This week’s American Idol just might have been the most dismal episode the show has ever had. While I don’t think there is one breakout talent this year, what made this week even worse was the its theme: Latin Music. The only thing fun was getting to watch Jennifer Lopez offer up suggestions. Considering she is the Paula Abdul of her musical generation, Melinda and LaKisha must have been thinking, "you are not even in my league, so watch what you say."
My Please Explain this week goes a lot farther than Jennifer Lopez, as I can’t name you one authentic Latin musical artist that I would want to hear. Gloria Estefan quite possibly is my least favorite, big selling artist of all-time. Sorry but the rhythm isn’t going to get me….tonight (or ever). Her attitude and her singing tone always came off abrasive to me. While I don’t think Shakira is that great either, at least she has a hypnotic shake to her rumba. Whenever I see Estefan perform, it reminds me of some second-rate show on a cruise ship. During the Elian Gonzalez fiasco, Estefan was out front in the cause of separating the young boy from his father. At the time, I wrote that I was okay with Gonzalez staying in America, as long as Estefan was sent in exchange to Cuba.
I’m not an elitist in my musical tastes, as I can still listen to classic rock radio and enjoy what is playing. Do I want to hear a Boston block party or double shot of REO Speedwagon? Not particularly, but even these groups have a few songs I can put up with. Now here’s my confession. I have never liked one Santana tune. Ever. I will hear some people put him in the category with guitar heroes like Hendrix, Clapton, and Beck. Don’t even try to explain that one to me.
I’ve dated a Black Magic Woman during my past, which was pretty exciting, but Santana’s biggest hit of the same title doesn’t capture the vibe of it for me. I understood the basic charm of Santana’s solo album monster hit, Smooth. The guitar hook had a sexy groove to it, but what made it a smash was the vocals of Rob Thomas. After being overplayed more than any song I can think of over the past 10 years, it creates a violent reaction in me to turn the dial when it comes on, but I guess I’m in the minority considering how it still gets airplay.
While Carlos Santana could be a Please Explain category all by himself, I want to tackle the bigger issue which is that I believe most Latin Music es mierda. I’ve been to most Latin countries and love almost everything about the culture. I can remember spending a couple weeks in Panama and having the best time taking in the scenery and the sites. The one thing that made it easier for me to go back home to the cold was that I wouldn’t have to hear the cha-cha-cha of the music that was constantly blaring in the restaurants and nightclubs.
I tried to rack my brain to come up with Latin musicians that I could say I’ve enjoyed. Julio or Enrique Iglesias? Ha! Gypsy Kings? Sorry, I tried. You can go all the way back to Sergio Mendes or more recently, the plague that was the Macarena and I will consistently tell you it was lame. The perpetual suckitude of Latin Music just proves how great Los Lobos were during the first few albums of their career, as they were able to use some Latin Musical tenets and make really good music. I would argue that like Richie Valens, Los Lobos always let the rock overtake the Latin influence during their peak years. This was their winning formula.
So you can keep your Rico Suave. Personally I don’t need a Selena tribute act. Menudo? I say Menu-NO!
Please Explain Latin Music.