This post was originally written in Spanish by Alfredo Richner, San Juan-based founder and editor of art and culture blog Puerto Rico Indie.
Ten months ago, I began brainstorming creative ways to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Puerto Rico Indie, the blog that I launched in mid-2009 to write mainly about music and cover the local scene. That is how the idea for “Indie Martin” was born, a compilation of Ricky Martin covers by artists from Puerto Rico's independent music scene. “Indie Martin” was officially released on August 26, and can by downloaded for free from Discos Diáspora.
So, why Ricky Martin?
Why not Ricky Martin? Everyone has their own opinions of him and the music he's performed throughout the years, but what's certain is that Ricky Martin has brought our island international attention, for which we can all feel proud. He is perhaps Puerto Rico’s most cherished international export, a bonafide superstar that has conquered the pop charts around the globe with hits like “Livin’ La Vida Loca” and the World Cup anthem “The Cup of Life”. We want to invite curious ears to discover the sounds of Puerto Rico's independent music scene through these well-known songs, full of memories and nostalgia. And perhaps that initial curiosity will spur listeners to explore the original music of the artists who participated in the project.
We were looking to unite in some way these two musical worlds, which in the imagination of mainstream media, the music industry and even many listeners, seem so different from one another. Along the same lines, we wanted to challenge independent musicians to make Ricky's material their own, giving the songs new layers of meaning. Puerto Rico’s indie scene is small yet vibrant, and in the last few years it has been increasingly recognized by the specialized press in Latin America and the United States for its wealth of talented musicians and strong songwriting. It is a scene that has made strides in both its presentation and reach, thanks in large part to increased promotion and awareness via the Internet.
The final result brings together 16 of his hits performed by a variety of artists, from veterans of the local scene such as Balún, Un.Real, Los Nervios, Ardnaxela and Habish, to more recent acts like Cardigan Academy, Guateke and Furry Vowels (here alongside MoreIra). You'll also find electronic beats, such as those from Dino Analog Orchestra and Dead Hands, as well as acoustic versions from Los Niños Estelares and Edén Cruz. The compilation spans dance pop from Los Wálters and punk rock from Los Nadies, and even includes piano from Ardnaela and a string arrangement by producer and performer Héctor “Stonetape” Hernández. Our adopted Puerto Rican friends from Santiago, Dominican Republic, Las Acevedo, took on the task of unearthing “She Bangs” from its deep grave dug years earlier by William Hung on American Idol.
“Indie Martin” has already received airtime on prominent international outlets, such as the programs Alt.Latino and Weekend Edition on NPR in the US, the program Multipista on Radio 3 in Spain, and stations and blogs in Brazil, Venezuela, and Dominican Republic, among other countries. We're thrilled with the compilation and its reception — and we hope you listen to it, share it with your friends and let us know which were your favorite versions. Shake your bon-bons!