Menagerie I-Pop revolution
Menagerie I-Pop revolution
I-Pop revolution
Tags:
April 28, 2014
Tags:
April 28, 2014

Mark Demayo

It seems that every month, a new foreign act invades your local mall or arena for your viewing pleasure. From the obscure to the most mainstream of acts, Filipinos are getting the hang of jamming to their tunes while watching their favorite artists shake and shimmy onstage. With every discussion of foreign acts comes the inevitable topic that is OPM and the state of the local music scene. For every arena sold out, bars and cafes are struggling to sell tickets for “acoustic acts” and “indie artists”.

 

Enter Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat, Jr., a congressman, who is pushing for The OPM Development Act of 2014 or House Bill 4218, a bill that is lobbying for the airplay of OPM songs every hour on the radio. The bill also asks for a Reciprocal Equity Fee, a payment of sorts from foreign acts that will benefit up-and-coming Filipino acts. At this rate, foreign acts just wouldn’t enter the country with the throngs of fans at their disposal. Despite the idea going around that OPM is dying, and the bill being processed in the House of Representatives, a new genre is emerging and it’s shaking the nation from within.

 

Behold Ifugao Pop, or I-Pop for purists, the latest craze to hit the Philippines made up of bands formed by talented individuals of the Ifugao people. Breathing new life to the native music industry, I-Pop is beginning to draw massive attention, along with a new generation of rabid fangirls and a few adult admirers as well. The style of these new I-Pop groups like TR1B0 and GANGsa stand in stark contrast to that of K-Pop and J-Pop. Instead of the old styles that consisted of plain and uniform outfits, I-Pop groups like to display an array of different colors. When they perform, it’s almost like watching a rainbow having a seizure!

 

Indigenous clothing is more often seen being worn by fans or even those who just find the look fashionable. Headdresses and other cultural outfits are now in style for this generation. People are putting on the same headgear that their idols wear, selecting the ones with the most interesting set of feathers, sometimes with a carabao horn for the very rich and powerful. Lots of red mixed with various other colors is turning into a common color scheme on each fan’s Bahag or Tapis.

 

Almost as loud as the outfits is their kind of music. Not fond of today’s cheap and lazy synthesized sounds, I-Pop moves to the beat of drums, gongs, and flutes. They don’t just have their music play in the background. Showing the mark of true performers, they play their music live instead of hiding behind what’s been recorded for them while chanting easy-to-learn lyrics that the crowd can quickly get into. You’ll feel your heart knocking on your chest as they bring the beat on the spot.

 

I-Pop music not only differs from others in terms of the instruments and methods they use, but also in meaning. The Ifugaos’ rice culture is evident in their lyrics. No overload of songs about love, drugs or “profound realizations on the dance floor” here. I-Pop lets you get what you normally wouldn’t experience from common songs like the joy of a beautiful rice field, the relaxation from spending time carving sculptures out of wood, and the despair of a harvest ruined by bad weather. Fans have expressed how refreshing it is to hear a wider variety of songs about something else for a change.

 

Like how fans would start learning other languages because of their favorite musicians, I-Pop fans are compelled to get into the different dialects of their favorite bands so they could say they actually know what they’re singing.

 

Forget Chicser or whatever boy band you’re into now; I-Pop is slowly climbing the charts with tunes and beats that will give Zedd and Avicii a run for their money. The “lumberjack EDM” trend? I-Pop is pushing the boundaries by going back to the roots of nature and self-discovery through the music of animals and biology. By combining the music festival sensibilities of artists today with the classic and retro feel of the earliest recordings of man, GANGsa is trying to out-sass TR1B0 by redefining their album concepts every three months.

 

There’s no sign of the synchronized dancing and snappy movements we’ve all grown so tired of. When I-Pop groups perform, it’s almost like each member has his own kind of moves to bring to the table, dancing off in different directions around the stage. I-Pop dances are different in how they’re able to express the heavy emotions of the performers. You’ll never feel as intense as when you’re dancing along with their bangibang, a dance of rage and war. The way their many dances like their paggadut or hinggatut bring out inner feelings is unlike any other pop group the country has experienced. Synchronization begone, as they say, because the choreography is as diverse as your camp bonfire with your best buds while throwing away the remaining vanities you have left.

What really makes this I-Pop revolution is not just the I-Pop groups themselves, but the fans. The legion of diehard fans are what makes their impact so evident. With more and more people getting into the trend as I-Pop’s fanbase grows, it’s becoming a more powerful presence all over the country while even the non-fans are being pushed to hop on the tribal train. With record-breaking sales of albums being recorded, it is no wonder that marketing team behind these I-Pop bands are trying to cash in with merch like wall clocks, coffee mugs, “official” and “authorized” magazines, and even limited vinyl records that emphasize how transcendent I-Pop is of labels or “print” issues; if I-Pop bands will make a mall appearance, fans will literally arrive at 7am, hours before the actual bands perform for thirty minutes or less.

 

As long as I-Pop’s fanbase remains strong with those who love their music memorizing every song and dance routine they have, I-Pop will have an equally strong future. If you’re still a skeptic in terms of the longevity of modern OPM, look no further than I-Pop and its vibrant yet down-to-earth (literally) culture that’s got people raving in music festivals.  Considering how much this same fanbase is growing, I-Pop may be the key to the revival of OPM—or even become its new face.