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Edgar Ricardo Arjona Morales, (born 19 January 1964, in Jocotenango, Guatemala), known as Ricardo Arjona (Spanish pronunciation: [arˈxona]), is a Guatemalan singer-songwriter and former basketball player and school teacher. In 1993, he received the Rafael Álvarez Ovalle Order from the then President of Guatemala, Ramiro de León Carpio, for his international merits.[1] Arjona began his music career in 1985 at age 21, when he released Déjame Decir Que Te Amo. He rose to prominence in 1989 with his sophomore album Jesús, Verbo No Sustantivo, which garnered him media attention and moderate success.

After joining Sony Music in 1990 he released, in 1993, his fourth album Animal Nocturno, which gained him significant popularity throughout the United States and Latin America, and paved the way for subsequent albums Historias, Si El Norte Fuera El Sur and Sin Daños a Terceros. In 1999 he released his first live album Vivo, which garnered him his first number-one hit on the Billboard Latin Songs chart, "Desnuda". In 2005 he released his tenth album, Adentro, which won both a Latin Grammy Award and a Grammy Award. In 2008, he abandoned Sony Music and signed a record deal with Warner Music, through which, the same year, he released his eleventh studio album, 5to Piso. In 2011, after 26 years within the music sphere, Arjona independently founded his own record label, Metamorfosis, through which he released his thirteenth studio album, Independiente, in 4 October 2011.

Ricardo Arjona is considered to be one of the most successful Latin American artists of all time, with more than 20 million albums sold to date.[2] He is often called El Animal Nocturno (The Nocturnal Animal),[3] thanks to his breakthrough success with his fourth studio album which bears the same name. His music ranges from ballads to Latin pop, rock, pop rock, Cuban music, and more recently a cappella performances and a mixture of Tejano music and Norteño music, and other Afro-American and Latin sounds. Arjona is noted for his lyrical style, and often addresses topics such as love, homosexuality, kidnapping, rape, interracial racism and immigration.

As of 2011, Arjona has released a total thirteen studio albums, one live album and nine compilation albums. He has also released forty-three singles. Four Arjona albums have reached number one on the Billboard Top Latin Albums, and ten had reached the No.1 position in Argentina. Also, four albums had charted inside the Billboard 200. Four of its singles had reached No.1 on the Billboard Latin Songs chart and seven had done the same on the Latin Pop Songs. His work has earned him numerous awards and accolades, including one Grammy Award, one Latin Grammy Award, the "Latin Heritage" Award[4] as well as other awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers; a silver and golden torch and two silver seagulls from the 2010 Viña del Mar International Song Festival, two Billboard Latin Music Awards, and a "Latin Trajectory of the Year" Award at the Orgullosamente Latino Awards of 2010.

Early years and personal life

Edgar Ricardo Arjona Morales was born on 19 January 1964 in Jocotenango, Guatemala, to parents Ricardo Arjona Moscoso and Mimi Morales de Arjona. He lived most of his childhood and began his musical instruction in Guatemala City.[5] At the age of 8, young Ricardo could already play the guitar.[6] At age 12, he participated in the contest "Festival Infantil Juventud 74" with "Gracias al Mundo", a song composed by his father, finally winning the event.[7]

Although he initially enrolled in architecture and engineering subjects, he eventually graduated with a degree from the School of Communication Sciences at the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala (USAC).[8] At USAC there is a library hall that bears his name.[8] There is also a street named after him in his birthplace, Jocotenango, Guatemala.[9] Ricardo Arjona was a talented basketball player, and he played for the team Leones de Marte and TRIAS.[6] He also toured Central America as a member of the Guatemalan national basketball team. Until recently, he held the record for the most points scored (78) in a single game by a Guatemalan player.[10]

He spent some time as a teacher at a primary school (called Santa Elena III),[8] where he claimed to have spent six hours giving lessons and the rest of the day playing soccer.[10] This earned him a visit from a Ministry of Education representative, who was sent to evaluate the level of education amongst Arjona's pupils. The representative found that the students' level of education was actually above average.[9] In the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, he met Puerto Rican Leslie Torres and had two children with her: Adria and Ricardo. Later in 2005 they separated. From 2010, Arjona has been dating Venezuelan model Daisy Arvelo, with whom he has a child.[11]

Career

1980s: Beginnings and early breakthrough

Arjona began his musical career at age 21,[6] when he found a contract with record label PolyGram through exchange[12] and released his debut album Déjame Decir Que Te Amo in 1985. With the album, the label attempted to portray Arjona as a stereotypical Latin-lover type.[13] Only one single were released from the album, being the title track, "Déjame Decir Que Te Amo". This album failed on charts and received moderate critical success, with Allmusic awarding the album 3 stars out of five.[14] Because of his negative experiences while recording the album and its commercial failure, he decided to abandon the music industry and become a schoolteacher.[8]

At age 24, Arjona sought the opportunity to represent his country on the OTI Festival with the song "Con Una Estrella En El Vientre".[8] The experience convinced Arjona to restart his music career and continue recording.[8] The sessions immediately following this decision resulted in the recording of the song "S.O.S Rescátame".[5] His sophomore studio album, Jesús, Verbo No Sustantivo brought him commercial and critical success over Latin America and the U.S. and became one of the best-selling records in many Central American territories.[5][8]

1990s: International breakthrough, Si El Norte Fuera El Sur and Sin Daños a Terceros

In the wake of the success of Jesús, Verbo No Sustantivo, Arjona started the new decade as a known singer throughout Latin America. In 1991, through Sony Music, he released his third studio album, Del Otro Lado del Sol,[6] which still stands as one of the least successful out of the Guatemalan singer. The same year, he started composing songs for other artists, such as Yuri's "Detrás De Mi Ventana", which was included on her album Nueva era (1993). The song became a hit for the Mexican singer, reaching No.1 on the US Hot Latin Songs chart for three weeks in 1994.[15][16] He later covered the song on his compilation album, Trópico (2009), alongside Melina León. Animal Nocturno, Arjona's fourth studio album, was released in 1993. The album sold 500,000 copies in 1994,[17] and became the one which took him to fame,[18][19] with the help of the work the artist made in Mexican telenovela Alcanzar Una Estrella, in which he showcased his songwriting and singing skills and garnered him media attention.[5] The album contained the hit singles "Mujeres" (No.6 on Billboard Latin Songs) and "Primera Vez" (No.6 on Billboard Latin Songs) and received thirteen platinum and one diamond certifications.[20]

He then consolidated his reputation as a well-known singer with the release of his fifth studio album, Historias. The album sold 2 million copies throughout Latin America and received twenty-seven platinum and two diamond certifications,[6] including quadruple Platinum certification in the United States and Argentina. Historias reached No.43 on the Billboard Top Latin Albums. Several hit singles were released from it, including "Te Conozco" (No.3 on Billboard Latin Songs) and "Señora De Las Cuatro Décadas" (No.7 on Billboard Latin Songs). The Allmusic review by Jason Birchmeier awarded the album 4.5 stars stating that "If you were to pick only one Arjona album for your collection that wasn't a greatest-hits compilation, this should be the one. Historias was a career-defining success for Arjona."[14] Arjona have claimed many times that his fourth and fifth studio albums are the best-selling of his career.[21]

In 1996, he released his sixth studio album, Si El Norte Fuera El Sur. This was the first album in which Arjona mainly explored beyond the theme of love, to include nationalism and globalization, among other sociopolitical topics.[22] Four singles were released from this album, namely "Si El Norte Fuera El Sur" (No.9 on Billboard Latin Pop Songs), which main theme relates about the relationships between the United States and Latin America,[23] "Tu Reputación" (No.18 on Billboard Latin Songs, No.2 on Billboard Latin Pop Songs), "Me Enseñaste" (No.18 on Billboard Latin Pop Songs), and "Ella y Él" (No.24 on Billboard Latin Songs, No.8 on Billboard Latin Pop Songs). The Allmusic review by Jason Birchmeier awarded the album 4.5 stars stating "All in all, it's Arjona's third classic album in a row, each distinct from its predecessor."[14] Billboard named it the Rock Album of the Year in 1997.[23] Si El Norte Fuera El Sur received multiple Platinum certifications in the United States[24] and Argentina.[25]

In 1998, he released his seventh studio album, Sin Daños a Terceros. The Allmusic review by Terry Jenkins awarded the album 4 stars stating "Sin Daños a Terceros continues Ricardo Arjona's streak of accomplished, affecting albums that spotlights both his melodic skills and his sharp social consciousness."[14] His fourth consecutive album to receive critical success, Sin Daños a Terceros also enjoyed a huge commercial success, debuting at No.6 on the Billboard Top Latin Albums, the first to reach the top 10. It also reached No.3 on the Billboard Latin Pop Albums chart. It contained the hit singles "Dime Que No" (No.6 on Billboard Latin Songs, No.3 on Billboard Latin Pop Songs), and "Mentiroso" (No.22 on Billboard Latin Songs, No.5 on Billboard Latin Pop Songs). The album received multiple Platinum certifications from the United States[24] and Argentina.[25] More than 700,000 copies of the album has been sold.[1]

On 5 December 1998 and in front of a live audience of more than 100,000 people on the Hippodrome of Guatemala City, Arjona records his first live album, Vivo, released in 1999.[20] The album had moderated success, being certified Gold in Mexico and Platinum in the United States and Argentina. It produced the hit "Desnuda", which became his first No.1 on the Billboard Top Latin Songs. As of December 2005, Vivo has sold 243,000 copies in the United States, his best-selling album there at that date.[26]

2000–2005: Galería Caribe, world tour, Santo Pecado, hiatus and Adentro

After showcasing his live album Vivo, Arjona then released his eighth studio album, Galería Caribe. The album was preceded by the single "Cuándo", which became a commercial success and reached No.1 on both Billboard Top Latin Songs and Latin Pop Songs. The singer commented that twelve months were needed to make the album, stating that he "had least friends before starting with the project."[27] He also mentioned he "lived in love with Caribbean culture and music since my childhood."[27] The Allmusic review by Jason Birchmeier awarded the album 3 stars stating "All in all, Galería Caribe is a curious entry in Arjona's catalog that most fans can overlook without missing much."[14] The album became the first by Arjona to chart on the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 136, while charting at No.1 on the Billboard Top Latin Albums and Latin Pop Albums. It was finally awarded Platinum certification in Mexico,[28] Argentina[25] and the US.[24] Three more singles were released from Galería Caribe: "Lo Poco Que Queda De Mi"; "Mesías", which reached No.19 on the Billboard Top Latin Songs and No.11 on the Latin Pop Songs chart; and "A Cara O Cruz", which reached No.28 on the Billboard Latin Pop Songs chart. To promote the album, which sold more than one million copies, Arjona embarked on his Galería Caribe Tour.[29][30] The tour began in Mexico in 2000 and finished in 2001.[27]

North face south tower after plane strike 9-11

"Mesías" was directly associated with the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

"Mesias" became a subject of some controversy by its theme, and the FBI issued an investigation over Arjona, after the attacks of September 2001, months after the release of the song.[31] Arjona later commented his song has no relationship with such attacks, and that the lyrics on the song were pure coincidence.[32] The singer also stated the FBI never spoke directly to him, but instead to somebody on his team.[32] In the song, Arjona's messiah appears in the form of a wealthy, well-armed magnate with a Harvard degree, a penthouse in Paris and some sinister plan for the world. Some critics argue it's "a metaphorical attack on capitalism and imperialism, classic Arjona targets."[33]

On 19 November 2002, Arjona released his ninth studio album, Santo Pecado. Preceded by its lead singles "El Problema", which reached No.1 on both the Billboard Top Latin Songs and Latin Pop Songs chart; and "Minutos" which reached No.5 on both the Billboard Top Latin Songs and No.3 on the Latin Pop Songs chart; Santo Pecado became a huge commercial hit by Arjona, selling more than 300,000 copies only in Mexico (receiving double Platinum certification),[28] 160,000 in Argentina (quadruple Platinum status)[25] and 200,000 in the United States (double Platinum certification).[24] The album also received certifications in Venezuela (Platinum), Colombia (double Gold), Uruguay (double Platinum) and Chile (Platinum).

Then, in 2003, Arjona released Lados B, his second compilation album including songs that were "not so commercial", and that he wanted to give them a second chance to sound on the radio.[34] The album contained songs out from all his past studio albums. Critical reception from the album was mixed, with Allmusic's Jason Birchmeier saying that "This compilation is a misleading entry point into Arjona's catalog."[14] Aside from that, the album received a Gold certification on Mexico.[28]

On 6 December 2005, Arjona released his tenth studio album, Adentro. This was the first time Arjona collaborated with Tommy Torres. On an interview, the singer commented that he first "tested" Torres by sending him the "hookiest and darkest tracks" on the album, "Acompañame A Estar Solo" and "Iluso".[26] Torres said that he "went all out on the first demo, hiring a full band that included a string orchestra", which grabbed the attention of Arjona.[26] The album was critically acclaimed, with Evan C. Gutierrez from Allmusic giving it four starts out of five and commenting that "Be it for the stripped, natural production value, the confident performance of Ricardo Arjona, or his relevant-as-ever lyricism, he's got both his loyal fans and the execs at Norte smiling. While the instrumentation, performance, and overall sonic palette of this project are minimalist and unassuming, there is a depth and brilliance to them. The listener's ear does not tire or want for more, humble as Adentro is."[35] Arjona further commented that Adentro was "a very representative and tremendously complete album," adding that "having different producers made it rich in possibilities."[26]

Adentro became the second studio album by Arjona to chart on the Billboard 200, reaching No.126. It also reached No. 3 on the Billboard Top Latin Albums and No.2 on the Latin Pop Albums chart. The album marked the first time Arjona collaborated with fellow singer and producer Tommy Torres.[36] Five singles were released from Adentro: the lead single, "Acompañame A Estar Solo" (No.7 on Billboard Latin Songs, No.1 on Latin Pop Songs), "Pingüinos En La Cama" featuring Spanish singer Chenoa (No.44 on Billboard Latin Songs, No.19 on Latin Pop Songs); "Mojado", featuring American Tejano/Norteño band Intocable (No.34 on Billboard Latin Songs, No.30 on Latin Pop Songs), "A Ti" (No.14 on Billboard Latin Songs, No.3 on Latin Pop Songs) and "De Vez En Mes" (No.49 on Billboard Latin Songs, No.16 on Latin Pop Songs). The album finally sold more than a million copies worldwide.[37]

2006–2007: Adentro Tour and Quién Dijo Ayer

In 2006, Arjona started the first leg of his world tour, named the Adentro Tour, to promote his tenth studio album, Adentro. The tour resumed on 2007 for a second leg, in which he visited more countries. Approximately, two million people attended his concerts throughout his world tour.[9] The tour was officially closed on 14 September 2007 on the mainland city of Barquisimeto, Venezuela, during the International Fair, in front of more than 100,000 people.[9]

Also, in 21 August 2007, Arjona releases his fifth compilation album, Quién Dijo Ayer. The album is a two-disc set which contains, on the first disc, new versions of past hits, some of them including featured artists such as Marta Sánchez on "Tarde (Sin Daños a Terceros)" from Sin Daños a Terceros; Panteón Rococó on "Si El Norte Fuera el Sur", from the album of the same name; Marc Anthony on "Historia de Taxi", from Historias; Sandro on "Realmente No Estoy Tan Solo", from Historias; and Eros Ramazzotti on "A Ti", from Adentro. The second disc contains remastered versions of those hits on the first disc, but on their original versions. It was the second time Arjona collaborated with Tommy Torres.

Two singles were released from the album. The first, "Quién", a previously unreleased song and one of those produced by Torres, became a commercial hit for Arjona, reaching No.1 on several countries through Latin America. Although, it failed to reach the top 20 on Billboard Latin Songs, standing at No.21, but reaching No.4 on the Billboard Latin Pop Songs chart. "Quiero" the secong single, reached No.12 on the Billboard Latin Songs chart, and No.8 on the Billboard Latin Pop Songs chart.

The album became a critical and commercial success, with Jason Birchmeier from Allmusic giving a positive review of the album, commenting that "while only a couple of the new versions depart stylistically from the originals, the contemporary productions breathe new life into these songs, which should be well known by longtime fans";[38] and receiving double Platinum certification in Argentina[25] and the United States,[24] and Platinum certification in Mexico.[28] Also, it received Gold certification in Colombia, Chile and Venezuela.[39] To date, the album has sold more than two million copies.[40]

2008–2010: New label, Quinto Piso, world tour and Poquita Ropa

A man standing in front of the audience while in the middle of a concert, surrounded by the apartment-styled scenography and the rest of the musicians.

Ricardo Arjona in Laredo, Texas during Quinto Piso Tour.

After spending the majority of his career signed to Sony, and later, Sony BMG, Arjona signed a long-term recording deal with Warner Music Latina.[41] The deal was closed in September 2008.[41] Iñigo Zabala, chairman of Warner Music Latin America commented that "He's an artist that fits perfectly with our company," and that "We are a label that has a major catalog of songwriters and quality pop and rock from the likes of Maná, Alejandro Sanz, Laura Pausini, and now, Arjona."[41]

Closed the deal, Arjona then announced he would release his eleventh studio album, 5to Piso, on 18 November 2008. The album was preceded by the first single, "Como Duele" on September, which reached No.2 on Billboard Latin Songs chart and No.1 on Billboard Latin Pop Songs. The album followed the success of his past releases, moved approximately 200,000 copies in its first month at retail and received Gold an Platinum certifications in Mexico,[28][42][43] United States,[24][44] Spain, Argentina,[25][45] Venezuela,[46] Colombia, Guatemala, and many other countries.[47] It debuted at No.1 on the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart, becoming his second chart-topper con that list, and has sold more than one million copies worldwide.[48] The album received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Latin Pop Album and a Latin Grammy Award nomination for Best Singer-Songwriter Album.[49] The album received critical positive response, with Allmusic's Jason Birchmeier giving the album three-and-a-half stars out of five, saying that "More typical than exceptional for Arjona at this point in his career, 5to Piso isn't as grand an album as his past few, [...], Yet it's a great album all the same, particularly the opening run of songs that culminates with "Cómo Duele", and it finds Arjona still at the top of his craft."[38]

While Warner Music released his new studio album, his former label, Sony Music, released a compilation album, Simplemente Lo Mejor. This led to speculation both labels where in a fight to win Arjona's fanbase and sales.[50] Simplemente Lo Mejor contains hits taken from his past albums, namely Sin Daños a Terceros, Si El Norte Fuera El Sur, among others. This compilation received Gold certification in Mexico,[28] and Platinum certification in Argentina.[25]

"Sin Ti... Sin Mi" was released as 5to Piso's second single, and reached No.4 on both Billboard Latin Songs and Billboard Latin Pop Songs charts. In 24 April 2009, Ricardo Arjona started his world tour, the Quinto Piso Tour to promote his then just released album. The tour included 123 shows between the United States,[51] Spain,[52][53] Argentina,[54][55] Guatemala, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, among many other countries in Latin America, and ended on 18 June 2010.

Talking about the theme of his song "Puente", Arjona commented: "Although many believe is a treshed topic, it isn't for a cuban, be it on the island or Florida. The status of this dispute hasn't changed since 1959 and i've never seen something as disgusting as a rivality between people occasionated from politics. Chávez can fight with Uribe, Fidel with Obama, but what has this to do with two third-generation cousins that inherit an enmity for a politic matter[?]".

—Ricardo Arjona.[56]

The Quinto Piso Tour has been one of the most successful tours made by a latin artist, with an attendance of more than one million people from 19 countries.[57] Also, he received in 2010 the "Latin Tour of the Year" Billboard Latin Music Award for the tour.[57] On 26 February 2010, he participated in the 2010 Viña del Mar International Song Festival as one of the top performers.[58] His performance was followed by that of Colombian singer Fanny Lu. One hour after Fanny Lu's performance, a 8.8 magnitude massive earthquake affected the area and the total south-central regions of Chile. On social networks, Arjona was jokingly blamed of the earthquake, commenting that "earthquakes go where he goes", making reference also to the earthquake felt in Mexico having the singer just arrived to that country.[59][60]

Just finished the tour, Arjona announced his twelfth studio album, Poquita Ropa, which was released on 24 August 2010.[61] It was preceded by the genre-mixing track "Puente", an ode to Havana, Cuba's largest and capital city.[56] The song failed to break in the upper tier of Billboard charts, and was also reportedly prohibited for airplay in Cuba.[62] The album became his third set to debut or reach No.1 on the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart. Within two weeks of release, the album received a Gold certification in Chile, United States, Colombia and Puerto Rico; and Platinum certification in Mexico and Argentina.[63]

The album marked a change on Arjona's sound, which himself called a "stripped-down version" of his music.[64] Jason Birchmeier of Allmusic gave the album a somewhat positive review, saying that it was a "stripped-down acoustic effort" yet considering it "impressive".[38] Two more singles were released from Poquita Ropa, "Vida", a song the singer dedicated to his recently dead father;[65][66] and "Marta", an auto-biographical song in which music video stars Edith González.[67] Both, like the lead single, failed to gain much airplay in the U.S., and failed to reach high positions on Billboard charts.

2011–present: Independiente, Metamorfosis and world tour

Arjona released his thirteenth studio album, Independiente, in 4 October 2011. The album, as past Arjona releases became his fourth number-one set on the Billboard Top Latin Albums when it debuted atop the chart on the week ending 22 October; and within a week of release, the album received a Gold certification in Chile, United States and Mexico; and Platinum certification in Venezuela and Argentina.[68] Independiente is the first album Arjona releases as an independent artist. It was released through his own record label, Metamorfosis, a company he created to refocus his career.[69] Although, the album is being distributed by Warner Music.[70] Billboard notes that although other groups have decided to launch independently their works after having a contract with major record labels, Arjona is by far the most important artist in the Latin pop to follow this trend.[71]

"Inside the word 'Independent', even when it sounds like extreme freedom, there's a big amount of compromise and the responsibility of being able to administrate, in the best way possible, such independence."

—Ricardo Arjona.[72]

The first single off Independiente is "El Amor", being released in 23 August 2011.[70] In the United States, the song reached No.1 on the Billboard Top Latin Songs, becoming his fourth number-one hit on that list after "Desnuda", "Cuando" and "El Problema", and No.1 on the Billboard Latin Pop Songs. It also became a hit in the rest of Latin America, reaching No.1 in several countries.[73] The second single off the album is "Fuiste Tú", the collaboration with also Guatemalan singer Gaby Moreno. As of February 2012, the song has charted within the top 20 on the Billboard Top Latin Songs, and has reached No.1 con the Billboard Latin Pop Songs.

To promote Independiente and his new status as an independent musician, Ricardo Arjona embarked on another world tour, the Metamorfosis World Tour,[74][75] beginning on 27 January 2012 on Mexican city of Toluca,[76] the place in which all of his concert tours had begun. The tour is expected to visit Latin America, North America and several countries in Europe.[76]

Arjona Santiago Chile 2012

Arjona singing in Santiago de Chile.

In 22 March 2012, a controversy surrounded a supposed Iranian law that forbid Iranian people to listen Arjona's music,[60] as disclosed by Venezuelan television channel Globovisión, and other regional newspapers.[3][77] Later, this information turned out to be false, and only a joke by an entertainment website, confused with real news.[78] Globovisión later issued an apology on the matter.[79] On 29 March, Billboard confirmed that Gaby Moreno, who is featured on second single "Fuiste Tú", has signed with Arjona's record label, Metamorfosis.[80] "When I turned 17, I was signed by a very important label in the United States, [...], but I didn't feel comfortable when they told me which songs had to go into production", the singer said in a statement.[80]

Between 31 March and 1 April, Arjona toured Guatemala, his native country, as part of his worldwide tour. The two concerts he presented in the Mateo Flores stadium were both sold out performances, becoming the first artist in Guatemalan history to achieve this feat.[81] On April 9, 2012, American telecommunications corporation AT&T begun airing a commercial promoting the Nokia Lumia 900 smartphone, and featuring the singer on it.[82] Titled "The Shoot", the spot shows how a teenage boy uses his Nokia smartphone to record Arjona's performance, and then showing it to his mother. It also features the song "Mi Novia Se Está Poniendo Vieja" from the album Independiente, and is released to coincide with Mother's Day.[83]

As of 16 April 2012, his Metamorfosis World Tour has reached more than 400,000 fans, from which about 160,000 were only from his Buenos Aires tour dates on April 12–15.[84] On April 25, Arjona's show on Mendoza, Argentina accumulated an attendance of 24,000 people, breaking the record set by Luis Miguel 10 years prior, and thus becoming the highest-grossing artist ever on that province.[85] Hours before his performance on Mendoza, the Malvinas Argentinas stadium in which the concert was held, a fire burned close to one of the entries of the complex.[86]

Artistry

Music and style

Arjona's main music style is Latin pop. Mainly, he sings without the help of featured or additional singers. Only longtime collaborators Dan Warner and Tommy Torres had provided notable background vocals where needed. Five Arjona albums, with one of them being a compilation album, feature additional artists. The first of them is Galería Caribe, which features vocals from artist Ednita Nazario on the song "Porque Hablamos". Adentro features vocals from Spanish artist Chenoa on second single "Pingüinos En La Cama"; and from American Tejano band Intocable on third single "Mojado". The third album is Quién Dijo Ayer, which features additional vocals from Marta Sánchez on "Tarde (Sin Daños a Terceros)"; Panteón Rococó on "Si El Norte Fuera El Sur"; Marc Anthony on "Historia de Taxi"; Sandro on "Realmente No Estoy Tan Solo"; and Eros Ramazzotti on "A Ti". The fourth is 5to Piso, in which Paquita la del Barrio collaborates on the track "Ni Tú Ni Yo". The fifth album is Independiente, in which fellow Guatemalan singer Gaby Moreno stars alongside the singer in the second single "Fuiste Tú".

Marc Anthony 2009 White House

Marc Anthony sang along Arjona on the salsa version of "Historia de Taxi".

In contrast to Déjame Decir Que Te Amo, on which he was treated as a balladeer, in the latter two albums Arjona experimented with a range of pop/rock styles. Animal Nocturno has energetic rock songs that are interspersed with heartfelt ballads, and the instrumentation is heavy on guitar, synthesizer, and drums.[87] On Historias, each song is stylistically distinct and the instrumentation is remarkably varied. There are around two dozen instruments used on the album, everything from saxophone and trumpet, to piano and Hammond B-3, to cello and bassoon, to violin and viola.[88] On Si El Norte Fuera El Sur, he tried crafting a relatively low-key effort characterized by intimate songs about matters of life, in particular love, culture, and politics. Most of the songs were written over the course of 1995 while Arjona was touring Latin America in support of his fifth album,[89] and are performed acoustically with Caribbean touches, and besides a couple rockers, the songs are all fairly even in tone and tempo.[89]

In Galería Caribe, Arjona brings a collection of Afro-Caribbean sounds, exploring traditional rhythms such as guaracha, bachata, merengue, and salsa.[90] On Santo Pecado, Arjona explores the use of symphonic sounds on his ballads, amidst a couple of rock songs very similar in style with those on Sin Daños a Terceros.[91] This album included the song "La Nena (Bitácora de un Secuetro)", in which Arjona relates the story of a girl who is kidnapped by her uncle.[92] Then, in 2005, Arjona proved new sounds in Adentro. Evan Gutierrez from Allmusic considered the instrumentation, performance, and overall sonic palette to be "minimalist" and "unassuming".[93] On this album, Arjona included more Latin sounds, like some Mexican and Tejano music on "Mojado",[94] a song about immigration;[95] some merengue and Colombian tones on "Adiós Melancolía", and some rock on "No Te Cambio Por Nada".

In 2007 Arjona released Quién Dijo Ayer. On this compilation album, Arjona re-worked some of his past songs to fit them into a new style, or just masterize them. By example, his song "Si El Norte Fuera El Sur" was totally overhauled and transformed into a ska style, and performed with the aid of Panteón Rococó.[96] "Historia de Taxi" was transformed into a salsa song, and saw the help of American singer Marc Anthony[96] and pianist Sergio George,[97] who commented that "It's been interesting to work with to figures from different music worlds on the interest of making good music."[98] He further stated that "every time a reunion of this kind happens, it a reason to celebrate."[98] Allmusic's Jason Birchmeier commented on the album that "While only a couple of the new versions depart stylistically from the originals, the contemporary productions breathe new life into these songs."[96] "Realmente No Estoy Tan Solo" was also re-recorded with singer Sandro. This turned out to be the last song recorded by the latter, who died in 4 January 2010.[99] This album included three new songs. The lead single, "Quién" was written by Arjona and produced by himself and Tommy Torres.[100] "Quiero" and "Espantapájaros" are the other two new songs on the album.

Paquita la del Barrio

Paquita la del Barrio sang along Arjona on ranchera "Ni Tu Ni Yo".

5to Piso is mainly driven by the use of piano and strings.[101] Exceptions are "La Bailarina Vecina", crafted with pure orchestral arrangements; and "Ni Tú Ni Yo", a ranchera style song featuring Paquita la del Barrio.[101] The album also includes a song called "Que Nadie Vea", in which the artist sings about homosexuality.[102] on 5to Piso, Arjona commented he tried to recoup the freshness of his first albums, saying that he "tried to reconcile a little with the Ricardo Arjona from the first albums to let out some of that freshness that makes so good to the songs."[103]

Poquita Ropa drastically changes the musical style. In this album, Arjona tried to use the least number of instruments as possible. The result was a production that seems to be a capella performances. Arjona has commented about this album that "music and women look better with little clothes."[64] Production was handled by Arjona himself and Dan Warner, who has also worked with Shakira, Celine Dion and Christina Aguilera.[104] Jason Birchmeier of Allmusic gave the album a somewhat positive review, saying that it was a "stripped-down acoustic effort" yet considering it "impressive".[105] He also commented that Poquita Ropa "finds Arjona at his most naked, backed by spare arrangements of acoustic guitar, piano, and Hammond B-3 along with occasional touches of strings, woodwinds, and chorus vocals."[105]

"Puente", the lead single, is the only notable exception. It is crafted in eight and a half minutes and is divided in three parts. The first one is a cappella song, sang mainly with a piano. The second part is a ballad with Caribbean and Latin sounds, with some salsa and Cuban influences.[106] The third is a mixture of salsa and merengue, with Cuban influences. "Puente" is mainly similar to Arjona's work on Galería Caribe.[105] This album was the first since Adentro, that Arjona worked without Tommy Torres.

In Independiente, Arjona returned to his classic and trademark sound, which Torres has helped crafting, after the drastic change he made in Poquita Ropa. David Feffries of Allmusic gave the album a somewhat positive review. He, as also Arjona and other media mentioned before, compared the production values and musical style of Independiente with those of past albums Animal Nocturno and Historias. Finally, he states that "Returning fans will revel in this combination of freedom and growth, and appreciate the return of producer Tommy Torres, the man who has been behind the boards for quite a few of Arjona's most popular releases", referring precisely to the absence of Torres in the production of Poquita Ropa.[107]

Criticism and controversy

Arjona has been subject of criticism throughout his music career, mainly for his songwriting skills and as a singer, at the point of being called a "frustrated poet".[108] Jaime Andrés Monsalve, music journalist from Argentinian magazine Cromos, commented that Arjona may be effectively called a songwriter, but went as far as to say that he could be "placed" in what is called the "author's music." He further stated that Arjona was able to achieve this feat thanks to "a prefabricated scheme" that evokes the "situations affecting human beings' souls," and by what he called the "most prosaic materialism."[109] Music producer Iván Benavides was critical about the singer, stating that "Arjona fills stadiums for the same reason that self-help books are more successful that good literature." Moreover, he said that some of Arjona's verses "could be part of an anthology of the worst of the Latin American song of all time," and affirmed that his music is "poor but pretentious."[109]

Fito Paez 2.jpg Juanes-cuba1.jpg
Controversy arised bewteen Arjona and Fito Páez (left) for a series of concerts on Buenos Aries, and with Juanes (right) for the benefit concert in Havana, Cuba.

Argentinian musician and multi-instrumentalist Fito Páez has also criticized Arjona. During an interview with newspaper Clarín, Paez commented that "If the city [Buenos Aires] gives 35 Luna Parks to Ricardo Arjona and only two to Charly García, then you have to think what means the politics, the newspapers, in that city, in which exist some values that have been annihilated."[110][111]

Arjona responded to the commentary sending a letter to the newspaper, commenting that "On a suspicious way he signs the beginning of this issue, in his country, almost at the same time with the obvious fall of his artistic capacity", also stating that "it is from an epic beauty the panic that represents to him to send a new musical production to his own people." The singer finally called Páez a "false and reckless intellectual" and a "disrespectful dictator" that "believes he is the owner of popular decisions."[111][112]

Mexican singer Alejandro Filio was also critical over Arjona. He commented that "exist some technical requirements to make music. Artists who write music without having a notion of the rhythmic and the metric would not achieve well-structured verses, and, as a result, neither well built songs. That's the case of Arjona."[113] He also stated that he is "against who wants to apparent what it isn't."[113]

Colombian singer Juanes also rose to controversy with the singer when the latter cancelled a concert in Cuba, the place where Juanes was scheduled to make a benefit concert, "to avoid generating a circus around this". Juanes, on an interview, commented that he wasn't aware that to go to the island, he "needed permission from Arjona."[114] On the 2010 Viña del Mar International Song Festival, a controversy arose over a comment Arjona made during his show as a response to the show made hours before by Tito El Bambino, who was asking for the awards. Arjona said that "trophies aren't asked but deserved."[115]

Juan Carlos Garay, music critic from Semana, stated that Arjona is, as an artist, "more simple than what people believes. He is a guy that in every song repeats the same thing but in a thousand different ways, [he] doesn't develop thematics, but indeed a tone that easily gets confused with poetry. When the common people notes they can get easily close to this type of songs, they feel like members of an 'exclusive club'."[109] He also said that "the conflict point is on the definition. Himself, or the people around him, had tried to classify him as a social singer-songwriter to the likes of Joan Manuel Serrat or Joaquín Sabina, but the truth is other: he is a baladeer", also stating that Arjona is "missclassified" and named it the successor of José Luis Perales.[109]

Discography

Studio albums

Compilation and live albums

  • Vivo (1999)
  • 12 Grandes Exitos (2003)
  • Lados B (2003)
  • Solo (2004)
  • Canciones (2005)

Awards and nominations

Grammy Awards

Year Nominated work Award Result
2007 Adentro Best Latin Pop Album Won

Latin Grammy Awards

Year Nominated work Award Result
2006 Adentro Best Male Pop Vocal Album Won

Billboard Latin Music Awards

Year Nominated work Award Result
2007 "A Ti" Male Latin Pop Airplay Song of the Year Won
2010 Quinto Piso Tour Latin Tour of the Year Won

Lo Nuestro Awards

Year Nominated work Award Result
2004 Santo Pecado Pop Album of the Year Won

See also

References

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External links


Ricardo Arjona
Studio albums
1980s
1990s
2000s
2010s
Live albums
Compilation albums
2000s
2010s
Concert tours
Filmography
Related topics
Ricardo Arjona singles
Déjame Decir Que Te Amo
  • "Déjame Decir Que Te Amo"
Jesús, Verbo No Sustantivo
  • "Por Qué Es Tan Cruel El Amor"
  • "Jesus, Verbo No Sustantivo"
Del Otro Lado Del Sol
  • "La Mujer Que No Soñé"
Animal Nocturno
  • "Mujeres"
  • "Primera Vez"
Historias
  • "Te Conozco"
  • "Señora De Las Cuatro Decadas"
  • "Realmente No Estoy Tan Solo"
  • "Libre"
Si El Norte Fuera El Sur
  • "Si El Norte Fuera El Sur"
  • "Tu Reputacion"
  • "Me Enseñaste"
  • "Ella y El"
Sin Daños A Terceros
  • "Dime Que No"
  • "Mentiroso"
Vivo
  • "Desnuda"
Galería Caribe
  • "Cuando"
  • "Lo Poco Que Queda De Mi"
  • "Mesías"
  • "A Cara O Cruz"
Santo Pecado
de:Ricardo Arjona

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