The diversification of cumbia has continued in the 21st century -- not only in Colombia (where cumbia originated), but also, in Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, Chile, and El Salvador. As many different varieties of cumbia as there were back in the '70s and '80s, there are even more varieties today. Cumbia Zero specializes in a very pop-drenched style of cumbia on their debut album, Ya Pasará, which also incorporates elements of reggaetón and hip-hop. This half-male, half-female vocal quartet is based in Acapulco, Mexico, but they get some inspiration from the cumbia villera sound of Argentina -- and Mexican grupero (including Ana Bárbara) is also an influence at times. Clearly, high-tech offerings such as "Quieres Ser Mi Amante" ("You Want to Be My Lover"), "Llorarás, Llorarás" ("You Will Cry, You Will Cry") and "Cuando Me Vaya de Tu Lado" ("When I Leave Your Side") were not designed for cumbia purists who believe that cumbia is obligated to sound like classic Columbian recordings from the '50s and '60s; this 2008 release sounds nothing like that. Rather, Cumbia Zero's slick, glossy work is designed for cumbia fans who are seriously into Latin pop and are likely to have some Aroma, Selena, Pilar Montenegro, and Ana Bárbara discs in their collections. If you're going to go the commercial route, hooks are not only a good idea -- they're downright essential, and Cumbia Zero have plenty of strong hooks to work with. Pop infectiousness prevails on the abovementioned songs, and it prevails on the doo wop flavored "El Que Sueña Contigo" ("He Who Dreams with You"). Bottom line: Ya Pasará isn't for cumbia traditionalists, but it will easily appeal to those who like their cumbia laced with a lot of Latin pop.
Ya Pasara Review
by Alex Henderson