28th August, 2004

Wiki | Video

For eight years and more, I've had "Welcome to my beach party" as the first line of my About slug on the right side of this page, and today the prophecy is fulfilled in your hearing.

Which isn't to say that none of the foregoing eighteen years of number ones were beach party-suitable (that would be as foolish a claim as to say that all Latin music is). Vives himself, indeed, has provided several excellent jams that jibe with sea breeze and sunburn; but this hit marks a subtle turning point, or rather is a key instance in a turning continuum, of all music that enters the Latin #1 spot being transformed into party material.

There are two primary elements in this song: vallenato (or at least the pop-vallenato that was the closest 2000s international pop radio would get) and rock n' roll (or at least ditto). While the rock instrumentation may predominate, the vallenato shuffle sets the tempo, and the vallenato accordion duels with the electric guitar in discrete solos. Vives' hoarse, delighted singing, with patter verses indebted to hip-hop or perhaps to dancehall toasting (his dreadlocks in the video aren't the only island signifiers in the song), splits the difference between Black Crowes-ish bluesy boogie and souped-up millennial-era Latin pop.

Emilio Estefan was a producer, which explains why the music simply explodes out of the speakers the way it does, but it's Vives, hard-working but always genial, who makes it so deliriously joyful. This might be the best, most thrilling pop jam we've met on this travelogue since "Suerte", and the fact that both Vives and Shakira are Colombian isn't lost on me: its international pop scene may have gotten a late start (at least compared to Golden Age Latin pop nations like Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, and Cuba), but it's more than made up for it since.

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