Music Monday Presents Filipino Friday, November 11, 2022 – BGYO’s “BE: US”

Since my Kinda Sorta Deep Dive into P-pop earlier this year, it’s been a bit hard to keep up with new releases from the growing number of talented P-pop groups. Our family doesn’t have TFC or GMA Pinoy TV subscriptions anymore. (Gotta save that $20+ where you can!) And I guess unless you’re actually following each and every artist’s social media channels, you’ll just have to end up stumbling upon new releases from them on YouTube or elsewhere.

Unlike in K-pop where, kahit papaano, there are centralized hubs that bring attention to new releases. Whether that’s aggregated news sites or YouTube music hubs that offer a variety of content for a wide range of artists. Where’s allppop? Or Poompi? Or 1theP? (lol) Philippine entertainment is definitely very different from Korea’s. But I guess that’s part of the challenge for me who wants to try and keep up.

Just last month, the only reason I knew BINI was releasing a new album was because a hashtag trended on Twitter due to fans expressing their frustration and concerns over promotion of that album.

Anyway, it was a bit of a similar situation with BGYO. Their music video for “Magnet” popped up on my YouTube Recommendations. So I clicked through and then it just so happened to be the day the music video for “PNGNP” was released as well. So that’s how I found out about their sophomore album BE: US. I talked about both those tracks a few days ago and looked forward to listening to the rest of the album.

But before we get to that, I just wanted to mention how I first came to know about BGYO even before my Kinda Sorta Deep Dive. I first learned of them after reading that JL Toreliza had joined ABS-CBN’s Star Hunt Academy. I remembered him from season one of GMA Network’s The Clash as well as the short-lived boy group the network initially formed featuring finalists from the show. (A lot of wasted potential by GMA, but that’s a whole other discussion. lol) So I was happy to see him get another chance and then eventually debut in BGYO. (And that’s probably why he’s my BGYO bias, I suppose. 😊)

I checked out their debut “The Light” when it was first released. And I liked it, but not necessarily enough to compel me to closely follow the group. The music videos for their follow-up tracks like “The Baddest” and “When I’m With You” would pop up on YouTube for me and I liked them too. But it was the same kind of feeling. Of those first releases, “Kundiman” was the track that I enjoyed the most. And I kind of think it’s because it felt very familiar in the sense that it was the kind of song you might hear from other R&B OPM artists in the past.

It was when I did my Kinda Sorta Deep Dive that I discovered “He’s Into Her,” which would eventually become my favorite track from them. But in the last couple of weeks, some issues have come about (completely unrelated to BGYO) that sort of taint the song for me somehow. I can’t help it. And again, it’s got nothing to do with BGYO, but I just can’t help but be reminded of the recent revelations regarding the series the song is an OST of whenever I might listen to the song. That’s on me, I guess.

But coming back to the present, it was much more positive news to see BGYO releasing their sophomore album. So after checking out and enjoying “Magnet” and “PNGNP,” I finally got the chance to check out the rest of BE: US.

The album opens with the rousing “Game On.” It’s an energetic way to lead off the album. I’ve noticed most, if not all P-pop groups touch on themes like never giving up and fighting for your dreams. Which I definitely think is a very relatable feeling for Filipinos. And obviously a universal message beyond the Philippines too. It also allows the group to show off their youthful energy in a track that reminds me a lot of their solid debut.

Up next is “Magnet”. And earlier this week, I said I was a bit warm on it. But wouldn’t be surprised if I warm up even more to the song the more I listened to it. And sure enough, that’s exactly what happened.

I realized that I think what threw me off after my initial listen was the song’s interesting structure. I literally had to look up the lyrics to learn that the chorus was not the “Your love is my magnet” section, but the section before it that I assumed was the pre-chorus. And I often enjoy the pre-chorus to songs the most, for whatever reason. Lol Anyway, since then, I’ve gotten over my awkwardness with that part of the song and think it’s fine now. I instead focused more on everything else which is great. And again, most especially the not-pre-chorus chorus (“Kahit pa paghiwalayin…”). Definitely my favorite part.

Next is the summery pop track “Be Us,” a collaboration with Moophs. It’s a sweet, romantic track with a more laid-back vibe. I like it, but compared to the other tracks, it’s probably less likely to be on repeat for me. But I know that it will definitely appeal to a wide audience.

Then there’s “Tumitigil Ang Mundo” which I had no idea they released back in July. It also has summery pop vibes. But I feel like it’s a bit more catchy. The chorus will have you singing along in no time and the song overall will leave a smile on your face. It’s just good vibes all around.

“Panahon” treads the same territory as album opener “Game On,” but in a different way. I enjoy the warmer and more mellow vibes of “Panahon” though. If “Game On” was a rousing pep talk to get you fired up, “Panahon” is a more comforting track. And the group’s vocals effortlessly glide across the appealing melody.

One of the most enjoyable things for me when listening to P-pop is to see how songwriters are able to write Filipino lyrics in fun and unique ways. Maybe this is just me as a Filipino-American, but I feel like it seemed to be a bit of a challenge to write pop songs with Filipino lyrics. That is, while Filipino would easily fit in big power ballads or pop-rock, it was different with maybe more modern pop-dance tracks. I remember growing up thinking how awkward it was to hear Filipino rap lyrics, to be honest. Which is why P-pop or more modern pop music with Filipino lyrics took longer to develop.

But “Laro” is a good example of how fun it is to hear Filipino lyrics and distinct Filipino cultural traits or aspects in a modern pop song. The song opens with “Tila biglang nasali sa isang Laro, Ako’y taya ikaw ang puntirya ko.” Like, I feel that is so clever. And while hearing those lines spoken on the playground or something would be nothing special, hearing it in a song is somehow very exciting for me. lol

I guess that’s part of what makes “Laro” sound fittingly playful. And it definitely fits with the lyrics talking about falling hard for someone; that sort of light on your feet, floating in air feeling. The group definitely expresses that feeling though their performance on this track.

“Extraordinary” closes out the album very well. It has that confident and defiant swagger that you like to see. It leaves a lasting impression on you as you wrap up the album. And when you want to talk about a good chorus, “Extraordinary” has one that will have you vibing along with the group as they share that confidence with you the listener.

And no, I did not forget “PNGNP.” I saved it for last because it is definitely my favorite track from the album. And probably my new favorite BGYO track overall.

I already loved it after first listen/watch, but after a few more listens, I was only more sure. It’s such a great song. And yes I did add it to my Night Drive playlist. (And also yes, it’s probably secured a spot on my year-end list too 😊)

The vibes are immaculate, as the kiddos say these days. And the group has no problem exuding that charismatic confidence necessary to make a song like this work. Of course, aside from that charisma, their vocals are perfectly suited for the track. And when you put it all together, it’s a performance that will probably make you a fan if you weren’t already.

Overall, I think I definitely enjoy this album a little more than their debut. Even with what little I’ve seen from them the last two years, I can see how much they’ve grown and developed. And continue to do so as well. It’s really great to see how rapidly P-pop is growing. And BGYO is definitely doing their part to help that.

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