International Hits: Keep Summer Alive With 'Tacata'
Here comes summer! Oh, whoops, there it went. And as September kicks in with its accompanying browning of leaves and multiplication of clothing layers, you'd think that maybe the sounds of summer would be set aside along with the bikinis.
But, no. Where I live, in New York, we still have some tropical days; and even if we didn't, most people everywhere like to keep summer alive in their minds. Hence, perhaps, the astonishing ongoing success of the happily inane "Tacata," a Euro-dance smash of this summer by the three-man "band" Tacabro, consisting of producer/DJs Mario Romano and Salvo Sapienza, and singer Martinez Rodriguez. Having conquered Scandinavia and Italy, it is still topping the Spanish charts and starting to be played on Latino American airwaves.
Why Tacata? Because it's a sound as cheery, crisp and regular as a woodpecker's attack on a treetrunk. Ta-Ka-Ta is a jumprope mantra, a nursery rhyme, a handclap game.
Sparse in the extreme, the track bounces along on a New Wave-y synthesizer riff and an insistent bass drum. Its primary quality is Rodriguez' cheerleading vocal. He invests the nonsense word — "The party gets started tacata ... The people are dancing the tacata ... The whole world's shouting, 'Tacata'" — with an attractive vigor, specially when he hits throwaway asides like, "Oh muchacho" or "Mamacita" and his voice drops to a hilarious confidential tone.
The video is unpretentious: gaudy flashing graphics that could have come from a primitive Sega game circa 1985, thrown together with some cartoon op art. Though seen bopping around with over-the-shoulder keyboards, Romano and Sapienza do not sell themselves hard as personalities. That responsibility is left to their Cuban singer, Rodriguez, whose big grin seems to encourage the all-but-faceless hip-swiveling, midriff-baring, waist-chain toting dancer. More neat than natty, the band are not flash dressers, though Martinez is noticeably fond of rolling both his trouser legs up.
Romano and Sapienza are not big bloggers or self-promoters, preferring to retain their mystique. This much, however, is known: the Sicilian Romano is not only a DJ and producer, but a visual artist. His focus changed when he began making music with an old mate who was to become the other bro' in Tacabro — fellow DJ Sapienza, of Catania. Starting in 2008, house singles of varied quality followed. Their "I Love Reggaton" was a brutish tribute; "Anda" has more of a folk-ska flavor. Tacabro definitely sound better in the later works when they are fronted by Rodriguez.
After bouncing back and forth between his island and Turin, where he performed in Latin clubs, Rodriguez settled in Italy in 2007 and began working with the DJs as Tacabro three years later. Thanks to Martinez, Tacabro sing in the far more widely understood Spanish, rather than their native Italian; a cosmopolitan touch that is typical of a transnational Euro-dance hit.
For that is one of the most pleasing aspects of a song like "Tacata." The great tribe of house spans national boundaries, welding a global community of blissed-out hedonism. The balance of the song's rhythm and melody, bottom and top, the way its staccato sounds skip where you do (and don't) expect them, all combine to perk people up and make them feel lively and friendly. Easy, right? But it took Romano and Sapienza years to get it right. If more producers could do it, they would. And it is as simple as that.