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Music / Los Prisioneros

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From left to right: Jorge González, Claudio Narea and Miguel Tapia.

Los Prisioneros ("The Prisoners" in Spanish) was a Chilean rock band between 1979 and 1992, considered by many as the most influent rock band of Chile and in general of Latin America in The '80s, being the parallel of Soda Stereo in Argentina during the same time. The band was formed by Jorge González (bass and lead vocals), Claudio Narea (guitar and backing vocals) and Miguel Tapia (drums and backing vocals), the three met during High School and they wanted to make a band and to be famous as The Beatles.

After various possible formations and names, in College they finally formed "Los Prisioneros" and started with their first album La Voz De Los 80s, which got a mild success, but wasn't until their second album Pateando Piedras where they got real success. During the 80s, Los Prisioneros released 3 albums, which got Double (and even Triple) Platinum Level in selling discs, having high sells not just in Chile, but in other countries as Peru, where the band still has a lot of fans. Also, the song "We Are Sudamerican Rockers" was the first music video ever transmitted by the Latin America version of MTV.


At the end of the 80s, after various internal problems and rivalries between the members, mostly González with Narea, the latter abandoned the group and the rest of Los Prisioneros recruited 2 new members: Robert Rodriguez (guitar) and Claudia Aguayo (keyboard) and released Corazones album in 1990, but the group didn't last too much and disbanded in 1992. After this breakup, every member made solo careers and projects, being Jorge González's solo career the most famous of them.

In 1996, Los Prisioneros reunited again for the release of Ni Por La Razón Ni Por La Fuerza, which was a huge success of selling discs and revived the fame they already gained in the 80s. Later in 2001 they reunited for real for a couple of revival concerts and for the 2003 version of Festival Internacional de la Canción de Viña del Marnote . After these concerts and other appearances, the group recorded Los Prisioneros in 2003 and Manzana in 2004. But the old rivalries and differences between the members continued and finally Los Prisioners disbanded for real in 2006.


The influence of Los Prisioneros in Chile is huge and is considered as the inspiration of many groups since The '80s when they were a Fountain of Expies, even today. And not just by Rock groups, also various artists from genres like Hip-Hop, Pop, Reggae, Punk and Electronic Music admit that Los Prisioneros were their influence, was which already seen in Tributo a Los Prisioneros in 2000. Even the group got various Documentaries and Biopics not just made in Chile.

Official albums released:

  • La Voz de los 80snote  (1984)
  • Pateando Piedrasnote  (1986)
  • La Cultura de la Basuranote  (1987)
  • Corazonesnote  (1990)
  • Los Prisioneros (2003)
  • Manzananote  (2004)

Other notable albums released:

  • Grandes Éxitos (1991); the second Greatest Hits album and the first Chilean one with themes unreleased on Chile, mostly remixed versions from Latin American versions and included "We Are Sudamerican Rockers", which was banned in Chile until the return of democracy in The '90s.
  • Ni Por La Razón Ni Por La Fuerzanote  (1996); 2-disc Greatest Hits Album with unreleased and B-side records of the band, considered by many as the best album of the band ever.
  • Tributo a Los Prisionerosnote  (2000); a Cover Album made by various contemporanean Chilean groups, the only one officially released until now.note 
  • Estadio Nacionalnote  (2002); live recording of the comeback concerts of the band made in 2001.
  • Los Prisioneros en las Raras Tocatas Nuevas de la Rock & Popnote  (2003); recordings made in the Chilean radio Rock & Pop in its section Raras Tocatas Nuevasnote , which include a couple of original and cover songs, even from the Chilean TV series 31 Minutos.
  • Various LP with old bootleg recordings (from studio and live concerts) Rereleased for Free on the internet like En Vivo Teatro Cariolanote  (1985), Beaucheff 1435 (1989), El Caset Piratanote  (2000), Raspando la ollanote  (2006) and Algo ilegal!note  (2013).

Los Prisioneros contains examples of:

  • Absolute Xenophobe: "Maldito Sudaca"note , which talks about how probably Latinos were/are seen by Americans. The term "sudaca" is a pejorative term for South America/Latino people, being the Distaff Counterpart of "gringo" (pejorative term refered to Americans.)

  • The Band Minus the Face: Narea & Tapia band formed during The New '10s, which only played Los Prisioneros songs, but it hasn't sort of impact since this isn't the complete band. Recently they got the "Los Prisioneros" name back, but still.

  • Concept Album: Corazones album is often considered as this. There're various things about this: it's the first album made almost completely by González himself (more like a personal/solo album than something made by Los Prisioneros) and the themes are mostly love songs. The same González appeared in the album cover as the model. Also, this album is most considered as a Pop album, which influenced many Pop artists in the next years.
  • Cover Version:
    • Los Prisioneros made various cover songs which were unreleased until 1996's Ni Por La Razón Ni Por La Fuerza and later in bootleg discs released on internet after the second and final breakup.
    • One instrumental they played in concerts in the 80s and later in their comeback concerts in 2001 was the main theme of 007's From Russia with Love.
    • 2003's Los Prisioneros en las Raras Tocatas Nuevas de la Rock & Pop was a complete Cover Album with the exceptions of "En el cementerio"note  (from Gus Gusano y sus Necrofílicos Hemofílicos times) and "Concepción" (part of his then upcoming new disc Los Prisioneros.)
  • Expy:
    • Of The Clash, which was also one of their influences.
    • Also in some Synth-Pop themes like "Muevan las Industrias"note , they were compared with Depeche Mode.
  • Fake Band: Gus Gusano y sus Necrofílicos Hemofílicosnote  was an alternate band by Los Prisioneros made between 1986 and 1988 in which they played as a Rockabilly band with Gorn songs made Just For Fun. This band never made public appearance during Los Prisioners years before the breakup, and his songs remained hidden until 1996's Ni Por La Razón Ni Por La Fuerza Greatest Hits Album and later by the bootleg albums released since the 2000s by people who have demo records of Los Prisioneros that released on internet after the second (and definitive) breakup in 2006.
  • The First Cut Is the Deepest:
    • After the first breakup, Los Prisioneros reunited in 2001 to get the band together again and released 2 discs: Los Prisioneros and Manzana. But the differences between the members (especially the rivalry of González and Narea) made during the first breakup weren't solved after all and finally the group was broken off for real in 2006 to never be reunited again.
    • Something subverted recently in November 2015 where Narea and Tapia appeared in Gonzáles' tribute concert, where the latter almost got in a coma but he's in rehabilitation now, as a sort of Posthumous Collaboration but without the actual dying.note 
  • Garage Band
  • A Good Name for a Rock Band: Since they were contrary to Pinochet's dictatorship, "The Prisoners" was indeed a good name for the band.
  • Greatest Hits Album: They made various after the first breakup, but the most famous is Ni Por La Razón Ni Por La Fuerzanote , a 2-disc compilation which also contains various B-Sides and unreleased themes as well some live records. This disc is considerated more of a Updated Re Release than just a Greatest Hits album.
  • Gratuitous English:
    • "We Are Sudamerican Rockers", the song's name and the chorus only. Also has Gratuitous French there too:
    We Are Sudamerican Rockers. Nous Sommes Rocker Sudamericaines.
    • Also in "Latinoamérica es un Pueblo al Sur de Estados Unidos"note , which is an acid critic about how this country influenced not just Chile but the entire continent.
    "We tried to talk the jet-set language" para que no nos crean incivilizados.note 
  • I Have Many Names:
    • Various of the names of the band were Los Apestososnote , Gus Gusano y sus Necrofílicos Hemofílicos and before the definitive formation Los Pseudopillosnote  and Los Vinchukas.note 
    • Also, before the definitive name, the main idea was Los Criminalesnote  but days later was changed to Los Prisioneros.
  • Iconic Outfit: Part of the official look of Los Prisioneros was looking like Greaser Delinquents, included the Delinquent Hair and mostly just using t-shirts and blue jeans.
  • Iconic Song Request: "La Voz de los 80s" is the song that never should be avoided if you want to listen Los Prisioneros.
  • Junk Songs Are Funny: "De la Cultura de la Basura"note , song which also gave the name of the disc which is included: La Cultura de la Basura.
  • Lead Bassist: Jorge González.
  • Location Song:
    • "San Miguel" in 2003's eponymous album, a song dedicated to the Santiago's comunanote  of the same name where they born and lived for all his youth and part of their adulthood.
    • In the same album, there's a song called "Concepción", based in the Chilean city of the same name and one of the most biggest cities apart of Santiago.
    • More as a "Location Disc" is the 1989 bootleg disc Beaucheff 1435 (the original fourth disc of the band before the departure of Narea that ended with Corazones album), which title came from the address González had in these years.
  • Misogyny Song:
    • "Corazones Rojos"note , a song that demoted Chilean woman and her status on a machist society like Chile. This song was made with a purpose of report Chilean machism and it was used by feminists as a kind of Burning the Flag about machism.
    • Also, there's a light (but not less misoginy) song called "Una mujer que no llame la atención"note  in Pateando Piedras album.
  • Money Song: "Quieren Dinero".note 
  • Pragmatic Adaptation/Adaptation Decay: In 2014, Chilean TV channel Chilevisión made a TV series based on Los Prisioneros called Sudamerican Rockers, based on "We Are Sudamerican Rockers" song, which told the story of the band in the 80s, mostly in High School days. But since was produced WITHOUT any of the members of the group and with script liberties, the series was unanimously dismissed by Los Prisioneros and some of their fans, saying all about Sudamerican Rockers is pure fiction.
    • Human-Focused Adaptation: A different story is the 2012 movie Miguel San Miguel, another Biopic which told the same story but with the Point of View of Miguel Tapia, in which production Tapia did work for the movie and even made a Creator Cameo being the guy who sells the drums to a young Miguel. Which sadly inspired Sudamerican Rockers series, even with various of the young actors repeating roles in the TV series.
  • Protest Song: A lot of them, mostly against Pinochet's regime and critizising the Chilean way of life.
  • Rock Star Song/Self-Demonstrating Song: "We Are Sudamerican Rockers".
  • Rock Trio: The original formation with González (voice and bass), Narea (guitar) and Tapia (drums).
  • Rockabilly: Los Prisioneros liked this music and usually played for fun in own records and live concerts in the 80s. Most of these records were released in Ni Por La Razón Ni Por La Fuerza compilation and Raspando la Olla bootleg disc as Gus Gusano y sus Necrofílicos Hemofílicos (see Fake Band). Not to mention the Iconic Outfit they got in The '80s.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "De la Cultura de la Basura" in general has a lot of this, like this line:
    Vamos al estadio escuchando radio, nos gusta Julio Iglesias y el Rockabilly.note 
    • Also the song "¿Quién mató a Marilyn?"note , who referred not just Marilyn, but another cultural references and their friend and ex-member of their old group Los Vinchukas, Rodrigo Beltrán.
    • And "We Are Sudamerican Rockers" where they are Talking to Themself. And even they mentioned Elvis Presley.
    • In the beginning of the "Maldito Sudaca" music video is hearing a radio changing stations, taking an extract of A Hard Day's Night, and also there's a picture of The Beatles made on wood cubes and later being kicked by Tapia before the song starts.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Cecilia Aguayo in the Corazones album and the only woman in the story of the band.
  • Title Track: All the albums with the exception of Pateando Piedras (Album Title Drop, part of the lyrics of "El Baile de los que Sobran"note ) and Los Prisioneros (Self-Titled Album).
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: Various of Los Prisioneros' albums got remixed versions for various Latin America countries, like Peru and Venezuela. These songs were also famous in Chile as being part of the first Greatest Hits Album released in Chile.
  • Vocal Tag Team:
    • Although González was the lead singer of the group, Narea and Tapia also sung various songs of Los Prisioneros, some of them are classic songs of the band like "¿Quién mató a Marilyn?" (sung by Tapia) and "Lo Estamos Pasando Muy Bien"note  (sung by Narea, but later re-recorded by González).
    • But the best example of this trope is "Maldito Sudaca", where all the members sing the song.
  • The Voice of a Generation:
    • In Chile, Los Prisioneros became this because of the lack of liberties of Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship in The '80s. Los Prisioneros' music not just criticize the dictatorship without being censored or dissapeared, also made acid critics of the "Chilean way of life", lyrics that still sound fresh until today.
    • Thanks to the 2019 Chilean protests, Los Prisioneros' songs like "El Baile de los que Sobran" (The Dance of the Leftovers) and "Por Que No Se Van" (Why Don't They Leave) became anthems for the movement now more than ever, as if they relive the Pinochet's dictatorship in the end of The New '10s.
  • You Don't Look Like You: Miguel Tapia's change of look after the reunion of Los Prisioneros for Ni Por La Razón Ni Por La Fuerza and onwards: since short hair and no face hair to long hair (even with braids/plaits) and a beard. Actually subverted since Tapia goes back with the short hair and no beard (sometimes).