Prettier Than Pink

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Sex appeal and pop smarts catapulted Prettier Than Pink to the top of the charts in the Philippines in 1995, their popularity skyrocketing after an omnipresent single, "Cool Ka Lang" ("Just Stay Cool"…
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Sex appeal and pop smarts catapulted Prettier Than Pink to the top of the charts in the Philippines in 1995, their popularity skyrocketing after an omnipresent single, "Cool Ka Lang" ("Just Stay Cool" in English), wooed radio listeners with its sprightly guitar jangle; witty, upbeat lyrics; and sugar-sweet vocals. Written and composed by leader and founding member Lei Bautista (vocals, guitar), "Cool Ka Lang" became one of the Philippines' biggest '90s hits. The song captured the first-person narratives of everyday life in the Philippines that the country's alternative acts became recognized for, but placed in a radio-friendly context. Consequently, unlike many of the Filipino guitar groups in the early '90s, Prettier Than Pink was able to appeal to mainstream tastes even though the band had roots in new wave and '60s rock.

In 1991, the first incarnation of Prettier Than Pink was formed (in Colegio de San Agustin), the brainchild of a high-school teacher. The then-nameless group was unique to the country in that it was an all-female band with each member playing instruments. At the time, the group could only perform three tunes: John Lennon's "Imagine," Wilson Phillips' "Hold On," and the Ronettes' "Be My Baby." The band was discovered by Ramon Jacinto, the father of rock radio in the Philippines with the legendary DZRJ. Jacinto hired the group, now called Pretty and Pink, to perform at his bars. The bandmembers eventually ended their relationship with Jacinto and changed the group's name to Prettier Than Pink. Members also came and left, with the roster settling on Bautista, Annie Trillo (bass), Gretchen Gregorio (keyboards), and Vanessa Garcia (drums).

Impressed by the group's talents, Digital FX invited Prettier Than Pink into their studio to record the band's self-titled debut album. The slickly produced record became the object of a major-label bidding war won by Viva Records, which released it in 1995 under its Neo Records imprint. Within five months the LP went gold. Prettier Than Pink gigged constantly, performing '60s and '70s covers and new wave classics alongside original material. Although critically dismissed, the members of Prettier Than Pink were viewed as positive role models, inspiring young girls to take up instruments and honestly express their feelings.

After the second album, 1997's more adventurous UnPink, the band underwent another roster shift as Bautista was backed by three members of the female punk metal quartet Keltscross -- guitarist Pamela Aquino, bassist Jeng Tan, and drummer Sheila Rosete -- with new keyboardist Marge Pantaleon. However, the new lineup released no new material, as Bautista relocated to the U.S. shortly thereafter and Aquino and Tan helped to form the Pin-Up Girls. In 2004, Bautista recorded a Christian alternative album with session musicians as Airlia, hitting number one on Flashback Alternatives in New Jersey with "Guiding Light." She also re-formed Prettier Than Pink as a neo-new wave act in America that year with Aquino, Melody del Mundo (bass) of Sugar Hiccup, and Annette Ortiz (drums) of Fatal Posporos. A year later, they started work on their first U.S. album.