Music from around the world (part 2)

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INNER CIRCLE: Bad Boys (Jamaica)

By Victoria Imtanes, 15, Fairfax HS

Inner Circle’s Bad Boys CD is the perfect blend of reggae, pop and jive that you just can’t get enough of. Even if you feel these aren’t your typical tastes in music, trust me, this band’s music is different and can even be considered its own genre. In case you haven’t heard of Inner Circle, the group’s music has been played worldwide and they have a hit song, "Bad Boys," which is the theme for the TV show COPS.

But Inner Circle is more than just a theme song for COPS. You can’t listen to songs like "Sweat" or "Rock With You" without singing with the lyrics, dancing to the beat or just feeling the music. When I first heard this CD, I was shocked because I thought it would be a typical reggae band that had lots of really mellow beats, drums and lyrics about smoking pot. Boy, was I wrong.

Inner Circle’s music is so heartfelt with moving beats and great vocals that once you hear the song, you can’t get it out of your head.  Songs like "Slow It Down" and "Tear Down These Walls" with lyrics that say, "I don’t want to rush girl/ We have lots of time" and "I don’t want to jump out of the fire into the frying pan" instantly relax you and make you feel like there isn’t a care in the world.

Compared to my usual assortment of punk, ska, oldies, and reggae, Inner Circle fits perfectly into my style of music. I hope it does with you, too.

DANIELA MERCURY: Sou de Qualquer Lugar (Brazil)

By Sylvana Insua-Rieger, 14, Beverly Hills HS

Because of my South American background, Brazilian music has always been part of my life. Daniela Mercury is my favorite Brazilian artist because of her positive attitude, awesome voice, thought-provoking lyrics and irresistibly danceable music.

If you speak Spanish, a lot of Brazilian Portuguese is easy to understand. But even if you don’t, the language still is enchanting. My favorite song from Sou de Qualquer Lugar is "Aeromoca," which means "flight attendant." It begins with a melancholy acoustic guitar, then bongo-like drums; soon comes Daniela Mercury’s husky, soothing singing as the music climaxes. The main line from the chorus is: "Tenho que voar, amor," translated as "I have to fly, love."

The name of the album Sou de Qualquer Lugar means "I’m of any place," which shows how Mercury can identify with everyone, and anyone could identify with her music. In one of her happier songs, "Estrelas," Daniela sings "His eyes/ Need to have affection for/ The things that God/ Threw his way/ Those verses of mine/ The flowers, the thorns/ Land, fire and air."

Mercury’s music provides a glimpse of Brazilian culture: its eclectic music, the passionate Brazilian Portuguese and a love of nature. The lyrics don’t just rant about life’s troubles. They look on the brighter side to see that we can learn from our problems. Even though I love Nirvana and No Doubt, American music doesn’t compare to songs like those of Mercury.

JD NATASHA: Imperfecta-Imperfect (Mexico)

By Sue Li, 17, Culver City HS

I first discovered JD Natasha when her music video for "Lágrimas" came on TV.  With my gringo Spanish skills, I caught only a few words besides lágrimas (tears) and y te vas (and you go), but I ended up watching the entire performance, captivated by the rhythmic strumming of her guitar and the power of her voice. Even though I didn’t know exactly what she was saying, I could understand how she felt in this angst-filled song.

Most of teenage singer/songwriter Natasha’s album, Imperfecta-Imperfect, reflects the soul and beauty captured in "Lágrimas." However, she diversifies her music by adding a few catchy, upbeat tracks like "Ingredientes" and "Piscis," and inserting a few songs in English including the title track and "Hey Ya," a cover of Outkast’s poppy single. Natasha, though, slows down and quiets the overplayed hit, adds a violin, and then lets her voice switch between soft, subdued verses. The song ends with her voice fading out, encouraging us to "shake it."

After a few listens, I found myself humming to many of her songs, including my two favorite slower tracks, "Tanto" and "Tan Cerca." As I looked up the lyrics on the Internet, I learned and began singing new Spanish phrases.

Despite the language barrier, Imperfecta-Imperfect has become one of my favorite albums. Young, unabashed and poetic, Natasha has inspired me to check out other music in Spanish and even music in other languages I can partly understand, like Chinese.