I learned how to DJ family parties when I was a mere babe. Back then, it was simple: my iPod held just 1,000 songs (most of which were pop punk, admittedly), and the vast catalog of Spotify was just a half-formed idea in some Swedish tech bro’s head. So I dutifully studied the power of the AUX cord, and eventually learned how to set off a pasarato: bumping Juan Luis Guerra hits.
But growing up in Chicago, without access to hTV or MTVLA, I never had a chance to watch Juan Luis Guerra’s music videos. It turns out that they’re true gems, ranging from humorous political send-ups to vibrant and wonderfully weird mini-movies, chock full of dated but lovable animation and killer 80s lewks. To mark the celebrated musician’s 59th birthday, I’ve decided to compile some of my favorite videos from the depths of YouTube. Here are six of Juan Luis Guerra’s most classic clips.
Somehow, the video for “La Cosquillita” manages to blend Roy Lichtenstein illustrations, accordion wizardry, and early 90s green screens into one whirlwind perico ripiao-fueled acid trip. The shirts alone, fam. This one’s a keeper.
Juan Luis got significantly wacker when he decided to go Christian. “Las Avispas,” a cut from his 2004 Christian album Para Ti, marked that unfortunate transition. But even though the music got a little less on point, the quality of his videos remained top-notch. Especially of note is the excellent mid-2000s bee animation, which reminds me of Antonio Banderas’ character in those Nasonex commercials.
I liked 2010’s “La Guagua” because it marked a return to Juan Luis’ socially conscious lyrics. The video is no different; colorful shots of the campo, rolos, and coordinated dance moves set the scene for the video’s political narrative. Also, something tells me Juan Luis has a thing for videos shot in movie theaters.
"El Niagara en Bicicleta"
Guerra’s brilliant critique of government bureaucracy and dysfunction in Latin America has a superb video to match. As we follow the bachatero through his visit at a deteriorating hospital, the biting lyrics become all the more powerful.
"El Costo de la Vida"
As one of his most political videos, “El Costo de la Vida” is a visual tour de force that blends anti-capitalist critiques with harrowing images of war and protest. Plus, it’s your only chance to see Juan Luis play a fiery news anchor.
"A pedir su mano"
Perhaps one of his more nostalgic visual works, the video for “A pedir su mano” is an electrifying tribute to San Pedro de Macorís. Guerra blesses us with more excellent shirts and green screens, and there’s a gagá-driven turn up to end all turn ups.