We’re beginning to close the year, and what a year it’s been (seriously, have you seen that ‘Year In Pictures thing that’s going around?!).
For me, I moved to Colombia and got to experience a brand new culture first-hand. It is, as you’ve probably guessed if you’re an avid reader of this blog, a culture I’ve come to fall in love with and have been warmly welcomed into.
One of my favourite aspects of the culture here? Music, dancing and partying. The way Colombians let go when it’s time to throw shapes on the floor is something I’ll sorely miss whenever it is I return home. No need to dwell on that, though, because I’m still here and enjoying it.
One of the unique aspects of music here is how everybody seems to know the words to every song. I mean, everybody seems to know every word to every song. I’m still learning, but in the meantime, I’ve collected for you my top 10 songs of the year by Colombian artists (to be clear, not songs released this year, but my songs of 2011). So get your hips ready to shake, your feet ready to move backwards and forwards, and your hat ready to take off and put back on (it’s a cumbia move). Here they are:
10. El Pescador – Toto La Momposina
A classic of cumbia, one of Colombia’s traditional styles of music.
9. Mi Kolombia – Systema Solar
One of the emerging bands on the Colombian circuit, it’s surely not long until these explode internationally.
8. No Se Como Se Llama – Golpe A Golpe
Yeeeeeah I like a bit of reggaeton. And?
7. La Pantera Mambo – La 33
La 33 are currently getting more and more exposure on the international scene, and show no signs of slowing down. This song – their take on the classic Pink Panther theme – is their most played at the moment here in Colombia and it’s easy to see why. Catchy, familiar (of course) and easy to dance to. If you’re not from Europe, that is.
6. El Preso – Fruko y Sus Tesos
An absolute classic of salsa, ‘El Preso’ is unavoidable in Colombia since salsa is more or less unavoidable, but when it’s as good as this you’ll hear absolutely no complaints from me. Fruko y Sus Tesos are one of the biggest artists in salsa history, and they are responsible for more than just this sublime number. Essential listening for any salsa lover.
5. La Guapera – Velandia y La Tigre
Another band rapidly emerging on the Colombian scene, Velandia y La Tigre are actually one of the first bands I began to like when I arrived in Colombia. Mixing alternative, indie stylings with Latin rhythms and punchy horns, they manage to make a sound all of their own that should, not too long from now, become a blueprint for many other bands worldwide.
4. La Celosa – Carlos Vives
Carlos Vives is without doubt one of Colombia’s most famous musical exports. ‘La Celosa’ is the first song I heard by him that I really started beginning to understand his appeal. Cheeky, catchy and irresistibly Colombian, it’s an easy one to dance to and, although to some ears it may border on questionable lyrically speaking, you have to listen to it in the knowledge that tongue is firmly in cheek.
3. Fuego – Bomba Estereo
Ok, full disclosure: I heard Fuego before I came to Colombia. Still, hearing it on FIFA ’10 and hearing it in a club in Colombia during the first half of 2011 are two different things. Any club absolutely came to life as soon as the first beats of the song kicked in, and the party would begin in earnest. Taking their influences from traditional, Colombian musical styles, Bomba Estereo are part of a movement in Colombia that are modernizing and popularizing genres like cumbia.
2. De Donde Vengo Yo – ChocQuibTown
As far as your year-defining songs go, ‘De Donde Vengo Yo’ is right up there, Colombian or not. The lyrics are cheeky, proud and pure Colombiano. The music, like Bomba Estereo, takes influence from traditional genres and mixes it with elements of more contemporary artists such as The Fugees. Hands in the air, repeat after them… Irresistible.
1. La Rebelion – Joe Arroyo
Joe Arroyo (or ‘El Joe’) sadly passed away this year and is much missed here in Colombia. I was lucky enough to see his former band perform this seminal salsa song at a festival in Medellin which cemented it in my mind as not only one of my favourite songs of the year, but of all time.