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A Puro Dolor

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Title: A Puro Dolor  
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Subject: She Bangs, List of 2000s one-hit wonders in the United States, Hot Latin Songs, Son by Four, Latin Grammy Awards of 2000, Son by Four (album), List of songs in Lips, Qué Te Pasa
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A Puro Dolor

"A Puro Dolor"
Son by Four
Released 2000
Format Promo single
Recorded 1999
Genre Latin pop, salsa
Length 3:32 (ballad version)
4:23 (original version)
Label Sony Discos
Writer(s) Omar Alfanno
Producer Omar Alfanno
Son by Four singles chronology

"No Hay Razón"
"A Puro Dolor"
"Miss Me So Bad"

"A Puro Dolor" is a song recorded by Puerto Rican band Son by Four. It was written by Omar Alfanno and released as the first single of the second studio album of the band in 2000. The song reached number-one on Billboard Top Latin Songs chart, and became the longest running chart topper of the chart in history, spending 20 weeks at the top; this record was broken five years later by Colombian singer-songwriter Shakira with "La Tortura" which spent 25 weeks at number-one.

"A Puro Dolor" also reached the Billboard 100 in the original version; this led to the recording of an English-language version of the track "Purest of Pain", which also charted in the United States. The song also met with critical acclaim receiving the Lo Nuestro Award, the Billboard Music Award and a Latin Grammy Award nomination. In 2009, "A Puro Dolor" was named the best-performing Latin single of the decade (2000-2009) in the United States.


I wrote it in ten minutes, under deadline, with a bottle of water by my side.

Omar Alfanno, Billboard.[1]

In early 1999, Son by Four released their first album Prepárense. The success of the singles "Nada" and "No Hay Razón", distributed in Puerto Rico by the independent label RJO, captured the attention of the Sony Music CEO Oscar Llord, who made an agreement with RJO to re-release the album and start the recording sessions of the next album. The first single taken from the following album was "A Puro Dolor", written and arranged by Panamanian record producer Omar Alfanno, with a ballad version arranged by Alejandro Jaén.[2] Omar Alfanno, well known for his work with salsa recording singers Marc Anthony, Víctor Manuelle, Jerry Rivera and Gilberto Santa Rosa was in charge of the album production.[3] Alfanno declared that he wrote the song in ten minutes, and that after the success of the track, he analyzed the composition, since he did not understand how "A Puro Dolor" became that popular.[1] He named it "the Cinderella of all his songs."[1]

Release and reception

Son by Four "Purest of Pain"
A 21 second sample of the song, "Purest of Pain", the English version of "A Puro Dolor" by Son by Four. This version was recorded after the group's unexpected success with the original song.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

The song was released in the United States and Puerto Rico and became very successful with the ballad and tropical/salsa versions, setting an airplay record for a Latin single with 23.4 million impressions in those countries. The reaction of the song was intense, and Son by Four was asked to record an English-language version of the track.[4] This version, titled "Purest of Pain", was serviced to English-speaking radio stations in May 2000. The success of the song took by surprise the leader of the band, Ángel López, who told Billboard magazine: "When they told us we were going to be signed by Columbia for the single, we flipped."[5] A ranchera version was also recorded for the Regional Mexican audience.[6] About the song, López also declared that "has something everybody can relate to. We're adults, we've been all through that [rejection]. The way the song reaches out to people is outstanding."[5] In his album review for AllMusic, Evan C. Gutierrez declared that "A Puro Dolor" set "an impossibly high standard for the rest of the playlist."[7] Omar Alfanno while producing the album Historias de Amor for López named him "the best singer in the world" and the best performer of his compositions.[3]

Son by Four while promoting the single, opened a Ricky Martin live performance in the Madison Square Garden in New York City.[2] They also did a concert with the R&B trio Destiny's Child, and were presented in the 1st Latin Grammy Awards along with boy band N'Sync, performing the medley "A Puro Dolor"/"Purest of Pain" with "This I Promise You"/"Yo Te Voy a Amar".[2] The song was featured in the Mexican telenovela Frente al Espejo, broadcast by Televisa.[2] In 2000, due to the success of the track in the American market, they were asked to perform on The Tonight Show hosted by Jay Leno.[2] The salsa version of the song was included on their greatest hits album Salsa Hits (2001) and Lo Esencial (2008) and on the compilation album Salsahits 2001 (2000).[8]


Son by Four received seven Billboard Latin Music Award nominations in 2001 for "Hot Latin Track of the Year", "Pop Track of the Year" and "Tropical/Salsa Track of the Year" ("A Puro Dolor"); "Tropical/Salsa Album of the Year, New Artist" and "Tropical/Salsa Album of the Year, Group" (Son by Four); and "Billboard Latin 50 Artist of the Year" and "Hot Latin Track Artist of the Year". With further nominations for Omar Alfanno as "Songwriter of the Year" and Alejandro Jaén for "Producer of the Year".[1] Son by Four won all the awards, and Alfanno won the award for the writing of the song.[9]

At the Lo Nuestro Awards of 2001, the group also became the biggest winner with six awards including "Pop Song of the Year" and "Tropical Song of the Year".[10][11] Son by Four also received a Latin Grammy Award nomination for Best Tropical Song at the 1st Latin Grammy Awards, which it lost to "El Niágara en Bicicleta" by Juan Luis Guerra.[2] "A Puro Dolor" was given three Billboard Music Award in 2000 for Latin Track of the Year, Latin Pop Track of the Year, and Tropical/Salsa Track of the Year.[12] At the 2001 ASCAP Latin Music Awards, Alfanno was awarded "Song of the Year" and "Pop/Balada Song of the Year" for his composition of the song and was named Songwriter of the Year.[13]

Music video

Two music videos were made for the song; the first one being the ballad version of the song and the other the English version.[14][15] The ballad version was filmed in 2000, and was directed by Felipe Niño.[2] In the video, the group is shown performing the song along with an orchestra behind them. It is filmed on a stage where shows López singing his verses, while the others members of the group, follow up with the chorus. At the end of the video the people of the orchestra starts to applaud when the group ends to sing.[15]

In the English version of the video, the plot is completely different. The video starts in a cloudy afternoon after a storm, where the group is situated in a white room. It shows López singing in a ladder when it later starts to fill with water. At the last part of the video, it shows Son by Four singing out of the house after the storm has ended.[15]

Chart performance

"A Puro Dolor" reached the top spot of the Billboard Top Latin Songs, Latin Pop Songs and Tropical/Salsa charts.[16][17] With the song spending 62 weeks within the Top 50 in the Top Latin Songs chart and 20 non-consecutive weeks at number-one.[16] This chart run led the song being named in 2009 the best-performing Latin single of the decade.[18] In the aforementioned chart only three songs have had similar week runs at the top: "Me Enamora" by Juanes and "Te Quiero" by Flex, with 20 weeks each, and "La Tortura" by Shakira featuring Alejandro Sanz with 25 non-consecutive weeks at the top.[19] "Purest of Pain", the English version of the track, peaked at number twenty-six in the Billboard Hot 100 chart and ranked 61 at the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 2000.[17] The song exposure led to the parent album to receive a Gold certification in Argentina,[20] Mexico,[21] and the United States.[22] "A Puro Dolor" ranked 1st at the Hot Latin Songs 25th Anniversary chart.[23] The song was also a modest success in Europe where it peaked at number seven and eighteen in the Flanders and Wallonia regions of Belgium and number three in the Netherlands.[24][25][26]

Formats and track listings

CD, Maxi-Single [27]
No. Title Length
1. "Purest of Pain (A Puro Dolor) [Spanglish]"   3:30
2. "Purest of Pain (A Puro Dolor) [Bilingual]"   3:30
3. "Purest of Pain (A Puro Dolor) [Living without you]"   3:30


Credits and personnel

The credits are adapted from the Son by Four liner notes.[30]

  • Oscar Llord - executive producer
  • Omar Alfannosongwriting, production
  • Ángel López – lead vocals
  • Son by Four – chorus
  • E. Ender - songwriting ("Purest of Pain")
  • M. Llord - songwriting ("Purest of Pain")

Other recordings

In 2000, Mexican group Dinora y la Juventud performed a cover "A Puro Dolor" in cumbia music. Their version peaked at number fourty-six on the Hot Latin Songs chart and number fifteen on the Billboard Regional Mexican Songs chart.[31] The success of their cover led to the group receiving a Lo Nuestro award for New Regional Mexican Artist of the Year.[32] A music video for the song was filmed for the group.[33]

In 2009, Son by Four recorded a new version of the song for their studio album Abba Nuestro which did not have López's involvement as he left the band a few years earlier.[34] López himself recorded a new version of the track on his studio album Historias de Amor (2010) which features a cover of Alfanno's other compositions which was produced by Alfanno.[35] He also recorded it as a duet with fellow Puerto Rican singer Ana Isabelle on her studio album Mi Sueño (2010).[36]

See also


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