25th April, 1987

As is no doubt dishearteningly obvious, I've been relying on Wikipedia and half-assed Google searches for my information about the performers that have so far marched down this particular side-street Colonnade of Fame. The trouble with that kind of overreliance is obvious: when Wikipedia fails you, you fail.

So all I know about Braulio García is that he is a Spanish national born in the Canary Islands, that his Wikipedia Español page reads like it was written by his publicist, that his career began in 1971, and that this was his only significant brush with the Billboard Latin chart. Extrapolating from the cover art, he was entering middle age and trying to feel sexy about it; extrapolating from the vocal style he employs on this song, he was a singer not unlike José José.

Except that he doesn't have the precision or control that José does; in fact he reminds me of nothing so much as those country singers with "good" voices, like Eddy Arnold or George Jones, who could have crooned with as much velvet intensity as Sinatra or Nat Cole but preferred to remain in the C&W "ghetto." Braulio's vocal style hints at the emotional extravagance that Latin song from flamenco to mariachi (and this particular pop song splits the difference, as far as one can hear under a production that sounds like Miami updating Bacharach) tends towards, but his touch is light. Like Rocío Dúrcal, he's holding back in favor of the pop moment.

Or maybe I'm reminded of country singers because it's such a country song: "En Bancarrota" means "in bankruptcy," and the lyric is an extended conceit in which his love history is related in terms of finance and banking. In English, it would be a comedy song — puns are usually discouraged in pop this side of Elvis Costello — but here it's simply an appropriate metaphor. His balance is in the red, the account he opened is bottomless/without funds (a pun on fondo), she gave him a "mala nota" (a triple pun; it could be translated "bad check," "bad grade," or "bad [musical] note," and the airbrushed female singers who come in after the line live up to it).

Again, this is mom (or dad) music, not pop in the sense that we think of it today: it's corny, sentimental, and graceful; it doesn't move. It's interesting to note how much these early charts are dominated by singers from Spain; it's my impression (but we'll see) that the western hemisphere will nearly shut the eastern out as the decades pass. I'm a little wary of drawing any comparisons with other former-colonial relationships; we'll just let the idea lie for now.


  1. Anonymous3/3/10 10:07

    Hey, I love this song. It's really interesting.

  2. Wow, I thought I was indifferent to this song before, but now that I know it held Juan Gabriel's magnificent opus "Hasta Que Te Conocí" out of the top spot, I actively hate it.