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Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 9/28/16

marcello-gamiz

The best recent song to hit the Mexican radio top 10 is probably the #4 hit “Al Rescate,” the latest in the ongoing cry for help disguised as a brass band, Banda Los Recoditos. Having set aside a nice piece of land for themselves in the “ayyyy chiquitita I’m drunk and it’s your fault” territory, Luis Angel Franco and company seem content to mine that turf for whatever they can find, for the rest of their lives — which probably won’t be long, given the volatile state of their collective liver. Typically, their horn chart is accomplished and stuffed with counterpoint, and El Flaco is the most charismatic guy at the bar, savoring some strategically placed high notes that sound like they were written for his voice. VALE LA PENA, even if you’ve heard 20 other Recoditos songs just like it.

Also solid is the song sitting at #5, La Adictiva’s brassed up take on another “ayyyy chiquitita I’m drunk and it’s your fault” song: “Que Caro Estoy Pagando.” Formerly a hit in El Norte for Sierreño heartbreakers Los Plebes del Rancho de Ariel Camacho, the song transitions to its new instrumental setting with stately melodic leaps intact, though I do miss the scratch in José Manuel Lopez Castro’s voice. VALE LA PENA.

But that’s the chart that measures “Audiencia.” The real action is over on the “Tocadas” chart, where — I’m guessing — we see adventurous radio programmers in smaller markets testing the waters for more VALE LA PENA songs like:

Los Horóscopos’ “Qué Chulada de Papucho”: Continue reading “Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 9/28/16”

¡Feliz 2016! (y ¡Lo Mejor de 2015!)

2016-copia

Regional Mexican music had as good a year in 2015 as any other style of popular music, but you wouldn’t know it from any music magazine’s year-end coverage. This Mexican-American radio format is only one small musical laboratory within the vast complex of U.S. pop; but figured by their percentages, norteño, banda, cumbia, and Tejano bands released as many great, vibrant singles and albums as their peers in other popular music subgenres. Yet good luck finding this music on year-end lists. Even at Billboard, which provides the best English-language coverage of Mexican music, the list of Top 10 Latin Albums contains only one (very good) regional Mexican album, which came out in 2014. None of the magazine’s Top 10 Latin Songs represent Mexican regional styles. (Shoutout to the New York Times’ Ben Ratliff, though, for getting Remmy Valenzuela’s “¿Por Qué Me Ilusionaste?” into the paper of record.) And never mind year-end coverage — this fun, fascinating music rarely gets covered throughout the year in mainstream publications, although NPR and Annie Correal in the Times are notable exceptions. As is The Singles Jukebox, where Josh writes and where the editors and writers share an expansive definition of “pop.”

This is pop music, dammit! MILLIONS OF AMERICANS LISTEN TO IT.

(An appropriate YouTube playlist to accompany that claim.) Continue reading “¡Feliz 2016! (y ¡Lo Mejor de 2015!)”

Lo Mejor de 2015: Gerardo Ortiz and Pancho Uresti

uresti

Time to run down the year-end lists! Today, an album and two singles from the “Eh, good enough” end of the spectrum:

Who doesn’t love a Sony blockbuster? Lots of people, actually. Hoy Más Fuerte (Del/Sony), the latest album from norteño’s biggest star Gerardo Ortiz, is too long — 21 songs plus five bonus versions — and it comes up shorter on memorable tunes than Ortiz’s 2013 breakthrough Archivos de Mi Vida. And yet… you throw enough money at talented people and they’re bound to have at least one good idea. The best investments here were the session work of accordionist Marito Aguilar, who brings something amazing to every song he plays, and the horn charts, which are consistently better than they had to be. (See the giddy chromatic hilarity of the banda’s take on “El Amigo”.) If you could abide the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie thanks to Johnny Depp’s acting and some well-staged action sequences, you might make it through this album. That Ortiz is even thinking in terms of norteño blockbusters might be his greatest legacy.

Pancho Uresti, the unassuming singer for Banda Tierra Sagrada, wiled his way onto two of 2015’s most iconic singles. “Adicto a la Tristeza” (Remex) is a camp masterpiece by the prolific songwriter Erika Vidrio, in which Uresti wallows with Trakalosa’s Edwin Luna in a big old vat of tears and liquor. Collecting himself for “Debajo del Sombrero”, Uresti joins Leandro Ríos to petition an unsympathetic father and win the hand of his hija, in the process singing a string of “-ero” rhymes that’ll reverberate through Spanish 101 classrooms for years to come.

pancho urestiRemex has compiled both songs along with some other Uresti, both solo and duets, onto A Lo Grande, a decent album that’s not as spectacular as I’d unreasonably hoped.

Fiesta de Aniversario: THE PICKS TO CLICK

gerardo birthday

NorteñoBlog doesn’t always Pick to Click, but when I do… sometimes I get it wrong and type “Click to Pick.” This made searching for the previous year’s worth of Picks INTERESANTE.

The Pick to Click began as a shameless ripoff from Charles Pierce’s must-read liberal politics blog at Esquire, as did a couple other, possibly subtler NorteñoBlog tics. (Spot them all! Both! Whatever!) It’s a useful way to highlight the song I enjoy the most in a particular post, so that you the loyal reader don’t have to wade through a pool of Banda MS’s tears to reach the good stuff. Of course, if you enjoy the delectable bouquet wafting from Banda MS’s tears, you can always Click what I don’t Pick, though you’ll run the risk of turning Banda MS happy and then they might run out of Art. Besides current singles, the following list includes some older singles and current album tracks.

Most Picked at three apiece: NorteñoBlog’s probable artists of the year Alfredo Ríos “El Komander” and Marco Flores y #1 Banda Jerez. Banda Cuisillos, Noel Torres, and Chuy Lizárraga each scored two Picks. So did Los Gfez, Pancho Uresti, and Ariel Camacho, though one Pick from each of those three was in a “featured” role. Besides norteño and banda, the list includes cumbias and puro sax stomps, reggaeton and ABBA-schlager, Jenny and the Mexicats and Pitbull, and covers of Johnny Cash and — first up — Shania Twain. Happy Clicking!
Continue reading “Fiesta de Aniversario: THE PICKS TO CLICK”

NorteñoBlog’s Top Singles of 2015: Abril – Junio

cuisillos

This quarter’s list contains fewer radio hits than last quarter’s — only four out of 11 — but don’t worry! Both radio and Youtube continue to inundate us with all kinds of great music under the banner of “regional Mexican.” Below we’ve got cumbia from the underrepresented state of Nayarit, violin-driven dance music from the underrepresented state of Oaxaca, a brass banda from Jalisco who dresses in indigenous garb and doesn’t play corridos but sometimes plays piano pop, Linda Ronstadt-style pop country from Nuevo León, Chicago’s hometown heroines Los Horóscopos hitting Mexican radio and giving everybody cuernos, aaaaand (as usual) a whole lotta Sinaloa. NorteñoBlog has apparently been sleeping on the states of Chihuahua and Zacatecas, though, as I’ve dug up zero hot new singles to represent their puro sax styles. Better luck next quarter!

1. Banda Cohuich“Son Kora Kau Te Te Kai Nie Ni (Dialecto Huichol)” (Pegasus)
Huichol is an indigenous Mexican language, and “Son Kora” is a relentless jerking propulsion machine with brass, gang vocals, and a slippery synth line (I think).
hasn’t charted

2. Laura Denisse“Sigo Enamorada” (Fonovisa)
Denisse has a big clear voice in the vein of Linda Ronstadt, and she’s been singing a mix of banda and pop since she was a kid in the ’90s. The big brass riff here is simply a series of repeated notes, but the players articulate and syncopate like swaggering jazz cowboys.
hasn’t charted

3. Ariel Camacho y Los Plebes Del Rancho“Te Metiste” (Del/Sony)
This gorgeous love song sounds just as strange and sparse as “El Karma” when it plays on the radio.
U.S. radio hit

4. Grupo El Reto ft. Alta Consigna“La Parranda Va a Empezar” (Gerencia 360/Sony)
This quartet belongs to la corriente escuela of corridistas who sing about corruption while their corrosive tubists imitate machine gun fire. Corre! The quartet Alta Consigna also has a tuba in the band, so you’ve got two tubists and a requinto (I think?) playing furiously over everything.
hasn’t charted

5. Banda Cuisillos“Cerveza” (Musart/Balboa)
This isn’t even my favorite Cuisillos song of 2015 — that’d be this swinging piano-driven non-single — but these Jaliscanos do indulge several of NorteñoBlog’s weaknesses: two different singers trying to outdo one another in the passion department, brass alternating with guitar, and deplorable sexism.
Mexican radio hit

6. Leandro Ríos ft. Pancho Uresti“Debajo Del Sombrero” (Remex)
This not-so-humble ranchera ballad takes as much pleasure in the act of rhyming as any random song by Sondheim. Although, going through my Spanish rudiments, I’m disappointed the song doesn’t take place in enero, and why doesn’t our heroic caballero own a perro?
U.S. and Mexican radio hit

7. Banda Costado – “Pinotepa” (Talento)
This is a way different sound than we usually enjoy here: lots of percussion, tuba bassline, wild violin, and singers. Many independent lines and very little chordal harmony, in other words.
hasn’t charted

8. Banda Culiacancito“Lastima de Cuerpo” (Del/Sony)
If you’ve read this blog long enough, you know one of my favorite musical effects is rapid fire barrages of syllables that never seem to end and make me feel totally inadequate about my grasp of español. Prolific songwriters Geovani Cabrera (Regulo Caro, Calibre 50) y Horacio Palencia (todos) deliver. Knock yourself out with a trombone slide!
hasn’t charted

9. Los Gfez“Hasta Tu Dedo Gordito” (Remex)
I implore you not to google images of dedos gorditos unless you get off on toe injuries. No judging. I should mention that the quartet Los Gfez, last seen joining Diego Herrera on a likable Mexican hit, start their search for the mystery dedo fast and, through the magic of time changes, find a way to get faster.
hasn’t charted

10. Noel Torres“No Andan Cazando Venados” (Gerencia 360/Sony)
Torres’s arrangement of “Venados” sounds like he’s adapting Ariel Camacho’s unusual instrumentation. He takes stripped down passages of requinto guitar solos over lurching tuba, the same dynamic you find in Camacho’s repertoire, and alternates them with full banda sections. Horns replace rhythm guitar. The result is both serious and silly (ay, esos clarinetes), a fitting tribute that also fits with Torres’s swagger.
hasn’t charted

11. Los Horóscopos de Durango“Estoy Con Otro En La Cama”
Mexican radio hit

10 more good ones:

Miguel – “Coffee”
AB Soto – “Cha Cha Bitch”
Sam Hunt – “House Party”
Markus Feehily – “Love Is a Drug”
Honey Cocaine – “Sundae”
Chemical Brothers ft. Q-Tip – “Go”
Brandon Flowers – “Can’t Deny My Love”
Haley Georgia – “Ridiculous”
Bobby Brackins ft. Zendaya and Jeremih – “My Jam”
Vanbot – “Seven”

Desfile de Éxitos 5/16/15

leandro-rios-2

The charts, and thus NorteñoBlog’s life, are in tumult this week. This is a good thing! Though of course, just looking at the top 10, you might be fooled into thinking the chart remains a tepid pool of stagnancy and age. King Romeo’s blockbuster hit is closing in on two years of proposing indecencies to its poor neighbors, one of whom happens to be King Romeo’s NEW blockbuster hit. (“Propuesta Indecente” has always been at war with “Hilito”?) And yes, the Julión Álvarez ballad going top 10 on Billboard‘s Hot Latin chart is some weak sofrito — but, on the other hand, it’s Julión Álvarez. NorteñoBlog likes him. Just a week ago, he dropped the official video for “El Amor De Su Vida,” and already it’s got three and a half million views. I won’t begrudge him his success with necking music, and I encourage him to release “El Aferrado” as a single cuanto antes.

Further down the list, things get more interesting. Ariel Camacho’s “Te Metiste” is up to #14 overall and #12 on Regional Mexican airplay; not bad for a posthumous ballad played by a sparse, deliberative trio configuration used by nobody else on the radio. El Komander’s “Malditas Ganas” continues to climb, and two songs that are new to the overall list — Enigma Norteño’s racing quartet tune “Calla Y Me Besas” and La Séptima Banda’s swanky, Tower of Power-ish “Bonito Y Bello” — bring as much energy as the songs they replace. Down on the Regional Mexican airplay chart, Recodo’s “Mi Vicio Más Grande” is their skippiest hit in who knows how long.

The Pick to Click is another one that’s new to the airplay chart: “Debajo Del Sombrero” by Leandro Rios ft. Pancho Uresti, whose new career seems to be guesting on everyone else’s songs. It’s two guys talking big to the father of their beloved, trying to convince him their humble ranchera ways render them worthy of his daughter’s affection. It also takes as much pleasure in the act of rhyming as any random song by Sondheim. Although, going through my Spanish rudiments, I’m disappointed the song doesn’t take place in enero, and why doesn’t our heroic caballero own a perro?

These are the top 25 Hot Latin Songs and top 20 Regional Mexican Songs, courtesy Billboard, as published May 16.

1. “El Perdón” – Nicky Jam & Enrique Iglesias
2. “Ay Vamos” – J Balvin
3. “Propuesta Indecente” – Romeo Santos (93 WEEKS OLD)
4. “Hilito” – Romeo Santos
5. “Hablame de Ti” – Banda MS (#2 RegMex) (snoooooozzzzzz)
6. “Contigo” – Calibre 50 (#1 RegMex)
7. “Travesuras” – Nicky Jam
8. “Fanatica Sensual” – Plan B
9. “Mi Verdad” – Maná ft. Shakira
10. “El Amor De Su Vida” – Julión Álvarez y Su Norteño Banda (#3 RegMex)

11. “Nota de Amor” – Wisin + Carlos Vives ft. Daddy Yankee
12. “Sigueme y Te Sigo” – Daddy Yankee
13. “Me Sobrabas Tu” – Banda Los Recoditos (#6 RegMex)
14. “Te Metiste” – Ariel Camacho y Los Plebes del Rancho (#12 RegMex)
15. “Pierdo la Cabeza” – Zion & Lennox
16. “Solita” – Prince Royce
17. “Malditas Ganas” – El Komander (#7 RegMex)
18. “Lejos De Aqui” – Farruko
19. “El Que Se Enamora Pierde” – Banda Carnaval (#5 RegMex)
20. “Dime” – Julión Álvarez y Su Norteño Banda (#14 RegMex)

21. “Un Zombie A La Intemperie” – Alejandro Sanz
22. “Calla y Me Besas” – Enigma Norteña (#4 RegMex)
23. “Inocente” – Romeo Santos
24. “Perdido En Tus Ojos” – Don Omar ft. Natti Natasha
25. “Bonito Y Bello” – La Septima Banda (#10 RegMex)

¡Adios!
“Juntos (Together)” – Juanes
—————–

8. “Levantando Polvadera” – Voz De Mando
9. “Soltero Disponible” – Regulo Caro

11. “Que Aun Te Amo” – Pesado
13. “Si Te Vuelvo a Ver” – La Maquinaria Norteña
14. “Como Tu No Hay Dos” – Los Huracanes del Norte
15. “Cuando La Miro” – Luis Coronel
16. “Mayor De Edad” – La Original Banda El Limón
17. “Que Tal Si Eres Tu” – Los Tigres Del Norte
18. “Mi Vicio Más Grande” – Banda El Recodo
19. “Debajo Del Sombrero” – Leandro Rios ft. Pancho Uresti
20. “El Quesito” – Omar Ruiz”

¡Adios!
“Todo Tuyo” – Banda El Recodo
“Se Me Sigue Notando” – Chuy Lizarraga y Su Banda Tierra Sinaloense
“Eres Tú” – Proyecto X
“Lo Hiciste Otra Vez” – La Arrolladora Banda El Limón
“Qué Tiene De Malo” – Calibre 50 ft. El Komander

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