The phenomenon of Rock in Spanish represents an exceptional milestone in the annals of contemporary music.
By Ulises Martínez
Translated from Spanish.
In the early 1980s, amid the military dictatorships in several Latin American countries, a prolific musical movement was harbored that quickly spread throughout the rest of Latin America. Indeed, among the censorship imposed in many Latin American countries for the dissemination of music, rock made its way in the fight against the political regime.
Soda Stereo is one of the most important and influential bands in the entire history of Argentine and Latin American rock, with a massive popularity throughout the continent from the mid-1980s to the present day. Throughout his extraordinary career, he achieved all kinds of historical records and the magic that his songs produced is still more relevant than ever, as evidenced by the millions of reproductions via streaming, record sales and the success of the show “SÉP7IMO DÍA” from Cirque du Soleil, dedicated to the group in 2017.
What is the effect Soda Stereo has had on audiences?
In the first instance we can talk about the abstract, everything that Soda Stereo generated in people. Many and many that I have had the opportunity to meet, thanks to this band, have told me that it accompanied them in difficult moments, that their music is a way of getting out of reality for a moment and feeling that everything is fine. Personally I can affirm the above, however, many will claim that it can be caused by anything: another band, another style of music, a movie, food, and a long etcetera. And it is true, but if we go to the numbers we will see that these qualities are no longer exceptions, and that there are not a few who feel the same.
Quantitatively we can see that, for example, on the day this is being written, Soda Stereo has more than 6 million monthly listeners on Spotify, just over 5 million followers and likes on Facebook, more than 335 thousand followers on Instagram , about 264 thousand followers on Twitter. We could go on and still fall short if we take into account the various concerts they performed throughout Latin America, in certain cities in the United States, and the brief presence in Spain. Soda Stereo, according to the BBC, managed to sell more than 17 million albums throughout Latin America in his active career, to that we add the albums that were sold after their separation and in recent years, which there is no exact figure. . Talking about the number of people who went to Soda Stereo concerts is incalculable, added to the places they visited to play, places where concerts had never been done and that the group opened the way for more presentations.
There are no exact figures for what is described above. If we take the data we have from social networks as a reference, we can measure, even in this way, the magnitude of a band that has reached many places and the people it has managed to convene. Although it is not entirely correct if we consider that there are many and many fans who do not have social networks, or because they do not like it or because of the age factor that, if we are realistic, most of the fans who experienced the euphoria and consecration of Soda Stereo they are of adult age, some almost of the third age.
However, there is another very important factor: young people. The number of new generations who are attracted to the music of Soda Stereo is indescribable. If we continue in the line of social networks, a large percentage of people who interact with the content of the band are teenagers or young adults. You can find videos on YouTube, for example, of young people doing covers. Pointing to YouTube something interesting happens, there is an extensive content of foreign people who react to the music of the band, and who become fans. People from China, Germany, Russia, etc., places where Soda Stereo never physically reached and that thanks to streaming content continue to reach far from Latin America.
Can a band cross generations?
Sure yes, many who are parents today will not let me lie, have they not played Soda Stereo music to their children since they are born? Or the other way around, don't you like Soda Stereo because your parents listened to them since they were young?
Indeed, age is not a factor. I don't want to talk about myself, but it is necessary. I met Soda Stereo when I was 12 years old, in that stage of adolescence where you are looking for your own identity. Soda arrived at the exact moment. It wasn't because of my family that I listened to the group, but rather it was in high school, when a music teacher began to play and sing a song which immediately captivated me. I didn't know what it was called, much less who the song was, but a phrase stuck in my head: "from that love, from light music." I got home, looked up the phrase on the internet and found the song: Soda Stereo - De Música Ligera. From there began a feeling of belonging to the music of Soda Stereo that has been maintained and will last for the rest of my life.
The time is not a factor either. Almost 37 years have passed to the day I write this since their first self-titled album “Soda Stereo” was released, and yet people continue to listen to them. We recently had the opportunity to listen to Soda Stereo in another facet thanks to Cirque Du Soleil, Soda being the first Latin American band to which this important show pays tribute to the group with its music. All this has not been free, they have been years of musical genius and it is visible how far they have come. We can also mention the tribute by Charly Alberti and Zeta Bosio to Gustavo Cerati with the Tour “Gracias Totales” which, out of all hate, is an excellent tribute to a legendary band. There are albums that will last over time, some more than others, and without damaging or detracting from everyone's taste, albums like "Animal Song" will always show a high degree of popularity.
Without a doubt Soda Stereo is a great band, it crossed many myths, the main one: you can make Rock with lyrics in Spanish. And well, speaking of lyrics. On repeated occasions Gustavo did not feel like a genius to write songs, and at this point I would like to rescue what Carlos Alomar said in an interview for Soda Stereo Rock Hall: (paraphrasing) the music is good, there is no doubt what Soda Stereo did Musically speaking, it's great, but the lyrics are a different matter. Cerati is a poet, his lyrics are poetry, the fact of transmitting what one feels, or making oneself feel things in various situations, is not done by just anyone, only a poet can do that. And it is true, Gustavo himself commented: "When composing, I try to recover those situations, a bit in the style of actors in theater, who forcibly try to recover the event that served as a trigger". The lyrics in Soda Stereo, it cannot be denied, represent the sexual and eroticism. However, unlike current music and vulgarity, the key is set in how Soda Stereo confronts the erotic, and indeed, confronts it in a poetic and theatrical way.
The magic of the three together made Soda Stereo be always present and made visible in the crossing of borders, it reached many places physically and musically. It is clear that Soda Stereo: Charly Alberti, Gustavo Cerati and Zeta Bosio, formed the favorite trio for many people; musically and lyrically speaking. It only remains to say Thank you! Thank you for what you transmitted to us, thank you for what you left us, for what you generated in everyone. Thank you for being part of my life, for being the soundtrack that accompanied me at all times.
Ulises Martínez. Graduated in Sociology from the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Unidad Azcapotzalco, in Mexico City. Director of Soda Stereo MX and Coordinator for Mexico and Central America of the Soda Stereo Rock Hall team.