Tag Archives: Music

The Sound of Latin America

I’ve written lots of posts about what Latin America looks like, what it feels like and what it tastes like. But I don’t think I’ve really said that much about what it sounds like.

The answer to that one is simple. Latin America sounds like reggaeton. For those not in the know, reggateon is a easily the most popular form of pop music across the continent, essentially a Latin form of R&B and Hip-Hop. You hear it EVERYWHERE – on the street, in bars and clubs, in markets, blaring from people’s mobile phones, on the radio in buses, even in pharmacies – and at first I found it pretty annoying. But pretty quickly one tune began to stand out. It worked its way into my brain without me realising it, until one day I found myself singing along to a song I didn’t even know the name of.

I soon noticed the song was everywhere. I was hearing it literally dozens of times a day, a pattern that was to be repeated across the whole continent for the six months I was travelling there. And that song was ‘Llamada de Emergencia’ (Emergency Call) by Daddee Yankee. From Puerto Rico, he’s the biggest star of Reggaeton, and from what I can make out, his latest hit was number one pretty much everywhere. I reckon it earns its success by being a bit more melodic than your average reggaeton number, especially with its infuriatingly catchy chorus.

In the end, I grow to love it (and its similar sounding, and nearly as ubiquitous follow-up ‘Que Tengo Que Hacer’ (What I have to do)) – as did many of the other backpackers I met. On the other hand, there were quite a few who detested it even more. Have a listen (it takes about 45 seconds before the song starts properly in this video) and see which side you come down on…

I have a feeling this is one of those things that’s great while you’re abroad, but probably doesn’t travel home all that well.

A good place to die

Bexhill-on-Sea allegedly has the oldest average population in Europe, and boy do you know it when you get there – I’ve never been anywhere that appears to have more funeral directors than it does pubs.

It’s also possibly the sleepiest town I’ve been to in England – the streets were largely deserted all day, and even at half ten on Saturday night there were only about forty people in the busiest pub in town, about half of whom were people who’d also been to see Goldfrapp. The scary thing is, when I asked the bouncer if it was always that quiet, he actually claimed it was the busiest night they’d had all year. Which makes you wonder why they needed a bouncer in the first place – anyone looking to escape binge-drink Britain should book themselves a weekend in Bexhill immediately.

All of which makes it all the more incongruous that the town also has probably the finest modernist building in the whole of the UK – the De La Warr pavilion.

De La Warr Pavilion - Front view

I’d always wanted an excuse to visit, so as soon as I heard Goldfrapp were doing a gig there I leapt at the chance to get tickets, and I wasn’t disappointed.

De La Warr Pavilion

Even better than the outside is the main staircase, which for me is the real masterpiece. I’m not sure the pictures do it justice, because it is beautiful.

De La Warr Pavilion - Staircase

De La Warr Pavilion - Staircase

I’ve been a fan of modernism and modernist architecture since I was a teenager, and this is definitely one of the finest examples I’ve ever seen. It would’ve been worth the trip for on its own – seeing Goldfrapp perform there as well was just the icing on the cake, as they were, as always, brilliant.