July 18, 2006

Curious George A question on behalf of a friend (I do have a friend *SOB* I really really do *SOB SOB*) about Spanish music....

Looking for suggestions on Spanish language music... I teach fourth semester (college-level) Spanish. The introductory courses are fairly intense, which means that there is little time for culture readings and activities that delve beyond the superficial. When I first showed Amores perros to my class, for example, the students were surprised to hear rap in Spanish, and see young people that looked like them - dyed hair, similar clothing, piercings. They tend to reduce Latin American/ Spanish culture to one or two simple concepts: mariachi and Aztecs for Mexico, tango for Argentina, Incas for Peru, etc. I've been kicking around the idea of doing a short music presentation every couple weeks in the class. While I wouldn't have a whole lot of time (I'm thinking 10-15 minutes), I would like to give information on genre/ style, and some sort of activity - but mainly, I just want my students to be able to hear some the amazing variety of music that comes out of Latin America and Spain. I have a small library, but it's limited and reflects my own tastes, of course. So what would you recommend? What do you listen to that's innovative, trendy or just plain cool?

  • Casa Azul
  • One rock band of note that I can think of is Molotov. I think they're from Mexico City...?
  • Well, I've been listenting to a lot of Brazilian samba music lately, courtesy of Mandyman. There's also Nortec Collective, which I think covers a wider range than what I've got.
  • Upon a moment's further digging, it turns out that Molotov are on the Amores Perros soundtrack, so I guess I'm not telling you anything new. Aside from the fact that what music of theirs I've heard is pretty good.
  • New York's Hip-Hop Hoodios. "Havana Nagila" is a thing of beauty.
  • Lots of stuff to explore, in the wide spectrum of popular mexican music... you can go from Nortec's fusion of northern folk and tecno, the more urban Cafe Tacuba, the energetic Los de abajo, the seeking and updating of the cultural roots via Lila Downs and Astrid Haddad's farcical happenings, or Natalia Lafourcade's simpler, catchy pop.
  • As for south american music, I really like Gotan Project's mix of classical tango and modern beats ('sacrilege!' some people tell me about them, well...), and others like Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Los Pericos, Charly Garcia.
  • Information here might be useful on styles and types of Latin American music. Here's a Wikipedia article with some links to radio and other places to look. List of MTV Music Awards Latin America.
  • Btw, Amores Perros is quite an introduction to life in Mexico City. Quiet raw and gory, though... anyway, much more faithful than stuff like Burning Man.
  • Control Machete (de Monterrey) is pretty good and in the same vein as Molotov. Of course Sí Señor is also on the Amores Perros sountrack. Pop acts like Julietta Venegas (MX) and Paulina Rubio (MX) are staples. Julietta's songs tend to be slow and easy for beginning Spanish speakers to understand. And on the guy side, there's Alejandro Sanz (ES) These acts were on MTV Latino the whole time I was down in Mexico studying Spanish. And don't forget an act like Los Tigres del Norte for some Noteño.
  • Uh-huh. Down in Mexico "studying Spanish." Suuuure.
  • Mana are good sort of soft-rock, and did a pretty decent song with Carlos Santana which is on his Supernatural album from around 2000 -- I think it's called "Primavera". Or what about Menudo (ew, not really)?
  • I found listening to the music is a great way to learn to distinguish the words, since they seem to run together in the speech patterns of some countries (especially Mexico, in my experience.) If your students choose to buy recordings, they can repeat them and will pick out a few more words each time, till the songs become totally clear and you find you can understand more of the scandalous things your Latino friends are saying when they don't think you understand. (Seems to me that learning a language includes learning to listen and understand.)
  • There's a fantastic set of compilations of world psychedelic music, called "Love, Peace & Poetry." Their volume of Mexican psychedelic music is excellent.
  • You could also consider Kinky from Mexico City. Terrific electropop!
  • Mexico has a pretty strong industrial/EBM scene, with bands like Hocico and Amduscia being perhaps the best known examples (Amduscia's website is actually hosted in Germany, because they're on a German label).
  • itunes has a spanish store - it might be worth checking out for some ideas. apart from that, the only suggestion i can make is another vote for gotan project (linked to by flagpole).
  • Molotov!
  • Offhand, two suggestions. First, the legendary Caetano Veloso. A perfect introduction would the Cucurrucucu Paloma song from Hable con ella (which is a fantastic a movie as they come). (But, Caetano is from Brazil, so I guess he's singing in Portguese...) The second suggestion would have to be Montreal's Lhasa. Mexican-American-Canadian-Jewish background, she did really old-style Mexican songs, mixed in with klezmer and stuff. Then she joined her sisters in circus school for a while. Apparently, she's now in France. And it doesn't hurt that she's not hard on the eyes.
  • They are in college and haven't ran into spanish language rap? It's really really big right now. Not only with Puerto Rican/Cuban - American rapper Fat Joe who I think has done a couple songs in Spanish, but also with people like Daddy Yankee who seems to be all over the place as well as Putbull who is also fairly popular right now. Then there's always Shakira. I'm sure that many people in the class would be interested in watching her videos if not listening to them... Not to mention Ricky Martin who needs a hit like a crackhead needs a hit, and Mr. J-Lo Marc Anthony (and j-lo herself has done a song or two in spanish hasn't she? I know Christina Agulera did, didn't she?), and Enricke Englasias whose name I am butchering... And don't forget about Menudo! Then there is MTV en Español which is available on satelite and lots of digital cable and seems to play videos 24-7. I'm a 32-year-old guy from Indiana who doesn't know any Spanish at all. If I can think of that many people off the top of my head, I'm sure that a whole class of college kids can think of other Spanish-language music acts! If nothing else, make it a learning moment and assign them all to find a contemporary Spanish-language song and bring it into class!
  • LILA DOWNS - she is amazing. Also Charanga Cakewalk, Aterciopelados, La Oreja de Vangogh (from spain), Natalia Lafourcade is OK, Susana Baca (peruvian), Caetano Veloso...there's a whoooole bunch.
  • You should all be ashamed of yourselves... TWO WORDS people... TWO WORDS.... Rico. Suave. 'nuff said. (just kidding)
  • Just did a double-take: "I've been listenting to a lot of Brazilian samba music lately" which of course is PORTUGESE!!
  • "Do you like Salsa?" "It's OK." *plays Salsa tape* "Communists don't ... like Salsa. They only like the big books with ... no pictures." "Oh hello Donald, what can I get you?" "My names not Donald ... it's Miguel".