We usually introduce current bands to the roster in this series where we take you around the region for some new sounds. But we'll go back in time a bit and bring to the spotlight some of the big names that have made some waves in the music scene in the 90s and late 00s. The era of bad hair and bad music videos (with lyrics) is definitely well and alive in this instalment!
'Jiwang' is used to describe Malay power ballads with roots in traditional Malay poetry. In other words, it is extremely emotional. Sometimes they wear bandanas on their heads, most of them have centre-parted hair, and they always seem to be using sunglasses. There is a perpetual atmosphere of gloom and suffering in their music videos, yet love, Love is a constant celebration in their songs. Songs like 'Untukmu Ibu' (For Mother) is an ode to his mother's love with religious undertones and the upbeat 'Jesnita' is his promise to overcome obstacles for his one true love. Heavy stuff, but love is serious business.
Sheila On 7 (ID)
The timing could not be better. It was the 90s, 'Alt-Rock' was the bomb, having questionable hairstyles (and dress sense) was the norm, MTV Asia was the coolest, starting a band with your friends was something you do for fun, and somewhere in-between there was Sheila On 7. From the get-go SO7 covered all sorts of relatable topics in their songs - friendships, crushes, being single, etc. and even as you grew up, they did too and touched on long-distance love in 'Tunggu Aku Di Jakarta' (Wait For Me in Jakarta) and true love in 'Hingga Ujung Waktu' (Until The End Of Time). It was simple, uncomplicated music - a formulaic assemble: catchy choruses, a bridge, fuss-free guitar rock - but it seemed to resonate with not only the local Indonesians but others around the region. Trivia: their albums chalked up millions in sales.
No one has been more iconic than Eraserheads in the Filipino music scene. Often described as the The Beatles of the Philippines, the E-heads composed the soundtrack of a nation. Witty, cheeky, catchy, and sometimes romantic, the songs spoke to a generation of Filipino youth when they first debuted in the 90s. From 'Fine Time' which is a sweet and playful ditty about being with someone you love to 'Julie Tearjerkey' a bittersweet song with indie pop stylings, every song of theirs is perfectly relatable. The band has since parted ways, and sometimes re-band occasionally for a reunion show/tour, but their music still continues to be relevant in the fabric of Filipino music.
Like Sheila On 7, Peterpan also fit into the umbrella of alt-rock/pop that was pretty much the only popular genre in the mainstream at that time. Peterpan started out doing as a cover band, performing Brit alt-rock songs at various pubs and venues before levelling up and started recording original songs which later on received heavy rotation on radio and soon enough they were the 'it-band' of Indonesia, putting out more popular records, and also working on the soundtrack of a movie. Peterpan was also popular in Malaysia and Singapore, and even playing a few shows around the region. Ah happy times… before the sex tape scandal. The band are still active these days under the moniker 'Noah'.
Though still active today after countless changes in band personnel, the 90s line-up of Rivermaya were the ones that brought the band to its level of popularity and fame. One of the pioneering bands that brought the onset of the Philippine alt-rock explosion, Rivermaya were at the height of conquering Southeast Asia with their crossover success of songs such as 'Balisong' and 'You'll Be Safe Here'. When the popular frontman Rico Blanco left the band in 2007, there was a huge void to return to the glory years of the band but they have slowly and surely upheld the legacy of Rivermaya, and even played a show a couple of years ago here.