A typical night of Colombian primetime network television looks like this: an hour of news, an hour of a reality show, and 1-2 hours of novelas. I don’t love novelas; many of them are overly dramatic and/or cheesy. But I sure do love the reality TV shows. So far I’ve watched Bailando con las estrellas (Dancing with the Stars), something that was like a kids’ talent show, El Desafio (Survivor meets Big Brother), and La Voz: Teen (The Voice: Teen). It’s basically an exact replica of the US program (which was based off a Dutch show), but with only teen-aged contestants. In case you haven’t seen this reality show, it is a singing competition in which three judges select teams of singers through blind auditions and then coach their team through the remainder of the competition. The judges are all popular artists in one genre or another. In the Colombian version, the judges are all popular Colombian artists – which makes them all perfect candidates for Music Monday!
I am going to start with the artist that I knew before watching this show: Goyo (given name Gloria). Okay, so, I didn’t know who she was, but I knew her band ChocQuibTown (that’s pronounced Cho-keeb-town). Along with Bomba Estéreo, they are one of the biggest Colombian alternative/pop bands today. I would even argue that ChocQuibTown is bigger because they have a poppier, more accessible sound, and because Goyo is so recognizable. If you’ve see The Voice in America, Goyo fills the same sort of role that Gwen Stefani does. Their first single, “Somos Pacíficos,” is a song about their identity as people from the Pacific coast and was released in 2006.
The band consists of Goyo, her little brother Slow Mike, and her husband Tostao. The siblings first met Tostao as young teens when their families both moved to Quibdo, Chocó (see the parts of their name in where they’re from?), but their story as a band doesn’t actually start there, only their friendship. Goyo and Slow Mike’s family moved to Buenaventura, a port town and naval base on the Pacific coast. Thanks to the sailors, who were always bringing in new things from abroad, the siblings got to know and love hip-hop and urban music. Fast forward a few years to 2000, and you find Goyo in Cali, studying psychology, getting into the underground rap scene. Through her new rapper friends she reunites with Tostao, and together they dream about starting a band that mixes urban beats and rap styles with the music of their AfroColombian roots. Goyo’s lil’ bro had started messing around with producing music, and asked to be a part of the band. Bam! Band made, eventually moved to Bogotá for a bigger scene and more opportunities, and within 10 years won their first Latin Grammy for their single “De Donde Vengo Yo,” another song about where they come from.
My favorite ChocQuibTown song is “Ritmo Violento.” With Tostao’s and Goyo’s rapping, it maintains their early hip-hop-meets-AfroColombian-beats sound, plus adds in some killer brass.
More recent singles have been far more poppy and accessible, with less rapping. “Cuando Te Veo” hit #1 on the Colombian charts in 2015.
If you’re into this sound, I recommend checking out their other big hit singles from the last couple of years – “Nuqui (Te Quiero Para Mi)” and the more recent earworm “Desde el Día en Que Te Fuiste.”