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Sunday, April 07, 2013

Rico Suave

I'm going to share something with you all. It's a secret in regards to the Sunday Jukebox entries that I have done for nearly two years now.

For the most part, the artists that I have featured in the Sunday Jukebox are artists who I highly respect in the music industry. Any time that I have done an album spotlight on an artist (Huey Lewis and the News, Simply Red, Janet Jackson), I've done this because I have a hard time selecting just ONE song to spotlight because I admire the artist a lot. Any other Sunday Jukebox entry has featured a hit that I have in my own personal music collection, or it happens to be linked to a personal event that I have experienced.

I am really trying to find an instance in my blog where I have actually featured a song in my blog that I have absolutely despised. Not even the entry that I did on Rebecca Black's “Friday” was that scathing. Sure, “Friday” is far from being my favourite song, but at the same time, I know that Black was only in her early teens, so I didn't want to be too hard on her.

Well, I'm gonna change things up for a week. Today's blog subject will be on a song that I wouldn't go out of my way to listen to. I'm surprised that the song even became a hit! It wasn't a number one hit by any only peaked within the Top 10. And, as far as I'm concerned, that was generous.

It's also a song that seems to have divided opinions. On one hand, the song was ranked at #9 on VH1's list of “100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders”. On the flipside, the song was also placed on Blender's list of the 50 Worst Songs ever, ranking in the thirty-seventh position.

To be fair though, the song did have its innovations that helped it stand out. It had a rather catchy beat (which was borrowed from the 1984 Daiquiri single “Chamo Candela”), and it was one of the few songs released that contained lyrics in both English and Spanish. In all honestly, I can't really think of anyone else who had hit songs with both English and Spanish lyrics other than Enrique Iglesias and Ricky Martin.

Unfortunately, the lyrics are the main reason why I cannot stand listening to the song. I'm not skilled in Spanish at all, and can't understand the Spanish portion of the song. Any Spanish I learned, I learned from watching the American version of “Sesame Street” (the Canadian one taught us French instead). I attempted to enter the Spanish lyrics into a language translator that I found via Google, but the translations ended up making me more confused. It's just as well though. I have plenty of ammunition with the English lyrics, which are cheesy at best, and mildly offensive at worst...depending on how offended one gets.

So, who performed the song in question? Well, it happens to be this guy.

Um...wait a minute...that's not who I mean. That's GERALDO. I wanted GERARDO.

That's better. This is Gerardo Mejia, the Ecuadorian-born singer whose family relocated to California when he was just twelve. Before he broke into the music business, he had a couple of minor roles in the films “Can't Buy Me Love” and “Colors”. At some point, he signed a recording contract with Interscope Records in 1990, and at the tail end of the year, he released his debut single...the single that we'll be discussing today.

So, why don't I post the video right now, let you watch it, and then we'll have a discussion over why I'm not a fan of the song.

ARTIST: Gerardo
SONG: Rico Suave
ALBUM: Mo' Ritmo
DATE RELEASED: December 5, 1990

Okay, so here's your first Spanish lesson of the day, courtesy of the translation site that I located on Google. When you translate the title of the song into English, “Rico” becomes “Rich”, and “Suave” becomes “Smooth”. So, loosely translated, the song title is “Rich and Smooth”, which if you listen closely to the English lyrics could be two adjectives that Gerardo uses to describe himself!

And, apparently if that is the case, that must mean that Gerardo has a rather high opinion of himself! But, that's only my interpretation of the lyrics...I could be wrong.

But let's go with this train of thought as we examine the lyrics...well...the English ones anyway.

Just listening to the song, and watching the music video which shows a scantily clad Gerardo dancing alongside even more scantily clad women, it's become clear that the song is all about how Gerardo believes that he is God's gift to women. Take a look...

I don't drink or smoke ain't into dope
Won't try no coke, ask me how I do it, I cope
My only addiction has to do with the female species
I eat 'em raw like sushi.

Okay, so let's recap. It's commendable that he's not one of those guys who is into heavy drinking, smoking cigarettes, or popping pills. He's very much sober and clear-headed in this song...which is why the part about him eating women raw like sushi is so freakin' disturbing!!! Not in my wildest dreams would I even compare a woman to a piece of cold, raw, fish. Not exactly the most romantic visual, huh?

Anyway, if you thought that was bad...just keep reading. It gets much worse.

There's not a woman that can handle a man like me
That's why I juggle two or three
I ain't one to commit, you can omit that bit
You pop the question, that's it.

Commitment phobic is apparently Rico Suave's middle name. I mean, why would he settle down with just one woman when he can string a whole bunch of them along and keep them from knowing that others exist? Believe me, I know the type, and have known a couple of “players” in my lifetime. You know the guys I mean? The ones who are so preoccupied with feeding their egos by dating a string of beautiful, gorgeous women at the same time just so they can boast of their conquests? Yeah, that's the image that I get when I read those lyrics. I'm certainly not suggesting that Gerardo is that kind of person today or even back when his career was just starting out. The song could have very well been an exercise in irony, like Madonna's “Material Girl” video. Whatever the case, the song's message is not a very good one.

Just based on my own experiences, I could never be one who would try to see two women at once. Heck, I'll be brutally honest...I have trouble even getting a date with ONE woman! And, yet Rico Suave can get however many he wants. Sometimes, life just ain't fair. What's even more infuriating is that he seems to treat them as if they're nothing more than prizes. No love, no affection...and definitely no ring. And, it would take a decade and a half before Beyonce came along and boasted that if he liked her then he should put a ring on it.

And, as if that last set of lyrics didn't confirm your stance that the song is sleazy, you haven't seen anything yet! Take a look at the last set of English lyrics that we'll be focusing on today.

So again don't let my lyrics mislead you
I don't love you but I need you
Would you rather have me lie
Take a piece of your pie and say bye
Or be honest and rub your thighs?

Oy vey...where to start with this one?

He doesn't love her, but he needs her? Wow...what a classy guy, huh? I suppose that in the world of cheaters and players, this dude is mui bueno, but in my eyes, he's a real perro.

(And, yes, I did have to look up the spelling for the Spanish words. In English, I'm wonderful with spelling. In Spanish, I'd fail a spelling test.)

Perhaps what's even more disturbing are the last three lines of this verse. Either way, he doesn't really come off all that great. In one option, he's basically point blank telling this woman that he doesn't love her, and he won't want to have anything more to do with her after their rendezvous together, but yes, she can rub his thighs to her heart's desire because that's how he rolls, and she's just going to have to learn how to accept it.

Okay, we get it dude. You're god's gift to women. Your skin-tight jeans and 90's style mullet makes you absolutely irresistible.

Oh, but wait. He could lie to them all in his quest to get lucky. He could take what he wants giving her false pretenses that he really does love her, and he really wants to be with her forever and ever and ever. And, once he gets what he came looking for, he'll scurry off into the night looking for his next conquest, leaving the girl he was just with all confused wondering what just happened.

Because that's SO much better...

Wow, you know something...this song upon closer inspection is actually a lot worse than I thought it was. I'm almost afraid to try and translate the Spanish lyrics and try to make sense of them!!!

Can you tell I'm absolutely shocked that this song was a #7 hit? Though, I suppose songs with worse messages than that have hit the top of the charts since then.

At any rate, “Rico Suave” ended up being Gerardo's only big hit. He did have another Top 20 smash with “We Want The Funk” (which was a partial remake of “Tear the Roof Off the Sucker” by Parliament) in 1991, but when his second and third albums flopped on the charts, Gerardo decided to put his focus on working behind the scenes of the music industry. He became an A&R executive for the very record company he joined as an artist, and he was responsible for signing another artist who used both English and Spanish in his lyrics.

Enrique Iglesias would have only been known as the son of Julio had Gerardo not taken a chance on him back in the late 1990s. Since signing on to Interscope, Enrique has had several hits charting including “Bailamos”, “Rhythm Divide”, and “Hero”.

But, then again, Gerardo also signed Bubba I'll leave it to you as to how well he's done as a scout for new talent.

And, that's our look at “Rico Suave”...which admittedly is a song that I'm not a fan of.

Now, Weird Al's “Taco Grande”? That's good stuff!

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