Christmas is celebrated more extensively in the Philippines than any other country in the world.
And it usually starts as early as September when radio stations start playing popular Christmas songs like “Jingle Bells.” “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” “White Christmas,” “Silent Night,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “O Holy Night,” and many more.
By December, many homes start preparing for the traditional Christmas “carolling” as performed by groups from all sorts of age groups—from young children with very little singing experience to seasoned singers accompanied by several musical instruments.
“Music is a big part of the Filipino Christmas tradition,” notes seasoned musicians and “Coke Studio” producers Raymund Marasigan and Buddy Zabala.
“We grew up listening to Christmas carols,” Raymund further recalled as Buddy also remembered carolers in his hometown who sing outside houses were rewarded by appreciative residents with anything “from candies to even a half sack of rice.”
For its upcoming Christmas episodes, “Coke Studio Philippines” took on some of the most popular Christmas carols of all time as interpreted by all of the 14 artists that participated in its maiden season.
Since it was launched last July, “Coke Studio Philippines” has largely succeeded in its goal to elevate an already resurgent OPM scene. The show, created by Coca-Cola, features an intriguing mix of sought-after musicians and rising newcomers from varying music genres to create new and exciting tunes for the present and next generation of music fans.
“Coke Studio Philippines” pairs two different artists who are then given the task to create a new original song. In between their collaborations, each artist, whether solo or group, also takes on the challenge of interpreting the hits of the other artist he, she or they are assigned to collaborate with.
“It’s like an exchange gift of sorts,” Buddy says, recalling another famous Filipino Christmas tradition.
“They performed these Christmas carols the way they want to, the way they want it to come out. Not the usual way we’re used to [hearing them]. Hopefully, you’re going to like them.”
The first of the two-part episode featured the pairings of Gracenote and Abra; Sandwich and BP Valenzuela; and Ebe Dancel and Autotelic.
First up was Gracenote and Abra who opted to give a trippy treatment to the traditional “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” As they discovered, the song is a pretty easy piece to interpret. At the same time, the way the song is structured allows for many possibilities or as one of the concerned musicians puts it, “there’s a lot to play around with.”
Next was Sandwich and BP Valenzuela as they took on the somber Christmas anthem, “O Holy Night.” Raymund said they wanted “a peaceful song.”
“The arrangement lent itself well because I don’t think it’s a song that is calling to be rocked out,” added Sandwich’s Diego Castillo.
Finally, Ebe Dancel and Autotelic joined forces for an inspired mid-tempo acoustic version of “O Come All Ye Faithful” punctuated by their jingle-jangle guitars and wonderful harmonies.
“Coke Studio Philippines” hopes the Christmas episodes will result in songs that will become part and parcel of everyone’s holiday playlist in the years to come. The featured collaborations should also inspire the creation of more fresh and exciting musical content from budding young artists and allow the appreciation of Original Pilipino Music like before—be it during Christmas or any other season for that matter.
“Coke Studio Philippines” airs every Saturday at 8PM on TV5 and also live on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter on the same time slot. For social media updates, subscribe to the show’s YouTube channel at Youtube.com/CokeStudioPH and follow the Coca Cola Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CocaColaPhilippines/.
Watch the full episode 9 of Coke Studio Philippines here: