Worst. Canción. Ever.
It’s at times like these when I need earplugs
By Juan Carlos Pérez-Duthie
They are like something out of a sci-fi or horror movie, crawling up your ears, lodging themselves inside your brain, and disrupting your life. They make you frown, or groan, or go “Huh?”
Bad songs. They are everywhere, and megastars - in spite of the hype, the money, and the resources - are not immune to them. Musical travesties can become hits and even win awards.
Awards shows tend to celebrate achievements, popularity, or sales. Let’s be honest, no one necessarily talks about quality here. And the Latin music industry is no exception. And worse yet, Latin music awards have no sense of humor. Whatsoever.
No, I don’t mean having comedian Eugenio Derbez as a host. It’s the humor of poking fun at the industry itself. In that respect, music could learn from the Razzie Awards which are handed out by the Golden Raspberry Award Foundation (you gotta love that name). Their purpose is to pay tribute to “the worst that Hollywood has to offer each year.”
Unfortunately, we don’t have anything like that in the Spanish-language entertainment market where negative critique is often frowned upon and viewed as a personal attack on the artist. Badness too is subjective.
But I’m here to say, gente, roll with the punches: If you are subjected to a truly horrible movie (and there are movies that are sooo bad they are good!), or a really terrible song, all’s fair. If you or I want to reach for earplugs when we hear an atrocious tune in Spanish, then we should feel free to say why we’re doing that. Or give the culprits an award. In this case, how about The Earplug Awards?
If we did, I believe there would be a lot of recipients.
One of this year’s catchiest songs in English was Glad You Came, by British-Irish boy band The Wanted. Like me, you’ve probably heard it a million times, but it always keeps me from changing the radio station. Not true for its Spanish version, a merengue called Vive Feliz, by Lenny Medina and featuring Ilegales. I was not glad they came and, indeed, my universe will never be the same.
It never is when I hear a track by Spanish heartthrob Enrique Iglesias. His newest chart hit, Finally Found You, with hip hop artist Sammy Adams is so overly processed and full of effects (Auto-Tune, anyone?) that if this were food it would probably be a Paula Deen dish not apt for diabetics. I wish I hadn’t finally found this song. Or Nunca te olvidaré. Or Bailamos. Or I Like It. All good for enhanced interrogation in Guantánamo.
Maybe Howard Stern was onto something years ago when he blasted the singer with an alleged tape of Iglesias sounding like a wounded hyena while performing Rhythm Divine (Iglesias then went on Stern’s show to prove he could sing).
Not too far away from him is his touring partner Jennifer López, whose paper-thin voice has not stopped her from becoming one of the world’s richest entertainers. Just listen to her sing about her love for Louboutins (and see her cringe-inducing performance of that song on TV’s So You Think You Can Dance) or the whole vanity album in Spanish Como ama una mujer. And who can ever forget the fakeness of I’m Real?
Even Pitbull, who these days is viewed as the touch of cool that many artists need for their music, started out making an ass of himself with a song called Culo. That title makes you go “WTF?!”
Maybe you reacted the same then when you first heard, oh, I don’t know, anything by Paulina Rubio; Aserejé or The Ketchup Song, by Las Ketchup; Macarena, by Los del Río; Gerardo’s Rico Suave; Mambo no. 5, by Lou Bega; Ay Mariposa, embarrassing and homophobic, sung by various artists; El Venao, performed by several singers; Mueve las pelotas (subtle, huh?) by Beatriz López & Achevere; Sucia, by Los Sucios; any narco-corrido; Ricky Martin’s and Madonna’s duet Cuidado con el corazón; Dándole, by Gocho and featuring Jowell…
This last song, of the reggaetón genre, opens a whole other can of worms about all the coarse language used in urban music. That’s a story for another day, though. The point is whether famous or unknown, a legend or a flash in the pan, any artist, at any time, can make a bad song. Just tune in now and hear for yourself. Then bring out your earplugs.
Do you have a favorite bad song? If so, let me know what that disaster is…