First off, NorteñoBlog congratulates friends of the blog Los Tigres, Natalia Lafourcade, and most charming man alive Pitbull on their recent Grammy wins. Los Tigres’ very good Realidades won for “Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano),” a category that included no Tejano albums but whose name testifies to the lingering power of the Tejano voting bloc. Or at least to the outspoken crankiness of the Tejano voting bloc. (I assume there’s still a Tejano voting bloc.) Lafourcade’s fine Hasta La Raíz tied with Pitty Wap’s intermittently banging Dale for “Best Latin Rock, Urban, or Alternative Album.” NorteñoBlog woulda picked Maquinaria Norteña for Regional and Bomba Estéreo for Rock/Urban/Alternative — after all, the Bombas excel in all three areas — but these were still respectable and relevant choices.
Next, NorteñoBlog congratulates Espinoza Paz for writing lots of decent, non-sappy songs recently. Paz is capable of biting hilarity — see Marco Flores’s “El Pajarito” and Los Horóscopos’ “Estoy Con Otro En La Cama.” He can also concoct musical experiments that look deceptively simple, like Arrolladora’s “Cabecita Dura” — 120 straight syllables without pause or apparent breath! — and straight up banda bangers like Roberto Tapia’s new single “Vale La Pena.” (That video seems to have fallen off a truck, so watch it while you can.) Back in 2009, after he’d won his second straight BMI songwriter of the year award, Billboard‘s Leila Cobo interviewed Paz, a former migrant worker who doesn’t read music.
Cobo: How would you describe your music?
True enough; and like most professionals he’s had some bad days at the office, especially in solo work like “Sin Esencia,” a pensive smell-the-fart guitar ballad. (In 2008, Paz told Billboard‘s Ayala Ben-Yehuda, “I try to explain my life the way a woman could explain it. I exaggerate my pain a little because they hurt a little more. I become a woman when I write, and I say things the way they would say it.” Somewhere Chrissie Hynde was like, “Not me baby, I’m too precious; fuck off.”) But lately he’s been cutting loose. Before “Estoy Con Otro” went to Los Horóscopos, Paz sang his own raucous version on a talk show, the audience laughing and cheering each outrageous line.
Now he’s at #19 in Mexico with “A Veces.” Paz speeds through this polka live with an accordion quartet, pausing midway through to repeat the title phrase for dramatic effect, after which he gets up and does a little dance. I know it’s not in the same league, and maybe it’s just because everyone’s sitting down, but when I watch the “A Veces” video I think of Elvis doing “One Night With You” during his ’68 comeback special. Paz and his band have a similar open-shirted charisma, and that same sense of burrowing deep into the rhythms of a song to see what delightful objects they can drag out of it.
You’d think that would be good enough for a Pick to Click, but NorteñoBlog knows good, unapologetic sap when it appears, and Remmy Valenzuela‘s new ballad “Espero Con Ansias” is another winner from the accordion hero turned power romantic. If anyone can name the ’80s AOR ballad whose hook he’s nicked, the same hook that’s rubbing against that sweet spot in his tenor voice, I’m in your debt. ROMANTIC debt.
In other news, SuenaTron, which is definitely a band and not a video game where you blast people with beams of pure ACCORDION POWER, is getting spins with “Dos Locos de Amor.” It once again sounds more Tejano than norteño, and more straight-up pop/rock than either. Intocable might not be intocable for long.
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 Coldplay’s “Adventure of a Lifetime,” Lost Frequencies’ pan-European smash “Reality,” two Bieber songs, and and ultra-catchy former Pick to Click by Jesse & Joy, ft. the rasp of Alejandro Sanz, at #2.
1. “Solo Con Verte” – Banda MS
2. “Préstamela a Mí” – Calibre 50
3. “Supiste Hacerme Mal” – Edwin Luna y La Trakalosa de Monterrey
4. “Ya Te Perdí La Fé” – Arrolladora
5. “Tu Cárcel (En Vivo)” – Los Tigres Del Norte ft. Marco Antonio Solís
6. “Me Empezó a Valer” – La Séptima Banda
7. “El Borrachito” – Julión Álvarez y Su Norteño Banda
8. “Pistearé” – Banda Los Recoditos
9. “En Qué Cabeza Cabe” – Banda Carnaval
10. “Tragos de Alcohol” – Alfredo Ríos El Komander
11. “Si No Es Contigo” – Banda El Recodo
12. “Fuiste Mia” – Gerardo Ortiz
13. “Tu Mentira” – Luis Antonio Lopez “El Mimoso”
14. “Espero Con Ansias” – Remmy Valenzuela
15. “Te Quise Olvidar” – Juan Gabriel ft. Alejandro Fernández
16. “El Viejón” – La Adictiva Banda San Jose
17. “Mente Degenerada” – El Bebeto
18. “Hablemos” – Ariel Camacho
19. “A Veces” – Espinoza Paz
20. “Suele Pasar” – Banda Pequeños Musical