1st October, 1988

This may be an appropriate moment for noting, in an offhand sort of way, the ways in which history both remembers and forgets. Marisela is precisely the kind of low-level star that gets forgotten by history (or did before the age of the Internet and obsessive documentation of everything). She may have been called "the Latin Madonna," but any blonde female singer in the 80s was; she may have hit the top of the Hot Latin chart, but it was only for a week (and there was no return engagement); and she certainly had a voice, but her lack of attendant personality (at least any discernible from this distance) consigned her to the dustbin of one-hit wonders whose Wikipedia pages are silently scolded about citing references and sources.

Not counting "La Bamba" (because why would we?) this is the second hit song based on an English-language original from the first generation of rock & roll; but unlike what Luis Miguel did with "I Only Want To Be With You," "Ya No" is a fairly direct translation of Barbara George's 1962 R&B hit "I Know (You Don't Want Me No More)." Which makes sense: Marisela first sang the song in English for the soundtrack to the forgettable 1988 those-sensual-Latins movie Salsa: The Motion Picture. It was her first real breakthrough into the larger pop market after about four years of bubbling-under popularity in Mexico (she was born in the U.S., but Mexico was her primary market). Said bubbling-under came thanks to a romantic involvement with Marco Antonio Solís, who gave her songs he wasn't using and gave her extra column inches when he threw her over for another pretty, vaguely talented starlet who needed his promotional help. However, "I Know" would equally be her last breakthrough to the larger pop market; she would slip back into regional obscurity, cultivate a devoted if minor fanbase, and record sporadically with diminishing returns over the next two decades.

Her "I Know" is what you would expect: heavy on 80s synthesized production, some massive timbale hits in order to tie it into the salsa of the movie, but otherwise a standard, gospelly take on the song, with a choir of backup singers high in the mix. "Ya No," however, is a slightly odder beast. It was produced by Enrique Elizondo, who seems to have taken the bouncy hook and the crashing timbales and fed them into a sequencer with New Order and Madonna presets, creating a much more exciting rhythm track that introduces, occasionally punctuates, and plays out the song. Unfortunately whenever Marisela sings it's the same old vaguely r&b-ish shuffle (the choir makes an appearance too, mixed mercifully down), so Elizondo's clubbification is only partly successful, but those bursts of electronic percussion are something to look forward to.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11/5/13 21:57

    You're really not giving her any credit here. She was a big success in Latin America, you know there's a world outside the USA right?