15th April, 2006
Any examination of pop in the 2000s is going to have to encounter singing-competition reality shows sooner or later, and I can only be grateful that this song, more than halfway into the decade, is the first time a song by the winner of a singing competition has appeared here.
The Puerto Rican show Objetivo Fama was on its second season: a combination of Big Brother and X-Factor, it featured hopeful pop stars rooming together in a house/studio while competing to win the favor of judges and the viewing public via performances. The first season had only been open to Puerto Ricans, but the second loosened those rules, and Anaís Martínez, from the Dominican Republic, went all the way. Her prize was a recording contract with Univision, and her debut single was a cover of Puerto Rican star Ednita Nazario's 1991 adult-contemporary classic "Lo Que Son Las Cosas" (the way things are, written by her ex-husband, Argentine pop star Luis Ángel Márquez), which only missed appearing here then thanks to Los Bukis.
Of course I like Ednita's version better than Anaís' -- it's straight-down-the-line early 90s adult contemporary in exactly the vein I'm nostalgic for because that was the first period in which I listened to pop music, where the later cover is overproduced and oversung. It's not bad particularly, but it's missing the context of the original: Nazario had been an Olivia Newton John-esque pop starlet since the late 70s, and was entering middle age singing her husband's song expressing fatalistic regret about relationships ending while in the midst of a very public divorce from him. Anaís' cover performs the emotions with convincing correctness, but she's too young and too obviously well-funded (the kitchen sink is thrown at this very reality-show holleralong) for any but the most generalized emotions to come through.