The first eight bars of this remix version of The Smiths, "This Charming Man," by Mexico City-based duo Digital Charanga, counts with an accordion and guacharaca, where Johnny Marr's guitar usually seduces us with singular string work. Ulises Vergara and Damián Martínez are the genius talent behind this mash-up.
This is the Charming cumbia version. Your hips, feet, and torso sway in open and closed gestures with a partner, shuffling while twirling, sliding, and spinning—hardly Morrissey's forte, whose dancing more often resembled Elaine Benes from Seinfeld. Yet, chronologically, it would seem that Elaine learned her cutting-the-rug moves from post-Nosebleeds Moz.
As your body moves to the unignorable beat, Morrissey's airy, accented wail, so far removed, linguistically and geographically, from the Caribbean and Latin American origins of cumbia, punctures the scene. No desolate hillside in this version, just bodies moving to the joy of a Charming mash-up.
Colombia musicians created cumbia, a mix of European, African, and indigenous sonic cultural forms. Digital Charanga revisits this hybrid form, full circle.
"I would go out tonight,
But I haven't got a stitch to wear."
Don't worry, Mozzie, as long as you can dance, it doesn't matter what you wear.
For more on Cumbia, check out the book, Cumbia!: Scenes of a Migrant Latin American Music Genre. NPR's "Alt-Latino" produced the radio documentary "Cumbia: The Musical Backbone of Latin America." You can read and listen to the story here.
The first message in the comic session on YouTube is much appreciated: "Morrissey would hate this, and that's why I love it so much more."