music, charts, opinions


Banda Carnaval

Julión Álvarez sidesteps his sanction, and other surprises (Desfile de Éxitos 7/12/19)

sin memoria

Several unexpected finds inside this week’s Regional Mexican top 10, not least the presence of some good banda ballads. Unfortunately, #1 isn’t one of them.

1. Banda Los Recoditos“Perfecta” (#37 Hot Latin)
Billboard reports that this is Recoditos’ fifth #1 on the Regional Mexican chart. The first three of those — the iconic breakthrough “Ando Bien Pedo,” “Mi Ultimo Deseo,” and “Hasta Que Salga El Sol” — were about how the world is ending so we should all get drunk and shout along with Luis Angel Franco. The next two — including this one — represent the dispiriting comedown, with the personality-free Samuel Sarmiento atoning for everyone’s sins. If, as I once theorized, Franco’s songs are “the Spencer’s of the banda pop mall,” Sarmiento’s ballads are the HomeGoods. NO VALE LA PENA

2. Calibre 50“Simplemente Gracias” (#22 Hot Latin) NO VALE LA PENA

3. La Adictiva Banda“El Amor de Mi Vida” (#46 Hot Latin) NO VALE LA PENA

4. Banda MS“Por Mi No Te Detengas” (#38 Hot Latin) NO VALE LA PENA

carnaval olvidarte5. Banda Carnaval“Olvidarte, Cómo?”
A slow-as-agave ode to love’s unbreakable hold on the memory. The first line of the chorus sums it up: “Forgetting has some degree of difficulty.” That is, this banda ballad is studied and square, it pulls its punches and never cuts loose — but simmering under all that reserve is a geyser of anguish, rattling the ground around it. You hear it in certain musical gestures, like when the lugubrious on-the-beat melody jostles back and forth with the syncopated horns, and then they come into sync for a trio of “NO”s that seem exhaled rather than sung, yet pack a tremendous rhythmic wallop. Maybe I’m overselling this thing because of the video’s bargain-basement O. Henry “don’t text and drive” message. But Banda Carnaval undersells throughout, except when they strategically don’t, earning them a big old VALE LA PENA.
Continue reading “Julión Álvarez sidesteps his sanction, and other surprises (Desfile de Éxitos 7/12/19)”

Los Tigres, Los Inquietos, Bronco, and other romantics on the Mexican radio

ulices dancing

Welcome back to the Mexican radio charts! This week, in a startling change of pace, NorteñoBlog finds the Mexican airwaves awash in amor and sentimiento. Rather than fight this impulse by singling out the odd song about lavish lifestyles or dancing horses or whatever, the Blog has decided to embrace it. I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that you open your cold dead heart to at least one of the touchy feely offerings listed below.

uliceschaidezAt #7 we find “Que Bonito es Querer,” the latest declaration of sierreño amor from Ulices Chaidez y Sus Plebes. The chorus is a decent minor-key circle-of-fifths thing, not unlike “Autumn Leaves,” that allows Chaidez to show off his smoky upper register. The rest of the song would be better if it had any hint of a beat. The video is some straight-up Disney castle cosplay, stuffed with decorum and meaningful gazes and painstakingly plotted ballroom dances — you know, all the places where love goes to die flourishes. Chaidez’s bandmates and sombrero are as absent as princess farts. NO VALE LA PENA

At #8, the balladeers in Banda Carnaval refuse to be anyone’s “Segunda Opción,” especially the segunda opción of a no-good two-timing kiss-stealing mujer. Watch out, faithless ones! When Banda Carnaval’s clarinet players wriggle their eyebrows at you, the nausea can be overwhelming. NO VALE LA PENA

para-sacarte-de-mi-vida-275-275-1519877868They could take heartbreak lessons from Alejandro Fernandez ft. Los Tigres del Norte, who present an entire heart cauterization program in their duet “Para Sacarte de Mi Vida”, #9 this week. The Springsteens of norteño team up with the… um… Roseanne Cash of ranchera (Maybe? I mean, Alejandro’s too popular to be Shooter Jennings) for a stomp-clap-snappy pop ballad that’s atypical, at least for Los Tigres. The lyrics soar past sentimiento into dark emo/self-help guru territory, with the bereft narrators diving headfirst into their pain, killing their hearts, removing their tattoos, completely rerouting their jogging paths, all in a last-ditch effort to be reborn as some beautiful, heart-intact horse-tiger hybrid. (I paraphrase.) It’s catchy, and Los Tigres acquit themselves well in this less familiar setting. VALE LA PENA and Pick to Click:

Continue reading “Los Tigres, Los Inquietos, Bronco, and other romantics on the Mexican radio”

Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 11/17/16


Welcome back to Songwriters’ Showcase, an apparently semiannual feature in which NorteñoBlog checks out the new love songs on Mexico’s radio chart, discovers that the world is a void wherein everything tastes like ashes, and attempts to salvage the post by researching the professional tunespinners who spun the tunes. The winners, as always, are you the readers.

Except they’re not all love songs this week! We start with not one but two big dumb cumbias. At #18, Claudio Alcaraz has written his own exercise in banda-fied minimalism, “El Pú,” about a friend of his who likes to get drunk and insult people. Great swaths of humanity get insulted here. Truckers, cops, Michoacanos, saints, etc. — you name ’em, they’re pú, aka “puro mandilón.” (“DEmasculated,” as my grandpappy and/or Urban Dictionary used to translate it.) In the video, Sr. Alcaraz’s friend appears as a lecherous clown who lights up the party by starting a conga line. Even so, the guy should stop insulting entire classes of people or he’ll never be elected to public office.

The other BDC, at #11, is way more bitchin’: “Que Perrón” by La Séptima Banda. Written by Joel Suarez and Luciano Luna, who is normally not this much fun, it’s an ode to the modern world’s sexually assertive mujeres. As you might expect, such mujeres make La Séptima Banda very happy, especially the dude in the middle of the song who sheepishly admits, “I’m ugly.” Whoever’s singing lead — I think it’s Efrain, but votes for Chino will also be tabulated — plays his wiggly cadence off the tuba/batería lines with a cheerful insouciance that makes me think I’ve been underrating the Séptima album all year. I’ll get back to you on that. In the meantime, a very ornate Pick to Click. (This live video lets you savor some of those internal brass rhythms.)

Also charting this week: Continue reading “Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 11/17/16”

Banda Renovación Gets Bored With Nintendo, Goes Full Tony Montana

la edicion

Back in college we enjoyed an annual orgy of fun and hurt feelings called “Songfest.” Fraternities and sororities would spend weeks preparing brief musical programs of three or four popular favorites. The entire Greek community would then gather in the campus chapel, where each house in turn would perform their musical revues on the steps leading up to the altar, defiling the great Christus Rex statue who peered over our heads. After eyebrows were singed, winners chosen, and false compliments paid, we talked some smack about “giving back to the community” before returning home to play Nintendo and drink. Seek the noblest!

I thought of Songfest while watching the video for “Los Ninis” by Banda Renovación de Culiacán Sinaloa. Renovación is a brass band of young guys, including a dedicated acordeón player, Mike Zapata, who is also an actual student. “Los Ninis” is a popular corrido favorite, sung by both Banda Carnaval and Revolver Cannabis, that takes a neologism for young ne’er-do-wells — “ni estudia ni trabaja” — and transforms the youngsters into rifle-toting killing machines in the service of Ivan Archivaldo Guzmán.

Like any great sociological exposé, this song is full of details. The ninis turn to crime because they’re bored with Nintendo. Some of the ninis wear beards while others are clean-shaven — “the full Tony Montana.” The song itself is happy and poppy and it sounds like a joy to sing, especially the way Renovación do it: with hand motions. Hand motions were the default choreography back in my Songfest days, and the members of Renovación follow a similar impulse. When the singers sing about being fuerte, the trumpet players flex their muscles. Later they turn their horns into guns. When talk turns to cerveza, Zapata pulls his fingers off the buttons long enough to make the universal sign for “drinky drinky.” The message of “Los Ninis” is clear: avoid honest work, get drunk, and kill people for the cartel. Grow a beard if you must. NorteñoBlog, being a teetotaling hairless farm boy, obviously does not endorse any of this, but those tempo and chord changes are making me rethink my ways. Pick to Click!

Continue reading “Banda Renovación Gets Bored With Nintendo, Goes Full Tony Montana”

Desfile de Éxitos 1/23/16

larry hernandez

While NorteñoBlog was away from the charts over Christmas, something unexpected happened. The listening public, perhaps because they were feeling unusually decent, STOPPED LISTENING TO “PROPUESTA INDECENTE.” Or at least they listened to it less. And because King Romeo’s ballad had spent more than one year on the Hot Latin chart, and because it had lately dropped to #5, and because Billboard writes you off the Hot Latin chart after a year if you drop below #5 — OUR LONG NATIONAL INDECENCY IS OVER!!!!! “Propuesta Indecente” ended its record 125-week chart run the week of January 2. We extend a hearty congratulations to King Romeo and all those who have swooned in his name.

(Alternate lead: “Propuesta Indecente” was destroyed January 2 when a small band of resistance fighters blew up its thermal oscillator, destabilizing the star-killing juggernaut and exiling King Romeo to his recording studio. In a prepared statement the King said, “Don’t worry, I’ll build another one,” and then chuckled with craven glee.)

Maybe coincidentally, the week of January 2 saw an enormous number of Regional Mexican songs climbing the Hot Latin chart: 14 out of the top 25, to be exact. (Usually the top 25 contains around 10 or 11.) Since that week the number has dropped to 13, many of which are holdovers from last year, but there are a few interesting things happening. Continue reading “Desfile de Éxitos 1/23/16”

Desfile de Éxitos 12/19/15: Debajo Los Puentes

carnaval on bridge

The song sitting atop this week’s radio chart is an oddity. Banda Carnaval’s “Te Cambio El Domicilio,” a spritely pitching of woo with soaring vocal harmonies and a clever title conceit (“don’t change anything, baby, ’cause I’mma make you change your address” — I’m paraphrasing), has been climbing Billboard‘s Regional Mexican chart for 17 weeks, finally hitting #1 last week. But it still hasn’t gone top 25 on the Hot Latin chart, which measures downloads and streams alongside radio play. This is the first Regional Mexican #1 this year that hasn’t cracked the Hot Latin 25, and most of those songs have gone top 10 on the big chart during their most popular radio weeks. Basically, if a song’s receiving that much radio play and it has an online presence — Youtube video, availability at streaming sites and download stores — it’s gonna represent on Hot Latin.

What’s more, the video for “Domicilio” — in which the young men of Carnaval pitch their woo in front of a number of high-end urban settings, including Guadalajara’s extremely pointy Puente Matute Remus — has been viewed 25 million times in the past four months… which, I dunno, seems like it should be enough to drive the song into the company of King Romeo and Viceroy Nicky Jam? For comparison, Remmy Valenzuela’s lovely inquiry into the madness of love, “¿Por Qué Me Ilusionaste?”, is middling at #12 Regional Mexican this week. Its video dropped a week later than Carnaval’s, and so far it’s garnered 6.5 million fewer views, but the song is at #18 Hot Latin. Granted, I have no idea how much either video has been viewed in specific weeks or how much they’ve sold online. All I know is Remmy’s song has less radio play and fewer overall Youtube hits than Carnaval’s song, but Remmy’s on Hot Latin and Carnaval isn’t.

This isn’t some huge cosmic injustice or anything; basically it’s me pointing a dowsing stick at Billboard and trying to divine their proprietary chart formulas. Continue reading “Desfile de Éxitos 12/19/15: Debajo Los Puentes”

Desfile de Éxitos 2/7/15

banda ms

Compared to how inert they’ve been, the charts are packed with action this week, almost as full as they’re packed with Romeo Santos. (To say nothing of Romeo’s leather pants!) The upper echelons are still barely moving, though. Weirdly enough, Banda MS has two sucky ballads in the Hot Latin top 10, which measures radio play, sales, and streams, but no songs in the Regional Mexican top 20, an airplay chart. The principles of detection point to a couple possibilities:

Possibility #1. Regional Mexican radio is cooling on Banda MS’s sucky ballads but said ballads still receive lots of support from sales (no data available) and streams (video #8 has 37 million views in three months, and video #9 has 101 million in eight months). This might mean Banda MS receives support from a broader fanbase than other regional Mexican artists, or it might just mean DJs are getting tired of the sucky ballads but fans aren’t. The websites of Chicago’s two regional Mexican stations sort of support this theory, since neither lists Banda MS’s sucky ballads among their top 10 songs. That’s a limited sample size, though, and the top 10 at WOJO “Qué Buena” bears little relation to current Billboard hits.

Possibility #2. Billboard uses a different set of stations to compile the Hot Latin chart than it does the Regional Mexican chart. Without knowing what those stations are, it’s hard to figure out what this might mean. Is it possible Banda MS are getting played on more general Latin stations, or even on Latin pop stations?

The Hot Latin top 10 does have one mover and shaker, although it moved and shook there already about a month ago. Bienvenido (DE NUEVO) to the newly bevideoed “Yo También” by King Romeo, may he live on this chart forever. And because it wouldn’t be fair for one man to clog up the top 10 with four songs that’ve been kicking around for at least half a year, we bid a fond adiós to “Odio,” El Rey’s duet with El Drake. But don’t worry! Romeo’s also down at #25 with a new one, “Hilito.”

Also farewell to J. Balvin’s “6 AM,” Victor Manuelle’s electro-salsa “Que Suenen Los Tambores,” Juan Luis Guerra’s song about besos, Banda Tierra Sagrada’s “Soy Un Desmadre,” and “Al Estilo Mafia” by the nomenclaturally gifted Saul “El Jaguar” ft. La Bandononona Clave Nueva de Max Peraza. In a move as inevitable as a broken heart, Julión Álvarez’s “Dime” graduates from the regional Mexican chart to #17 Hot Latin. Fresh faced Jonatan Sanchez, Gerencia 360’s attempt to grab some of that Luis Coronel money, enters the Regional Mexican chart with “Mi Primera Vez.” I won’t attempt to tell you whether new songs by Chuy Lizarraga, Los Tucanes, and Banda Carnaval are actually NEW.

These are the top 25 Hot Latin Songs and top 20 Regional Mexican Songs, courtesy Billboard, as published Feb. 7.

1. “Bailando” – Enrique ft. Descemer Bueno, Gente de Zona, & the word “contigo” (45 WEEKS OLD)
2. “Ay Vamos” – J Balvin
3. “Propuesta Indecente” – Romeo Santos (79 WEEKS OLD)
4. “Yo También” – Romeo Santos ft. Marc Anthony
5. “Eres Mia” – Romeo Santos (46 WEEKS OLD)
6. “Travesuras” – Nicky Jam
7. “Eres Una Niña” – Gerardo Ortíz (#1 RegMex)
8. “Hablame de Ti” – Banda MS (snoooooozzzzzz)
9. “No Me Pidas Perdon” – Banda MS
10. “Y Asi Fue” – Julión Álvarez (#13 RegMex) (Is this man the best banda singer around right now? Or should we forget the qualifier?)

11. “Qué Tiene De Malo” – Calibre 50 ft. El Komander (#7 RegMex)
12. “Levantando Polvadera” – Voz De Mando (#2 RegMex)
13. “Soltero Disponible” – Regulo Caro (#3 RegMex)
14. “Mi Princesa” – Remmy Valenzuela (#4 RegMex)
15. “Soledad” – Don Omar
16. “Lejos De Aqui” – Farruko
17. “Dime” – Julión Álvarez y Su Norteño Banda (#14 RegMex)
18. “Piensas (Dile La Verdad)” – Pitbull ft. Gente de Zona
19. “El Karma” – Ariel Camacho y Los Plebes Del Rancho (#10 RegMex)
20. “Javier El de Los Llanos” – Calibre 50 (#6 RegMex)

21. “Mi Vuelvo Un Cobarde” – Christian Daniel
22. “Quédate Con Ella” – Natalia Jiménez (Sleek! Horns + electrobeats!)
23. “Mi Vecinita” – Plan B
24. “Lo Hiciste Otra Vez” – La Arrolladora Banda El Limón (#5 RegMex) (Oh dear, this is not good. Not just sap — meandering sap.)
25. “Hilito” – Romeo Santos


8. “Eres Tú” – Proyecto X
9. “Entonces Que Somos” – Banda El Recodo (A nada Luciano Luna ballad off Recodo’s 2013 album, now turned into a dramatic short film.)

11. “Hasta Que Salga El Sol” – Banda Los Recoditos
12. “La Bala” – Los Tigres Del Norte
15. “No Te Vayas” – Fidel Rueda
16. “La Indicada” – Kevin Ortíz
17. “Perdoname Mi Amor” – Los Tucanes de Tijuana
18. “El Que Se Enamora Pierde” – Banda Carnaval
19. “Mi Primera Vez” – Jonatan Sánchez
20. “Se Me Sigue Notando” – Chuy Lizarraga y Su Banda Tierra Sinaloense

Desfile De Éxitos 1/10/15

remmy valenzuela

These are the top 25 Hot Latin Songs and top 20 Regional Mexican Songs, courtesy Billboard, as published Jan. 10. Things to note:

The New Year’s hangover chart count for “Propuesta Indecente” increases to 75 weeks. While the Hot Latin top 10 seems etched in stone, 11-25 is more lively, thanks to musical rudeness if not the pace of chart turnover.

It’s been three weeks since we last checked these charts. (¡Feliz Navidad y Prospero Año!) On Hot Latin we say “adiós” to Ricky Martin’s song of the same name, along with songs by Luis Fonsi and Romeo Santos. (Weep not; Santos still has three others in the top 10.) In Regional Mexican, we bid farewell to Jorge Valenzuela, Los Huracanes, La Maquinaria Norteña, and La Adictiva Banda. But hey! — we sometimes like Banda El Recodo, Arrolladora, and Banda Carnaval, and they’re all here with new tunes of varying likability. So is Julión Álvarez, who’s always welcome, even if he’s brought the most boring song (“Dime”) off his latest album as a hostess gift. “It’s already been a hit in México,” he assures us, trying to impress.

Last week while we were reveling, Gerardo Ortiz’s supple bachata + banda ballad “Eres Una Niña” hit #1 on the Regional Mexican chart. This week it falls to Voz De Mando, but we can still revel. Especially since I finally listened to Remmy Valenzuela’s #18 ballad “Mi Princesa,” and it’s pretty good — cut from the ’50s doo-wop school of romance and sung with high drama. Valenzuela, you’ll remember, is a young fleet-fingered corridista, but he cleans up nice for his princesa.

Finally, Regulo Caro’s irresistible blast of smarm “Soltero Disponible” moves up to Hot Latin at #21. Its opulent, tongue-in-cheek video is sort of like Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space,” only with more breast bling. “Soltero” was notably the only norteño/banda song to make Leila Cobo’s list of the Best Latin Songs of 2014, which we’ll puzzle over later. (Her albums list contains zero regional Mexican, albeit lots of albums I haven’t heard.)

1. “Bailando” – Enrique ft. Descemer Bueno, Gente de Zona, & the word “contigo”
2. “Propuesta Indecente” – Romeo Santos (I just wanna point out this song is 75 WEEKS OLD, and that maybe someone’s chart methodology needs tweaking.)
3. “Ay Vamos” – J Balvin
4. “Travesuras” – Nicky Jam
5. “Eres Mia” – Romeo Santos
6. “6 AM” – J Balvin ft. Farruko
7. “Odio” – Romeo Santos ft. Drake
8. “Y Asi Fue” – Julión Álvarez (#5 RegMex) (Is this man the best banda singer around right now? Or should we forget the qualifier?)
9. “Eres Una Niña” – Gerardo Ortíz (#2 RegMex)
10. “No Me Pidas Perdon” – Banda MS (#14 Reg Mex)

11. “Qué Tiene De Malo” – Calibre 50 ft. El Komander (#9 RegMex)
12. “Levantando Polvadera” – Voz De Mando (#1 RegMex)
13. “Javier El de Los Llanos” – Calibre 50 (#3 RegMex)
14. “Que Suenen Los Tambores” – Victor Manuelle
15. “Hasta Que Salga el Sol” – Banda Los Recoditos (#10 RegMex)
16. “El Karma” – Ariel Camacho y Los Plebes Del Rancho (#7 RegMex)
17. “La Bala” – Los Tigres Del Norte (#4 RegMex)
18. “Mi Princesa” – Remmy Valenzuela (#6 RegMex)
19. “Tus Besos” – Juan Luis Guerra 440
20. “Quédate Con Ella” – Natalia Jiménez (Sleek! Horns + electrobeats!)

21. “Soltero Disponible” – Regulo Caro (#8 RegMex)
22. “Hablame de Ti” – Banda MS (snoooooozzzzzz)
23. “Mi Vecinita” – Plan B
24. “Plakito” – Yandel ft. El General Gadiel
25. “Soledad” – Don Omar


11. “Entonces Que Somos” – Banda El Recodo (A nada Luciano Luna ballad off Recodo’s 2013 album, now turned into a dramatic short film.)
12. “Eres Tú” – Proyecto X
13. “Zapatillas Ferragamo” – Meño Lugo
15. “Soy Un Desmadre” – Banda Tierra Sagrada ft. Marco Flores y La #1 Banda Jerez
16. “La Indicada” – Kevin Ortíz
17. “El Que Se Enamora Pierde” – Banda Carnaval (What a courtly bunch of hombres.)
18. “Al Estilo Mafia” – Saul El Jaguar ft. La Bandononona Clave Nueva de Max Peraza
19. “Dime” – Julión Álvarez
20. “Lo Hiciste Otra Vez” – La Arrolladora Banda El Limón (Oh dear, this is not good. Not just sap — meandering sap.)

Who’s On the Mexican Radio?

buitres bipolar

These are the top 20 Popular singles in México, as measured by monitorLATINO on December 5, 2014. Things to note:

As expected, there’s more shuffling on this list than on Billboard’s U.S. Regional Mexican Songs chart. (Granted, it’s been a couple weeks since we looked at this chart.) This week we say adiós to the ubiquitous Espinoza Paz, who may soon return with his power ballad about being a decent human being. A sadder adiós to three minor hits that were crass breaths of fresh air: Los Buitres’ “La Bipolar,” “Ya No Vives En Mi” by the preternaturally nomenclaturally gifted La Bandononona, and Banda Los Sebastianes’ “Todo Lo Incluido” — it’s nothing too special as a ballad, but as a study in how to sing high harmonies, oh man.

On the other hand, we welcome Lucero, a real live female, at #20, and at #10, a Recoditos ballad I’ve called “saccharine crap” but is worth hearing just because it’s by Recoditos. Gerardo Ortiz’s bachata-biting “Eres Una Niña” is at #9 — so with Los Tigres still charting and Calibre 50’s “Qué Tiene De Malo” starting to hit in El Norte, that makes three points of overlap with the U.S. chart.

1. “Qué Tiene De Malo” – Calibre 50 ft. El Komander
2. “El Que Se Enamora Pierde” – Banda Carnaval
3. “Hombre Libre” – La Adictiva Banda San José
4. “Cuando Tu Me Besas” – El Bebeto
5. “Dime” – Julión Álvarez y Su Norteño Banda
6. “Háblame De Ti” – Banda MS
7. “Se Me Sigue Notando” – Chuy Lizarraga
8. “Eres Una Niña” – Gerardo Ortiz
9. “Mayor De Edad” – La Original Banda el Limón
10. “Me Sobrabas Tu” – Banda Los Recoditos

11. “Somos Ajenos” – Banda El Recodo
12. “Perdoname Mi Amor” – Los Tucanes De Tijuana
13. “Lo Hiciste Otra Vez” – Arrolladora
14. “Broche De Oro” – Banda La Trakalosa
15. “En Tu Twitter y Facebook” – Danny Guillen (As you might imagine I went for this one first, and hoo boy, is this a terrible song.)
16. “El Papel Cambio” – Alfredo Rios El Komander
17. “La Bala” – Los Tigres Del Norte
18. “Bien Servida” – Los Gfez ft. Diego Herrera
19. “No Te Vayas” – Fidel Rueda
20. “No Entiendo” – Lucero

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