music, charts, opinions


Fuerza Regida

NorteñoBlog Pivots to Corridos Tumbados

This post is not about the song “Lowrider Gee”; maybe it should be.

We begin with a stoic tale of vehicular death. Fuerza Regida‘s “Descansando” began life a couple months ago as an acoustic memorial to one Arturo Garcia, whose truck, according to the song, was la más chingona in all of Houston. “El Fue Arturo” was strummed and sung by the band’s frontman, Jesús Ortiz-Paz, in a rhythmically tricky combo of strong 3/4 guitar chords and prancing 6/8 vocal cadence — supremely groovy despite its bereftitude. The Blog surmises the ode “El Fue Arturo” went viral, as such odes tend to do, especially if they have the backing of Jimmy Humilde and Rancho Humilde Records. From there the song passed into the capable hands of Jesús’s full band, a tuba-bottomed sierreño trio. Well, a trio plus Jesús, who cedes guitar duties to his bandmates and focuses on singing with just the right note of bittersweet dead-homie resignation.

Last time I checked in with the Fuerzas, on their breakthrough single “Radicamos en South Central,” I was nonplussed. Something about “needing backup singers” and “sounding like they were confined to a concrete bunker.” This assessment wasn’t entirely wrong; but, though “Descansando” doesn’t change the band’s instrumentation or lack of backup singers at all, and changes tempos less often than “Radicamos,” the Blog has come around to their sound. The three-against-two patterns are just as complex as they were in 2019 — thanks especially to syncopating tubist Jose Garcia (no idea if he’s related to the late Arturo) — but the virtuosity here is warmer and more offhanded. The groove never flags. Note also Ortiz-Paz’s rhyming facility, his rapper-like delight in landing “tesoro”-“morro”-“Arturo”-“seguro” at the end of verse two. This music sublimates grief into pure physical pleasure. And its grief and pleasure have connected, landing it at #20 on Billboard‘s Hot Latin Songs this week thanks to both streaming and sales. VALE LA PENA y PICK TO CLICK

“Descansando” currently occupies prominent places on two Spotify playlists: “Corridos Perrones,” a mix of badass songs both new and five-ish years old, and “Corridos Tumbados,” a genre the Blog wants to get to the bottom of. Named for a song by feisty sierreño youth Natanael Cano, corridos tumbados also go by the name “trap corridos,” linking them attitudinally-if-only-maybe-musically to trap music. Which makes Natanael Cano the T.I. of our day, I guess? The name’s idiom remains mysterious to Gringo me. Literally “corridos that are lying down,” but also (maybe?) “corridos that have toppled,” the term captures the same chill/threatening vibe as the term “trap.” Are the corridos lying in wait? To topple others? Or are they just hanging out? And how paradoxically should we take the juxtaposition of “corridos,” these running narratives, with “tumbados”? Explanatory comments from Spanish speakers are welcome.

In the meantime, the Blog will be focusing on corridos tumbados for a while because they’re new and hot; and I, being neither, would like a healthy infusion of their youthful traffic-driving juices. Plus, I never really liked the genre until washing a pile of dishes while listening to the “Corridos Tumbados” playlist, much of which sounded pretty good. So now I’m searching for all the songs that appear on both “Tumbados” and “Perrones” because their appearance on the latter makes them badass by definition. (OK, actually canine by definition, but IDIOMS.) And their borderline with trap is fascinating. Besides the cultural and attitudinal links, what musical territory do sung tumbados — largely played by two acoustic guitars and a bass instrument — share with heavily synthesized trap sprechtstimme? Stay tuned!

Slightly less interesting is “Se Amerita” by Junior H, a recent teen who crows like a sad gallo and drops new songs like a hen drops eggs. This song is from one of his four(!) 2020 albums, the Fifties-ily named Cruisin’ With Junior H. (I wonder if he and Natanael Cano have a stoplight drag race.) I don’t wanna presume but I think it’s one of those narrative-free living-the-high-life implied narcocorridos that all the trad corrideros hate. Sample translated lyric: “He’s not of my blood but he demonstrated loyalty,” which sounds like shop talk in a very specific line of work, plus something about piloting a Cessna and taking receipt of a horse. Here’s Junior and pal, sans horse, hacking through the song for his TikTok loyalists.

Earlier this year, Sr. H turned up in a Billboard article by Griselda Flores with the excellent headline “Sad Sierreño,” inspired by Junior’s only album of 2021 so far, the perfectly titled $ad Boyz 4 Life. The title’s juxtaposition of wealth and sadness seems borrowed from trap, which also plays on the well-worn rap conceit that its practitioners are presenting some unvarnished peak into their real lives. Never has a Junior spoken more like a junior: “I am exactly how you hear me in my music, vulnerable and sensitive. I’m not trying to sound poetic or find the right words, I’m just being direct… How cool that my fans feel connected and have embraced my sad songs. At the end of the day, we all have feelings.” Sigh. I suppose; but that doesn’t mean those feelings deserve to be set to music. And wouldn’t “finding the right words” communicate Junior’s feelings more directly? But we’ll still give “Se Amerita” a VALE LA PENA because its distinctive sound is Junior’s own, and whoever’s playing lead requinto seems to have their wits about them.

Desfile de Éxitos 1/19/19

t3r airport

Puerto Rican trapstar Bad Bunny has pulled a Drake this week, clogging up Billboard‘s Hot Latin chart with 10 tracks from his debut album X 100pre. (The highest charting is, whaddya know, a duet with Drake.) NorteñoBlog has long admired Sr. Bunny’s charisma and barber while having almost no use for his music. The greatest insult? He’s Despacitoing norteño music into near nonexistence on Hot Latin. Regional Mexican acts account for only nine of the top 50 songs, one less than Bunny himself. The Blog tells you all this to explain why our Desfile de Éxitos format has changed. You can only type “Bad Bunny” so many times before the Donnie Darko flashbacks become too intense to deal with.

What follows are three mini-lists. First up are the three regional Mexican songs that appear only on the Hot Latin chart, i.e. not on Billboard‘s Regional Mexican Songs radio chart. As you’d expect, since radio factors less into their success, these three songs all have enormous YouTube streaming numbers. As you might not expect, they’re all by sierreño bands. One possible conclusion: sierreño is for cool internet kids. The next list is the Regional Mexican radio top 10: mostly banda, a couple cumbias, and one apiece of sierreño and mariacheño. The third list — of one song this week — is music outside the radio Top 10 that also appears on Hot Latin.


fuerza regidaFuerza Regida“Radicamos En South Central” (#32 Hot Latin)
This sierreño gangsta nonsense is one high-living negocios signifier after another — I count appearances from Compas Tino and Chino, a bottle of Buchanan’s, and an X6 and a white Corvette, along with some good old-fashioned cocaine. The band is really good at switching from midtempo waltz to fast waltz on a dime, so that’s something. Now if they just learned to add backup vocals to their product placements, maybe they wouldn’t sound like they’re trapped in a cement bunker, playing under threat of torture. NO VALE LA PENA

t3r gerardoT3R Elemento ft. Gerardo Ortiz“Aerolinea Carrillo” (#33 Hot Latin)
The lead track from T3R’s 2018 album The Green Trip is ostensibly an ode to Pablo Escobar and his well-structured airborne narcotics business. It’s actually an ode to how cool it is to get high on a plane and sing about gangster shit. In the video, Kristopher Nava, the McLovin’ of the corridos verdes movimiento, chills in an airport lounge wearing a t-shirt that reads “Cookies” and refusing to enunciate. Sergio Cardenas, the band’s Cuban bassist, harmonizes beside him. Gerardo Ortiz plays a commercial airline pilot who smokes up in the cockpit and over-enunciates, well aware of the lurid cargo he’s transporting in his plane’s overhead compartments. Everyone nods a lot. Unlike Fuerza Regida, everyone here is in a good mood and knows the song they’re playing is patently dopey. VALE LA PENA y PICK TO CLICK

arrankeGrupo Arranke“A Través del Vaso” (#39 Hot Latin)
“Una Para Mi Chiquitita (y Una Más Para My Sad Cowboy Hat That Reeks of Authenticity, Even Though My Song Comes From the Horacio Palencia Song Factory)” (Sierreño Versión)


1. Christian Nodal“No Te Contaron Mal” (#11 Hot Latin)

2. Los Angeles Azules ft. Natalia LaFourcade“Nunca Es Suficiente” (#9 Hot Latin)

3. Regulo Caro“El Lujo de Tenerte” (#35 Hot Latin)

4. Banda El Recodo ft. David Bisbal“Gracias Por Tu Amor” (#44 Hot Latin)

sebastianes5. Banda Los Sebastianes“A Través del Vaso” (#14 Hot Latin)
“Una Para Mi Chiquitita (y Una Más Para the Underwear Models in the Video)” (Banda Versión)

virlan garcia6. Virlán Garcia“Quiero Reintentarlo”
Virlán is horny as all get out, so it took an unusual triumph of will for him to keep this from becoming a slow jam. His sierreño band skips along, jaunty and desperate. Congas burble and the tuba line snaps at Virlán’s promises to kiss every corner of your body. VALE LA PENA

7. Banda MS“Mejor Me Alejo” (#25 Hot Latin)

8. Raymix“¿Dónde Estarás?”

9. El Fantasma“Dolor y Amor”

10. Banda Los Recoditos“Te Darán Ganas de Verme”


calibre14. Calibre 50“¿Por Qué Cambiaste De Opinión?” (#50 Hot Latin)
Exactly what you expect from a Calibre ballad: a death march of self-righteous indignation aimed at a fickle mujer, from the dudes who just humble-bragged about going “Mitad y Mitad” with two different women. With his fondness for six-syllable rhymes, Edén Muñoz delights in language more than most of his songwriting cohort, and “No vayas a llorar, que nadie te va abrazar” is a cold kiss-off — but their self pity is dull enough without the band deflating before your ears. NO VALE LA PENA

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