Musical Tour: Buenos Aires
by Rachel Devitt | November 3, 2013
Argentina's capital is a captivating place that's at once cutting-edge and steeped in history, chicly cosmopolitan and edgily gritty. Nowhere is that complex cultural identity more omnipresent than in the city's considerable musical legacy. Take tango, that sultry sound of accordions and passion that was born in the brothels of Buenos Aires and went on to become a globally respected art music and fodder for hip electro-reinvention. Argentine cumbia has followed a similar trajectory: Originally a folk style, the shuffling sound went on to become a widespread pop form, evolve into the hard-edged shanty-town style cumbia villera in the hands of groups like Yerba Brava, and get an electro-folkloric makeover by hip producers and artists like Mati Zundel and others associated with the famed Zizek Club and ZZK Records.
Argentina has also long been a key seat in the Latin rock pantheon. Early classic rockers like Sui Generis paved the way for an alt rock renaissance in the 1980s and '90s that gave us foundational bands like Soda Stereo and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs; rock-folkloric innovators like Bersuit; and contemporary indie rock phenoms like Babasónicos. Meanwhile, Buenos Aires pop stylings are as chic and surprising as the city itself, ranging from the dance pop confections of Miranda! to the strange electro-folkloric-pop worlds crafted by famed comedian-turned-indie pop ingénue Juana Molina. Molina's thought-provoking electro-pop is a direct descendant of Buenos Aires' impassioned singer-songwriter tradition, which includes nueva trova luminaries like Mercedes Sosa and folk rockers like Leon Gieco (the "Argentine Bob Dylan").
So let your ears do the walking on a little musical tour of this amazing, mesmerizing city and a few of its storied musical landmarks. It's your guide to Buenos Aires in 25 songs! We begin (where else?) with tango grand masters including Carlos Gardel and Astor Piazzolla.