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¡Perros y gatos! ¡Viviendo juntos! (Desfile de Éxitos 5/6/17)

calibre 50

NorteñoBlog’s Pick to Click comes this week from Calibre 50, but it is not the quartet’s smash Top 10 ballad “Siempre Te Voy a Querer,” which does not solve Calibre’s perennial ballad problem — namely, that most of their ballads sound thin and flimsy and threaten to grind to a halt with every bar. Nor is it their #13 airplay hit/Michelob jingle “Las Ultras,” which, since first spotting it on the Mexican charts a couple weeks ago, has admittedly grown on me like so much cheap beer and/or beachfront dressage.

No, you should instead direct your attention to Calibre’s cover of “Volveré a Amar” by the 10-years-late banda singer Valentín Elizalde. The song itself is swanky midtempo heartache with backbeat and doo-wop tuba, a 2004 template for later earworms like Roberto Tapia’s “Mirando al Cielo.” (Or at least, it’s one of the templates: El Coyote beat Elizalde to this particular sound back in the ’90s.) Covering the tune, Eden Muñoz does his best Elizalde impression and sings low in his range, a wise choice — he’s as effortlessly charming as beachfront dressage. When the accordion quartet takes over for the banda during the chorus, the transition is seamless and full, so hats off to whoever recorded and mixed this thing. It’s at #39 airplay and you can find it on Fonovisa’s terrific collection of Elizalde covers, Tributo a Valentín Elizalde, previously covered here.

Also in the news:

— At #4, Christian Nodal‘s debut single “Adiós Amor” continues to win hearts and Youtube revenue. (Closing in on 128 million views!) Last month we covered it at The Singles Jukebox, where I wrote, Continue reading “¡Perros y gatos! ¡Viviendo juntos! (Desfile de Éxitos 5/6/17)”

¡Controversy! ¡Polémica! (Who’s On the Mexican Radio?)

marco-flores-dancing

Controversy! ¡Polémica! NorteñoBlog’s favorite dancer Marco Flores (aka Marco A. Flores) y su Banda Jerez (aka #1 Banda Jerez, or simply La Jerez) are back on the Mexican airwaves with “Los Viejitos” at #17, an amped up waltz that takes an insanely complex approach to both rhythmic subdividing and cultural appropriating.

los-viejitos-400x400The song, you see, plays on the traditional Danza de los Viejitos, danced for centuries by the indigenous Purépecha people in the highlands of Michoacán. Flores lives two states to the north in Zacatecas, but because he bows to Terpsichore in all her forms, he’s opened his new video with a not necessarily accurate re-enactment: five guys in flamboyant stooped-old-man costumes walk a circle, “helped” by members of La Jerez, who keep looking underneath their ponchos but seem otherwise respectful. The slow, trad fiddle music of la Danza stops abruptly, La Jerez kicks into its waltz, Flores flails his limbs, and the stooped old men spring to life, emboldened by this rad new beat. There’s a long, proud history of affectionately tweaking the Olds by replacing their slow rhythm with a new, faster rhythm — recall the Clash’s “Wrong ‘Em Boyo” or Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings.” Flores seems to be operating on the same impulse here.

¡No tan rápido! says Michoacán’s secretary of indigenous people, Martín García Avilés. (Let’s just note how great it is that a Mexican state has its own secretary of indigenous people.) García Avilés calls the video an insult to native traditions nationwide. Flores and La Jerez are denigrating the Purépecha people and subjecting them to ridicule, he says, and they should take down the video. Flores expresses surprise, countering that he’s trying to rescue and exalt la Danza and bring it to the attention of younger generations. NorteñoBlog, watching a video of an actual Danza, asks warily, “Aren’t the dancing fake old men supposed to be funny? At least a little bit?” Not that I plan to start making video parodies of indigenous dances any time soon. Tumblr would have a collective aneurysm. But I’m curious to know how Flores’s video reads to other people who’ve grown up with la Danza de los Viejitos. Offensive? Funny?

Anyway, as I mentioned, the rhythms in this thing are also stellar — bar by bar, the band divides the basic pulse into either two or three, with Flores subdividing those beats into even smaller and faster bits during the choruses, his accents landing in unexpected places. Limbs flail accordingly. Pick to Click!

Continue reading “¡Controversy! ¡Polémica! (Who’s On the Mexican Radio?)”

Teoría de la Evolución (Desfile de Éxitos 2/11/17)

This week’s Pick to Click is right up front, so you can listen while you read about some… updates to Billboard magazine’s chart methodologies. Woo hoo! (Trust me, the song’s pretty.)

This week Billboard magazine changed the way it compiles some of its singles charts, including the Hot Latin chart. The magazine started including streaming data from Pandora, and it “rebalanced the ratio among sales, airplay and streaming, accounting for changes in music consumption patterns, i.e., increases in streaming and decreases in sales.” This rebalancing happens every once in a while, but figuring in the Pandora data is new. You might think we’d notice the Pandora effect on the Hot Latin chart, since Latin music is 11% of what gets streamed on Pandora, where 25% of users identify as Hispanic. It’s also worth noting that, in 2016, two thirds of Pandora’s most popular Latin songs were Regional Mexican, and that the list was dominated by hot young studs singing Sierreño: Ariel Camacho, Los Plebes del Rancho, Crecer Germán, and Adriel Favela‘s genre foray “Tomen Nota.” Teen idols taking over!

ulices-chaidez-smolderingBut if you compare this week’s chart with the one from three weeks ago (or with last week’s), not much seems to have changed. Shakira’s “La Bicicleta” abruptly disappeared from its place in the top 10, and Banda MS‘s “Tengo Que Colgar” now appears only on the Regional Mexican Airplay chart. (Good! Whenever I stream that song it makes my phone run slower.) But on the whole, songs that were climbing before have continued their trajectory, some older songs have dropped off, and Regional Mexican still occupies eight of the top 25 spots, a consistent ratio in recent weeks. Hot young Sierreño stud Ulices Chaidez has two songs in the top 25 — but he did last week, too. So maybe this continuity simply means Billboard got its rebalance right, and that its charts reflect music as it’s actually listened to.

While we’re talking chart data, the Top Latin Albums chart also got an update: it switched from a sales-only formula to “a multi-metric methodology, blending pure album sales, track equivalent album (TEA) units, and streaming equivalent album (SEA) units.” (The big album chart, the Billboard 200, has done this for a while now.) This created much more dramatic changes from last week to this week, mostly in favor of artists whose fans skew younger. Continue reading “Teoría de la Evolución (Desfile de Éxitos 2/11/17)”

Desfile de Éxitos 12/24/16

omar_ruiz_el_quesito

Since NorteñoBlog last checked Billboard‘s Latin charts, the magazine has decided to give us all a gift: the website is now posting 20 more spots on its Regional Mexican airplay chart. There you will find such curiosities as:

Marco Antonio Solis crooning about a lying mujer while swathed in a toga of strings and synths (#29);

— a previous Pick to Click from Fuerza de Tijuana, about a former honcho in the Medellín Cartel (#31);

— more chipper puro sax bands than you can shake a slimy mouthpiece at (#23, #30, and #32) — all of them ruled by the saxophone colossus at #18, La Maquinaria Norteña;

— and even more clones of Ariel Camacho. Am I alone in thinking The Clones of Ariel Camacho would make a great Univision variety show? TWENTY SUPER SERIOUS YOUNG REQUINTO PLAYERS SING OF DEATH AND LOST LOVE, Omar Burgos furiously triple-tongues his tuba whenever someone gets voted off, and everyone forgets the names of their second guitarists. Could work. In any case, Nano Machado, Los de la Noria, Los Plebes, and Ulices Chaidez are all representing Sierreño music in the bottom 20, and Chaidez has two additional songs in the overall Hot Latin top 50. This fountain of youth isn’t drying up any time soon.

Also brightening up the bottom 20 is another dude who fooled around with Sierreño earlier in 2016: Adriel Favela, whose “Tomen Nota,” a duet with Los Del Arroyo, was a credible candidate for Wristwatch Porn Video of the Year. Continue reading “Desfile de Éxitos 12/24/16”

Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 11/17/16

gerardo-ortiz-regresa-hermosa-snap-b

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”

La Fiebre de Juan Gabriel (Desfile de Éxitos 9/17/16)

juan-gabriel

In the least surprising news since House Speaker Paul Ryan tossed his scruples into the Potomac and signed a legislative blood pact with Donald Trump, su padrino el diablo, this week’s Billboard Hot Latin chart finds itself dominated by the late Juan Gabriel. He’s got 10 of the top 50 songs, from recent work (his cover of CCR’s “Have You Seen the Rain” and a couple duet remakes) to standards like “Amor Eterno” and “Querida,” his highest placer at #4. The more I hear “Querida,” the more I’m convinced that it — and not Limahl’s “Neverending Story” — was the greatest song of 1984. Gabriel definitely has the bigger vocal range, but the song’s semi-improvised crescendo makes you work for its pleasure; it’s not a pure shot of mind-numbing knee-wobbling endorphin like Giorgio Moroder’s synths and chord changes. Fortunately, pleasure isn’t a zero-sum game! That said, there must only be one Pick to Click:

The magazine reports that most of Gabriel’s chart traffic comes from streams and sales. Indeed, while I’ve heard some Gabriel songs on the radio — “No Vale La Pena” (ironically?) brightened my day — his impact there is too diluted to affect the radio charts. Billboard also reported a 566% increase in JuanGa music on the radio, from 2,000 spins to 13,000 in the week following his death — which, if my math checks out, translates into approximately 26-to-30 million “audience impressions.”* Impressive! But to find its way onto a radio chart, a particular song would need to hog one tenth of those impressions to itself, and Gabriel’s fecundity made that unlikely. He simply had too many songs that people loved and wanted to hear.

Gabriel is far and away the best-charting dead singer this week. Continue reading “La Fiebre de Juan Gabriel (Desfile de Éxitos 9/17/16)”

Desfile de Éxitos 6/18/16

regulo caro

With a weary sigh of resignation, NorteñoBlog supposes it’s time to discuss “CicatrIIIces.” (That particular alternate spelling is cooler than the official “Cicatrices”; it also beats YouTube’s “Cicatriiices,” which just looks like someone at DEL was pisteando when they typed it.) The song is already Regulo Caro’s biggest U.S. chart hit, up this week to #11 on the Hot Latin chart and #2 on Regional Mexican airplay, where the DJs hit the “CicatrIVces” button more often than they should. That’s the same radio peak as Caro’s previous, superior hit “Soltero Disponible.” Both songs come from the lovelorn imagination of Omar Tarazón, who wrote “CicatrVces” in collaboration with new songwriter Maria Fernanda Diaz. (Here she is dining with Regulo’s cousin Gerardo Ortiz.)

“CicatrVIces” is fine for what it is: a swinging midtempo “don’t kiss me ’cause it’ll hurt” ballad, along the lines of Jake Owen’s “Alone With You.” The brass chart uses colorful and elaborate shifts in a way that fairly screams “POST-TWIINS BANDA.” But “CicatrVIIces” doesn’t spark and pop like the nasty “Soltero.” Its lyric and jaunty swing rhythm are too polite, so the normally badass Caro sounds like he’s licking his wounds rather than showing off his scars. He seems to recognize this — the action-packed “CicatrVIIIces” video shows him and his mujer robbing a diner Pulp Fiction-style, as though to compensate for the song playing overhead. It beats the Chili Peppers’ “Scar Tissue,” but praise doesn’t get any fainter than that.

“CicatrIXces” = NO VALE LA PENA Continue reading “Desfile de Éxitos 6/18/16”

Calibre 50 En la Jukebox

prestamela

En 2014 todos menos uno de los críticos en la Singles Jukebox les gustó la canción “Qué Tiene de Malo,” pero no esto tiempo. “Préstamela a Mí” de Calibre 50 inspiró amor, aversión, y indiferencia. No por nada es la canción un #1 sencillo en ambos México y El Norte. Escucho una letra ofensiva, sí, pero tambien una letra que exagera la infamia para hacer un punto. ¿Qué es el punto? No sé… tal vez “los hombres son pendejos.” Usted lo sabía.

Escribí:

While his rhythm section lurches like a Frankenstein monster wielding breath spray, Eden Muñoz goes full Eddie Cornelius on how to treat your angry mujer like a lady. Have you considered kissing her feet and feeding her ice cream? Muñoz is a smart enough writer that I’m convinced he’s kidding, in the Randy Newman sense, and that “Préstamela a Mí” is pointing and laughing at the many paternalistic manos surrounding Calibre on the radio. I mean, just this week you’ve got Gerardo Ortiz offering “Millones de Besos” instead of, you know, talking; Chuy Lizarraga kicking himself for succumbing to the kisses of a devious mujer; and the loathsome Banda MS wondering why all those kisses weren’t enough to make her stay. I can only imagine the stifling fog of their breath-sprayed BS, and I’d like to think Calibre points and laughs a way through it.

¡Nuevo! (starring Joss Favela, Remmy Valenzuela, y más)

tapatias

Songwriter José Alberto Inzunza — aka Joss Favela — has probably made more money than any of the other kids from Código F.A.M.A. Season 2, the TV talent show where he finished seventh in 2004. The winners of Season 2 went on to star in Misión S.O.S., a novela that featured the following novel plot points:

[T]he neighbors of Buenaventura have even darker futures, as they are in danger of losing their homes, their school and much more, because the evil old Severiano plans to tear down the neighborhood and build an enormous shopping mall in its place. To accomplish his plan, Severiano is willing to resort to any means, and will provoke a series of disasters to drive the inhabitants away.

The decrepit old theater is the children’s favorite spot, and this is where they meet a mysterious little man who will change their lives and the fate of Buenaventura forever. Chaneque, a friendly elf, is a magical being who is on an important mission: to save his elf-world from destruction.

Yes yes, Shakespeare plots sound ridiculous when you describe them, too, although I’m not sure El Bardo ever resorted to the ol’ “save the theater before the evil capitalist tears it down” gambit. The point is, Misión only ran for a season, so I’m guessing its actors aren’t earning much in residuals. (If that’s how things work in Méxican TV.) Joss “Seventh Place” Favela, though, became a songwriter who scored massive hits. “Te Hubieras Ido Antes,” Favela’s favorite because it “crossed genres and borders” and therefore made him lots of money, had the good fortune to be sung by the continent’s best voice, Julión Álvarez; “¿Por Qué Terminamos?” landed with Gerardo Ortiz, who also got his start singing on Código F.A.M.A., where he looked exactly the same as he does now — only shorter and more elfen.

joss favelaFavela just released his solo debut album, Hecho a Mano (Sony). He sings with a fine quartet — accordion, tuba, bajo sexto, drums — whose personnel NorteñoBlog is still trying to track down. As you’d expect from this born romantic balladeer, the melodies are strong and soaring. As you might not expect, the band and their leader sometimes have great fun crushing lovelorn sentiments into a fine dust. For example, the standout “No Vuelvas a Llamarme” is a days-of-the-week song like Craig David’s “7 Days,” but it’s also a furious rolling waltz where Favela urges his ex not to call him, because he always has something better to do. (“Believe it or not, I go to Mass on Sundays” — and if you’ve ever tried to use your phone inside a cathedral, you know the reception sucks and the wi-fi’s probably spotty.) The well-rehearsed band has their stop-start game down cold, and the rhythm section’s licks fly nonstop like the popcorn Favela enjoys at those Wednesday double features he claims to never miss. Pick to Click!

Continue reading “¡Nuevo! (starring Joss Favela, Remmy Valenzuela, y más)”

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