I’ve been so excited for La Reina de la Canción since they talked about it at the 2016-17 Upfronts and now it’s finally here! And it did not disappoint.
Here’s the basic premise
We’re going to end up with two “teams” of singers, headed by Las Horóscopos de Durango and Poncho Lizárraga. What they’re looking for in a Reina de la Canción is a good singer, but also someone who’s a fighter, someone women can identify with. Musica regional‘s pretty male-dominated and they’re trying to give a woman an opportunity. Other than bragging rights, I’m not sure what the team captain(s) win if the winning singer comes from their team.
For tonight, we get to meet a bunch of contestants and hear a lot of singing and narrow the field down to 24 contestants who are officially “in” the competition and moving in to Casa Reina. The contestants have been paired up and asked to work together to prepare a song, but they’re being judged individually–so only one might make it through, or maybe both, or neither. All the pairs are singing cuttings of songs, so it’s going to sound a little like it might be something familiar but it might not go where you’d expect. If I find the titles, I’ll let you know.
I’m almost afraid to give any kind of critique because these are not established artists who are used to just ignoring what some weirdo on the Internet has to say, but at the same time, yeah, I’m a musician and things are going to bug me and I’m not going to be able to bite my tongue.
Aside from the duets, we also get snippets of some singers without their partners, some we don’t get to hear at all, and bits and pieces of the earlier audition process.
Our host is Alejandra Espinoza
Finding the 24 contestants
Lluvia and Vivian
- Lluvia Vega, 28, El Paso, Tx (Ciudad Juarez) – She wears a Virgen de Guadalupe medal that’s the last thing her sister gave her before dying in an accident where her grandmother was also killed. Those are the two estrellas looking out for her.
- Vivian Mitre, 25, San Diego, CA – She sings with Mariachi Divinas and she does crossfit.
Lluvia and Vivian sing La Chancla. And ok, yes, there were some sliiiiight intonation problems, but I think that came from each one of them starting on a key change. But guau! Those voices! Lluvia and Vivian both make it through.
Claudia and Verónica
- Claudia Fernanda, 27, Mexicali, BC – Claudia’s a voiceover artist with a higher-pitched speaking voice that doesn’t sound at all like her singing voice.
- Verónica Rosales, 32, Houston, TX – Veronica used YouTube videos to learn how to accompany herself (that is not…the way I was taught to play a D major chord). For some reason the creeps at her school thought singing was a reason to make fun of her, but her grandma always supported her.
Claudia and Verónica sing La Gata Bajo la Lluvia. Their voices blended well, but I think they lost track of their planned harmonies there at the end. They both make it through.
Singers we didn’t hear in a paired audition
- Nikky Chang, 29, Bronx, NY – Nikky sings a snipped of Te Solte la Rienda that’s as exuberant as her hair, but lacking in control. The judges also point out that lack of control and Nikky doesn’t make it through, but you know…I think Nikky’s gonna be ok.
- Another singer does a bit of Ya te Olvidé that’s full of drama, but we don’t get her name. I think she makes it through, so we’ll find out later.
- Mary Fredette, 28, Indianapolis, IN – Mary gets nicknamed Mary la Güera. She reminds me of Jenny from Jenny and the Mexicats, visually but not vocally. She sings Tú, Sólo Tú. Mary’s in.
Deyra and Olivia
- Deyra Barrera, 41, Hacienda Heights, CA – Deyra’s basically sacrificed having kids to pursue her career. Singing has always been her dream.
- Olivia Calderón, 44, Eloy, AZ – Olivia’s a security guard who did the audition in her uniform. Her dad died in 2011 and he’s her guardian angel.
Olivia and Deyra sing No volveré.
THIS! This pair right here brought tears to my eyes. THIS is why I was so excited about them not having an age limit. THIS is the power of a woman’s voice at maturity.
Deyra’s in tears when they get called up later to find out if they made it and I’m like “Don’t be asking Deyra why she’s crying! What kind of question is that?!” And obviously, they both make it through because, seriously, how could they not?
Jazmin and Gabby
- Jazmin Lopez, 35, Bracketville, TX – Jazmin had a record deal, but her sister died the same year she was going to release an album and she chose to raise her nephews and put her career on hold temporarily.
- Gabby Castro, 19, Wasco, CA – Gabby’s here despite a recent fight with her dad–he forbid her to come. She decided it was better to beg forgiveness than ask permission.
Gabby and Jazmin sing Cuando Fuimos Nada. Disastrous pairing! OK…it’s that I’m picky. Because Gabby si tiene tremenda voz, but her voice is not as mature as Jasmine’s and putting those two together put Gabby at a disadvantage, IMO, because it highlighted that difference. Thankfully, they both make it through.
Sandra and Sussie
- Sandra Padilla Cervantes, 25, Swansboro, NC – Sandra’s a server who sings on occasion. Her parents encouraged her to come on the show.
- Sussie Sandoval, 28, Orange County, CA – Sussie grew up surrounded by musica regional. Yeah, she knows she’s not the kind of woman we’re used to seeing on TV, but she knows she’s got her little something-something
Sandra and Sussie sing Si Nos Dejan. I think Sandra outshone her–that was the voice I wanted to hear more of. Sussie didn’t make it through, but Sandra did.
Singers we didn’t hear in a paired audition
- Gaby Veliz, 22, Stratford, CT – We get, like, two seconds of Gaby rushing through El Pastor (I’m just saying…enjoy the notes). Gaby has represented Guatemala in pageants. Gaby did not make it.
- Irene Davi, 28, Anaheim, CA – Nope, me rindo. There’s just not enough to figure out what she was singing, but she did it with great conviction! And she’s in.
- Yohanny Rodriguez, 39, Caledonia, IL – Proud Dominicana who we don’t actually get to hear singing, but she’s in.
- Janine Rivera, 19, Whittier, CA – Janine sings De Qué Manera Te Olvido with more maturity than I would have expected given her age. Janine makes it.
- Beatriz Delgado, 29, San Antonio, TX – Beatriz también tiene apodo: Beatriz la Emperatriz del Pueblo. And that’s the name on her YouTube channel, so you can go check her out. I can’t figure out what she sang tonight. La Emperatriz makes it through.
Beatriz and Stephanie
- Beatriz Montes, 43, Lerma, MX – Beatriz took a temporary break from music to raise a family and she’s doing this to find herself again.
- Stephanie Franco, 18, Oxnard, CA – Stephanie also plays the violin. Stephanie knows her age is going to be an advantage in some ways, but she also knows she’s competing against women with more experience and more mature voices. Props for knowing that.
Beatriz and Stephanie sing No Me Queda Mas. It got a little rough there in the middle, but by the end they had nailed those harmonies, they were blending well, and I did not feel there was a disparity in the quality of their voices. Even if Stephanie doesn’t get very far now, she’s got years to go and her voice is only going to keep getting better. Poncho says it too–she’s like a diamond in need of polishing. Beatriz and Stephanie both make it through and I can already see Beatriz taking the little chick under her wing.
Dayanna and Flor
- Dayanna Garcia, 19, Murietta, CA – Sayanna can’t live without musica regional.
- Flor Hernández, 30, Tucson, AZ
Dayanna and Flor sing Ya Lo Sé. They both make it.
Singers we didn’t hear in a paired audition
- Betty Montes, 30, Riverside, CA – Betty and her partner get a little flustered on the lyrics of El Amor De Su Vida, but Betty tries to help her out. Neither of them makes it.
Marcela and Briseida
- Marcela Gálvez, 23, San Diego, CA – Marcela’s mom was a singer and she has a lot of memories of her singing around the house.
- Briseida Garcia, 21, San Bernardino, CA – Briseida’s a theater kid!
Marcela and Briseida sing A cambio de qué. I think it’s too low for Briseida where it started out, but once they hit the chorus she really had it going. The coaches were mumbling, so I don’t know who they thought was trying to switch keys and who was holding firm. It sounded to me like maybe Marcela was the one going off? Must not have been Marcela, because she makes it. Briseida doesn’t and I’m disappointed.
Sandra and Susett
- Sandra Itzel, 23, Miami, FL – Sandra’s been an actress since she was young.
- Susett Rodriguez, 24, Pomona, CA – Susett is a nurse. She plays guitar and thinks she can pull this off with nothing but her voice.
Sandra and Susett are going to sing Por Tu Maldito Amor. There’s a little bit of chatter before they even start about Susett not being super femme, but Poncho’s all “It’s the voice that’s important” and I’m like, yeah, prove it Poncho. Sandra gets them off to a strong start, and Susett’s having a hard time blending with her, but when she’s on her own it’s like…whoa! And Poncho’s intrigued, but the more he mentions her looks the more I’m doubting Susett’s going to make it. Sandra makes it. They made us sweat it on Susett, but she makes it!
Since they were a little fuzzy about giving us names, and we didn’t get to hear everybody, there were some contestants not mentioned above who also made it:
- Liliana Hernandez
- Carmen Rios
- Paloma Carrasco
And we’ve got 24
They finish up by welcoming all the contestants with a group sing-along of Mexico Lindo y Querido.
Tomorrow: We pick teams, get some coaches, and Lucero shows up to judge.