Melissa Gibbs

Melissa Gibbs

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In 1999, Philippine female singer Melissa Gibbs released her self-titled first album for Rock Records Philippines. The label, based in Taiwan, is one of the strongest -- if not the strongest -- independent labels in Asia. Gibbs had recorded earlier with another company.

The music on Melissa Gibbs is more modern than the type usually performed by female Philippine singers, who are often relegated to easy-listening love songs. Some cuts on Melissa Gibbs are dance-inflected, such as "Erase" and "One Week," while others are pop with an edge of R&B, such as "I Wanna Be" and "Believe." Half of the album's ten songs are ballads rooted in the passionate, easy-listening love song so popular in the Philippines, but most of these contain more substance and individuality than the usual bland love song.

The ballads sung in English -- "Stay With Me," "Simply Jesse," and "Don't Ask" -- contain more bite than those done in Tagalog, the country's national language: "Bakit Mo Iniwan?" (trans: Why Did You Leave?) and "Sinayang Ko Pala" (trans: I Wasted it). "Stay With Me" is a particularly pretty love song, one that international artists such as Celine Dion and Mariah Carey might be comfortable singing. "I Wanna Be," which works off a dance/R&B groove, contains a catchy refrain which is repeated like a mantra in parts of the song. "Believe" opens on a repeated bassline and a syncopated, hip-hop-styled backbeat, as Gibbs raps and then sings an appealing melody and chorus. Sales of Melissa Gibbs did not reach expectations, but the album deserves far more attention than it received.