Jenni Rivera

Mi Vida Loca

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Thanks to Ricky Martin, a lot of folks who don't speak Spanish (at least not fluently) found out what the term "vida loca" means in 2000. "Vida loca" is Spanish for "crazy life," and after Martin's single "Livin' la Vida Loca" (the English-language version) became a smash hit, the term was often used by English speakers to describe large doses of wild, decadent, hedonistic fun. But on Mi Vida Loca (My Crazy Life), the term has a much different and darker connotation in the hands of Jenni Rivera. When the Los Angeles-based banda star speaks of her vida loca on this very autobiographical effort, she isn't talking about a carefree life of nonstop partying and clubbing; she is describing a life that has had more than its share of turmoil -- a life that has included dysfunctional relationships, domestic abuse, a rough divorce, and becoming a single mother at a young age. But it has also included a very successful career in regional Mexican music -- and while Mi Vida Loca (which includes brief spoken introductions to all of the songs) is dark and angry at times, it is ultimately an inspirational and hopeful album. This 2007 release is not about being defeated by adversity -- it is about overcoming it -- and the album's hopefulness is epitomized by an intriguing banda arrangement of Gloria Gaynor's 1979 classic "I Will Survive" (one of the definitive anthems of the disco era). Most of the time, Rivera uses Spanish lyrics to tell her story. But like a lot of Mexican-Americans in California, she is totally bilingual -- and "I Will Survive" sounds perfectly at home alongside Spanish-language gems such as "Mariposa del Barrio" (Butterfly of the Barrio), "Dejame Vivir" (Let Me Live), "Inolvidable" (Unforgettable), and "Mirame" (Look at Me). Mi Vida Loca is a superb addition to the catalog of one of the most compelling -- and controversial -- figures in Mexican banda music.

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