Sunday, May 29, 2011

May 29: Gipsy Kings, "Baila Me"

Artist: Gipsy Kings
Song: "Baila Me"
Album: Este Mundo
Year: 1991

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Even as the decades pass and genres continue to develop, there are certain sounds and styles of music that will forever retain an "older" feel to them.  This is not to say that there cannot be a modern flare within the sound, but that there is always some sort of "classic" tone within the music.  While one can find this in a number of genres, it is no more clear than within many of the Latin based sounds, and any group that properly incorporates flamenco into their music is sure to have this tone present.  There is something wonderfully aged, yet dazzling within this style of music, and few groups have been able to bring it into the modern times as perfectly as one finds in the music of Gipsy Kings.  Mixing together many layered guitars, fantastic horns, and some of the most upbeat and invigorating vocals ever recorded, the group has been a constant force for more than thirty years, yet most are unaware that their heritage is French, and not a Spanish speaking country as their music suggests.  Yet this is almost irrelevant, as the spirit and sound within their music is second to none, and they are one of a handful of groups that continue to get better with every album they release.  Though they found moderate success with an earlier album, one can quickly understand just why the Gipsy Kings are so wonderfully unique within their unforgettable 1991 song, "Baila Me."

Serving as the lead track to their Este Mundo album, "Baila Me" sets an amazing tone for the rest of the record, as it almost jumps through the speakers.  Quite literally, every aspect of the song is perfectly executed, and even those who are not familiar with the "flamenco pop" style are sure to be completely captivated by the song.  From the first notes of the song, it is clear it is going to be a high energy affair, as the multiple percussion instruments create a complex, yet pointed poly-rhythm.  Though they all soon come together in a single beat, there is a more intense, but not louder, feeling within the rhythm, and it makes it impossible not to groove along in some manner with "Baila Me."  Yet the most distinctive aspect of nearly every Gipsy Kings song is the way in which the half-a-dozen guitars all come together as a single sound.  Again, it is the ability to have a layered sound, without a need to increased volume, that makes the sound so fantastic, and one cannot help but get caught up in this sound.  Though one or two guitars do veer off from time to time, creating brilliant sonic contrasts, in both the pace and the mood, one can quickly understand just why the term "flamenco pop" is necessary.  However, "Baila Me" separates itself from the bands' earlier hits with the amazing punctuation from the horn section, and it is the way in which these three factors come together that makes it an amazing and unforgettable musical experience.

Working in a perfect contrast to the music, the voice of Nicolas Reyes retains the classic sound of Latin music, but at the same time it is completely distinctive.  There is a slight grit and gruff within his singing, and it gives an amazing level of authenticity to the music of Gipsy Kings.  It is also the way in which the spirit of his voice works so perfectly with the music, and he enables the overall feeling of joy and happiness to become almost overwhelming.  Reyes easily works all over the vocal spectrum, and one can easily imagine this song being sung at a large party, and it is this almost organic feel that enables "Baila Me" to retain its impact and brilliance over time.  Yet one of the most amazing aspects of the song lives within the fact that even if one speaks no Spanish at all, the mood of the song is able to convey a great deal.  Clearly, it is a song of celebration and a carefree attitude, and it is this fact that proves the truly universal nature of music.  However, if one does translate the lyrics, "Baila Me" is actually as common a musical theme as one will find anywhere.  The words speak of meeting a truly intoxicating woman, and the ways in which the protagonist pines to win her over.  He is so madly in love with this woman that he needs to see a doctor, and he dedicates his singing and dancing to her for the rest of his life.  Reyes sings each line with an amazing amount of heartfelt dedication, and one must wonder if the woman in question is real.

In every aspect, "Baila Me" represents everything that makes the flamenco sound so fantastic, and yet it is the more modern approach found within that enables the song to be so unique.  The different rhythms that are found throughout the song, combined with the superbly layered guitar sounds are truly like nothing else ever recorded, and though other artists have attempted such a sound, none have done so with this level of brilliance.  It is the fact that Gipsy Kings are able to retain the older, almost classic sound of Latin music within the song, yet simultaneous have this modern flare that proves that such a balance can be struck, and the addition of a horns section on "Baila Me" enables the song to rise far above the rest of the bands' catalog.  This song, more than almost any other in history, is truly irresistible, and even for those who do not speak the language or are not familiar with the roots of this music, it is still as inviting and inspiring.  The fact that "Baila Me" is able to be so universal in every sense is a testament to the talents within the band, and it is likely due to the years of honing their sound that they were able to record such a truly special song.  Nicolas Reyes sounds as good as ever, and the way in which he seamlessly transitions in and out of the group vocals is as good as one will find in any genre.  With so many amazing musical feats being accomplished, one can listen to this song a number of times and still find new aspects, and this is perhaps the main reason that it there such a special experience within the Gipsy Kings' 1991 song, "Baila Me."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amen to that!