Recording a Cover of Ang Huling El Bimbo is Cathartic

“Ang Huling El Bimbo (A42 Cover)” is my cover version and homage to the hit 1996 song by the Philippine rock band Eraserheads. It turns what was originally a pop/rock ballad filled with nostalgia and puppy love into a more bouncy hip-hop infused version with a dash of IDM and downtempo electronics.

BEHIND THE TRACK

When the Eraserheads released their 1996 album, Cutterpillow, I was starting a career in copywriting and at the same time, was playing weekly in a pop cover band. So my initial reaction to one of the album’s biggest hits, “Ang Huling El Bimbo,” was “Wow, lowbrow entertainment.”

The genius of it hit me long after. When I couldn’t get the song out of my head. When I would think of a melodic line and realize: “Wait, this sounds just like El Bimbo.”

I ate my words and reversed my opinion of the song. Because for years after, that chord progression haunted me.

You want proof? Around 2006 or so, I created a hip-hop inspired electronic instrumental called “Poppa Paves The Way” and didn’t even realize I was using the same chord progression as “Ang Huling El Bimbo.” Here’s what it sounded like:

So it was that in 2012, in a country far removed from the Philippines, I found myself editing that instrumental so it could become a backing track for the Eraserheads song. If I wanted to get over the song, I figured, I better sing it and record it.

And so I ended up recording vocals on a laptop in the summer heat of my parked car during several lunch breaks at work. Then sequencing and editing at home in the wee hours of the night after my second child, then a year old, had fallen asleep.

Just as I did with my cover version of “Pure Shores” by All Saints, recording this really did get it out of my system.

MORE INFO ON Ang Huling El Bimbo

This is what the original song sounds like:

And here’s the Wikipedia entry on the song.

Of course, these days, Ang Huling El Bimbo is also the title of a theater musical in Manila, entirely based on the Eraserheads’ biggest hit songs.

So everything comes around again, I guess.

Photo by Yogendra Singh from Pexels

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