I'm not one to go immediately ga-ga over newly-minted pop acts -- girl or boy bands, especially -- who all seem destined to shine briefly and then vanish into unlamented obscurity. Which is why I think most people seem stuck in the kind of music they grew up with as young adults: when they grow up further, there are still so much more music for one's pickings coming out of the industry, and one can only pick at each new reveal for so much and for so long. Plus, attitudes and sounds change and our psyche with them, and so all of us are destined to be separated by generational music. (Russell Baker has a great essay about this in "From Song to Sound: Bing and Elvis.")
I stopped looking for new music a long time ago with my Alanis Morisette, the techno Madonna, Enya, REM, and Pearl Jam -- 90's music which defined my existence. When Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, N'Sync, and Backstreet Boys came into the picture, I said, Whoa. That's too much bubble gum music for me. That's when I stopped watching MTV altogether, and could only shake my head as music went the hiphop route, which I never really got. You're stuck, I told myself, like your mom's stuck with Frank Sinatra. Oh well, c'est la vie.
Many years ago, All Saints -- this girl band from God-knows-where -- seemed to strike me to be the very epitome of that, and I was not wrong. Where is All Saints now? But one song they had did stick to me -- "Pure Shores," which may be because of several things: (1) it was orchestrated in the signature techno sound I loved so much then, (2) it was one of the featured songs in Danny Boyle's The Beach, which was set in Thailand, (3) I just came from a long backpacking sojourn in Thailand, and (4) the book that affected me then was the novel by Alex Garland on which it was based, something I read with a fever in my cold room in Tokyo that year. This was almost ten years ago, an eternity.
But I remember the song most because of an artist friend, Kris Ardeña, who now lives in Madrid. He was vacationing in the Philippines, and we had just met (although we kind of knew each other in high school and freshman year college). Our pagkagago just melded that summer a long time ago, and we had so much fun talking about art and what-not. (He was instrumental in introducing me to the art of David Carson, whose aesthetics still govern the way I do design.) Kris played "Pure Shores" in his CD player constantly, and we would launch into endless talk about why we loved the song a lot, and we settled on one common feeling: it reminded us of beautiful beaches, and the way the waves lazily lap the shores, the way the sand glisten like gold, the way the sea looks crystalline in its blue-green glory.
To date, every time I fly home to Dumaguete from elsewhere and then I watch my plane prepare for touchdown, I see the sea, and in my head, I always play that song. Always.