6th January, 1996

After a magnificent hot streak, Estefan finally deals herself a bum hand. This is, of course, up to interpretation; clearly enough people liked it to send the song to #1; but it's her worst song, qua song, that we've yet encountered in this travelogue.

The production remains as polished and detailed as ever, with gorgeous flamenco guitar runs and swaying Afro-Cuban percussion; but the melody refers to no Latin tradition, instead rising and falling in the safe, predictable, even cozy patterns of inspirational pabulum. It does not surprise me to learn, when I check Wikipedia, that she sang this for the Pope. I and my immediate circle have been present for people singing things to the Pope on a number of different occasions, and this fits right in, banal Chicken Soup for the Soul-level platitudes married to a melody strenuously wiped free of all secular interest. You can't dance to it, you can't fall in love to it, you can't weep to it, you can't get pumped to it, you can't even — and this is where it fails as an inspirational song as well as a pop song — feel any great interest in changing the world to it.

The song is about stasis: the title, "Más Allá" means "Beyond," and is a metonymy for heaven; and all the sweetly-sung little Christian sacrifices in the verses are promised their eternal reward in the stubbornly not-soaring chorus. It's a vision of heaven as a gated community, "más allá del rencor, de las lágrimas y el dolor" ("beyond rancor, beyond tears and pain"), without any hint that rancor, tears and pain are not the disease we need to escape, but its symptoms; injustice, as even the Pope has acknowledged from time to time, needs to be confronted and beat back. As an anthem for such effort, however, this kind of thing is too heavenly minded to be any earthly good.

No comments:

Post a Comment