Monday ∗ 14 Jul 2008

ano kenyo?

What’s in a name? In choosing to buy the album Radiosurfing by Kenyo, it meant nothing. Because seeing the face of Mcoy Fundales, old frontman of Orange and Lemons, was enough reason to get the album, never mind that his new band’s name did not, in any way, strike a cord, nor did it seem to work with wit or humor. Without thinking, and with memories of his creativity as part of Orange and Lemons and as housemate on last season’s Pinoy Big Brother Celebrity Edition, the album was bought.

After listening to the CD, I was just not buying.

Not only did Radiosurfing turn out to be practically an all-revivals album, it was also the most uncreative revival album I’ve listened to in a while. It is, after all, the age of the local tribute album (to Apo and the Eraserheads), Regine Velasquez’s creative revivals of “Mac Arthur’s Park” and “Blue Suede Shoes” among many other songs, and KC Concepcion’s version of Rihanna’s “Umbrella”. There is more to revivals than just singing an old song, and adding extra instruments to beef it up – or pretend that it’s any different. There are many aspects to a song that can be played around with, renewed, re-created, towards making new hits from old ones.

No to originality

Save for the one original, the introductory song “Radio” where Fundales’ lyrics and Kenyo’s music remain reminiscent of Orange and Lemons, there didn’t seem to be much space here for the band to stretch their wings. The Florante original “Sana” and Rey Valera’s “Ayoko na Sa’yo” just has Fundales singing plugged versions, i.e., more instruments, and nothing else. The same may be said for “Putting on the Ritz” – a version that makes you ask: why even revive this?

Granted that Fundales’ voice and Kenyo’s sound as a band – no different really from the original Orange and Lemons – are perfect for the cheesiness of the songs they chose (“Love Me” by Michael Cretu, “Reality” and “Your Eyes” by J. Jordan and Vladimir Cosma, “Let Me In” by C. Cannon and Mike Francis). And there is a rendering of “Kiss on My List” by Janna Allen and Daryl Hall which is a wee bit different, depending more on a re-arrangement of the original song, and not just additional instruments or vocal arrangements. But the version of “Don’t Worry be Happy” by Bobby Mcferrin? Oh, don’t get me started! Mcferrin must be turning in his grave, wondering why he deserved to lose his soul in this rendition.

Yes to mimicry

The album ends with “HBK”, a rendering of “Hello” by Lionel Richie and “Knife Cuts Like a Knife” by Bryan Adams into one song – and a pain to listen to, with Fundales screaming his head of, losing the innocence that Richie’s original has. Really, he sounds like he does need a knife – magpapatiwakal na siya.

Given the almost mimicry that this album banks on, you’d rather settle for the originals. And this needs to be said as well: a vocal arrangement here, a guitar solo there, is not what makes a good revival album. Much less a promising debut as a new band. So maybe, yes, the name doesn’t even matter.

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