains of the group after Lola Freddie had gone to the big goose down pillow in the sky. Gary Valenciano often did Al Jarreau’s “Spain” in his concerts much to his audiences’ delight. Kuh Ledesma sang Barbra Streisand’s “My Man” and made you wonder if she was talking about someone in particular.

These are songs that are sacred and that must be treated with respect and reverence, like your grandparents. And Sinatra. And Eraserheads songs. While I consider the Eraserheads less than gods (Ely Buendia has, after all, left the group to do — pop techno?), I have always believed they captured the ethos of their generation, and made an older generation sympathize and reminisce.

Have just finished listening to the songs of Ultraelectromagneticjam. Wait, let me rephrase that. I listened to the ones that I thought were good, and gave the rest a chance. About half a minute’s chance. I think thirty seconds is more than enough time for me to decide if I like the way the song is going/sounding or not.

Franics M’s “Superproxy” and Rico J Puno’s “Huling El Bimbo” are tops on my list. Brownman Revival made “Maling Akala” their own and had a lot of fun doing so. Paolo Santos, he of the Parisian moonlight and bridges falling down in London (some of the most inane lyrics I have ever heard), surprised me with Magasin and the way he sang it. If only Cueshe’s lead singer would stop aping Green Day and just sing with his own voice, “Hard to Believe” wouldn’t have been too bad. I’ve never liked Orange and Lemons (and probably never will), but their performance here is at par with RadioActive Sago Project’s rendition of Alcohol and Spongecola’s “Pare Ko”. Southborder’s “With a Smile” was too saccharine for my taste.

pop.jpgWhat I cannot comprehend is all these girls singing Eraserheads songs. There’s a difference, you see, with a girl just singing along to an Eraserheads song playing on the radio, and with a girl belting it out in a recording studio. I don’t believe it was a very good idea to have girls on this album, especially because these Eraserheads songs that the girls picked out are in essence “boy” songs. You can go ahead and argue the matter, but if you listen closely to Barbie Almalbis singing “Overdrive” you will get what I mean. Not only is Barbie wrong for this song, she definitely does not come across as sincere when she whines “Gusto kong matutong mag draaaaayve”. Not even Kitchie Nadal (whom I’ve always prefered over Barbie) impresses me in “Ligaya”, and what the heck did MYMP think they were doing singing “Huwag Mo Nang Itanong” like it were “Emotions” (another bad cover of Samantha Sang)?

And pardon me for being so clueless, but why wasn’t Parkoya ni Edgar in on this? Parkoya, along with Brownman Revival, Sugarfree and Kamikazee are, in my opinion the bands who have hit the mark with their own sound and style. It would have been a powerpacked album with just these bands and Rico J and Francis M.

It’s a delicate balancing act, doing covers. Ultraelectromagneticjam precariously teeters to one side and recovers only by the weight of each listener’s personal preferences.


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7 thoughts on “Ultraelectromagnetichype

  1. Rico J Puno’s “Huling El Bimbo” is also my favorite. My wife likes Imago’s “Spolarium” while my 5-year old son likes “Overdrive” – he likes singing it especially the part “isasama ko ang aking aso”.

  2. hello bambit. you must be ilonggo – no one but us uses the word ‘balay.’ Anyway, reading your article on covers got me to thinking about how often local singers cover each other. what really annoys the shit out of me is that when they cover a song, they really don’t bother making it theirs. Most – all, I would say – local artists who make covers just change the tempo, add a little vocalizing, or just basically sap the bloody song up. To me, this says that making covers in the Philippines is not about paying homage to those who have gone before, but about plain old laziness. After all, with a cover, you don’t have to go through the hardwork of thinking up a new song – just dust off an old favorite, apply a very thin layer of ‘newness’ and, voila! you’ve a guaranteed audience. that’s just plain crappy.

  3. I completely agree with you Bambit, doing a revival is actually and in essence a paean or deference to the one or ones who sang it first. Doing it badly, or just just being mediocre with is such bad taste. I remember The Sex Pistols doing “My Way”, it was so crap sounding but they did it with so much fervor and passion that I think Frank Sinatra was just okay with it.

  4. when I saw the Electromagneticjam cover on your post, naisip ko, kakaiba ito. Ang cool naman ni Bambit!

    Ummm… when we first heard it over the radio, nasabi rin ng mga kasama ko na hindi bagay yung mga ladies dun sa songs. And then we heard spolarium at ok yung rendition ng song na yun for us.

  5. hi there greg, yup, i gave imago another chance and realized they weren’t as bad as barbie (he he he)

    hey there moe, mindanaoans say balay too. ilocanos as well. Cebuanos say “bay”, silencing the L, although when we write it down the L reasserts itself along with the attendant A. There is indeed a proliferation of covers these days and it’s a pity that only a few can be considered worthy of the song.

    Fervor and passion always does it, Major Tom, in thought, in word and in singing 🙂

    Inday Ayeza ulahi na gani ko sa pagpaminaw ani, kay december pa gud ni gi-release. Dia ko intawon hapit na pud malumos sa trabaho …

    watson! if there’s anyone who can enjoy as much as he can of any place, it would be you! great davao adventure there. Yes, I agree now, Imago wasn’t bad at all. Not overwhelmingly great like Brownman, but good. 🙂

    binsgkeee yun lang ang alcohol na walang amats!

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