Monday, February 12, 2007

Rico Suave

Back in '91 V and I went along (with about half a dozen other people) to the UK launch of that single at the HMV store in Oxford Street. In the months before it had dominated the Billboard Chart and Gerardo's minders mistakenly believed that he should seize the opportunity to cross-over to the British market. There must have been fewer Ecuadorians in London back then than there are now. He looked like a pez out of agua in our capital and seemed relieved to chat to V and sign her copy of his single.

VH1 voted Rico Suave one of the 'Top 50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs, Ever' and Weird Al' Yankovic parodied it as Taco Grande.

Gerardo la Pelota Mejía carried on recording throughout the 90s and then transformed himself into one of the people that he seemed so under the thumb of that afternoon in London: a record company exec. It was he who brought the work of Enrique Iglesias to the anglophone market and discovered rapper Bubba Sparxxx. He would also feature in a dozen movies, including such straight-to-video classics as Pauly Shore is Dead and Sundown: The vampire in retreat.

His most recent comeback album is called 180°, a title which reflected the existential flip the artist claims to have experienced.

"I'm turning my back to a world that has given me everything; wealth and women. I've done just about everything but I slipped in a major way. Now I realize one thing: what matters most are the simple things in life, love, the invisible things, faith, truth and all that comes from the heart".

And in spite of those admirable sentiments, the album really very good, especially the reggeton version of Sueña.

Incidentally, I noticed last year in Guatemala that merengue has lost its monopoly as the music of the street to reggeton. I'm not sure this is entirely a good thing, as there is something a bit more brutal (and less inclusive) about the insistent new beats coming out of the Hispanic Caribbean. If merengue is at heart "saucy", the lyrics of grammy-winning reggeton bands like Calle 13 are pushing the envelope of machista innuendo.

No comments: