Alt.Latino's playlist this week is stacked with heavy hitters. Colombia's Aterciopelados released a music video for their nominated song "Dúo" in advance of the 2018 Latin Grammys on Nov. 15 and Bad Bunny has dropped yet another collab, this time with Jennifer Lopez. Both Mon Laferte and Anitta are also in the running for awards at the Latin Grammys, and both released new music last week. And finally, The Mexican Standoff rounds out the list with an artful, humorous take on the American dream.
This playlist, which you can listen to at the bottom of this page, is part of a series of NPR Music's favorite Latin songs, updated weekly on Spotify. Catch our weekly thoughts and hot takes below.
The Mexican Standoff, "One Way Ticket to TJ"
The members of self-described "Ranchero Alternative" band The Mexican Standoff are all from accomplished SoCal bands specializing in the intersection of Mexican folk music, rock and other genres. Even the band's Facebook profile page, doesn't list band member names individually which reflects the group's ethos: Collective, biting musical commentary on political and social issues.
"One Way Ticket to TJ" follows the story of a woman who decides she's had enough of the so-called American dream and returns to Mexico. The video, which was shot entirely with an iPhone 7, adds another layer of humor and sarcasm to the lyrics.
Jennifer Lopez and Bad Bunny, "Te Guste"
The devil works hard, but Jennifer Lopez works harder. Several Latin pop takeovers ago, JLo's uncompromising attitude and ownership of her roots broke records at a time when the kind of sexy she offered was still a little too real-world for pop. A decade later, she became what the Internet deemed "the world's greatest musical comeback act." And in 2018, the comeback came back... again. She released the A-Rod-where's-the-ring anthem "El Anillo," the Cardi B-infused merengue-to-the-money bop "Dinero," and now, the watch-and-learn Bad Bunny collaboration "Te Guste."
The success of JLo's comebacks rely on the revival of that relatable image in each season of her adult life. In the same year that our hot mom decreed men useless before the age of 33, she gave us the verse equivalent in this song. None of it feels like she's trying too hard; she has earned this. To wit: "Tú puedes ser Bad Bunny but I'm Jenny from the — / You know my name." It would seem that if everything Bad Bunny has touched this year has turned to gold, JLo has the power to make it stay. —Stefanie Fernández
Twenty-five-year-old Anitta has flown largely under the radar in the American mainstream, despite being featured on a ton of crazy popular songs like "Downtown" and J Balvin's "Machika;" not to mention she's the first Brazilian to place on Spotify's global charts.
Last week, Anitta released Solo, a trilingual EP with three accompanying music videos. Each mix the kind of simple, quirky production that make songs like "Medicina" so infectious. "Veneno," the Spanish language track, opens with what sounds like a zither, mixing with Anitta's overlaid vocals, xylophone, and a distant conga to make an otherwise average track glimmer with minable depth. In my opinion, the English track is the least interesting of the bunch, but it charts a course, no doubt, of Anitta's next steps. —Felix Contreras
Mon Laferte, "El Mambo"
Mon Laferte's Norma is an unexpected masterpiece, temporarily trading the artist's cinematic pseudonym for her birth name. The album, recorded in one hour "a lo Sinatra" at Los Angeles' historic Capitol Records Studios, is her most cohesive yet, comprising 10 songs that experiment with a host of classical genres from cumbia to salsa to cha cha cha.
"El Mambo" begins with the singer murmuring spoken lyrics over classical Cuban piano, bubbling under the surface until the pot boils over in the chorus: "Tú tienes celos!" she sings as the mambo erupts. Chronicling the manic rise and descent of the kind of passionate affair the Norma on the album cover might have, all wild-haired, shirt unbuttoned, and crying over a sliced onion, Norma is a feverish success. —Stefanie Fernández
You know it's a busy time in Latin alternative music when an iconic band like Colombia's Aterciopelados releases a record in May and it barely gets a notice. This is a shame because the new record, Claroscura, illustrates why they are regarded for not only the band's alternative roots but also for the kind of insightful and creative musical storytelling that impresses in any genre. The band releases a video for their Latin Grammy-nominated song "Dúo" in the week leading up to the awards ceremony.
The song itself is the story of the unlikely duo of punk and art rock between band members Andrea Echeverri and Hector Buitrago who have been mixing it up together since the early 1990's. —Felix Contreras
This playlist is updated weekly.