11th March, 2000

The iceberg of Latin Pop, of which the #1s discussed in this travelogue represent not even the above-water tip, but rather only the layer of molecules exposed to the air, has contained far more salsa than we've been allowed to glimpse, to the extent that about half of everything on this blog tagged as "salsa" isn't. And neither is this, really, except that Gilberto Santa Rosa is a salsa singer, and so everything he sings is salsa. Kind of.

He's been knocking around Puerto Rican salsa since the mid-70s, he exploded to worldwide fame with a legendary 1990 Carnegie Hall concert (his four-minute improvised soneo in "Perdóname" became so frequently played that he was forced to to memorize it for future concerts), and here on the cusp of the 2000s he's settled into an elder-statesman role. "Que Alguien me Diga" is a romantic song written by Panamanian salsero Omar Alfanno (remember that name) to the accompaniment of a classy string section and glassy keyboards, which only breaks into a gently percussive sway on the chorus rather than breaking into a full-bodied salsa montuno. His voice is undoubtedly a wonderful instrument, soulful and flexible, but like an Olympic athlete playing with kids he's using less than half of its capabilities.

It's probably more accurate to class the song as a bolero rather than salsa, despite the light piano guajeos on the chorus, which isn't a bad thing -- some of my all-time favorite songs are boleros -- except that it's unfortunate that this looks likely to be the sole representative of Santa Rosa's talent in these pages. Swept up in the current of a much bigger hit (stay tuned), he's largely only present as an adjunct, rather than in his own right. But do listen to "Perdóname."

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes I forget that the original version of this song is a ballad; the salsa take is pretty much all I've ever known to exist