Juanes: Mi Sangre
Juanes: Mi Sangre
There seems to be two ways for a Latin artist to get his or her songs played in every club in every Romance-language country in the world. The first is with upbeat dance-pop featuring steamy lyrics about love—lost, won, whatever. The second is with thuggin’ beats, hip-hop posturing, and butt-shaking tunes that appeal to the rowdy males in the club while simultaneously obliging the mamis to move.
Colombian singer/songwriter Juanes, whose worldwide platinum record Mi Sangre was recently officially released in the U.S., has chosen the first path. His folksy reggae-hop hit “La Camisa Negra,” an ardent plea for lost love, is irresistibly danceable and highlights Juanes’ admirable diction as he crams a mouthful of words into each line. The album’s obligatory slow heartthrobber is “Para Tu Amor,” a string-laden ballad in which the balladeer describes all the things he would do for love: throw his life at her feet, wait for eternity, etc.
But Mi Sangre is more than just a clichéd, Ricky Martinesque Latin pop record thanks to complex songs such as opener “Amame,” an almost Strokes-ish postpunk song with a skipping rhythm and an irregular structure. “No Siento Penas” is another highlight—a pulsing, symphonic tune that owes much to British balladeers like Badly Drawn Boy or even Oasis’ Gallagher brothers.
The other song that you’ll hear in discotecas from Valencia to Veracruz is Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina,” the biggest butt-shaking reggaeton anthem so far. This past month saw the release of Barrio Fino En Directo, a stopgap selection of cuts from the rapper’s North/South American tour in support of his Barrio Fino major-label debut. Before launching into “King Daddy,” he tells his hometown San Juan crowd, “I want all of Boricua to put your hands in the air,” referring to the local name for Puerto Rico. He then blazes through “Dale Caliente” and a very crisp version of “Lo Que Pasó, Pasó” live in the Dominican Republic, with the crowd chiming in for the anthemic chorus of “ohs.”
That wordless hook, and a remix of “Machete” featuring a filthy freestyle (in English) from Paul Wall, proves that even if you don’t get the words, Daddy’s hotness transcends the language barrier. Versions of the love song “Tu Principe” in Juanes’ Medellin hometown and “Gasolina” back in San Juan round out an album that is mostly a statement about how widespread Daddy Yankee’s popularity is and his newfound universality in the Spanish-speaking world.