The EZ Band’s rendition of “Hey There Delilah” has been played more than 1.5 million times on Spotify, and at least two million times on TikTok. The band’s version of “Santeria,” originally by Sublime, even drew notice from a fan account. And most recently, the band ventured into Swiftie land with a remake of Blank Space, from the “1989” album by Taylor Swift.
“It has kind of changed a lot of my life,” Guevara, 33, said in an interview, referring to the recent rising interest in the EZ Band and its album “Make it Norteño Vol. 1.” (Either norteña or norteño are used to describe artists, songs, music and awards in the genre, because nouns and adjectives have a gender in Spanish; the Grammy Awards, for instance, name a category for Best Norteño Album.)
Covers of different genres are not a new concept, of course. There have been Beatles songs made into polka music, and “Hotel California” has gotten the ukulele treatment. But the EZ Band’s songs are growing in popularity at a time when norteña music, and other regional Mexican genres like tumbados, are becoming more popular.
These blends of once-Top 40 and norteña music offer first- and second-generation Americans a way to connect with a musical heritage that they don’t always know or may have left behind. It also exposes new audiences in the United States to the unique norteño sound.
The sound of norteña music has influences that date back to the 1840s, when Germans began settling in what is now southern Texas, according to Celestino Fernández, a retired sociology professor and consultant for the University of Arizona.