And so begins my look at the Puerto Rican pop band, Menudo. I have been going back sharing my time between new music and the past in order to understand where Latin pop music began. Menudo wasn’t the beginning. They were nowhere near the beginning. You can even go further back by following Menudo’s creator, Edgardo Diaz, and the pop band, La Pandilla.
Menudo seriously was a phenomenon because I don’t think you could recreate it today, though I am starting to think KPop bands like BTS are doing just that. Edgardo Diaz took 5 local boys and turned them into pop idols and created a business that spanned 44 years to this date. He is still making money off the band.
When Menudo recorded their debut album, the boys had no real training. They were not looking to be celebrities. Edgardo wanted to prove that he could create something even more successful than La Pandilla. He enlisted his cousins, Oscar, Carlos, and Ricky. Then added the sons of a family friend, Nefty and Fernando. He taught them to sing and dance and look cute.
The debut album would later go on to be dubbed as Los Fantasmas after the first single from the album. The album was released in Puerto Rico under Edgardo’s own label, Padosa. The album was sold during the band’s performances at festivals and parks. Musically, there is nothing special about this album that makes one say it is an essential part of music history. That music will come later in Menudo’s history.
With this album, it can be hard to listen to as an avid music lover just because the boys didn’t necessarily harmonize well together. I don’t think Edgardo looked for a particular type of vocal range when he looked for members. When know he didn’t when he created the group’s first line-up. He just needed cute boys.
There are some gems on the album like “Enseñame A Cantar” and “Dos Niños”. The song, “Calma Ya” was originally an African pop song called, Ramaya. More interesting tidbits from this album are that Edgardo used songs from Juan Carlos Calderón (Luis Miguel’s “Tengo Todo Excepto A Ti”), Honorio Herrero (Chayanne’s “Fiesta En America”), and Rafael Pérez-Botija (Enrique Iglesia’s “Lluvia Cae”).