Beyond nostalgia and shoulder pads, 'Into the '80s' promises good music

Totel V. de Jesus

Posted at May 18 2019 06:48 PM

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Shoulder pads and eyeliners for men, mullet or spiked hairstyles held tight by pre-styling wax cosmetics called gels and "spray-nets" for both sexes, deliberately mismatched Chuck Taylors? These were fashion statements in the 1980s but as how the Naked Eyes version of a Dionne Warwick song goes, there is always something there to remind us. 

About 42 songs and more surprise hits from four decades ago will be performed tonight, May 18, at Solaire's The Theatre when veteran Filipino music artists Jam Morales, Gino Padilla, Lou Bonnevie, Raymond Lauchengco and Jett Pangan gather for the concert titled, what else, "Into The '80s."

"'Just Got Lucky,' 'Growing Up,' and ' Buttercup,'" those are the songs I am singing. If you like '80s music, talagang mabubusog kayo," Lauchengco said a few days ago at the lobby of Solaire's The Theatre. And who would forget his signature song, "I Need You Back."

There's a mutual admiration for these artists, who in the '80s, were doing their own thing. Someone asked them if there's a song from their peers that they like to cover. Pangan, Padilla and Morales had a common answer: Lauchengco's "I Need You Back".

This prompted Bonnevie to joke about it: "Maybe we should try a quartet singing that song."

Referring to one of Bonnevie's hits, Lauchengco shot back: "I love to sing 'Rockin' The Beat' because I always wanted to be a rocker." 

Thinking about it, Bonnevie wondered why she and Lauchengco never crossed paths in the 1980s. "Nag-snob-ban kami, bakit kaya?" she said. 

"S'yempre, rocker ka, balladeer ako. Paano tayo mag meet sa concerts?" Lauchengco said. Everybody laughed and seemed at peace because now that this kind of "music barrier" could be broken. 

Another asked who among the younger singers they want to collaborate with, though not specifying locally or from abroad. Bonnevie answered first, giving the names Ariana Grande, Katy Perry and Bruno Mars, which elicited some laughter because of the remote possibility. 

Lauchengco quipped, "Ako si Morisette."

Bonnevie butted in: "Ako, gusto ko rin si Alanis."

Lauchengco cleared his answer: "No, not her. I mean Morisette from the Philippines. She's fantastic." More laughter from the crowd.

Pangan said, "Lou and Alanis. Pwede naman. But seriously, I love to do a song also with our Morisette. She's got a lovely voice and very down to earth."

Padilla raised his right hand: "Morisette din ako." Bonnevie then got a piece of paper and noted: "Another quartet with Morisette."

On a serious note, where were they and what have they've been doing all these years?

A happy and fulfilled family man, Padilla has always been a resident of Quezon City, an active member of a Christian fellowship group and is still doing shows here and abroad. Among his hits, the most revived and covered is "Closer You And I." This now-classic Louie Ocampo composition was originally recorded for a commercial of a toothpaste brand in the '80s but has since then become a famous ballad associated with Padilla. The other hit, "Let The Love Begin," has been sang by Padilla in a duet with various female singers in his shows here and abroad. 

Millennials may have a vague idea of Padilla but among his contemporaries, he is the only one who has reached an international audience in the 1980s when he had a duet with Tina Turner for a worldwide advertising campaign of a softdrink company. 

As we all know, Pangan is omnipresent as vocalist of The Dawn and versatile actor for theater, television and the movies. 

Lauchengco said he may not be singing that much but he's into photography, directing and events organizing. Bonnevie is almost always in the news every year because of the annual Earth Day Jam, of which she is main organizer. 

Among the performers, Morales is the singer everyone missed the most. She said since she had a family of her own, she has always been based in the US. 

"Even if I've not been here, I performed abroad a lot. I performed Europe, Australia, New Zealand and in the US. In Vallejo, California, I had a show with Gabby Concepcion and recently, I was with Raymond, Gino, Randy [Santiago] and Louie Heredia in Las Vegas. We also performed '80s music. There's never been a year I am not performing. I haven't been home (in the Philippines) but I see a lot of Filipinos abroad," Morales said. 

Jam Morales. Handout]

Morales is known for the hits "Even If" and "Smile In Your Heart."

"Everywhere I go, I found out Filipinos have karaoke and in the book are all my songs. It's a privilege. It's an honor. When I hear them singing my songs. I feel blessed. Lord, thank you," she said.

She's been out of the country for a very longtime that she didn't know 1990s heartthrob Ariel Rivera recorded his version of "Smile In Your Heart" . It was so popular some people up to now regard Rivera as the original singer. 

"Yeah, somebody told me 'Smile in Your Heart' was revived by Ariel Rivera and it's awesome. It's a blessing. I hope to meet him one of these days," she said. When someone mentioned if she's open to doing a concert with Rivera, if there are offers, Morales enthusiastically answered in the affirmative. 

"Into The 80s'" musical director is Toto Hendica with script written by Henry Tejero and choreography by Butch Esperanza. Bonnevie said they will have a unique presentation. "Not the usual '80s. We will try to make this one different from the rest. Hindi lang po informative. We have billboards. We have the movies. Theme songs. We have, of course, OPMs. May dance and surprise guests like Jojo Alejar..."

At this point, Launchengco quickly stopped her: "Eh hindi na surprise yan, sinabi mo na eh."

Pangan, in support of Bonnevie, said, "Kunyari wala silang narinig."