When the OPM band scene erupted in the '90s, a small bar in the QC area called Club Dredd was at the center of it all. And of all the groups that performed there, a decorated list that includes local music legends such as The Youth, Advent Call, Eraserheads, Color It Red, Alamid, Razorback and Wolfgang just to name a few, Parokya ni Edgar stands out as one of the bands still around today, with virtually no change of personnel and overall sound, and still churning out hit after hit.
Most people think of PNE as just a novelty rock band, and partly they are. The boys know this, too, originally calling themselves Comic Relief—a name that was eventually replaced by the group's current brand, but remains to define what the band is mostly about. Parody songs seem to be their signature style, continuing to make hits out of other artists' melodies. Though listening to their discography reveals that they are just as good in making original music—a fact that has been validated time and again by both local (Awit, NU, Myx) and international (MTV, Nickelodeon) award-giving bodies, and proves that, without a doubt, Parokya is more than just a funny band.
It's been 20 years since the release of their first album, Khangkhungkherrnitz, and they are still as relevant today as they were back in '96. This staying power is a testament to just how good the group is at what they do. Let's have a listen at their songs that went unnoticed, specifically original songs (because parodies deserve a list of their own), and appreciate the greatness that is Parokya ni Edgar.
"Pangarap Ko Sa Buhay"
We're not a big fan of making pop culture references in songs because eventually, people will cease to know what the song was actually about. Take "Pangarap Ko Sa Buhay," for example—we're at that point where Caselyn Francisco and Chuckie Dreyfus are no longer part of this generation's collective consciousness. But while the song will definitely appeal to an older age group's sense of nostalgia, its musicality and simplicity, as with most of Parokya's ditties, are strong enough to make this track an enjoyable trip long after we last saw That's Entertainment and its Tuesday Edition on our TV screens.
Their debut album, aside from being a pain in the ass to spell, is actually full of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious tunes. "Paparap" is an underrated track about finding love in the most unusual of places. With a catchy tune and a chorus that's impossible to forget, "Paparap" could have been a platinum hit back in the day but, like most other songs in Khangkhungkherrnitz, was overshadowed by the band's mega-hit, "Buloy." Listen to it and you'll see, or rather hear, what we mean—just don't blame us for the inevitable bout of LSS afterwards.
Buhawi Meneses is one of the best bassists in OPM today, even with the hardware to prove it—he was named 1999 NU Rock Awards' Bassist of the Year. "Tatlong Araw," a somber cut from the band's first album, was the first glimpse of Buwi's mastery over his instrument. His melancholic melody set the mood for the track, with guitarist Darius Semana adding a bit of flair as the song builds up to its climax. And approximately 7,300 days later, "Tatlong Araw" is still as excellent as it was back in '96.
Burugudunstuystugudunstuy was an album filled with some of the band's most memorable hits such has "Harana," "Okatokat," and "Please Don't Touch My Birdie." But one of the last tracks on the album stands out as an absolutely refreshing respite from all the comedic bits being thrown at us by the band. An ascending bass line from Buwi prepares "Magic Spaceship" for takeoff, after which drummer Dindin Moreno takes it rumbling across the tarmac, and eventually ends up soaring in a beautiful aural horizon created by Gab Chee Kee's perfect use of the flanger (that thing that makes his guitar sound like a jet plane in mid-flight). And that's just the intro, which in itself is poetry in melodic form, establishing it as one of the band's most well-crafted songs.
After the release their highly acclaimed sophomore album, PNE followed up with a strong yet definitely underappreciated Christmas album. Jingle Balls, Silent Night, Holy Cow delivered a solid set of yuletide tracks ranging from the serious ("Hosanna Ngayong Pasko"), droll ("Tamad Si Santa"), and downright weird ("Olops"). "Simbang Gabi," a rocking tribute to the Pinoy tradition, falls squarely in the middle of that spectrum. With a relatable story and nifty guitar work from Darius (check out the half-time solos at around the two-minute mark), it's a song you wouldn't mind listening to even after the season is long over.
"Hosanna Ngayong Pasko"
While this is probably Parokya's most popular Christmas song, it's not nearly as popular as their other songs, which we feel is a travesty. "Hosanna Ngayong Pasko" is the type of song that will serve you well in front of a fireplace, drinking hot choco, and doing all sorts of cliché Christmas-y stuff—all while thinking of lost love. And the vocal harmony that you hear? Yep, that's Ely Buendia singing with frontman Chito Miranda, which makes this song that much more awesome.
The band likes to surprise people. Take their 4th studio album, for example. Who would think that in an album called Gulong Itlog Gulong, which included tracks called "Cobra Bird" and "Picha Pie," you would find one of the best love songs ever written? "Gising Na" is about the struggle of trying to profess your love to the girl of your dreams, and Chito, while admittedly lacking in technical prowess, tells that story with a certain sincerity in his voice that no amount of belting and high-note-hitting will ever match.
"Saan Man Patungo"
Aside from "Inuman Na," "Saan Man Patungo" is one of those songs that should be a drinking session staple. It has all the elements necessary for such a status—the same four chords for the entire song, lyrics that are easy to remember, and a melody that anyone with even the faintest knowledge of music can sing along with. These are traits easily applicable to a handful of Parokya's songs, which is part of their mass appeal, and "Saan Man Patungo" is a testament to the band's mastery of the formula.
Their discography is so diverse that you just can't place them in a single category. On one track, they're talking about touching birds, on another, stolen wallets. Then you come across "Kailan Pa," a legitimate love song and a perfect example of why they cannot be labeled as just a novelty rock group. "Kailan Pa" is as relatable as can be—a story we're all familiar with, framed inside a chord structure that isn't too intimidating for most guitarists. It may be not on the level as some of the band's more popular harana-worthy songs, but this one is definitely worth another listen.
There are so many things going right for "Superstar," but it's really Parokya's guitar players that make this song what it is—grossly underrated and deserves infinitely more airtime. The verse is a piece of heaven delivered in major chords which complements the understated vocals really well. The mellow and seemingly "happy" pattern serves as a great counterpoint to the disdain contained in the lyrics. A sense of conflict is briefly hinted at by Gab during the interludes with a sudden yet deliberate (and goose bump-inducing) change in chord progression. To top it all off, Darius delivers a deft guitar solo that will leave you wondering why they didn't let him shred on more tracks.
Chito Miranda has a voice that is distinctly and unmistakably associated with Parokya's sound. But there are times when he steps aside and lets his bandmates take over lead vocal duties. When he does? Magic often happens. Edgar Edgar Musikahan probably has more of those moments than any other album. "Y?" is reason enough for Chito to keep trusting his bandmates with the microphone.
Starting off innocently enough, "It's OK" plods on with a steady pace for 90 percent of the song, delivering a solid track anchored on Moreno's reliable drumming. The end, though, is a different story as it transforms into a riff-driven beast. With full-on distortion and a heavy beat, it's a side of Parokya we rarely hear—a side that's remotely reminiscent of Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, or even A Perfect Circle—something we hope they do more of because, if the last 40 seconds of "It's OK" is any indication, it's going to be impressive.
The first track from the wildly popular Bigotilyo album, the underrated status of "Alumni Homecoming" is actually debatable. While it did get airplay and is still widely remembered, we think it should have gotten more love from listeners. We recommend giving the version from their Inuman Sessions Vol. 2 DVD a listen if just for Vinci Montaner's incredible backing vocal work. He uncharacteristically hits high notes and complements Chito's voice like no other can. Too bad Vinci has left for good, but that won't stop us from enjoying his numerous contributions to the band's sound and remembering him as that guy who sang "Picha Pie."
Gab, the band's rhythm guitarist, is probably best known for the track "Your Song (My One and Only You)," a bonus track from Bigotilyo. Not many people know, though, that he has written and sung some of Parokya's best, yet most underappreciated songs (some of which you'll find on this list). "Absorbing Man" is one of those that deserves more attention and shows just how much talent there is in the group. It's at the midpoint where this song really shines—it picks up with a funk-inspired bass interlude which drives the song into a catchy chant from Gab with some well-placed keyboard stabs spread out for good measure.
"How To Make A Love Song"
As much as we don't like using the word "cute" to describe stuff (especially things we bring up with our bros), this song is exactly that. Don't mistake that statement for something negative because it isn't—this is a track that we recommend you learn how to play and/or make a part of your harana playlist. Like most of Parokya's love songs, it's Chito's understated performance that gives this song its authenticity—his voice lends genuine emotion to the song and allows a level of accessibility that only a few bands can successfully convey.