Borderline Latin is an exploration of the influence of Latin music in styles, places and rhythms beyond its traditional borders, and of different types of cross-pollination between Latin music and other musical creatures. Each week, we will feature the works of a ‘non-Latin’ artist via song or musical style whose rhythm, themes, melodic inflections or influences have earned it the name of Borderline Latin.
It was not her self-worshiping halftime show at the Super Bowl –which I did see. It was not a secret desire to attract more readers to this column by taking advantage of the fact that she has been buzz-worthy during the last couple of weeks. It wasn’t even the fact that a beautiful coworker suggested I wrote about her. No. It was an article in Spanish newspaper El País that convinced me to write about Madonna for this week’s Borderline Latin.
The title of this article was “Latinoamérica baila, Madonna copia,” and it added to the controversy that rose after João Brasil claimed that the producers and writers of Madonna’s last single, “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” plagiarized his 2011 song, “L.O.V.E. Banana” (click on the song titles and hear a comparison between the two songs). I agree with the overall tone of El País‘ article: a lot of mainstream music nourishes itself, and takes advantage of the creativity of lesser fortunate musicians from less fortunate corners of the world –like Latin America. It’s not surprising that Madonna does this: –since, according to her critics– suck the life out of the younger generation of pop divas, from Britney to M.I.A., like some kind of modern Countess Báthory.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I love Madonna. I’ve never bought any of her records, and I don’t intend to buy her songs on iTunes either –isn’t love the only thing she demands from us? I also think she has handled her career brilliantly. But let’s not forget that, throughout her career, Madonna has received more than a little help from her Latin friends, from Puerto Rico’s John “Jellybean” Benitez, who co-produced her first album –the two of them were a couple back then– to the people who rushed to get a subscription when she opened her first gym in Mexico City. And let’s not forget that guy who played her boyfriend in the video for “Borderline.” We could almost forgive her for butchering our dearest lengua Española in “Spanish Lesson” –almost… not really. In any case, here’s a song that reminds me of that golden age of contemporary music: the ’90s. Enjoy.