Mariachi and ‘Despacito’

So today I want to talk about music in Mexico. The amount of german music that’s present to mexican people is pretty much limited to Rammstein, Mozart and Beethoven. Other than that people might have heard of the electronic music scene in Germany and of the song “99 Luftballons” from 1990s star Nena, although the english version ’99 red balloons’ ist far more known outside of Germany, I guess.

Same applies to mexican music for us Germans – before coming to Mexico I had never heard of Alejandro Fernandez or Juan Gabriel and they are mexican superstars in the music industry. My brother in law was shocked when he found out that I didn’t know them! However, one mexican musical genre is world-famous I suppose: Mariachi music. This music than can be both happy and sad, but is mostly rather up-beat. It’s usually performed at a birthday or some other event with one or various guitars, violins, trumpets and sometimes different flutes. A typical job for a group of Mariachis is to be send to the window of a woman by the ladies boyfriend or admirer and play for her outside on the streets below her window in order to show the admirers love. Mariachi always dress up in their traditional costume when performing and where the big hats – sombreros. Lately, women can also be Mariachi, although it remains a classic male occupation.

Besides traditional mexican music, there is a lot of US-american music in the radio – sure, stars like Bon Jovi, Michael Jackson or Miley Cirus are known everywhere. The funny part is, that often songs that everyone knows and that are originally in english, have their spanish version. I have this heard with a couple of Beatles songs and with ‘Blame it on the Boogie’ from the Jackson Five (1978), which Luis Miguel (another mexican singer who has become famous in all Latin America) converted to ‘Será que no me amas’ in 1990. The lyrics are more or less similar, but it’s certainly not a direct translation. The melody however is clearly the same.

Spanish music is of course very big in Mexico – whether it comes from Spain, Colombia or any other spanish-speaking country. This means music of all genres and from a lot of different countries, but this music unites Latin America in their identity. Before I came to Mexico, I didn’t know any spanish and had never lived in a spanish-speaking country, but even I knew some songs from my childhood and youth – songs that were played on kids parties and in the radio. Of course the most famous one is ‘La Macarena’ – who doesn’t know this song?! But with some other I surprised Gus even more when singing them: ‘Veo veo’ (Tatiana), ‘Asereje’ (Las Ketchup) or ‘Hijo de la luna’ (Mecano).

Today, songs in spanish or at least in a mix of english and spanish are popular around the globe. Latin singers are conquering even the german radio – Shakira, Ricky Martin or Marc Anthony are just a few examples. Personally, I really like that the latin music is becoming more popular, however I feel a bit sad because so far, only one kind of song part of this trend: happy party music, for example ‘Loca’ or ‘La Bicicleta’ from Shakira, ‘Vayamos compañeros’ by Marquess, ‘Bailando’ from Enrique Iglesias or ‘Danza Kuduro’ by Don Omar. Don’t get me wrong – I love most of these songs and they tend to make me feel like life is easy and all you have to do is dance, but artists like Shakira, Enrique Iglesias or Ricky Martin have so much more to offer than these simple ‘party songs’. But well, apparently these are the songs people want to here – Reggaeton most of all it seems, because not only do I hear ‘Despacito’ from Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee on every street corner here in Mexico, but also in the european radio. Similar to ‘Despacito’, the following songs playing were everywhere during the last couple of months here in Mexico: ‘Subeme la Radio’ (Enrique Iglesias), ‘Chantaje’ (Shakira feat. Maluma), ‘Reggaetón lento’ (CNCO) and ‘Vente pa’ca’ (Ricky Martin feat. Maluma). Songs like this in spanish or mixed between english and spanish are incredibly popular and it seems like more and more artists follow the example of Pitbull or Daddy Yankee in this genre. The thing about this music is, that even though the lyrics usually don’t say much or talk about sex and are often disrespectful towards women, it’s music that will make you move and probably make you feel like you are in the Caribbean dancing on the streets or on the beach – it’s feel-good-music. And well, there are so many songs with no meaning – at least these ones allow you some day dreaming 😉


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