This last week has been a peaceful one, work-wise, save for one brief appearance in “Forbidden Broadway” (more on that later), and watching “The Sound of Music” (congratulations, everyone, for a successful run). With the goings-on in the entertainment scene (Lady Gaga’s Manila concert, for example), it has given me time to think.
One adage I like using is this one, attributed to Voltaire: “I disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend your right to say it.” In a secular society, that should hold true, whether or not we wholeheartedly agree, or vehemently oppose whatever has been placed before us. I like applying this adage to the arts.
The funny thing about art is that it’s in the “eye of the beholder,” if I’m to quote from another adage. How something strikes us artistically differs in so many ways. Whether it’s a painting, live performance or sound recording, one person could regard it as high-brow while another could dismiss it as a failed attempt at art. You just never know. Art is subjective.
Which brings me to the more controversial art forms that have found their way into the public consciousness. Yes, you could say that I’m speaking of Lady Gaga, but I’m also speaking of anyone whose artistic output has caused outrage (I recall a particular art show at the CCP where the protest against one piece caused the closing of the entire exhibition … I never got to see the exhibit, so I can’t comment on the piece’s merits or demerits).
Interpretation is a funny thing when it comes to art. As we’ve seen in the recent protests against Lady Gaga, there was music she wrote with an accompanying music video that sent enough people into a large enough frenzy to protest her concerts. Her song “Judas” was called anti-Christian and demonic, and the artist herself was labeled a Satanist with ties to the Illuminati.
I wasn’t going to jump on any bandwagon before doing a little research, and so I looked up the song and searched online for the video (I wouldn’t have, if the media attention hadn’t reached such fever pitch).
After watching the video, reading the lyrics, and finding interviews of Lady Gaga talking about “Judas,” I came to interpret the song as a metaphor for people who seem to always find themselves attracted to what is clearly not good for them.
I’ve found myself in that position before, so I can relate to what she was singing about. And finding myself in something another person created, the art then became very—intensely—personal.
What any of you think of her is truly your own business. You can love her or hate her. You can enjoy the music, but not go for the meat dress or the futuristic shoes. And yes, you can even choose to protest her work if you don’t agree with it, so long as it doesn’t stop anyone else from enjoying her art.
Let’s not stifle artists and their creativity, and their inalienable right to express themselves. We are a proud country of artists, and I’d like to think that, in being so, we welcome others from around the world to share in our joy and our enjoyment of all things beautiful, however each of us defines the word.
Thank you, Mother Monster, for visiting the country, and for doing what you do, especially your efforts for the LGBT community, antibullying and AIDS awareness. For all that, you are a gift from God, a true Christian in every sense of the word.
And now, Philpop
Does anyone remember the Metro Manila Popular Music Festival (Metropop)? Launched in 1978, it was the songwriting competition that ushered in a golden age of original Pilipino music, or what we call OPM. It was this competition that launched the careers of many composers and lyricists, or at least cemented their foothold in the industry.
Ryan Cayabyab began his career with the Metropop, penning the seminal “I love OPM” anthem—“Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika.” Jose Mari Chan and Dero (formerly Nonong) Pedero achieved success at this competition, with Chan’s “Hahanapin Ko” and Pedero’s “Isang Mundo, Isang Awit” and “Narito Ako.”
Freddie Aguilar’s “Anak” landed in the finals and, though it failed to win, went on to become the biggest-selling song in Philippine music history. It is also the only Pinoy song, so far, to become a global hit, recorded in dozens of languages worldwide.
Now, this same opportunity is being offered by the Philippine Pop Music Festival (Philpop).
Over 3,000 entries were submitted from around the Philippines as well as from Pinoys in the UK, France, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. From these entries, 14 finalists have been chosen. On July 14, these brand-new songs will be heard, and their composers revealed. Congratulations!
It is a very exciting time for OPM.
The top winner in Philpop will receive P1 million in cash, and two runners-up will receive P500,000 and P250,000. A people’s choice award will be given to the most popular entry as decided by text votes.
Philpop is jointly mounted by Maynilad, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. and Smart. Major sponsors are Meralco, Resorts World Manila and TV5. Other sponsors are Metro Pacific Investments Corp., Sun Cellular, First Pacific Leadership Academy, Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. and Philex Mining Corp. For updates on the results, visit Philpop.com.ph.