Grading the Top 10 Songs in … THE PHILIPPINES

1. Krizza Neri, “Ba’t Di Ko Ba Nasabi”

Krizza Neri is the champion of a reality singing contest called Protege: The Battle for the Big Break. Prior to that, she placed second in a show called Mindanao Pop Idol, where she earned the nickname “RnB Princess.” “Ba’t Di Ko Ba Nasabi” is the theme song to a GMA Network show called The Good Daughter. If you love big sweeping early-’90s diva ballads that show up on easy-listening stations and ambiently soundtrack late-night drugstore hangs, you will also be a sucker for this, especially the bridge. Stay tuned for the incredibly creepy blurred-mouths effect in the video as the song winds down.

Grade: B+

Best YouTube Comment: “this song dedicated to my only one crush mr. tall dark & handsome…..JERIC IB-IB” — mildredtolomia

2. David Archuleta, “I’ll Never Go”

David Archuleta is somewhat famous in the U.S. for being a runner-up on the seventh season of American Idol and a famous Mormon. He is currently starring in a show in the Philippines called Nandito Ako and just released his fourth album, Forevermore, exclusively to the Philippines, although obviously you can still download it everywhere else. Stocked with covers of classic Filipino songs, it’s Archuleta’s first foray into OPM (Original Pinoy Music), a Philippine genre of pop that succeeded the Manila Sound. Archuleta is releasing an album called Begin in the U.S. in August. He is Honduran and Spanish-Basque, not Filipino, but TV5 recruited him to play “Josh Bradley, a Filipino-American who was born in the Philippines but grew up in the U.S.A. then became an international artist” and returns home to find a Revenge-style web of deceit awaiting him. The video for this sentimental anthem was filmed in Manila just before Archuleta left to start two years of LDS missionary work.

Grade: B+

Best YouTube Comment: “Dear Justin Bieber, This is what we called true music” — melrov

3. Julie Anne San Jose, “I’ll Be There”

Julie Anne San Jose has a beautiful David Lynch character name and has contributed the theme songs for movies like Just One Summer, My Kontrabida Girl, and Tween Academy: Class of 2012 (which is shockingly not a porno). San Jose is a college sophomore who became “Little Miss Philippines” at age 3 on a show called Eat Bulaga! and then won a spot in reality group Sugarpop during the singing competition Popstar Kids. She plays drums, piano, xylophone, guitar, flute, violin, and lyre. She can also apparently beat box. The Taylor Swiftish video has the classic scenario of shy girl making eyes at her crush over a pizza and getting rejected until he eventually holds up a sign that says “CAN I MOVE INTO YOUR <3?" Grade: A

Best YouTube Comment: “Yes, it’s her composition. She’s a great songwriter. The first time I hear it, I was like OH MY!!!! She should make it in HOLLYWOOD!” — watchout81

4. Down to Mars, “My Everything”

Down to Mars are a Filipino group billed as “the first ever INTERPOP Music Group.” They are possibly named for the Outkast song “Roses,” but I can’t prove it. According to the YouTube press release, “the video exploits the images of Planet Mars.” According to some of the commenters that’s not all it exploits, as it blatantly channels the look and feel of the massively successful K-Pop genre. Defenders (the admin) insist this is P-Pop all the way. I was kinda with this until it turned into generic pop house. And then kinda back with it again for the generic dubstep breakdown toward the end.

Grade: C+

Best YouTube Comment: “NO ORIGINALITY” — dianneVIP

5. Anja Aguilar, “I Love You”

Anja Aguilar is the winner of singing contest Little Big Star and is known as “Anya.” She is positioned to be the next Sarah Geronimo, the 24-year-old pop star who sold out the Smart Araneta Coliseum at the age of 17 and has built an empire on her girl-next-door appeal. Anja has lots of girl-next-door charm, but Sarah G has the HITS.

Grade: C

Best YouTube Comment: “looks like SARAH! pretty girl also” — PinkCharmselHeart

6. Xia, “Tarantallegra”

Xia is a member of K-pop band JYJ, made up of the former members of TVXQ. Their TVXQ contracts with SM Entertainment were draconian, a situation similar to the one Drake is quietly trying to deal with. Since breaking with SM, JYJ have been banned from promoting on all Korean networks. Don’t fuck with SM Entertainment or Birdman! Junsu played the lead in the musical Mozart! and at the age of 25 has released an English album, a Korean album, and a Japanese album. This is his first album as Xia. You will enjoy this if you like Game of Thrones, ominous imperial marches, and androgynous chaos punctuated by guest raps from Flowsik. I can’t pinpoint this sound at all, and I like that a lot.

Grade: A-

Best YouTube Comment: “Slytherin really knows how to party” — mia234567

7. EXO-M, “History”

EXO is a Chinese/South Korean pop group and a wing of the SM Entertainment machine. EXO consists of 12 members that separate into subgroups EXO-K and EXO-M. The name EXO refers to exoplanets. EXO-K comprises the Korean members of the group and EXO-M is made up of the Chinese members. This is the Chinese version of the song and it sounds like the thrusting ‘N Sync afterworld of my secret dreams.

Grade: A


8. Super Junior, “Sexy, Free & Single”

Another K-Pop jawn from SM Entertainment’s 13-member group Super Junior. This is bred from the DNA of FutureSex/LoveSounds and Super Junior’s own hit “Sorry, Sorry” cut with strobing synths and filters. The acid-flecked chord progressions stack and build with the boys’ vocals toward one euphoric climax after another.

Grade: A+

Best YouTube Comment: “sj, the group with the best friendship/bromance” — sunlifeassure

9. Nina, “Only With You”

Marifil Nina Girado, known as Nina, is a Filipino singer popular for her acoustic ballads. She just posed for the cover of Playboy Philippines, and “Only With You” is an associated promotional single. This has a light, freestyle vibe to it and reminds me of Stacey Q. A perfect soundtrack for the end of summer.

Grade: B+

Best YouTube Comment: “fierce and sexy soul siren! she triggers my senses! uhhhhmmmmmmm” — sherinauman

10. BIGBANG, “Monster”

Trendsetting South Korean pop idols BIGBANG return with some new silly haircuts and hats. I guess this is BIGBANG’s way of showing they’re not limited to hip-hop-style songs by showing they can also do Coldplay-influenced party rock.

Grade: C

Best YouTube Comment: “We are very excited to see you here in the Philippines!!!” — SuperRea08

Filed Under: Grading the Charts

Molly Lambert is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ mollylambert