AUDIO JUNKIE: Keiko Necesario, The Juans x Janine Tenoso, St. Wolf Lay down 2020-style Pop

Different artists, different genres of music. What ties them all together is that particular brand of flair that shines within each act. Here’s some of the brightest laying down 2020-style Pinoy Pop.  

First off, we have Keiko Necesario whose latest album entitled “Ready, Let Go” was created in collaboration with UK-based producers Chasing Fantasia. The set is Jam-packed with ten songs that allows the singer-songwriter to flex her melodic strengths and emotional depth.

Keiko Necesario

But what’s noticeably different for this outing is the overt electronic music production. Starting with the eponymous track “Ready, Let Go,” a fanciful offering of pop with a healthy heaping of electro influences. Thrumming beats and synths fuse together to produce an upbeat electronic backdrop to prop up Keiko’s dulcet vocals, which cuts quite clearly in the layered sounds that Chasing Fantasia has wrought. It’s different because we’ve known Necesario mainly as an acoustic guitar-toting singer known for emo-packed performances and the heart-on-sleeve tunes for sure. But she comes now wrapped in modern production that leans heavily on synths and drum beats.

The thing is, it all sounds natural for Keiko. Having collaborated with acts from Quest, to Brisom, to Side A and now Chasing Fantasia, this is just another stop in the continuing evolution of Keiko.

A good example would be “See You”, wherein the singer is able to strike a balance between a melodious acoustic piece and synth-driven dance beats that at times verges on trap (Hiphop). As with the first song, the main highlight is Necesario’s singing which is the glue that keeps it all together.

Meanwhile, the mournful piano and sparse atmospherics of “Smoke” is the slow-paced contrast that gives the Necesario’s album variety. The singing in the track is equally understated, further selling its message of melancholy.

In sharp contrast is the album closer “Now and Never” which can be encapsulated in the words bright and upbeat. Necesario’s delivery completes the sunny package as it’s easily the most head-bobbing in this set.  And the lyrics somewhat encapsulates where Keiko Necesario’ currently at as she sings ‘far away from home I run / every road leads somewhere fun / tell my friends I’ll be gone / don’t you worry I’m right where I should be.’

The Juans

Next on the list, we have the acoustic version “BTNS” by The Juans and Janine Teñoso.  Short for “Bakit ‘To Nangyari Sa’tin”, the song was released by the two artists earlier this year. The original track was already a heartbreaking ballad despite its tunefulness. The new acoustic version is no less poignant. But the barebones acoustic arrangements do put us at ease listening-wise despite the eventual heartbreak. But more than anything, this piano-decked ballad puts the focus on the vocals of Carl Guevara, Japs Mendoza and of course, Janine Teñoso. Individually these vocalists can stand solidly on their own. Together, it results in an expressive intensity that we wouldn’t mind hearing again soon.

Janine Teñoso

Lastly there’s ST. WOLF with “Lapastangan,” the final track released in their “RMNNTS VOL 1” EP. According to the band’s press, “the inspiration for the EP was our circumstances during the lockdown. Since we all of us living in different parts of the country and experiencing different headspaces, we wanted to give ‘The Pack’ (their fandom) a treat: a chronological mirror of each member’s experiences in lockdown through reimaginations of how our songs would be done in different styles. Each song is a reflection of every emotion that we went through during those times.”


This particular track puts on display ST. WOLF’s predilection for hard rock, metal and electronica. This one is all drama and bombast and the overall effect is heart pounding as it is a worthy rock tune to listen to and in a way evocative of classic Linkin Park. But the inherent flamboyance is all ST. WOLF of course.