As far as Filipino pop music goes, few bands have made their mark in terms of popularity and acclaim like South Border have. The progressive pop and R&B outfit led by keyboardist, singer, and main songwriter Jay Durias celebrates their 30th year in the industry this year, and shows no signs of slowing down despite famously having a revolving door of lead singers since original vocalist Brix Ferraris departed in 1998.
After all, at the end of the day, it’s the songs that matter the most, and Durias has written many great ones. To date, South Border have recorded and released four studio albums with just as many frontmen (South Border with Ferraris, Bump and The Way We Do with his replacement Luke Mejares, and Episode III with Duncan Ramos and Vince Alaras). This means that an earlier hit like “Kahit Kailan” has been performed live by all of them, but the band’s unparalleled consistency and proficiency (in addition to Durias’ own standards) mean that there is no definitive version of the song, no matter who is in the band at the time. Besides, countless Filipinos have likely stretched their pipes at what is now a karaoke classic on more than one occasion.
South Border have not released any new material since the 2017 single “Your Space” and a jazzier rerecording of “Rainbow” in 2020, but they are a band that hardly needs to prove their relevance. Here, Billboard Philippines shares five South Border classics worth revisiting, and while these songs are extremely popular, they stand as a testament to Durias’ masterful compositional and arrangement skills.
“Kahit Kailan” (No Matter When), 1996
The one that put South Border on the map. Most Filipinos aged 30 and up have probably felt the urge to sing this (or pretend to) whenever they sit in front of a piano. It’s also likely the first song that comes to mind when the band is mentioned.
“Love of My Life”, 1996
If you were a fan when Ferraris left the band in 1998, you would have been really affected by it because of this song. The way he sang “life” with two syllables (“Love of my la-hyf”) and ended each line with his exquisite falsetto became a meme before memes were a thing.
“Tulog” (Sleep), 1998
A lovely soul number with tasty wah-wah guitar that gives the song a welcome funk flavor. Durias shines on lead vocals here, while the band provides a tight, laid-back groove that you won’t resist bobbing your head to.
“Habang Atin Ang Gabi” (While the Night is Ours), 2001
If this song sounds like it could be a theme for a movie, it’s because it was. “Habang Atin Ang Gabi” was originally written for Star Cinema’s La Vida Rosa, and later became the carrier single for the band’s third album.
At the time of its release, Philippine Star music critic Philip Cu-Unjieng wrote that this song was “to South Border what ‘Forevermore’ is to Side A.” His estimation isn’t far off, because “Rainbow” has some of the strongest hooks of the band’s entire discography. Give it a listen and see if it doesn’t get stuck in your head.