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Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 5/3/16

bien servida

Welcome to the Mexican charts, where change, as my cosmetic podiatrist likes to say, is afoot. Although it’s been several weeks since NorteñoBlog tuned in to the Mexican radio, the rate of turnover feels much quicker there than in El Norte. For example, check out the norteño and banda songs that have been hanging around the charts the longest:

U.S. Hot Latin:
#19 – “Ya Te Perdí La Fe” by Arrolladora, 26 weeks
#4 – “Solo Con Verte” by Banda MS, 25 weeks
#13 – “Broche de Oro” by Trakalosa, 24 weeks
#14 – “Tomen Nota” by Adriel Favela ft. Los Del Arroyo, 20 weeks
#19 – “DEL Negociante” by Los Plebes del Rancho de Ariel Camacho, 20 weeks

Mexican Popular:
#8 – “Tragos de Alcohol” by El Komander, 14 semanas
#13 – “Préstamela a Mí” by Calibre 50, 14 semanas
#17 – “El Borrachito” by Julión Álvarez, 14 semanas
#7 – “Espero Con Ansias” by Remmy Valenzuela, 13 semanas
#12 – “María” by Pepe Aguilar, 11 semanas

I know what you’re thinking: the Mexican list is way better, and not just because you’re sick of all the U.S. songs after five months! You’re right, but that quality judgment is probably just a coincidence. (And one that doesn’t account for NorteñoBlog’s fave wristwatch porn jam “Tomen Nota.”) You might also be thinking these two charts aren’t equivalent, because Hot Latin measures radio plus streams plus downloads, whereas the Mexican Popular chart only measures radio. Verdadero; but if you check out Billboard‘s radio-only Regional Mexican chart, the U.S. songs have charted for roughly the same amount of time, give or take a week, plus you find Adictiva’s certified 37-weeker “Después de Ti, ¿Quién?”, a real tantric filibuster. Continue reading “Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 5/3/16”

Guitars, WhatsApp, and San Juditas Medallions

martin castillo big

UPDATE: Never mind what I wrote below, Gusttavo Lima’s “Balada” was a hit in the U.S. too.

martin castilloWhen NorteñoBlog last caught up with the prolific drummer-corridero Martin Castillo, he was philosophizing somewhat threateningly over rippling guitars and tubas. This hasn’t changed on his new album La Historia de Mi Vida (Gerencia 360/Sony). Castillo enjoys portraying the tough narco who takes wounded pride in his work and life, wearing a San Juditas medallion on his chest to show the world what a martyr he is. His lovely single “De Compadre a Compadre” is a dead homies song that, chord-wise, recalls Gerardo Ortiz’s equally elegiac “Archivos de Mi Vida.” Pick to Click!

Continue reading “Guitars, WhatsApp, and San Juditas Medallions”

Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 12/18/15

adictiva singers

Welcome to the Songwriters’ Showcase! In this exciting feature, NorteñoBlog attempts to bring interest to the boring love songs on the Mexican radio chart by pointing out who wrote the boring love songs! Eventually I lose interest in that too! (Please note: some non-boring songs also lie ahead.)

At number 10, Diego Herrera adds lush guitar to a banda ballad, or maybe vice versa, and pledges his fidelity and jealousy to a mujer he claims is a good kisser. The song’s by Joss Favela and Luciano Luna, the (collective?) Diane Warren of norteño music, and if you’ve heard one of their love songs you’ve heard “Si Te Enamoras De Mi,” but the guitar makes some difference.

Case in point: Banda El Recodo’s at number 6 with another Favela/Luna love song, “Si No Es Contigo.” (Watch for my forthcoming pamphlet on the role of fate and potential realities in the Favela/Luna songbook.) Even though Recodo’s tune is skippier than Herrera’s, you can easily imagine them slowing it down and turning it into a waltz. While we’re talking about Recodo, NorteñoBlog would like to congratulate them on their Grammy nomination in the category Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano). Alternate parenthetical: (Stop Complaining, Noisy Tejano Voting Bloc). Continue reading “Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 12/18/15”

Fiesta de Aniversario: THE PICKS TO CLICK

gerardo birthday

NorteñoBlog doesn’t always Pick to Click, but when I do… sometimes I get it wrong and type “Click to Pick.” This made searching for the previous year’s worth of Picks INTERESANTE.

The Pick to Click began as a shameless ripoff from Charles Pierce’s must-read liberal politics blog at Esquire, as did a couple other, possibly subtler NorteñoBlog tics. (Spot them all! Both! Whatever!) It’s a useful way to highlight the song I enjoy the most in a particular post, so that you the loyal reader don’t have to wade through a pool of Banda MS’s tears to reach the good stuff. Of course, if you enjoy the delectable bouquet wafting from Banda MS’s tears, you can always Click what I don’t Pick, though you’ll run the risk of turning Banda MS happy and then they might run out of Art. Besides current singles, the following list includes some older singles and current album tracks.

Most Picked at three apiece: NorteñoBlog’s probable artists of the year Alfredo Ríos “El Komander” and Marco Flores y #1 Banda Jerez. Banda Cuisillos, Noel Torres, and Chuy Lizárraga each scored two Picks. So did Los Gfez, Pancho Uresti, and Ariel Camacho, though one Pick from each of those three was in a “featured” role. Besides norteño and banda, the list includes cumbias and puro sax stomps, reggaeton and ABBA-schlager, Jenny and the Mexicats and Pitbull, and covers of Johnny Cash and — first up — Shania Twain. Happy Clicking!
Continue reading “Fiesta de Aniversario: THE PICKS TO CLICK”

NorteñoBlog’s Top Singles of 2015: Julio – Septiembre

marco flores

UPDATED YOUTUBE PLAYLIST HERE

Three months ago on our Top Singles list, NorteñoBlog was concerned about a lack of chart hits and puro sax music. Worry no more! There’s a bit less variety on this list than before, in part because I devoted the month of agosto to a project that prevented me from trawling for indie singles. (More on that project soon.) But the states of California, Chihuahua, Texas, Tijuana, and Zacatecas all represent below, along with ever-present Sinaloa.

(First quarter singles are here; second quarter singles are here.)

1. Marco A. Flores y Su Numero Uno Banda Jerez“Amor de la Vida Alegre” (Garmex)
Mexican radio hit
Flores, who also made NorteñoBlog’s favorite single six months ago, is like the Ramones with better beats, Rae Sremmurd if they were fast, early Madonna with a better voice. He makes termite art of the most gnawing and forward-thinking sort. He spends half this song crowing over just drums and tuba.


Continue reading “NorteñoBlog’s Top Singles of 2015: Julio – Septiembre”

Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 8/7/15

fidelrueda3_1-460x261

A crowded field of contenders met this week, selling themselves to a fickle public by trying to outshout their rivals. As they took their places on the public stage, arranged according to their polling numbers, some sported relatively fresh faces while others had clearly been here before. Broadcast to the masses, they broached the familiar topics of family values and the plight of the working class. They touted their hardscrabble origins and titanic work ethics. One challenger had amassed unimaginable wealth and made certain everyone in the audience knew it. The contenders spared no expense, and certainly no words, in their attempt to move one step closer to claiming the world’s most powerful and coveted title.

I refer, of course, to NorteñoBlog’s prestigious Pick to Click.

There are eight new songs, to be exact, since the last time we checked the Mexican radio charts five weeks ago. I’m afraid I can’t assign their singers one-to-one correspondence with the… unique field of candidates seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. president. Although both groups contain mostly men — in this thought experiment, the part of Carly Fiorina will be played by Los Horóscopos — the Mexican radio stars are not, so far as I can tell, frightening power-mad scaredy cats. Here are their strong suits, from lowest polling to highest:

At #20, Diego Herrera sings a tribute to the families who’ve stood behind their famous norteño singing sons. This could have lapsed into sap, but Herrera is a masterful singer who lands each of his many words with precision and dexterity. Plus he uses the word “chingones” over and over. (Since I don’t think Miss Manners has covered it, this Latina article dissects how appropriate the word is for polite company. Opinions vary!)

At #19, the man with the continent’s best voice, Julión Álvarez, sings about love (as he does) in one of his better recent tunes, a fast banda. He’s also the only person I know who has convincingly sung the word “irremediablemente.”

Los Tucanes and their rich friends Código FN are at #18, singing a corrido about the big name bandas who play their fancy parties, where the liquor bottles flow like spit valves and muchachas dangle from arms. How did our hosts get all their money? Don’t ask questions!

At #17, the members of La Estructura, a relatively new quartet/quintet, are weary. Their gauntlet of negotiating the nightlife and trying to win back a pretty mujer has tuckered them out. As the tubist blarts out sad counterpoint the lead singer stops traffic to block his ex’s SUV and plead his case. Improbably, this works.

Mariachi Pedro Fernández is at lucky #13 with a cover of Leandro Rios’s excellent rhyming exercise/claim to hardcore ranchero roots, “Debajo Del Sombrero.” The song remains great, but Fernández’s take sounds too smooth, even perfunctory, as though he and his well tooled mariachi machine are racing through it.

Up at #9, Fidel Rueda insists, over speedy banda, that he is not el mandadero, for whom he is sometimes confused by assholes. Rather, la moneda está volteada, y Rueda es él que manda. Merely for serving as a furious rebuke to some of those frightening power-mad scaredy cats, this would be a front-runner for Pick to Click status. Turns out it’s a fine song, too. I’ll entertain a motion from the floor.

I mean, you knew it wasn’t gonna go to those Sebastianes or Arrolladora ballads, they just kept crying all over the place.

(BTW, the top 3 songs remain unchanged from five weeks ago. Meet the new jefes, same as the old jefes.)

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 “Worth It,” “See You Again,” “Cheerleader,” and a Kalimba song that strums along forgettably.

1. “Aunque Ahora Estés Con Él” – Calibre 50
2. “Piensalo” – Banda MS
3. “Por Qué Terminamos” – Gerardo Ortiz
4. “Para Qué Pides Perdón” – La Arrolladora Banda El Limón
5. “Después de Ti ¿Quién?” – La Adictiva Banda San Jose
6. “¿Cómo Te Llamas?” – Banda La Trakalosa
7. “Por Si No Recuerdas” – Banda Los Sebastianes
8. “Me Interesa” – Alfredo Ríos El Komander
9. “Ya No Soy El Mandadero” – Fidel Rueda
10. “Por Si Estas Con El Pendiente” – Voz De Mando

11. “Mi Vicio Mas Grande” – Banda El Recodo
12. “Tu Mami” – Chuy Lizarraga
13. “Debajo del Sombrero” – Pedro Fernández
14. “No Te Voy a Perdonar” – Grupo Cañaveral ft. Maria Leon
15. “Abrázame” – Pesado
16. “Diferentes Niveles” – Claudio Alcaraz
17. “Retiro Lo Dicho” – La Estructura
18. “Suena La Banda” – Los Tucanes de Tijuana ft. Código FN
19. “Pongamonos de Acuerdo” – Julión Álvarez y Su Norteño Banda
20. “Fregones Mis Viejos” [aka “Chingones Mis Viejos”] – Diego Herrera

¡Adios!
“Yo Pongo Las Reglas” – La Poderosa Banda San Juan
“Si No Te Hubiera Conocido” – Bobby Pulido
“50 Mentadas” – Banda Rancho Viejo
“Broche De Oro” – Banda La Trakalosa
“Me Toco Perder” – Banda Los Recoditos
“El Amor de Su Vida” – Julión Álvarez
“Sal De Mi Vida” – La Original Banda El Limón
“Confesion” – La Arrolladora Banda El Limón

NorteñoBlog’s Top Singles of 2015: Enero – Marzo

marco flores

As you listen to this Youtube playlist, imagine a Regional Mexican station that plays not just regional styles, but disco-fied international variations on those styles. Weirdly enough, the disco-mariachi songs here, while great, are far from the most danceable songs on the list. If you don’t believe me, check out the top video, where Marco Flores and his band create a barrage of anarchic polka moves, including Hiding Behind the Congas, for their banda-fied take on the Zacatecas state’s tamborazo music. Colmillo Norteño aren’t quite as terpsichorially ambitious with the waltz at #2, but they’ve still got moves.

You could call these the year’s best regional Mexican singles, but there’s a catch. “Regional Mexican” here includes Mexicans and non-Mexicans playing their takes on regional styles — norteño, banda, mariachi, and cumbia (not native to Mexico, but nation and format have embraced it), along with minor styles like Tejano, tierra caliente, and duranguense, if we’d found any. It doesn’t include Mexicans playing pop, although most of these songs register for listeners as pop songs. It also doesn’t include any Latinos playing reggaeton, bachata, or salsa, though NorteñoBlog broke that rule last year when Gerardo Ortiz released a full-throated bachata song.

Maybe not so weirdly, this list’s Venn diagram circle for “international interlopers” — Natalia Jiménez, Rocio Quiroz, Jenny and the Mexicats, and Shalia Dúrcal — overlaps perfectly with the circle for “women.” It’s not that women can’t make great music that’s puro Mexicano; after all, we’re observing the 20th anniversary of Selena’s death, the 10th anniversary of Yolanda Perez’s fantastic Esto Es Amor album, and also check out NorteñoBlog’s best of 2014 list. But in the recently dominant styles of norteño and banda, the male gaze and traditional, possibly smothering, notions of chivalry predominate. Women in song lyrics often have the upper hand over their hapless male counterparts — see the hilarious video for “Adicto a La Tristeza” — but the hapless males still make most of the music and money. Though she’s not on this list, check out América Sierra’s “Ponte Las Pilas” for a refreshing exception — she also wrote Ortiz’s latest single, “Perdoname” — and keep your eye on her this year. In the meantime…

1. Marco Flores y La Número 1 Banda Jerez“El Pajarito” (Remex)
We’ve admired before the vitality of Marco Flores‘s dance moves and his voice, a gallo-rific crow that cuts through anything in its path. His take on Espinoza Paz’s “El Pajarito” comes in versions both “sin censura” and, presumably, censura.
Mexican radio hit

2. Colmillo Norteño“La Plebona” (Remex)
A demented rapid-fire circus parade waltz — you like those, right?
U.S. radio hit

3. Natalia Jiménez“Quédate Con Ella” (Sony)
Spanish pop star Jiménez shoots for Mexican mariachi and, with the help of Venezuelan producer Motiff, winds up singing a marvelously square ABBA breakup ballad. She’s having more fun breaking up than she did when they were together. She’s Chiquitita with Fernando’s swagger.
Mexican and U.S. radio hit

4. Rocio Quiroz“La De La Paloma” (Ser)
A minor key stomp with its drums slightly off-kilter in that delicious cumbia manner. The guitar tone is like something out of ’80s new wave, and Argentine singer Quiroz sounds great spitting out heartache.
hasn’t charted

5. Alfredo Ríos El Komander“Fuga Pa’ Maza” (Twiins)
Alfredo Ríos El Komander (I guess that’s what we’re calling him now?) continues to fire off charming singles that sound like he wrote them on a napkin and recorded them in the back of the bar. This one makes the theme explicit. It’s a drinking song whose background crowd noises exist as much for their musical energy as their verisimilitude — note how the crowd abruptly shuts up mid-whoop at the end of the song, rather than fading into a jumble of congratulatory high-fives. “Mi vida es pura pura pura borrachera,” Ríos brags, his tuba and requinto (I think) players capering around the bar, spilling everyone’s drinks.
hasn’t charted

6. Grupo Cañaveral ft. Jenny and the Mexicats“Tiene Espinas el Rosal (En Vivo)” (Fonovisa)
Grupo Cañaveral De Humberto Pabón played one of their turn-of-the-millennium cumbias, “Tiene Espinas El Rosal,” in concert. They brought out the little Spanish/Mexican indie band Jenny and the Mexicats to sing it with them. It turns out I’m a sucker for both turn-of-the-millennium cumbias and Jenny and the Mexicats.
Mexican radio hit

7. Shalia Dúrcal“No Me Interesa” (EMI)
The Spanish singer’s latest blends Nashville guitar licks, ranchera horns, and electropulse into something that never peaks but is more compelling for it. Also check out “Has Sido Tú,” a tech-folk-ranchera stomper whose main riff is lifted directly from one of Slash’s solos in “Sweet Child o’ Mine.”
hasn’t charted

8. La Trakalosa de Monterrey ft. Pancho Uresti“Adicto a la Tristeza” (Remex)
It turns out Edwin Luna, lead singer of La Trakalosa de Monterrey, is very convincing portraying un “Adicto a la Tristeza.” It helps that his voice chimes like a throaty bell. Luna’s labelmate and guest singer, Pancho Uresti from Banda Tierra Sagrada, is somewhat less convincing because his voice is scratchy. When the woman in the video spurns his advances, he’ll feel nothing and should be able to pick up pretty easily with someone else. High camp.
Mexican and U.S. radio hit

9. Los Tigres Del Norte“Qué Tal Si Eres Tu” (Fonovisa)
This study in triplets — the musical figure, not the polyzygotic phenomenon — still sounds better every time I hear it. Any other late ’60s bands still going this strong?
Mexican and U.S. radio hit

10. Rosendo Robles“Alterado De Corazon” (Rosendo Robles)
A banda waltz of furious excitement and possibly sharp brass sections. Possibly tuned sharp, I should say, although the jagged horn rhythms certainly feel like whirling blades of death, the kind of things you’d contort your shoulders trying to avoid in the upper reaches of a video game.
hasn’t charted

11. La Maquinaria Norteña“Si Te Vuelvo a Ver” (Azteca)
A stomping country polka with some puro Chihuahua sax, by way of New Mexico. I want La Maquinaria Norteña’s logo on my windshield.
Mexican and U.S. radio hit

12. Mario “El Cachorro” Delgado“El Rancho” (Garmex)
A sad but swinging protest corrido using chicken farming as a parable about Mexican kidnapping violence, I think. The simple tune is appealing enough, but check out the interplay between bass, guitar, and requinto, alternately locking in together and tugging at the rhythm with passages of loose virtuosity.
hasn’t charted

13. Alfredo Rios El Komander“Malditas Ganas” (Twiins)
Tossed off kiss-off. The eternally loose Ríos sprechtstimmes and casually mentions “Soy De Rancho,” reminding the woman he can’t forget that nobody can forget him these days, either.
Mexican and U.S. radio hit

14. Diego Herrera ft. Los Gfez“Es Todo Un Placer” (Remex)
One of those norteño quartet-meets-banda mashups the NorteñoBlog loves.
Mexican radio hit

15. Remmy Valenzuela“Mi Princesa” (Fonovisa)
A dextrous accordion hero puts down his axe to sing a banda ballad with more authority than he’s ever sung before, enunciating to las estrellas. Has any guitar hero ever done so well with a guitar-free power ballad?
Mexican and U.S. radio hit

10 more good ones:

Miranda Lambert – “Little Red Wagon” (RCA Nashville)
Los Teke Teke – “Me Dite Duro” (Leo)
Nicki Minaj ft. Drake and Lil Wayne – “Truffle Butter” (Young Money/Cash Money/Republic)
Joey Bada$$ – “No. 99” (Cinematic/Relentless)
Sia – “Elastic Heart” (Monkey Puzzle/RCA)
Susanne Sundfør – “Delirious” (EMI Norway)
One Direction – “Night Changes” (Columbia)
Fetty Wap – “Trap Queen” (300)
Carrie Underwood – “Little Toy Guns” (Sony Nashville)
Victor Manuelle – “Que Suenen Los Tambores” (Sony)

Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 2/15/15

diego herrera

Two picks to click this week, the first of which probably shouldn’t count. Down at #19, Grupo Cañaveral De Humberto Pabón played one of their turn-of-the-millennium cumbias, “Tiene Espinas El Rosal,” in concert. They brought out the little Spanish/Mexican indie band Jenny and the Mexicats to sing it with them. It turns out I’m a sucker for both turn-of-the-millennium cumbias and Jenny and the Mexicats, who are classified in Allmusic as “Jazz Blues” because, um, Jenny plays the trumpet? No no. A cursory listen tells me they’re cumbia rockers, and I totally slept on their 2014 album. Confused by this sudden mixture of guilt, cumbia-suckertude, and wanting to sing “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” in the shower, I direct you to their live video and Jenny’s excellent trumpet intonation.

REAL pick to click is Diego Herrera’s (ft. Los Gfez) “Es Todo Un Placer”, one of those norteño quartet-meets-banda mashups the NorteñoBlog loves. You could do worse than subscribing to Remex’s Youtube channel.

I like Fidel Rueda’s “Escuchame” a touch less, but it has the advantage of being short. It also has some really tight brass charts packed into what’s essentially a midtempo norteño quartet waltz.

Picks to run far away include El Bebeto’s second boring ballad in a row, although he returns to banda from his brief mariachi nap; Espinoza Paz’s brief mariachi nap; and Los Primos MX’s insufferable sax ballad. My displeasure has a theme.

These are the Top 20 “Popular” songs in Mexico, as measured by radioNOTAS. Don’t confuse “Popular” with the “General” list, which contains many of the same songs but also “Uptown Funk!” and the ABBA-schlager of Natalia Jiménez.

1. “Contigo” – Calibre 50
2. “Que Tal Si Eres Tu” – Los Tigres Del Norte
3. “Todo Tuyo” – Banda El Recodo
4. “Me Sobrabas Tu” – Banda Los Recoditos
5. “Culpable Fui (Culpable Soy)” – Intocable
6. “Malditas Ganas” – Alfredo Rios El Komander
7. “Que Aun Te Amo” – Pesado
8. “A Lo Mejor” – Banda MS
9. “Lo Hiciste Otra Vez” – Arrolladora
10. “El Que Se Enamora Pierde” – Banda Carnaval

11. “Eres Una Niña” – Gerardo Ortiz
12. “Sencillamente” – Raúl y Mexia + SuenaTron
13. “Mayor De Edad” – La Original Banda el Limón
14. “No Fue Necesario” – El Bebeto
15. “Si Tuviera Que Decirlo” – Pedro Fernandez
16. “Perdi La Pose” – Espinoza Paz
17. “Escuchame” – Fidel Rueda
18. “Me Importas” – Los Primos MX
19. “Tiene Espinas El Rosal” – Grupo Cañaveral De Humberto Pabón ft. Jenny and the Mexicats
20. “Es Todo Un Placer” – Diego Herrera ft. Los Gfez

¡Adios!
“El Pajarito” – Marco Flores y La Número 1 Banda Jerez
“Nos Acostumbramos” – Los Horoscopos de Durango
“En La Sierra y La Ciudad La China” – La Adictiva Banda San Jose
“Debajo Del Sombrero” – Leandro Ríos ft. Pancho Uresti de Banda Tierra Sagrada
“Broche De Oro” – Banda La Trakalosa
“Cuando Tu Me Besas” – El Bebeto
“Dime” – Julión Álvarez y Su Norteño Banda

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