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Julión Álvarez

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.

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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

chiquis-rivera-624x351

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

Daddy-Yankee-Cortada1

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”

¡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)”

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”

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