52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Friday, January 19, 2007

this-ism, that-ism, ism ism ism...

Evening gang. I've an extra special set of earworms for you this week, including as they do a link to a SwissToni's Earworms podcast compiled by this week's Guest Editor....

Ladies and Gentleworms, without further ado, it is my very great pleasure to introduce you to my favourite ever itinerant Canadian....

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #55 - Erika from Burnt Orange Revolution (catch it whilst you still can)

If I was going to do this strictly on the basis of those songs that have been whipping through my head, I would in all honesty have to replace a couple of the following with some of the trite offerings of the ever-increasingly-horrible Gwen Stefani or the shameful pleasure of the Pussycat Dolls. However, in the name of not having to dirty my name by confessing the true depths of my musical taste, and in order to share with you all some music you might not otherwise know, here is my special (if I can get the blasted thing to upload) Audio Complication of Mostly Mexican but At Least Reminiscent of Mexico Earworms…

Beck – Que Ondo Gűero

It’s in English and it’s written and performed by an American, but this, my friends, is what it sounds like living in Mexico .

My good friend P wrote up an excellent translation and cultural analysis of this song (in English) on his blog, if you’re interested:

Cielito Lindo – Trio Los Panchos

After living in and leaving in Scotland , any rendition of “Flower of Scotland” will make me mistily nostalgic due to associated memories and its omnipresence at that time. In England (I’m so sorry, English readers), it’s Robbie Williams’ “Angels” for the very same reasons.

This will be my Mexico song.

Perhaps the most famous traditional Mexican folksong, it not only captures the musical aesthetic that you hear blasting out of cars here (which makes an only temporarily refreshing break from the oom-ch oom-ch oom-ch common to Toronto) but the lyrics summarize the Mexican mentality towards life in a profoundly simple way:

“Ay ay ay ay, canta y no llores
Porque cantando se alegran, cieltio lindo, los corazones

Ay ay ay ay, sing and don’t cry
Because singing makes the heart glad, little heaven”

Sera Sera (Hips Don’t Lie in Spanish) – Shakira

Shakira is the top-selling Latina musical artist in the world, whether you love her or hate her, and has the business-sense to release her earwormy hits in both English and Spanish in order to capture both markets.

Now, I’m not a big fan of Shakira. Her choked-throat singing makes me cringe a lot of the time and she hawks everything from cameras to cellphones here so she is massively overexposed. I do admire her ability to wiggle her hips and have attempted unsuccessfully to replicate the movement on many separate occasions (always in the privacy of my own room), but her ribcage circles look more like epileptic seizures than seductive dancing. Everyone here assures me that she was better, more musical, more innovative, before she went blonde for the American market, but I’ve not had the courage to find out.

Yet this song does have an addictive quality. I roll my eyes when I hear the opening trumpet blast, but you know I’ll be singing it for the next four days…

Irreplaceable – Beyonce

Recognizing (or having it explained to her, as the case may be) the Shakira-led market plot of translating a hit in one language to another, Beyonce quickly released the Spanish language version of her hit English song. So successful was this remake, that she is apparently now releasing the album, “B-Day” with five new Spanish versions on it. Can anyone say ‘Show me the monnnnneeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyy!’ At least Christina Aguilera could cling to Latina roots when she re-released her first album as “Mi Relejo”

Humourously, Beyonce never bothered to make a video for the Spanish version, instead employing the much-beloved Kung Fu movie technique of bad dubbing. It’s a treat.

Me Voy – Julieta Venegas

The ever-delightful www.askmen.com describes Mexican pop-princess Julieta as follows:

" The accordion has never been as sexy as when Julieta coddles it on her lap and belts out scalding-hot Mexican rock. This multitalented singer with musical influences as diverse as burrito fillings is so hot that other stars of world music line up to collaborate with her."

I’m undecided right now as to whether I actually like her music or not – I’m leaning towards no – but this song has been literally following me around for months now. “Me voy” means quite simply “I’m going.”

Paloma Negra Chavela Vargas

I’m not sure which I love more about the divine Ms. Vargas: her rattly howling voice or her admission in 2000, at the age of 81, that she is a lesbian who may or may not have had an affair with Frida Kahlo.

Chavela Vargas is technically Costa Rican, but has been was warmly adopted as an honourary Mexican after moving here at age 14 and taking up singing “rancheras” – songs traditionally sung by men about their love for women.

This song is traditional, and includes the lyrics:

“Hay momentos en que quisiera mejor rajarme
y arrancarme ya los clavos de mi penar,
pero mis ojos se mueren si mirar tus ojos
y mi cariño con la aurora te vuelve a esperar.

There are moments when I would prefer to leave
and pull out the nails of my torment,
but my eyes die without the sight of your eyes
and my glowing love continues to await you.”

An album of songs by Chavela Vargas will leave you sobbing in foetal position on the floor, clutching a bottle of tequila and deeply regretful for every heart you’ve ever broken.

Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps – Lila Downs

I included this song on my ST compilation CD last year so at least one person will be familiar with it. It’s probably most well-known as sung by Doris Day in English in 1964 (and used on the “Strictly Ballroom” soundtrack), but it was written in Spanish back in 1947 by Cuban songwriter Osvaldo Farres. It has been sung by everyone from Nat King Cole to Geri Halliwell, as well as in Turkish (“Senden, benden, bizden”) and Jamaican ska (“rude, rude, rude”). This version, featured in the movie “Tortilla Soup” is in both English and Spanish.

The rhythm of this song is typically Cuban, not Mexican, but it makes me need to salsa in the worst way. If only I knew how to salsa.

Lila Downs is the pride of Mexico, and happens to live very close to me although I have yet to be invited over to her house for coffee.

Tu Recuerdo – Ricky Martin featuring LaMari

I, like many people, thought the arrival of “La Vida Loca” into the world in 1999 marked the beginning of the musical apocalypse. Sure, Ricky was pretty to look at and, yes, he could shake his bonbon with remarkable appeal, but the music was trite, banal, forcibly-heterosexual, and, if forced to give it some credit, at most prime earworm material.

However, Ricky, like most of the Latino one- or two- hit wonders we know, had a very successful career both before and after he woke up in New York City , back in the old country, and this music is significantly better. After Menudo, I mean. “La Vida Loca” came from his fifth album as a solo artist and he has recorded five more since.

This song is what you would expect from the bemuscled pretty boy, but it’s pretty.

Vía Láctea - Zoé

The album that this song comes from – “Memo Rex Commander y el Corazón Atómico de la Vía Láctea” – debuted at #1 on Mexico’s music charts, and P has had it on constant rotation on the cd player ever since its release. They’re Mexican and indie and completely brilliant, although I have yet to develop sufficient Spanish to understand the vast majority of their lyrics.

I’m actually including this in large part for the benefit of ST, as I always think of him/you when I hear it. Seems like a Spanish-version of your kind of music.

And because it’s nice to witness the wild success of a band who decided to cut their strings with a major studio (Sony, in this case) and go indie.

Li Migra – La Brujeria

You want an eye-opener as to the relatively tepid nature of English-language music, go look up this band on Wikipedia. They are allegedly a group of narcotraffickers wanted by the FBI who perform Satanic rituals onstage and who have been tied (by whom?) to the disappearance of 400+ women in Ciudad Juarez over the last decade. Their songs, like this one, provide instructions on how best to smuggle drugs across the border and highly recommend the assassination of white people. The undoctored photograph of a decapitated head on the cover of their album “Matando Gueros”(Killing Whites) is rumoured to be one of their personal victims. It’s deliciously theatrical stuff.

This one is about paying a “coyote” to take you across the border to the United States (pay attention and you could learn some wonderfully bad language):

“Te cobran to sueldo y largan to abuela
La pinche migra te esta esperando
Te devuelven despues de una paliza
La migra haya to abuela en el desierto
La mandaron a Tijuana pegada con palos
El brujo tiene contrabando bien bueno
Numeros de seguro y cartas verdes
La migra la migra
Te pegan bien duro
La migra la migra
Te pica el culo
La misma migra te pasan por lana

Earn your pay and bring your grandmother
The fucking border patrol is waiting for you
They leave you after a beating
The border patrol had your grandmother in the desert
They ordered her to Tijuana beaten with sticks
El Brujo has very good contraband
Social security numbers and green cards
Border patrol Border patrol
They hit you hard
Border patrol Border patrol
They kick your ass”

Give Peace a Chance – John Lennon

How is this Mexican?, you might ask. How indeed.

The average Mexican, contrary to the negative stereotype, works his or her tail off. One of the ways in which the woefully underemployed strive to put food on the table is wandering down the Metro cars selling everything from chewing gum to sewing kits.

The CD sellers are the most interesting, sporting backpacks with speakers in them, hollering their spiel over a blared sample of their pirated offerings. And every morning, without fail, the same fellow is there on the line I take most often, John Lennon’s floor-thumping anti-war song infecting my head for the remainder of the day.

Hence John Lennon = a consumately Mexican earworm.

And there we go. Hope you enjoy at least a couple of them, thanks so much ST for giving me the chance to submit again, and “mi casa es tu casa” if any of you ever want to swing by this incredible country!




Thanks E. One of the best and most eclectic selections yet. I can almost *see* my musical horizons expanding! May I be amongst the first to wish a feliz navidad to you and to yours.

In case this wasn't enough, all of these earworms are now available to download here. Thanks to Erika's hard work and enthusiasm, you can also download a good chunk of the last 8 guest editors' posts (RussL, the eye in the sky, Del, Martin, Jenni, Ben, Sarah and Flash).

Ah, she's a treasure. Give peace a chance.

Next Week: Suburban Hen
Forthcoming attractions: I think it's about time I did one, no?

[Previous Guest Editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko, Bee, Charlie, Tom, Di, Spin, The Ultimate Olympian, Damo, Mike, RedOne, The NumNum, Leah, Le Moine Perdu, clm, Michael, Hyde, Adem, Alecya, bytheseashore, adamant, Earworms of the Year 2005, Delrico Bandito, Graham, Lithaborn, Phil, Mark II, Stef, Kaptain Kobold, bedshaped, I have ordinary addictions, TheCatGirlSpeaks, Lord B rides again, Tina, Charlie II, Cody Bones, Poll Star, Jenni II, Martin, Del II, The Eye in the Sky, RussL, Lizzy's Hoax, Ben II, Earworms of the Year 2006, Sarah, Flash II]



  • At 9:51 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Now, the entire earworm thing just got brought up another 15 notches... maybe 16.

    its one thing to read the names of songs and maybe search them out... its another thing to download them, put them on the pod, and give em a listen to see if anything suits my own eclectic tastes.

  • At 1:46 p.m., Blogger mike said…

    Hi ST,

    Completely off-topic, but I just wanted to check you've been getting e-mails from me regarding Post of the Week...?



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