WHENEVER I feel like babbling about my favorite songs, I usually just write a Shuffle the Music post. This time I’m doing a different shtick: I am sharing some of the most beautiful rhetorical questions in English that I found in OPM lyrics.
A rhetorical question is a figure of speech that poses a question but does not demand an answer. “What’s in a name?” asks Juliet in Romeo & Juliet. “Could I be wearing any more clothes?” asks Chandler in Friends. Both characters ask a question not necessarily to get an answer but instead to make a point.
When I started writing this post, I hypothesized that some of the best OPM lyrics ever written are in the form of a question. I was right, although of course I didn’t actually use any quantitative method to rank every OPM song. So, in gist, the songs on this list are just some of my favorite questions in OPM. Feel free to recommend your own favorite questions in music — I am always open to discovering new bops, be it in English or Tagalog or otherwise.
? (Who Do You Think Of)
“? (Who Do You Think Of)” by Any Name’s Okay is a beautiful song about pining for someone. It poses other beautiful questions like, “who do the midnight stars remind you of?” and “what goes on in your chest / that weighs down on your breath?”
I didn’t know Up Dharma Down’s “Thinker” was a break-up song until I paid closer attention to the lyrics. Since then, the question “did I free your mind?” has hit me differently.
When I was writing this list, I debated between the lines “do you always go rogue…?” and “what’s the use in talking?” from the song “Talk” by Cheats. I decided on the former because it’s what I usually sing out loud whenever I’m alone and I feel like singing.
Seven Black Roses
I used to listen to Chicosci’s “Seven Black Roses” a lot when I was in high school. Listening to it now, I must say that the haters had a point: tunog-lata nga sila (haha). I still like the song though.
Sugarfree’s “Fade Away” is about the inevitability of growing old. The entire song is beautifully written with lines like, “Do you recall / when Saturday mornings were meant for fun?” and “There goes your world on a train / you better catch it cause it’s making it’s last trip.” 😦
The line “is it a crime to be me?” from Banna Harbera’s “Always Clueless” is very maarte and highly philosophical and I very much love it. I love the entire Kept In Mind album, actually. I like all the songs and the lyrics — I like everything except the album art. Meh.
Fading to Black
The duo Ysanygo is relatively new on my radar and “Fading to Black” is one of the tracks that have stuck so far. The line “what can we do / to get our time back” may seem basic, but I swear the singer makes it sound so cool and sultry.
You’ve Made Me Stronger
Regine Velasquez’s “You’ve Made Me Stronger” is a song for those who have successfully picked themselves up after a bad break-up. I like how cheeky this opening line is. The undertone seems to be, ‘kala mo ‘di ko kayang mag-move on, ‘no? I love it.
Away From the Current
To be honest I don’t think I fully understand Keiko Necesario’s “Away From the Current.” I like the song and I’m sure it makes sense; maybe I just need to listen to it more until the bulb lights up or something.
Is This the Love that I Need?
What a time to be a band called Flu, ‘no? Their song “Is This the Love that I Need” reminds me of other similar-sounding songs, the titles of which escape me at the moment. This is a good song though. Good question, too.
If you’re into alt-pop, I bet you’d also like the band Sepia Times. “Breakfast” is a good starter song. The lyrics may be read as one lengthy existential musing, or it can also just be a simple song about eating breakfast. Good stuff.
All the Way
Hannah Pangilinan and Rico Blano collaborated on the track “All the Way” and, boy, ang ganda? There are no guitars, ‘no? And it’s mostly synths, too, isn’t it? Am I missing out on other Blanco gems like this? Ganda!
Next in Line
I will always remember After Image’s “Next in Line” — or the Stagecrew cover of it — as the theme song of the movie Jologs. I also still ask myself this “what has life to offer me” question even though I am already technically “old.”
Half-lit is BP Valenzuela’s side project and the song “backspace me” is like a slightly lo-fi BP song. It has BP’s signature lovelorn lyrics, which, for some reason, strongly resonate with me.
Kitchie Nadal’s “Same Ground” was one of the hits in the 2000s that I sang along to even though I had never experienced anything close to what Ate Kitchie was singing about. I was what, 11? Haha.
Lovers Go, Lovers Come
Orange & Lemons’ music really stands out, ‘no? Even when they sing about intense emotional longing, they never sound too angry or too dramatic, and they aren’t too chummy either. “Lovers Go, Lovers Come” is just one of their many dreamy, feel-good songs.
I really wish Ciudad was more popular. Fangirling is just more fun when you have other people to fangirl with, you know? Anyhow, “Due Dates” isn’t my favorite Ciudad song but it’s definitely one of the catchy ones. ♩Storm is comiiing!♩
Will You Ever Learn
Typecast’s “Will You Ever Learn” is peak emo. The band’s sound was solid and cohesive even back in the day, and I also like how they stood up against domestic abuse and kicked their drummer out. Respect!
This “knock-knock” line from “Spinal Crack” by Ourselves the Elves makes more sense if you listen to the entire song. The song sounds upbeat and quirky even if it actually speaks of violent themes. (Think I’m Thinking of Ending Things, huhu.)
Is there a published, definitive meaning of the song “New Romancer” by Sandwich? Is it about Raimund and Myrene? Choz. Anyway, whatever. It’s a good song — my favorite from the Fat Salt album — and that’s all I care about, really.
Nina’s “Jealous” held the number one spot on Myx Daily Top 10 for many weeks straight, and her succeeding singles like “Foolish Heart” and “Loving You” also made it to the top. Say what you will, man, but Nina ran so all other acoustic singers of the aughts could walk. Haha.
Urban Dictionary defines “daisy chaining” as something related to oral sex, but I don’t think Cynthia Alexander sings about sex in her song “Daisy Chain”…or does she? Hmm. Personally this song just reminds me of hippies with daisy chains on their heads, that’s it.
Friend of Mine
Odette Quesada’s “Friend of Mine” is a classic song about unrequited love. The line “is this all we ever could be” is terse and powerful and it makes me feel sad — but then again, I’m glad. Wuw, hahaha.
Trip TO Jerusalem
I can only think of two good questions raised by an Eraserheads song in English: this line from “Trip to Jerusalem,” and another line from “Lightyears.” “Butterscotch” also has the “teacher, teacher” question, but I won’t consider that beautiful. Did I miss anything big?
Can anyone please point me to where I can find the complete lyrics of Taken by Cars’ “Neon Dreams”? This song has been one of my favorite songs in recent years and I want to be able to sing along to it in full.
I. The ranking of the songs on the list is completely arbitrary. I just dragged the images at random and did not put any thought into which song must match with what number. The ranking does not matter at all.
II. Is it still accurate to use the term OPM? I ask because I understand how loaded the words “original” and “Pilipino” can be. What does it mean to be original anyway? The song “Jealous” was originally released by Nina, but it was written by foreigner-composers — is it still considered originally Pinoy? And what about the fact that when we say OPM, we pretty much refer to music from just within Metro Manila? Hmm.
III. I have no conclusive answers to the questions above. While some Internet edgelords insist that we shouldn’t raise critical points unless we have immediate answers or solutions — a notion that, while valid, can be embarrassingly ignorant and entitled — I value the act of interrogation, of questioning even seemingly inconsequential matters such as pop culture. Asking questions can lead to meaningful discussions, and it can help us develop a more informed understanding of our world. You’re free to believe otherwise, of course, but I see nothing wrong with posing questions that do not have easy answers. In some cases, if not most, the meat of the matter is in the question itself.
IV. I deliberately listed lyrics in English because I have a separate list of Tagalog (Filipino?) rhetorical questions. If I could speak Bisaya, I would make one for Vispop too.
V. I made all the images using resources from Canva. If anything stands out as chararat (e.g. poor choice of font, irrelevant photo), that’s all on me. Do note, Cassie, that I am not a graphic designer. Hehehe.