23rd June, 1990

One of the things about Latin Pop that doesn't strike the new listener as particularly reasonable on first delve is how many Italians there are all up in there. Italian isn't Spanish, as I learned the hard way inside a Roman electronics shop in 2000, and the influence of Italian culture in the Western hemisphere has mostly been limited, in the pop understanding of things, to the Eastern seaboard of the United States. But when you think about it from the point of view of an ambitious Italian pop star, it makes more sense; unless you're on the opera circuit, there's only so far you can go singing exclusively in Italian. The Spanish-language market is secondary only to the English-language market in terms of global reach, and it's the rare Italian pop act that doesn't try cutting amore down to amor at least once.

Not all of which totally applies to Rudy La Scala; he was born in Italy (and spent time in a progressive rock act there), but he's spent the bulk of his career operating out of Venezuela, where he worked on telenovelas, acted as svengali/producer for a number of up-and-coming pop stars (including Maria Conchita Alonso's Donna Summer period), and had a string of Latin-Pop hits on his own starting in 1990.

Starting here, in fact; which is as unlikely a pop hit as I've hard in some time. La Scala's unsteady, overwrought voice louder than anything else in the mix, lyrics which are lugubrious even by the standards of Latin Pop ballads*, and a production which seems to be aiming for the title of Dullest In Show all combine to create a car-wreck of a single which not only do I not like, I can't even begin to organize my thoughts around how anyone would like it. The best I can do is that he undoubtedly sounds like a guy who sang in a prog-rock band in the 70s; but not even Phil Collins fell this low.

*The title translates to "affection is like a flower," than which there could be no more idiotically trite sentiment.

1 comment:

  1. (1) I do like this. I ought to organize my thoughts as to why. I tend to like what you like and dislike what you dislike, but I like this. (I liked glitter and glam back in the day, but tending more toward Dolls and Slade than toward Queen and Roxy. If that's relevant.) The singing seems to fly fine, even with those slow, deliberate steps from the rhythm. Is vastly better than that Roberto Carlos thing. Vastly better. (I know, that isn't saying much.)

    (2) When I first listened to this I clicked play and then went on reading whatever I was reading over in another window (think it was Bono going op-ed in NYT about Bloody Sunday, actually). Then all of a sudden, with the song two-thirds of the way through, I'm suddenly paying attention, going, "Wait! Wasn't this supposed to be a man singing? [Pause. Return to this window.] It is a man? Really?"