La Niña Buena

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In 2004, Mariana showed herself to be an enjoyable provider of Latin pop/Cumbia ear candy on her debut album, Seré una Niña Buena (I'll Be a Good Girl), and the infectious hit "Me Equivoqué" -- and she continues to move in that direction on her sophomore outing, La Niña Buena (The Good Girl). This CD won't go down in history as the most challenging release of 2005, but for those who enjoy hearing Cumbia performed in a totally Latin pop way, Mariana's charms are hard to resist. Cumbia, a Colombian rhythm that has been exported to countries ranging from Peru and Argentina to Mexico, still has traditionalists who adhere to the classic Lucho Bermúdez/Leonor González/Tamara way of doing things; however, that isn't what Mariana is going for. Rather, La Niña Buena is the work of a Mexican pop singer who happens to enjoy Cumbia a lot -- and she enjoys more than one approach to the ubiquitous rhythm. While "No Es Normal" ("It's Not Normal"), "No Vuelvo Contigo" ("I'm Not Going Back to You"), and "Al Amor de Tu Vida" ("To the Love of Your Life") have a Cumbia/Tex-Mex flavor and are obviously aimed at the regional Mexican market, "La Luna y Tu" ("The Moon and You") favors a more South American approach to Cumbia and isn't unlike something Peruvian star Rossy War might do (although lyrically, Mariana isn't as consistently melancholy as War -- who is a queen of la Cumbia triste or the sad Cumbia). But whether she is embracing Cumbia in a Mexican or more South American fashion, Mariana maintains her pop instincts throughout this likable album -- which isn't for Cumbia purists but will easily appeal to anyone who has spent a lot of time listening to comparable artists like Pilar Montenegro, Ana Bárbara, and Aroma.

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