Americas

South America welcomes Pope Francis with pasillos, cumbias, psychedelic rock

An Aymara indigenous woman walks past a billboard featuring Pope Francis with a message that reads in Spanish: "Announcing the joy of the Gospel" in La Paz, Bolivia, Friday, July 3, 2015. The pope's trip to South America that includes Bolivia is set for July 5-12, though he will only spend four hours in Bolivia's capital due to the altitude, church officials say.
An Aymara indigenous woman walks past a billboard featuring Pope Francis with a message that reads in Spanish: "Announcing the joy of the Gospel" in La Paz, Bolivia, Friday, July 3, 2015. The pope's trip to South America that includes Bolivia is set for July 5-12, though he will only spend four hours in Bolivia's capital due to the altitude, church officials say. AP

Pope Francis’ whirlwind trip through Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay, which begins Sunday, has brought out the regional muse. All three nations have official songs welcoming the pope, but there are also hundreds of independent efforts that run the gamut from the traditional to the bizarre.

Bolivia’s Saxoman y los Casanovas (a father and son trio) seem to be winning the viral race with their so-bad-it’s good tune called “Bolivia waits for you Pope Francis.” Their liberal use of the green-screen and remedial guitar riffs have won more than 125,000 views on YouTube.

If you’re looking for something a bit more downbeat, you might like Jesús Fichamba traditional pasillo from Ecuador called ‘Taita Francisco,” or “Father Francis.” Pasillos, a 19th Century form of music that remains popular here, tend to be melancholic and slow, but the chorus in this one is “Ecuador is a party Taita Franciso.” If you don’t like the song, the video provides a good tour of Quito.

Paraguay’s The Nazarenos beat out 80 other artist to produce their country’s official welcoming song called “Thank you Holy Father.” The tune has been a hit in Paraguay, and one of its verses is sung in native Guaraní.

Argentina isn’t on this papal tour (Francis won’t return to his birthplace until 2016), but the country has produced reams of music for its hometown hero. For a taste, check out “Cumbia Papal,” by Peligro Sin Codificar, which includes the taunting chorus: “Brazil, you look so bitter now that we have ‘Pancho’ [Pope Francis] who’s bigger than Pelé.” The song has been viewed more than 7 million times.

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