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Julión Álvarez

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”

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Yo Quiero Tu… ¿Grammy?

ramon ayala grammy

The Grammy category with the weirdest name — Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano) — is especially bizarre this year.

It is the longstanding position of NorteñoBlog that the Grammys have no idea what to do with Mexican music, especially norteño. This shouldn’t be the case. As Chris Willman reported last year, every Grammy genre, including Latin, has a “blue ribbon panel” of 15-18 industry insiders tasked with whittling long lists of vote-getting albums into the final lists of nominees. These panels are diverse groups of music professionals, which may explain why the nominees for Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano) tend to reward repeat winners’ often middling work, or tastefully dull ranchera albums nobody heard. The industry professionals who nominate Grammys want to reward music that reflects their industry’s professionalism. El Komander probably doesn’t fit the bill.

Usually the results resemble the overall Album of the Year category in 1994, when Tony Bennett’s Unplugged beat out The Three Tenors in Concert 1994, Eric Clapton’s blues tribute From the Cradle, Bonnie Raitt’s 3rd straight AOTY nom, Longing in Their Hearts, and Seal’s 2nd album. Those nominees were so lame they sparked a “revolt” and reforms, partly because they completely omitted Hole’s Live Through This.(!)

aida cuevasSo this year the Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano) category includes a couple such expected nominees: a pretty good album by a perennial nominee, Banda El Recodo’s Ayer y Hoy (Fonovisa) — like happy families, all Band El Recodo albums are alike — and the boring “unplugged” Arrieros Somos — Sesiones Acusticas (Cuevas), by ranchera legend Aida Cuevas, whose far livelier Juan Gabriel tribute album missed the cutoff date. But then, the category takes a turn for the strange.

ni diabloThe man with the continent’s best voice, Julión Álvarez, is nominated for Ni Diablo Ni Santo (Fonovisa). In a typical year, you’d shrug. But not this year! That’s because Julión Álvarez, like certain terrorists and North Korean businesses, is SANCTIONED by the U.S. Treasury, meaning his assets are blocked and Americans can’t do business with him. He’s vanished from streaming services and he can’t tour El Norte. Listening to his illegally uploaded, mostly romantic, Grammy nominated album on YouTube is now an ACT OF POLITICAL RESISTANCE, or something. (It’s OK, not his best.) #FreeJulionAlvarez!

alex campos momentosThe other solo male nominee, Alex Campos, isn’t even Mexican! He’s a Colombian singer who wins Dove Awards and Latin Grammys for Christian music. (Here he is in 2012, singing “Dios Es Pederoso” with Hillsong Global Project Español.) His album Momentos (Sony) is a Christian mariachi album. Granted, it’s way more entertaining than Christian Nodal’s surprisingly un-nominated “mariacheño” debut, but also way less representative of the genre — not to mention less good than Alicia Villarreal’s ranchera pop La Villarreal.

zapateando en el norteAnd finally, there’s Azteca Records’ multi-artist compilation Zapateando en el Norte, the most bizarre nominee of all. It’s a compilation of puro sax bands from Chihuahua and Zacatecas, a longstanding interest of the Blog’s readership. Puro sax is a wonderful norteño subgenre all its own. Bands play bouncy sax/accordion polkas and sing often bereft, emo lyrics, and their popularity is impervious to larger regional Mexican trends.

Puro sax bands also play a lot of huapangos, largely instrumental tunes that contrast triple and duple rhythms — they’re all in fast 6/8 time — and are used for Mexican folk dancing. (“Zapateados,” these dances are called more generally; you stomp your feet a lot.) Huapangos make for spritely mid-album or mid-set novelties. As the Blog discovered last summer, more and more online playlists of huapangos have been appearing, so Azteca owner Humberto Novoa had his bands cut a bunch of huapangos for this comp.

Now remember, whoever nominates Mexican albums seems pretty oblivious to factors like hipness, relevance, and commercial performance. We can argue all day about whether that’s a good thing or not; for the Grammys in general, it’s a core existential issue. Anyway, this year, Azteca’s flagship puro sax band, the twice-nominated La Maquinaria Norteña, who stand astride the puro sax genre like Saxophone Colossi, missed the eligibility date with their own album, Por Obvias Razones. So in a sense, this album occupies their spot…

… which means the fifth nominee for Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano) is a compilation of a subgenre (huapangos) of a subgenre (puro sax) of a subgenre (norteño) of an industry format (regional Mexican). (Including Tejano.)

It’d be like the Best Rap Album nomination going to a compilation of Southern rap Mama songs, or something. Which, btw, the Blog would totally endorse.

But this is where the blue ribbon panel’s haplessness pays off! Give or take the Banda El Recodo album, Zapateando en el Norte is the best thing in this category. It’s a nonstop zapateado fiesta, with sax and accordion banging out their riffs over amazingly capable rhythm sections. I’d vote for it, anyway. Although if Gerardo Ortiz had been nominated as he should have been, it’d be a different story.

Oh yeah, one more bit of Grammy hilarity. Guess which subgenre goes completely unrepresented among these Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano) nominees? As it has every year since the category’s 2012 inception?

TEJANO.

Julión Álvarez’s Frozen Assets and the U.S. Treasury’s Overheated Rhetoric

alvarez press conference

NorteñoBlog top commenter Eric encourages me to address the current legal and financial travails of the continent’s best voice, Julión Álvarez. Challenge extended! If, as Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said, “anybody with a computer can be a journalist,” her operative word remains “can.” Speaking from personal experience, most of us “computer havers” maintain such extensive to-do lists of huapango videos and jazz podcasts that important stories can fall between the keys. But I’ll give it a go.

In 2007, after singing with Banda MS for three years, 24-year-old Álvarez went solo. With a drumless, tuba-bottomed trio, he released his first album Corazón Mágico under the name Julión Álvarez y Su Norteño Banda. Since then he’s remained as prolific and consistent as Electric Six or someone, releasing a studio album almost every year — including the best album of 2014, Soy Lo Que Quiero…Indispensable — along with several live albums and collections. He’s grown into the biggest solo norteño star who’s not named Gerardo Ortiz, reliably scoring romantic radio hits in two countries, plus mentoring young singers and judging La Voz… México. Until his recent troubles hit, he was set to judge the latest season of La Voz Kids, too. In 2015 he was Spotify’s most-streamed artist in Mexico.

Along the way, Álvarez started operating some music-related businesses. Germane to our story, his name is on the paperwork for the company that produces his concerts, Noryban Productions; a small ticketing agency, Ticket Boleto; and his publisher, JCAM Editora Musical, “JCAM” being the initials of his birth name, Julio Cesar Alvarez Montelongo. Also along the way, he met a friendly businessman named Raul Flores Hernandez. “If you met him [Flores Hernandez], you’d probably like him,” says one former official of the U.S. DEA. A lot of people liked Flores Hernandez, including fútbol star Rafael Marquez, who also now finds himself in the shit.

Unbeknownst to these innocents (or so they claim), Flores Hernandez also ran a cocaine cartel. Business Insider describes how he operated independently of the big, more violent cartels, while also skillfully mediating between them. In March, he was indicted in D.C. and California for trafficking and money laundering; he was then arrested in Jalisco in July. Shortly after that, on August 9, the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) updated its “Specially Designated Nationals” (SDN) List, the registry of people it prevents U.S. citizens from doing business with. Of 21 Mexican citizens and 42 companies, the two biggest names were Rafael Marquez and Julión Álvarez, along with those three Álvarez-owned companies listed earlier. The charge was money laundering.

Money laundering is, of course, a time-honored aspect of the music industry, which until recently has been lathered in obscene amounts of money. Hilarious stories abound, inovolving everyone from Australian promoter Andrew McManus to Spanish singer Isabel Pantoja to American rap exec Irv Gotti. (“Mr. Gotti’s friend, Kenneth McGriff, known as Supreme on the streets of Queens… would simply send bags of cash to Mr. Gotti’s label, Murder Inc.”) The Treasury contends Álvarez and the others have “held assets” on Flores Hernandez’s behalf, and that’s why they’ve canceled Álvarez’s visa, frozen all his U.S. assets, and forbidden Americans from doing business with him. Seriously — try finding his music on U.S. Spotify any more. (Eric adds, “His music was removed from my iTunes account…”)

After the accusation of laundering has come the inevitable spin cycle. Álvarez admits he met Flores Hernandez years ago, at a club in Guadalajara, but thought the narco was a concert promoter. He denies they ever did business together. Whether his assets will ever thaw remains a cold, delicate question. (A Mexican judge recently ordered Marquez’s assets unfrozen, but that was before the world discovered Marquez’s madre once bought a substantial hunk of property with Flores Hernandez. Ay-yi-yi.) Álvarez continues to play concerts in Mexico, but the loss of U.S. streaming and touring revenue has gotta hurt him financially.

As NorteñoBlog tries to iron out this story’s wrinkles, my feelings are a wash. (OK, I’ll stop now.) On the one hand, I can totally believe that Álvarez, as an inexperienced businessman, unwittingly laundered money for a narco, especially given how closely the Mexican cartel world associates with the Mexican music world. Similar things have happened all over the world, so why not in Mexico too? Maybe Álvarez even knew what he was doing. Given the sad history of other Mexican singers who, wittingly or not, got too close to the cartels and were shot for their trouble, give Álvarez this: if frozen U.S. assets are his stiffest penalty, his fate could be infinitely worse.

On the other hand, I could also believe our over-zealous Administration is making an example of some famous Mexicans by overstating the dastardly nature of some trumped-up “crimes.” And I’d still believe that, even if this operation began under the Obama regime. For American politicians, the spectre of dark skinned people selling us drugs is an irresistible excuse to act tough, rather than effectively. Our Treasury Department is sure making a point of crowing: “This action marks the largest single Kingpin Act action against a Mexican drug cartel network that OFAC has designated.” And some of the coverage given this story has been predictably awful, with Breitbart’s Warehouse of Questionable Capitalization (no link) sanctimoniously calling Álvarez a “Narco-Music Superstar,” “known for praising the drug trafficking lifestyle in his music.” Bullshit. If they’d paid attention to Álvarez at all before turning his name into racist clickbait, the computer-havers at Breitbart would know that, while the singer excels at corridos and romantic music, he’s far better known for the latter. Then they’d publish a list of white singers they love who have praised the drug consumption lifestyle in their music, and they’d ask themselves whether the two repertoires are in any way linked.

I don’t hold out hope.

Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 10/24/17

enigma septima

“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”

La Impersistencia de la Memoria (Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 5/22/17)

chayinRubiotopradio

Forgetting has a long and proud history in pop music, from Elvis’s “I Forgot to Remember to Forget,” to Shakira chirping “Can’t Remember to Forget You,” to Robin Thicke having no idea how he wrote “Blurred Lines.” In country music alone, NorteñoBlog has forgotten hundreds of songs about singers’ misguided attempts to grapple with the past by flooding their temporal lobes with alcohol. So the recent appearance of four or five(!) simultaneous Mexican hits about forgetfulness doesn’t necessitate much more than an exclamation point. Yet here we go…

(Treat the blog nice, or I’ll remember to turn this into a full-fledged thinkpiece about how banda forgetfulness channels Paz’s Dialectic of Solitude or some shit.)

Banda El Recodo De Cruz Lizarraga - Me Prometí OlvidarteFirst up! The oldest of the four comes from the venerable Banda El Recodo, doing Edgar Barrera and Martin Castro’s midtempo waltz “Me Prometí Olvidarte.” Turns out that, after we collectively cheated on Banda El Recodo and destroyed their collective heart into a thousand pieces, they promised to forget us. Guess how that worked out. They forgot us so thoroughly they commissioned a song about how thoroughly they forgot us! I blame our world class gams. This song is mid-tier Recodo, fairly trad with the polished spit sheen of expert arranging and recording. But our gams demand more than mere professional competence, do they not? NO VALE LA PENA

Julión Álvarez Y Su Norteño Banda - Esta Noche Se Me Olvida-300x300Next oldest is from the man blessed with the continent’s best voice, Julión Álvarez, whose “Esta Noche Se Me Olvida” is a slow banda ballad from Calibre 50’s Edén Muñoz and relative newcomer Gussy Lau. You, faithless lover, have driven Álvarez to drink, that he might forget your kisses. Why would you choke that beautiful scratchy warble on alcohol and tears? The video portrays our hero playing to throngs of adoring fans at an outdoor concert, cementing his status as the biggest norteño star outside Gerardo Ortiz, but this middling ballad isn’t getting me excited for Álvarez’s forthcoming album, Ni Diablo, Ni Santo, due out Friday. NO VALE LA PENA.

arrolladoraWe turn to our next victims of love’s cruel dementia, La Arrolladora Banda, who know how to kick out the slow jams, some of which are really good. Continue reading “La Impersistencia de la Memoria (Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 5/22/17)”

Desfile de Éxitos 11/5/16

el-bebeto-muscle

In the month that NorteñoBlog has been on involuntary sabbatical (short story: a mind-scrambling vortex of appointments and work stuff leavened by a beloved houseguest and foster kittens and APPLE PICKING!!!), Billboard‘s Latin charts have gone through Ozzy-level changes. For one thing, there’s a new #1: Daddy Yankee‘s one-take tossed-off “Shaky Shaky,” long a favorite of the blog, has turned into a viral sensation and received a final boost from a remix. For his part, Sr. Yankee aims to please. He tells Billboard, “The fans are already requesting a new track based on the ‘hula hoop’ hook from the remix, which we are going to release in the near future.” I think I speak for Yankee’s entire fan base when I say, “That’s not exactly what we meant, but OK!” The world needs more of two things: 1) answer songs, and 2) songs that become hits by accident. Although now that I think about it, the one precludes the other…

In other news, two death bumps have stopped bumping: the recent, short-lived Juan Gabriel bump, which began the week after the Mexican legend shuffled off to the liberally mascaraed land of amor eterno; and the longer-lived Ariel Camacho bump, which had been bumping for more than a year after the young guitarist’s death, spawning the ancillary Los Plebes del Rancho wave. All of Gabriel’s songs have dropped off the chart — see the impressive list down below in the “¡Adios!” section — and Los Plebes are down to one song, “No Lo Hice Bien,” that began as an internet phenomenon and has now transitioned to a radio hit.

ulices-chaidez-albumBut Camacho’s not totally gone — his fleet fingers have left their prints all over radio and internet. You can hear his influence in the teenaged Sierreño-with-tuba trio Ulices Chaidez y Sus Plebes — hmmm, wonder where they got that name — who were quickly picked up by Camacho’s label DEL Records. To further confuse or simplify matters, Los Plebes’ hotshot tubist Omar Burgos is now one of Chaidez’s Plebes. Chaidez, Burgos, and rhythm guitarist Mario Arredondo are charting with two songs: the machete-fetishizing “Andamos en el Ruedo,” a previous Pick to Click, and the decent lovey dovey ballad “Porque Me Enamore.” Like Camacho, Chaidez balances his gangster boasts with heartfelt romantic squints; also like Camacho, the gangster boasts are way more fun. Both songs appear on Chaidez’s debut album Andamos en el Ruedo, which NorteñoBlog totally needs to hear.

Down at #20 on the Regional Mexican airplay chart we find the no-longer-teenaged El Bebeto also hopping a ride aboard the Sierreño-with-tuba rickshaw. When NorteñoBlog last caught up with El Bebeto, who in real life is a grown man, it was to admire his norteño whiskey commercial “Etiqueta Azul,” which has been getting play on Mexican radio. Bebeto’s U.S. hit is the equally good “Cómo Olvidarte,” which is romantic drivel but doesn’t get all fussy about it. Tuba and requinto sound like they’re getting paid scale for a job well done, and Bebeto and his high harmony singer emote just as much as is necessary. A very easy listening Pick to Click:

el-bebeto-no-que-noBoth songs appear on Bebeto’s new album No Que No (Banda y Tololoche) (Disa), whose cover depicts our wary knight scowling through his emotional armor, riding across the desert with a fine Arab charger. Singular excursions aside, it’s a pretty straightforward banda pop album, and it may prove to be El Bebeto’s best since his 2011 debut. VALE LA PENA at least.

Other things to note:

The continent’s best singer Julión Álvarez continues his slide into arena showbiz stodge with a wordy Joss Favela number, “Afuera Esta Lloviendo”;

the continent’s hardest working singles artist El Komander hits with “El Mexico Americano,” one of his best new tunes (and previous P2C);

regulo-caro-en-estosand Regulo Caro, one of the people on the continent most resembling a cousin of Gerardo Ortiz, is back with the title song of his new album En Estos Dias (DEL), which NorteñoBlog totally needs to hear. The song is a slow, long reflection on prison life that sounds like it was written and recorded in real prison time. As I listened I found myself drawing involuntary hashmarks on the wall.

These are the top 50 Hot Latin Songs and top 20 Regional Mexican Songs, courtesy Billboard, as published November 5.

1. “Shaky Shaky” – Daddy Yankee
2. “Hasta El Amanecer” – Nicky Jam (41 weeks!)
3. “Duele El Corazón” – Enrique Iglesias ft. Wisin
4. “La Bicicleta” – Carlos Vives & Shakira
5. “Otra Vez” – Zion & Lennox ft. J Balvin
6. “Chillax” – Farruko ft. Ky-Mani Marley
7. “Safari” – J Balvin ft. Pharrell Williams, BIA & Sky
8. “Bailar” – Deorro ft. Elvis Crespo
9. “Vente Pa’ Ca” – Ricky Martin ft. Maluma
10. “Tengo Que Colgar” – Banda MS (#2 RegMex)

11. “Nunca Me Olvides” – Yandel
12. “La Carretera” – Prince Royce
13. “Amor del Bueno” – Calibre 50 (#3 RegMex)
14. “Ya Me Enteré” – Reik
15. “Me Vas a Extrañar” – Banda MS (#1 RegMex)
16. “Bobo” – J Balvin
17. “Te Dirán” – La Adictiva Banda (#5 RegMex)
18. “Fuego” – Juanes
19. “De Pies a Cabeza” – Maná & Nicky Jam
20. “Yo Si Me Enamoré” – La Séptima Banda (#1 RegMex)

21. “Sin Contrato” – Maluma ft. Fifth Harmony
22. “Quien Te Entiende” – Crecer German (#12 RegMex)
23. “Si No Te Quiere” – Ozuna ft. Arcangel & Farruko
24. “En Estos Dias” – Regulo Caro (#11 RegMex)
25. “Vacaciones” – Wisin
26. “Dile Que Tu Me Quieres” – Ozuna
27. “Sola” – Becky G
28. “Cuatro Babys” – Maluma ft. Bryant Myers x Noriel x Juhn
29. “Afuera Esta Lloviendo” (#10 RegMex) – Julión Álvarez y su Norteño Banda
30. “Deja Que Te Bese” – Alejandro Sanz ft. Marc Anthony

31. “Yo Sí Te Amé” – Arrolladora (#6 RegMex)
32. “Pa’ Que Me Invitan” – Jencarlos ft. Charly Black
33. “Cómo Te Llamas” – La Trakalosa de Monterrey (#7 RegMex)
34. “No Es Normal” – Cheyo Carrillo (#8 RegMex)
35. “Si Ella Quisiera” – Justin Quiles
36. “Tú No Vive Así” – Mambo Kingz & DJ Luian presenta Arcangel x Bad Bunny
37. “Traicionera” – Sebastián Yatra
38. “Quisiera” – CNCO
39. “Andamos en el Ruedo” – Ulices Chaidez y Sus Plebes
40. “Como Sanar” – Frank Reyes

41. “Tú y Yo” – Tommy Torres ft. Daddy Yankee
42. “Amorcito Enfermito” – Hector Acosta “El Torito”
43. “¿Desde Cuándo No Me Quieres?” – Banda Carnaval (#8 RegMex)
44. “Porque Me Enamoré” – Ulices Chaidez y Sus Plebes
45. “Como No Queriendo” – Fidel Rueda
46. “Reggaeton Lento (Bailemos)” – CNCO
47. “Take It Off” – Lil Jon ft. Yandel & Becky G
48. “Acércate” – De La Ghetto
49. “El México Americano” – El Komander (#14 RegMex)
50. “Todo Es Diferente” – La Maquinaria Norteña (#12 RegMex)

¡Adios!
“Querida” – Juan Gabriel
“Hasta Que Te Conocí” – Juan Gabriel
“Así Fue” – Juan Gabriel
“Yo Te Recuerdo” – Juan Gabriel ft. Marc Anthony
“Abrazame Muy Fuerte” – Juan Gabriel
“Amor Eterno” – Juan Gabriel
“El Noa Noa” – Juan Gabriel
“La Frontera” – Juan Gabriel ft. Julión Álvarez & J Balvin
“Te Quise Olvidar” – Juan Gabriel ft. Alejandro Fernandez
“Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” – Juan Gabriel
“Ay Mi Dios” – IAmChino ft. Pitbull, Yandel & Chacal
“El Perdedor” – Maluma
“Algo Contigo” – Gente de Zona
“Imaginar” – Victor Manuelle and Yandel
“A Donde Voy” – Cosculluela ft. Daddy Yankee
“Vine a Decir” – Christian Daniel ft. Jerry Rivera
“Ella Y Yo” – Pepe Quintana ft. Farruko, Anuel AA, Tempo, Almighty, and Bryant Myers

—————–

4. “No Lo Hice Bien” – Los Plebes Del Rancho de Ariel Camacho
9. “Me Está Gustando” – Banda Los Recoditos

13. “Cicatriiices” – Regulo Caro
15. “Fuiste Mia” – Gerardo Ortiz
16. “A Ver a Que Horas” – Banda Carnaval
17. “Renunciacion” – Los Huracanes Del Norte
18. “Me Estorbas” – Pesado
19. “No Me Vas a Convencer” – Conjunto Primavera ft. Antonio Meléndez
20. “Cómo Olvidarte” – El Bebeto

¡Adios!
“Que Caro Estoy Pagando” – Los Plebes del Rancho de Ariel Camacho
“Como Quiera Sigo Vivo” – Los Rieleros del Norte
“A Los 18” – Kevin Ortiz ft. Beto Vega
“Me Gustas” – El Coyote y Su Banda
“Espero Con Ansias” – Remmy Valenzuela
“Si No Es Contigo” – Banda El Recodo
“Quiéreme (Ámame)” – Intocable (#13 RegMex)
“Todo o Nada” – Alfredo Olivas (#12 RegMex)
“Me Va a Pesar” – Arrolladora (#4 RegMex)

Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 7/26/16

Pablo Montero (Photo by Rodrigo Varela/WireImage)
Pablo Montero (Photo by Rodrigo Varela/WireImage)

Three so-so tunes replace three other so-so tunes on the Mexican radio chart this week — although to be honest, given the choice of Banda MS‘s new nondescript quiet storm “Tengo Que Colgar” or “¿Por Qué Me Habrás Besado?”, the duet by Edith Márquez and Julión Álvarez now leaving the chart, I’d choose the latter in a second. It’s a little showbizzy, but hearing those two voices locked in a tremulous battle for command atop a dancing tuba, ruthlessly interrogating one another’s kissing choices, I fear I’ve been underrating it. Sorry to see you go, Edith and Julión, you old limón labios! And what the heck, Pick to Click! This gesture may be too little too late, a bit like Senator Mark Kirk declining to endorse Donald Trump for president, but at least it’ll assuage my guilt.

Also new and nondescript is veteran ranchero de amor Pablo Montero (speaking of charros), at #15 with the promotional tie-in single to his real-life divorce, “Tú No Eres.” Montero hit the novela and music scenes back in the early years of this century, piercing souls with his smoldering gaze and equally smoldering voice. Sometimes mentioned alongside his fellow second-generation romantics Alejandro Fernández and Pepe Aguilar, his music career never hit the same heights as theirs, though he did work with the prolific producer and writer Rudy Pérez. His biggest hit was one such collaboration, 2002’s “Hay Otra En Tu Lugar,” which you’ll find either impossibly lovely or impossibly cheesy, depending on which stage of grief you occupy. Later in 2002 Billboard mentioned Montero had collaborated with Los Twiins, the California producers who’ve shaped the sounds of 21st Century banda and corridos as much as anyone, but I can’t figure out whether Montero released any music from those sessions.

Over on the “Spins” chart — which means it’s getting played by DJs a bunch, but not to big radio audiences yet — the tuba sextet Impacto Sinaloense scores with the romantic boast “Rompimos las Reglas”. It seems Impacto and their mujer are hooking up in covert fashion whenever and wherever circumstances will allow. Singer Alex Morales is understandably excited about this, leading his voice to fly free of the beat on the word “adrenalina,” a chorus hook so notable the band repeats the chorus the second time through — in a genre committed to brevity, it’s a lavish musical gesture. Although, like Impacto’s illicit hookups, the song still lasts less than three minutes. Continue reading “Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 7/26/16”

NorteñoBlog’s Top Singles of 2016: Abril – Junio

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Last time out, NorteñoBlog counted six chart hits among the quarter’s best. This quarter we’re down to three, which doesn’t necessarily mean the radio has turned into a wasteland — after all, part of the thrill of radio is hearing a song you never much cared for, like Gerardo Ortiz’s “Fuiste Mia,” suddenly sound really good in the company of entirely dissimilar songs. Not that you’ll find “Fuiste Mia” below. But who knows, I may relent before the year is out.

No, all this means is that norteño and banda music have thriving independent scenes, geared more toward online video than terrestrial radio — see the tiny labels and self-releases promoted by Beto Sierra, whose YouTube clients make up a good portion of this list. In terms of their commercial outlook, bands like Máximo Grado and Los Rodriguez don’t resemble the reactionary ’80s heyday of “indie rock” so much as the early rock heyday of the ’50s and ’60s, when bands simply wanted to get paid to rock out, whether they recorded for Excello or Sun or Decca or RCA. Today’s world of online promotion means it’s easier for musicians of all genres to get heard, though not necessarily to get paid. But the barriers between majors and indies seem more porous in Mexican regional music than they do in Anglo pop and rock. Indie artists like Fidel Rueda and Los Inquietos regularly get played on mainstream radio; major and indie bands record the same corridos, and sometimes the same love songs. Everyone tours the same venues relentlessly. That’s not to say everyone is equal. Indie label acts are routinely priced out of performing on the glamorous award show circuit, and I’m guessing major label artists have first pick of surefire radio hits by Luciano Luna and Horacio Palencia. NorteñoBlog needs to research this more, but in Mexican regional music, the indie-major borderline isn’t drawn philosophically or aesthetically so much as with scrap and hustle and practicality: Who’s got the money? Who’s got the chops? How do we use our chops to get more money?

Of course, 10 years from now, when Ortiz and Julión Álvarez have catalogs full of dull 20-track prestige albums, who knows? Boredom has a way of shaking up philosophies and aesthetics.

1. Banda Renovación“Los Ninis” (Talento Lider)
Continue reading “NorteñoBlog’s Top Singles of 2016: Abril – Junio”

Desfile de Éxitos 5/21/16

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It’d be hard to top last week’s spate of three-count-’em-three norteño debuts on the Hot Latin chart, including new songs from Arrolladora (this week at #28), Los Gfez (#36), and Hijos de Barrón (#47). But if you enjoy boring banda ballads, Norteñoblog has just the songs for you!

At #29, the week’s highest debut of any genre comes from Banda MS and their song “Me Vas a Extrañar,” which has been waltzing its sad tale of love gone wrong across Mexico for a couple weeks. Banda MS continues to be wildly, inexplicably popular. Their earlier hit “Solo Con Verte” just notched its 26th week on the U.S. Hot Latin chart, with no sign of slowing down: it’s still at #4, and this week it boasts the biggest gains in streams and digital sales. After half a year! I mean, as boring banda ballads go, “Solo Con Verte” is decent, but that’s sort of like calling John Kasich the standout candidate in the most recent Republican presidential primary. The field was not exactly an embarrassment of riches. (Other kinds of embarrassment, definitely.) But this comparison might be inapposite anyway, because John Kasich’s YouTube numbers are way below Banda MS’s.

At #48, the second banda debut is the title waltz from Recoditos’ latest album Me Está Gustando. Sung by Samuel Sarmiento, its video features not one but two inappropriate workplace romances and the band’s other lead vocalist, Luis Angel Franco, wearing a construction helmet. Sharpen those slash fiction pencils!

The debuts on the Regional Mexican radio chart are a little better. Continue reading “Desfile de Éxitos 5/21/16”

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