AUDIO JUNKIE: Zack Tabudlo, Arthur Nery off to a hot 2022 start

Published January 17, 2022, 10:18 AM

by Punch Liwanag

Photo composite (from left) clockwise Zack Tabudlo, Arthur Nery, Suzara, HBOM, Because x Claudia

Zack Tabudlo and Arthur Nery lead Pinoy pop on 2022’s first few weeks.

With his late 2021 release “Pano,” Zack Tabudlo manages to be one of two acts to have a hot single as the new year starts. Currently, the retro harana sounding “Pano” has netted the young singer more than 14 million streams. Listeners are really digging the new track with its wah-wah laced opening lick, that seem a nod to Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On,” and the R&B-tinged progression (that seems to borrow from “On Bended Knee”) is a good look, er sound rather, for Tabudlo.

And the streaming numbers show. Speaking of numbers, Zack’s other song “Habang Buhay” is also doing better. This upbeat number, which recalls Adam Levine’s “No One Else Like You” (from the “Begin Again” OST) has logged in impressive streams (25 million plus). I  guess fits of inspiration, not to mention bits of imitation (bali here and there) is doing wonders for Zack Tabudlo. As they say, if it ain’t broken…

After an impeccable year, Arthur Nery just cemented his status as a bonafide Pinoy pop hitmaker. With “Pagsamo” practically dominating since its release (currently sat 45 million plus streams), it’s safe to say that Arthur Nery has raised his game a whole ‘nother level. He also had a big one with “Pelikula” (from Janine Tenoso’s EP) and prior that, the excellent “Take All The Love.” On his latest single titled “Isa Lang,” Nery is all cool and calculating on this R&B drenched mid-tempo number that features a wicked vocal performance from the “Binhi” singer. Especially on those falsettos he lets rip past the middle of the song that seem to tussle with the succinct bluesy guitar fills.

Also on a hot streak is rapper Because, whose track “BMW” continues to rise. A 2020 release, the track had a resurgence around the second half of ’21. “BMW” is just the right amount of cool from Because and featured singer LESLIE that made this Lo-fi, slow-trap flavored track a must-have for any cruising playlist. And spring boarding from this hit, the new single “Everything” finds the rapper-songwriter on a collaboration with Claudia (Barretto). The pair does it somewhat old school: Because lays down the rap breaks, while Claudia provides the R&B-inflected choruses and hooks. Because is more in Claudia’s element on this NEXXFRIDAY track. We’d like to see Claudia singing on some “BMW”-type track with Because next time out.

Meanwhile a new release by pop duo SUZARA brings back cousins Top Suzara and Bolichie Suzara with a single titled “Kakalimutan.” Somehow, we’re reminded of good late 90’s, early aught-flavored songwriting on this original about starting anew. The track is “all about letting go and forgetting about past relations that weren’t meant to be.” Senti-themed “Kakalimutan” has a chorus that catches the ear. The duo Suzara made its debut last year and released two singles wherein they wore their influences like badges and delivered some retro pop influenced originals (of the 80’s kind) on songs “MTM (Magkikita Tayong Muli),” and “With You.”

US-based Pinoy rapper HBOM delivers West Coast style rap on his latest single titled “Purple.” The track is “about standing your ground with your family, unity and pride in what you believe in.” HBOM’s style brings the best of American and Pinoy rap. There’s a bit of that robust Snoop Dogg tone we hear in his vocals, and there’s swagger in his bilingual rap style and maybe it’s just us, but he sounds more badass when he’s rapping in the native tongue.