Before there was Merche, there was Luna. That was the awful stage name my sweet petal used to compete for Eurovision selection in 2001. In a shocking turn of events, Spain's gift to the world only came 6th in the national finals but she caught the attention of Vale Music and scored a record deal. Thankfully, they changed her name back to Merche for the release of her debut album in 2002. "Mi Sueño" is almost as classy as the cover (above). It's an engaging collection of pop songs - with a bit of flamenco flavour and even a slight Latin feel. The album is also notable for the fact that Merche wrote all the lyrics and music herself, making her perhaps the most fabulous singer songwriter in the history of music! "Mi Sueño" reached number 12 in Spain and sold Platinum on the back of four hit singles. I particularly love "Como Pude" but I think this single best sums up early Merche:
"No Me Pidas Más Amor" is a percussion heavy jam that showcases Merche's knack for writing a catchy chorus. The video (above) also established her amazing lack of style and helps explain why she is cruelly considered a low class trashbag by Spanish snobs. While it's true that Merche looks like a $10 prostitute who just got off the bus from Mil Viviendas, that's part of what makes her so fabulous. She really has the common touch! I particularly love her Kelly Llorenna sunglasses and the hideous brown leather skirt. However, the best thing about the video is Merche's amazing dance moves, her sexy bedroom eyes and the really hot guy! Mi Sueño is to meet him next time I'm in Spain.
2004's "Auténtica" was my introduction to Merche and gets my vote for her best album. It also brings back so many great memories of Spain. Parker insisted I listen to some Merche when I hung out with him and Coque in Alicante and even gave me one of his famous lectures about her greatness. As usual, he was right. It was love at first sight when I saw Merche's beautiful face staring back at me from a row of CDs in FNAC. For her second album, the Spanish goddess turned to Sweden for inspiration. The album was recorded at Dreamworld Studios in Stockholm and the Swedish producers gave Merche's music a new poptastic dimension. "Auténtica" was an even bigger success than "Mi Sueño". It peaked at number 7, spawned 5 singles and sold over 100,000 copies (which surprisingly is quite a lot for Spain). I love the entire album but special mention has to go to "Abre Tu Mente" (below).
I thought Dannii was the only diva fabulous enough to sing an upbeat dance song about domestic violence (ie. "Love Fight") but Merche did it first. And better. "Abre Tu Mente" is apparently a commentary on abused women - not that you can tell from the catchy beats and uplifting chorus! The video, as usual, is an absolute triumph. The first thing you notice is Merche's glamorous new image. Instead of looking like a prostitute, my angel now resembles a transvestite with her big hair and killer heels. For full effect, check out her stunning black leather bra and mini-skirt combination in the nightclub! Apart from the fashion, other highlights include Merche's brilliant acting and the hot, shirtless guy playing her husband. For more "Auténtica" trash, check out the amazing video for "Me Han Vuelto Loca". There's more man flesh on display and Merche raids her local brothel for some style hints. The slutty dance routine in the middle of the street is heaven!
If "Auténtica" was Merche's experiment with Europop, then 2005's "Necesito Libertad" is very much her American opus. The album was recorded in Miami and produced by Marcello Azevedo, who had previously worked with lesser talents like Paulina Rubio and Marc Anthony. Marcello's bold style was a great fit for Merche. The big ballads really showcase her amazing voice, while the uptempo tracks have a distinctly Latin feel. It's basically a return to the blueprint of her first album - only with better songs and production. That combination proved irresistible and "Necesito Libertad" swiftly became a top 5 hit in Spain and remains Merche's biggest selling album. There's so much to enjoy about this gem (I love "Dos extraños", "Todo Un Riesgo", "No Lo Olvido" and the title track) but the highlights are definitely "Eras Tú" (below) and "Bombón".
"Eras Tú" is the Spanish sensation's highest selling single and one of my all time favourite ballads. This is very much the kind of music Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera would make if they could speak Spanish. Properly. It's dramatic, emotional and completely over the top. Merche loses her restraint but it only makes "Eras Tú" all the more enjoyable. Unfortunately, I think Merche also turned to Mariah and Xtina for styling tips. The theme for this album is definitely "hooker" but it's a look that Merche does better than any other woman on the planet. She actually looks quite dignified in the "Eras Tú" video apart from the ugly Shakira hairstyle but she's back to her trashtastic best for "Bombón". This song and video sums up everything I love about goddess Merche. The red "dress" is amazing and those dance moves!Who is the bland bitch on the cover of 2007's "Cal y Arena"? I refuse to believe that boring housewife is my Merche. A makeover was probably long overdue but some fuckwit has sucked all the fun out of my baby. Merche fans expect her to look like she's been styled by blind drag queens. This new, classy image was an unpleasant shock to my system! Unfortunately, the content of the album reflects the sterility of the cover. Produced by Carlos Jean (Miguel Bose, Marta Sanchez etc), "Cal y Arena" strips Merche's music back to the very basics. The sound is very organic, almost acoustic - which is typical for the Spanish charts. Unfortunately, this horrible less is more approach doesn't suit Merche's natural flamboyance at all and the album is a bit of a disappointment in comparison to her previous masterpieces. I guess it's not all bad. The title track and lead single (below) is delicate and pretty, while the follow-up, "Ya No Me Digas Lo Siento", is the closest thing to an upbeat pop track on the album. However, the highlight is the lovely third single. "Ángeles" is a soft ballad with a truly Merche-tastic video. She looks absolutely gorgeous and appears to be hanging out in some kind of gay bar. Well, that's the only explanation I can think of for the classy finale, which finds two hot men with angel's wings kissing. So Merche, so fabulous.