Thanks to an extremely geeky background playing in concert bands, where mixed meters and overlapping rhythms kept my mind off the pain of my sputtering lips, NorteñoBlog will always dig bands doing proggy rhythm stuff in non-prog settings. This week’s 15th most played norteño/banda song on Mexican radio comes from the young tuba quintet La Iniciativa de Angostura Sinaloa, or simply “La Iniciativa” to their madres. “El Loquito del Rancho” (PCol) is a quick waltz, but singer Ariel Inzunza’s inventive melody throws in all these quintuplets, giving the first half of each line a crowded five-against-three feel. (You can play along at home! Tap your chest “ONE two three/ ONE two three” over and over again, and then start saying “onetwothreefourfive/ ONE two” so that the “one”s in your voice line up with the “one”s in your tapping. Got that? Now balance a ball on your nose!) Add to that a great chorus hook and a tubist (Rigoberto Cruz) who keeps messing with everyone, plus some hot accordion work from leader and co-singer Martín López, and you’ve got yourself a Pick to Click.

López is a triple threat who used to play tuba in Calibre 50; he and drummer Agusto Guido left that superstar band about two years ago to form La Iniciativa and possibly the PCol label, which seems to promote no other acts. NorteñoBlog slept on their 2015 album Ya Estás Olvidada. Among other things, it includes a beefed-up cover of the late Ariel Camacho’s “Hablemos” that doesn’t cut the original, but does demonstrate that they are caballeros of good taste.

Speaking of “Hablemos,” Camacho’s version is currently #17 on the Mexican chart NorteñoBlog usually tracks, the one that measures audience impressions rather than spins. (See below.) Weirdly enough, this may be the first Mexican radio hit for Camacho, who’s scored three Hot Latin top 10s in the U.S. (Right now “Te Metiste” is firmly ensconced at #6 and “Hablemos” is at #10 overall and #6 airplay — I’ve heard it on the radio twice in two days.) So far this factoid is provisional; my blog records only go back a year and I haven’t found an online archive of the monitorLATINO charts. But what would account for Camacho’s enduring and fairly massive popularity in El Norte, vs. relative indifference on his home country’s airwaves? Is indifference the right word? What am I missing here?

In other news, El Bebeto is back to banda after an unfortunate 2015 foray into mariachi; his busy “Mente Degenerada” is horny in both senses. 

Grupo Cañaveral’s “La Noche” is a letdown after their groovy series of duets last year; it’s a dime-a-dozen reggaeton stomper that bears no trace of their haunting turn-of-the-millennium cumbia sound.

Aside from La Iniciativa, the best of the lot is “De Noche Infiestado” by hyphy-not-hyphy stalwarts Los Inquietos del Norte. It’s fast and ragged, with the Meza brothers chewing up and spitting out boasts about their workaholic lifestyle, which seems equally divided between negocios and getting pisteando. Who says you can’t have it all?

These are the Top 20 “Popular” songs in Mexico, as measured by monitorLATINO. Don’t confuse “Popular” with the “General” list, which contains many of the same songs but also the ubiquitous “Hello” (at #1!), “Hotline Bling” (winner of the Village Voice’s recent Pazz & Jop poll), and Justin Bieber ft. J Balvin doing “Sorry.” Note: that’s a Canadian and a Colombian storming Mexico on U.S. money. What a time to be alive! (The song’s still good, too.)

1. “Solo Con Verte” – Banda MS
2. “Pistearé” – Banda Los Recoditos
3. “Ya Te Perdí La Fé” – Arrolladora
4. “En Qué Cabeza Cabe” – Banda Carnaval
5. “Tu Cárcel (En Vivo)” – Los Tigres Del Norte ft. Marco Antonio Solís
6. “El Viejón” – La Adictiva Banda San Jose
7. “Si No Es Contigo” – Banda El Recodo
8. “Fuiste Mia” – Gerardo Ortiz
9. “Me Gustaría Creerte” – Los Horóscopos de Durango
10. “El Amor Es Una Ilusion” – Toño Lizarraga

11. “Pregúntale” – Edwin Luna y La Trakalosa de Monterrey
12. “La Gripa” – Calibre 50
13. “Moneda Sin Valor” – Pesado
14. “Inicio Del Final” – Alfredo Olivas
15. “Mente Degenerada” – El Bebeto
16. “Pongamonos De Acuerdo” – Julión Álvarez y Su Norteño Banda
17. “Hablemos” – Ariel Camacho
18. “La Noche” – Grupo Cañaveral ft. Valentino
19. “Bien Enamorado” – Kevin Ortiz
20. “De Noche Enfiestado” – Los Inquietos del Norte

“Quien Que Crees Tú” – Banda Los Sebastianes
“Si Te Enamoras De Mi” – Diego Herrera
“¿Por Qué Me Ilusionaste?” – Remmy Valenzuela
“¿Y Qué Ha Sido De Ti?” – Chuy Lizárraga
“Soy Feliz” – Fidel Rueda
“Hoy Toca” – Alfredo Ríos El Komander
“Típico Clásico” – Luis Antonio Lopez “El Mimoso”
“Sonrie” – Duelo