The Corrido of ‘Amigo’ Biden: A Mexican election ballad

For over 200 years, the Mexican corrido has instructed tales of derring-do about heroes and villains and hero-villains galore.

The ballad type naturally carried over to the USA, and finally caught on to American politics, the place heroes and villains (and hero-villains) rule. JFK got dozens to mark his assassination; one hailed Jimmy Carter because the “peanut king.”

La Hillary earned some too, together with “El Corrido de Hillary Clinton,” a lazy effort launched in 2016 by ranchera icon Vicente Fernandez that repurposed an outdated hit of his to inform followers to vote for Clinton.

And everyone knows how that turned out. Oh, she obtained the favored vote. However apparently Chente by no means heard of el electoral school.

President Trump has appeared in just a few, inevitably solid as a foul hombre — and never in a cool means. Tio Bernie? A jammin’ one referred to as “El Quemazón” (“The Bern”).

However Uncle Joe Biden? He simply doesn’t encourage the identical emotions amongst Latinos — whether or not hatred or love — as Trump or Sanders.

Mariachi band waits to perform before a campaign event for  Joe Biden

A mariachi band waits to carry out earlier than a January marketing campaign occasion for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in Las Vegas.

(John Locher / Related Press)

So he was left largely corrido-less till the Diaz brothers determined to do one thing about it.

And the best way they put collectively “La Señal es Joe y Kamala” (“The Sign Is Joe and Kamala”) was so Los Angeles circa 2020:

Take two natives of Watts — David’s a music producer, Elvis is a political science undergrad at Columbia College.

Throw in a songwriter based mostly in Chiapas, the southernmost state in Mexico.

Discover a norteño band in Las Vegas to report the monitor.

Have them debut it at a nightclub in small-town Georgia.

Launch it on YouTube.

“La Señal” by La Nueva Onda Norteña begins with a flourish of notes plucked off a bajo sexto (12-string guitar) by singer Selwyn Gonzalez. As photographs drawn from Biden’s profession flash on a display screen behind the band, Gonzalez croons out what a vote for the Democratic presidential candidate would deliver to Latinos: Respect. Hope. Partitions that tumble down.

“The sign/I see the sign,” the track’s refrain proclaims. “Of a brand new period/Of a change for actual.”

Surprisingly, the simple villain for such a story is nowhere to be discovered. Trump will not be even talked about.

As an alternative, La Nueva Onda Norteña’s swaying track provides one thing absent in electoral politics nowadays: optimism.

The expectations for “La Señal” are modest for David, who spent about $1,500 of his personal cash to provide it.

“If we alter the thoughts of 1 individual, I’ll be blissful,” stated the 28-year-old through cellphone from Mexico. “However hopefully, it adjustments hundreds of thousands.”

At fewer than four,000 YouTube hits, it in all probability gained’t. Elvis despatched the track to Biden’s workforce, which hasn’t responded; as an alternative, they used songs by Vicente Fernandez’s son, Alejandro, and reggaetón superstar Bad Bunny to attain marketing campaign commercials.

However the corrido does present how this election has impressed Mexican American males who beforehand didn’t look after American politics to leap into the fray.

Those that have gravitated towards Trump due to a way that he’s a macho’s macho are getting mucho media consideration. However the Diaz brothers and La Nueva Onda Norteña signify the silent majority of those señores: males who care for his or her household and group and lengthy noticed their ceaseless work, not elections, as the best way ahead for Latinos.

Till now.

It’s additionally an inadvertent call-out to the modern-day Mexican regional music trade in the USA, which has a surprisingly lengthy historical past with American presidential campaigns past merely chronicling them. Mariachis serenaded JFK the evening earlier than his dying, and Richard Nixon at his 1973 inauguration gala. Ranchera legend Antonio Aguilar was a buddy of Ronald Reagan. Vicente Fernandez even performed at the 2000 Republican National Convention.

In the present day? The trade finds it simpler to reward avarice and any variety of narco lords than American democracy. Or democracy, interval.

“We Mexicans all have a buddy who was born right here however doesn’t need to vote,” Gonzalez stated. “That it doesn’t matter. However we want them to get aware.”

“Earlier than this, my curiosity in politics was zero,” admitted David. “However we want a change. One thing completely different from what Trump is doing. And I wanted to do one thing.”


 Joe Biden walks on a picket line with members of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226

Joe Biden walks on a picket line with members of the Culinary Employees Union Native 226 exterior the Palms On line casino in Las Vegas in February.

(Patrick Semansky / Related Press)

David takes pains to distinguish himself from Elvis — the brother, not the King. “He’s extra on the facet of smartness,” he stated. “He goes to Columbia. Me, I’m extra the streets. I do know Mexican music.”

Elvis, a 30-year-old who has labored for the Thai and Peruvian consulates in the USA and as a speechwriter for Mozambique’s ambassador to the United Nations, by no means bothered speaking politics together with his youthful brother.

“He’s a businessman, and doesn’t need to lose any potential earnings,” Elvis stated. “However all of us must take part this yr.”

Figuring out the social buzz that the Bernie Sanders corrido earned through the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries, Elvis pitched his concept to his brother. After a few deep talks, David agreed.

“Folks don’t perceive the facility of a vote till it impacts them,” he stated. “And this election positively will.”

David reached out to a earlier collaborator, Hunab Mandujano. Though he’s based mostly in Chiapas, the 28-year-old was “blissful and excited” to put in writing one thing about Biden.

“We [in Mexico] find out about what’s occurring up there, and the racist language Trump makes use of, and never nearly Mexicans,” Mandujano stated. The Diaz brothers supplied just one suggestion: Don’t deal with Trump, as a result of that corrido market was already stuffed with songs that ranted the president is “crazier than a goat” . Or a “pinche payaso” in one other. And people are the insults we are able to print.

“Look, I’m into advertising and marketing,” David stated. “All that [trash]-talking on Trump helps him.”

He’s proper. As a result of when you’ve heard one anti-45 corrido or Fb screed, for that matter, you’ve heard all of them. Obsessive hate provides no means ahead aside from to hate some extra.

As an alternative, David stated he “wished us to indicate positivity.”

So Mandujano learn articles about Biden and heard his speeches, and delivered one thing inside every week.

His final inspiration?

“Joe’s smile,” Mandujano stated. “He’s additionally a extra analytical individual and firmer [than Trump]. And he can do a whole lot of good for the American challenge.”

The Diaz brothers then despatched “La Señal” to Gonzalez, who admitted it was initially “a little bit of a problem” to determine his means musically across the topic. His group is extra used to singing love songs.

“Politics is a topic that may deliver you a whole lot of repercussions, good or dangerous,” Gonzalez stated.

However the American-born 30-year-old mirrored on his dad and mom, former undocumented immigrants. He considered Nevada, a previously deep-red state where Latinos are now a swing vote. And so he sang “La Señal” with “these emotions” in thoughts. The singer obtained so into it, that he ad-libbed in Spanish “Now, let’s exit to vote for the amigo Biden — hell ya!” midway via the tune.

“It has a whole lot of the qualities of what makes a very good marketing campaign track,” stated Dana Gorzelany-Mostak, music professor at Georgia Faculty. She research using songs in presidential campaigns. “You need to have the wedding of inspirational lyrics, good music, and nice hooks. It has an exuberance to it. Even when you don’t know the language, you get the feelings.”

The plan was to debut “La Señal” in time for Gonzalez and his bandmates to play a stay live performance whereas Biden visited Nevada earlier this month. However “the timing simply didn’t work out,” and a tour for La Nueva Onda Norteña throughout the South was forthcoming.

So the track debuted in a membership in Moultree, Ga., a metropolis of about 14,000 in southern Georgia close to a significant chicken-processing plant. Gonzalez stated the viewers was largely Salvadorans and Guatemalans, however “they appreciated it.”

The membership promoter, however …

“He was at first like, ‘What was up with that corrido?’” he stated. “He was nervous about being seen as political. However there’s all the time a primary time for one thing.”