Suavemente: meaning of Elvis Crespo's best song
Elvis Crespo CD cover
Music Period: 1990s
Musical Mode: Harmonic Minor Scale
Suavemente is one of the best-known songs in the merengue genre—a dance style that originated in the Dominican Republic in the mid-19th century under the influence of Cuban folk rhythms and gradually spread throughout Latin America.
The song was composed by the American-born Puerto Rican singer Elvis Crespo for his 1998 debut album Suavemente and became his most successful track rising to the top of the US charts. In the following decades, this simple song received hundreds of covers, making it a notable dance hit on both sides of the Atlantic.
Suavemente lyrics are fairly unpretentious and can be summed up in one phrase: "kiss me". The singer then continues on urging his nameless sweetheart to kiss him slowly and smoothly until the song's end. Its simple title quite literally means "smoothly". Emboldened by the impressive success of the original Spanish version, Elvis Crespo released another version of Suavemente with Spanglish lyrics—a language spoken primarily in the US and mixing Spanish and English words.
Listen to Suavemente by Elvis Crespo:
Compositionally, Suavemente is about as complex as its lyrics and is based on the alternation of just two chords Cm–G belonging to the harmonic minor mode. This simple and unchanging harmonic structure makes the song sections indistinguishable and the four-minute track itself becomes a little tiring by the midpoint.
Discover more songs composed in the harmonic minor mode and their harmonic analyses in the following articles:
- 6 songs combining harmonic minor and Aeolian mode
- 8 songs to introduce Aeolian mode and natural minor scale
- A Dios le Pido: Juanes' Spanish lyrics behind the song success
- Livin' la Vida Loca: why is Ricky Martin's best song so catchy?