JR has driven 4 hours from his hometown in the North to visit Chantelle, a friend diagnosed with a tumor, in a hospital in Manila. I asked him how he knew Chantelle, if they were batchmates in residency training, or if they were high school friends, or if he was somehow summoned to give his medical opinion.

“Hindi. Nagkakilala lang kami sa concert ng Blue years ago,” he said. “Kilala mo ba yung Blue?”

“You mean Simon Webbe, Lee Ryan, Anthony Costa, and Duncan James?” I asked. “My favorite Blue song is ‘Hurt Lovers’ from their obscure 2014 album Roulette,” I said with pride, making sure that I choose the least mainstream of all.

He was unimpressed. As it turned out, JR is a wellspring of knowledge on all things pop music from the 90’s and 2000’s. We were of that generation, when the only thing on TV was MTV and Channel V, and you didn’t care that you’ve seen “As Long As You Love Me” for the 5th time that day. RJ even called up MTV Asia once, hoping to talk to the fun and sassy Kerri Casem, only to be assigned to Rahul Khanna.

I sent JR a photo of a girl group, with a rather superior, “You might have missed this act from 1997, but their songs were super catchy. You should try to give them a listen on Spotify. The group is called…”

“Solid HarmoniE!” JR exclaimed. “Take note of the capital E, because the name should emblazon the word ‘SHE’ to represent femininity, confidence, the right mix of gentleness and strength…”

JR proudly announced that he had a copy of Solid HarmoniE’s album on CD, take note, which was quite deluxe in the 90’s. And just when he thought he had one leg up I finally revealed the ace up my sleeve. “Well,” I started, “I saw them in their mall tour in Megamall!”

Solid HarmoniE’s hits include: I’ll Be There For You, I Want You To Want Me, I Wanna Love You, and To Love Once Again. I checked their artist profile on Spotify and discovered that over 25 years since their debut album, they had just released their sophomore effort in 2022 entitled… Two! Eeeep!

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