Caliente! Latin Ballads 8

The ballad, that romantic expression of Latin music, comes in an endless variety of rhythms and styles. Although many believe that ballads are, by definition, slow and sweet, it is not necessarily the case. Ballads are the product of boleros - that tropical rhythm adorned with lovelorn lyrics - and romantic Italian songs. This marriage of memorable melodies with infinitely romantic words is what defines today’s ballad, no matter what rhythm is underlied.

The 2008 collection of “Caliente - Latin Ballads” brings an extraordinary array of contemporary music that ranges from Gloria Estefan’s son flavoured bolero “Yo No Cambiaria”, going through the pop/rock ballad of Mexican trio Camila - “Sólo Para Tí” - and including the decidedly more anarquist fare of songwriter Joaquín Sabina, with his devastating “19 Dias y 500 Noches.” In the purely pop realm, we find the top four divas of the moment - Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera and Shakira, all singing in Spanish in their unique signature style, from the R&B tinged pop of Beyoncé to the classic balladry of Jennifer Lopez.

Perhaps the most definite example of Latin ballads versatility is brought forth by Dominican Juan Luis Guerra. Best known for his renditions of contemporary bachata, he defines himself above all as a romantic musician. Here, he gives us “Que Me Des Tu Cariño,” a beautiful danceable bachata written for Nora, his wife of more than 20 years.

The contrast is provided by balladeer Chayanne with “Si Nos Quedara Poco Tiempo,” a song with big arrangements and unbridled romanticism. The loss of love, in a way, is provided by Mexican rockers Maná with “El Rey Tiburón,” a cha-cha-cha about a solitary Don Juan who can’t find love. And simple, almost childlike love is personified by Julieta Venegas with “Andar Conmigo,” where she invites her lover to walk with her. With 19 top-hits, this edition of “Latin Ballads ” is an example of love won and lost in all tempos, all rhythms and for all ages. After all, in matters of the heart, one size does not fit all.

Leila Cobo, Billboard Magazine