A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE: Notes of an Antiquated Queen

New Year’s Resolution

By Mary Khon

Happy New Year, Queeridos!

New Year's eve illustration, celebration background with 2018 cl

Another year has come and gone and luckily we are still here. We might not be completely sane but we are still here. Como dice la canción: “Good times and bad times/I’ve seen them all, and my dear, I’m still here.”


Since he who shall not be name became supposedly the most important person in the world, supposedly ruling, the allegedly number one country in the world, our lives have been tainted by association. There was a time when we could proudly and loudly claim our number one spot at the dinner table, but now, even though we still seem to be at the dinner table, claiming the number one spot has become far more difficult, and as time passes, our chances to regain such spot are slowly evaporating. And things are not getting any better.


But life is not all gloomy and destruction, there are good things all around us. With this in mind, I decided that since this is the first article of the year that I would talk about songs related to the New Year. Pero, ¿sabían ustedes que es muy dificil encontrar canciones de año nuevo? I mean, songs that only talk about the New Year and were written and performed by Latino artists? That’s right. There are not many of them. Luckily, I decided to ask a few people about the songs they know. Many told me, but not after I paid them with this beautiful body of mine or as many of my friends say, “I paid with cuerpomatic!”


One of the songs I learned about is titled, ‘Un feliz año pa’ ti” by Hugo Liscano. The song has a nice, contagious and uplifting rhythm and it comes all the way from Venezuela. The only thing I personally do not like about the song is that, at least all the recordings I found, are sang by groups of young people so it sounds more like a school song… a villancico as we know them in my country or a gaita as known in Venezuela.


“Cinco pa’ las doce” is another New Year’s song coming from Venezuela by Nestor Zavarce. This song can be heard in many Latin American countries on December 31. And no matter the rhythm it has, the lyrics and its style bring nostalgia to those who listen to such song. There is even a short film that has the same title and uses the song as its premise. It’s depressing.


A third song I found is titled, “Año Nuevo/Vida Nueva” by Billo’s Caracas Boys, an orchestra from the Dominican Republic that found fame in Caracas, Venezuela, where they adopted their new name. This change resulted on Billo’s orchestra to be barred from ever returning home. The song dates back to the 1930s and now it is considered a classic.


Maracaibo 15 is a gaita music group from the city of Maracaibo, Zuila in Venezuela. (I think I’m beginning to see a pattern here.) Maracaibo composed a song titled “Viejo Año,” which is a song that uses the “old year” as the main character who must leave forever and never come back. The singers have drinks, dance, and try to make the old year happy even though “it” knows it has to leave in a few hours. Cute.


Ana Torroja was born in Madrid, Spain and was part of a music group known as Mecano. After the group split, Torroja embarked on a singing career, capturing success very quickly. One of her popular songs is titled, “Un año mas,” a song that describes some of New Year traditions from countries such as Spain in Mexico, traditions such drinking champagne and the 12 grapes that represent the 12 months of the year.


“Tres Deseos” is a song sang by Gloria Estefan. This song has an incredible contagious rhythm that is difficult to ignore. It is inspired by Colombian music and the style used is vallenato. This is, in fact, a very high-spirited song to sing, dance, and use at any time during the year, even though the lyrics are specifically about the New Year.


Polo Montañez was a Cuban songwriter and singer, and “Amanece el año nuevo” was part of his first music album titled, Guajiro Natural. After Polo’s death, the song became a classic and it never fails to be played during December 31.


But perhaps the most famous or most popular song of all the Latino New Year songs is “El año viejo,” originally sang by Tony Camargo and written by a Colombian. Many considered this song Mexico and Colombian’s national holiday anthem. So many artists have recorded this song that it would take too long to list them all. However, only one music artist brought the song to international fame, Celia Cruz.

Hasta next time, queeridos!