Wednesday, March 22, 2006

McVie’s Top Ten TA Party Hits of All-Time (So Far)

A Short History of TA Parties

In the early days (around early 80s) TA parties were more about hanging out together after rehearsals or after a show’s run. TA parties consisted of eating, drinking, playing guitar and singing. There was also a tradition then of giving out faux-awards to commemorate the production (because stage boo-boos were much more plentiful then, awards were generously given to almost everyone involved in the production).

In the early 90s TA parties evolved. The seismic shift happened at Cuchie Alcuaz’s house at a TA Christmas Party. There a group of guys who called themselves the Dashing Debonairs (headed by Ron Capinding, with Akong Bongcaras, Jeff Quiambao and Eric Sanchez) presented a dance number to the tune of Madonna’s “Bye, Bye Baby” and a new era was born. I remember Apa Ongpin (yes, the Apa Ongpin) standing up after the number and declaring out loud, “Oh my god, TA has gone That’s Entertainment!”

You see, before that seminal moment, TA people—the theater snobs that they are—always viewed the tastes of popular culture as beneath their interests. Or at least that’s how they declared it out loud (who knows if they watched “Gulong ng Palad”—the original series, mind you—when they got home). Kuya Germs had no place in theater, much less in TA. During TA parties what you hear being played and sung were Broadway tunes and classic pop (James Taylor and other artists whose songs can easily be played on guitar and/or piano); popular dance hits—the ones heard on noontime shows—had no place in TA parties. It took a promdi from Tarlac to put together a dance group and offend TA old-timers’ sensibilities.

But times were changing. By next party the Dashing Debonairs were back, with additional members. The girls and gays of TA also rose to the challenge and formed their own girl/“pa-girl” group.

Dance music was played using cassette tapes at that time. Soon I started bringing my CDs. The first set-up was primitive: one CD player (like a boom-box) and several discs. Eventually it evolved to two Discmans, a karaoke machine (for its bigger, louder speakers), and a maleta full of CDs. But I remained Mr. DJ through the years.

In recent years TA was able to use a professional 2-disc player and sound system to their parties, thanks to Steven Uy’s The Met. I’ve also dumped the maleta of CDs and now use an iPod. Now I can dance along instead of being stuck behind a stack of CDs, wondering what song to play next.

Top 10 Criteria

The reason why I added “McVie” to the title is simple: I’ve been the DJ for almost all TA parties through the years. This gives me a unique perspective of the dance hits from different eras. “Why is that song in that rank?” Well, because McVie says so.

I listed down the songs which managed to drag people’s asses onto the dance floor. Obviously, the appeal should be both genderless and ageless. If a song managed to remain popular despite the changing generations of TA members, then it definitely deserves a high spot on the top 10.

Because of this, the list definitely isn’t a definitive one, thus the “so far” caveat. When I was going through the songs I realized that, had I done this list fifteen years ago, the top song would be different. This also explains why more recent songs haven’t hit the top 10—it’s too soon to say if they will stand the test of time.

So, let me begin my showing you the ones that almost made it into the top ten. They are, in chronological order:

100% Pure Love by Crystal Waters
Oh Carolina by Shaggy
Are You Gonna Go My Way by Lenny Kravitz
Baby One More Time by Britney Spears
Stop by Spice Girls
Spice Up Your Life by Spice Girls
Bye Bye Bye by N’Sync
Crazy In Love by Beyonce feat. Jay-Z

Maybe a few years from now some of them will manage to dislodge the current chart-toppers.

And so now let me present: McVie’s Top Ten TA Party Hits of All-Time (So Far)

# 10
Lady Marmalade – Christina/Pink/Lil’ Kim/Maya
Released in July 3, 2001, this hit song is from the soundtrack of the movie “Moulin Rouge”. The reason why this song got this high is because it’s the second cover version already. The original is by Patti LaBelle, while in the mid-90s it was remade by the all-girl trio All Saints. Aside from explaining the longevity, the familiarity made it accessible to everyone. And wasn’t this performed by TA members during an Orsem?

# 9
Lovefool – The Cardigans
First a mild hit in 1996, this song became an even bigger hit when it was featured prominently in the movie “William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet”. It’s the second song in the Top 10 from a Baz Luhrmann movie soundtrack. For a time this was the love song of the moment, but TA people probably never realized that it’s really a song of obsession. This was around the time when most TA parties were held at Gold’s house.

# 8
Tubthumping – Chumbawamba
Released in Sept. 23, 1997, this world-wide hit anthem for drinking and parties was easily appropriated by TA. I remember the party at Leo’s in Marikina. Their house opened up to a huge garden the size of a soccer field. When I played the song, people literally ran the whole length of the garden just to get to the dance floor. And after that, Ryan Villena and Chichi Angustia ran back to the garden, fighting, while Anna Flores tried desperately to run after them to break up the fight.

# 7
The Rockafeller Skank – Fatboy Slim
This 1998 song is actually one of the most difficult songs to dance to, thanks to the fits and stops and tempo changes halfway into the song. Yet whenever TA heard the stuttering intro (“R-r-r-r-right about now …”), they were irresistibly drawn to the dance floor. Of course, most of them never finish dancing the whole song, or would pause and catch their breath during the difficult parts.

# 6
Boom Shak-A-Lak – Apache Indian
Released in 1995, this was a huge dance floor—and noontime show—hit in the Philippines. This song reminds me of Ron and Jillen(?) dirty-dancing on the ledge of the now-defunct Harlequin Disco in EDSA Shangri-la.

# 5
Vogue – Madonna
This 1990 song had guys and girls strutting their stuff on the dance floor like they were on a fashion ramp. In total fairness, even straight guys danced to this tune. But the next song trumped Madonna’s call to strike a pose.

# 4
I’m Too Sexy – Right Said Fred
One of the biggest hits of the 90s, this 1992 song is kitschy, campy fun. And it was an even more irresistible call to model and pose on the dance floor than “Vogue.”

# 3
Love Shack – The B-52s
In 1989, a band more famous in the early 80s for their retro-sound had their biggest hit with this high-energy, fun-fun-fun song. For three years this song was THE party song of TA; whenever I played this song, no one was left sitting on their chairs.

# 2
Macarena – Los Del Rio
In 1995, this song was everywhere in the whole wide world. Everyone knew the song. Everyone knew the choreography. And now, six years into the new millennium, no one can deny that this song can still make TA people hit the dance floor. There must be something about its simple, easy-to-execute-by-everyone choreography and its irresistible opening chords. Plus the “Aaa-hai!”

# 1
Sweet Soul Revue – Pizzicato Five
When it was first released in 1993, it was a minor hit in the Philippine airwaves. In TA, that song didn’t really get that many requests. But thanks to the wicked, creative minds of TA, this song was forever TA-fied into an anthem for all generations.

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