We have reached the halfway point of 2016, and it’s a great place to look back on the standouts that firmly cemented their place in the internet consciousness. The locally produced music videos in particular, have become a minefield of guerilla artistry for filmmakers and emerging creatives working on a specific timeframe to translate music into a visual format. We initially came up with a list of 20, but decided to narrow it down into half.
Some of the music videos that we like, but failed to place in the top 10: Assembly Generals’ self-reflective Sa Kalawakan, Toni B’s femme fatale-inspired Bang Bang, Sandwich’s post-apocalyptic sci-fi Outlaw, Pupil’s trippy Cheap Thrill, and Chairman Mouse’s campy cult romance Tell Me When To Stop The Car.
10. Curtismith – Lookin Up
Directed by James Muleta
Mito Fabie a.k.a. Curtismith got a big boost with the release of Failing Forward—a mixtape that stands well on its own as an insightful personal narrative, delivered with fervent passion and skill. One of the tracks in the mix called “Looking Up” gets a music video treatment with the help of Stronghold MNL. It shows Mito touching on the many loaded subjects that connect the political from the personal, rapping in various location shoots with understated confidence.
9. Jason Dy – Walang Iwanan
Directed by Jiggy Gregorio
Outside of his art-house experiments, Jiggy Gregorio makes music videos for reliable pop and R&B acts like Jason Dy. His latest work is an update of the femme fatale noir where the scorned, psychopathic ex-girlfriend gets to abduct her former flame and torture him in an underground asylum. There are genuinely campy moments in the narrative, but the best part of the video? The catfight.
8. Reese Lansangan – Exploration No. 5
Directed by Gerard Lopez
“Exploration No. 5” feels like a demo reel of Reese Lansangan as the poster-girl of the hip and the internet savvy. Everything about it screams young, fresh, trendy, bohemian, kawaii, and stylish. One can appreciate how music video director Gerard Lopez embraced Reese’s quirk and turned it into an aspirational video that celebrates contemporary youth culture. He knows his subject by heart.
7. Joee & I – Teknobalat
Directed by Timmy Harn
A dysfunctional family about to lose ownership of their house, a dog king invading their turf, and a bizarre murder in Lynchian fashion: these things contribute to the campy visual narrative of Joee and I’s “Teknobalat.” The concept is woven straight out of an acid asylum, but there’s an element of quirk and fun here, occasionally dipping into parody to confront social norms and traditions. Its eccentricity is its heartbeat, accompanying the frenetic and ever-changing rhythm of its storyline with cheap disco lights, outdated effects, and a burning dining table. It’s all but impossible for anyone to escape it.
6. The Ransom Collective – Settled
Directed by Hunny Lee and The Ransom Collective
The Ransom Collective’s music video of their latest single “Settled” is a breathtaking document of Hunny and Kristy’s travel all over the world. Together, the two globetrotters explore the lush, scenic beauty of places such as California, Nepal, The Philippines, Amsterdam, China, South Korea and Norway.
Hunny also happens to be the original drummer of the band, and is the chief director and producer of the music video. Watch him and his travel buddy ride a bike in the suburbs, play cards at a train in Oslo, fish in the lake, kayak in the cove, run in the snow and experience life outside of corporate boredom on this 5-minute travel fantasia.
5. Lustbass – Distant Early Warning
Directed by Judd Figuerres
Rather than hewing to formalist choreography and dutiful synchronicity, Distant Early Warning’s music video challenges the conventional. As it turns out, the Judd Figuerres-helmed video works as an experiment that translates bodily movements into soundscapes; the process reversed this time. Chloe Chatrani takes the center stage with her sophisticated, free-form touch. But it’s Figuerra’s delicate visual framing that translates the performance art into places it’s never been before.
4. Shirebound and Busking – Waltz of Four Left Feet
Directed by Apa Agbayani
Apa Agbayani takes a more disciplined, impressionistic route on the music video of Shirebound and Busking’s “Waltz of Four Left Feet.” Subtlety is not so much of a language spoken in local music videos, but Agbayani manages to take the minimalist aesthetic to his heart, putting emphasis on moments instead of movements.
3. Ang Bandang Shirley – Umaapaw
Directed by Shinji Manlangit / Kathy Gener
Leave it to Shinji Manlangit and Kathy Gener to come up with a lilting romantic oddball inspired by Mike De Leon’s Kung Mangarap Ka’t Gising. With the rustic beauty of Los Baños as backdrop, Umaapaw’s music video orchestrates the art of kilig without resorting to commercial tropes. Simplicity sets the tone, and makes it clear from the start about its intention. “I knew I wanted to make something about that feeling that you get when you meet someone new,” Manlangit shares in his interview with CNN Philippines. There is no epic romantic chase in the third act, no grand proclamation of love. But we get a tour of what it feels like to cherish the small, intimate moments spent with someone you like; every minute of it, every being. It’s more than enough to make you feel loved.
2. The Strangeness – Easy Boys and Easy Girls
Directed by Shinji Manlangit
It’s easy to understand why the music video of The Strangeness’ “Easy Boys and Easy Girls” sears into the cultural memory. Their parody of Jose Mari Chan’s “Beautiful Girl” video pulls off a genuinely effortless feat, reinterpreting the material with contemporary punch. Shinji Manlangit pushes the silliness to extremes. He comes up with fresh ideas that elicit nerd thrills: from casting Wide-Eyed Records Manager Kathy Gener as wild-haired Tetchie Agbayani to injecting an awkward dance sequence with the girls strutting their moves in a vacant basketball court. Brilliant stuff indeed.
1. Red-i x Reborn – Pakinggan ang Himig
Directed by Willan Rivera
“Pakinggan ang Himig” is Willan Rivera’s look at the desperate economic climate of urban Manila. The music video mirrors the way of life in the city’s impoverished slums, razor-sharp in its harrowing hopelessness. Rivera’s flair for shock theatrics might seem over the top here, but what is gritty social commentary without grubby visuals that slit down your throats without warning? The director gets down to the nitty gritty of his characters, often portraying them vulnerable to the city’s seemingly innate violence and moral decay.