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They're Reinterpretations, Not Cover Songs

Ezequiel De La Parra from Los Jardines de Bruselas
Courtesy of the artist
Ezequiel De La Parra from Los Jardines de Bruselas

English / Spanish

This week's show is a great reminder for me to listen again closely to some things I've already heard.

These songs sound familiar, but are made new again by the very difficult act of reinterpretation.

When Tropikal Forever reinterprets Metallica's "Enter Sandman," it's both an homage to the great metal pioneers and an interpretation of the song based on the Mexican band's musical and cultural influences. That's what makes this week's songs more than covers.

We even have a band that reinterprets just one other band. Los Campos Magneticos is Spanish for The Magnetic Fields. As Jasmine points out in the show, this Buenos Aires band believes that a cover band may try to recreate the original musical experience. A reinterpretation tries to think of the notes and the lyrics in a new way, based on a perspective that may not have been part of the composer's experience or intent.

Jazz musicians do this all the time. The fine young Puerto Rican saxophonist Miguel Zenón has a new album in which he does his own takes on The Great Puerto Rican Songbook, boleros and other forms written by some of the island's greatest composers. He doesn't do them as boleros, he does them as he hears them through his own jazz experience.

That is not that different from Spanish garage rock revivalists Chiquita y Chatarra making that raw, almost undisciplined sound part of a contemporary aesthetic.

We hope this show helps you think differently when you hear a band play a song associated with another band or style. Try to understand if the band is merely doing a cover, or is trying to learn more about themselves by playing someone else's music and sharing the results with listeners. And if you're heard any good covers or reinterpretations lately, let us know in the comments.


English / Spanish

Esta Semana En Alt.Latino: Reinterpretaciones

El programa de esta semana me sirve como un recordatorio de que debería de prestarle más atención a las canciones del pasado.

La canciones de este show suenan familiares porque han sido re-interpretadas.

Por ejemplo, cuando Tropikal Forever re-interpreta "Enter Sandman" de Metallica, es un tributo a los pioneros monumentales de heavy metal y también una interpretación original - consistente con las influencias culturales y musicales de la banda mexicana. Por eso las canciones en el programa de esta semana son mucho más que covers.

Incluso tenemos a un grupo que se dedica a re-interpretar las canciones de una sola banda: Los Campos Magnéticos. Como Jasmine nos explica en el show, este grupo de Buenos Aires cree que una banda de covers trata de recrear la experiencia original del momento cuando se tocó esa música por primera vez. Una re-interpretación consiste en que el grupo re-imagine una canción, con toda su letra y música pero de una forma nueva, desde una perspectiva que quizás no fuera parte de la experiencia o el motivo original de la banda.

Los músicos de jazz siempre están re-imaginando canciones. El saxofonista Miguel Zenón tiene un nuevo disco en el cual se inspira en la increíble tradición musical puertorriqueña de boleros y de otros estilos de la isla. Sin embargo no interpreta las canciones como boleros, si no que las hace como el las escucha, a través de su propia experiencia como músico de jazz.

Lo que hace Zenón no es tan diferente a los sonidos crudos, casi sin disciplina de Chiquita y Chatarra, la banda española que está resucitando el garage .

Ojalá que este show y estas canciones te ayuden a abrir tu mente. Trata de distinguir si el grupo está nada mas haciendo un cover, o si está intentando conocerse mejor a si mismo a través de tocar la música de otros y luego compartir este esfuerzo con sus oyentes. Y si has escuchado covers o reinterpretaciones que te han gustado últimamente, cuéntanos en la sección de comentarios.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

This Week On Alt.Latino: Reinterpretations

Enter Sandman

From 'Chunchaca en tu idioma'

By Tropikal Forever

Sounds like: A tongue-in-cheek reinterpretive dance.

Coming at you from: Mexico

Hanging on the telephone

From 'Under The Covers Vol. 2: A tribute to Paul Collins, Peter Case And Jack Lee'

By Davila 666

Sounds like: Someone's angrily waiting for you to call them back — ¡carajo!

Coming at you from: Puerto Rico

Oh Cherry, Cherry

From 'Animal de Amor'

By Chiquita Y Chatarra

Sounds like: The Spanish soundtrack to Twin Peaks

Coming at you from: Northern Spain

Besando Cosas

From 'Besando Cosas'

By Los Campos Magnéticos

Sounds like: Some kids translated the ethic of the Magnetic Fields into their own Porteño experience

Coming at you from: Argentina


From 'Floating in Dreams'

By Los Jardines de Bruselas

Sounds like: The Cure on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Coming at you from: Argentina

El Alfa

From 'Sounds Like Cocoon Fever'

By White Ninja

Sounds like: David Byrne in the desert

Coming at you from: Monterrey, Mexico

Roy Brown-Descarga #51

From 'ReDo volumen DOS'

By Agujita & Su Combo

Sounds like: Nueva Trova meets hip-hop

Coming at you from: Puerto Rico

Mc Lovya

From 'Chunchaca en tu idioma'

By Tropikal Forever

Sounds like: A tongue-in-cheek reinterpretive dance.

Coming at you from: Mexico

Felix Contreras
Felix Contreras is co-creator and co-host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.