Saturday, December 22, 2012


As usual, the criteria used to select these songs is  purely based on my own experience as DJ, playing these songs at my sets during different parties in 2012 and judging their impact in the crowd after hand-picking them based exclusively my very own personal taste. Needless to say, only dance-oriented music makes it into this list, which is only a small fraction of the wide range of music I listen to on a daily basis. Extra features, like a dope video or the song being available on vinyl always add points to get into this ranking. 

1.- Elmayonesa - La Guaymallenina

I don't understand why isn't everybody else going crazy for this track. It was definitely the biggest surprise from 2012 for me and the track I enjoyed playing the most in my sets. The lyrics, the beat, the synths, the video, there's nothing I dislike about this, except for the fact that it wasn't pressed on vinyl. Plus, it's free! How come I haven't heard any other DJ play this yet? 

2.- Los Master Plus - El Gran Vacilón
You'll notice there're a lot of covers in this year's top-11 and that's because I've been playing a lot for a culturally mixed crowd, more leaning towards the mainstream, where familiar tunes with an exotic twist always work the best. Of course, I always rather spin the Latinized covers of said familiar tunes. This one here was the one that worked the best on the dancefloors. Plus, the lyrics are absurd and hilarious and I saw these guys play it live and they killed it. 

3.- Alika - Jenjibre
Best video of the year would go for this Uruguayan-born rapper who built her successful solo career in Argentina around reggae and dancehall (and some ñu-cumbia collaborations). Besides the mind-blowing video, everything about this song is on point, her rhymes, her flow, the beat, etc. Excellent. 

4.- Danay Suarez & Los Aldeanos - Check La Rima 
And here's another cover of a familiar Anglo rap song in a Latinized version, but a lot less ironic. Some of the best Cuban rappers got together for this improvised studio session under the guidance of UK's Gilles Peterson and the result is a delight to all the senses from beginning to end. I said it last year and I still stand by it, Danay Suarez is the best Spanish-language female MC, worldwide. 

5.- Campo - Cumbio
The song that gave birth to the whole Campo solo project is also, in my opinion, the best one in the album (but that was a really hard choice, because, like I pointed out on the previous top-11, I love the whole album). The lyrics make little, if any, sense, but the singing style, so British (even though the singer is Uruguayan), somehow perfectly matches the cumbia beat and all of a sudden a whole new genre is born.   

6.- Los TransatlánticosLa Receta
Yet another Latinized cover, or semi-cover maybe, this time of a classic dancehall song. The video, however, doesn't live up to the song's incredible dance-floor igniting potential. I played it to all kinds of audiences and everybody loves it. 

7.- Los Míticos Del Ritmo - Otro Muerde El Polvo
Of all the songs listed so far, this one is the only one that's available on vinyl, that I know off. Another Latinized cover, this time of Queen's funkiest tune. The rest of the album wasn't bad at all, but every time I grab it, I instinctively go for this track and forget about the rest. 

8.- Ana Tijoux - Shock (Captain Planet Remix)
In its original version, "Shock" was a really pretty good song, but it wouldn't make anybody dance. The only chance my friend Ana Tijoux had of entering this top-11 was with a remix and who's a better remixer nowadays than Captain Planet? I mean, this guy has the midas touch. I wish Ana was more open to explore the dance potential of her rapping and doing collaborations with producers like this one. 

9.- The Funk Ark – El Rancho Motel
Nice instrumental soul-cumbia from the funkiest white guys band ever. Produced by Grupo Fantasma's Adrián Quesada, The Funk Ark's latest album is not really Latin But Cool per se, because it's not truly Latin, but it's plenty of cool. I also saw them live doing some kick-ass chicha covers that would be dope if they recorded and released. 

10.- Mati Zundel - Señor Montecostez 
This one was picked last year for best video and now it enters the best song ranking because the album came out in 2012. The song was also included in the Future Sounds Of Buenos Aires compilation, albeit, with a misspelling on the album back-cover (senior?). 

11.- Orion & King Louie - Tin Tin (Peligrosa Remix)
DJ Sabo's boutique label started pressing vinyl again (yay!), and earlier this year they released this moombahton EP comp. As you know I wasn't one to jump onto the buzzed-out Moombah passing fad (a "genre" with the life span of a twitter hashtag), but there're a few tracks I always play on my sets, this one being one of them.


Gab said...

Excelent. Greeting from Arg

Unknown said...

I totally agree with some of your picks (like Mati Zundel) but how is that the #1 pick? Do you mean you choose this as a DJ or as a listener of music? Because I can see you looping a segment of Elmayonesa/Guaymallenina but I find it hard to listen all the way through as a listener of music. You listen to 10 seconds, you've got the whole song.

Unknown said...

I totally agree with some of your picks (like Mati Zundel) but how is that your #1 song of the year? Are you saying that as a DJ or as a listener? I can see you looping a couple of bars of that song as a DJ, doing a mix. But as a straight up, old-school listener of music, 10 seconds of that Elmayonesa song is pretty much all you need. The song doesn't go anywhere interesting. I love your blog, and I love what you do, just not sure where you're coming from on that one! :)

Campo/Cumbio I love. Great pick there. And thanks for repping Cuba and Los Aldeanos -- they are totally the cutting edge and making daring statements in a country where censorship is the norm.

Juan Data said...

The idea of ElMayonesa's song being so repetitive that only one loop could sum it up couldn't be more wrong from my perspective. For starters it has lyrics, you can't loop that. The lyrics you might not be able to understand for the abusive use of vernacular slang, but trust me they are really funny and very well constructed structure-wise. It also has a chorus that's musically quite different from the rest and then it has those massive break-downs that work great with the crowds. So I don't really know how as a DJ you could replace all that with just one loop on repeat.
My criteria to chose the songs was explained at the top and it's very simple: I just chose the songs that I play on my DJ sets the most and had a good response from the crowd. This one in particular I particularly enjoyed playing it the most and that's totally subjective. You don't need to agree. That's the beauty of doing a very personal and openly opinionated blog. I'm not claiming any of my statements are conclusive, and everybody is welcomed to disagree and pick their own faves.

Unknown said...

Whoa, whoa, Juan -- this is the comments section so I'm just giving my comments and of course no 2 people are going to agree on everything. As a music blogger with clear opinions I thought you leaving a comments section meant that you were inviting divergent opinions from your fans (like me). As a fellow lover of Latin Alternative music I thought you'd be open to some fun & lively debate about the relative merits of different songs -- definitely didn't mean to start a controversy! I was really just curious if you liked this song more as a DJ or as a listener of music.

Anyway, I think that writing about music is fun because when people disagree, you get to see people's minds working in a way totally different than yours, and when you agree, man, it's like we are all reading each others' minds. I'm sorry if it came across in anything other than a friendly discussion about a genre of music we both love.

And the reason I chose to comment today and on previous occasions is because I am a fan of your blog and generally agree with most of your music taste :) I think you rock and have a great blog :)