Filling a Giant Musical Hole
They say nobody reads blogs during the Summer months. I do not agree. Still, I like to blog about fun stuff or get off topic during the summer. Today I want to remember one of my favorite bands ever, El Canto del Loco (The Song of the Crazy Man).
Four kids from Algete, Madrid, Spain: Dani Martín, David Otero, Chema Ruiz, and Jandro Velazquez (although there were other drummers, like Iván Ganchegui).
Bonus fact: the band’s name was inspired by the Radio Futura song “El canto del gallo” (the song of the rooster).
Back when I blogged about music, despite listing David Otero (who is making great music at the moment as a solo artist), I forgot them. They were my biggest omission. This post is going to correct that.
Bonus fact #2: in 2009 Radio Colifata, a station run by mental hospital workers and patients, invite them to Buenos Aires to do a charity record. The project brought together the crazy men with the madmen for a good cause.
Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, the music scene was dominated by vapid pop bands like Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, Nsync, Britney, and 98 Degrees, etc. At least we can thank God for Green Day, no?
In Spain, it was not better. Except for La Oreja de Van Gogh (my idols) and Estopa, there was not much to rave about.
Enter El Canto del Loco. Granted, it took them like three or four records to get there. Nonetheless, they fill a giant music hole and make fans by writing songs who were contagious, fun, and spoke to the post-9-11 generation.
You could argue they knew how to make music, how to grab the public’s attention, and how to transcend borders. They toured successfully in Latin America and the USA. Moreover, ten years after their breakup, we still remember them.
They are still young enough to get back together. One last tour? Can we dream about it?
Their Defining Sound and Songs
How to describe their sound? It is somewhere between ‘in your face grunge/punk’, hard rock, pop-rock, and Latin pop.
And yet, perhaps it not so much the songs as the group’s interpretation of them. Their synergy when performing together is amazing. You can tell they have been together for a long time (by the way, David and Dani are first cousins). The whole was bigger than the individual parts.
In fact, the group’s success can be attributed to Dani Martín’s charisma as both, a frontman and performer.
Therefore, if I had to pick ten songs as the best defining songs, I would have a big problem. I can list at least 25 from the top of my head.
Here, killing some darlings, are my ten most listened songs from El Canto del Loco (and a few honorable mentions):
Eres tonto (You Are Dumb) – winner of several “song of the year” awards, great message. Still relevant.
Puede ser (It Could Be) – their duet with Amaia from La Oreja de Van Gogh. My personal favorite.
Tal como eres (Just As You Are) – Supposedly Danny and David co-wrote it for each other. They are obviously singing to a child with special needs. The song is lovely but, who is the mentally challenged one?
Personas (People) – incredibly mature letters addressing the human condition.
La suerte de mi vida (The Luck of My Life) – the rock ‘n’ roll love song you cannot stop singing.
Peter Pan (Peter Pan) – I never liked this song when in my twenties. Now I love it. I guess I was not mature enough to appreciate its lyrics.
Quiero aprender de ti (I Want to Learn From You) – the only original song recorded for Radio Colifata. Beautiful.
Zapatillas (Sneakers) – their unofficial anthem of the 2000s generation.
Volverá (It Will Return) – their hit duet with the legendary Alejandro Sanz.
Un millón de cicatrices (One million scars) – Whether the rock or the acoustic version, this song resonates with its strong message.
Remember, in Spanish, only the first letter is capitalized on a title unless the word is a proper name.
- Una foto en blanco y negro (A Photo in Black and White)
- Que caro es el tiempo (How Expensive Time Is)
- Aquellos años locos (Those Crazy Years)
- Son sueños (They are Dreams)
- Corazón (Heart) – special mention to the bilingual version with Brazilian star Rogerio Flausino.
- Besos (Kisses)
- La madre de José (Joseph’s Mom)
- Insoportable (Unbearable)
- Llueve en mi (It Rains on Me)
- Contigo (With You) duet with Natalia Lafourcade)
- Pequeñita (Little Girl); their very first single
- Crash (sorry for The Primitives, but El Canto’s version is better than theirs)
- Será (It Will Be)
- Aquellas pequeñas cosas (Those Little Things) – the best song from the album Por mi y por todos mis compañeros. Joan Manuel Serrat would be proud.
- Volver a disfrutar (To Enjoy Once Again) – MTV censored it and made it even more popular.
El Canto del Loco and Me
Where were I at the turn of the millennium and first decade of the 21st century when I encountered El Canto de Loco and their music?
I was at a low point in my life. Out of graduate school, divorced, without direction, stuck in a job I dislike and another I loved but the pay was really low, heartbroken, aimless. Ready to leave Philadelphia for Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, I love you and I miss you).
Have you ever feel life is unfair and you cannot catch a break?
Thankfully, I had their music. Puede Ser and Que caro es el tiempo, in particular, were there for me in my darkest moments. Even today, whenever I get writer’s block (or just lazy), I fire a song from El Canto to pump me up to write.
Granted, I am not the same person today I was twenty years ago. My mood, my goals, my life have changed. I keep reinventing myself.
And yet, through all my ups and downs, one thing remains–El Canto de Loco’s music. Music has the power to heal. Like literature, music allows us to escape our problems.
As one of their hit songs says: “Ya nada volverá a ser como antes“. (Nothing will ever be as before).
Are you a fan of El Canto del Loco? What is your favorite song/memory?
I like a lot of the songs that you have listed. They were a great live band judging by the videos I have seen. I like the Puede Ser, thelive version on Actuación TV and the song Crash. My favorite song at the moment is Los Charcos by Dani Martin, he also has a great live song with Alejandra Guzman.
He does! ‘Aunque no vuelvas’ with Alejandra Guzmán is a great song.
I love the sci-fi love story between the man and the female android in the music video of ‘Los Charcos’.
There will never be a band like El Canto del Loco.
In truth, they were the Spanish version of Green Day, another unforgettable and groundbreaking band.
Thanks for commenting, Kieran.