Yes, it's that horrible time of the year again. Time to kick-start the season of the always annoying, pointless and redundant Best Of The Year lists. So, as I did last year, this first Top-11 of 2009 is for the new songs I played the most in my DJ sets during the past twelve months.
1) “Fuego” by Bomba Estereo: This was the very first new hit of 2009. I found out about it in January, downloaded it and right away and started playing it at almost every gig. Nacional Records for some reason delayed the official release until later in the summer and then the video came out and... boom! Everybody was talking about it and everybody had a crush on Li Saumet after their performances in SXSW and LAMC. In my Billboard piece I predicted it was going to be the first neo-cumbia crossover, and guess what, it ended up being the music for a Mc Donald’s TV commercial!
Unfortunately the song doesn’t work as well in the parties as I hoped. I thought it was going to be an instant smash and make the dancefloor go crazy, I thought it was pop and catchy enough to please the mainstream top-40 Latino dancers, but somehow, for some odd reason, they are not getting it. That doesn’t mean that I’m gonna stop insisting. It has a great cumbia beat that’s irresistible for DJ’s and you can easily blend it with almost anything. Bomba Estereo is the best thing to come out of Colombia in a long time and that’s saying a lot since Colombia is an infinite source of amazing music.
Note: This is the third, yes, third time I post this video on this blog!
2) “El Campanero (Remix)” by Aniceto Molina: This has been around for a while now but I discovered it in 2009 when it was included in the neo-cumbia compilation Arriba La Cumbia, released in Europe, in sale in the US as import. I downloaded it so I don’t have the liner notes, hence I don’t know who did the remix but I’ve been playing it non-stop all throughout 2009 with great response from all types of crowds, alternative and mainstream. There’re two problems with this remix though, the intro is way too long and the beat tempo is not constant which makes it harder to blend. Otherwise, it’s a great song and people love it. There’s a remix of the remix, done in Argentina by DJ Toty with some Tego Calderón’s vocals, even better!
3) “El Toma Soli (remix)” by La Liga: This is a cumbia villera from Argentina that I’ve been playing also at every gig during 2009 and it works equally well on the alternative and mainstream crowds. I also included a bit of it in Linyerismo Episode I. The rhythm is irresistible even for the Anglo crowd and the sing-along chorus catches on the Spanish speakers right away, even if they don’t know the song. La Liga are not yet crossover popular even among Argentine community but the singing (mix of soccer hooligan chanting and Los Pericos’ Bahiano signature vocal style) sounds strangely familiar, plus the lyrics are quite good (their cover of the classic tango joint “Se Dice De Mi” is equally amazing). I haven’t heard any other DJ’s around playing this one yet, so it kinda became my signature joint of 2009.
4) “Bus Estación” by Los Labios: I mentioned this one a few times before on this blog, so by now I assume everybody downloaded it, since it’s a freebie. Los Labios was my happiest discovery of the year and this song is beautiful and addictive. It gave me goose bumps the first time I heard it and every time I have a chance I play it. It doesn’t really work very well with the mainstream crowd though. It’s not a DJ oriented track, it doesn’t have any good break to make easier blending, but the rhythm is catchy enough to play the whole track if you have the right audience. I hope somebody from the Zizek Collective will do a good remix of it.
5) “El Sonidito” by Hechizeros Band: The biggest crossover hit so far of that bizarre thing Mexicans call Pasito Duranguense. This shit is fucking ridiculous! It’s just a cheap keyboard played with two fingers and some percussion plus a guy making corny announcements on top. That’s it. I first thought this was just for taquería workers but then I heard Disco Shawn playing it at Tormenta Tropical and the crowd of gringo hipsters was going berserk. So, next time I tried it at a big party with snobby upscale top-40 listening Latinos and the response was surprisingly positive, although I got many weird looks from my friends like “you... playing THIS?” because they all know how I openly despise and make fun of all Mexican chunty music. But hey, if it works it works and this track does it. There’s a remix with reggaetoneros Angel & Khriz that works even better.
6) “International Love” by Fidel Nadal: Back in the mid 90’s Fidel had a hand full of crossover hits with his band Todos Tus Muertos (and as a guest toaster in Manu Chao's band Mano Negra). Then he broke off from that group and went solo to focus in his newly found rastafarian faith, leaving his punk attitude behind. The reggae crowd in Argentina embraced him, but he released like a hundred albums during this new phase without one decent hit... until now. With the auto-tuned “International Love” Fidel went back to the ears of the mainstream causing plenty of accusations of selling out by the orthodox reggae followers. True, the song is idiotic to the max, most of the lyrics don’t make any sense (which triggered many parodies) but still, from a DJ perspective at least it’s a great track, especially in the super hyper Toy Selectah remix.
7) “Hay Guey” by Tzochitl Soundsystem vs Toy Selectah: In 2009 the former Control Machete DJ has been more active than ever with the release of his Mad Decent compilation of remixes and the even more amazing Bersa Discos vinyl EP that includes this excellent neo-cumbia track. I have no fucking idea who that impossible-to-spell-whatever-Soundsystem is, and I won’t even bother googling it because it already gave me a headache to type it here this one time. That’s ok, all you need to know is that “Hay Guey” (which should actually be spelled “Ay güey” in proper Spanish, but who cares? It’s cumbia! Right?) is the “La Mara Tomaza” of 2009. Remember how El Hijo De La Cumbia’s “La Mara Tomaza” (which was spelled with an “s” on ZZK Sound Vol. 1 but with a “z” on Hijo’s debut album, but once again, who cares, besides crazy me?) was the best instrumental neo-cumbia of 2008? I don’t know if “Guey” beats “Mara” but they certainly go side by side in the irresistible make-everyfuckingbody-dance category.
8) “Nada de Nada” by Farmacia: I have a thing for late 80’s and early 90’s synth-pop. It was like a hidden guilty pleasure for a long time but I became vocal about it in the last couple of years. In 2009 I’ve been resident DJ at a weekly night at a bar in San Francisco that tried to appeal to the gay and/or gay friendly Latino crowd. Now, according to the music they play at the clubs that niche crowd goes, they must have the most horrible music taste in the world, Thalía, Paulina Rubio, Fey... yikes! In my imaginary parallel universe however, Latin gays are hip and listen to cool synth-pop en español like Miranda, Belanova, Leo García or this song by Farmacia. So that’s what I played at that bar and of course they didn’t come, but I had a lot of fun trying. This song, which I discovered thanks to the great movie “Los Paranoicos,” was also included in my mixtape Linyerismo Episode II mashed up with a cumbia beat.
9) “Cartagena” by Sonido Del Príncipe: If there was such a thing as The Hard Data Awards, Sonido del Príncipe would’ve definitely been nominated for Best New Neo-Cumbia artist and would have won the award for Best Non-Latino Producer To Fuck Around With Cumbia. This Dutch motherfucker came out from nowhere and beat the Latinos in their own game. He released a bunch of tracks during 2009, most of them mash-ups, all of them amazing. This one was included in ZZK Sound Vol.2 and from a DJ point of view is the best track of the comp. I look forward for Bersa Discos putting out a vinyl EP of his tracks.
10) “DJ DJ” by Zion-I: This electro DJ anthem is just irresistible. I loved Zion-I since I first discovered them in ’99 but none of their albums since their debut has been as exciting as The Take Over, released in 2009. It includes this awesome club banger with bilingual lyrics by guest MC Deuce Eclipse (thus, it qualifies as Latin and can be considered for this ranking) and like any 130BPM electro track, it’s great to mix and blend and remix live. I held an electro-oriented club night for lesbians during the first half of this year and this song was frequently chosen as a set opener and many times I even played twice throughout the night.
11) “Calle Ocho (I know you want me)” by Pitbull: I don’t think it’s necessary to clarify that I obviously despise this fucking Miami gusano douchebag almost as much as I hate Daddy Yankee. But in the exact same way that sometimes I’d play some Daddy Yankee songs because, from a strictly functional point of view, they always work with almost every crowd, I’ve been forced many times to throw this one in my sets during the summer season of 2009. Now you know that I’m a music snob and as such, I should be hating all cheap, cheesy, annoying summer hits, but hey, sometimes as a DJ you have to play for a crowd of mostly drunken horny retards with the music taste of a 13 year old Catholic school girl and you feel uninspired and bombarded by their idiotic requests and oh well, you gotta throw the fucking Pitbull song, why? Because it works. Simply as that.
Note to DJs and producers: I’ve been mashing it up live with Palenke Soultribe’s “Celosa” and it matches perfectly, especially since the chorus melody is almost the same. Somebody should make a remix out of that.