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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Reggaeton – Today and Tomorrow

September Playlist Highlights

Song (YouTube)

Artist

Category

Origin

Dile Dile - The Gold Series: The Last Don Don Omar Reggaeton Puerto Rico
Dutty Love Dutty Love (feat. Natti Natasha) - Don Omar Presents MTO2 - New Generation Don Omar ft Natti Natasha Reggaeton Puerto Rico
Danza Kuduro Danza Kuduro - Meet the Orphans Don Omar Kuduro Puerto Rico
Gasolina Gasolina (En Directo) - Barrio Fino (En Directo) [Bonus Track Version] Daddy Yankee Reggeaton Puerto Rico
Ven Conmigo Ven Conmigo (feat. Prince Royce) - Ven Conmigo (feat. Prince Royce) - Single Daddy Yankee Dance Puerto Rico
Sexy Moviminto Sexy Movimiento - Los Extraterrestres Wisin y Yandel Reggaeton Puerto Rico
Follow the Leader Follow the Leader (feat. Jennifer Lopez) - Líderes Wisin y Yandel Dance Puerto Rico
Pa Que Se Lo Gozen Tego Calderón Reggaeton Puerto Rico
Pegaito a la Pared PEGAITO a la PARED - Pegaito a la Pared - Single (Digital Only) Tego Calderón Reggaeton Puerto Rico
Papi Te Quiero Papi Te Quiero - DIVA- Platinum Edition Ivy queen Reggaeton Puerto Rico
Dime Dime - Most Wanted Ivy queen Bachata Puerto Rico
Peligro De Extinción Peligro de Extinción - Musa Ivy queen Latin Fusion Puerto Rico

 

Part II

In part one of this two part series we delved into the origins of reggaeton music.  In part two we will look at some of the top reggaeton artists of today and what YouTube can tell us about how reggaeton is evolving.

Don Omar

Possibly the most successful reggaeton artist ever, Don Omar (aka William Omar Landrón Rivera) has been making reggaeton music since the early 2000’s.  His first studio album, “The Last Don”, was released in 2003 and is 100% reggaeton.  Some of the more popular tracks from the album are “Dile”, “Dale Don Dale” and “Pobre Diabla” with “Dile” having the most YouTube views at 35 million*.  Fast forward to 2010 and the release of his album “Meet the Orphans”.  On this album and it’s follow up, “MTO II” Omar moves away from pure reggaeton to include a number of other musical styles.  Like “The Last Don”, these new albums contain several hit songs.  However, according to the view counts in YouTube it’s the non-reggaeton songs that are the most popular.  Granted “Dutty Love” and “Hasta Abajo” have over 49 and 30 million views respectively.  However,  the smash hits “Danza Kuduro” and “Taboo” have a combined total of almost 500 million views.  As I mentioned in my last blog post, “Danza Kuduro” is a take on Kuduro music from Angola and “Taboo” is a take on Lambada from Brazil.

Daddy Yankee

One of the originals from the early underground/reggaeton scene, Daddy Yankee (aka Ramón Luis Ayala Rodríguez) has been making music since the mid 90’s.  However, it wasn’t until the release of the song “Gasolina” that his commercial success took off.  “Gasolina”, from the 2004 “Barrio Fino” album, is one of the anthems of reggaeton music.  Internationally successful, the song reached to number 2 on charts in Denmark and Italy and number 32 on the US Billboard top 100.   The song has 22 million views on YouTube.  Yankee’s latest album “Mundial” was released in 2010 with the most popular song on the album being the merengue influenced “La Despedida” (included in the  MPop blog post playlist) with 25 million YouTube views.  Yankee’s next album “Prestige” comes out this month and of the three singles that have already been released the most popular is the dance influenced collaboration with Prince Royce “Ven Conmigo” with a YouTube view count of 60 million.

Wisin y Yandel

Juan Luis Morera Luna and Llandel Veguilla Malavé are the Puerto Rican duo known collectively as Wisin y Yandel.  Like Daddy Yankee, Wisin y Yandel are early arrivers to the reggaeton scene dating back to 1998.  Some of their popular reggaeton work includes songs such as “Pam Pam” (2005, 10 million YouTube views), “Pegao” (2006, 11 million YouTube views), and “Sexy Movimiento” (2008, 13 million YouTube views).  Their latest album “Los Líberes” was released in July of this year.  The top song from that album is the dance influenced collaboration with Jenifer Lopez “Follow the Leader” with a YouTube view count of 60 million.

Ivy Queen

Women are much less prominent in the reggaeton world than their male counterparts but Ivy Queen (aka Martha Ivelisse Pesante) is one of the few exceptions. She has been involved in underground/reggaeton music since its early days with her first albums being released in the late 90s.  Her first reggaeton album, “Diva” was released in 2003 and the most popular song from the album is “Papi Te Quiero” with about 3 million YouTube views.  However, like the other artists I have listed her most popular song on YouTube is not reggaeton.  It’s the 2008 bachaton song “Dime” with almost 7 million views.  She released a new album, “Musa”, at the end of last month.  The first single off that album, “Peligro de Extinción”, is not reggaeton either but Latin fusion.  The song only has about 100, 000 views.  However, it is currently her top selling song on iTunes (the track is not available on iTunes Canada).

 Tego Calderón

At 40 years of age Tego Calderón (aka Tegui Calderón Rosario) is one of the older artists in the reggaeton scene.  He has gained recognition not only for his music but also for his socially conscience lyrics, a rarity in modern reggaeton.  Though very talented he has not achieved the same internationally popularity of the other male artists in this list.  Searching for him on YouTube you will find that his two most viewed songs are almost 10 years old: “Metele Sazon” from 2003 (15 million views) and “Pa Que Se Lo Gozen” also from 2003 (5 million views).  Calderón appears to be more interested in making good music by his standards (reggaeton or otherwise) and less interested in making music that will sell albums.  Case in point, Calderón has stated that he finds modern reggaeton has become too much like pop music and for the first single, “Pegaito a la Pared”, from his upcoming ablum, “Mr T”,  he has incorporated more elements of dancehall and reggae.

 

YouTube views are not exactly a scientific measure of the direction reggaeton music is headed.  However, I think they are a good indication of the music people are seeking out and what I take from these view counts is that audiences are showing a preference for the non-reggaeton music put out by reggaeton artists.  In turn, commercially successful artists and those that want to be commercially successful are turning more and more to non-reggaeton music to increase their popularity.  There still is a big market for pure reggaeton but what I see (and hear) is that the music is moving away from the dem dow driven tracks of the past 10 years.  How reggaeton evolves  is anyone’s guess but like any popular genre the more popular it is the more it sounds like pop music.

Questions, comments, requests? Send me an email at djyeayea_at_salsaddiction.com

Hasta la próxima

 

* There are often multiple videos for the same song on YouTube.  For view counts listed in this post I took the count from the video that had the most views.  The YouTube view counts are current as of Sept 1, 2012.
 
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