“We’re huge in the Philippines.”
Last week’s Patcast guests were the Gin Blossoms. At one point, the conversation turned to both Train and the Gin Blossoms’ popularity in Asia. When the Philippines came up, my ears pricked up the way they always do whenever my country is mentioned by non-Filipinos. I’m always interested to find out how others view our country. After Pat Monahan said that Train could be big in Indonesia, Robin Wilson said “Oh we’re huuuge in the Philippines.” He said it in a very ironic way, in the same tone that other celebrities say “Oh I’m big in Japan.” Robin’s bandmate Jesse Valenzuela then replied, “Only next to Stephen Bishop”.
To which I reacted, Oh no you didn’t!
Are we not cool enough for you?
The answer is, to be honest, probably a no. Ish.
Robin Wilson also said, “Hey, you gotta take what you can get.” And Jesse Valenzuela added that the Gin Blossoms will probably come back here every couple of years, just like the Stephen Bishops. To be fair, the Philippines is perhaps the only country where acts like England Dan and John Ford Coley, David Pomeranz or the aforementioned Stephen Bishop can have sold out concerts. And not just one-offs either – these artists have come back several times for shows. What can I say? Filipinos love sappy, sentimental love songs.
On the other hand though, artists like Beyonce, Katy Perry, Rihanna and Taylor Swift have performed here several times as well. For the record, I absolutely hate those four – but they are staples of Top 40 radio so in terms of the mainstream, the Philippines is still on the radar.
As for being cool enough, what is cool music anyway? It’s not a rhetorical question, I really don’t know. When it comes to music, I just like what I like and I don’t care what anybody else thinks. And I especially don’t like to be told what I should listen to. The closest I can come up with as the definition of cool is anyone who performs at Glastonbury. Just because Glasto seems so isolated, exclusive and out of reach. Plus it has that nickname that just screams cool – Glasto. This whole paragraph was just an uneducated ramble, by the way.
I realize that I did make a comparison to Japan in the beginning, so I wonder if they have similar thoughts about this. I guess the likes of Bon Iver and Arcade Fire will never come here, so yeah, I guess that makes the Philippines not cool. And if I’m being honest, I wasn’t really offended by what the Gin Blossoms said. I still love them. Also, I’m still pretty proud of my country. We have a very confused national identity resulting from hundreds of years of colonialization by various countries. But we think we’re cool anyway. Maybe not in a conscious/-self-aware/hipster way, but more in the “I don’t really know or care what everybody else is doing I’m just gonna do me” kind of way. Which is just fine.