Gloria, Gloria Trevi
Universal Music Latin, Mexico
by Blanca Méndez
These days Gloria Trevi makes lip sync for your life kind of music. (That’s a RuPaul’s Drag Race reference for you.) It sounds like glitter and Lucite heels, and she has the big hair, sparkle eye shadow, glossy lips image to match. Somehow Trevi’s tumultuous career trajectory has led her to gay icon status, a status that she neither honors nor deserves. Full disclosure: My relationship with Gloria Trevi has been a long and troubled one. As a child, I admired her rebellion, her fearlessness. "Pelo Suelto" was my anthem and had me whipping my hair back and forth way before Willow Smith joined the game. I got in trouble for ripping all my tights once and never did it again because I was too much of a good girl to fully embrace the Gloria Trevi lifestyle. I guess you could say I lived vicariously through her music. She led me to seek out other strong women making music, and for a while I forgot about her, instead devoting my attention to artists like Fiona Apple and PJ Harvey. Then when The Scandal broke, I was appalled. How could a woman I had admired so much have gotten involved in something so awful? How could she have been an accomplice to inflicting such pain on so many of her fellow women? I felt betrayed. The separation of the music from the musician is a subject too involved to go into further, but I obviously wasn’t able to make that separation.
So, when she tried to revive her career with 2004's Como Nace El Universo, I refused to listen to it. I was through with Gloria Trevi and everything she represented. Later, when everyone was talking about “Todos Me Miran,” curiosity got the best of me, and I watched the video. It seemed that Trevi had reemerged as a drag queen-level diva to show the world that she could make it through the rain (shout out the true diva, Mariah). But I wasn't convinced. There was nothing special about the new Gloria Trevi, none of that refreshingly unabashed presence that had drawn me to her in my youth. She was making club music now, and not even the good kind. Let's be real here, you don't have to be a groundbreaking musician to be a hit at the club. But you do have to get people on the dance floor. The songs on Gloria can't even do that. They are bathroom break songs.
The album starts with "Fuego Con Fuego" and total fire imagery overkill. There are matches, flames, explosions, and burning souls, like a strange caricature of hell that might result from Pixar taking on Hieronymus Bosch. All it needed was a few erupting volcanoes and flowing lava to complete the Ring of Fire. This would have been a challenge on RuPaul's Drag Race in which the contestants had to represent an element, and Trevi would have been eliminated for being too much, which is quite a feat in a drag competition. The partner challenge is "No Al Alguacil," in which Paulina Rubio joins her for a fun, but standard track that starts off steering a little Ke$ha, a surprisingly good thing in this case. They would have been middle-of-the pack and safe for this challenge, and that is a shame considering this may be the best track on the album.
One song that would be a total hit in the competition is “La Noche.” RuPaul loves the campy queens, and the song’s pinging lasers, spooky effects, and almost theatrically clumsy tempo would score major points. It’s like an SNL skit that’s so bad that it’s good. Nicki Minaj as Bride of Blackenstein, anyone? But the humor here doesn’t seem to be intentional and it probably isn’t part of some larger strategy in “Y Ahora Te Sorprendes” either when the flute comes in with a sadness that you just can’t take seriously. It’s even more difficult to take “Sobrenatural” seriously because its sweetness isn’t the least bit believable. Not only because of her past does the sweetness seem artificial, but Trevi’s naturally raspy voice simply doesn't allow for it. And the violins are out of place in their attempt to inject some novela-style drama into a song that doesn’t call for it.
But despite the kitsch and melodrama, the album is, quite frankly, dull and tired. “Vestida de Azucar” sounds like every cheesy ballad made in the 90s, like something that Cristian Castro might go for. “Me Rio De Ti” is a half-hearted demonstration of perseverance that’s been done before and done better. And the wake me up, make me feel alive storyline of “Despiertame” has been told incessantly since the beginning of time. Nothing about Gloria really stands out, and that’s its main flaw. Anyone who has seen RuPaul’s Drag Race knows that mediocre and forgettable are the two worst things you can be in the competition. If you don’t stand out, you go home. So, sashay away, Gloria.
Gloria, Gloria Trevi