I’m going to be flexible with the Latin pop definition to cover a wide spectrum of 2013 music that goes from the softer-mellower Latin pop to the harder more active music, and even bordering with alternative Latin music.
So give me some slack on this one, because this should be an interesting review of good Latin “popular” music.
Best Soft Latin Pop of 2013
On the softer side of this Latin music spectrum are a few gems! Andrea Bocelli and Natalie Cole provided some interesting Latin pop albums on the romantic side, both from non-Latinos (Andrea is debatable as Italians are technically Latinos – as Italian is a Latin language) – but you know that by Latino I mean Latin American.
Andrea Bocelli’s “Pasion” is really a gem (read album review HERE)! There is no doubt that the guy can sing, and he sings in Spanish very well. The songs, mostly Latin American standards (with a few not from Latin America) make a beautiful romantic album.
Natalie Cole’s “En Espanol” is also good (read album review HERE). I mean that the end result is a good album, but personally I have a hard time buying into an artist singing in a language they don’t speak or understand. It’s almost lip-syncing with their own voice. But producer Rudy Perez pulled this off and it was a well done recording.
Mexican diva Ana Gabriel recorded a monster concert in the Dominican Republic in her moslty under-appreciated album “Altos de Chavón”. This is really a live double-album, with a full 15 songs of her pop ballads, and then a full 14 songs of Mexican rancheras! Fantastic!
Best Harder-Alternative Latin Pop
Moving to the harder and more creative spectrum of the Latin pop category (and perhaps stepping outside the lines in some of these) we find some great recordings by some popular artists.
I’ll start with one of the most prized albums of 2013; Draco Rosa’s “Vida”. A monumental album that includes a selection of his best past music, but each performed with a different guest artists (read album review HERE). And the guest list is almost a who’s who in Latin music. That alone made “Vida” an interesting album and a most-have for most Latin music collections.
Puerto Rican Tommy Torres and Spaniard Alejandro Sanz recorded live concerts of their respective 2012 studio albums. I loved Tommy Torres original studio album “12 Historias”, but I preferred Alejandro’s live version of his “La Musica No Se Toca” album, as he had guests like Pablo Alborán, David Brisbal, and Malú. Both are worth having, if you like live albums.
Then on the more Latin alternative side of this Latin pop spectrum we find albums by Julieta Venegas (“Los Momentos”) and La Santa Cecilia (“Treinta Dias”). I liked Julieta’s album, but was not very exited about it. However, La Santa Cecilia blew my mind as I found them incredibly refreshing music with sharp, pointed song themes that touch your social nerve. Kind of reminded me of that first Ruben Blades album with Willie Colon “Metiendo Mano” (in content, not musical style of course). If you haven’t checked out La Santa Cecilia’s “Treinta Dias”, I highly recommend it.
This is a “Best of..” blog, so I should not include disappointments. But there were 2 Latin music divas with 2013 albums that in my opinion didn’t hit the mark. Because they are such popular artists, it’s worth commenting why I didn’t like their recordings.
Puerto Rican diva Ednita Nazario released “El Corazon Decide”, which had perhaps a couple of songs I liked, but most of the songs were heartbreak songs, and I didn’t find it an engaging album (read my full CD review HERE).
Cuban Gloria Estefan finally went back to the recording studio to do an American standards album titled “The Standards”. I do get why she wanted to do this album, and although the music is fantastic and her performance is impeccable, I was not impressed. I would’ve liked it better if she would have had some guest artists (not necessarily in every song) like Tony Bennett, Harry Connick, Jr., Michael Bublé, and some other crooners that would have added color to Gloria’s project. Instead, it’s just Gloria Estefan singing American standards, and personally, if I’m in a mood for that music, I rather play a Tony Bennett album.
What Did I Miss?
Oh I’m sure I missed some good ones. I like Latin pop, but I tend to spend more time listening to Salsa, Latin Jazz, Vallenato, Rock en Espanol, and others. So I’ll let you tell me what I missed!
Write a comment below letting me know a favorite 2013 Latin pop album of yours that I missed. I’ll be glad to check it out and reply back!