Club Contact

The new MP3 blog from London's club Contact. The idea is to allow people to hear new music they wouldn't have otherwise found but, if anyone has any copyright issues with a particular song, i'll take the link down. Songs are only available for a limited amount of time.

Monday, October 10, 2005

When a city has you pining for the relative safety of Moscow or Port Of Spain it's likely that you'll have better things to do than worry about new music. However, if you can take your mind off dodging bullets for a while, Caracas in Venezuela is a fairly good place to sample what's going on in the rest of Latin America. Here are a few things that are popular over there at the moment.

I remember watching an Argentine TV soap opera called Kachorra, initially because of the comedy value inherent in Slovak dubbing which sees every character, even small female children, voiced by the same gruff old man, and becoming totally captivated by a purple-haired Uruguayan actress called Natalia Oreiro. Flicking about music TV stations later I saw the same girl in a shiny green bikini riding a missile and, if memory serves correctly, being chased by an irate space monkey. Naturally, I was hooked. It wasn’t until some time later that I got her fantastic album Turmalina. She sounds a bit like Shakira, Puffy and Nelly Furtado all rolled into one - superb Latin-tinged guitary pop and massive ballads supplemented by a choir of little Catholic schoolchildren. Her earlier albums aren't up to much but she’s an absolute star.

Buy Turmalina

Shakira doesn't need much in the way of introduction. Her new album (which, although you wouldn't know it from the greased-up krumping of the La Tortura video, is rather gentle and lovely) hasn't been much of a hit over here but she's still the region's biggest star. Ojos Asi, her finest song, sees her getting back to her Lebanese roots. It was included in the English-language version of Laundry Service as Eyes Like Yours but sounds much better in the original Spanish.

Buy Shakira stuff

Shakira's Colombian compatriot Juanes is currently the biggest male draw in South America, yes, even bigger than Ricky Martin. He's also remarkably popular in Germany - the new album Mi Sangre has been in the top ten for quite some time. The brilliant A Dios Le Pido, from his solo debut Un Dia Normal, was the hit that broke him to English-language radio in the US.

Buy Juanes stuff

The inappropriately-fanciable Belinda Peregrin Schull is essentially a Mex Hilary Duff but with superior songs. Sixteen this year, her self-titled debut recorded at thirteen is completely generic girly pop-punk but still thoroughly enjoyable.

Buy Belinda stuff

Molotov are one of Mexico's biggest rock groups and, despite flirtations with funk-metal, one of the best. They throw the whole kitchen sink into their records - punk guitars, electro synths, hip-hop beats and Latin accordions - the end result is genuinely quite odd but frequently exceptionally good. Their Con Todos Respeto album (complete with cover of Rock Me Amadeus) and previous Dance And Dense Denso, from which i've taken Here We Kum, are worth picking up.

Buy Molotov Stuff

The much-vaunted "summer of reggaeton" didn't quite come off, did it? Ah well. Tego Calderon of Puerto Rico is one of the genre's biggest stars and has guested on records by Cypress Hill and N.O.R.E. The excellent Metele Sazon is available on a few underground compilations but i'm not sure if it has made it on to any proper albums yet.

Buy Tego Calderon stuff

The real tough guys don't bother with gangster rap or reggaeton - they're much more likely to be listening to traditional-sounding Mexican ballads performed by outlandishly-dressed middle-aged men. To the uninitiated, Narcocorridos seem inoffensive enough but they are, without question, the region's most controversial genre and have been banned in many places. The "narco" may be a clue - they're generally thought of as Mexican drug ballads, telling the story of the dealers and traffickers who ply their trade across the US border. As with hip-hop, charges that they glorify gangsterism are countered with the argument that they are simply documenting the struggles of the country's poor. Even more controversially, many also document grotesesque murders, often of women. Narcocorridos have formed the backbone of stories in both C.S.I and The Shield. The grand-daddies of the style are Los Tigres Del Norte - Jose Perez Leon, the tale of an immigrant who suffocated trying to smuggle himself into the United States is from their superb Pacto De Sangre CD.

Buy Los Tigres Del Norte stuff


  • At 3:55 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for that Natalia Oreiro track. She should spend a little more time singing and a little less acting.

    After Shakira's initial success in the English speaking markets we had releases from Thalia and Paulina Rubio which flopped - and I remember thinking at the time that the one other South American artist who did have the potential for follow Shakira's lead was Oreiro.

  • At 4:25 pm, Blogger ShariVari said…

    Absolutely. Her record company did try to break her in Europe but they generally just stuck to the places where her soaps were big - Poland, Russia and the Czech and Slovak republics. She did well over there, especially in Russia, but they never pushed on to the markets in the West. She has quite a few TV projects running at the moment so i'm not sure we can expect any more music soon.

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