I remember the first time I hated a Sponge Cola song. It was one of their biggest hits Gemini. I think it's the slow-dance worthy waltz time measure that annoyed me since it didn't match the typical style that I would associate with a band.
What I remember even more is the second Sponge Cola song I hated. I know my exact location when I heard their take on Tito Gino Padilla's "Closer You and I" on my car radio.
Maybe your jaw dropped a bit, maybe you laughed, maybe you are reaching for your mouse to click on the THUMBS DOWN ICON at the bottom of the blog. But before you do, here's my afterthought. I think I was jealous of the band scene at the time which was booming…while the new solo artists like me were struggling.
Enter "Araw, Oras. Tagpuan." I can never take back how I felt about those first two experiences but it's always funnier to hear about a hater-fan story.
1) Sponges are poriferans. #KuyaKimAnimalKingdomTrivia
2) Why Sponge Cola? "Sponge" was the band's original name but there was an existing band with the same name. With a little bit of foresight that this would cause confusion in the web-based future, they added the word "cola" after picking it from a random list with the words dog,cat, rat, monkey, etc. Sponge Monkey actually sounds quite promising.
3) Sponge Cola has an impressive list of 14 #1 hits
4) Sponge Cola is made up of Yael Yuzon (vocals, guitar and piano), Armo (guitars), Gosh (bass) and TedMark Cruz (Drums)
Hit #1 was directed by Master Rapper Francis Magalona with cameos by @frankmagalona, @ayesamiaow and @saabmagalona
Award winning actress @inafeleo and singer/actor/director/guitarist @yanyuzon play star crossed lovers. Guesting in the video is Dr. Ricardo Abad from Ateneo.
The guitar Yael used for the rain sequence was severely damaged but it was used a year later to record the song Tuliro.
Award-winning actor @pingmedina headlines the ensemble of this crowd favorite with lyrics by Datu Pendatun. The couple seen in the beginning of the video is still together to this very day. Filmmaker Juan Miguel Sevilla and Hong Kong Disneyland's Maita Ponce.
THEME SONG: Pedro Penduko
Mr. @jimparedes cameos in this video which comes from the APO HIKING SOCIETY's Kami n'APO muna tribute album.
It won Favorite Video in the 2008 MYX Music Awards.
Continuing the tradition of featuring people before they were famous, this video features a young Bangs Garcia.
THEME SONG: Lovers (Koreanovela)
Spot the hidden @marcabaya and @dindinmoreno.
This anthem is a theme song of several things. There is a version featuring the Ateneo Blue Babble Battalion. Spot the non-Sponge Tedmark Cruz who was a session musician for this video.
THEME SONG: UAAP (several seasons and counting)
Agimat: Ang Mga Alamat ni Ramon Revilla
11. Di Na Mababawi
It's in this music video that you'll see Sponge Cola as a three-piece band.
12. Wala Kang Katulad
This video was shot in reverse. The band had to play and sing backwards.
13. Makapiling Ka
This song was written by a 14-year old Yael Yuzon for his mom Mrs. Elsa Yuzon using the persona of his father Mr. Johnny Yuzon. At the time, Mrs. Yuzon was a flight attendant and had to be away all the time.
The band travels back to 2002 where former drummer turned solo artist Chris Cantada (@TK2342) was still the drummer of the group. In this "Back to the Future tribute" we see Zia Quizon, Fran (@monicafrancesca) of RX 93.1, @kimmarvilla of NU/Dig Radio and @ysabyuzon, the girl from the "With a Smile" video of the legendary Eraserheads.
15. Kay Tagal Kitang Hinintay
The music video of this song was shot in location at Sitio Cogon and Hacienda Sta. Rosalia, Manapla, Negros Occidental. It was directed by Yan Yuzon.
The last hit two songs come from the new album. Let's take a listen to 2011 Sponge Cola. Is it a step beyond the music the band recorded in Yael's bedroom during their indie days?
ALBUM REVIEW: Araw, Oras, Tagpuan
Track #1 Tambay. The band usually does a mash-up of this and Donna Cruz's "Kapag Tumibok ang Puso." Ate Donna as Yael calls her was an early influence. She is now married with three kids and resides in Cebu. She runs faster and stronger than Yael and once trash talked him since he runs shorter distances than her.
Can you guess who the back up vocalists are? Yael's best friend @leonyonzon, Leon's cousin Colin Downer, and some other singers who shall remain nameless.
Favorite line: "binulong ko na 'to dati kung nakikinig ka lang" (I think I wrote this line)
#2 Stargazer. My favorite roadtrip song. Perfect for a starry night in Batangas Star toll or any highway for that matter. I love it when double meaning songs don't include something green-this time, it's something floral.
Favorite line: "…broken, we still fly"
I love the backing vocals of this song. I'm waiting for the live version.
Favorite line: "I'm just waiting for the universe to show me how to steal you from the sky" (especially when it's the piano solo playing this line)
#4 OK Dito.
Speaks of summers in the beach when you wish your special someone was there with you for some H.H.W.W. moments. This is the theme song for a Vodka campaign with Solenn Heussaff.
There's some weird gibberish going on during the bridge. I know what they're saying but I'm not at liberty to share. If you're a real fan, you'll probably figure it out. Much in the same way that Yael, true blue LOST fan figured out the hidden messages of the whispers that could be heard in the series. He did this by isolating the vocal track through a complicated process.
Favorite line: "Mas OK dito kung nandito ka!" I love that this song is very conversational in what we would consider to be a regular conversation. This rarely seems to happen in Yael's compositions and you'll know why when you have an actual conversation with Yael.
#5 She Weeps.
This is the oldest song in the album and it was a last minute addition. Written by a 12-year old Yael before his English Lit days and even before he started playing guitar. He picked up a guitar while he was waiting in his dad's office after school and used open strings with his right hand and nothing more. Listen to the opening riff and you'll get it.
Favorite line: "Akala mo wala lang, may laman palang katahimikan mo."
#6 Kay Tagal Kitang Hinintay. Poetry. Gosh outdoes himself with this song. I heard him say in a Music Up Late interview that his musical influences include ballads sung by Ms. Sharon Cuneta and my mom Zsa Zsa Padilla. I was surprised. Once again, my band stereotype got the best of me. Another instant that proved how romantic Gosh is was when he tweeted me back after I praised the music of the late great Filipino composer George Canseco whose hits were performed by Mr. Basil Valdez during his concert with mom in Resorts World. Gosh is wonderfully poetic, I'm hopeful that there will be more like him in future generations to continue the legacy of the songs that are perfect for the old school harana.
I feel that the romantic guitars and string section overpower the electric guitars. That's a lovely surprise. It's a Filipino ballad that still has the Sponge Cola stamp.
I love the short film/music video directed by Yan Yuzon. It's his 2nd directorial job after Archipelago's Gaan. Check out this exclusive behind the scenes footage shot in Negros.
Favorite lines: "sinasamsam bawat gunita na para bang tayo'y di na tatanda"
"Mundo ko ay iyong niyanig. O anong ligayang, 'kay sumama sa akin"
#7 She Wants You To.
Another Gosh composition…We hear Yael's voice break here but it adds an earthiness to it. Reminiscent of their raw track version of the Madonna classic "Crazy for you" which became a viral hit through one of the earlier file-sharing sites- Kazaa where the live recording spread like…(well)…crazy.
Favorite line: "take a chance, share the downfall…"
#8 Walang Wakas. I usually skip this track because it's too noisy for my taste. Here I go again with my honesty. But one time, I found myself running faster when this song came on. Perfect push for uphill climbs. This song, Puso and Bitiw are my running theme songs.
Favorite line: "sama-sama nating kakayanin 'to…ang bukas ay ngayon"
#9 New Steel.
A strange mix. Sponge Cola with Paolo Valenciano, Ria Redulla & Los Magno. Listen close for the vocals of Rampqueen's Saul Ulanday who is also the band's manager.
Favorite line: Ria Redulla's rap in Cebuano slang- "Paugat ka ba? Paisog ka bai? Ayaw na siguro pa in-ana ei" (Roughly translates to Nagpapakaangas ka ba? Wag na, pare.")
#10 Warning feat. Norma Love, @iwamotors & Mow-mow collectively known as @tanyamarkova.
The band's good friend Kim Marvilla claims that the subject of this song is a direct quote from her.
This song with a heavy influence from Beegees and VST from the 70s is a much unexpected track. It's written by the new kid on the block, drummer TedMark Cruz. Breaking genre rules is always nice. The saxophone line by Garon Honasan is a cute addition. Much like the Kenny G. sax explosion in Katy Perry's single TGIF.
Favorite line: hinay-hinay lang tamang moderation lang. Dalawang kaliwang paa, pag sumayaw ay ayos na!
#11 Scenic View. This is a favorite "energizer" song in the morning before work. Some people have coffee, I usually listen to a good song.
Favorite line: "Thanks for the support, I'm fine I'm feeling more than alive." I find this line so out of character that I love it. I also love the ahhh ooh ad-libs in the end of the song.
#12 Araw, Oras, Tagpuan. The album title. This song speaks of two people who have been through war and back in a seemingly epic drama because it is sung in Filipino. The two broken hearts meet in serendipitous fashion- perfect day, time and setting. Sounds like it could be a title for a movie. #Goosebumps
Favorite line: "gaan ng bawat bukas kinasasabikan"
#13 BONUS TRACK: EZ AS PI. If you are a true-blue Sponge fan, this song is a big treat. Done in the band's own studio called Knive Recording, Yosef Garcia leaves the mic on for Armo and Yael as they speak to their Road Manager Trix Parco (@trixparco/ a.k.a. Ptripches). The song features Yael's youngest sister Ysab Yuzon and his best friend NU 107 DJ Kim Marvilla.
It gives people a sneak peek of the band's kulitan, humor, and even witty sarcasm. The real question is, is Yael trying to tap into his inner Count Dracula by saying Pi = 3.141592 or is there a hidden meaning behind the numbers?
Favorite line: "so…for all the giraffes out there…"
Trix(on the phone): "naririnig ko young boses ni Armo"
Armo to Yael referring to his cellphone problem: "And you sir are the physical manifestation of the negative effects of technology on today's youth."
Yael to Armo: "I know right…*@#$!"
Strange and stranger still. I love how these two rockstars both say "I know right" at one point in the duration of this track.
Inspired by Track #13, I want to show you all a different side of the boys. I believe that the best way to get to know a person nowadays (which we don't realize) is by looking at their favorite YouTube videos. These are normally the videos people like to forward via e-mail or post on their Facebook walls. This is a sort of personality test almost equivalent to what was once "What is your favorite color" or "What is your motto in life" in the glory days of the slum book.
THE BOYS' FAVORITE YOUTUBE VIDEOS
Watch out for the Sponge Cola videos. They have teamed up with Sindikato, so they'll be coming out with lots of videos on SpongeTV. Click below to see the first installment.
The reason why I wanted you to get to know the band, the way their loyal LISTERS do is for us to explore the reasons why the band is still alive and kicking.
In the wake of the mass disband season, articles that mourn the death of OPM, and the closing of NU 107, Sponge Cola snatches a diamond in what was supposedly the darkest time for OPM. To quote a Sponge anthem "wag ka sanang magkakamaling sumuko nailing." Yael Yuzon is aware of his limitations as a singer but often attributes to being all heart. And maybe that's all it takes…and a little talent won't hurt either. "Don't panic. OPM's fine. We're just adjusting. People will always want to hear music…and sing-a-long. That's who we are, that's what we do. We just have to find new creative ways for music to reach people." says the singer.
As a retraction to the first paragraph, I would like to congratulate Sponge Cola on your Diamond album award.