music, charts, opinions


Luis Coronel

Do Bandas Dream of Romantic Sheep? (or, nodding off to bandas románticas in 2017)


NorteñoBlog has been of two minds about Las Bandas Románticas de América, the annual compilation of lovey-dovey banda hits (and “hits”) released by either Fonovisa or Disa Records, the two norteño tentacles of el pulpo gigante known as Universal Music Latin Entertainment. The first mind thinks the songs are catchy, and is grateful for the occasion to write the phrase “asymptotically approaching the musical ideal of amor.” The second mind hated asymptotes in high school, thinks 20 straight love ballads is 19 too many, has nightmare fever dreams involving doe-eyed clarinet armies, and has boycotted the series for two years running.

bandas-romanticas-2017Resolve is not the Blog’s strong suit. Thus did I find myself washing dishes and listening to the latest in the series, Las Bandas Románticas de América 2017, 20 songs by 10 bands, only some of whom are “hitmakers” in the sense of “being heard anywhere outside this compilation.” I mean, I’m sure they tour. But if you’ve heard “Pedirás Perdón,” a 2015 nonentity by Banda Coraleña, on the radio anywhere in North America, you’re doing better than I am. If you can hum the song without looking it up, you’re doing better than Banda Coraleña. Give ’em this: their cover of Joey Montana‘s “Picky” is adequate! It’s also not included on Las Bandas Románticas de América 2017 — ironic for the least choosy compilation series around.

But you do get some good songs. As previously discussed, La Séptima Banda released some fine singles in 2016, two of which — the swinging ’50s sock hop “Yo Si Me Enamoré” and the irrepressibly bouncy “Se Va Muriendo Mi Alma” — are here. You also get Banda Los Recoditos’ current hit “Me Está Tirando El Rollo,” featuring some syncopated tuba bass that’s a primo distante of “Stand By Me,” and Samuel Sarmiento, the singer who isn’t Luis Angel Franco. Banda El Recodo‘s remake of “Mujer Mujer” keeps growing on me. Banda Rancho Viejo is, for NorteñoBlog’s money, the best banda working and always worth hearing. Their tune “Mil Veces Te Quiero” was also ignored by radio, and it’s from freaking 2014, but it combines an echoing triple-voiced hook and gang shouts with one of the struttingest grooves in all of bandaland. (Plus, more ’50s sock hop imagery in the video. Thinkpieces go!) A tardy Pick to Click.

Continue reading “Do Bandas Dream of Romantic Sheep? (or, nodding off to bandas románticas in 2017)”

Attack of the Teen Idols (Desfile de Éxitos 8/13/16)

ulices chaidez big

The world waits, selfie sticks and hair product poised and ready, for 20-year-old heartthrob Luis Coronel to release his next album. Uncharacteristically, NorteñoBlog will cut the guy some slack. Fielding a lawsuit from a former producer and going reggaetón would slow down anyone’s career. The last time I went reggaetón, the local barnyard animals went unmasturbated for months. It was chaos.

cheyo carrilloAfortunadamente, the job of “young dreamy norteño singer with enviable hair” is not so hard to fill, and this week’s charts have two hopefuls squeezing through the Coronel-shaped void. At #20 on the Regional Mexican radio chart is L.A.’s teen corridero Cheyo Carrillo, who rarely settles for the typical fade-with-fauxhawk look, instead coaxing volume and body with frightening abandon. As a pre-teen, his accordion skills landed him a gig with Los Bukanas de Culiacán, and then with El Komander. This got him noticed by Komander’s label bosses and noted amoral purveyors of candy everybody wants, the Valenzuela Twiins. NorteñoBlog slept on last year’s self-titled debut album (on Twiins-affiliated La Disco Music), which included an authoritative version of Komander’s “Soy de Rancho,” but desafortunadamente I haven’t made the same mistake with this new single, the romantic banda snooze “No Es Normal,” released by Fonovisa and written by industry lifer Adrian Pieragostino. The video features a young, apparently dorky woman who wears glasses but is secretly hot, and lots of slow motion chewing. The song features some rote brass charts. Es normal, pero NO ES VALE LA PENA. Continue reading “Attack of the Teen Idols (Desfile de Éxitos 8/13/16)”

¡Nuevo! (starring Helen Ochoa, Los Horóscopos, y más)


helen ochoaHelen Ochoa is very good at playing the part of the woman scorned. Whether she’s strangling her no good cheating boyfriend in reverse or simply leaning against rocks beside an ocean that mirrors her tumultuous emotional state, her portrayals unpack the many layers of scorned woman grief. Although, curiously, I haven’t found her looking sad yet. She’s funny, proud, spiteful, and above all resolute; and you can hear that resolve in her long-awaited debut album Si Yo Fuera Un Chico (Gerencia360/Sony). She first released the title single, a Beyoncé cover, two years ago. It gave her the rare chance to sing some melismas and got her noticed by the Premios de la Radio, which needed nominees for its depressingy thin “Artista Femenina Del Año” category. The new album collects her banda singles since then, along with a Noel Torres duet and a cover of the go-go boot-scootin’ boogie showstopper “Más Bonita Que Ninguna,” from a 1965 Rocio Dúrcal musical of the same name. There are nice production touches too, like the country guitar that opens “De Cama en Cama.” I’m not totally sold on the album yet, but it’s worth at least a listen, and NorteñoBlog is rooting for her. Continue reading “¡Nuevo! (starring Helen Ochoa, Los Horóscopos, y más)”

Desfile de Éxitos 10/24/15

will smith

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”

Desfile de Éxitos 9/26/15

roberto tapia


If you’ve hung around NorteñoBlog for very long, you’ll know that when I fall for a Roberto Tapia banda single, I fall hard. So it is with his new tune “No Valoraste” — the waltz beat is stiffer than his previous “Me Enamoré” and “Mirando Al Cielo,” but the high-climbing melody sounds great in his upper range. Along with Friday’s brand new video, and having heard it on the radio a couple times last week, “No Valoraste” shoots into Pick to Click status. And by all means watch that video: it’s like Ingmar Bergman shot a novela on the beach using the castoff furniture from Return to Oz. See Tapia and his ex-mujer stalk one another in symbolically opposing color schemes, as they seek cold comfort from an absent God and/or Princess Ozma.

Tapia’s at #4 on the airplay chart, so the streams racked up by this new video should propel him onto the big Hot Latin chart next week.

Continue reading “Desfile de Éxitos 9/26/15”

Who Plays on the New Gerardo Ortiz Album?

The mystery is solved! Allmusic appears to have acquired a physical copy of Hoy Mas Fuerte the same time NorteñoBlog did, and we’ve learned that Ortiz drew his small band from the usual stable of Del Records session pros: Pablo Molina on tuba, Aaron Gonzalez on bass, Lorenzo Fraire Reyes on bajo sexto, and Luis Navarro on drums. But Allmusic did omit some crucial players, notably the guy who most owns the sound of Fuerte: accordionist Marito Aguilar. Fuerte isn’t necessarily VALE LA PENA, but it’s worth hearing at least once for Aguilar, whose fingers are all over the place and constantly coming up with new ideas. He’s played with Ortiz on previous albums; he’s played on good albums by Regulo Caro and Adriel Favela; and he’s been one of the few reasons to pay any attention to Luis Coronel.

If you get excited by fly-on-the-recording-studio-wall videos and scenes of professional musicians overdubbing and “punching in,” you are to be pitied above all others you should totally watch this video of a session for Ortiz’s 2012 album, El Primer Ministro.

NorteñoBlog’s other discovery: “¿Por Qué Terminamos?”, the only Fuerte song I walk around humming, the one that sounds like a Luciano Luna ballad, IS IN FACT a Luciano Luna ballad. (Luciano Luna and Joss Favela, to be exact.)

Luis Coronel on The Singles Jukebox


If you felt an inexplicable throbbing in your heart earlier today, it wouldn’t hurt to get that checked out, but it could have just been the psychic palpitations that inevitably result when young Luis Coronel appears in the media, since we wrote about his single “Cuando La Miro” at the Singles Jukebox. Of course, if your heart is that affected by Luis Coronel, it wouldn’t hurt to get that checked out either. Sez me. I should probably go easy on the guy for a while:

I won’t sugarcoat it: this won’t be the last you hear from Luis Coronel. Triunfo magazine reports the bilingual Tucson teen plans to eventually “make the crossover and record in English.” His videos feature English-speaking restaurateurs, ’50s diners, and muscle cars, meaning he’s already singing to a bilingual U.S. audience; whether his crossover turns out to be Prince Royce-style assimilation, or the thing that finally drags banda/norteño music into Top 40’s embrace, is anybody’s guess. But no matter what Coronel sings, he needs to do something about his voice. Or lack thereof. Forswearing both the nasal whine and the overwrought (i.e., perfectly wrought) romanticism of his forebears, Coronel sings everything as though he’s reading the phone book. He can barely hang on to his songs. His hapless vocal cords tossed about by his (generally really good) arrangements, he makes even the simplest lines sound hard to scan. “Cuando La Miro” strands Coronel in his midrange; except for that shouted “Chiquitita!” he’s confined to six notes, none of which he projects over the brass. Maybe that’s why people love him? Like his unaffected peers Kevin Ortiz and Jonatan Sanchez, Coronel transforms music that’s often violent and racy into the endearing genre next door. He may someday portray the Pat Boone character in Elijah Wald’s How Calibre 50 Destroyed Narcocorrido.

Most other reviewers liked the song more: common themes included the goodness of the banda players and Coronel’s propensity to hide his vocals behind them. “Cuando” is currently #10 on Billboard‘s regional Mexican chart.

Desfile de Éxitos 3/28/15

luis coronel

You’d be excused for thinking the charts are dormant this week — the same #1’s, mostly the same top 10’s, “Bailando” has always been at war with “Propuesta Indecente,” etc. — but look beneath the filthy snow and there are signs of life. For one thing, NorteñoBlog will never complain about an accordion ballad reaching the Hot Latin top 10, even when that ballad is as lifeless as Calibre 50’s “Contigo.” True, this particular song might not push my buttons, but anything that helps squeeze out one of King Romeo’s romantic bellows is fine by me. (i.e., Adios to “Eres Mia,” only a year old.)

For another, some decent songs are muscling their way up. The Pick to Click is “Nota de Amor,” a pretty piano/accordion reggaeton love note by Wisin, Carlos Vives, and Daddy Yankee. It’s got the same chord changes as the Black Eyed Peas’ “Where Is the Love?,” though I didn’t detect any lines comparing the CIA to the KKK. We noted last week that the puro Chihuahua sax of La Maquinaria Norteña is awesome, and their “Si Te Vuelvo a Ver” is getting more radio play. And wonder of wonders, Tuscon’s teen tenor Luis Coronel is charting with a song that doesn’t suck! “Cuando La Miro” is some fairly likable magic changes bullshit. Coronel can barely keep up with it, but he knows how to put across wide-eyed eagerness.

All that plus Pitbull! NorteñoBlog will also never complain about the presence of Pitbull. And not just on the charts — in public and semi-public spaces. Even if Pitbull set up a Sheets Energy Strips display inside a funeral home and cornered NorteñoBlog, NorteñoBlog would just end up buying a bunch of energy strips and handing them out to the bereaved because, you know, it’s Pitbull. He could charm the rigor off of rigor mortis and/or Marco Rubio.

These are the top 25 Hot Latin Songs and top 20 Regional Mexican Songs, courtesy Billboard, as published March 28.

1. “El Perdon” – Nicky Jam & Enrique Iglesias
2. “Propuesta Indecente” – Romeo Santos (86 WEEKS OLD)
3. “Ay Vamos” – J Balvin
4. “Bailando” – Enrique ft. Descemer Bueno, Gente de Zona, & the word “contigo” (52 WEEKS OLD! “Feliz cumpleaños contigo…”)
5. “Hablame de Ti” – Banda MS (#6 RegMex) (snoooooozzzzzz)
6. “Mi Verdad” – Maná ft. Shakira
7. “Contigo” – Calibre 50 (#1 RegMex)
8. “Travesuras” – Nicky Jam
9. “Yo También” – Romeo Santos ft. Marc Anthony
10. “El Karma” – Ariel Camacho y Los Plebes del Rancho (#11 RegMex)

11. “Hilito” – Romeo Santos
12. “Lejos De Aqui” – Farruko
13. “Fanatica Sensual” – Plan B
14. “Piensas (Dile La Verdad)” – Pitbull ft. Gente de Zona
15. “Disparo Al Corazon” – Ricky Martin
16. “Eres Una Niña” – Gerardo Ortíz (#9 RegMex)
17. “Soltero Disponible” – Regulo Caro (#2 RegMex)
18. “Dime” – Julión Álvarez y Su Norteño Banda (#8 RegMex)
19. “Juntos (Together)” – Juanes
20. “Lo Hiciste Otra Vez” – La Arrolladora Banda El Limón (#3 RegMex) (Oh dear, this is not good. Not just sap — meandering sap.)

21. “Pierdo la Cabeza” – Zion & Lennox
22. “Mi Vuelvo Un Cobarde” – Christian Daniel
23. “Qué Tiene De Malo” – Calibre 50 ft. El Komander (#18 RegMex)
24. “Nota de Amor” – Wisin + Carlos Vives ft. Daddy Yankee
25. “Mi Princesa” – Remmy Valenzuela (#13 RegMex)

“Eres Mia” – Romeo Santos (53 WEEKS OLD)

4. “Levantando Polvadera” – Voz De Mando
5. “El Que Se Enamora Pierde” – Banda Carnaval
7. “Eres Tú” – Proyecto X
10. “No Te Vayas” – Fidel Rueda

12. “Que Aun Te Amo” – Pesado
13. “Se Me Sigue Notando” – Chuy Lizarraga y Su Banda Tierra Sinaloense
14. “Mi Primera Vez” – Jonatan Sánchez
15. “Calla y Me Besas” – Enigma Norteña
16. “Si Te Vuelvo a Ver” – La Maquinaria Norteña
17. “Me Sobrabas Tu” – Banda Los Recoditos
18. “Cuando La Miro” – Luis Coronel
19. “Todo Tuyo” – Banda El Recodo
20. “Bonito Y Bello” – La Septima Banda

“Y Vete Olvidando” – Javier Rosas
“Entonces Que Somos” – Banda El Recodo (A nada Luciano Luna ballad off Recodo’s 2013 album, now turned into a dramatic short film.)

How Big Is Number 1?

For the past two weeks, regional Mexican music has claimed the #1 spot on Billboard‘s Top Latin Albums chart. Keep in mind, these were two very slow weeks. How slow? Remember the week Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star was the #1 movie in America? THAT slow.

Last week Intocable was on top with their live album XX: 20 Aniversario. The week before was led by Disa’s annual compilation Las Bandas Románticas de America. (Just in time for Valentine’s Day! Wanna role-play a “tryst with the vintner’s daughter” scenario?) We’ve got a stopgap in Intocable’s case and a brazen moneymaker for Disa, neither designed to put new songs into the world. But musical irrelevance isn’t the whole story. Just behind Bandas Románticas was Privilegio, the Sony debut of hotshot corridista Alfredo Olivas. I’d assumed some pent-up hunger for this guy, who’s had multi-million-hit videos and a Triunfo cover. But sales figures reveal otherwise:

The compilation set Las Bandas Romanticas de America 2015 leads the list at No. 1 (over 2,000 units shifted, according to Nielsen Music). The album follows the 2014 edition which spent four weeks at No. 1. Newcomer Alfredo Olivas bows in the No. 2 spot with his first charting album Privilegio, starting with 2,000 copies sold. The singer-songwriter spends a second consecutive week at No. 30 on Regional Mexican Airplay with the set’s lead single “Mi Porvenir,” its peak. The track climbs 11 percent in audience impressions, to 1.5 million, in its sixth week on the chart.

I’d like to say it took a population the size of my podunk hometown to top the Latin Albums chart, but my podunk hometown was more than twice that size. 2,000 people lived in the even podunker town next door. That was the town we all made fun of. 2,000 people is not very many. Intocable didn’t do much better:

Regional Mexican group Intocable scores its seventh No. 1 on Top Latin Albums, as XX Aniversario debuts atop the list with 3,000 sold in the week ending Feb. 1, according to Nielsen Music.

This chart is not always so slow, especially when it comes to fresh-faced crossover prospects. Luis Coronel’s second album debuted to 10,000 copies sold last year, which got him to #33 on the overall Billboard 200. The year before, Gerardo Ortiz moved 14,000 copies of Archivos de Mi Vida in its first week, enough to peak at #68 on the top 200. (A busier week, apparently; he’d peaked higher in the past.) But things are down all over, right? People are setting dubious records left and right. Last April, Pharrell scored the lowest selling No. 2 album in history when he sold 29,000 copies of G I R L. I don’t bring up these low numbers to mock Intocable, Olivas, or Disa’s roster of heartthrobs. It’s just good to have a sense of scale.

Also worth noting: Top Latin Albums measures album sales only, while the top 200 has moved to a new “multi-metric” algorithm, with digital track sales contributing to an album’s placement on the big chart. This is how Enrique’s latest album is the highest Latin album on the top 200, down at #190, without topping the Latin album chart. “Bailando” still going strong! Stream it 1500 times and Enrique gets his wings a sale.

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