Let’s be honest, Valentine’s Day is not a joyous date for everyone. There are those of us who still cringe when we see the bouquets, chocolates, and hearts everywhere.
But, for some strange reason, we still find comfort in heartbreaking music. And if anyone knows about sad music, it is the Latino community. Andrés Cepeda accurately said that “the oldest history of humanity is love and heartbreak.”
Among the Latin American musical genres, we find the true trilogy of heartbreak. The Argentine tango, the Caribbean bolero, and the Colombian vallenato are the trinity of the broken heart and embrace in a warm blanket all of us who would really prefer not to have to talk about Valentine’s Day.
Boleros to gaze melancholically out the window
The bolero is to Latin America what Charles Aznavour is to France. Ever since Pepe Sanchez wrote “Tristezas” back in 1883, Latin America has had its signature in the music of spite.
Whether bolero son, chacha, mambo, or even ranchero, this has always been the music for broken hearts.
Tango brings sensuality to the despecho
That two-by-three rhythm of the Tango is as sensual as it is melancholic; not for nothing is it called “el pensamiento triste que se baila.”
With its roots in African, European, and Latin American music, Tango evokes sadness, hopelessness, loneliness, and eroticism.
For the heartbreaking pain
And for that heart-wrenching pain, nothing better than vallenato. The genre born in Valledupar, Colombia, stems from Spanish and African minstrel traditions. The gaita flutes, the guacharaca, and the drums joined the European accordion to accompany our greatest sorrows.