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The History of Argentine Pop Music
by Alex Cosper (5/30/13)

The roots of pop music in Argentina lay in traditionl styles such as tango, cumbia and cuarteto. American jazz has been a powerful influence on Argentine music since the 1920s, starting with Oscar Alemán, who recorded over 20 albums that span from the 1920s through the 1970s. The music industry in Argentina is overseen by the Argentine Music Industry Chamber (CAPIF), a member of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). CAPIF tracks music sales and issues gold, platinum and diamond awards.

Tango is ballroom dance genre set in 2/4 or 4/4 time. Two composers who helped popularize tango in the early 20th century were Eduardo Arola and Vicente Greco. Sextets known as orquesta tipicas consisting of two violins, a piano, an upright bass and two accordion-like bandoneóns, typically play tango music at public events. Argentia and Uruguay were the two main centers where tango music developed in the 19th century, although the music traces back earlier to Spain. Tango was partly influenced by European and African music. Since tango was more associated with the working class, it was commonly shunned by the upper class.

Through films and recordings, actor/singer Carlos Gardel helped tango remain popular in the 1920s and 1930s. The period from the mid-thirties through the early fifties is regarded as "the golden ago of tango." In many ways is paralleled big band music in America. Some of the top orchestra leaders of this period included Osvaldo Pugliese, Carlos di Sarli and Juan d'Arienzo. In the 1950s, Ástor Piazzolla popularized a more modern form of tango that broke away from old traditions. This type of music became known as "tango nuevo." Folk music and rock and roll also helped push the boundaries of Argentine pop music in the fifties. Jazz and tango began to merge in Buenos Aires during the seventies, leading to popular acts such as Nebbia. Another group that added more ingredients to tango was Buenos Aires 8, who recorded songs written by Ástor Piazzolla.

By the 1960s the mainstream music of Argentina was known as ritmo latino. Out of bohemian communities in Buenos Aires grew rock bands heavily inspired by British rock bands. Bands such as Los Gatos, Soda Stereo and Fabulosos Cadillacs crafted a regional type of rock known as Rock Nacional. Charly García, who was heavily inspired by the Beatles, dabbled with psychedelic and folk rock before exploring his own creative and sometimes social commentary music that caught on in the 1970s and 1980s. He went on to become know as one of the most influential songwriters in the nation's history. One of his popular protest songs was "No bombardeen Buenos Aires" during the Falklands War in the early eighties.

An international success story during the disco era was Juan Fernando Silvetti Adorno from Quilmes, who went by the name Bebu Silvetti or sometimes just Silvetti. His instrumental disco hit "Lluvia De Primavera (Spring Rain)" was a hit in 1977. He won music industry awards as well for producing several Latin artists. His daughter Anna Silvetti became a film, television amd theater star as well as film director and producer in the Latin world. Bebu died in 2003 at the age of 59.

Electronic music became a big part of Argentina's pop culture in the early nineties. A popular band that has blended tango music with electronica is Bajofondo Tango Club from Argentina and Uruguay. From 2001 to 2004 Bandana was a popular dance pop band among teens. Another pop act to capitalize on the electronic sound has been Miranda!

Argentina's pop music of the 21st century has been a melting pot of styles, which tango lives on through multiple subgenres such as electro tango, which has been popularized by Tanghetto from Buenos Aires. Another subgenre is neo-tango, in which Carlos Libedinsky has been well known. Rock bands of the new century include Los Piojos, La Renga and Divididos.

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