Hold on tight, folks. A new Maris Racal era has just entered, and it’s the poppy and psychedelic world of “Ate Sandali.”
The singer/actor/internet-proclaimed meme queen has recently unveiled her single and MV from her home Balcony Entertainment, which is dubbed as a complete 180-degree turn from her past discography. While older Maris Racal records consisted of piano-driven and acoustic tunes, “Ate Sandali” is their unapologetic, colorful, yet wise sibling. Maris had unearthed the track’s lyrics from an old notebook, which was then inspired by a moment of simultaneous, once-upon-a-time heartbreaks between her and her sister.
“She was one of my inspirations, kasi sunod-sunod din ’yung mga bad decisions (bad decisions kept happening one after another),” she recounted during a press con. Coupled with the lyricism of personal favorites Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo, the pop sounds of “Ate Sandali” also take a page from her other playlist staples: Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, and K-pop stars Blackpink, Aespa, Itzy, and IU.
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At its core, “Ate Sandali” is a track about women’s empowerment amid toxicity, packaged as a piece of friendly advice. “Reminder lang siya sa mga babae na they’re beautiful and they can end a relationship,” she said.
(It’s a reminder to women that they’re beautiful and that they can end a relationship.)
The song’s visuals are also a departure from the black-and-white music video for her previous single “Not For Me.” In “Ate Sandali,” Maris dances along to lyrics posed like an upbeat wake-up call, draped in backdrops shifting colors by the second. In one frame, she wears a bright orange sequined number, topped with a platinum blonde wig. In the next, she’s dressed in her personal takes on the modern Filipiniana, which is meant to solidify her debut in P-Pop.
Aside from the MV, the single itself marks a change Maris hopes to manifest. “Ate Sandali” cuts into a rap verse a few minutes in, which, Maris recalled, was a “challenge” for her to write. “I had to challenge myself to write rap just to heighten the music and to add another element,” she said. “Habang nagsusulat ako ’nun, napepressure ako, kasi nasa utak ko si Shanti Dope o si Gloc-9 na mapapakinggan ’yung music ko. I had to write it over and over again.”
(While I was writing the rap verse, I felt pressured because I was thinking that Shanti Dope or Gloc-9 would eventually hear it.)
From the delicate balance between acting and singing, Maris also has to take a heavy online presence into account. The internet may have crowned her as the “meme queen,” but she laughs about it, too.
“Ginawa ko lang kasi siya for my friends on Twitter (I just made it for my friends on Twitter),” Maris said about her famous crying/typing meme, which had made its way across the interwebs—including the account of a streaming service in Thailand.
ชั้นที่รู้ว่า JTMA ชั้นที่โหวตจน
กลับมาอีกครั้ง ศิลปินโปรดคะแนนนำ pic.twitter.com/PHxLkc0n4n
— JOOX Thailand (@JOOXTH) April 27, 2021
“Di ko naman inexpect na makukuha ’yun ng mga Thai. Minsan umabot siya sa mga K-drama or K-pop stans. [It’s] amazing na umaabot ’yung mukha ko all over the world in the form of a meme. Memes are the way to go for world domination,” she laughed.
(I didn’t expect for it to end up with Thai Twitter users. Sometimes, they reach K-drama or K-pop stans. It’s amazing that my face can reach people from all over the world in the form of a meme.)
Whether it’s memes, movies, or music, Maris still has a long, long list of things to tick off on her to-do list. The first? A collab with P-pop group, SB19. “I really want a collaboration with them,” she said. “There was one time na nakausap ko sila backstage because there was one event na magkasama kami. So I asked them, ‘Do you guys write your own songs?’ Then they said yes. But then in my head [I’m saying], ‘Please, mag-collab tayo.’ But nahiya ako. Dream ko sila, and it’s not impossible naman.”
(There was one time when I talked to them backstage during an event. […] But then in my head [I’m saying], ‘Please, let’s collab.’ But I felt too shy. It’s my dream, and it’s not impossible.)
And with SB19’s recent team-up with fellow local icon Ben&Ben, it’s true—it ain’t impossible at all.
Still from “Ate Sandali” MV