NorteñoBlog returned from Easter break to a special treat — and no, I’m not talking about the controversial, NSPT “Fuiste Mia” video where Gerardo Ortiz catches his mujer with another dude, shoots the dude, helps said mujer into the trunk of his car, and then lights the car on fire. If you’re thinking, “That sounds like a 15-year-old Eminem song” — you’re right! It’s basically the plot of “Kim” (and, to a lesser extent, “Stan”), only none of that drama actually occurs in the lyrics of “Fuiste Mia,” itself an anodyne but pretty obsession anthem. This video raises complex moral questions. Is depicting femicide in a music video more arbitrary, and therefore less defensible, than depicting the same crime in song? Is the “Fuiste Mia” video less hypocritical, and therefore more defensible, than that Séptima video where the singer sells his cheating mujer into slavery, only to end with a Muy Especial message against “la trata de blancas”? NorteñoBlog will consult with our team of ethicists and get back to you approximately, oh, never.
You see, I’m too excited about this other treat: Billboard has expanded its website’s Hot Latin Songs chart from 25 songs to 50 songs! (I’m pretty sure it’s always 50 songs long in the magazine.) It’s too soon to tell whether this is a one-week oversight, a permanent change, or a joyful seasonal rite meant to commemorate the 50 days of Eastertide feasting. One thing I can tell: you’re not as excited as I am. Here’s why you should be.
Welcome to the Songwriters’ Showcase! In this exciting feature, NorteñoBlog attempts to bring interest to the boring love songs on the Mexican radio chart by pointing out who wrote the boring love songs! Eventually I lose interest in that too! (Please note: some non-boring songs also lie ahead.)
At number 10, Diego Herrera adds lush guitar to a banda ballad, or maybe vice versa, and pledges his fidelity and jealousy to a mujer he claims is a good kisser. The song’s by Joss Favela and Luciano Luna, the (collective?) Diane Warren of norteño music, and if you’ve heard one of their love songs you’ve heard “Si Te Enamoras De Mi,” but the guitar makes some difference.
Case in point: Banda El Recodo’s at number 6 with another Favela/Luna love song, “Si No Es Contigo.” (Watch for my forthcoming pamphlet on the role of fate and potential realities in the Favela/Luna songbook.) Even though Recodo’s tune is skippier than Herrera’s, you can easily imagine them slowing it down and turning it into a waltz. While we’re talking about Recodo, NorteñoBlog would like to congratulate them on their Grammy nomination in the category Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano). Alternate parenthetical: (Stop Complaining, Noisy Tejano Voting Bloc). Continue reading “Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 12/18/15”→
Here’s the extent of what NorteñoBlog knows about Los Hermanos Madero: They’re a five-piece family norteño band from Culiacán, playing an instantly likable mix of corridos and love songs, and their lineup includes two baby-faced youngsters, Ivan (accordion and high harmonies) and new-ish addition Aldrich (bass). Despite my assignations, they switch off instruments like The Band — one album cover has Ivan holding a bajo sexto, and in this video Aldrich plays the bajo sexto. Sometimes they use a tololoche (stand-up bass) for the bass line, a point of pride. They just released their fourth likably-photoshopped album, Entre Gente De Arranque (Cosalteco/Hyphy). It contains 24 songs and gets a bit samey; more entertaining is this video of Ivan, Aldrich, and the older Jose Luis (I think) previewing the album. Continue reading “¡Nuevo! (starring Banda Maguey, Los Intocables, y más)”→
Since Billboard‘s Latin charts tend to turn over slower than car engines during Chicago winters, the scene doesn’t look much different than it did two weeks ago. All titles in the Top 10 remain the same, with more than half of them occupying the exact same positions. The presidential primary campaign chart tenure of King Romeo’s indecent proposal has reached 118 weeks, and there are only six new songs, four on the big chart and two on the Regional Mexican airplay chart. Plus — and this makes NorteñoBlog howl hot tears of pain — both of Pitbull’s songs, “El Taxi” and “Baddest Girl In Town,” have left the Top 25. Beep beep, sir; beep beep.
But! As you know, NorteñoBlog has a bit of a thing for the late Ariel Camacho, whose “Te Metiste” is still sitting pretty at #7 Hot Latin without placing on the Regional Mexican chart, meaning people continue streaming and/or downloading the heck out of it. (Probably streaming.) Other songs in this predicament: Arrolladora’s “Confesión” and Recodos’ “Mi Vicio Más Grande,” both of which boast expensive-looking novela-lite videos.
It’s not quite our one-year anniversary — that’ll come next week — but NorteñoBlog has been at this funny business for 51 weeks and in all that time, Billboard‘s Latin charts have always contained a song by either Gerardo Ortiz or El Komander. UNTIL NOW. Well, really until two weeks ago, when Komander’s “Malditas Ganas” dropped off the chart. “Malditas Ganas” entered the chart back in May, hi-fiving Ortiz’s “Eres Una Niña” as it sauntered out and paving the way for Ortiz’s “El Cholo” a week or three later. (NorteñoBlog doesn’t need your fancy “fact checkers.”) And now “Ganas” and “Cholo” are both gone, and NB’s heart is empty, and… ooh, what’s that! New Chuy Lizárraga!
Please note: it’s entirely possible that both Banda MS and Julión Álvarez have been on the charts the entire length of the NB’s existence, much like well-known Methuselan beard “Propuesta Indecente” (116 WEEKS!), but frankly, that last bit of data gathering has plum tuckered me out and I would like to listen to some songs now.
The Hot Latin Top 10 is a complete reshuffle of a month ago. (NOBODY. EVER. GOES. IN. and NOBODY. EVER. COMES. OUT.) So we’ll just skip down to #11, where Bomba Estéreo have repurposed their excellent single “Fiesta” to include a rap by new Bomba Estéreo superfan Will Smith. This isn’t Smith’s first visit to the Latin charts: “Men In Black,” “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It,” and “Wild Wild West” were all monster hits that received Latin airplay and broke the Hot Latin top 40 back when the Hot Latin chart allowed for such things. (Weirdly, “Miami” doesn’t seem to have received the same bienvenido.) This may, however, be the first time someone has tried to rhyme “mamacita” with “beer-a.” Let’s hope it’s the last. Smith’s other intriguing line is this odd bit of post-coital pride: “Woke up behind her/ No gas in me, I’m a Tesla.” Yo homes, smell you later! Continue reading “Desfile de Éxitos 10/24/15”→
It is the longstanding position of NorteñoBlog that the puro sax styles of Chihuahua and Zacatecas would improve with the addition of more terrible “sax” puns in the titles. This week the máquinas de saxo in La Maquinaria Norteña drop their eighth (I think) album, Ya Dime Adiós (Azteca/Fonovisa) (alternate title: Break Up Saxo), from whence comes their top 10 airplay hit “Para Qué Amarte.” Maquinaria hail from both Chihuahua AND Zacatecas, doubling their potential fan base, and they’re solid and reliable polkaderos with a really good logo. On first listen, though, this album isn’t saxing it up for me like the next one:
The puro Zacatecans in La Inquietud Norteña venture into minor key territory for the title single to their latest album, Dimelo (AGLive) (alt title: Vamos a Hablar Sobre el Saxo). Singer Hugo Avellaneda wails high and clear, sax and accordion skate across the song with as little apparent effort as spinning Olympians, and whoever’s playing the polka bass gets his R&B licks in. Pick to Click!
A crowded field of contenders met this week, selling themselves to a fickle public by trying to outshout their rivals. As they took their places on the public stage, arranged according to their polling numbers, some sported relatively fresh faces while others had clearly been here before. Broadcast to the masses, they broached the familiar topics of family values and the plight of the working class. They touted their hardscrabble origins and titanic work ethics. One challenger had amassed unimaginable wealth and made certain everyone in the audience knew it. The contenders spared no expense, and certainly no words, in their attempt to move one step closer to claiming the world’s most powerful and coveted title.
I refer, of course, to NorteñoBlog’s prestigious Pick to Click.
There are eight new songs, to be exact, since the last time we checked the Mexican radio charts five weeks ago. I’m afraid I can’t assign their singers one-to-one correspondence with the… unique field of candidates seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. president. Although both groups contain mostly men — in this thought experiment, the part of Carly Fiorina will be played by Los Horóscopos — the Mexican radio stars are not, so far as I can tell, frightening power-mad scaredy cats. Here are their strong suits, from lowest polling to highest:
At #20, Diego Herrera sings a tribute to the families who’ve stood behind their famous norteño singing sons. This could have lapsed into sap, but Herrera is a masterful singer who lands each of his many words with precision and dexterity. Plus he uses the word “chingones” over and over. (Since I don’t think Miss Manners has covered it, this Latina article dissects how appropriate the word is for polite company. Opinions vary!)
At #19, the man with the continent’s best voice, Julión Álvarez, sings about love (as he does) in one of his better recent tunes, a fast banda. He’s also the only person I know who has convincingly sung the word “irremediablemente.”
Los Tucanes and their rich friends Código FN are at #18, singing a corrido about the big name bandas who play their fancy parties, where the liquor bottles flow like spit valves and muchachas dangle from arms. How did our hosts get all their money? Don’t ask questions!
At #17, the members of La Estructura, a relatively new quartet/quintet, are weary. Their gauntlet of negotiating the nightlife and trying to win back a pretty mujer has tuckered them out. As the tubist blarts out sad counterpoint the lead singer stops traffic to block his ex’s SUV and plead his case. Improbably, this works.
Mariachi Pedro Fernández is at lucky #13 with a cover of Leandro Rios’s excellent rhyming exercise/claim to hardcore ranchero roots, “Debajo Del Sombrero.” The song remains great, but Fernández’s take sounds too smooth, even perfunctory, as though he and his well tooled mariachi machine are racing through it.
Up at #9, Fidel Rueda insists, over speedy banda, that he is not el mandadero, for whom he is sometimes confused by assholes. Rather, la moneda está volteada, y Rueda es él que manda. Merely for serving as a furious rebuke to some of those frightening power-mad scaredy cats, this would be a front-runner for Pick to Click status. Turns out it’s a fine song, too. I’ll entertain a motion from the floor.
I mean, you knew it wasn’t gonna go to those Sebastianes or Arrolladora ballads, they just kept crying all over the place.
(BTW, the top 3 songs remain unchanged from five weeks ago. Meet the new jefes, same as the old jefes.)
These are the Top 20 “Popular” songs in Mexico, as measured by monitorLATINO. Don’t confuse “Popular” with the “General” list, which contains many of the same songs but also “Worth It,” “See You Again,” “Cheerleader,” and a Kalimba song that strums along forgettably.
Four new tunes from the NorteñoBlog milieu join this week’s charts. At the top of the heap, cracking the top 20 on the Hot Latin chart, is the latest mind numbing ballad from Banda MS, “A Lo Mejor.” You’re forgiven if you’ve forgotten “A Lo Mejor” since we last encountered it, because IT NUMBED YOUR MIND. But the video is entertaining twist-ending novela fare; you can tell it cost a lot, and that nobody shooting the video could remember the song they were supposedly depicting, either.
The other three new songs, all near the bottom of the Regional Mexican airplay chart, sound better to varying degrees. Arrolladora’s “Confesion” is faster and more minor-keyed than much of their recent output. Faint praise, but then, it’s been a while since these guys left an impression. Los Tucanes’ corrido “Suena La Banda” stomps along with guest stars Código FN. Several several members of Código are confined to standing around singing in their sparkly jackets without their instruments, but their tubist gets in some good licks, and both bands’ drummers find a way to coexist. Even better is the magic changes title track from Vete Acostumbrando, the latest album by psychedelic corridista and family man Larry Hernández. Lots of crammed-in words and snarling, which beats Larry attempting to croon.
It’d be this week’s Pick to Click if NorteñoBlog wasn’t a total sucker for Tito “El Bambino” and his attempts to sound like a more romantic Pet Shop Boys. Like the aforementioned Banda MS song, “Como Antes” enters the Hot Latin top 20. Unlike Banda MS, Tito plays majestic reggaeton synth pop with pounding drums and low voices comically interjecting things like “MAMACITA” every so often. Great vocal harmonies, too. The acerbic voice of Zion &/or Lennox appears midway through to scrape the plaque from your heart.
Not one but three feisty banda tunes enter the Mexican radio chart this week. NorteñoBlog has already mentioned Recodo’s “Mi Vicio Mas Grande,” which jumps from 9 to 4 and is also charting in El Norte — it bears more than a passing resemblance to Recoditos’ “Mi Último Deseo,” though the writers are different. (“Mi Vicio” boasts the unlikely fingerprints of Luciano Luna, the Diane Warren of the Sierra, apparently feeling his oats.) Chuy Lizarraga’s “Tu Mami” sounds similar, a minor-key raver.
That leaves the third, a major-key raver by former La Voz Mexico contestant and stubbly denim vision Jovanko Ibarra. His “No Le Hagamos Al Cuento” is today’s Pick to Click because it’s a decent song, sung reedily, and if you watch the video you get to look at Jovanko Ibarra. On a motorcycle!
Also new from two weeks ago are El Komander’s uninteresting “Me Interesa” and, in the top 10, La Original’s “Sal De Mi Vida.”
These are the Top 20 “Popular” songs in Mexico, as measured by monitorLATINO. Don’t confuse “Popular” with the “General” list, which contains many of the same songs but also “Uptown Funk!”, “Sugar,” “Love Me Like You Do,” and an Aleks Syntek ballad about getting So Close. Syntek gets closer than Hall & Oates did, at least.