Sometimes when you’re feeling whimsical/bored/done with dishes, you just decide to research the chart statistics of Grupo Climax. Or I do — I may be atypical. One thing leads to another, za za za, and so here are Billboard‘s top 10 Regional Mexican airplay songs from July 17, 2004, the week Climax’s only notable hit enjoyed its highest chart placement. Hot Latin chart placement is in parentheses.
Note that in 2004, the Hot Latin charts were still strictly based on airplay: “A panel of 99 stations (40 Latin Pop, 16 Tropical, 51 Regional Mexican) are electronically monitored 24 hrs. a day, 7 days a week.” (Today they also incorporate sales and streams, but there remain breakout charts like Regional Mexican that measure only airplay.) This accounting method placed five RegMex songs inside the Hot Latin top 10, a percentage we never see today; but it also meant the Hot Latin top 25 contained 10 regional Mexican songs, pretty typical by today’s standards.
1. “Qué de Raro Tiene” – Los Temerarios (#2 Hot Latin)
Trembly-eyebrowed synth-pop grupero brothers go nostalgic with an album of ranchera covers, including this Vicente Fernández cover that would top the Hot Latin chart. Gustavo Angel unleashes his throat and sounds right at home in this style. (Be sure to check out their AllMusic bio for a fascinating look at how the brothers started their own label and challenged Fonovisa, only to eventually be swallowed by the giant.)
2. “Dos Locos” – Los Horóscopos de Durango (#5 Hot Latin)
“The Durango Gang Busts Out of Chicago,” read the Billboard headline on June 12, shortly after this song had topped the Regional Mexican chart. Los Horóscopos had been a working banda for 30 years before their enterprising leader Armando Terrazas decided to put his daughters, the multi-instrumentalists Vicky and Marisol, up front. This sad polka cover of Monchy & Alexandra was cut from the same bachata cloth as their cover of Aventura’s “Obsesion,” and it hits one of duranguense’s sweet spots — floaty heartache over nonstop oompahs. (The other sweet spot is clattery barely-constrained synth-tuba chaos, but that didn’t chart as much.)
3. “Te Quise Olvidar” – Grupo Montéz de Durango (#8 Hot Latin)
Another duranguense cover, this time of Juan Gabriel in mariachi mode. Once duranguense took off, the novelty of recasting well-known songs as synth polkas became central to its appeal. Because it was a slow waltz and not a polka, this particular song was unusual for the genre; because it built to a rousing climax with crescendoing percussion, it was unusually exciting for the staid genre leaders Montéz.
4. “Miedo” – Palomo (#13 Hot Latin)
Written by the prolific songwriter Fato, who topped the chart in 2015 with Clave Nueva’s “Cuál Adios.” Written for Pepe Aguilar because he needed to record a new song for the reality show Big Brother. Written about Fato’s nephew who had recently died young from cancer. All of which is more interesting than Palomo’s tejano version, which successfully replicates the time-sucking boredom of the Big Brother house.
5. “¿A Dónde Estabas?” – Intocable (#14 Hot Latin)
Holy shit, a song that’s not a cover! Written by José Roberto Martinez for the alt-norteño band, who were then a decade into their career and had just made a blatant attempt to expand their audience by playing the House of Blues in Chicago. (The show yielded a live CD/DVD.) This combines Intocable’s strengths — a pleasant, distinctive lope tied to impeccable norteño musicianship and pop chord changes — with their frequent weakness, a forgettable and meandering tune without a hook. In retrospect, Intocable might not have had a crossover breakthrough — although 2013’s “Te Amo (Para Siempre)” came close — but their sound has infiltrated norteño music. The two stars most primed for crossover success, Gerardo Ortiz and Luis Coronel, have both cut songs that sound pretty Intocablish.
6. “Soy Tu Mujer” – Alicia Villarreal (#4 Hot Latin)
NOW we’re talking. The former Grupo Limite singer records a majestic song of love and devotion as a midtempo cumbia, produced by her husband, Cruz Martinez of the Kumbia Kings. A Selena-worthy Pick to Click:
7. “El Za Za Za (Mesa Que Más Aplauda)” – Grupo Climax (#7 Hot Latin)
… although really, THIS was the song that made me decide to check out the chart for this particular week. I’ve written perhaps incoherently about Climax’s priced-to-move Za Za Za album before; for now I just tell you it’s nonstop synth-cumbia fun from beginning to end, and rely upon an informative YouTube commenter’s description: “These guys sound like a bunch of drunk bums singing their stupid strip club crap and the dj just took out the voices out of Fulanito’s ‘El Cepillo’ instead of doing some real sampling work.” Turned out it became a popular table dance at El Lobo’s club (El Lobo is the guy who keeps saying “za za za”) and then it took over THE WORLD. Or my world. Someone’s world. The video is a bounce masterpiece.
8. “No Tiene La Culpa El Indio” – Los Tigres del Norte (#23 Hot Latin)
ROOOAAAAR! Another rock-solid tale from Los Tigres, in which (I think) a poor man, unafraid of coyotes and refusing to raise chickens, braves the desert and works his way up to worldwide jefe-hood. Please do not be fucking with him, because he will exact revenge and you’ll have no place to hide. This song and its Pacto de Sangre album seem to have disappeared into the Tigres’ ample reputation, but they’re in peak form here.
9. “Pero Que Tal Si Te Compro” – Lupillo Rivera (#21 Hot Latin)
A trad but fiery cover of a Cornelio Reyna tune. Lupillo mugs his way through the video on a horse, in a restaurant wearing fast food fatigues, wandering the town square with his banda, and scampering from his novia’s angry padre. (He finally wins over Mom with some flowers, awwww.) Easy to forget that before sister Jenni’s 2005 breakthrough, Lupillo was the Rivera to watch. He switched from corridos to traditional banda in 2001, and almost immediately surged in popularity, with two albums quickly going platinum.
10. “Te Perdone Una Vez” – Los Huracanes del Norte (#25 Hot Latin)
Sweet harmonies mourn love’s death to infidelity. That’s why they shot the video in a cemetery.