Once upon a time, actually my senior year of high school, I figured I could totally teach myself Spanish. Why this idea seized me I am not sure; I had been taking Japanese for 4 years and that was quite a handful on its own. Beguiled by the airport kiosks with their friendly yellow boxes I thought Rosetta Stone would be everything I needed—and maybe it would have been if I hadn’t just scoured eBay for an out-of-date and cheaper version that more or less amounted to visual flashcards without translation. Hardly anything spectacular. (I hear it has greatly improved, but so have free things on the internet. more on that later.)
Along with learning such key phrases as “the boy dances,” “the boy runs,” “the boy jumps,” ect. I also figured I should listen to music and things in Spanish—people always tell you to do that when learning a language. This also ended fairly unsuccessfully and I can’t even recall what I listened to; I think some Buena Vista Social Club and perhaps Moenia left over from a Hispanic babysitter.
But your personal learning (or just listening) adventure doesn’t have to end this way! Now being surrounded by Spanish I have encountered more music! Let’s listen to music in Spanish! Unfortunately I can’t embed the videos because we don’t have a ‘premium account,’ but if you have time to watch them in the first place you can probably handle clicking through to youtube.
We already talked about Shakira so let’s not do that anymore. Let’s start with Manu Chao, a French singer with Spanish roots, who’s songs are fairly simple, slowish, and easy to understand. We actually listened to Me Gustas Tu in my class to practice comprehension, and I’ve even found the karaoke version for you! In this song he is saying things he likes followed by “I like you” (me gustas tu). Half the chorus is in French but just ignore that.
Neeext let’s listen to ChocQuibTown, a Colombian hip-hop group. This is a good time to point out that it is important to try and match the accent of some Spanish-speaking region of your choice, as they can greatly vary. Colombia is a good choice as it has sort of the “accent-less” version of Spanish, but basically anywhere but Spain is fine. They sound like they have a weird lisp, are the only ones who use the vosotros conjugation, and nobody likes them (at least in S.A.)((sorry any Spanish readers, I am sure your country is lovely)). I also would not recommend Argentina, but just because they are very hard for anyone but Argentinians to understand and as long as your learning Spanish why not maximize who you can use it with. Back to the music. Here is “De Donde Vengo Yo,” or Where I Come From. They are basically talking about the world and Colombia, very wholesome
To wrap it up for today let’s listen to another completely different song! Here is Pervert Pop Song by Plastilina Mosh. (The two guys are actually the band, not the girls). They are an alternative rock group from Mexico and semi-famous: they are in several video game soundtracks and are mentioned in Y Tu Mama También. As the song title would suggest, they are singing about (teenage) lusty nonsense. Don’t worry about it, just enjoy.
Thank you for joining me on what I hope to be a new weekly feature. Next week I am thinking of introducing you to more classic/dance songs, so I hope you can dance merengue better than I!