The seventies outlaw ode “Renegade” by Styx is heard in the bloody trailer for the second season of Narcos, which will be available for viewing on Netflix Friday (Sept. 2).
“Renegade,” released in 1979, when, detailed by Narcos in season one, Pablo Escobar was just launching his life of crime, has lived on as an American football anthem that pumps up crowds at Pittsburgh Steelers games. In this case, “hangman is coming down from the gallows and I don’t have very long,” the well-known lyric by the power-ballad pioneers, teases law enforcement’s hunt for Escobar in the new season.
The less red-blooded, Emmy-nominated track “Tuyo,” by Brazilian singer-songwriter Rodrigo Amarante, is still the actual theme song for the show. And, as in season one, the upcoming Narcos episodes will groove to some great Colombian vintage tracks.
“I can’t wait for people’s minds to be blown,” says music supervisor Liza Richardson, who describes the season’s soundtrack as “so rich and so deep.”
Richardson, known to radio audiences as a DJ on KCRW (89.9) in Los Angeles, shares music supervising credits with Marc Mondello. She told Billboard that viewers can still expect the show to have a cumbia and salsa groove. For the second season, the music supervisors took another deep dive into the catalogues of classic Colombian labels that provided a treasure trove for the first season.
Jamar Chess, head of Spirit Music Latino/Sunflower Entertainment — which owns the publishing rights to the Fuentes catalogue and the Colombian salsa label Codiscos — has been a key source for music for both seasons of the series. “This season we really dug deep in the vaults, mining our catalogue,” Chess says. “The music this season runs the gamut from vintage cumbia and vallenato to an on-screen camera use of the salsa standard “Cali Pachanguero” by Grupo Niche, toe Kraken, Medellin’s premier hard rock group.”
In anticipation of the season two premiere, Chess shared a list of songs he sourced for the show with Billboard.
Listen to some of the highlights here:
“Tiro al Blanco” Afrosound
Today’s nu cumbia movement carries on a sound pioneered by seventies band Afrosound. Colombian dancefloor innovator Fruko (Julio Estrada) was behind the creation of this funky tropical big band with psychedelic guitars and afro-beats. The band has made a comeback performing live in Colombia-listen to this track and you’ll understand why the group’s sound still rules dance floors.
“Nadie Muere de Amor,” Combo de las Estrellas
There’s an eerie irony to this life-affirming track, whose title translates as “No One Dies From Love,” in the context of the drug violence chronicled in Narcos. It sadly echoes again when you know the fate of Jairo Paternina, the lead singer of Combo de las Estrellas. He was shot down by assassins in Medellín in 1989.
“Cali Pachenguero,” Grupo Niche
Leading Colombian romantic salsa band Grupo Niche hit big with this 1984 celebration of the orchestra’s hometown.
“Melancolía,” Julio Jaramillo
One of the grooving Narcos soundtrack’s more downtempo selections is this classic “Melancholy” bolero by Julio Jaramillo. Often called “America’s Nightingale,” Jaramillo was from Ecuador, and was known throughout Latin America for his seductive songs and his womanizing ways.
“Mary,” Joe Arroyo
Any soundtrack of Colombian party music has to include something from the country’s salsa leader and voice for Afro-Colombian culture, the late Joe Arroyo.