In the 70s, an English-born singer had her name misspelled on the cover of her debut single; thus, a star was born. Ever since that error, Jeanette became a chart-topping sensation, with ballads that made her a major musical figure in Spain, Latin America, and many other places the world over. Unlike most of her contemporaries, she didn’t inject melodrama or flaunt a big voice in her songs; instead she mostly relied on a simple way of singing that reflected playful melodies. On the surface, these melodies seemed innocent, but paired with her voice, they hinted a well of sadness underneath them. This quality was probably responsible for getting director Carlos Saura to prominently feature her song “Por Qué Te Vas” on his cult film Cría Cuervos, immortalizing the song and Jeanette’s voice for generations to come.
Perhaps her sorrowful voice is also what inspired Peru’s Plastilina Records to put together a 23-track double album tribute to the singer, with acts from Spain and Latin America doing their best to capture Jeanette’s emotions. The result is an eclectic mix of genres and artists with the singer’s signature melodic nature as the anchor of these reinterpretations.
The first thing that comes to mind when listening to Contemplaciones is that it turns out that Jeanette’s music adapts itself wonderfully to synthpop. Many of the artists present on the album cast her repertoire in simple electronic arrangements. This is more than evident in the opening combination of Los Pilotos and La Bien Querida tackling “Negras Estrellas,” and Linda Mirada with “Ojos En el Sol.” Elsewhere, we get Argentina’s Cineplexx injecting some dream pop into “Por Qué Voy a Cambiar?,” Gomas from Perú add some new jack swing swagger to “¿Con Qué Derecho?,” and Luciana Tagliapietra, also from Argentina, conjures some chillwave and Animal Collective vibes for “Cállate Niña.”
Some of the best versions are found almost at the end of the album, with Franny & Zooey from the Dominican Republic doing a fast-paced shoegaze version of “Soy Rebelde.” Sexores and Algodón Egipcio do some noteworthy covers, with the former adding minimal and icy guitar arpeggios to “Cuando Estoy Con Él,” while the latter offers a glitchy rhythmic backing track and strips the implicit sadness of “No Digas Nada,” leaving us with one of the most starry-eyed moments of the record.
Of course, “Por Qué Te Vas” is also present on the tribute. It’s covered not once but three times. The José Luis Perales-penned hit has received many covers throughout the years, and one found here takes the honors of being one of the most creative. Perú’s Fifteen Years Old does a mostly acapella version, with sampled dialogue from Cría Cuervos accompanying the reverb-soaked vocals. Iluminados and Clubz do remarkable reworks of the song, but hearing an experimental treatment that succeeds like Fifteen Years Old’s is enough to urge you to check out Contemplaciones.
Bringing out something different from an artist is one of the best takeaways one can have from a tribute album, and here Jeanette is cast as godmother of a new generation.