Ahead of her one-night-only live streamed concert experience, we look back at one of our conversations with Sarah Geronimo and further study Tala, the song that has endeared itself to an entire generation.
“Gusto niyo ba ng Tala?”
It is hard to imagine a time when Tala wasn’t quite the pop culture stronghold that it has managed to work itself up to be. You know, where the mere first few beats of its stirring percussion would be enough to make time seemingly stand still before giving way to a pandemonium of decibel-breaking shrieks and screams. Here, all hell breaks loose—in a good way—with an entire room crammed with patrons and passersby singing at the top of their lungs and even busting out the signature snappy choreography that is quite honestly, not that easy to pull off.
It shouldn’t be lost in the sea of sweaty souls that in this moment, the anthemic pop song turned phenomenon by Sarah Geronimo fosters a sense of belonging for the LGBTQIA+ community. And for four minutes and five seconds, the spectrum of defiance, distinction, and diversity becomes one in a swing of cathartic release.
But we have to take things way back to a time before Tala has taken flight following a gust of second wind from a community that has long pledged its allegiance to the church of Sarah Geronimo. Years before the sparkling tune, co-written with Nica Del Rosario and Emmanuel Sambayan, would gain prominence in local airwaves a good few cycles following its initial release in 2016, we sat down with the pop star royalty for a rare one-on-one for MEGA magazine.
There Was A Time
With the airiest of pink as a backdrop, there she sat quietly in front of us, hands held together as she patiently waited for our conversation to begin. Her fingers unfold one by one, slowly figuring into light rhythmic snaps. She hums under her breath as the world around fusses over her—we figured it was a Beyoncé melody judging by the pouting of her lips and quick shoulder movements. It is a most dainty imagery by all means, her sentences peppered by “po” and “opo,” which doesn’t hint of irony.
It is very easy to categorize the reigning pop princess as sweet and self-effacing. However, the very moment you figure her into a box, she pulls the rug from under you and dispels every preconceived notion about her. Assured with the right amount of maturity, Sarah Geronimo has indeed come into her own as a young woman—ready to tread new paths in life, we suppose.
As if reading our train of thought, she breaks out into a well-meaning smile.
Lording over the radio and music channel charts (as well as all over the Internet) are her lyrics of unrequited laced with a deep-seated sense of passion. Her hits boast of a refreshing sense of grown up. Lofty ideals of a bright-eyed wonder are replaced with unexpected but welcome lashing of everyday reality. Ikot-Ikot talks about being consumed by an unnerving trepidation, which forces one to just to keep skirting the emotion rather than facing it straight on while Kilometro warbles on going the extra mile (or well, couple of kilometers) despite a tainted love affair.
Whether you’d look more into what it is, one cannot deny that this new sound is not only entertaining but it also tugs at the heartstrings, in a major way. This transformation, which we would argue to be a transition more than anything, isn’t coincidental. This is no longer an offshoot of her early To Love You More phase. What it is, we begin to realize is a return to what is essentially Sarah.
“Alam mo kasi sa tingin ko, yun talaga yung roots ko—kung saan ako kumportable. Malaki ang influence sa akin musically si Michael Jackson. Pop. Ngayon ang laking impluwensya nila Beyoncé—talagang R&B kung saan nasho-showcase ang vocal prowess. Nag-umpisa kasi ako sa business na ito na birit eh, belter,” she muses. “Pero I realized na talagang mas nag-e-enjoy ako and mas at ease ako pagka mga ganoong klaseng songs ang pine-perform ko.”
The Legacy Of Sarah Geronimo And Tala
Sarah Geronimo is very intelligent, too. Having been entrenched in show business for over 15 years and counting, she is aware of the need to transform every now and then for a very discerning audience. “Dapat every time may bago kang i-o-offer sa audience mo, sa listeners mo. Ako bumabawi ako talaga sa talent eh, dun sa talent ko na kailangan may bago akong natututunan na bago, may naibibigay akong bago as a singer,” she reasons. “Since first love ko ang singing, dito talaga ako naka-concentrate. Kaya talaga mahigpit ako na kelangan may bago every time,” she finishes.
It may have been quite a while since we’ve heard anything new from Sarah Geronimo, but for what it’s worth, Tala, along with her illustrious body of work, is enough to tide us over until she makes new music again. Millions of plays, streams, and views aside, people are still being moved by her discography, which is truly a testament to the artist that she has sculpted herself to be.
“Pop songs that still sound good when unvarnished tend to be well-written ones, because they get the fundamentals right,” explains Joey Santos, a DJ and music producer who has played Sarah Geronimo’s music much to the delight of his audience drenched in glittering sweat. “The way the song is written makes it a great pop song. The track has a lot of synthesized and electronic elements, but if you play it on the piano or acoustic guitar, you’ll find that the essence of the song remains unchanged.”
Therein lies the difference for Sarah Geronimo. Setting herself apart in the gleaming galaxy of stars as a beaming bright light that continues to illuminate, guide, and navigate the path challenged by feelings and emotions.
Going Beyond Tala
“When you listen to it beyond its dance production, it is actually a sad song. I think that’s the genius behind Tala. You can’t help but dance to it, then feel it once you understand it—much like another LGBTQIA+ dance floor favorite, Robyn’s Dancing On My Own,” details Paulo Castro, tireless advocate, party promoter, and overall governess of the nightlife. “Some songs just have that inexplicable magic that makes people feel good. You hear it and know it’s going to mean something to a lot of people. Tala is one of those songs. Each generation has songs that define a certain moment of their lives, this is one of them.”
In the scope of the song, Sarah Geronimo is commanding and compelling in both its tenacious and tender aspects, the latter of which is seamlessly integrated into the spirit of the lyrics. “At kung hanggang dito lang talaga tayo / Hindi pababayaan ang daang tinahak na kapiling ka / At kung umabot tayo hanggang dulo,” and so goes the aching hook of Tala. “Kapit lang ng mahigpit / Aabutin natin ang mga tala.”
Treading on the seemingly impossible, as well as of the promise of hope, the assurance of Tala comes from beyond the echoes of the enduring track by Sarah Geronimo. Having felt something similar at some point in our lives, perhaps even treading the same path as it was written, it is a sense of belonging that has given it the lifeline to stand the test of time and fleeting musical preferences. From a distilled understanding, there builds a confidence from whoever sings and dances to Tala, that while things may be out reach for now, just hold on, because the stars will be within reach eventually.
Sarah Geronimo, Always
Sarah Geronimo has nothing to prove to anyone.
A product of a dream, hard work, undeniable talent and passion, she has every right to claim the stake that she is in the local entertainment scene. This, however, is most apparent when she’s most herself—performing. “Sir Gary (Valenciano) would tell me, ‘There’s a big difference when the artist sings with something to prove—to prove that he or she is good, and an artist that sings because he is expressing what’s from the heart.’” And that is what Sarah Geronimo is all about: heart.
The world may not be privy to the innermost beatings of her heart, but that isn’t to say that she is selfish. Not that it matters anyway. What matters is that when she steps onstage and inches towards the spotlight, she becomes the person that she has to be—her true self. Baring her heart and soul, she strikes a chord in each and every one of us and at that singular moment it becomes clear why there is no one quite like Sarah Geronimo.
On March 27, 2021, Sarah Geronimo will premiere Tala, a one-night-only concert experience to be live streamed on ktx.ph. Tickets are on sale now.