Club Fonograma's Best Songs of 2014 (100-76)

100. J Balvin - Ay Vamos”
The first time Club Fonograma covered J Balvin was back in 2008, when the idea of an independent reggaetón artist seemed fresh amidst the genre’s exhaustion in radio during that time. Who knew that it would take seven years for the Colombian to take over the FM airwaves and through that endeavor, find his way back to a blog like ours. After the success of “6AM,” Balvin proves he’s no one hit wonder, hitting all the right buttons with the beautiful melodic cascade that is “Ay Vamos.” Somewhat conservative in its form, this is a song that triumphs through the unfolding/delivery of its pristine parts. A song alongside Arcángel next, please. - Carlos Reyes


099. Jennifer Lopez - I Luh Ya Papi”
"I Luh Ya Papi" even had Venus X approving J.Lo's comeback. After years of profiting from lame ass singles, Lopez had finally achieved the best of both worlds: relevance and a pretty good record to go with it. That balance was short-lived as we all know what happened after. In the context of the rest of the record, which was uneven and forgettable as ever, "I Luh Ya Papi" is the single equivalent of a #tbt. J.Lo clearly wanted to channel an earlier version of herself but it worked anyway because it sounded effortless. - Giovanni Guillén


098. La Bien Querida - 
Poderes Extraños
Overrated or not, Ana Fernández-Villaverde has achieved a career difficult to compare. Established and sheltered in the legendary label Elefant Records, whose vision is to be an indie pop record label to make you dance, dream, feel, love, laugh, and cry. They have  a winner with La Bien Querida. "Poderes Extraños" is one greatly polished single in its sound, presence, and form. It's a meditation in the influence of others into the depths of our own person, and her voice singing "no puedo esperar toda la vida para poder ser feliz" (at such bittersweet tone) triggers the good old days of Alaska and Ana Torroja. - Jeziel Jovel


097. MalucaTrigger”
Maluca makes us travel back on time and remember panamanian singer El General with an endlessly relevant sample of "Tu Pum Pum" to construct what could be her own guns and roses song -ready to kill you on the dance floor. The lyrics deserves some tequila shots and then the vibes takes on a natural dance flow. And it was so good that Opening Ceremony used it as a soundtrack for a exclusive video for the B&O Play collection. Almost a shame she takes so long to put out singles. This is perfect to hear while walking home, heading the gym, or just sweating and flirting at a block party. - Stella Vasquez


096. Chicano Batman - 
Para Agradecer”
Chicano Batman’s musical identity is engrained by the dynamics of nostalgia and culture; their sound captures an essence of what it is to grow up in a multicultural forest while still maintaining the significance of roots. They rejuvenate the “baladas romanticas” sound of Los Angeles Negros y Los Pasteles Negros giving us something to grasp upon an industry that relies on a “Latin potpourri” of sounds and words like “caliente” and “exotic” to describe our culture. In their song “Para Agradecer”, they thank love, life, and the universe. No need for clichés. A thank you accompanied by keyboards and guitar solos is more than sufficient. - Ricardo Reyes


095. Pearls Negras - Guerreira”
Pearls Negras are extremely difficult not to like. Don’t believe me? Then just google this song and see for yourself the level of prestigious webzines that totally fell over for them this year. Something that’s undeniably working for them, is having that sort of universally cool third-world swagger that M.I.A. and Diplo have spent over a decade trying to popularize among more anglophile circles. But what really makes “Guerreira” the huge-stomping hit that it is, despite how we still don’t understand shit about what they’re rapping about, is how there are no half measures in anything these girls do. - Pierre Lestruhaut


094. Los Mil Jinetes - 
A la luz (de esa pantallita)”
Cristóbal Briceño released a handful of albums this year, which were of course, overshadowed by the the increasing recognition of Ases Falsos. "A la luz (de esa pantallita)," released through his folkiest transmutation, Los Mil Jinetes, is a true gem of a song. "Hablame a mi, dime si eres feliz" croons Briceño as if he was whispering to his lover's ear. That fantastical visit to the 80s in its middle section would've made it a truly worthy Chilean entry to Festival OTI, if not the winner. - Carlos Reyes


093. Skeptic - Me tienes desquiciado”
Skeptic sounds a lot like René Pérez in this one verse track -- their voice tones are nearly the same and that Puertorican accent is just unmistakable. But although Skeptic goes into a territory that Residente was difficult to beat at in his peak (that is… rapping about sex), the poetic imagery that makes up this verse set him apart from the most explicit approach reggaetón has usually had with sex. And when it comes to the sound, this is really hook-driven music that stands at the very apex of hip-hop and RnB, with a sleek production made of soulful and jazzy landscapes courtesy of up-and-coming producer Orteez. - Pierre Lestruhaut




092. Nunca fui a un parque 
de diversiones - Canival”
Of course the specialized blogs and avant hipsters weren’t going to celebrate something so derivative of both, Animal Collective and El Guincho. That awkward familiarity in the musical choices by NFPDD proved unwieldy in the lukewarm reception of their record. Personally, I prefer execution over novelty. Which is why I found “Canival,” the Argentine band’s most accessible number, truly gorgeous and swooning. The magical folk weaved between the militant vocal harmonies and the synth backdrop are so cacophonic, almost arrhythmic... and then the magic of melody happens. - Carlos Reyes


091. AfroditaPaella”
Afrodita is a gimmick and a pastiche. And it’s their conscious, unapologetic tailoring of cumbia for a hipster audience that takes their music from a wink to something with virtue. “Paella,” the standout track in Afrodita’s 26-track double album, Mensajeros de la Diosa, is a slow burner about love and faith. Particularly exciting is the comedic hubris in the title of the song, which critiques Mexico’s loyalty to the Spanish inquisition (starting with Catholicism of course) and juxtaposing it with an indigenous aural setting. - Carlos Reyes


090. Zutzut - Tu no tiene view”
Radio-ready songs should not be this complicated. Jadakiss tracks should be providing hot samples. But should we have expected a song called “Tu No Tiene View” (a treatment to the song by KDO ft. Boca de Lobo & Sufrir) to give a crap about rules or trends? All that’s important is that it bounces, and this song damn well does that. The NAAFI collective may not have set the world on fire yet, but that doesn’t mean they’ve yet to light a match. - Andrew Casillas





089. Tunacola - Guachita”
Before “Danky”, there was “Guachita.” In my intense internet search (had to look all the way to the third google page), I found an acceptable definition/translation: “es como decir mijita o cariño” …so it’s perhaps like saying “darling.” Now, after the brief lesson in Chilean terminology, this song by Tunacola captured our curiosity with it in its assembly of lyrics, synths, and trumpets that are almost erratic at times but maintained in-harmony throughout the duet. It gave us a business instruction card of Tunacola’s music which would blossom in a big way later in the year. - Ricardo Reyes




088. Mourn - Otitis”
Released as a debut single and included in the first album of the Catalan band, "Otitis" could be a protest song as well as it could be a youth anthem, recalling punk rock legends of the nineties. "Why should I be living if I can’t go swimming?" sing the very young core members of Mourn. Signed by Brooklyn based label Captured Tracks only three months after its released, Mourn are the currently most international Catalan band, meaning that we will be hearing a lot about them in the next months. - Glòria Guso


087. Romeo Santos 
feat. Drake - Odio”
With “Odio”, the self-proclaimed King has taken the Bachata/R&B hybrid his band Aventura popularized in the late ’90s and early ’00s, to new heights. For one thing, hearing Drizzy deliver a soaring loved-up verse en español on skittering guitar runs and thrills, as if it was second nature, is nothing short from exciting. For another, the heart-wringing romanticism and nasal falsetto of the Latin lover-in-chief uncommonly in tune with Heartbreak Drake's melancholically sexual rap verse. I’m telling you, Romeo Santos is not about to be dethroned. - Souad Martin-Saoudi


086. Carmen Sandiego - María
We might be cheating here with this one as Ciudad Dormitorio was released in late December of 2013. This move might cost Carmen Sandiego's charmingly-crafted album some of the attention that might deserve. However moments like "Maria", a song that just rolls out, precisely, riding the wave of its tempo, just grabs our attention with delicate vocals and guitars carrying the track. Intimately, Carmen Sandiego's only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else's. - Pablo Acuña





085. Plan B feat. Yandel - Pa'l Piso”
Plan B & the extraterrestre himself-Yandel-descend from their bravado spaceships on a tough and menacing dance floor in the Caribbean for the robotech reggeaton romance of "Pal Piso" (the standout track from Plan B's Love & Sex). But whereas most "Latin" floor fillers tend to focus our imaginations on warmer textures, their collaboration-like most of Love & Sex- sounds more like a glacial street battle: "vamo' a la guerrilla, yo soy el que fuerte martilla." - Zé Garcia






084. Las Robertas - Marlene”
This year saw Las Robertas continue their slow climb to Lords of Psych Rock with “Marlene,” a two-and-a-half minute gut punch of crunching, spit-bellowing rock n’ roll. That’s not to say that it’s rudimentary—nothing can sound this spirited without real soul behind it. Nevertheless, did any song this year look better in a tattered leather jacket? One of the coolest tracks of the year. - Andrew Casillas



083. Carolina Camacho
Ninfa de las aguas”
Hailing from Dominican Republic, Carolina Camacho was truly one of the year’s most delightful discoveries. Accompanied by an exquisite video, her breakthrough single “Ninfa de las aguas” had virtually every blog talking about her. Over bouncy, spooky synths and engaging percussion, Camacho bewitches with an otherworldly vocal performance. She certainly becomes the figure of a water nymph and gorgeously assumes it all the way through. - Enrique Coyotzi


082. Santos - Sin Salida”
"Sin Salida" like the rest of the pretty fucking good Mi Technobanda is the perfect jarabe de brujas for all of us deep in the ruidosón cult. Don't take this spirit lightly- this as a seance of doom, cumbia, and sonorous banda in the context of 250,000 (by conservative government estimates) Narco State executions since 2006- yeah it's not just 43 Normalistas. But narcocapitalism is global- Mexico's War on the Cartels was orchestrated by the United States' "Plan Mexico"- a multibillion military / "security" / enforcement cooperation contract. Even in 2009, I always knew ruidosón would be the soundtrack to the 20XX insurrections. #FueElEstado #LaDerrota - Zé Garcia


081.  El Remolón - El Preferido”
Proof that you don’t need a great departure from you pedigree to explore the underworld. While we’re not jumping from excitement, this is the kind of number that does more than just provide momentum. El Remolón, don't ever stop chasing after that bass. The composition of “El Preferido” is so chopped it’s almost liquified. Under such treatment of its landscape, El Remolón relies on sonic propulsions to acquire visibility and paint a full panoramic picture for us. I swear I hear a choir of angels on the background -or an echo of one at the very least. - Carlos Reyes


080.  Elsa de Alfonso 
y Los Prestigio - Gardenias”
Oh Spaniard indie pop… When will you grow tired of giving birth to bands that deliver effortlessly catchy tunes? Everything about “Gardenias” is irresistibly catchy: the intro synth progression, the vocal melodies, the guitar licks. Tireless activist of the Barcelonan scene Elsa de Alfonso found her sweet spot by teaming up with members of Extraperlo and Doble Pletina as her backing band Los Prestigio, and it shows on “Gardenias,” which is yet another very successful effort in cross-pollination from the very collaborative Barcelonan underground. - Pierre Lestruhaut


079.  Marineros - Cae la noche”
As the first Marineros track not linked to their YouTube debut ("Espero" and "Oh Oh" had been floating around long before their official release), we figured a sound shift was coming from the Chilean duo, albeit, goth dance track would not have been my first guess. Channeling a Crystal Castles beat, Constanza Espina and Soledad Puentes nearly have their soft vocals consumed by the song's supernatural force. But by the time they approach the chorus, aided by guitar distortion and distant ambient noises, we see how night time urgency and desperation has triggered all survival instincts. - Giovanni Guillén


078.  Tony Gallardo II - Fiesta”
You can’t go wrong with Tony Gallardo II. The artist had a busy year with his both projects, and one of the highest points was the release of the immediate hit “Fiesta”. This track continues with Gallardo’s exploration of tech pop with glorious results. Previous release Tormento/La Ruptura showed us a darker side of him. With “Fiesta”, it’s pretty clear that fun is the priority (hell, there’s even a homage to Grupo Climax’s “El Za Za Za”). Strikingly effective in its simplicity yet colossal in its delivery, “Fiesta” stands as another smasher in the wunderkind’s arsenal. - Enrique Coyotzi


077.  Kali Mutsa 
feat. Francis Boy - Traga Traga”
A big, fat bass! Gleaming synthesizers! A tiger’s roar! In the kuduro meets Bollywood “Traga, traga”, Kali Mutsa is the ringleader to an exotic display of styles. In fact, it is the singer’s own confidence (and the accurate inclusion of Angolan kudurista Francis Boy) and mysticism that makes an all over the place track like this work. Souvenance marked further experimentalism in Kali Mutsa’s career, and “Traga, traga” was the riskiest out of all these spells. It’s a frenetic banger with a kitschy soul—also it’s pretty damn addictive and impossible to escape from. - Enrique Coyotzi


076.  Animal Chuki - Capicúa
Animal Chuki is the project of Andrea Campos y Daniel Valle-Riestra, two limeños proposing their unique take on tropical bass. "Capicúa," first promo cut off of the duo’s first official EP with the same name (ZZK Records), isn’t only an electro-chicha dancefloor banger; it’s a syncopated and reverberating palindromic sonic gem. From the circular motion formed by the saxophone licks that lead and closes the mournful procession, to the looping deep bass rhythms and maracas overtones, to the dirty synths, “Capicua” carries the listener beyond the ordinary dualistic cumbia-meets-laptops path. - Souad Martin-Saoudi

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