Jenni Rivera

Simplemente... La Mejor

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If anyone can honestly be described as a banda equivalent of Alanis Morissette, it's Jenni Rivera. The Mexican-American singer has built a career railing against all the malditos who have done her wrong, and the fact that she has used banda as the vehicle for her angry, passionate tirades is intriguing; historically, banda has been a very male-dominated area of regional Mexican music (much more so than mariachi or ranchera). Assembled in 2004, this best-of collection offers 12 of the '90s and 2000s hits that have made Rivera one of banda's most unlikely stars, including definitive gems like "Las Malandrinas," "Querida Socia" and "Se las Voy a Dar a Otro." Although previously released material dominates the CD, Univision provides three new songs: the title track, the vulnerable "Amiga Si Lo Ves" and "Las Mismas Costumbres." With its biting lyrics, "Las Mismas Costumbres" lives up to the angry-young-woman image Rivera is famous for. But not everything on Simplemente. . . La Mejor is angry or biting. Rivera shows a sweeter side of herself on a bilingual remake of the '50s doo wop classic "Angel Baby," which lends quite nicely to a banda makeover. "Angel Baby" isn't the only example of Rivera performing a soul or doo wop hit -- she has also covered Barbara Lynn's "You'll Lose a Good Thing" and Diana Ross & the Supremes' "Where Did Our Love Go?" -- but "Angel Baby" is the most famous example (at least as of 2004) and was a logical choice for this album. Simplemente. . . La Mejor isn't the last word on Rivera's output; some essential tracks are missing, including "Escándalo." But even so, this excellent CD is an appropriate starting point if one is exploring her work for the first time.

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