The Crooner’s Advice: Go Solo or Group?

Taking Manhood Back

The Crooner’s Advice: Go Solo or Group?

Go solo or stay in a group?

Tough question requiring a seriously-thought decision that will alter a singer’s career path for better or for worse.

Cowell in his book “I Don’t Mean To Be Rude But…” advices new, aspiring, young singers to FIRST be part of a group(rather than go immediately solo).  He says years of training in a group will build confidence(plus so much more) a performer will need before going solo.

His examples include N’Sync(where Justin Timberlake eventually came out of), Destiny’s Child(where Beyonce sang since 14 yrs.old), and The Jackson 5(where Michael Jackson sang lead vocals as a charming little boy).

What about stories here in the Philippines?

Rivermaya came out scorching hot in November 1994 with monster hits “Ulan, Awit ng Kabataan, 214, Kisapmata, Himala, Hinahanap-hanap Kita” but eventually lost frontman Bamboo in 1998. A lot of people were disheartened but what a surprise and a revelation that the band’s keyboardist/songwriter rose from obscurity to take lead of Rivermaya and proved critics wrong by sustaining and strengthening Rivermaya’s solid success for the next 9 years without Bamboo. His name is Rico Blanco. In 2007, Blanco left the group and went solo and released “Your Universe” in 2008 and won 4 major Awit awards including Song of the Year, ”Vocalist of the Year”(NU Rock Awards) and ”Best New Artist” in the (2009 MYX Music Awards).

What about Bamboo?  He returned to the Philippines in 2003 forming a band bannering his name. With immortal originals  ”Noypi” and “Hallelujiah”, they were awarded ”Band of the Year” in the 2004 MTV Pilipinas and 2004 NU Rock Awards. Mañalac was also awarded “Vocalist of the Year” in the 2004 NU Rock Awards. Recently in 2011, Bamboo went solo.

Take the story of Southborder, did success stop after original frontman Brix Ferraris imprinted his great falsetto on huge radio hits “May Pag-ibig Pa Kaya” and “Kahit Kailan”?  At the brink of loss, Luke Mejares transitioned smoothly and Southborder continued it’s rise. Luke left the group later in 2002, and for the 3rd time, Southborder changed it’s “Face” in taking in Vince Alaras and Duncan Ramos, releasing their greatest hit single “Rainbow” in 2003.

Eraserheads, probably the greatest Pinoy band ever with their endless string of chart-topping originals disbanded in 2002 after success for a decade. Popular Eheads frontman Ely Buendia went on to form his group Pupil, but the great revelation was “just-drummer” Raimund Marasigan who surprised everybody with his unique vocal style and energetic showmanship in powering Sandwich to mainstream success, his genius songwriting in pop-hits “Sugod” and many more hit-originals, his versatile musicianship playing keyboards, bass and guitar, and success in record producing has made him one of the most well-respected mainstays of the Philippine rock band scene today.

They come and they go. Through the years Filipinos have witnessed both the popularity and parting ways of groups like Eraserheads, Southborder, Rivermaya, frontman Champ Lui Pio leaving Hale, frontman vocalist/guitarist Top Suzara parting ways with Freestyle, Sugarfree’s farewell to Ebe Dancel going solo, or even sweet-singing Juris Fernandez parting with her multi-platinum acoustic group MYMP.

“No one member is greater than the whole.” chants those who are for the group. Equality, they say. We started together, equal. If you go solo, it shows you got “puffed-up” along the way. No way you will be paid more than the others.

“One member can be greater than the whole.” chants those who are for the soloist. Beyonce, Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake proved through time, that their solo careers have reached heights and achievements that have surpassed their accomplishments in their former groups. But it doesn’t turn out this good most of the time does it?  A lot of singers lose their strength without the group, slowly fading from packed coliseums to small half-filled venues.


Are you at a crossroad? Pray hard. Take your time to weigh things. This is a major decision. It can make or break you.  If you make the wrong decision, getting back will be possible but will prove very very difficult.