Album Review: Menudo “Refrescante” (1986)

It had been a while since Menudo had been to Mexico as they were so busy touring around the world since the album, Evolucion which was in 1984. In real music years, that is not a lot; but in Menudo years, it feels like an eternity, especially when you had two new members to introduce to the country. “Refrescante” has always felt like the Mexican album of the group’s, which is how my memories recall the album.

The first time I heard songs from the album was when the group performed on the popular variety show, Siempre En Domingo. Raymond got his Mexican sombrero and sand “Hoy Me Voy Para Mexico.” Yeah, Sergio got one too, but it wasn’t as important as Raymond’s since he was singing a song about Mexico.

Up to this album, Menudo’s music felt very bubble gum pop and with the release for Refrescante in Mexico, this was all going to change. Menudo was changing though I couldn’t tell if it was going to be for the better or, the worse. Musically, this album is far more superior to anything they had come out with, except the song “Hold Me”, but as a complete album, this was it. It was mainstream and Menudo, who used to be in a league of their own, would now be able to compete musically with Top40 radio.

But you are in 1986, which means that their competition in the same youth/tween market was still growing up, but Menudo seemed to get there first. Timbiriche, Mexico’s biggest competition was still very youthful in their sound; Luis Miguel was barely a teenager himself, so his music still was too juvenile. Tatiana was barely coming out with her “Chicas De Hoy” album which was very much dominated the coming of age girls. So, honestly, it feels that Menudo’s Refrescante album was Menudo’s step into the big leagues of Mexico.

The next question was if Mexico was ready to accept Menudo’s significant change. While remembering back to the magazines that were popular back then, Menudo was on the charts with “Salta La Valla,” “Besame,” “Hoy Me Voy Para Mexico,” and “Amiga Mia.” With four chart-topping songs, Refrescante did fairly well, but it’s not an album that stands out in the discography of the group for lots of people, including myself.

During the mid-’80s, Menudo’s image seemed to change quite drastically as it felt like the group was trying to find themselves and their image, though a few years earlier, it felt like Menudo didn’t care and they had no problem attracting the fans when they were all uniform. Could the individuality of the members been the downfall of what Menudo was in previous years?

“Refrescante” is truly a refreshing new era of Menudo that is quite enjoyable. The dance moves were harder than before. The music was in line with the era. The line-up of the group was probably one of my most favorites in the later years. Minus one or two songs that I could take or leave, this is a pretty decent album for the group.

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