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Musical Guilty Pleasure: El Colesterol

I would like to share another musical guilty pleasure with you, which I just discovered today in Atlanta. My job brings me to Atlanta on occasion to visit clients, and there’s definitely a larger Mexican population there than the DC area. One benefit of this is the food– while I’ve not yet had any autentico tacos, I have seen documented evidence of tacos al pastor!! This is very exciting to me.

Equally exciting is the music– I try to take advantage by tuning in to a Mexican-style radio station while I’m zipping around in my tiny rental car. While the prevalence of norteña does sometimes push my ear drums to their limits, I usually hear enough good songs to make it worthwhile. Which brings to me to this afternoon, when I came across a gem that I’d never heard before.  Usually I can barely make out the lyrics to songs in English (we’re talking “hold me closer Tony Danza“-style, folks), much less songs in Spanish.  But today I was struck by a catchy tune that kept mentioning chaparritas (the term witty strangers constantly used to refer to me in Mexico) and chicharrones… and the refrain seemed to be “Me sube el colesterol” (my cholesterol is rising). Huh? I was intrigued.

I jotted down the lyrics at a stop light, and checked things out tonight on the Google.  The song is indeed entitled “El Colesterol” by Fito Olivares, who hails from Tamaulipas. I wouldn’t exactly call this an award-winning song, but there are two reasons to listen/watch:

  1. the lyrics are at least semi-amusing
  2. the video combines wearing horrible suits while dancing (and by “dancing” I mean “swaying back & forth like you’re in junior high”) with what feels like a poorly-made documentary of one man’s visit to a low-end hospital

Anyway, I know this is song is from 8,000 years ago but for those like me who are a little behind the Mexican music times, I present “the official video” of El Colesterol:

If you find lyrics tricky like I do, check them out here or watch the subtitles in Spanish on this YouTube video. For you non-Spanish speakers, the song’s basically about how this guy’s doctor tells him he’s fat, his cholesterol’s too high, and he needs to cut out sweets/sugar/flour/fat. AND THEN he gets home & his honey calls out from the kitchen, “Do you want some fried pig skin, a piece of ham, or some fried chicken, love?” So he explains how his cholesterol’s rising & his doctor has ordered him to put on his belt….no pig skin for him!

Even if you don’t find the song entertaining, it should win some sort of award for Awkward Music Video.  Some portions feel like Grey’s Anatomy… if they filmed Grey’s Anatomy in a tired office building with doctors who, instead of constantly having affairs with each other, moonlight as cumbia band members. Replace secret trysts in the break room with secret saxophone practice sessions. Someone needs to write this pilot & send it to NBC….or Univision… We’re sitting on a goldmine!

Musical guilty pleasures

Much like in the US, if you go out to enough bars/clubs/restaurant or listen to enough radio in Mexico City, you will hear the same popular songs 8 million times. Some you will come to loathe & each encounter will feel like a thousand music notes stabbing your eardrum. Perhaps one or two will be a legitimate classic that will live on past this 6 month period, possibly in the annals of Mexico’s karaoke bars.

And then there are the songs you know you really shouldn’t like, but somehow latch on to your subconscious & won’t let go. You might not actively profess to your friends that you love these songs (except possibly under the influence of tequila), but you will:

  1. know all the lyrics (or at least the lyrics as you interpret them) & sing along cheerily
  2. shout “OMG! We have to go dance to this one!” every time the song comes on in a dance-y venue.

One day, you will give in to the siren call of these songs, go onto iTunes & pay good money to download them, so you can hear them even MORE frequently. I reached this stage yesterday with two regulars on the Mexico City music scene as of late (or better put, regulars within my musical bubble in Mexico City– I am sure some chilangos may argue the inclusion of these two gems). :)

I tracked down their respective videos on YouTube to share with you. Having watched both videos, I am now even dumber than after just listening to the lyrics alone. If I can offer any advice that might help you judge me less, it is: listen to these videos with your eyes closed.

Song 1: I Know You Want Me
Artist: Pitbull
Video Summary: In this video, a not-overly-attractive man wearing dark glasses stands around making light sexual innuendos with his eyes/arms/words. Meanwhile, several busty, scantily-clad women, who seem only marginally interested in the task at hand, stand in place- moving their hips & other “assets” while shifting their weight from one leg to the other. Some of them appear to have lost a battle with a tub of glitter, and one is wearing her “Sexy Flight Attendant” costume from Halloween 2007.

Song 2: Celos
Artist: Fanny Lu
Video Summary: Fanny Lu has been transformed into the size of King Kong, thereby making it easier to scamper around a miniaturized city while stalking her boyfriend (or perhaps just some random dude she’s going all “Fatal Attraction” on). While doing this, she is wearing a white tank top thinly veiled as an actual dress. She also repeatedly demonstrates a horrible dance wherein you stick your arms straight out (like you might be pushing a low grocery cart) & wiggle them/your hips back and forth.  (You might have to watch a commercial first on this one; apologies.)

As you can see, my cultural acclimation is reaching new peaks. 😉

My singing taxi driver

I take a lot more taxis around Mexico City than I ever did in DC, and each taxi trip here begets the question of “to chat or not to chat”. (And by extension, “to practice my Spanish or not”) You can pretty much tell as soon as you get in whether the taxi driver is going to be the chatty/friendly type or not, but sometimes one misgauges.

For instance, Friday morning I hopped in my cab to work and the first few minutes were pretty quiet, save for the standard commentary about the weather (cold). I was a little sleepy, and hence hoping for a silent ride that would allow me to do my trademarked “head bobbing in-and-out of consciousness”. But then we exchanged a few more pleasantries regarding how long I’d been living in Mexico, what did I think of it, whether I liked the music, whether I liked mariachi music specifically. It all seemed innocent enough, but little did I know that my elderly taxi driver had a master plan.

After confirming that yes, I like mariachi music, he informed me that he happened to have a tape AT THIS VERY MOMENT in his car with this type of music, with a song that talks about a muchacha bonita (pretty girl), and conveniently, it even has him singing! Now I wasn’t so sure that I followed that last part correctly in Spanish, but I was entertained and so heartily consented to the tape being played. It was all cued up right at the start of “Muchacha Bonita” (in fact the name of the song). As I listened carefully to what seemed to be a rather poorly mastered tape, I realized that I was hearing the song w/its standard lyrics PLUS my taxi driver’s warbly-but-on-pitch voice dubbed over it. Classic.

I was then treated to three additional songs, each a bit more advanced in that the normal singer was completely replaced with my taxi driver singing. For these, I was also treated to him singing along in the taxi! The only time this concerned me were the occasional instances where he seemed to be so into the song that his eyes appeared to close as he looked towards the heavens to belt out his tunes. (Luckily, this usually coincided with us being stopped at traffic lights.)  He paused between a couple of the songs to inform me that he was not a professional singer, but he just really enjoyed singing. :) During another lull, I inquired how he made these tapes. Apparently he owns a special dual tape deck with a microphone which allows him to create these works of magic in his very home. I was duly impressed with his resourcefulness and dedication to his craft.

Finally, the time came to part ways as we reached our final destination– my office. To his additional credit as a taxi driver, he was one of the few cabbies I’ve ridden with who knew the correct route to end up directly in front of my office door (due to some trickiness with ‘no left turns allowed’ on the major street I work on). He inquired my name & assured me what a pleasure it was to have me in his taxi this morning. I responded with a “¿Como se llama?” as well, and he turned around, introduced himself as Salvador and shook my hand, informing me he was at my service. I must say, it is hard to have too bad of a day when it starts off with a private vocal performance & unabashed flattery.

I close with the lyrics from my first taxi cab serenade, along with my loose translation:

Muchacha bonita, bonita bonita  
con todas las fuerzas que tengo en el alma
con toda mi vida te voy a adorar.
        Pretty girl, pretty pretty
        with all the forces that I have in my soul
        with all my life I’m going to adore you.

Muchacha bonita, bonita bonita
en todas las noches que duerma
te juro que siempre te voy a soñar.
        Pretty girl, pretty pretty
        in all the nights that I sleep
        I swear to you that always I’m going to dream of you.

Te quiero y me quieres
te extraño y me extrañas
y sé que cuando andas solita
le pides al cielo volverme a mirar.
I love you and you love me
        I surprise you and you surprise me
        and I know that when you want alone
        you ask to the sky to return me to watch.  


Por eso te quiero
muchacha bonita
por eso ante Dios
te prometo que nunca
te voy a olvidar
         For this, I love you
         pretty girl
         For this, before God
         I promise you that never
         will I forget you. 


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