Cover Me in Latin

November Playlist

Song

iTunes

Artist

Category

Origin

No Woman, No Cry

No Woman No Cry (Salsa Version) - Lovely Reprises by K'lid

 Merengada Salsa England
Unchained Melody Unchained Melody - Salsa - Unchained Melody - Salsa - Single  Germán Silva Salsa Australia
Jugando Super Mario Bros Jugando Super Mario Bros - Me Lo Gané  Calle Real Salsa Swedan
La Pantera Mambo La Pantera Mambo - La-33  LA 33 Salsa Colombia
You Rock My World  Berna Jam Salsa USA/Cuba
Hello Hello (Album Version) - Hello (Album Version) - Single  Berto La Voz Bachata Puerto Rico
Hoy Lo Que Quiero Eres Tu Hoy Lo Que Quiero Eres Tu - I Love Bachata 2012 (14 Bachata Hits) Grupo Rush Bachata Puerto Rico
Stand By Me Stand by Me - Prince Royce  Prince Royce Bachata USA
Una Vaina Loca Una Vaina Loca (feat. El Potro) - La Musica del Futuro Reloaded (The Chosen Few Edition) Fuego Merengue Dominican Rep/Jamaica
Clocks Clocks - Rhythms del Mundo Cuba  Coldplay Cha-Cha-Cha England
Sweet Dreams Sweet Dreams - Around the World Señor Coconut Cha-Cha-Cha Germany
No Pares Hasta Tener lo Suficiente No Pares Hasta Tener lo Suficiente (Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough) - Los Míticos del Ritmo (Soundway Records) [feat. Quantic]  Los Miticos Del Ritmo Cumbia Colombia
Dominicana Dominicana - El Abayarde  Tego Calderon Reggaeton Puerto Rico

 

Cover Me in Latin

Latin or tropical music is a large super genre that includes a range of sub genres like salsa, bachata and merengue.  It is a genre of music that continues to increase in popularity as Latin artists get more and more international exposure.  That said, Latin music can be as foreign sounding to a non-Latino as the Spanish language itself.  The fact is that people new to Latin music and especially those that have been introduced to it through Latin dance may find the music a bit inaccessible.  The rhythms are foreign, the language is foreign, the dance is foreign and all this can make the music unfamiliar and possibly overwhelming.  This is where Latin covers of non-Latin songs find a very receptive audience.  When a dancer enjoys the original version of a song they are likely to also like the cover version and be more comfortable dancing to it; they likely know the lyrics, they are familiar with the melody and are aware of where the “highs” and “lows” in the music occur.  In this month’s blog post I have included a handful of Latin covers will a little bit of background on the original versions of the songs.

Bachata

As the popularity of bachata continues to increase so does the number of bachata covers.  Bachata covers of “romantic” songs are especially common.  This is probably because bachata is traditionally a very emotionally charged music and it also helps that the associated dance is or can be very sensual in nature.

[list style=”gear”]
  • Hello:  The original version of this song by the same title was recorded by Lionel Richie in the early 80’s.  It’s a soft-rock classic that reached number 1 on the billboards in many English speaking countries.
  • Stand by Me: Originally performed by Ben e King, this R & B classic was released in 1961 and became a number one hit in the USA and UK.
  • Hoy Lo Que Quiero Eres Tu: A cover of an Enrique Iglesias song known by the ‘clean’ name “Tonight (I’m Loving You)”.  It was a number one single in the USA and also in Spain.
[/list] Merengue

Of all Latin genres merengue is probably the one most commonly used to cover non-Latin music.  Its simple 2/4 rhythm makes it easy to mix with other musical styles, maybe too easy.  Many mainstream pop songs have merengue versions (“Gangnam Style” anyone?), which more often than not are much worse than the original.  I was hard-pressed to find many merengue covers that sounded better or at least as good as the non-merengue originals.

[list style=”gear”]
  •  Una Vaina Loca:  The original of this song, released in 2010,  is Hold Ya by Jamaican reggae artist Gyptian.  There are several remixes of it with this merengue version by Fuego (Miguel Duran Jr) being one of the most well known.
[/list] Cha-Cha-Cha

For the most part, the cha-cha-cha (or simply cha-cha) covers I have come across are pretty good. This may be because I do not come across many of them or because it is very easy to do a cha-cha cover badly (case in point “Call Me Maybe”). The market for good cha-cha music is unfortunately small.  However, the market for bad cha-cha covers is thankfully much smaller.
[list style=”gear”]

  • Clocks: The original and the cha-cha cover are both by the English band Coldplay.  The cha-cha version was recorded for the Rhythms Del Mundo album, which contains a large selection of western songs done in a variety of Latin styles.  As a side note, the album was originally made to raise money for Artists’ Project Earth, a climate change awareness and disaster relief charity
  • Sweet Dreams: This euro-pop song was first recorded by the English group the Eurythmics in 1983.  Probably their most famous song, it made it up to number 3 on UK music charts and number 15 on US charts.  The artist that does the Cha-Cha cover, Señor Coconut, has done a bunch of other Latin covers of westerns songs.  This is probably one of his better ones.
[/list]  Cumbia 

As incredibly popular as cumbia is I have only come across a handful of cumbia covers.  This may have to do with the fact that the market for cumbia in North America is relatively small.  Also, a true cumbia needs accordion and most western songs just sound wrong when done with an accordion.

[list style=”gear”]
  • No Pares Hasta Tener lo Suficiente: The original version of this song is Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”.  This disco/funk track was released back in 1979 and like many of Michaels early singles, was a number one hit worldwide.  The cumbia version is without vocals, which is probably a good thing, and was released in 2012 by the fantastic modern cumbia band, Los Miticos Del Ritmo,  based in Bogota, Colombia.
[/list] Reggaeton 

Reggaeton has its roots in sampling other musical styles (see Reggaeton – The Beginnings) so it’s not hard to find a reggaeton song that at the very least samples another song.
[list style=”gear”]

  • Dominicana: This song by Tego Calderon though not exactly a cover, draws heavily from the El Gran Combo salsa classic “Ojos Chinos”.   It may not as dancable as the original but it is still a pretty decent reggaeton song.
[/list] Salsa

Considering its international popularity it is no surprise that there are a fair number of salsa covers.  Add to this the fact that salsa dancing is very popular in countries where people don’t traditionally speak Spanish and you end up with a receptive audience for salsa covers of popular (often western) songs.

[list style=”gear”]
  • No Woman, No Cry: originally by Bob Marley this reggae classic was released in 1974.  Merengada the English band that did this salsa cover is only one of many to do a version of the song.  From Nina Simone to NOFX the song has been a popular choice by artists looking to benefit for Bob Marley’s popularity.
  • Unchained Melody: The most well-known version of this song is the one by the Righteous Brothers released in 1965.  However, the song was originally written and recorded in 1955. Unchained Melody is apparently one of the most covered English songs of all time with this salsa version being one of the more recent covers, recorded in 2011.
  • Jugando Super Mario Bros: Not a cover of a another song per se but it is inspired by and draws sound effects and melodies from the hugely popular Nintendo game Super Mario Brothers.  It is a pretty good salsa too considering it is based on the music of an 8 bit video game and for anyone who grew up in the 80’s it is also a bit nostalgia trip to listen to.
  • La Pantera Mambo: The inspiration for this song comes from Harry Mancini’s Oscar nominated “Pink Panther Theme”, which unsurprisingly was the theme song for the Pink Panther movie series.  The original version is an easily recognizable saxophone driven instrumental composition.  True to its name, La Pantera Mambo is a much faster and jazzier version with the addition of lyrics.  The song lends itself surprisingly well to salsa.
  • You Rock My World: Another Michael Jackson classic, the salsa version of the song is a remix by the Cuban DJ Berna Jam.  The vocals are all Michael with Berna Jam adding the salsa instrumentation.  It’s a fantastic cover, one of my favourites (the timba piano is awesome) though I suspect it was not condoned by MJ or his estate as I have not seen it available for purchase or download anywhere.
[/list] That’s it for this month.  Questions, comments, requests?  Send me an email

Hasta la próxima

 

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Salsa in Saskatoon

June Playlist Highlights

Song

 

Artist

Category

Origin

Quisiera Quisiera (Salsa) - Archivo Digital 4.4 Juan Luis Guerra Salsa Dominican Republic
Salsa y Control Salsa Y Control - Salsa Y Control Los Hermanos Lebron Salsa Colombia
Quisiera Ser Demente Quisiera Ser Demente - Demente Charlie Cajares Salsa Colomiba
Comentario De Solar Comentario de Solar - Son Albita Salsa Cuba
La Negra Tomasa La Negra Tomasa - Una Forma Mas Vocal Sampling Salsa A capella Cuba
Bonita Bonita - Bklyn: Heavy Sounds from the County of Kings The Pimps of Joytime Salsa Funk USA
Ciego Del Amor Ciego De Amor - God's Project Aventura Bachata USA
Que Pasara Mañana ¿Qué Pasará Mañana? - El Duque de la Bachata Joan Soriano Bachata Dominican Republic
Dominicano Soy Dominicano Soy - MerengueFit Oro Solido Merengue USA
Prepárate Preparate - Super Merengue 2010 (Mambo, Merengue Urbano, Tipico) Antony Santos Merengue Dominican Republic
Después De Un Beso Después de un Beso - Haciendo Historia Havana D’Primera Son Cuba
Otro Muerde el Polvo Otro Muerde el Polvo (Another One Bites the Dust) - Los Míticos del Ritmo (Soundway Records) [feat. Quantic] Los Miticos Del Ritmo Cumbia Colombia

 

Saskatchewan Salsa and Bachata Congress

At this time last year the Latin dance community of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan was partying it up at the Mega Mambo Show and Fiesta.  The event, organized by Carmen Gonza of Danza Morena Latin Dance Academy, attracted a local crowd as well as dancers from the surrounding area.  It consisted of a small number of workshops and a few performances many of which were put on by students of the Academy; it was an intimate event that had lots of local support.  This year Carmen organized another Latin dance event in Saskatoon only this time it wasn’t just a local affair.  Carmen went all out and brought the Saskatchewan Salsa and Bachata Congress to this prairie town.  By comparison, the the Mega Mambo Show and Fiesta was held in a small 100 person capacity church hall, featured primarily local dancers and instructors and organized by a small group of dedicated volunteers.  The Saskatchewan Congress on the other hand was held at the Saskatoon Inn Conference center with the capacity for 1000 people.  There were 10 different dance schools in attendance from all over Western Canada showing off their best as well as seven incredible international dance groups.  This year’s workshops were put on by internationally renowned instructors who have taught at congresses from Europe to Asia.  The organizers were again a dedicated group of locals, however they know had the support and guidance of the most successful Salsa congress organizer in the world, Albert Torres.

I had the opportunity to attend the Congress, take some of the workshops and meet some of the amazing dancers, as well as Albert Torres himself.  For a man who travels 50 weeks of the year promoting some of the most successful and talked about Salsa congresses on the planet, Albert Torres is a very down to earth and approachable guy and very hard working.  Not only does he help promote and provide dance talent for the events he co-produces, he also attends most (if not all) of them and helps out with the selling of merchandise.  On top of that you will find him dancing the night away until the wee hours of the morning.  The man apparently does not sleep.

I also had the opportunity to speak with the main DJ for the event, Robert Arnold Rodriguez who has been working with the Albert Torres’ Salsa Congresses since the first LA congress 15 years ago.  Back then it was purely a Salsa event.  However, Rob explained that these days with the huge surge in the popularity of bachata, the congress format has changed to highlight both dance styles.

The Congress was well organized and a ton of fun: performers, dancers, spectators, and volunteers had nothing but good things to say.  Albert Torres had a lot to do with the success of the event but much credit needs to be given to Carmen Gonza.  This lady had a dream of bringing the excitment of Latin dance to the middle of farm country Canada in a big way and she did it with this Congress.  My understanding is that this will not be the last big congress we see in Saskatoon.  I (and many other people) am expecting a repeat of this awesome event next year and when it happens I highly recommend you check it out.  The price is right, the location is beautiful and the dancing is some of the best in the world.

I’ll leave you with some videos of the international performers featured at the Congress.  Unfortunately, I was only able to find one video from the congress itself; the other videos are of the same routines  but filmed at other venues.

Alien Ramirez – Cuba

Jefferson Benjumea & Adriana Avila – Colombia

Dave and Zoe – New York

Rodrigo & Selene – Mexico

Jorge Contreras & Alien Ramirez – Cuba and Dominican Republic

Questions, comments, requests? Send me an email.

Hasta la próxima

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