I Really Want Ximena Sariñana to Make It

by Blanca Mendez

Though non-Shakira acts have had difficulty making the Spanish to English transition, and though her name looks impossible to pronounce (it even trips me up sometimes), Ximena Sariñana has the potential to really make it. She’s already been noticed by the likes of Rolling Stone, Vogue, and E! and is currently on tour with Sia and Oh Land. Plus, her music is really pleasant. I know “pleasant” doesn’t sound like the greatest endorsement, but hear me out on this one. In the absence of the Vanessa Carltons and Michelle Branches that we had back in the day, there’s a space for Sariñana to fill, the one for artists who make sweet and simple pop music that white chicks will sing along to in their convertibles — but Sariñana also has the power to widen that audience because she already has a loyal Latin American following.

I’ll admit I was a bit worried about just how loyal her Latin American fans would be when Sariñana made the transition from her sultrier, jazzier Spanish-language music to the more straightforward pop of her upcoming English-language album. But they are still going strong. I should have given the woman more credit, because she clearly knows the business. She’s gone from telenovela child star to teen movie star to indie pop darling over the course of her young career, and, though she can’t believe all the risks she’s taking (as she sings in her latest song, “Different”), Sariñana is playing it smart with her crossover. Just check out the video for “Different,” and you’ll see that, while she isn’t taking herself too seriously, she knows what she’s doing. The song, which is all about her transition from being based in Mexico City to her new base, Los Angeles, addresses her apprehensions about and initial discomfort with the new scene she’s exploring. And the choreography is adorable, right? Her charmingly awkward dancing puts to rest the whole Latinas-have-natural-rhythm thing. (Why’d you have to set the bar so high, Shakira?)

For a more electropoppy taste of what’s to come on her self-titled English-language debut (out next week), check out “Shine Down” (my personal favorite). And catch her on her summer tour, which includes stops at Lollapalooza and Outside Lands Fest. Girl is on her grind!

Blanca Méndez is a freelance writer and podcast producer based in Chicago. She regularly contributes to the Latin American music blog Club Fonograma.

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