Mexican Radio

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For the unregulated, high-wattage radio stations alluded to in the song, see Border blaster. For general information on radio in Mexico, see Radio in Mexico.
"Mexican Radio"
Single by Wall of Voodoo
from the album Call of the West
B-side "Call of the West"
Released 1983
Recorded 1982
Genre Dark wave, art rock, psychobilly
Length 3:55
Label IRS Records
Writer(s) Wall of Voodoo

Richard Mazda

Music sample

"Mexican Radio" is a song written and performed by the band Wall of Voodoo, and produced by Richard Mazda. The track was initially made commercially available on their 1982 album Call of the West, and was released as a single in early 1983. In their native US, the song was a modest hit, peaking at no. 58 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[1] It was a bigger hit in other parts of the world, peaking at no. 18 in Canada, no. 21 in New Zealand and no. 33 in Australia.[2] It also reached no. 64 in the UK.[3]


Wall of Voodoo lead singer and player of organ, synthesizer and harmonica, Stan Ridgway and guitarist Marc Moreland traced the inspiration for the song to listening to high-wattage unregulated AM Mexican radio stations (among them XERF, XEG, and XERB).[citation needed]

Marc Moreland was the first to begin writing the song, which in a recorded interview in the '90s he stated, "It was basically just me singing 'I'm on a Mexican radio' over and over again". Moreland stated when he played it for his mother she hated it because of his repetitious lyrics. Stan Ridgway co-wrote with Moreland to finish the song, and added all the verse's lyrics to Moreland's chorus and guitar lick as well as the "mariachi" harmonica melody in the song's middle breakdown. When performing live with Wall Of Voodoo, Stan usually played the mariachi melody via an organ/synthesizer and Bill Noland used a synthesizer to play the melody when performing with Wall Of Voodoo in the 1982–1983 years.

The 7" single mix differs in a few areas from the album cut:

  • Ridgway's vocals are mixed differently, with a more pronounced echo effect on certain lines.
  • A loud Spanish-speaking DJ voice is present on both versions, but each version's voice is different and is saying different words.
  • A significantly louder snare drum part is noticeable in the song's chorus.
  • Ridgway chants "radio, radio, oleo, radio" at the song's end, rather than "radio, radio, radio, radio" as he does on the album version. Because of this, the single mix is sometimes called the "oleo" mix.
  • A pulsing, mangled synth noise is heard at the end of the song on the album version, but not in the 7" mix. Instead, this sound is heard at the beginning of the track, as well as during the song's instrumental break.

Popular References: -On Seinfeld, season 9 episode 12 "The Reverse Peephole", Kramer can be heard singing it when the super of the building arrives as he's reversing his peephole.

It was rumored that Wall Of Voodoo drummer Joe Nanini was very difficult to work with at times in the studio when the group were recording their 1982 LP, Call Of The West, on which "Mexican Radio" appeared. On "Mexican Radio" in particular, it has been said that Joe was a little upset when Richard Mazda suggested a snare drum hit on the chorus of the song. Joe ultimately refused to cooperate, leading Mazda to recording the snare part himself, and with the band's acceptance the snare appeared in the final mix of the song.[citation needed]

Cover versions[edit]

Arizona-based punk rock band Authority Zero featured a cover version on their 2004 album Andiamo with slightly modified lyrics; for instance, "They talk about the U.S. inflation" was replaced with "They talk about the Iraq invasion".

Kinky, a Mexican electronic/rock band from Monterrey Mexico has covered this song as well. They kept the upbeat rhythm of the song with their own electronic twist and added some lyrics in Spanish. This version is in their album Reina De Lujo, and their Sassy EP, and also is featured in Need for Speed Undercover.

Bruce Lash gave the song the bossa nova treatment on his 2004 album, "Prozak for Lovers II" which also includes easy-listening versions of Nirvana's "Lithium" and Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation" among others.

Mike Keneally has played the song in live concerts with his band, Beer for Dolphins.

The intro synthesizer was sampled by the hip-hop group Cannibal Ox in the song "Iron Galaxy".

Atlanta-based band doubleDrive covered the song as a hidden track in their 1000 Yard Stare album.

Swiss metal band Celtic Frost have also covered the song. They put it as the first song on their third album Into the Pandemonium.

South Park Mexican has a somewhat different version of the song, keeping the chorus more or less intact, but writing a completely new set of verses.

The math rock band Polvo contributed a cover of the song to Tannis Root Presents: Freedom of Choice, a 1992 sampler to benefit Planned Parenthood.

A first-person rendition ("I'm a Mexican / On the radio") appears on the album Graciasland by El Vez, known as the "Mexican Elvis" or the "Thin Brown Duke".

French band Nouvelle Vague, who specialise in bossa nova covers of New Wave tracks, performed this song live in London on November 25, 2006.

Dutch band Gruppo Sportivo covered the song on their 1987 album Back to 19 Mistakes.

Austin, Texas band Vallejo covered the song on their album Stereo in 2002.

Music video[edit]

The music video for the song consist of the band performing in a studio decorated like the album cover. Interspersed are images of typical Mexican life and, near the end, the band are shown operating their own radio station (a reference to the lyric, "I'd take requests on the telephone"). The music video first aired in 1983.


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 8th Edition (Billboard Publications)
  2. ^ Steffen Hung. "New Zealand charts portal". Retrieved 2014-03-08. 
  3. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 590. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.