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Chiquis Rivera

Desfile de Éxitos 5/5/18 (starring Chiquis y Jenni Rivera, Marilyn Odessa, y más)

marilyn odessa

Last weekend NorteñoBlog attended the MoPOP Pop Conference in Seattle, held inside that big blob of Frank Gehry-designed metal that sits in the shadow of the Space Needle. As part of the roundtable panel “Suburban Intersections” (schemed with Annie Zaleski and Anthony Easton, moderated by Karen Tongson), I presented a paper called “Como Los Vaqueros: How Young Regional Mexican Performers Construct, and Deconstruct, Masculinity.” You’ll see it here soon; but while you wait for instructions on how to deconstruct masculinity, here’s my recipe for deconstructed green bean casserole, a perennial Thanksgiving hit, but also good for gardening season:

1. Deep fry long snapped green beans, red onion rings, and whole button mushrooms. (I recently discovered Tyler Florence’s “Fronion Rings” batter, which incorporates frozen fries and xanthan gum and stays crispy way longer than the standard Joy of Cooking batter.)

2. Make sage mayonnaise. (I recommend James Peterson’s method of extracting chlorophyll from spinach and using the chlorophyll as food coloring. It’s a way more appetizing shade of green than regular food coloring, plus you can say you EXTRACTED CHLOROPHYLL FROM SPINACH.)

3. Now that I write it out, you probably wanna switch the order of those two steps.

4. Serve! Dip! Eat!

jenni chiquisWhile at the conference, I caught a fascinating presentation by Yessica Garcia Hernandez, a doctoral candidate at UCSD who’s done extensive work studying Jenni Rivera fandom. You can read some of her papers, for the prestigious likes of NANO and the Journal of Popular Music Studies, here. During the Q&A she pointed out that for true fans, Jenni has never died. We find evidence of that claim on this week’s radio chart, where a duet between Jenni and her daughter Chiquis on the skippy banda tune “Quisieran Tener Mi Lugar” sits at #28. It is a vigorous chingado of los haters.

marilyn no seAnd, surprise surprise, the Riveras aren’t the only women on the radio this week. At #37 we find Becky G’s heartwarming paean to sexy older dudes, “Mayores,” off the top of my head the only instance of a non-regional song lingering on Mexican regional radio after it’s fallen off the all-encompassing Hot Latin chart. And at #31 we find Marilyn Odessa, aka Marilyn, with the snoozy (but well-sung) banda ballad “No Sé.” Marilyn is on Lizos Records, home to the equally snoozy (but huge) Banda MS. Like Chiquis, Marilyn also has a famous Mom, the pop singer Marisela; you can watch the two madres perform together here. And apparently there was some sort of social media dispute between Marilyn and Chiquis, although they seem to have cleared that up.

ANYWAY, Marilyn is poised for success. “No Sé” was written by the ubiquitous Horacio Palencia, and her previous album Boleto Al Infierno (Music Eyes 2014) was produced by the even more ubiquitous Luciano Luna, so she’s got connections in high places. If Lizos can spin YouTube gold out of the stupefyingly dull Banda MS, there’s no limit to how the company could help an act with an actual personality.

chiquis entreToday’s Pick to Click goes to none of the above. Rather, the Blog hands the coveted award to a different Chiquis song from her new album Entre Botellas (Sweet Sound). “Los Chismes” is a cover of a good-time chinga-los-haters polka from another deathless icon, Chalino Sanchez. In the original, Sanchez complains about the gossips who keep disparaging his wife-to-be: She’s ugly! She’s too skinny! (“¡Dicen que eres flaca!”) Being a caballero in love, Sanchez pays them no mind. (Well, besides going to the trouble to write a song about them.) Chiquis turns the song into a big banda cumbia duet with Lorenzo Mendez, and gets him to flip a couple lines in the second verse. In Mendez’s telling, the gossip folks are complaining that Chiquis is a “gordibuena,” a term for a beautiful full-figured woman that Chiquis has proudly claimed for herself. “If I wanted a flaquita,” sings Mendez, “I’d die of hunger.” “You know what’s good,” replies Chiquis, who delivers all spoken asides with her eyebrow raised a mile high. Come for the horny cumbia; stay for the body image empowerment and what might be Chiquis’s best performance on record.

These are the top 50 Hot Latin Songs and top 40 Regional Mexican Songs, courtesy Billboard, as published May 5.
Continue reading “Desfile de Éxitos 5/5/18 (starring Chiquis y Jenni Rivera, Marilyn Odessa, y más)”

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Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 10/24/17

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“Probablemente,” “Corrido de Juanito,” and a whole lot of banda romance continue to color the Mexican airwaves; but hang around long enough and you might hear something más interesante.

batallandole-400x400At #9 we find the corrido quartet Enigma Norteño all hopped up on some profesor chiflado shit. “Batallándole (El Gordo Flubbers)” is a corrido celebrating the Good Life, occasioned by the illicit negocios of its narrator and shoved along by one of the Blog’s favorite hitmaking machines, La Séptima Banda. In Ernesto Barajas’s lyric, the narco narrator looks back on his hardscrabble origins serving hamburgers and selling Tercel plans, and waxes philosophical — “Sometimes you win and also lose yourself; today I won for being El Mono Verde.” For reference, recall Gerardo Ortiz’s kickass corrido “El Mono Verde”. Some Hasty Cartel Googling confuses the Blog, but also indicates “El Mono Verde” isn’t the same guy as “El Mono,” who was assassinated in 2015 and is therefore no longer winning.

At its core, this ode to drug trafficking competition is really a celebration of companionship, best expressed when Enigma and La Séptima stop trading lines to sing together, “En las helaaaaadas con camaraaaaaadas.” Well, OK, a celebration of companionship made possible through a morally suspect business. It’s basically the first half of Boogie Nights before 1980 comes along and everything goes to hell, or Flubber y El Profesor Chiflado before Robin Williams starts snorting the Flubber and becomes a monster to his wife and children. But until then, the combined bands bounce with the force of 20 bowling balls. PICK TO CLICK

If there’s one confusing hierarchical enterprise, dependent upon filthy lucre and violent acts of revenge, that I don’t really care to understand, it’s the cartel world. If there’s a second, it’s The Voice. My basic understanding is that The Voice, like its Mexican counterpart La Voz… México, is a four-step process:
Continue reading “Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 10/24/17”

More Women and Mariachi, Less “Despacito” on Mexican Radio

aliciavillarealNorteñoBlog’s summer doldrums continue on the U.S. Hot Latin chart, where there’s only one regional Mexican song in the top 25 — [Casey Kasem voice:] at #23, here’s Gerardo Ortiz with the worst song from his new album! [/Casey Kasem voice] — and only 11 in the entire top 50. This is a historical anomaly. We’ve seen plenty of periods with more norteño and banda songs stuffed into the top 25: witness this chart from 2016, with 13 such singles, and who can forget the mid-’90s Tejano boom? Plenty of people can, but that’s not the point. The point is, why now?

Old dude’s hypothesis: it’s the internet’s fault. [Casey Kasem shakes fist at sky: “Millennials! You’re not reaching for the stars!”] The Hot Latin chart bakes in three different methods of song consumption, weighted according to a top secret algorithm. Regional Mexican music still gets plenty of airplay, leading to a fair number of hat acts among the diverse entries on the Latin Airplay chart. It’s the other two factors — digital sales and online streaming — where norteño and banda acts are struggling to keep pace.

bastaNorteñoBlog’s theory, unsupported by data because I don’t have it, is that the unprecedented popularity of “Despacito” is benefitting songs that sound like “Despacito,” and those songs’ streaming numbers are overwhelming the songs that don’t sound like “Despacito.” With three billion views, “Despacito” is now the most-watched video in YouTube history, and that’s just the version without Bieber. Videos and songs that follow it on streaming services are like sitcoms that followed Friends in the ’90s — automatic ratings contenders. CNCO, “Mi Gente,” “Felices Los 4” are all getting chart boosts because they’re dembow-ish bangers, often with international crossover appeal, that get recommended by YouTube or appear with “Despacito” on Spotify playlists. No matter how many norteño fans stream Calibre 50’s lite beer jingle “Las Ultras” or the latest Banda MS ballad, regional Mexican songs simply can’t keep up.

Prediction: This too shall pass. Eventually, the popularity of “Despacito” will fade. (Judging by the two-year chart run of “Propuesta Indecente,” that could take a while.) Once that happens, we’ll see more regional Mexican songs back on the big U.S. chart. If not, NorteñoBlog promises to have an existential crisis.

¡Jajaja! Just kidding. Not when there’s still cool shit happening on the Mexican radio. This week the Mexican radio chart sees two overlapping boomlets: three songs led by women (I know that doesn’t seem like much, but trust me, around here it’s refreshing) and three mariachi songs.

Alicia Villarreal - Haz Lo Que QuierasCovering both bases are Alicia Villarreal, formerly of Grupo Límite and solo cumbia radness, and Ángela Aguilar singing a duet with her dad Pepe. Villarreal is singing an original high-drama number called “Haz Lo Que Quieras,” produced like much of her work by her husband, former Kumbia King Cruz Martínez.

tu sangre en mi cuerpoBracing stuff; but since I tend to take my schmaltz stirred rather than shaken, I prefer the Aguilars’ “Tu Sangre En Mi Cuerpo,” a frankly cloying remake of… someone’s parent-kid duet that I will someday request at my daughter’s wedding reception. [Casey Kasem voice: “Their relationship quickly became strained.”] (Note: the song’s authors are Jose Luis Ortega Castro, Thelma Ines De La Caridad Castaneda Pino, and Yessica Sandoval Pineda; just not sure who did the original version.) Like Vicente Fernandez’s “Estos Celos,” this tune hits all my smooth mariachi buttons: soaring voices and strings milking high notes for maximum emotion while the chugging beat makes them sound like they’re tossing off everything — notes, burdens, hats, whatever. It’s the sound of a breeze blowing wispy clouds across a flat blue sky. Pepe’s career is long and distinguished, but Angela has been a real revelation this year, with a warm and inviting voice that reminds me of Gloria Estefan’s. Their last duet, the big smart cumbia “Nada de Nada”, earned the Blog’s affection, and this one carries on the legacy. Pick to Click!

Continue reading “More Women and Mariachi, Less “Despacito” on Mexican Radio”

Un Aplauso Para Esas Mujeres (Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 4/21/17)

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Women charting with norteño and banda music remains an unfortunately rare phenomenon, like snow in April or seeing an owl in the wild. So NorteñoBlog is stoked to see not one but two women on the Mexican radio charts this week. At #10 is actress/singer/”novia de America” Lucero, with a banda remake of Joan Sebastian’s 1980 countrypolitan tune “Hasta Que Amanezca”. With its repeated demands of “Ámame!”, it’s as forceful a love song as anything from Taylor Dayne’s Imperative Period, and Lucero really lets her voice fly around the melody’s contours. VALE LA PENA

Diana-reyes-la-pasion-tiene-memoriaThen at #18 we’ve got Diana Reyes with the banda song “La Pasión Tiene Memoria,” a song that appeared on her 2015 album but just got a video. It’s a Jekyll-and-Hyde deal with lovey verses detailing the memories of love, and then an angry chorus, in a different key and tempo, where Reyes goes crazy and feels everything overflowing inside her. The switch from verse to chorus is jarring, but Reyes’ voice remains a wonder and the song is growing on me. And it’s definitely better than anything off her dull new album Cuando Tuve Ganas. VALE LA PENA

(Although, la pura verdad, I think I prefer the new Jekyll-and-Hyde video from Chiquis Rivera, “Horas Extras,” to both. Give me a week to ruminate.)

luna aplausoAnd it’s not just women getting in on the “women” act! At #17 we find Edwin Luna, his Banda la Trakalosa, and his perennially nascent acting chops performing “Un Aplauso,” which is sadly not a Lady Gaga remake. Continue reading “Un Aplauso Para Esas Mujeres (Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 4/21/17)”

¡Nuevo! — starring Chiquis Rivera

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Imagine trying to live up to the legacy of Jenni Rivera. There’s never been anyone like her. Her personality — commanding, ribald, sexy, romantic, hilarious — burned through every note of her music. Her songs became inseparable from the public persona she shared on TV; and her sharp business acumen, the will that drove her to succeed, became integral to hearing her. Her success in a male-dominated field added to her complexity. She made herself into an object of longing and fear to both women and men. To aspire to Rivera’s level of command was to welcome the terror of never getting there.

chiquis ahoraAt Billboard Angie Romero offers a track-by-track analysis of Chiquis Rivera‘s new album Ahora (Sony), along with an interview. Not having read Chiquis’s tell-all memoir, NorteñoBlog isn’t fully up to speed on all the difficulties of growing up with Jenni Rivera for a Mom. But I fully sympathize with the daunting task of needing to make music in her wake. “‘I don’t think that I sing like Celine Dion, but I’m not a horrible singer,’ Chiquis tells Billboard. ‘I was watching a video the other day of my mom when she was first starting. She grew into this monster onstage, she really dominated it, but it wasn’t always like that. People forget that.’” Exactly! Chiquis has a fine voice and there’s plenty to like about her songs, especially fast ones like the singles “La Malquerida” and “Completamente.” She gets into some swanky electro-pop like “Paloma Negra,” a duet with Julio Reyes that also serves as a backhanded tribute to Mom (Romero says Rivera previously dedicated the Mexican standard to Chiquis after they had a major falling out). Chiquis’s music stands in Rivera’s unavoidable shadow, but it frequently acknowledges that shadow, a Jenni hallmark: don’t try to separate life and art! And in her forward-thinking mix of banda and pop, Spanish and English, Chiquis points her own way out.

VALE LA PENA

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