SB19 have had a rollercoaster of a year, complete with highs like becoming Billboard Philippines’ debut cover stars, being considered for a GRAMMY nomination for “GENTO” (interpreted as Gold or ‘Like This’), a celebration of their fifth anniversary as a group with a successful fan-meet.
They also released their latest EP, PAGTATAG! earlier this year, where “GENTO” went viral both here at home and abroad. With over 20 releases in their career so far, Billboard Philippines took the challenge to rank each release — determining the weakest and best SB19 song thus far.
For this list, the Billboard Philippines team only considered original releases, meaning sponsored content, remixes or covers, and alternate versions of original songs were not considered.
With that, we present our ranking for the best and worst SB19 songs so far.
23. Wag Mong Ikunot Ang Iyong Noo
“Wag Mong Ikunot Ang Iyong Noo” (Don’t Frown) is the closer for their 2020 debut album, Get In The Zone. For many artists, debut albums are records where they have yet to find their signature sound. SB19 are one of those artists, with “Wag Mong Ikunot Ang Iyong Noo” being a cluttered, overwhelming track that is completely out of place in their discography. The instrumental is reminiscent of a Dance Dance Revolution-type of track, with almost grating electronic synth sounds and a corny and self-serving chorus, where the group pronounces, “Buhay ay gaganda, kasama mo ang SB19″ (Life will get better when SB19’s with you).
22. Love Goes
“Love Goes” is another track off Get In The Zone, and unfortunately falls into the same problem as “Wag Mong Ikunot Ang Iyong Noo,” albeit just a tad bit more palatable. The melody is one that’s taken out of a ’90s to 2000s typical boyband track, with more rap parts stitched in. There are still some electronic accents like in “Wag Mong Ikunot Ang Iyong Noo” that are piercing to the ears. The dated, EDM-heavy sound is not SB19’s strongest suit, and it shows in this track.
21. The One
Released in 2021, “The One” still evokes that outdated, mid-2010s EDM with bubblegum pop boyband sound. The track has English lines awkwardly placed in between Filipino parts, with lyrics like “I can make it so beautiful, my love, baby” leaving much to be desired. There’s also an oddly placed Spanish lyric that doesn’t appear anywhere else in the song. “The One” still has SB19 testing the waters, and just like the previous tracks, it still doesn’t put the group over the top.
“Tilaluha” (Tearful) was the group’s debut release, a foray into a softer, more ballad-like track. This is your bread-and-butter Filipino ballad — complete with a string section, harmonies, and drum beat that makes you want to sway side-to-side. However, there is nothing about the track that particularly stands out, if not for it being the first song to fully show off their vocal chops.
19. Hanggang Sa Huli
“Hanggang Sa Huli” (Until The End) is the second ballad off Get In The Zone, all with the same elements as “Tilaluha.” What makes “Hanggang Sa Huli” just a step above it are the instrumentals — the string sections are more pronounced, tighter, with more interesting chord changes and accents that make you listen more intently to the song. The strings don’t just serve as a backing track for the rest of the song’s elements, but rather a stronger and more important addition that makes the song shine. While the song is a good track on its own, there are just other releases that are better in comparison.
If their 2019-2020 releases felt outdated with the state of Filipino music at the time, “Ikako” and SB19’s 2021 EP Pagsibol catapults the group back to the present. There’s more variation in the song’s structure, and the sonic accents are just right — not too overwhelming like in “Wag Mong Ikunot Ang Iyong Noo” or “Love Goes,” but not non-existent like in previous ballad songs. “Ikako” is ballad-adjacent, with the elements of their slower songs but with a more upbeat drum beat and even a rap section in the song.
However, what makes this song rank lower than others on the list is that Pablo’s signature raspy and hard-hitting voice when rapping is a little too brash for the overarching sound of the whole song. While that vocal style fits better into the more danceable and heavier songs, it feels out of place in a softer song like “Ikako.” The outro of the song (where the boys are laughing and unfiltered) doesn’t seem fitting for a studio recording, and would work better for a live performance setting.
17. No Stopping You
Originally released as a twin single collaboration with Jayda, the group also released a solo version of “No Stopping You.” There are more elements of funk in the track, making it incredibly different and elevated from their earlier material. Just like “Ikako,” the production and instrumentals make the song more in-the-now compared to earlier works.
“Nyebe” (Snow) was released in 2022 as a standalone single, and is another ballad in their discography. The string sections that were more prominent in the previously mentioned ballads are switched out for more electronic synth swells. The chorus has a more memorable hook and melody. The bridge is significantly heavier, and with stronger, more organic instrumentals — the drums are no longer electronic beats and the electric guitars are more prominent, making for a great break in the song. “Nyebe” is among the more memorable and impressive ballads in their roster, but still doesn’t stand out as much as other tracks in their discography.
“Ligaya” (Happiness) is SB19’s first attempt at a Christmas track. It’s a fun song — the riffs are simple, but are great complements to the song in a way that isn’t overwhelming to the ears. The group’s singing styles and rapping chops are more pronounced and better highlighted in the absence of a cluttered instrumental. However, the slowed-down bridge starts and ends abruptly, with no transition from the preceding and succeeding upbeat sections. The claps are a great complement as well. With this track, it shows that less is more in order to make SB19 shine.
“FREEDOM” is the closing track of the group’s latest EP, PAGTATAG! It’s the weakest song off their otherwise great EP, returning back to that boyband sound with rap sections that feels out of place and forced into the track. Just like their previously mentioned tracks, there’s too much going on in the backing instrumentals, making the track cluttered. The jumps from each verse, whether it’s a singing part, rap part, or the bridge, are abrupt and disjointed. What gives the song some consolation is its incredibly catchy hook, but other than that, the weaker parts are what make this song rank in the lower half of their discography.
“ILAW” (Light) is SB19 stripped-down and acoustic — but of course, with their signature style of making ballads with a string section and belt-filled bridge. The acoustic guitar that starts off the song and continues throughout is the first time the group uses that sound extremely prominently. In a way, the song feels both raw and polished, with more emotional vocals that incorporate “imperfect” aspects of their voices in order to make them sound more human.
2021’s “SLMT” (a shortened version of ‘salamat,’ Filipino for ‘thank you’) is a fun pop number with a cutesy melody and lyrics, with the group singing “Thanks!” and “Hey!” as accents after each line in the pre-chorus. Ken‘s lower register is more pronounced in the rap section of the song, adding that necessary deep bass sound to round out the song. It’s fun, catchy, and an overall cute pop song. It’s not top 10 worthy, but more memorable and palatable than the earlier releases.
11. Alab (Burning)
At the mid-point of the list is one of the group’s first singles, “Alab (Burning).” As far as songs go, SB19 sets the tone with a great catchy tune. There are still elements of the almost-piercing electronic synth accents that are prominent in their earlier work, but god, that hook is catchy (“Burning up fire, ‘di na matatanggi / Got me like fire, ikaw na’ng aking hinahanap”).
Starting off our top 10 is another ballad from PATATAG!, “LIHAM” (Letter). This is another SB19 ballad, but there are no big swells and the predictable build-up like in earlier ballads. The chorus is surprisingly stripped down, with their voices the most prominent in the section. Even in the later choruses of the song, the instrumentals are less overpowering as in previous ballads. The instrumental break allows for the song to breathe even more, and is long enough to be fully enjoyed before it leads into the bridge. The belts in the song are stronger and fuller, even allowing for moments for “imperfections” (like the gasping or sob before the last chorus) that round out the emotion in the song.
Think of “Bazinga” as “GENTO’s” little brother — yes, the jumps between the verses are abrupt, but that aggressive, edgier chorus and excellent rap verses are what give the song a spot on the top 10. Ken and Pablo are a highlight in this track, their vocal and rap styles perfectly complementing the edginess that the track needs.
8. Go Up
“Go Up” broke SB19 into the mainstream and for good reason. The instrumental isn’t overpowering, the verses flow into each other well, and the electronic riff when combined with the hook complement well. Over the years, it has stayed timeless; a great introduction to the boys’ discography.
“Mana” (shortened version of ‘Manananggal,’ a Filipino cryptid) is also a predecessor to the hard-hitting and danceable SB19 sound that we know today. The somber and horror film-like riff is interesting and stands out in their discography, complemented with a simple yet catchy hook. It’s whimsical and plays on the fantasy elements that also becomes present in their solo careers, such as in Ken/FELIP’s “Bulan” (Moon). The instrumental break is a stand out as well, less cluttered than previously mentioned tracks but even more impactful, especially as it breaks before it continues on to the rest of the song. As said before, “less is more” is what makes SB19’s artistry shine the best.
Edgy, dark, aggressive — these are the hallmarks of some of the best SB19 songs. “What?” is no exception, and the way the chorus is sung (not straight, with space for specific words to be lengthened and emphasized) allows for the melody to stick better. There’s more elements happening in the background, but the lessened number of lyrics in the chorus balances the song out better.
“GENTO” is the latest SB19 song to take over the country and the world. “GENTO” sees SB19 playing with multi-syllabic rhymes in single bars: “Hindi mala-darna ‘to aandar ang makina ko / Tanging mekaniko ay ako ‘la nang moni moniko“. Beyond just the choreography of the song, the track’s lyrics make the song more cohesive and interesting than their previous work, especially with the boys’ utilizing the wordplay of the Filipino language to create sonically interesting melodies and lyrics. However, the energy stays at 100% throughout the whole song, which makes the song one-note and difficult to appreciate the individual sections.
While the lyrics are simpler compared “GENTO,” they just hit harder when paired with the fast-paced bass and drum lines. The use of Bisaya in the lyrics add a new dimension to the group (Gusto ka ba mu check sakong IG / VVS akong drip murag Nike) [Do you want to check my IG? My drip’s VVS, like Nike]. Unlike “GENTO,” there are breaks in the song give the song more variety, which makes it rank higher on the list.
SB19’s post-pandemic comeback single “WYAT (Where You At)” sees the boys explore a more funk, groove sound. The bass line is more complex and pronounced compared to other tracks. The chorus is instantly catchy, and overall, the song is different enough to add a new dimension to the group while retaining elements of their earlier discography (electronic synths and accents, the upbeat percussion, vocal belts and falsettos) to make it still consistent in their musical sound.
2. I WANT YOU
“I WANT YOU” comes as a complete surprise in the group’s discography thus far. They take their first step into R&B elements instead of a more pop sound — not to mention the more mature and sultry lyrics. Typically, when SB19 makes slower songs, they become full-blown ballads. “I WANT YOU” is the stellar middle ground. SB19 should explore the R&B sound more, because this song shows that they can pull it off.
Our top one pick for the best SB19 song is “MAPA” (Map) — a beautiful tribute of pure heart-wrenching motion, the catchiest chorus of them all, and an instrumental that is moving yet not overpowered. Each member shows off their wide vocal range, and while for other songs it seems forced to drop in consistent belts, “MAPA” is an example of when a belt or falsetto is what the song needs. This is SB19 at their best, able to create a song full of emotion but still make it pop and hopeful.
What do you think of our ranking? Do you agree with us or do you think there should be a different number one? Rank your very own top 10 SB19 below, just re-order the tracks and let us know!