27th July, 1996

Marco Antonio Solís' triumphant return to the top spot as a solo act, having finally shaken off even the name of Los Bukis, is ironically (or perhaps not so ironically, given the trend of number-one songs in the mid-90s) much less pop and much more traditional Mexican regional, with a twelve-string bajo sexto as the lead instrument whenever Solís isn't singing, and a rhythmic bed that makes room for the lazy scrape of the Afro-Latin güiro and the urgent thunk of a cowbell in addition to the drumpad fills he's always been singing over.

The song itself is a plaintive lament — "Que Pena Me Das" translates literally as "What Trouble You Give Me" (though "pena" is a flexible term that can mean anything from lasting grief to momentary annoyance) — about a woman who has gone chasing after money and left her lover disconsolate. It's pretty, but extremely traditional, and Solís continues his march through the charts as the most successful inconsequential artist we've spent a good deal of this travelogue running into occasionally.

This song, in fact, marks the end of the first decade of the Hot Latin chart, as it remained at the top of the chart through much of September, the one-year anniversary of Rocío Dúrcal's "La Guirnalda," the song at the top when Billboard first published the chart. If we'd heard none of the intervening songs, it would be tempting to imagine that not much had changed in a decade, but much has and there's much more to come.

But I wanted to mark this anniversary by first, thanking everyone for reading so far with me (thanks! you're the best!), and then asking for feedback. What works about this blog? What doesn't? Should I post video? Would it be helpful, or maybe more conducive to triggering conversation, if I gave these songs a mark out of ten, as Tom does on Popular and Sally does on No Hard Chords? I'd love to hear what anyone besides me thinks about any of these songs in particular, or about the blog in general, whether you leave comments here, at my Tumblr, or via e-mail. Especially if you know more about the subject than I do — which isn't hard at all, I'm winging every one of these posts.

Regardless, it's been a lot of fun to trawl through the past ten years. But I make no secret that I'm really looking forward to the next fourteen and counting. Latin Pop, not unlike its Anglophone counterpart, has only gotten better as the millennium turns. How so? Keep reading.

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