Monday, December 05, 2005

New Wave Revisited

Wala lang, pero nakakabwiset na. I just have to write this down as reaction of sorts to what I think is a crazy trend in the local music scene. I'm talking about the rise of the OPB (Original Pilipino Brit) sound.

There is a growing and obvious discredit to the '80s new wave scene here. And obviously, it's primarily due to the annoyingly fake Brit accent. Baket pa? Kung cover, baka maintindihan ko pa na tribute kung baga. But if the songs are claimed to be original--and especially if the song is in Filipino--it's outright hilarious to hear the bloody English accents and twangs.

Riff Off

Of course, that's just one aspect of my thirty-something gripe. In the last few months alone, I've seen and heard quite a number of up and coming bands stealing riffs from new wave songs. Again, these are not self-confessed tribute bands like Dead Pop Stars (and believe me, they're ranked among the world's top ten Smiths cover band, according to Spin Magazine) and The Late Isabel (whose repertoire is unabashedly Siouxsie-inspired). Most of these bands won't even claim that their influences are from the New Wave era, hiding instead under the cloak of the "underground" or "indie" scene.

Meron dyang nagnanakaw sa Joy Division, Depeche Mode, Railway Children, The Fall.

Of course this is not at all helped by the whole shebang surrounding Orange and Lemons' (this year's NU Rock Awards Artists of the Year) alleged stealing of the melody and arrangement of the song, "Chandeliers" by The Care. Kuhang-kuha talaga. Yet I hear the band vehemently denies this, which makes it doubly sad.

If you want to have '80s influences, fine. Be proud of it. It's not like people will fault you for that. Oks pa nga 'yun. But plagiarizing riffs is another thing.

In fairness, even the Eraserheads once copied the riffs of another New Wave song called "Reach" by the Pale Fountains for their hit, "Alapaap". But I think they openly admitted it afterwards.

Pero 'yun na nga. The Eheads had already proven themselves by that time. Unlike these other bands whose main claim-to-fame are stolen shit.

Once a certain band in Mayric's (before they became the juiciest band in the country), did a cover of Morrissey's "Suedehead". When they got to the best part, the singers gibberishly chanted, "It was a dubi-ley, dubi-ley, It was dubi-le-hehey..." Ano raw? (Read: It was a good lay).


And It's Not the Synths

Secondly, what defines the New Wave genre is even not the overindulgence in synths and other electronic devices, but a back-to-basic musicality and lyrical sensibility. Coined by The Cars frontman Rik Ocasek, the term "New Wave" specifically referred to the "second wave" of the Britsound invasion that saw its rise in the early '80s. Ironically, though, it reached its peak at the advent of MTV, tainting the rise of the so-called "new romantics" with the pop calling of music videos and the much-maligned (ugh) fashion sense of the era. It was a new thing to be pop. And, indeed, video killed the radio stars.

The main effect? Simple: Most new wave songs are danceable, or at least had groovy remix versions. Some examples of dance tracks with poetic and philosophical lyrics are Bronski Beat's "Small town Boy," Seona Dancing's "More to Lose," or The Petshop Boys' "West End Girls".

Consider these other "common" new wave anthems:

"I made a pilgrimage to save this human race/
Never comprehending the race has long gone by..."
-- "I Melt With You", Modern English

"Angels fall like rain/
And love, is only heaven away..."
-- "Ghost in You", Psychedelic Furs

"Welcome to your life/
There's no turning back/
Even while we sleep/
We will find you/
Acting on your best behavior/
Turn your back on mother nature/
Everybody wants to rule the world..."
-- "Everybody Wants to Rule the World", Tears for Fears

The term became an umbrella word for all music coming out of the punk era or to bands reinventing themselves for the '80s. (Even the Clash and The Police were considered New Wave in the local scene). New Wave became a generic term for everything from Tears for Fears and Duran Duran to Talking Heads and Wang Chung-- which is almost everything outside Lionel Ritchie and Billy Ocean and Menudo. Heck, even Toad The Wet Sprocket's first single "All I Want" can be found in New Wave compilations.

It was a great era under the dimming Martial Law beacons, with the faint signal of XB 102 coloring our vocabularies of music and alternatives.

Lastly, a song from the American new wave band, Translator (which Los Chupacabras is planning to cover). And, obviously, we don't need OPB accents for this. Ayuz!


In your life there’s someone waiting,
lost on streets that no one travels
In my dream I see this meeting,
we’re a knot that fate unravels

But beyond our shameless sorrow,
catch me if I’m with the wind
We may be the sky tomorrow,
we’re a branch that will not bend

The world is spinning through my head
Your gravity won’t let me go,
You’re holding me together,
No one ever has to know

I’m a dream and you’re fading away,
I’m a dream and you’re fading away

In your face there’s someone sleeping,
lost in years that no one’s counting
The only way to hear the weeping,
suffering is like a fountain

Everything is far away now,
held beyond our nameless sorrow
Shifting streets that no one wanders,
lose the days, we only borrow