By Daniel Kohn
By Imade Nibokun
By Arrissia Owen
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Sarah Bennett
By Adam Lovinus
By Jena Ardell
By Nate Jackson
The modus operandi of Orange County vatospunkosManic Hispanic is to transform punk classics into pochopoems such as "The INS Took My Novia Away" and "Brand New Impala." But don't think this shtick is original—ripping off American songs is a proud Mexican music tradition that dates to the time mariachi groups turned "Beer Barrel Polka" into "Los Barrillitos" ("The Little Barrels"). While that cover quickly became part of the Latin American songbook, tortured covers litter the highway of Mexican music history. The following are some of the more gruesome:
Coverof:Paper Lace's "The Night Chicago Died." Artist:Banda Toro. Results:Recorded at the height of the early '90s quebraditacraze, this song continues to mystify musical scholars. How did a bunch of Mexicans come across this 1970s schlock? What motivated them to record it, lyrics intact, as a bouncy banda tune? And why is this song now more difficult to find on record than a bribe-free Tijuana cop? Disturbing footnote: Banda Toro also recorded a version of "Kung Fu Fighting," the ultimate case for shutting down the U.S.-Mexican border.
Coverof:Bobby Darin's "Things." Artist:Los Bravos del Norte. Results:Darin's nostalgic weep turned into a gleeful two-step thanks to the infectious accordion of Los Bravos front man and conjuntonorteñoicon Ramón Ayala. But don't blame Ayala for the inappropriately happy tone of "Cosas"—the man could read "The Hollow Land" and get people to dance an all-night polka.
Remakeof:"Good Golly, Miss Molly." Artist:Alejandra Guzmán. Results:"La Plaga" was originally recorded by the Mexican rock band Los Teen Tops during the '50s. That cover roared; the version by Alejandra Guzmán on her 1989 debut tried to match the fevered shrieks and sexuality of the Little Richard original but instead came off as the studio-produced faux rebel yell it was.
Coverof:the Smiths' "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out." Artist:Mikel Erentxun. Results:Mexican rockeroshave recorded great covers of gems such as Tijuana No!'s remake of "Spanish Bombs" or Los Abandoned's punky take on Selena's "Como la Flor." "Esta Luz," though, isn't one of them—an even whinier vow of romantic death, and without the double-decker bus! Erentxun also sings a so-so "Every Day Is Like Sunday" in concert, primarily to please Morrissey: the Mancunian is known to frequent Erentxun's Southland shows.
Coverof:Rosie and the Originals' "Angel Baby." Artist:Jenni Rivera. Results:We love the Long Beach native when she's singing about courageous women who kick machismo in the huevos.We don't like Rivera when she butchers the "Ave Maria" of Chicanos by replacing the original's out-of-tune guitar with a burping tuba. But at least she didn't attempt a bilingual "I Think You've Got Your Fools Mixed Up"—that honor goes to Jessie Morales.
Coverof:Lipps Inc.'s "Funkytown." Artist:Unknown. Results:This mid-'90s track was recorded by various techno-bandas, the movement that fused traditional central Mexican brass bands with synthesizers and sequined suits. All versions kept the shuffling rhythm but chucked the vaguely sexual lyrics in favor of praising the writhing, Stetson-twirling dance form known as quebradita. Instead of the high-pitched "Won't you take me to/Funkytown!" we heard a man squeal "¡A todos Bailar/La quebradita!"
Coverof:Shania Twain's "You're Still the One." Artist:Rogelio Martínez. Results:Martínez kept the gentle sway and wussy chorals of Twain's effort but added a new title ("You and I"), wussier lyrics and a clarinet-heavy banda backbeat. Now a staple at many quinceañeras, the popularity of "Tu y Yo"—like the other examples—proves that moving to losEstadosUnidosdoesn't necessarily make Mexicans smarter.
MANIC HISPANIC PERFORM WITH THE JOHNS, BOOBY TRAP AND ADHD AT THE GALAXY CONCERT THEATER, 3503 S. HARBOR BLVD., SANTA ANA, (714) 957-0600. THURS., MAY 5 (CINCO DE MAYO!), 8 P.M. $15-$17. 18+.