What makes a hit song?
Apart from well-written lyrics and a catchy melody that the listeners can latch on to, having the right interpreter is crucial, according to Ryan Cayabyab: “After all, a song is not a song until it’s performed.”
Thus, choosing the interpreters for the 12 final entries to this year’s Philippine Popular Music Festival (Philpop) songwriting tilt was a painstaking process that involved discussions and some haggling between the contestants and the sponsor label, Universal Records.
“The finalists came up with their own wish lists of interpreters,” Philpop executive director Cayabyab told the Inquirer. “The label presented its own list. They tried their best to meet halfway.”
He continued: “It was quite hard to convince some contestants to reconsider their choices. But after the recording sessions, most of them were pleasantly surprised at how well their songs turned out.”
The final roster of interpreters is a mixture of established and upstart artists and bands, encompassing various genres:
Christian Bautista for Marlon Barnuevo’s “Araw, Ulap, Langit”; Jose Manalo and Wally Bayola for Danny Brown’s “Askal”; Sam Concepcion, Tippy dos Santos and Quest for Thyro Alfaro and Yumi Lacsamana’s “Dati”; Ney Dimaculangan for Johnoy Danao’s “Kung ’Di Man”; Sitti Navarro and Julianne Tarroja for Jungee Marcelo’s “Pansamantagal”; Kimpoy Feliciano for Myrus Apacible’s “Sana Pinatay Mo Na Lang Ako”;
Yael Yuzon for Paul Armesin’s “Segundo”; Karylle for Lara Maigue’s “Sa ’Yo Na Lang Ako”; Ace Libre of Never the Strangers for Adriennne Sarmiento-Buenaventura’s “Sometimes That Happens”; Banda ni Kleggy and Kean Cipriano for Raffy Calicdan’s “Space”; and Six Part Invention for Kennard Faraon’s “Time Machine.”
Joey Ayala will perform his own entry “Papel,” together with Gloc-9 and Denise Barbacena.
“A contestant interpreting his song may or may not work,” Cayabyab said. “And it was good that all of them were open to suggestions and other ideas.”
Cayabyab stressed that selecting the interpreters was not so much about securing the biggest names in the industry as finding singers who could best express and convey the stories and messages of the 12 entries.
“We wouldn’t pick Lea Salonga, for example, just for the sake of having her on the show; or ask Julie Anne San Jose to perform something as mature as ‘Tukso.’ We want performers who would truly embody the songs,” Cayabyab said. “If the singer is not right for the material, there won’t be any connection.”
Come finals night on Saturday at the Meralco Theater, it will be up to the singers to make the songs soar even higher.
The winner will take home P1 million, while the second and third placers will receive P500,000 and P250,000, respectively.
Cayabyab obviously can’t play favorites. “But I’ll be happy regardless of the result because all the entries are good and have great potential,” he said. “Our goal is to produce a hit song. I admit we didn’t achieve that with last year’s contest. But I’m hopeful that we’ll produce one this year.”