How are they setting themselves apart from other up-and-coming P-pop artists?
The Philippine pop industry is at a crossroads.
Some five, ten years ago, the celebrity-turned-singer was the apex of local pop music (cue Paligoy-ligoy by Nadine Lustre). These days, it’s boy and girl groups that are finally having their turn to bask in the limelight. The latest player in the game is Alamat, Viva Entertainment’s nine-piece P-pop boy group.
Like most groups that have recently sprung to fame, Alamat was born of a nationwide talent search. In 2020, Viva partnered with Ninuno Media to launch Pwede!, a competition across eight major provinces, to find members of their next boyband project. The coronavirus outbreak led to the eventual postponement of Pwede’s on-ground auditions. It is unclear how the audition process unfolded from there, but one year after the announcement of Pwede!, Alamat made their debut.
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Like forerunners SB19, BGYO and Boy Band PH, it’s difficult to ignore the obvious inspiration that Alamat borrows from K-pop. The intense training, the outfits, the dyed hair and the boy beauty, even the self-produced music that newer generation K-pop artists have started to pride themselves on—the formula is unmistakable.
Long-time K-pop fans may find it…interesting, then, that Ninuno Media describes Alamat to be rooted in a “counter-K-pop” concept. I’ll be honest: at face value, counter-K-pop sounds more like denial than anything else. According to Ninuno Media, they’re applying the same commercial formula popularized by Korean pop groups. However, with Alamat, the blueprint is used to promote Filipino music and sensibilities instead.
Is it groundbreaking? Not particularly. Other artists have debuted with this same philosophy, but that’s precisely why it’ll be interesting to see how Alamat sets themselves apart.
Their debut single is a good start.
Making the most of their members’ diverse backgrounds, Alamat’s kbye music video caught the public’s attention almost instantly thanks to the track’s multilingual lyrics. Closing in on 270 thousand views as of press time, kbye shows Taneo, Mo, Jao, Kin, Tomas, R-Ji, Valfer, Gami and Alas singing and rapping in various languages spoken across the country. Listen closely and you might catch one or two Filipino instruments sampled in the instrumental. Their outfits, designed by fashion mainstay Bang Pineda, feature traditional touches here and there. The music video set is rich in distinctly Pinoy imagery to boot—think jeepneys, gulaman jugs and capiz windows.
Can you catch all the references?
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver