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Global Filipino Music Artists Conquer World Stages

Updated: Sep 28

Words by: Ralph Chan, Austria


A few weeks ago, a new Filipino P-POP boy band made headlines in the global music and showbiz industry. The new global P-POP boy group HORI7ON [1] recently made its debut in South Korea and performed in music shows like MusicBank, Inkigayo or M COUNTDOWN.

They were formed from the Filipino-South Korean survival reality show Dream Maker in which 62 contestants (dubbed as Dream Chasers) competed to be part of a seven-piece boy band to train and debut in South Korea as the global P-POP group. With their debut, HORI7ON recently managed to perform on the same stage alongside K-POP sensation BTS Jungkook, who performed his new single, "SEVEN", on the same day.

So far, only P-POP groups such as SB19, BGYO, BINI and Alamat have achieved world fame on the music stage.

With the emergence of global P-POP boy band HORI7ON and the popularity of SB19, BGYO, BINI and Alamat is this a sign that other P-POP bands and OPM music artists are also being heard and noticed by non-Filipinos and gaining worldwide fame? Similar to the contemporary South Korean pop culture wave (“Hallyu”), will there be a P-POP wave with Original Pilipino Music (OPM) in the near future too?


OPM or Original Pinoy Music is a music genre created and performed by Filipino music artists. The term originated in the 1970s during the emergence of the MANILA SOUND, a music genre that combines Western and Filipino musical elements. OPM has evolved since then as it reflects the historical, cultural, and musical influences of the time. A special feature of OPM is the use of Filipino languages in the songs. In the last few decades, it has managed to produce some of the most famous songs in Filipino music history, such as classics like Rey Valera’s “Kahit Maputi Na Ang Buhok Ko”, Sharon Cuneta’s “Bituing Walang Ningning” or “Tatsulok” by Bamboo. These songs have become part of Filipino culture. Although the music and tone may have changed over time, the lyrics and storytelling remain the same. Moira Dela Torres' emotional ballads or Sarah Geronimo's catchy pop hits continue to conquer Filipinos hearts to this day, and meanwhile non-Filipinos become fans as well. The secret of OPM's enduring popularity is its ability to tell the stories of Filipinos, whether it be about love, heartbreak or social issues, and convey them in a way that inspires compassion. The musicians and their songs manage to capture the audience's attention.


To better understand OPM, let us take a brief journey through Filipino music. OPM has its beginnings in the 1960s with Filipino pop songs, particularly ballads, sung by Pilita Corrales and Nora Aunor, and in the 1970s by Basil Valdez, Freddie Aguilar, and Rey Valera. A shift came when singer-songwriters Ryan Cayabyab and José Mari Chan rose to fame in the 1970s by composing original English love songs alongside modern Tagalog songs. Pioneer pop groups in the era of the Manila Sound included APO Hiking Society and Hotdog.


For many listeners of OPM music, the 1980s was the golden age of Filipino music. Disco groups like VST & Co. and pop icon Gary V. made sure that dance-pop rose to the mainstream. The 1990s saw the birth of the Pinoy pop-rock. The appearance of ERASERHEADS, is considered a turning point in the OPM music scene. With their success, a number of influential bands such as Parokya ni Edgar or Rivermaya emerged. Each of them mixed the influence of different pop and rock subgenres with their own style. Furthermore, in the 1990s, acoustic groups like Side A, Neocolours or South Border, and also acoustic acts like Nina, Juris (from MYMP) and Ice Seguerra appeared regularly in the live band scene.

In addition, solo artists, and ballad singers such as Regine Velasquez, Sharon Cuneta, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Jaya and Martin Nievera have been regularly featured on television and radio. In the beginning of the 2000s, there was a re-emergence of R&B and novelty songs. Kyla, Nina, and Jay R are among the pioneers of contemporary Pinoy R&B music along with Francis M, Andrew E, Gloc-9 and Abra for Pinoy hip hop. Over the next decade, in the 2010's, Pinoy pop saw a renaissance. The genre of pinoy pop changed drastically as the usual rock bands and novelty songs began to fade from the mainstream and new pop genre emerged without any rock or hip-hop influence. Pop artists of the 2010s include Moira Dela Torre, Ben&Ben, Yeng Constantino and Sarah Geronimo.


Pinoy Pop or P-POP (also known as Philippine Pop or Pilipino Pop) is another evolution of Filipino pop music. P-POP is a growing genre in the 2020s. With the influence of K-POP and J-POP, a new era of Pinoy pop was born.

The Philippines' first pinoy pop idol group, the 'P-Pop (idol) Pioneers', were MNL48 [2], a sister group to J-POP group AKB48, who ushered in the new era of pinoy pop with their debut in 2018. Them follows the all-boy idol group SB19 [3], which also made their debut in 2018. SB19 was the first Filipino act to be trained by a Korean entertainment company under the same system that catapulted K-pop artists to world stars. SB19 is considered the first Pinoy pop idol group to make it on the Billboard Next Big Sound and Billboard Social 50 charts, and to be nominated as the first Filipino and Southeast Asian act along with BTS, Blackpink, Ariana Grande and Seventeen in Billboard Music Awards for Top Social Artist. It marks the first appearance by a Filipino music artist at the Billboard Music Awards. In the midst of the pandemic, more pop idol groups such as BINI and BGYO emerged. In 2020, Viva Entertainment presented another P-POP group Alamat, a multilingual and multiethnic boy band singing in seven Filipino languages: Tagalog, Ilocano, Kapampangan, Bisaya, Hiligaynon, Bikolano and Waray-Waray.


As can be seen, the Filipino music scene or OPM has undergone tremendous metamorphosis in terms of the evolution and diversity of music genres over the past few decades. Due to the strong influence of K-POP and J- POP, there has been an increase in idol groups. This also ties in with the increasing popularity of contemporary South Korean pop culture wave (“Hallyu”) around the world. Especially since the 21st century, the popularity of K-Drama & Movies, K-POP, Korean food, language, computer games, fashion and cosmetics has increased. The success was initially neither wanted nor planned. Only after the success became visible the Koreans strategically and purposefully produced television series and music for the Asian market. This increasing cultural export was also supported by the South Korean government.

COMING BACK TO FILIPINO MUSIC , OPM has become an integral part of the Filipino cultural landscape, and its influence can be felt across generations. Not only has it provided memorable songs in Filipino music history, it also plays a significant role in shaping Filipino identity and each individual lives. OPM is the proof of Filipino creativity and artistry. These songs have become part of Filipino culture and will be passed down from generation to generation.


With the evolution of P-POP bands such as SB19, BGYO, BINI, Alamat and the latest addition HORI7ON, we might be able to achieve a “Hallyu” like the Koreans, because our OPM songs not only tell the stories of the Filipinos but musically seen, is also timeless. And with the internet, non-Filipinos can now create YouTube covers, Instagram reels or TikTok dance covers of songs of their favorite Filipino P-POP bands. An investment in culture and for musicians, but also for other artists would be a good opportunity to experience the same success as the Koreans are currently doing with Hallyu.

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