SB19 and Ben&Ben collaborating on a song? And it’s for a new version of MAPA? It’s like a dream come true.
SB19 is one of the, if not the biggest P-Pop group in the Philippines and a fast-rising act in general. Meanwhile, Ben&Ben is one of the most popular Pinoy acts in the Philippines, making us feel things with their heart-tugging songs. For a while, a collaboration between SB19 and Ben&Ben, affectionally called #SBen19, was something that people, including us, wanted, but felt more like a dream.
But all our hopes were answered when both groups made a surprise announcement that they would release a new version of MAPA last June 18. The announcement led thousands of A’TIN and Liwanag to celebrate in joy. It also quickly sent #SB19BenAndBen and #SBEN19MAPA to the top of the Twitter trending topics at #1 and #2 respectively. In the lead-up to the song’s release, they even released concept photos of not only the SB19 members, but also the band members of Ben&Ben.
So, what happens then when you combine both groups together for a collaboration? Only greatness and that was what we got when they released their highly anticipated re-recording of SB19’s hit single, MAPA.
How It Came To Be
MAPA already was quite impactful when SB19 first released the song back in May. The ballad was a love letter to the boys’ parents for their hard work and sacrifice. With Ben&Ben in the mix, it not only made MAPA that much better, but the inspirational message of honoring loving and hardworking parents cut that much deeper.
According to Sony Music Philippines General Manager Roslyn Pineda, the idea first came from SB19. “SB19 had an idea, a band version of MAPA. And Ben&Ben said yes in a heartbeat, which perhaps shouldn’t have come as a surprise given their ‘Ma, may ___ na kami’ captions on social media that make their devotion to their parents public knowledge.”
Asking Ben&Ben to be in the band version for MAPA was a no-brainer for SB19 as the group loved the band and even when they were still trainees, wanted to work with them. “It was really nice because while working, we were able to share stories and experiences that brought us closer. Also, during the shoot of our video, we were encouraging each other to gain confidence and just enjoy the performance.”
Ben&Ben’s Take On MAPA
Musically, the original version of MAPA was quite beautiful. But Ben&Ben came in to take the song’s musicality to the next level such as by adding jazzy, orchestral details, smooth harmonies, and expansive arrangements. SB19 actually gave permission to Ben&Ben to rearrange the song. “We were 100% involved with the process. They gave us free liberty to arrange the song, only giving us additional comments to help make some parts flow better. Pablo and Pat were directly coordinating and constantly giving updates. The suggestions he gave greatly helped us during the final recording sessions,” said the group.
The band also revealed that all of the band members were creatively responsible for their individual parts. But the entire arrangement was mainly conceptualized and spearheaded by Pat and Poch. “They’re two of the most technically proficient in the band when it comes to arranging intricate sections, and they wanted to add that to support the powerful message of the original song. Arrangement-wise, we wanted to make it distinct from the original, adding fun rhythms and grand sections. We felt that doing this added weight and served to support the powerful vocal performance of both acts.”
“We want people to have a different vibe about the song. The original version is more mellow, while this version gives it a rich, well-rounded, and a happy feeling—put together in such a way that it makes listeners feel more uplifted when they hear the song,” adds Pablo.
To make things that much better, the performance video for the band version of MAPA, which sees everyone dressed in beige tones, was shot at the historic Manila Metropolitan Theatre. Not only is the Manila Metropolitan Theater an important national cultural landmark, but it is also the only existing art deco building of its size and look in Asia. SB19 and Ben&Ben were actually the first artists to be on the stage of the iconic theater after six years under restoration and renovation. Talk about a cultural moment.
While we enjoy SB19 and Ben&Ben’s amazing version of MAPA, we also have our fingers crossed that the two groups could release original music together in the future.