Maná - Drama y Luz

Drama y Luz, Maná
Warner Music Latina, Mexico

Rating: 15

By Carlos Reyes


“My brother and my sister don’t speak to me,” sings James Blake in a broken, weeping voice in his 2011 anthem “I Never Learnt To Share.” With the exception of my twin, my brothers and my sisters (all in their 30s) don’t read Club Fonograma (and I honestly couldn’t care less). Before taking this review intro into a juicy Family Feud discussion, let me emphasize the fact that I see my siblings as my immediate references for people with questionable music taste. About a year ago, during a family reunion, I heard people singing in the kitchen. It was them, singing along to “De Musica Ligera.” Afterwards, they discussed how excited they were for their upcoming Phoenix concert. I scratched my head for a second, and there it was: that horrific moment when I confirmed what I already knew, that my dear siblings were the victims of music’s vile stream flow, of the family DJ entrepreneur, and of the local LatinPop FM playlist. Yes, my siblings were holding tickets for Latin pop culture’s most notorious social artifact, The Mana Syndrome.

Working under the same lazy (and still undeveloped) song composition that have made them “rock” superstars for decades, the band, led by Fher Olvera and Alex Gonzalez, brings yet another abominable record stuffed with misfires and unabashed Maná-isms. Drama y Luz, the band’s eighth studio album, sold over 47k copies in its first week, grabbing a Top 5 spot on the Billboard 200 chart and, in the process, becoming the stabbing and shameful blueprint of the Latin Rock arena band. Maná released their debut album in 1987, the year I was born, and have virtually made the same exact album over and over again without any signs of intellectual, structural, or technological progression. First single “Lluvia al Corazón” is “as if God was speaking to me,” says a top comment on YouTube. I’ll overlook the religious inquisition of such comment, and bash on the half-baked inspirational premise that’s ultimately cheap and catastrophic to its own agency. I couldn’t come up with any descriptive words to describe “Latinoamerica,” but that’s the song you’ll hear along with the review, and it’s clearly, the worst song of the year.

Unrelenting melodies without heads or tails, fatiguing adult contemporary hooks, and fudged idealisms of 2011 relevance is what you’ll find through Drama y Luz. Upcoming single “No Te Rindas” is a compromise between the band and its fans on not giving up. Needless to say, I gave up a long time ago. Maná surveys some music texture in “Vuela Libre Paloma” and pushes the right buttons in “El Verdadero Amor,” but they still only sound as good as The Stooges in that horrendous The Weirdness comeback album. For a seemingly social-politically conscious band, it seems they’re pretty indifferent to the creative world around them. In the end, the most interesting idea I could find among this motionless album comes from my own music allusion (and new social media-geekness). As pointed out by almost any mindful publication that has ever published anything on Maná, they’re so resourceful and nature-oriented that they’ve been recycling words in the absence of inspiration. I actually took notes in an attempt to sum up their career vocabulary into a 140-character tweet, but couldn’t. (Maná sucks the creative out of you).

There’s also some puzzling rationale at work if Maná thinks its listeners are on the verge of suicide. That’s a very scary thought considering my brothers and my sisters are fans. But are they really fans? My gut says no, they’re sufferers (not surfers) of the bigger picture and subjects of the mainstream cave. During that family reunion I decided to keep the “It’s SODA STEREO!” comment to myself, maybe as a way to punish them as they anticipated that song to show up during the concert (nothing more cruel than that). Their daughters and sons, however, do read this blog (please keep the secret). And stay away from your parents’ bad habits; you already know Mana isn’t the answer. Perhaps that recent news of Coldplay’s Chris Martin advising Maná not to ever sing in English was actually his scrupulous way to keep the band within our niche’s margins. But it’s too late. The Mana Syndrome is a world phenomenon, an overgrown pimple of our collective consciousness.

27 comments:

  1. LATINO TU
    LATINO YO
    CLUB FONOGRAMA Y U NO LIKE LATINOS OR WHAT?

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  2. Ni una estrellita! jajaja

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  3. Y u no like diosito Club Fonograma?

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  4. Dios mio! que porquería es esta porquería, no me atrevo siquiera a llamarlos banda!
    Latinoamerica, Calle 13, anyone?

    Cuando se morirán? yo creía que les había quedado claro cuando les rechiflaron en los premios MTV, pero no, aún hay mucha gente que con toda la naturalidad del caso dice: "a mi me gusta Maná", ahí sí como dice un amigo... ves a ca...!

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  5. The first paragraph is kind of confusing! It took me to the end of the review to realise you didn't actually think De Musica Ligera was a Mana song. Otherwise, riotously scathing. I would love to read more about the how and why Mana attained this hegemony of banality.

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  6. I used to listen to them back when I was 12 or 13, it was a direct result of lazyness and ignorance.

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  7. Mana es como una infeccion de herpes genital. Puede tener sintomas minimos, pero cuando se manifiesta causa dolor e incomodidad. Lo peor de todo es que no tiene cura. Eso es Mana.

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  8. Awesome review!

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  9. A great pop review. Sign of the times. And one of the best reviews CF has ever published.

    Carlos Reyes is the anti-Leila Cobo (from Billboard Magazine) big carrier of The Mana Syndrome (was buzzing 'drama y luz' as the best album of 2011 the other day on Twitter).

    This was more of a 7-8 rating to me though.

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  10. Haha a couple of years ago at a family party all of my older cousins (23 and over) were talking about how excited they were for the Mana concert. They asked me if I was going. I just laughed very loudly, made a face of disgust, said no and walked away.

    Awesome review!

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  11. So happy to find others that are part of the just-say-no-to-Mana movement. When I tell people I listen to rock/alternative music from Latin America, I frequently get the response, "Me too! Mana is my favorite!" And then the conversation usually ends there. Thoroughly enjoyable review, though I was also a little confused like the first anonymous commenter. The third anonymous commenter made me feel a little old - I'm 29 and I don't consider Mana as music from my youth.

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  12. Amo leer Clubfonograma, se me haze el mejor blog en su tipo.
    Pero aún no entiendo la razón de analizar las propuestas tan comerciales y difundidas de "bandas" como Maná, ó Shakira y Gloria Trevi.
    Qué no se pierda la calidad de la información.
    Hay muchas propuestas mil veces más interesantes que presentar.

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  13. Always great to see a publication step outside of its 'taste' and look at the bigger picture. Great review.

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  14. Latino tu! Latinto yo! La misma sangre y corazooon!

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  15. A mi se me hizo un discazo (sarcasmo)

    saludos Carlitos. Espero haya sido SARCASMO esta reseña.

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  16. Hijole. Te los violaste bien bonito a cada uno. Pobrecitos.

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  17. Best review I have ever read for an album. I have long been amazed and confused at the level of their success. Whereas there is gloriously tastes for everyone, I just dont get it. They just sold out 4 Staples Centers too. There is so much more out there. Its fine that they are successful and for their own sakes, hopefully their success lasts as long as they want it but ... ay dios mio.

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  18. "Sum up their career vocabulary into a 140-character tweet"

    I think you had the one word you need it way early on: LAZY.

    Obvivously, they had no abuelas with a good chancla to get them off their assess.

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  19. This was by far, one of the best reads I've had this year. So much hidden beneath it all, and so very revealing. The reviewer gets personal with it (not with the band, but through his life experience), hits the right 'musicality' points, and outlines Latin Pop as a whole. Genius.

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  20. Queremos reseña del disco de Kanaku y el Tigre así como el Christina Rosenvinge, pasan los meses y nada de nada :)

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  21. What a refreshing read! The thing with Mana is that they are a fad, an "everyone is doing it" kind of thing. I was very disappointed with their new album. Nothing stood out. How many times can Fehr say the word mariposa in his songs??? The guitar riffs sound the same! I think there is only one song in the new album that has a deeper guitar sound. I will admit that I do like some of their old stuff - maybe a handful of songs - but now the stuff they put out is recycled and re-packaged. I think if they actually came up with something different and creative, they would lose their long time fans... I guess they have to follow where the money is.

    Oh and I totally can relate to the author. One of my sibling's now loves Mana after his gf introduced him to them last year. He's now a fan?!?! I don't think he knows the new CD sounds the same as their old stuff.

    The author is right, it is a Mana Syndrome. How many people who are huge Mana fans are also into mainstream radio, tv, etc? A huge majority, I'm sure.

    How about something creative, something indescribable that can't be categorized like, say, the music of Calle 13 that goes across all genres and boundaries?

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  22. No puedes poner a la Trevi o a Mana en la misma oracion que Shakira...nada que ver.

    Mana is like the Nickelback of the US.

    Please go away Mana, you cannot be so oblivious as to know you disgust and embarass LA.

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  23. Maná's music is pretentious shit about social and political activism. Many people in music has done similar stuff. U2 is a band that is often compared to Maná. They're both "alternative-rock" legends. They sell albums as no one does. They sing about peace. And last but not least, they have a lot of haters out there. As they have so many similarities, they have a lot of differences. Maná has always sucked; U2 had really great post-punk and new wave albums in the early 80's (they even had Eno helping them). U2 is a bit "universal" in their lyrics; Maná think only of Latin people, and the only reason for that is because it's their biggest niche market (I find "Latinoamerica" song pretty racist against not-Latin people). And finally, U2 is unique, other bands make efforts to sound or to be like U2; by the other hand Maná is a fucking counterfeit of U2's gimmick.

    It's not hard to notice this, except if you're an idiot... Oh yeah! There are a lot of idiots.

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  24. Like my mom says:
    "No hay Maná que por Beck no venga"

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  25. I don't know why so many people who don't like Maná take the time to review their work. I like their music and when possible I attend their concerts and have fun. That people critize them doesn't bother me, but that all who like Maná are categorized as "idiots" simply for liking their music. To me an idiot is someone who is so close minded to the point where s/he forgets the diversity of music out there and to realize that just because you like something it doesn't make it the best nor does it make it the worst if you dislike it. To claim that certain band is the best or worst is too childish. I like Maná so I support them and enjoy their music. That doesn't make them the best. Calle 13 (just to name a band) is not for me so I dont listen to their music, but I'm not critizing them and certaintly not calling their fans idiots. So enjoy what you like b happy and let others be happy with their own taste.

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  26. They just make me happy not to be from Guadalajara. That way, when I go places, people won`t go: "Oh, so you`re from Guadalajara! Like Mana!"
    Jeez.
    You`re my fave, Carlitos.

    Valerie

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