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MANILA, Philippines – To say that 2023 has been a great year for Filipino music is an understatement.
Countless songs by Filipino artists have continuously topped the charts all year, and new and existing music acts alike have reached numerous milestones. Large fan bases have been formed, and carefully crafted hits have found their way to listeners all over the country, and even the world.
2023 has also been a year for talents outside of the metro to shine, with breakthrough acts hailing from Baguio to Olongapo.
Take a look at the OPM acts that have made a resounding mark in the local music scene this year.
When Denise Julia’s debut single “NVMD” first started gaining traction in 2022, many listeners were surprised to find that it was sung by a Filipina – with some even likening her voice to Ariana Grande’s. But the R&B singer has shown time and time again that her sound is uniquely hers.
In late November, she dropped her first-ever EP, Sweet Nothings (Chapter 1), and all six of its tracks have struck a chord with her listeners, new and old. “B.A.D.” and “Lackin’” have even rightfully established themselves as every Pinay baddie’s go-to anthems.
This year, Denise Julia recorded an impressive feat: becoming the most streamed female OPM artist for the first time ever.
Dilaw, a six-piece rock band from Baguio, had already attracted a sizable number of listeners in 2021 with its slow-dance-worthy track “Janice.” A year later, the band released “Uhaw (Tayong Lahat)” in December 2022. However, it was only in 2023 when the song suddenly began gaining massive popularity and topping charts – registering over 127.2 million Spotify streams.
Since then, Dilaw has released three more singles and an album featuring their fan-favorite hits and unreleased songs that they had only been performing in live gigs. The band had even gotten their own documentary in April.
Maki debuted in 2021 with “Halaga” but made his rapid claim to fame in 2023 with his breakthrough hit “Saan?” – which has already racked up over 41 million streams since its release in March. But the impact of “Saan?” extends well beyond the realm of streaming platforms as thousands of K-pop “alternate universe” (AU) fanfiction has been set against the backdrop of the R&B singer-songwriter’s well-loved hit.
His song “Kailan?” is also just as loved by AU readers and writers alike, as the song already has over 17,000 posts on TikTok. So if you’re an avid reader of K-pop AU fanfiction, chances are you’ve probably gotten your dose of kilig with Maki’s help.
The band made its debut in August 2022 with the song “Makalimutan Ka,” and released “Pasilyo” just a few months later in October 2022. The hit song now has over 166.1 million Spotify streams, and was even named the Philippines’ Top Song of 2023.
Now with over 13 million Spotify streams, “Paki Sabi,” one of the band’s feel-good hugot songs from this year, has also already begun to gain much popularity – and rightfully so.
While Lola Amour has already made a name for itself in the past through “Pwede Ba” and “Maybe Maybe,” 2023 saw the jazz-rock band further cement its place in the OPM scene with its mega-viral hits “Fallen” and “Raining in Manila.”
Through the distinct keys, saxophone, and trumpets present in every song, it’s no doubt that Lola Amour is one of the most memorable music acts that Filipinos have put at the forefront of their year of listening.
If you’ve ever bopped your head to the lyrics, “Gusto kong ibigay ang buhay na gusto mo,” you have former Munimuni frontman TONEEJAY to thank for that.
The indie artist had already garnered a large following through his unique style of singing with his 2022 Kasama Kita album and his May 2023 single “Parang Magic,” but drastically made waves following the release of his latest single “711” in September.
Now with over 27.2 million streams, the fan-favorite track has been sitting in 1st place on the Spotify Philippines chart for five consecutive days already as of writing. In late November, “711” had also become the most streamed OPM song for the very first time on the Spotify Philippines chart.
Despite having been releasing music since 2020, it was only this year that rhodessa shot to fame as her sawi anthem “Kisame” received an outpour of love from its release in February.
The singer-songwriter also just recently dropped a collaboration with indie artist mrld, titled “sa’yong sa’yo lang ako,” which sees the two lyrical geniuses sum up yearning into a four-minute song.
Now with 3.3 million monthly listeners to end the year, it’s clear that many Filipinos find comfort in rhodessa’s music – and it’s only the beginning.
Filipina R&B artist DEMI makes music perfect for late nights out, and her single “homebdy” released in July featuring Madman Stan is a testament to that. From that track alone – which now has 57.2 million streams, DEMI landed herself major appearances on Showtime Online U and Wish 107.5, among others.
Fairly recently, DEMI also joined forces with rising rapper Hev Abi in “Pakundangan” to make for a classic sensual hit.
In 2021, DEMI even collaborated with fellow Pinay R&B powerhouse Denise Julia in “no show,” for a chill R&B hit that perfectly fuses the two singers’ heavenly vocals together.
Hev Abi is arguably one of the biggest breakthrough artists this year. The young rapper is well on his way to becoming a household name in modern Pinoy hip-hop following the widespread success of all of his 2023 releases.
Notably, his hits “Para Sa Streets” and “WELCOME2DTQ” perfectly showcase his duality as a musician. While “Para Sa Streets” takes on chill hip-hop, “WELCOME2DTQ” is where Hev Abi’s rapping prowess shines through.
In late October, Hev Abi treated fans to his 12-track album Kung Alam Mo Lang, which put the spotlight on his deepest thoughts. “Alam Mo Ba Girl” has even already climbed up to 2nd place on Hev Abi’s most popular songs on Spotify.
Cup of Joe
Another act from the City of Pines, alt-pop band Cup of Joe rightfully got its well-deserved recognition this year after producing hit after hit. The band climbed further up the ranks after the release of “Tingin,” a collaboration with pop singer Janine Teñoso, which now has an impressive 34.5 million Spotify streams despite only being released in April.
In June, Cup of Joe later released its first-ever EP Patutunguhan, featuring fan-favorite songs like “Estranghero,” and “Mananatili.” The EP’s title track “Patutunguhan” is now among the band’s top tracks.
2023 has been jam-packed for Cup of Joe, as throughout the year, it has also lent its musical talents to several film and television soundtracks, such as Minsan Pa Nating Hagkan ang Nakaraan, Sa Muli, and Kung Hindi Lang Tayo Sumuko.
Kenaniah is among the pop soloists who made it big this year. The 19-year-old singer first rose to fame with his upbeat hit “Bahala Na,” which now has over 73.1 million streams on Spotify.
In July, the 19-year-old singer dropped his self-titled debut album, which features other romance hits like “Totoo,” “Selena,” and “Hindi Ikaw.” The 10-track album as a whole is already one of his most popular releases to date.
Kenaniah also released his single “Hanggang Sa Buwan” in April for the screen adaptation of the hit Wattpad series The Rain in España by Gwy Saludes, so it comes as no surprise that he has established a large following.
It’s smash hit upon smash hit for rapper Nateman, who quickly rose to fame this year in the world of local hip-hop. Nateman released a total of six singles this year, all of which have reeled in millions of streams each.
“PAREHAS TAYO,” only released in October, is the rapper’s current top song, clocking in at 23.5 million Spotify streams. Nateman’s music touches on love and relationships and manifests the exact chill vibe for a late-night drive.
In late November, the young rapper dropped his latest single “LUMAYO KANA,” a fast-paced track that tells the story of a failed relationship. – Rappler.com