The comforting voices of Pedro Infante, Celia Cruz, and Beny Moré may not be with us anymore, but Latin music continues to thrive in the new millennium.
Granted, much of nuestra música has succumbed to the commercial parameters of record labels. At the same time, new artists emerge in all corners of Latin America. Many of them find inspiration in the glorious recordings of the past for the creation of a new aesthetic.
The development of digital recording technology and the genre known as electronica—artificial beats, lots of synthesizers—have resulted in fresh new sounds. In Brazil, for example, artists like Bossacucanova, Cibelle, Céu, and Rosalia de Souza reinvented the bossa nova with electronica beats. The daughter of bossa pioneer João Gilberto, Bebel Gilberto shines on the moody Tanto Tempo (Six Degrees, 2000). Leave all electronics aside, and the album feels like a recording from the sixties. The same treatment was bestowed on tango by such sound collectives as Gotan Project, Tanghetto, and Bajofondo Tango Club. Chock-full of melancholy melodies, Gotan's Lunático (XL Recordings, 2006), is every bit as authentic as an Astor Piazzolla original.
Cuban music continues to be an endless source of inspiration. In its debut album A lo cubano (Surco, 2000), the Paris-based Orishas combined typical Cuban patterns with rap; the end result is exhilarating. In Mexico, quirky artists like young chanteuse Natalia Lafourcade experiment with rock, folk, and confessional songwriting. Her Casa (Sony International, 2005) is playful and wry.
Even the world of Latin pop can surprise with an idealistic vision. In the case of Juanes, the Colombian troubadour has demonstrated that you can be commercially successful and create quality music with interesting lyrics, too. The seamlessly produced La vida... es un ratico (Universal, 2007) would appear to imply that, at least for now, the future of Latin music is in good hands.