For those unaware of 31 Minutos, you’ve been missing out. Up to its recent disappearance (hopefully a break), it was Latin-America’s most endearing television series. It was the kind of cultural phenomenon by which many of our kids learned the world through. It was our Yo Gabba Gabba and our Glee too, a delightful, perhaps wicked and weird series, a rare compromise of nutritious television serving as both, mind-provoking and entertaining. Its visual style and confronting stance have stationed it as a cult show, even on YouTube, mainly for its awe-inspiring songs. Yo Nunca Vi Television, Tributo a 31 Minutos is a homage to the show, and to the songwriters of the show: Diaz, Peirano, Salinas, Ilabaca, and Espinosa.
The series have been adapted for the big screen (this is like a parallel soundtrack), hence the brilliance of the album title. While this can be taken as a marketing tool, that thought is easily dispatched by looking at the track list. As you might be noticing, Chile is making the best music in our region, one that is increasingly adjusting to Mexico’s well furnished indie market. This album strikes primarily for this niche, with Chile and Mexico contributing some of its hottest consolidated artists as well as rising talent. For the most part, the artists do a good job versioning these near classics. This is the kind of project where the bands have an equal shot to get it right, and that’s seen here right away. Belanova opens the show with a magnificent take on the title track, to the surprise of many, the most mainstream and hated band here also makes the best song in the album. It’s all bouncy and noticeable, and it gets emotional towards the end. Café Tacvba’s Ruben Albarran seems to practice his multi-personal pseudonym with his Sizu Yantra project too, now called Tepetokio. “La Regla Primordial” is absolutely one of my favorite songs from the show; the band pulls out a wooly yet mesmerizing version, one that follows the song’s lyrics very well: “nunca hacemos algo que no nos parece original.”
Also a standout, Francisca Valenzuela’s raspy take on “Doggy Style”, truly wonderful vocals. The two most popular songs are also in good hands. First, “Diente Blanco” by Natalia Lafourcade and Emmanuel del Real, the delightful pair came back to Hu Hu Hu land rounding the most delicate song of the bunch. The other popular track is well handled by Niña, “Baila Sin Cesar” was already a punk song, the band dressed it very well. The album also features good-to-great versions by Furland, Pedro Piedra and Ximena Sariñana. And then there are some bands that either put too much spice (Bengala, Los Liquits) or fell short from memorable (Los Bunkers, Chancho En Piedra). Yo Nunca Vi Television is a caring and beautiful idea; if anything, this is a reminder to go and add 31 Minutos (the show and the albums) into your audiovisual experience. "Hasta que un día exploto el televisor..."