Prediction No. 1 (and I almost didn't do this Battle because of it):
Everyone—okay, at least the great majority of BoTB-ers—is going to hate this Battle.
Reality: not only didn't you guys hate it, but even loved it (with a few exceptions, which make the "Love It" ones all the more believable).
Prediction No. 2
Sure, I'll be in Mexico Nov. 1, but my mom's place has internet... Nothing to worry about.
Reality: Internet sucks in Mexico. Not only is public wi-fi a rarity, but even in places where you get a password (usually one of those interminable 0ES45J2100KM5R443BE codes, impossible not to mess up), some devices just won't connect. Either the signal is not strong enough, or the router is set up with some sort of firewall that keeps out certain devices (my MacBook always has problems), or, when I did connect, YouTube videos took forever to load, and then refused to play.
Prediction No. 3
Lila's going to leave Chabela in the dirt.
Seriously. I looked for other interpreters, other singers that might give Chabela a better chance... In the end I went with Lila Downs because I thought a shut-out / blow-out was worth it if I was at least giving y'all a pleasant song/voice/arrangement. (And, also, hers was the only cool version with mariachi... And a Day of the Dead without mariachi didn't seem right at all.)
Chabela Vargas (6)
Lila Downs (5)
Which still puts Chabela ahead of Lila.
Now, admittedly, this round had fewer votes than other battles — my fault — so who knows whether the missing ones would've turned this result on its head. On the other hand, though, some of you disliked Chabela and wound up voting for her anyway, because of how much emotion she puts into her interpretation (Robin's comment comes to mind). So perhaps Chabela does deserve to win this one.
I wavered with my own vote for a while. No one would ever mistake Chabela for easy listening, in spite of the "slow" nature most of her music has. She uses simple arrangements, usually only a guitar (as in the version I used for this battle), but instead of making her music uncomplicated or plain, what this achieves is underlining not just her voice but the raw emotion she injects into it.
Music so charged with intensity is hard to take in even small doses. (And this one wasn't exactly small.)
But... I'm voting for her anyway. Yes, for the emotional power. But also because she was always a rebel. She took by storm the ranchera genre of music, traditionally an exclusively male terrain, and built a career on playing with the male/female duality of roughness and tenderness. It's a powerful statement what she makes: not only men experience complex, non-rose-tinted emotion. Chabela, single-handedly, tore down the unofficial (but very serious) edict that ranchera songs spoke exclusively from a male point of view. And for that she's my hero.
A bit of trivia: there's always been a discussion about whether to spell it Chabela (B) or Chavela (V). It's a shortened form of Isabel, so the B seems logical. However, there are other words in Spanish (Mexican Spanish, specifically) — chavo or chava (meaning kid) come to mind — that create confusion. Also, the shortened form of the name Salvador is Chava — yes, like the female form of kid... So everyone's really confused. And, to be honest, both Chabela and Chavela are acceptable.
Awesome battle, guys. I loved reading your comments and your feedback. I promise to try something more mainstream soon — though not on the 15th, since I paired up with fellow BoTB-er Arlee Bird of Tossing It Out to bring to you a two-fold story told in music. It all starts this Wednesday 11th, when he's generously welcoming me to his blog, as part of the MIRACLE tour in blogs, to reveal the song he'll be using for the next BoTB—song which, coincidence upon coincidence, has an interesting (and somewhat dark) relationship with the story in THE MIRACLE OF SMALL THINGS.
Staying on the fiction-music relationship, I'll be at The Doglady's Den tomorrow (Monday) talking about why MIRACLE protagonist Luis Villalobos chokes up at a certain line of MacArthur Park—epic battle, Debbie! Would love to see you over there and hear your opinion on whether a man who sheds a tear over a disco song is a wuss or a darling.
In the meantime, happy Sunday!