What Would An SB19 And Ben&Ben Musical Sound Like? This Artist On TikTok Clues Us In

TikTok heard it first.

From the functions of frustration, creative conjunctions, and professional exasperations online come a new outlet of expression, the TikTok Musical. Following the same consciousness emerges the possibility of an SB19 and Ben&Ben musical. Now, where do we line up for that?

Art, as it has been discussed, dissected, and debated over the evolving course of history is bookended by the simple fact that it is subjective. However, as personal as the many pursuits of passion are, it has been hounded by the question: “what makes a specific medium great?” Academics, authorities (including self-assigned ones), and the audience have long been at odds with what merits it gold stars. Where some prefer rigor, others contend that the success of art is in the way it stirs the senses, the sentiment being the most important consideration. For example, in music, one of the marks of a memorable song is how it is able to convey the emotion no matter what language or format it is in. The malleability of music to perform on any given cultural context, parameter, and medium is testament to the power that it holds.

This ability to adapt is true for all forms of art. If it is as effective trickled down as it is in its pure, essential, and original state, then it that good, nay, great. From the classical reworking of literature to film to the more creative conjunction of visual art inspiring music, among other things, it is always fascinating to see how it all informs each other, such as in the case of the more recent trend of a musician’s body of work threaded into a narrative to become the skeleton of a stage musical.

In the Philippines alone, the theater scene has been rife with this transposition in the productions of Rak of Aegis (Aegis), Eto Na! Musikal nAPO! (Apo Hiking Society), and Ang Huling El Bimbo (Eraserheads), proving that if the music works wonders, it will cut through when done right in another.

TikTok Goes To The Stage

 With the rise of social media, and the current dominance of TikTok, a nuanced form of adaptation has emerged over the course of the pandemic: the TikTok musical. Where many were just shifting their suddenly dormant energies into something productive, or at the very least entertaining, the collective expression of frustration and outlet for creative liberty became a movement that had artists contributing their skill to turn something bleak beautiful. From singers, songwriters, composers, choreographers, set designers, and even caterers, the phenomenon that was Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical, which nibbled its way to a night on Broadway. Well, sort of.

Sipping the same tea of success on the platform, Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear have used the sense of community and unparalleled creativity on TikTok to translate the scalding Regency-era show that is Bridgerton to become The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical. Cracking their own side of the internet, this undertaking that was a product of professional exasperation would grow into a piano ballad, a 15-track concept album, and live performances. And to think it was just a one shot that intended to answer: “What if Bridgerton was a musical?”

In effect, this modification of art into a different medium not only expands the original proposition beyond the intended imagination, but it also opens it up to so many people who would otherwise not have access to it. Such is the case with almost everything that happens on the internet. “Musical theater can be elitist and closed-doored, curtain drawn. We decided to throw open those curtains and say ‘hey, this is what it is, it’s not this big scary thing, you can do it too,’” explains Abigail Barlow. “The community and audience really does have the power over what is popular and what is successful, which gives talented people an opportunity to showcase their talent in front of an audience who wants to listen.”

The Ben&Ben And SB19 Musical

Voicing out the same creative curiosity, Lian Kyla posited on TikTok: “What if Ben&Ben songs were turned into a musical?” In the evocative exposition that followed, albeit it being just a little over a minute long, the singer, songwriter, and producer took on the poignant poetry of Leaves to realize the possibility. While the orchestration doesn’t stray too far from the original, which already bears the same temperament as an introspective ballad in a stage musical, there was an addition of wistfulness and whimsy that contrasted against the brassy bellow and quivers of the performance.

@liankylamusic Reply to @reymondhernandez29 #TiktokMusicPH ♬ Leaves but make it musical by Lian Kyla – Lian Kyla

Theoretically, a Ben&Ben musical isn’t a farfetched idea, because as evidenced by their recent concert, Kwaderno, the songs of the Filipino folk pop/pop rock band lends itself well to a beautifully woven narrative that incorporates their lyrics, visuals, and even the stories of the audience into a resonant whole. Even with the artistic license employed by Lian Kyla, who added a whole new verse to complement the aching truth telling of the nine-member collective, it felt at ease. And in that fragment what could be, the musical as inspired by the discography of Ben&Ben practically writes itself.

Not stopping there, upon the suggestion of a comment, Lian Kyla adapted the critically acclaimed and commercially successful SB19 hit, MAPA, from a soaring song to an even more gut-wrenching musical number. Proving musically malleable with the big band orchestration and collaboration with Ben&Ben, the ode of SB19 to their mothers, fathers, and guardians become even more of a catharsis with its silences, swells, and streams of tears. Just like their brothers in OPM, the impressive body of work of SB19 would work well as a musical, what with the running themes of angst, self-worth, and empowerment coursing through. If there was anyone else to really feel the pulse of this generation and champion the Filipino cultural imprint in a distinct and definitive way, it would definitely be the boys of SB19. And if it is even remotely motivated by the stories of Pablo, Josh Stell, Ken, and Justin, well, dim the lights and slowly lift the curtains up, because we have a show.

Where Do We Line Up?

One can argue at length about what makes art great, especially if you want to bore yourself with semantics. But at the end of the day, if it is able to transcend language and mediums, and stir the soul, as the likes of SB19 and Ben&Ben have, then the purpose has been fulfilled. With many ways to go around creating it, as well as of it holding different meanings to people of varying perspectives, it is meant to be appreciated, enjoyed, and made a part of many lives—not just a select few. Anyone, with their own way of enjoying things can tell what works for them and what makes it great, the bigger point being, it has to reach people first. And this is what adaptation does. Sure, it doesn’t sit well with snooty purists and aggressive gatekeepers, but when it encompasses more of humanity in the emotional way it was intended to, then there we have a great work of art.

@liankylamusic Reply to @aryaaaname #TiktokMusicPH #musicaltheatre ♬ MAPA but make it a musical – Lian Kyla

(Meanwhile, we will be right here, waiting on tickets for the Ben&Ben and SB19 stage musicals. Consider this the point of manifesting, folks.)

CONTINUE READING: WHEN THE CURTAINS GO UP ON BROADWAY, YOU WILL BE SEEING THESE FILIPINO ACTORS