Of Legend: A Spotlight On The Women Of The Eraserheads' Music
For the 25th anniversary of the legendary Filipino band's debut album, we look back at the different women they've sung about in their iconic songs.
The Eraserheads need no introduction. The Philippines' most iconic rock band, the impact they made on the Filipino music scene remains unparalleled to this day. Pioneers in the Filipino alternative rock scene, the Eraserheads remain relevant to this day, over a decade after they disbanded in the early 2000s. It's no wonder they've been called "The Beatles of the Philippines".
Masters of storytelling, the Eraserheads have crafted songs about every topic under the sun, from heart-wrenching love songs to politics and drugs to cheeky ditties about the most mundane things (e.g. learning how to drive, fruitcake). And because the band is celebrating the 25th anniversary of their debut album Ultraelectromagneticpop!, we're highlighting the women — whether real and imagined — that the band has featured and brought to life through their music. Read on to learn more about the women of Eraserheads.
The Women of Eraserheads' Music
The band's second hit single, "Toyang" melds together classic English love songs and Filipino folk songs to pay tribute to Toyang, a simple (in the best sense of the word), dewy-eyed Filipina. Toyang is a play on the Nat King Cole song "Too Young", which the band used in the song.
The Eraserheads wrote about real things. And sometimes, real just meant going to the neighbourhood sari-sari store (sundry store) to pick up some vinegar for their mom. And spotting a beautiful girl at the storefront. And promptly falling in love. That's about as authentic as a meet-cute gets, no?
In less than 4 minutes, the band chronicles the trajectory of a typical on-again-off-again relationship. The titular character Shirley is so in love with yet another nameless boy with a nice car, so much so that she changes the way she dresses. She walks around the university with her head in the clouds, and when they're together in public they act as if they're the only people in the world. Then they fight, break up, then make up. Rinse. Repeat. It's an upbeat, joyful song laced with a generous helping of cynicism — typical of the Eraserheads.
Remember when you were back with your folks and pining after that special guy/girl? That's the specific experience "Sembreak" is about, and it's about a specific girl named Kim. It's a sweet, pure love song that's simply about wanting to spend every minute of your time with that person you're missing.
Many of Eraserhead's songs have a clear narrative, and "Magasin" is one of their best. Here, they sing about a childhood friend who has blossomed into a beautiful young woman and appears on the cover of a magazine. Only after purchasing the magazine does the narrator realise that the publication is of the... adult variety.
"Ang Huling El Bimbo" is easily the Eraserheads' most popular song, and the girl in the song is one of the most memorable women of Eraserheads' music. Similar to "Magasin", "El Bimbo" is a song about a girl from the male narrator's childhood — his first love. It's a tragic, haunting song that's become the anthem of broken dreams for an entire generation.
Though it's not explicitly stated in the lyrics, many have speculated that the haunting "Spolarium" is about the 80s starlet Pepsi Paloma, who tragically died by suicide after she was allegedly drugged and raped by three daytime talk show hosts Vic Sotto, Joey de Leon, and Richie D’Horsie. The band hasn't confirmed any of these speculations. When asked about the song's meaning in a 2011 interview with Jessica Zafra, Buendia simply said, "I will take this secret to the grave.”
Like the Beatles, the Eraserheads' lyrics are often straightforward and simple — demonstrated in this song about a police woman who simply stole thier heart. It's unpretentious, it's fun, it's catchy. What more can you want from a pop song?
"Julie Tearjerky" is said to be about a longtime assistant of the band. What exactly the song is about isn't clear, but it references drugs and depression, as well as video games (e.g. "Super strategy guide... it's a final fantasy").
We hope you enjoyed this article on the women of Eraserheads' music! Did we miss anything? Share your thoughts in the comments below.