The campaigns to win this year’s Mexican presidential elections have been characterized by intense personal rivalries, accusations of spying, and even allegations of Russian interference. Left-wing presidential hopeful Andrés Manuel López Obrador is currently ahead in the polls and is predicted to oust the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party from power. As well as all this controversy and bitterness, the run-up to the July 1 election has been characterized by music, and plenty of it.
If the election were decided on music alone, For Mexico to the Front, a broad coalition of parties, would win a landslide in July. Ricardo Anaya is the candidate for the right–left coalition, and his presidential hopes may be raised by the huge viral hit song “Movimiento Naranja,” or “Orange Movement.”
The song was produced by the Citizen’s Movement party, which is the smallest party in the coalition, but the biggest in musical terms. The maddeningly catchy rhythm stars Yuawi López, a nine-year old singer who appears in the traditional dress of the Wixárika tribe, an indigenous group that originates from the highlands of western Mexico.
Since its release in December 2017, the song has recieved nearly 47 million views. Yuawi has also become a huge star in Mexico, appearing on radio chat shows, in national newspapers, and performing the song live on television. An endless stream of remixes and parody versions have already appeared online. One video even shows the song performed in 13 different musical styles.
Critics said that children should not be used for political ends. Presidential candidate López Obrador even made an official complaint to the electoral authorities, although the request was rejected on the grounds that the child’s parents had consented.
Faced with the daunting success of a rival’s campaign song, supporters of the presumptive ruling party candidate, José “Pepe” Antonio Meade, released a song dedicated to the politician. Set to a reggaeton beat – a genre usually focused on jewellery, girls, and cars – the song extolled the virtues of the presidential hopeful. “A family man, who listens and fights, who believes in justice, supports and contributes,” the singer raps.
The gaping chasm between the straight-laced image of the politician and the thumping rhythm make the song feel like a parody. It has so far failed to catch on, notching up less than 14,000 views.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador
Poll-leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador is also aware of the power of song. In April last year, the politician published a remix of the global-hit “Despacito” on his Twitter account. In the revised lyrics, the leftist candidate lambasts the political elite and boasts about his polling figures.
López Obrador’s left-wing political party, the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) was actually launched on the back of a catchy tune. In 2012, the organization released its official song – an attention-grabbing cumbia number – more than a year before it was even registered as a political party.
Even Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller, López Obrador’s wife, has been enlisted for the cause. The Mexican academic performed a version of “El Necio” – originally sung by Cuban singer–songwriter Silvio Rodriguez – for a documentary focusing on her husband’s political career. The video has been viewed nearly 320,000 times since November when it was released on Youtube. Gutiérrez Müller’s version was widely praised as her voice is unforced and elegant. In the video clip, the aspiring president looks on lovingly as his wife sings, basking in the reflected glory of her vocal talent.