All my favorite movies have something in common: reanimated corpses wandering around and eating human flesh. What is it about zombies that makes them so appealing to horror movie fans? Is it the fact that they can be killed (shall we say re-killed?) with absolute no remorse in the most sanguinary ways? Is it the metaphor for brainless consumers, obedient citizens that we secretly want to rebel against? Is it our unexplored, potentially latent, cannibalism? Or is it the fear of the unknown after death intrinsic to the human nature?
I don’t know and, honestly, I don’t care either, because when it comes to zombies you’re not expected to get too philosophical about it and dissect their guts in search for messages. It’s about silly, kitsch, and fun. And that applies not only to b-class movies but also to pop songs about “walkers.”
In the Anglo music world we have plenty of zombie references from The King of Pop’s seminal “Thriller” to The Cranberries “Zombie.” What about on the Latin end of the spectrum? Are there any zombie-themed tracks penned by Latino artists that deserve to be included in your Halloween playlist? We found a few.
Get your shotgun and your katana ready, we’re leaving our shelter and going out to the wild zombie-packed streets in this post-apocalyptic world. There will be blood.
Villagrán Bolaños - “Se Vienen Los Zombies” [PAR]
I don’t know much about this band and I didn’t bother to research either. I ran into the video when looking for another zombie-themed song and I was mainly surprised by the fact that they were from Paraguay, and (my editor will correct me if I’m wrong) I’m pretty sure we’ve never covered any music from Paraguay in the history of Remezcla.
Aside from the repetitive mention on the hook, there’s not much real zombie content on the song, which was kind of disappointing. I guess these potty-mouthed Paraguayans were just using the term as some sort of euphemism for their political rant. Still, just discovering that there’s cool music being done in the most-frequently forgotten Spanish-speaking country of Latin America was almost as rewarding as suddenly finding on Netflix an awesome golden-age zombie movie that I haven’t seen at least twice.
Ursula 1000 ft. Kool Koyak - “Zombies” [USA/BRA]
“They ain’t chupacabras, they chupa brains” raps in American/Brazilian MC Kool Koyak in proper Portunglish on this track provided by Brooklyn’s own Urusla 1000. Well known mainly as a visual artists and the ghost writer of many cheesy top-40 hits, Koyak got to show off his knowledge about the occult and the underworld in this zombie-packed song. The fact that it’s filled with accurate descriptions and ingenious lines like the one above makes up for the generic electro beat and boring flow. Plus the amateur collage video is pretty dope.
Alaska y Dinamara - “Mi Novio es un Zombi” [ESP]
The ultimate matriarch of Hispanic ’80s gothdom used to sing about zombies way before it was a trendy topic. What the hell! She even had a forbidden romance with a zombie! How progressive was that back then?
Unfortunately for this ultra-cheesy TV appearance they couldn’t find a zombie costume in the props department and for some reason they thought it’d be just fine if they snuck in a Freddy Krueger instead, because you know, TV-viewers are brainless idiots, they won’t be able to tell the difference. Yes, they’re treating us like we are the zombies. How dare they!
As a side note I’ll drop this rather obscure gem: a housey cover done by Argentina’s bizarre dance one-hit-wonderers The Sacados.
Meridian Brothers - “Salsa del Zombie (Perseguido por Alegres Buitres)” [COL]
Zombies and salsa? Salsa about zombies? Now that’s something I bet you weren’t expecting. To be fair is not a very orthodox type of salsa, to say the least (Meridian Brothers, are the leaders of the tropi-experimental avant-guard in Bogotá).
Most traditional salseros would probably call it blasphemous. But I don’t care about their feelings, I see a dance-floor packed with salseros and all I wanna do is run through it with a baseball bat in one hand and a chainsaw on the other one, smashing their heads and cutting them in halves like stupid zombies. So yeah, I love it when people get all experimental with their salsa and have dancers waiting impatiently by the side of the dance-floor begging for one they can actually dance to.
(Note: don’t take it personal, that’s just me being jealous because my Argentine genes prohibit me of dancing anything that requires coordination with a partner).
Brothers of Brazil - “Puppet Zombies of Wall Street” [BRA]
The only real zombies are just corporate slaves, according to bossa-punksters Brothers of Brazil. They might not literally eat human flesh, but apparently they can “fly through space and time” while they rob you blind.
OK, these are not really the scariest zombies, compared to the ones in like 28 Days Later, but in some level they’re more realistic (except for the time-traveling bit) and that can be quite fear-inducing, specially if you’re into saving money and planning for the future (absolutely pointless activities, by the way, considering the world-wide zombie apocalypse of December 2012 is right around the corner).
Misterio - “La Nena Zombie” [ARG]
Few people are as obsessed with zombies as Los Fabulosos Cadillac’s bassist Flavio Ciancirullo. And while he barely had a chance to tangentially explore this fetish of his on that legendary band (”El Muerto“) on his post-Cadillac various incarnations as a solo artist and his side projects he invoked enough zombies to fill in the background extras at a George Romero movie.
With Misterio, the band he shares with his own son, he released the zombie-centric 10 Year Old Zombie album (Nacional Records even pressed it on vinyl!) with epic song titles like “Los Muertos Vivos,” “Zombie Sado” and “La Nena Zombie.” Their previous album was titled Zombie Beat. And that’s not all, with his Flavio Mandinga project, he penned a song titled “Zombie de Karupa.” To be completely fair, vampires, mummies and cannibals are also recurring characters in his compositions but still, I don’t think anybody in the Latin Alternative multiverse has more zombie-themed songs than Sr. Flavio.
Violadores del Verso - “Zombis” [ESP]
When it comes to rap in Spanish, nobody is as hardcore as Zaragoza’s Violadores del Verso. And “Zombis” is probably one of their most hardcore songs. No catchy chorus, no booty-shaking beats, no auto-tune, no bling-bling, nothing to please the club or radio rap consumers and their girlfriends. Just a dark, claustrophobic, hard-hitting beat and plenty of verbally twisted, purposely contrived, razor-sharp rhymes that require full unidirectional attention to be deciphered.
Like with zombie movies, you have those like Zombieland that anybody can watch and enjoy, but then you have those obscure cult classics like La Horde that only the hardcore zombie fanatics really appreciate or know about. Violadores requiere that sort of commitment from the listener. This is beyond hardcore, it’s horrorcore.
Fauna - “El Zombie” [ARG]
More than being afraid of brain-eating walking dead, Fauna’s “Zombie” is about being paranoid of conspiracy theories and believing that they (your boss, your government, big brother, “the man”) want to turn you and a docile, obedient, non-thinking, button-pushing slave.
The ñu-cumbia modern classic, included in Fauna’s debut album, also coins the neologism “zombificar” for turning somebody into a zombie and the portmanteau “conspiranoia” for conspiracy + paranoia. Yeah, besides being a confessed zombie-fetishist I also have a thing for linguistics, so what?
Kumbia Queers - “Cumbia Zombie” [ARG/MEX]
I got to interview these lovely grrrrls and we spent some time talking about our mutual love for zombies, recurrent characters in their mythos. They said it all comes from their guitarist Pilar, also known as Pila Zombie, who lived in a house popularly known as La Casa Zombie, and there she threw some awesome cumbia-punk parties called La Fiesta Zombie.
That was where Kumbia Queers were born and of course they feel like they owe much of their existence to zombies, to whom they dedicated this song in their pre-ñu-cumbia explosion debut album. Unfortunately they never did a video for it (they did have zombies on their video for the song “Daniela” though) but somebody did this unofficial D.I.Y. animation for it, and just for that they climbed all the way to the top of the list.