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Slower Salsa Songs
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Joined: 26 Nov 2006
Posts: 49
Location: The centre of the Universe, so far :)

PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2007 6:22 pm    Post subject: The Salsa "Lady" Reply with quote

In my opinion, the Salsa version of "Lady" is a beautiful interesting Salsa song, and the accusations Timbero1wrote against it are incorrect and biased. I'll try to remain as much as possible close to the topic, salsa songs - songs, music.

The first thing Timbero1 wrote about "Lady" was "It is not music for dancing. It is made for supermarkets and elevators". Well, last time I checked I wasn't an elevator or a supermarket :) I danced salsa many times on "Lady", at the lessons and in the clubs. And I didn't see any other students or the crowd stop dancing when "Lady" was played.

Simply put, if it has salsa rhythm it is a salsa song, therefore a salsa dancer can dance on it.
The idea of translating/adapting a song or a musical theme from one genre to another is not new, and from an artistic and cultural perspective it has no limitations whatsoever: anyone from anywhere can do it if they have enough experience in music. Arts in general, music in particular, have no borders. People do have borders of many kinds, inside and outside of their lives, but their artistic works transcend anything.

From a musical perspective La Palabra did a good work translating the original "Lady" to Salsa. The rhythm and orchestration is flawless, and if you pay attention you'll even hear two distinct fragments of Jazz improvisation, one performed by a flute and the second fragment performed by a trumpet. The song gives the same good feeling as the whole album (On Fire) : Salsa Romantica, but that's to be sensed rather than explained.
If someone doesn't get that feeling, sorry but it's not La Palabra's fault.

For those who don't know, La Palabra is the artistic name of Fito Foster, a Cuban-American musician born and raised in Cuba. I believe that his lifetime musical career as well as his Cuban origin gives him absolute confidence in writing and interpreting Salsa songs. He and his "Orchesta La Palabra" have created and performed many good salsa songs.

The next thing Timbero1 criticized: the English lyrics (as being used instead of Spanish lyrics). However, he contradicted himself, saying "Since the lyrics have no importance, salsa dancers increasingly prefer faster and faster, purely instrumental songs without any singing involved."

Well, hello, hola, aloha? That's exactly the point, since the lyrics don't matter for a dancer, why are you accusing La Palabra of being "someone trying to make some money off North American salseros"?
That's obviously unfair, since the rest of the songs (9) of that album have Spanish lyrics. I heard many of them (maybe all) played in clubs, so your saying "North Americans salsa and ballroom dancers will prefer songs in English with a Latin beat" is totally false.

And, is it me or these lyrics of Salsa "Lady":

"Lady yo te quiero yo te adoro
Lady tu eres mi unica emocion
Y yo quiero que tu siempre te quedes
En mi corazon, dame tu amor,
dame tu amor y yo ti do mi amor
Yo te quiero, lady, lady, lady
Yo te quiero, yo te adoro"

are not exactly English lyrics? :D

My guess is that La Palabra kept the original English lyrics either because of some copyright matters, or because he simply liked them, why not?

In his last huge message, Timbero1 brings one last accusation against the salsa "Lady":
"On other hand, Lady is the same salsa we know made into the background pitter patter by a machine. The song Lady is a collision between one music producer, Lionel Richie, pre- recorded salsa music and an empty wallet. There is nothing new or innovative about this song."

Well, first of all, innovation is not a valid criterion for judging an artistic work (I'm not talking about exact replicas, of course).
Why? Simply because anything that is not like the original is new. That's innovation. From a certain standpoint everything in art can be regarded as something new.

To prove that in the case of the Salsa "Lady", here are the new things: the salsa rhythm, the speed (it's faster than the original), the orchestration (different instruments from the original), the tonality (key) of La Palabra version is lower than Kenny Rogers' version, and don't forget the Jazz improvisation I already wrote about, and even the Spanish lyrics added to the English ones.
It's definitely NOT "pre- recorded salsa music"! I don't even think there is such thing anyway.

Now let's talk about the "empty wallet". That's purely a mean allegation, as there is no indication that "Lady" was chosen for commercial purposes. On the contrary, to take an old song of a genre and put it in a new shape of a different genre is a delicate and risky work, as you can't be sure of how it will be perceived by the public.
But what can you say about something successful that you don't like or understand? You would probabily say "It's commercial, they made it just to sell it!". It doesn't matter that initially it had a risk and in the end a gazillion people like it. If it's too good, it's bad! :-/

Finally, if anyone likes to analyze sauces, the original "Lady" was a sauce too:
It was a 1980 Pop hit resulted from the friendship and collaboration between an R&B musician (Lionel Richie) and a Country musician (Kenny Rogers). As I wrote before, there are no concrete walls between musical genres. If a Pop song could become a Salsa song after 20 years or so, that's a good thing. Love it or not.
I love it!
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