12th June, 1993

Los Fantasmas Del Caribe, or The Ghosts Of The Caribbean, were a Venezuelan tropical outfit whose very first single was an unexpected dance hit throughout the Spanish-speaking world. This is that single.

"Muchacha Triste" means "sad girl," but the music doesn't dwell on her sadness. It's got a light synth-reggae beat — plus our first glimpse of a genre that will only grow in importance as we continue, cumbia (the chk-chka-chh triplets in the rhythm), and nothing can sound sad at that bouncy tempo. Anyway, the lyrics focus much more on the singer's swoony love for the muchacha triste, who is repeatedly encouraged to come give him a kiss, than on anything about her.

I'd call it an an evanescent, summery anthem if it didn't feel even too lightweight to be called an anthem. Despite being Venezuelan and therefore creditably Caribbean, it sounds almost British to me. The high, childish vocal melody reminds me of Scottish twee-pop, and the cod-reggae synthesizers with no discernable low end bring to mind Culture Club. But it contains the notes just on the edge of souring which marks working-class Latin pop, and if the voices are fey the funk is real. They dressed like pirates for a reason: George Clinton and Adam Ant must be acknowledged.

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