In a country where Western music dominates the airwaves and catches more attention than local music, it can be difficult for Filipino artists to break in to the limelight. Or just in to your playlist, at least. Even at the level of bands like Up Dharma Down, who have received international recognition, playing a solo show at Araneta Coliseum still sounds like such a far-fetched dream that the band’s lead, Armi Millare, had to joke about it in one of their recent shows. But they are so good. And they are not alone. The Filipino music industry is brimming with fantastic artists, old and new. So it makes me wonder—why aren’t we listening to more OPM?
And so, here now are eight Filipino solo artists—both seasoned and up and coming—that I think you should be getting to know a little bit better, if you haven’t yet. Let’s get more Filipino music out there. Enjoy!
8. Reese Lansangan
A breath of fresh air. That’s what Reese Lansangan is. Like a Filipino version of Ingrid Michaelson, Reese’s music is something you’d like to put on on a Sunday morning over banana pancakes and a warm cup of coffee. With your favorite person in the world. That’s how her music feels like—perfect comfort.
7. Moira dela Torre
The Voice Philippines Season 1 contestant might not have won the competition, but she did many people’s hearts. Not only does Moira have an amazing voice, she writes amazing songs, too. This song, Take Her to The Moon For Me, is something she wrote after the animated Pixar movie Inside Out. Inspired by Bingbong, a character in the film, Moira writes: “This song is for everyone who’s ever been left behind.”
The song’s lyrics is nothing short of riveting, and is one of the many reasons she made this list.
6. Dane Hipolito
If music were like glasses of wine, I’d like to sip this one slowly and surely like I’m on vacation. Like, really. I’d take my freaking time. Dane Hipolito’s voice is the kind of smooth and silky you can listen to all day, especially on days you just need to keep sane. I dare you to listen to his cover of Taylor Swift’s Style and not feel like mush.
Guys and guitars. Am I right.
5. Johnoy Danao
Odds are you’ve heard of Johnoy Danao before. Whether by name, or in passing, through a radio or a cafe. Johnoy Danao is one of the seasoned artists in this list, independently making music since the early 2000s. A staple OPM favorite, who can ever resist his soothing voice and music? No one. That’s who.
4. Bullet Dumas
Bullet Dumas has got MAD guitar skills, yo. And aside from that, it’s his style of contemporary folk music that sets him distinctively apart from the rest. What I love most about Bullet, especially, is the representation of the Filipino roots that is ever present in his style and songs. He’s quite the funny man too, so expect a few laughs when watching him live.
3. Keiko Necesario
It was a challenge for me to choose just one video to put in here, because Keiko Necesario is possibly my most favorite among the eight in this list. She writes her own songs as well, but I personally am crazy for her covers. I’m quite fascinated by how her distinct vocals and personal style can make any song sound almost new. She’s like Midas—anything she touches simply turns to gold.
2. Clara Benin
“I am an astronaut, finding my way home. You are a satellite, floating around my mind.” This beautiful piece, Riverchild, is just a glimpse of what I think is a precious artist to discover in Clara Benin. The soft spoken, angel-voiced songstress writes songs that feel wonderfully delicate, which is how I kind of see her, too. It’s quite saddening to hear she’s going on an indefinite hiatus, but we wish her well.
1. Ebe Dancel
Ebe Dancel was band Sugarfree’s front man in 1999 until they disbanded in 2011. Since then, Ebe has pursued a solo career and is still thriving amidst the younger and newer faces in the industry. If you ask me, we have his amazing songwriting prowess to thank for that. And songs like this one, Bawat Daan, and hit song from his Sugarfree days, Burnout, are but perfect examples. Dancel’s lyrics are constantly raw and real, capturing in words what even the most despaired romantics cannot always do.
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The artists included in this list are the ones I personally love. But I know there are other great ones out there, perhaps some of them I don’t even know about, so feel free to give your suggestion so we can help share their music to everyone. Leave a comment, share a music link, talk about what they are like performing live. We’d love to hear about it.
And lastly, yes, don’t forget to support OPM. <3