ROCK bands sometimes pull out a surprise ballad that deviates from their usual style. Take for instance the 1992 worldwide hit called “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, a heavy metal act from San Rafael, California.

In a Village Voice interview, lead singer and rhythm guitarist James Hetfield said, “It’s absolutely crazy, that was the song that I thought was least Metallica, least likely to ever played by us, the last song anyone would really want to hear. It was a song for myself in my room on tour when I was bumming out about being away from home. It’s quite amazing, it’s a true testament to honesty and exposing yourself, putting your real self out there, and taking the risk, taking a gamble that someone’s either going to step on your heart with spikes on or they’re going to put their heart right next to it, and you never know until you try. That solidified, I think, that we were doing the right thing, writing form the heart about what we felt, and you can’t go wrong that way. It has become an unbelievable song live, and from the New York Hells Angels putting it in their movie to sports people to people getting married to it, all kinds of stuff, people relate to it. I’m grateful that the guys forced me to take it out of my tape player and make it Metallica.”

Hetfield wrote “Nothing Else Matters” for his girlfriend. The song was not originally meant for commercial release.

Also in 1992, English alternative rock band Radiohead released “Creep” as its debut single. Although it was not an immediate chart success, “Creep” became an international hit after it was re-released in 1993. Guitarist Johnny Greenwood said the song was inspired by a girl that Radiohead’s principal songwriter Thomas Edward “Thom” Yorke followed around. The girl unexpectedly showed up during a show by the band.

Tears for Fears recorded a live version of “Creep” in 1995 and released it on CD. Amanda Palmer covered “Creep” in 2010 for her EP album. Macy Gray recorded a “Creep” cover in 2012 for her album. In 2015, a jazzed-up cover by Haley Reinhart and Postmodern Jukebox was released on YouTube to critical acclaim and quickly reached six million views and the number one position on the iTunes Jazz chart.

Sarah Geronimo performed the “Creep” on her 24/SG concert in 2013 and a review noted the performance as the highlight of the show. The Pretenders, Korn, Prince, and even Idina Menzel performed live covers of “Creep.”

1992 was also the year when American rock band Stone Temple Pilots from San Diego, California, released a song called “Plush.” Music was written by bass player and backing vocalist Robert Emile DeLeo and lyrics by lead singer Scott Weiland (1967-2015) and drummer Eric Kretz. The chord structure was inspired by DeLeo’s love of ragtime music. Lyrics were loosely based on a newspaper article that Scott Weilard had read about a girl who had been found dead in an area outside San Diego, California. It was also a metaphor for a failed relationship.

“Plush” became a major rock radio hit in America and won the 1994 Grammy Award for Best Hard rock Performance.

A 1995 song called “Wonderwall” by English rock band Oasis continues to emit good vibes even among the post-millennial music market. DJ and song producer David Guetta inserted the original version of “Wonderwall” in his live gig at a recent Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Florida, and the young people in the crowd sang along with it. Other DJs effectively use the “Wonderwall” interruption to hype the audience before bringing back the beat, drum roll, and bass drop. The trick is not hard to do since “Wonderwall” was written and set to a moderate dance groove.

Singer Noel Thomas David Gallagher wrote “Wonderwall.” In 1996, it was said that he told NME (New Musical Express, a British music journalism magazine) that he wrote it for his then girlfriend Meg Matthews. After Galagher divorced Matthews in 2001, he said the song was not about Matthews but about an imaginary friend “who’s gonna come and save you from yourself.”

Perhaps the most popular cover of “Wonderwall” was by Ryan Adams, an American singer-songwriter, musician, record producer, poet, and painter. In 2002, Noel Gallagher changed the arrangement of his live performances of the song to a style he admitted was heavily influenced by Ryan Adam’s cover of the song.

Singer-songwriter Paul Anka also recorded a tongue-in-cheek big band version of “Wonderwall.”

One of the Pinoy bands that rocked the 90s was Yano. It was formed in 1993 by Dong Abay on vocals and Davaoeño Eric Gancio on guitar. Other musicians alter joined Yano but the group disbanded in 1997 after Dong Abay left the band. Eric Gancio revived Yano as a one-man band in 2007 – and continues to produce songs with sidemen playing in live gigs here and abroad.

The Abay-Gancio original Yano is a hell of an act to follow that even Dong and Eric could not seem to beat with other teams that they formed. Hits from the first Yano album belong to the list of the greatest Pinoy rock songs history. With the recent social media viral video showing singer-songwriter Jim Paredes confronting Duterte supporters in mind, Yano’s “Kumusta Na” may sound more relevant than ever to analyze.

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