Guerra Musical…4th edition « Salsa Addiction Centre
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    Guerra Musical…4th edition

    Hello again salseros!

    It has been a while since I last wrote here but with a busy summer, it was to be expected. So now I am going to pull myself away from these sometimes thrilling, sometimes sleep inducing, political conventions and return with another edition of guerra musical. For this edition I’ve decided to pick a couple of songs that are quite direct in their imagery yet are classics of salsa (and have actually been redone many times). Let’s get to it.

    The contenders:

    1. Ven Devorame Otra Vez. Charlie Cruz & Jennifer Pena; album “Como Nunca” (2004).
    2. Desnudate Mujer. Frankie Ruiz; album “El Papa de la Salsa” (2008, though the version is actually much older than that as Frankie Ruiz suffered a Lavoe type lifestyle and died at the age of 40 in 1998).

    These songs are openly and directly about sex, no beating around the bush. However, each song approaches the topic from a much different perspective, as you will soon see. One is about a straight physical desire between two people; the other is about vindication (for lack of a better term). Anyways, let’s allow the songs to speak for themselves.

    I’ve filled my free time with more adventures
    And my mind grows with nostalgia over not seeing you
    And without thinking I’ve said your name while making love
    Because I always look for your wild sex, my love.

    Even in my dreams I’ve imagined you devouring me (pretty steamy)
    And I’ve moistened my white sheets crying for you

    In my bed there is no one like you

    I haven’t been able to find that being
    That caresses my body in every place
    Without missing a bit of skin.

    Devour me again, come devour me again
    Punish me with your desires because I’ve held my vigor for you

    Devour me again, come devour me again

    My mouth tastes like your body and it heightens my desire for you.

    Whew! Pretty hot if you ask me. Needless to say, the rest of the song follows a similar train of thought. These two people obviously have a level of lust for each other that can’t be denied any longer. The idea of becoming so consumed by someone that it is as if they are devouring you is the premise of the song and works well as a duet. Most versions of this song are sung as a single voice but the dynamic of adding a second voice with a reciprocating desire is very effective for the tone. Now for a different tone.

    I don’t know why you deceive me if I adore you
    Perhaps it was my fault for not knowing how to take charge from the beginning.

    But I didn’t know that you’d be capable of betraying me
    Capable of deceiving me.

    Undress yourself, woman
    I also want to see the art with which you make love.
    Undress yourself, woman
    I’m trembling, a little pale and a little shocked by you.
    You deceived me, your body is foreign to me
    You’re just another naked woman.

    I don’t know why you deceive me if I adore you
    I searched for you among a thousand women but I was mistaken.
    With your innocent face you played the role of a great actress.
    Its over now, the comedy is done,
    I’ve removed that mask I loved so much.

    This song is completely different in tone. This man feels betrayed and angry over what this woman that he idolized did to him (presumably cheating on him). His demand for sex is more about debasing her and making her into nothing more than an object, which is how her betrayal has made him see her. It almost seems as if he’s asking for something he never had but that other(s) that weren’t her “love” did. I find it noteworthy that the lyrics of this song are quite harsh and acerbic yet the if you simply heard the music you wouldn’t get the same sense. Let’s see how the songs fare in judging.

    Sound of the song

    I remember both these songs from my youth. In the case of Devorame, the original was a more tame version, not quite as moving but still catchy. As I said before, the duet style works for this song and I really enjoy the slightly more full sound of this version compared to older ones. One of my favourite parts is actually the base that introduces the song and the slow build up to the full instrumentation and clave. I think it is a very upbeat song with a catchy tune. The harmony between the two singers is enjoyable and helps express the desire by both of them (though not as fully as I would’ve liked). Desnudate provides a steady salsa rhythm and is simple yet effective. There are no big flares and the star of the song is the vocals. I like the ‘less is more’ instrumentation in this piece, never overpowering but just accenting the story being told. Neither of these songs is overly flashy but the sounds are undeniably addictive. Due to the extra savour given to Devorame by its intro, I will give it a slight edge here, 4.5-4.

    Danceability

    Danceability is never really a problem with salsa; if it doesn’t get your feet tapping, then nothing will. I will echo what I said earlier, these are simple salsas and finding the rhythm is not difficult. For that matter, maintaining it is also easy. This allows your mind to wander into the territory of creativity and allows your feet to simply move on muscle memory. This may not be a large deal to seasoned dancers but to those in their salsa infancy, it can be a blessing. Having said that, one song does offer a little bit more in terms of musical expression and its translation to the dance floor. Many people won’t readily recognize what the song is about so they will rely on the music to lead them and give them opportunities to change things up. It is here that Devorame has an edge as it provides a little more pure instrumentation and even some complete stops (resets if you will) to the music. This may not seem like much but it does, in fact, provide a chance to accent things. This is not to say the Desnudate does not provide it but that Devorame makes it a little more clear. So again, the edge goes to Devorame by a score of 4.5-4.

    Musical and lyrical sync

    This is one of the few times where I didn’t quite see an obvious sync with the songs and their lyrics. In the case of Devorame, it may have been because I didn’t quite feel the desire in the voices of the singers. Don’t get me wrong, they were good voices, but not quite as expressive as I would’ve liked for the tone of the song. The situation with Desnudate was different. At first hearing, the music sounds too upbeat for the lyrics but I think it is because of the sting of the lyrics that the song is that way, to lessen the bite. The question is does it work in that tone? I would personally prefer something a little more angry (a la Marc Anthony) but respect the vision of the artist. I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and credit its sarcastic (I think) nature. I will also give it the edge, 4-3.5.

    Verdict

    I really enjoyed both these songs. While both deal with sex, one is clearly more happy and joyous whereas the other is bitter and sarcastic. I think both work well though they don’t necessarily sync up completely with their music. I would have a hard time saying which one I like better but the numbers clarify it for me. The winner is Devorame 12.5-12.

    Hasta la proxima,

    Sigan Bailando!

    Manuel