This week NorteñoBlog bids a fond Mexican chart farewell to Alfredo Olivas‘s “El Paciente.” It’s a rousing deathbed meditation and previous Pick to Click that’s still hitting on U.S. radio, where its rippling banda charts and soaring melody sound better every time I hear them. Plus — always worth noting — the song shouts out Revolutionary legend Catarino, who was able to heal his wounds with his own saliva. Sources tell me the new, top-secret Republican healthcare bill relies exclusively on this method of treatment.

BRONCO_B-696X852But fans of medical metaphors and in-song death need not worry: in its place we have “Doctor” by Bronco, a smooth, synth-led grupero throwback, written by one of the dudes from pop duo Río Roma. Its story is simple and disturbing. The self-medicating, anhedonic narrator visits his doctor asking for a heart transplant because he can no longer love. The doctor assures our narrator that no cure exists, and instead offers to kill him. The narrator accepts. This bleak indictment of Mexico’s public healthcare system has somehow slipped past censors and cracked the top 10 of the nation’s radio chart, no doubt thanks to the seductive powers of its soothing cumbia lilt. Seasons don’t fear the reaper. You can be like they are. Come on, baby.

michaJust ahead of the sickos in Bronco we find La Séptima Banda and their latest shot of banda pop cheer, “Se Defiende.” It’s the lead single from their new album Micha y Micha (Fonovisa), half new studio songs and half live corridos. It’s not as good or surprising as last year’s NONSTOP POP EXPLOSION A Todo Volumen, but it’ll still get you through a commute. “Se Defiende” gives you a good idea of the band’s trash compactor approach to brass charts: they cram a bunch of hooks into a small space, mercilessly squeeze the whole mess down to two and a half minutes, and produce a gleaming cube that’s somehow homogenous and finely detailed at once.

no estas tuAt #18 we find José Manuel Figueroa with “Adiós,” from one of 2017’s most enjoyable albums until it peters out at the end, No Estás Tú (Fonovisa). Figueroa shares his given name and a talent for composing and producing with his father, the late Joan Sebastian. Also like padre, Figueroa doesn’t strictly adhere to any one style; he writes what amount to catchy country-pop songs, and on this album he mostly sets them to expert banda arrangements, though sometimes guitar, piano, and strings pop up. (On 2013’s “Rosas y Espinas” he dabbled with synths, which sounded cool and fit right in.) If you know NorteñoBlog at all, you know I’m a sucker for bandas that play bouncy backbeat pop, so “Adiós” is right up the Blog’s alley. The tuba bassline groove balances out the pretty melody and keeps it from turning maudlin, even as Figueroa sings about losing precious bodily fluids through his tear ducts and saliva glands. Maybe that’s how his voice got so scratchy. Pick to Click!

And it wouldn’t be NorteñoBlog if I didn’t mention that the terpsichorean pride of Zacatecas, Marco A. Flores y su Banda Jerez, has a new song on the “tocadas” chart, which measures number of spins rather than total audience. “Ordeñando La Vaca” is a largely instrumental dance tune, with spiky major/minor contrasts and Flores’s gallo-rific crow wafting over the proceedings. It’s not as exciting as the band at their best; the song only gives them a couple things to do, and no amount of anarchic sombrero-slapping antics from their leader can convince them to cut loose. NO VALE LA PENA

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 “Sign of the Times,” Ofenbach’s “Be Mine,” and “Princesa,” a duet between Río Roma and CNCO, which — 20-year nostalgia alert! — is sort of like Savage Garden teaming up with the Backstreet Boys to cut a football anthem, except that sounds like the best thing ever and “Princesa”… isn’t.

1. “Para Que Lastimarme” – Gerardo Ortiz
2. “Las Cosas No Se Hacen Así” – Banda MS
3. “Ojalá Que Me Olvides” – La Arrolladora Banda
4. “Las Ultras” – Calibre 50
5. “Durmiendo En El Lugar Equivocado” – La Adictiva (21 semanas!)
6. “Esta Noche Se Me Olvida” – Julión Álvarez y Su Norteño Banda
7. “Ella Es Mi Mujer” – Banda Carnaval
*8. “Se Defiende” – La Séptima Banda
*9. “Doctor” – Bronco
10. “Adios Amor” – Christian Nodal (21 semanas!)

11. “En Definitiva” – Alfredo Olivas
*12. “Culpable Tu” – Alta Consigna
13. “Me Prometí Olvidarte” – Banda El Recodo
14. “Arrepentido” – Intocable
15. “Dime Que Se Siente” – Luis Coronel
*16. “Casada O No” – Chuy Lizarraga
17. “Un Aplauso” – Edwin Luna y La Trakalosa
*18. “Adiós” – José Manuel Figueroa
19. “Despacito” – Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee y Justin Bieber
20. “Dentro de Tu Corazon” – Banda Los Sebastianes

“No Es Tan Fácil” – Impacto Sinaloense
“El Paciente” – Alfredo Olivas (20 semanas!)
“Eres Vida” – Duelo
“Caricias Clandestinas” – Remmy Valenzuela
“Hasta Que Amanezca” – Lucero
“Que Se Canse de Llamar” – Los Plebes del Rancho de Ariel Camacho