How many articles on this website go on about wanting to go back to that halcyon age of the 90’s? If there’s one thing you can say about our generation it’s that we are very melodramatic and nostalgic for how old we are. But why fight it? It’s a universal truth: that adolescent age rocked. The movies, the fashion, the books (Goosebumps), and of course the music were so emblematic of that time in our lives when every feeling and experience was brand new.
We Latinos are no exception to this rule. In fact, we have an added advantage. We didn’t just grow up with the American mainstream; we also had our own culture to enjoy.
So to remember those days that seem to retreat farther and farther back let’s take a brief walk through the past filled with songs and music videos that captured the essence of a time which can never be repeated. Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages (but especially those born at the end of the 80’s) some songs from our fleeting youth.
Just one rule: No Livin’ La Vida Loca, Jennifer Lopez (Before she became the oh so authentic JLo), or any of that crap…we’re talkin’ about good music over here.
Son by Four, Puro Dolor, 1999
Boyz 2 Men, Backstreet Boys, N’Sync…they all wish they could be as suave as these guys. The sunglasses, leather jackets, baggy sweaters, candles, and orchestra in the background…like they used to tell me in Colombia, “Calidad, papa. Calidad.” My favorite part? The lead singer doesn’t have to be standing or even in shape to break our hearts. Learn something, Romeo.
Carlos Vives, La Tierra del Olvido, 1995
Cumbia: Indisputable proof that an accordion can be sexy. Suck it, Germany! This song is pure joy. The incredible landscapes from the most beautiful county in the world along with some of the most enchanting people…it doesn’t get any better than that. I should say that as a half Colombian, I’m not exactly unbiased. Vamos Colombia! I swear, every time I’m on a beach I want to shout out that song to the heavens.
Molotov, Gimme tha Power 1997
If the last one was pure joy then this is fury, a burning rage against injustice and the world. It’s a proclamation against the abuses of power and a promise to battle the corrupt. I discovered this band when I was 12 or 13, the perfect age to start rebelling. For English songs, Beautiful People by Marilyn Manson was my gateway from the mainstream. It was a whole new world far, far away from pop. In Spanish, it was Molotov. The constant rhythm fails to contain the explosion of omnipresent anger until it overflows. More than ever we need it. Let the revolution come.
Shakira, Ojos Asi, MTV Unplugged 1999
And we end with another Colombian artist…I told you, I’m biased. Before she turned in a caged wolf or wrote the profoundly deep words of La La La, Shakira was for me, the best singer in the world. Her lyrics were poetry set to music, universal expressions revealing pain, vulnerability, and above all else, hope. This is the Shakira that I always want to remember, the redhead, dancing like a seductive goddess but without having to flash a lot of skin. And performing the best MTV Unplugged show after Nirvana. No encontrar ojos así, como los que tienes tú…
That ends my part. So what about you? What are the Spanish songs that make you remember your own adolescent and teenage years?