If you’ve read our articles in the past, you’ve probably noticed that we like to use the word self-creation a lot. It’s safe to say we’re pretty passionate about it, and there are a handful of really good reasons for it, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start with the obvious: what are we talking about? Self-creation is when artists take part in the production of their own music. It can be anything from the obvious (like songwriting and composing) to the more obscure (like choreographing, directing, and producing). There are probably a handful more roles that we aren’t even considering, but it’s basically important for us to see the performers’ names somewhere in the credit roll apart from the obvious. The reasons why we are passionate about self-creation take a bit more explanation.
For as long as most fangirls can remember, the objects of their affection have been written off as pretty faces manufactured to shock and awe young women.
The most obvious reason we value self-creation has to do with career longevity and investment. It’s no secret that careers in entertainment have an expiration date - especially those of idols. The idol industry is basically about vocals, dancing skills, and good looks; two of those lose some market value over time. When artists can self-create, they divorce themselves from dependence on outside forces who believe in their continuing ability and set themselves up for post-idol careers as writers, directors, composers, and more. There’s also a pretty visible reason, and it’s one of the big reasons we harp on the topic. It’s the point when an idol crosses the line of being a performer and enters the realm of an artist. See, the more hands-on an artist is, the more passionate they tend to become. We’re talking about how invested the idol is in their own work. They become even more passionate about the end product and every performance or presentation when they’ve had a hand in its creation. Simply put: self-creation makes better products because everyone cares just a little more.
The good news is that the P-Pop groups of today seem to be putting a priority on self-creation. Just about every group out there right now has their names in the credits of their music or music video at least once, and it’s equaling an unbelievably talented idol culture in the Philippines. There are a few standouts, though, and the first are the Monster Rookies of P-Pop, VXON.
The name says it all - VXON has made a splash in 2022 for its dramatic performances and dominating stage presence. It’s a well-deserved reputation for these rookies, but they’re also sliding under the radar for the sheer amount of self-creation they are doing. They’ve been quietly adding credits to their name with each release. With their latest single, ‘Fiyaah,’ they’re credited with writing, composing, producing, choreography, and music video concept design. Their leader, C13, leads the charge in self-creation, often credited for writing, composing, and producing, but every member has a credit somewhere in VXON’s music. No wonder they are monsters on stage; they put their absolute all into their music, and it shows.
It’s been a rough year for the quartet, but they are still tearing up the stage at each and every performance.
There’s another rookie P-pop group making waves with their music, but these ones are really veterans. They’ve been in the industry longer than most established groups, but Press Hit Play only officially debuted in August 2021 with their single, ‘WIN.’ Since then, they’ve released 7 songs - all written by members JP and Chrls with rap verses by former member, Zi.O. That's not the only way the group is self-creating. In the year and a half since their debut, they've also been scooping up credits for the concept and storyboards of their MVs as well as Yuuki's work in the choreography and his first directing credit for their latest music video, 'Forever Young'. Add to it JP as a constant figure in the credits for producing and vocal direction, and it's safe to say this group is definitely hands-on. They’re defining a style we don’t see much in P-Pop or pop music in general. It’s been a rough year for the quartet, but they are still tearing up the stage at each and every performance. Needless to say, too many people are sleeping on these solid, all-around performers.
The next group isn’t exactly an idol group - in fact, we prefer to describe them as a P-Pop band rather than a P-Pop group. You might have guessed - we’re talking about The Juans. Now, it isn’t exactly unusual for a band to write their own music – they’re the ones playing it, after all. Still, The Juans are carving out an interesting place for themselves in OPM. As they continue to bridge the gap between P-Pop and traditional band OPM, they are setting a standard for complete self-creation, and every bit of their music is fantastic. It’s perfectly on brand and tells the ongoing story of them, their group, and their relationships with family, friends, and a higher power. They are the perfect example of a group that is investing in their longevity as artists with an unreal set of skills in the industry.
They are the perfect example of a group that is investing in their longevity as artists with an unreal set of skills in the industry.
Of course, no list of P-Pop artists who self-create can be complete without the Kings of P-Pop. It’s a title earned fair and square (you already knew we were a little biased). In the four years since their debut, they’ve recorded 24 songs (not including collaborations), and their leader, Pablo, has written 20 of them. It’s a staggering number when one realizes that the 4 he didn’t write are either remakes of classic songs (Win Your Heart, Christmas Party, and Merry Munchkin) or an OST (No Stopping You). That means that Pablo has written every song in their repertoire that has appeared on an album. Since the release of their 1st EP, Pagisbol, he’s also shared composition and production credits with either their longtime music partner, Simon Servida, mentor and OG OPM artist Jay Durias, or with his brother, Josue Nase.
SB19’s accomplishments in songwriting would be enough, but they also take credit in choreography and creative direction. Main vocal Stell has been scooping up choreographer credits since their comeback single, ‘What?,’ but savvy fans know he’s been quietly choreographing their performances since ‘Go Up’ in 2019. He has a distinct style that leaves an impression on every performance. Youngest member, Justin, has also been claiming credits since their sophomore single, ‘Go Up,’ where he was credited with album art. He’s expanded the role since then, acting as the creative director for their music videos and concerts to create a sophisticated and cohesive image for the group.
There are a lot of other groups who are just getting their feet wet when it comes to self-creation. 4th Impact is (for the first time) being given the creative freedom to write amazing new songs. KAIA is learning the ropes quickly, and BINI were credited as writers in their most recent single, ‘Strings.’ Older groups also have a few under their belt, including ALAMAT, who utilizes their unique multilingual skills in songwriting, and BGYO, who led out strong with ‘The Light’ in 2021. There are even a few more rising veterans like 1st.One leader Ace, who’s been writing lyrics for some time.
That’s the real benefit to self-creation in music: culture.
All in all, P-Pop shows all the signs of creating a new type of idol culture – one that works without the dictatorship of their management companies and provides a sense of freedom of expression to the artists involved. That’s the real benefit to self-creation in music: culture. For as long as most fangirls can remember, the objects of their affection have been written off as pretty faces manufactured to shock and awe young women. When idols become artists, they step up in career maturity and add legitimacy to their own industry. SB19’s Pablo said it best: “I’d like to say something to all of you. I am NOT nor do I INTEND TO BE the person you call ‘IDOL.’ I wear my garbage all the time. My beliefs and experiences made me who I am. I am who I am, I feel good, and at the same time, bad about it.”
P-Pop is redefining a culture and making self-creation - artistry - a norm rather than an exception. That is something to be applauded.