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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Two Flavours of Bachata

May Playlist Highlights

Song

 

Artist

Category

Origin

Dame La Luz Dame la Luz - Arrasando Los Van Van Salsa Cuba
El Barrio El Barrio - La Sonora Libre 01 La Sonora Libre Salsa Ecuador/Spain
Anoche Soñé Contigo Anoche Soñé Contigo - Ecos del Barrio La Excelencia Salsa USA
Mambo Yo Yo Ricardo Lemvo Salsa Angola/USA
Que No Pase El Tiempo Pedrito Calvo Jr Salsa Cuba
Puerto Rico 2006 Puerto Rico 2006 - Decisión Unánime Victor Manuel Salsa USA
Que no Se Te Olvide Que No Se Te Olvide (Bachata Version) - I Love Bachata 2011 (16 Bachata Hits) Issac Delgado Bachata Cuba
Las Cosas Pequeñas Las Cosas Pequeñas - Phase II Prince Royce Bachata USA
Vocales de amor Vocales de Amor - El Duque de la Bachata Joan Soriano Bachata Dominican Republic
Dajabon Dajabon - Todo Exitos Luis Vargas Merengue Dominican Republic
Ahora Soy Yo Ahora Soy Yo (Album) - Viviendo Al Tiempo Eddy Herrera Merengue Dominican Republic
Quand tu n’es pas la Quand tu n'es pas la - Kizomba Summer 2011 Soumia Zouk France
Ay Que Rico Ay Que Rico (Oh How Good) - La Perfecta II Eddie Palmieri Cha Cha Cha USA

 

Two Flavours of Bachata

 Bachata is guitar based music from the Dominican Republic that has been around since the early 1900’s and has origins in Cuban bolero, Puerto Rican jibaro and West African and Caribbean rhythms.  Like many other Latin genres, it is made up of many sub-genres.  That being the case, for the sake of this article I am going to group bachata music of the last 20 years into two main sub-genres: classic and modern.  Classic bachata has a more traditional guitar heavy sound and features a lead, rhythm and bass guitar along with a güira and bongos.  Modern bachata on the other hand may feature the guitar but also draws on synthesized sounds and other musical styles such as hip-hop and reggaeton.  Also, modern bachata will often contain Spanish/English lyrics whereas classic bachata is sung mainly in Spanish.  These sub-genres share the same roots but can sound worlds apart.  Below I have highlighted a couple of artists and their recent work that typifies this.

Phase II by Prince Royce:  Geoffrey Royce Rojas aka Prince Royce, the 22 year old native of the Bronx, New York exploded on to the modern bachata scene with his self-titled debut album, Prince Royce, in 2010.  He is one of the poster boys of modern bachata, a group that includes such teen heartthrobs as Romeo Santos (Aventura), Toby Love and the members of Xtreme.  His first album, co-produced by Sergio George , reached number one on the US Billboard Latin Album chart.  It contained two smash hits “Stand by Me” and “Corazon Sin Cara” and sold enough copies to go double platinum.  Phase II, released in April of this year, is Prince Royce’s second offering and is starting to enjoy similar success.  Not quite as amazing as his first, it still has all the polish and is just as danceable as his debut album.  Phase II contains a collection of bachata songs that typify the modern bachata style: sexy, easy to listen to and easy to dance to.  The first single from the album, Las Cosas Pequeñas, is included in this month’s play list.

El Duque de la Bachata by Joan Soriano:  A native of the Dominican Republic, Joan Soriano was born in a rural area just outside Santo Domingo and is the 7th of 15 children.  Despite an inability to read music he is an exceptional bachata guitarist who has been lending is guitar and arranging talents to other artists since the early 1980’s.  In 2008 he began making music for himself and El Duque de la Bachata, released in 210, is his first international release.  Joan’s music would be considered progressive by traditional bachata standards but his sound is definitely classic bachata and it comes through in this album.  His steel string guitar playing is beautiful and the songs are a pleasure to listen to.  The album is not as polished as most modern bachata albums but this only adds to the music.  A documentary by the same name is also available and provides a window into Joan’s humble Dominican roots and the making of the album.

These two bachateros and their albums are literally worlds apart.  That said, both albums are fantastic in their own right and great examples of bachata music in general.  If you are a fan of bachata I highly recommend checking them out.

Questions, comments, requests? Send me an email.

Hasta la próxima

 

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