On Callalily and the Pogi Rock Phenomenon

Against my better judgment, I decided to listen to Callalily’s new album, Fisheye. Gaining massive popularity because of a big debut single Stars, the band now has legions of fans and strong album sales. They also have a male contingent calling for their heads. People would most likely put me in the latter party. After all, I’ve lambasted them time and time again. They are getting highly undue spotlight and are depriving more deserving bands of it as well. Still, when everything is all said and done, is all the badmouthing for all of this commotion well-deserved?

Why, yes, of course. What did you think I would say? Although, it might be for reasons different from what you may have expected.

Being well-insulated from mainstream media (thankfully), I hadn’t heard anything from Callalily for about half a year. The lack of MYX from my cable provider (mixed blessing) protected me from seeing and/or hearing then next corporate media “sensation” and avoiding masa radio also shielded me from any offending rock. I hoped that would allow me to listen to the album without any MAJOR biases. That said, I braced myself for the very real possibility that the album would be ear-piercingly bad.

After listening the album for a couple of times, I have to say: Meh. It’s nothing particularly outstanding. 16 pop-rock track, 0 fresh ideas. Basically, it’s your run-of-the-mill “alt-rock” mixed in with EMO vocal stylings and quite probably, lots of polishing effects. Apparently, Susundan is the carrier single, and it is probably the most pleasant of the tracks. Not too whiny, not particularly offensive. Trapped Inside a Moment isn’t bad either. Fast-paced pop, though the songwriting could use an upgrade. The rest of the tracks are generic, though nothing THAT bad. One caveat though is that last track, Song for the Youth. Awit ng Kabataan anyone? That song title, as well as the folksy song arrangement are all too familiar, though the song message thankfully isn’t.

Nonetheless, the album is decidedly mediocre. Which doesn’t really deserve lambasting. After all, generic rock is a dime a dozen these days. Still, expect the album to dominate record sales and TV spots for the next 6 months or so. And therein lies the problem.

Remember the line “too much of a good thing is bad”? How would you feel if something you are completely indifferent to is repeatedly shoved in your face? More than anything, the inane repetition of unappealing but not appalling rock is creating the backlash that results in Cueshe hate sites and more Cueshe hate sites. (I do regard Callalily a bit better than Cuehse though) After all, rockers are an aggressive bunch, aren’t they?

When the airwaves and television are dominated by unexciting, or even annoying (like that blasted Stay), songs, it results in jaded bastards like myself, who will lambast, badmouth, and basically rebel against what has to be considered mainstream media. Especially when you also hear it on the jeep, at school, and at the local cafeteria. You also see their faces on posters, ads, T-shirts, and magazines. At some point, one will get annoyed, a point I reached when 6cyclemind’s Sandalan was being continuously sung in my classroom. And it’s funny because my classmates always questioned why I kept listening to my iPod.

Basically, what I’m saying is that the key problem with the pogi rock thing is that some of us are smarter than just accepting what mainstream media regards as good. A lot of people DO still have a discerning mind. That doesn’t mean that media execs will stop trying to shill us their newest signee though.

Which brings me to my next point. Are we to blame bands like Callalily and Cueshe for not turning down big offers from major record labels to promote their music, no matter how bad we make it out as? To hell with so-called musical integrity, they haven’t done anything morally wrong. If anything, it’s the record labels that are to blame. After all, they are the enablers. They are also to blame for the OTSO-OTSO, SPAGHETTI, and other crappy jingle phenomenon, the Pinoy idol phenomenon, Gretchen Barreto’s latest humiliation, and the like. Just some food for thought.

So, the next time you think of criticizing pogi rock, don’t forget to blame the media as well. 6cyclemind, Cueshe, Callalily, and the like may all be sellouts, poor musicians, etcetera etcetera, but it’s the major labels that are bombarding us with uninspiring music and cash-in acting-singing-dancing-tumbling (thanks, Jessica Zafra ) “sensations”.

That doesn’t mean that the Callalily album is good though.

Rating: C



  1. hey! no offense. i think based on your review, hindi pa ganoon ka open and mindset mo sa scene ng opm bands. siguro wala ka pa nung unang lumabas sa opm scene and e-heads. lahat ng so called punks and new wave tsongs eh diring diri sa eheads na parang ikaw ngayon. nagkataon lang na hindi pa uso ang blogging noon. on the contrary to pogi rock, yes, hindi sa pagiging ‘pogi’ dinaan ng eheads ang masa kundi sa ‘pop’ rock na tunog nila. maski si freddie aguilar eh sabi nga, “tunog lata and bandang yan.” at marami pang mas magaling sa kanila na hindi nabibigyan ng chance. pero ngayon, pinoy rock icon na sila. my point in here is that, pogi rock never exist. kumbaga walang mga banda ang tinatawag na pogi rock. nagkataon lang ngayon na ang mga nakikinig ay ang TV na nila ang ginagawa nilang radyo at hindi ganito noong last decade. kaya may factor sa kung anung istura nila at ng tugtugan nila. at nagdedepende ang factor na ito sa pagiging instant sikat nila. pero, at the end of the day, music parin ang ginagawa ng mga bandang binaggit mo na ‘pogi rock.’ musika lang yun. walang magaling. walang bobo. walang hindi karapat dapat. at makinig ka ng gusto mo, pero wag kang mag judge ng musikang hindi mo gusto. sabi nga ni raymund marasigan, “sa musika lahat kasali. kaya yung mga yun(mapa ‘pogi rock’/emo), kasali yun.” last statement ko lang e, yeah, may right of freedom ka na sabihin ang nasa loob mo. blog mo to eh. ikaw ang diyos dito. hindi ko rin sinasabi na mas marami akong alam sa opm kaysa sayo. pero kung talagang concern ka or fan sa opm scene, mas maigi na alamin mo yung roots ng pinaka unang mga banda at kung pano sila nag-iwan ng trademark sa opm music. kase normal sa opm yung ganitong pangyayari eh. never hate pare. and sana matutunan mong maintindihan na “kasali yun.” peace!

  2. Uh, I never stated that the Eraserheads were a “pogi rock” band and I really don’t know where you got that.

    I also think it’s natural for artists in different genres like Freddie and Aguilar and the ‘Heads to have artistic differences, just like everyone else. After all, the Eraserheads were innovators, with a brand of music that was both different and popular. It has to be expected that artists in other genres might not see what the fuss was all about. After all, Nirvana’s Nevermind was famously given a 3/5 star rating from Rolling Stones magazine before their music was better understood. Don’t get me started on band feuds.

    Of course, that analogy requires that something is there to be understood. The Eraserheads brought out intelligent pop music with both down-to-earth and deeper themes. That’s why they are iconic- because their music isn’t just some standard pop-rock drivel, but music that can stand the test of time, as their sustained critical acclaim attests. Do any of the pogi rock bands’ music fall under this category? No, unless someone’s compiling a “Worst of” list.

    And pogi rock exists, and it has for a long time. People called it “pop” music before, then “boy bands”, then “pogi rock”, and now, we have “emos”. They’re musical trends that were enormously popular during their day. I don’t think you can say it never existed. You could, however, say that the bands did not deserve being tagged as such. Are they deserving of the criticism that they have received? I believe so.

    Also, looks have been used for selling albums for a long time. Ask Madonna, whose raunchy antics caused frenzy in hormonal males, as well as high record sales. Acts like the Backstreet Boys or F4 can also be attributed to this category. It isn’t something that happened overnight.

    Of course “pogi rock” bands make music, and I never said they didn’t. They make generic music, as I stated in the review. Because of that, and all the unwarranted attention, “pogi rock” bands cannot expect to be universally praised. Not even great acts were able to go unscathed.

    As for judging music, you can’t say that there’s no “good” or “bad” music. That’s asinine, even for my liberal thinking. Yes, Mr. Marasigan may have said that genres such as “emo” and “pogi rock” are music. But then asking that question is like asking Hillary to badmouth Obama on the record. The diplomatic answer is always the best. Somebody should ask him on his opinion on the quality of those types of music.

    It’s not like I’m condemning the bands either. I stated very clearly that they have every right to shill whatever they make. After all, it sells. But that doesn’t make it good music.

    I sincerely believe I am providing legitimate, educated opinions in this blog. And I respect those who have different opinions, just like those Delara fans that keep popping up. But I am not going to listen to what you’re saying because I believe you’re mistaken on multiple accounts. I concede that your opinion is “kasali” as well, but that doesn’t mean I think you’re right. As for “hating”? I am not going to stop for apologists of mediocrity.

  3. i judge music based on the song itself and not whether the band is “pogi” or not, alternative or not, pop or not, etc etc,….

    im not ashamed to have Taylor Swift (the popular) and Todd Snider(the indie) and Punch Brothers( the weird) sitting side by side in my Cd collection..:-)

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