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Spanglish On the Radio

Resonant Thoughts Carnival: Why do I Hear Spanglish On The Radio?

Las Gringas are muy feliz to be contributing to Spanglish Noise‘s blog carnival! We are especially excited because it is giving us an excuse to write about one of our favorite topics: Spanglish on the radio. We harbor a kind  of love (when its executed well)-hate (when its executed poorly) relationship with the currently hot trend of  incorporating the English/Spanish combo into música. So, we have a lot of opinions on the subject. Plus, we’re interested in hearing what the other bloggers have to say tambien! Entonces, here we go…

One of the great things about music is that it has the potential to connect individuals regardless of language, culture or nationality. Taking just a cursory glance at the current landscape of the music industry in the U.S. and looking specifically at the music being produced by Latino/a artistas will prove this is the case. Artists who hail from Puerto Rico to the Bronx to Los Angeles to the Dominican are making their mark in Spanish, English and yes, Spanglish. Right now, there are at least two major trends that are working well for artists straddling the English/Spanish divide: collaborating y re-appropriating.

Love him or hate him, Pitbull may get a bad rap from critics for his seemingly never ending list of collaborations, but many other artists have clearly realized that his formula works. In the past year alone, artists like Romeo Santos and Wisin y Yandel, whose careers naturally began as Spanish dominant, have begun inching their way towards the mainstream English market by releasing albums that feature collaborations with English dominant artists. Santos’ 2011 release, Formula 1 features collabs with Top 40 favorite Usher on the sexy “Promise” and also with rap star Lil Wayne on single “All Aboard” . Similarly, WyY just began promoting their single “Algo Me Gusta De Ti” from new album Lideres which they collaborated on with Chris Brown and T-Pain. (Notably, the music video for this single, which you can watch below, features a nerdy white dude as the central character. Let’s talk about that.) These singles feature a mixture of English and Spanish that is likely to continue to grow into much more than just a trend, but rather will become a bridge to crossover artist-ville.

It is important to note that these collaborations are not just benefiting artists like Santos and WyY, but are also allowing their collaborators access to a hugely coveted marketed: the Latino consumer. Usher, T-Pain, Lil Wayne and others get a huge amount of exposure within this market and gain an air of legitimacy by working with artists who are veterans of it. I guess you could look at is a kind of win-win for both sides.

Romeo Santos feat. Usher “Promise”.

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Wisin y Yandel feat. Chris Brown y T-Pain.

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Besides the proliferation of English/Spanish collaborations, the Spanglish intersection can also be seen in the re-appropriation of old school hits by modern artists. This particular avenue, I think, is much more organic than the collaborative efforts because it expresses the natural mixture of cultures that Latino artists growing up in the U.S. experience. I am thinking specifically of two artists with very similar styles, Prince Royce and Leslie Grace. Both specialize in a popish bachata sound, and both have hits that are reworked oldies. Royce took Ben E. King‘s popular “Stand By Me“, and gave it his own spin while Leslie  has laid claim to The ShirellesWill You Still Love Me Tomorrow” with her single of the same name. These are breakout hits for both artists and feature a mixture of not only English and Spanish but also of musical styles. By using old school hits, these artists are anchoring themselves in the romanticized roots of American (United States) culture while also showcasing their Latino heritage. In short, its brilliant.

 Prince Royce, “Stand By Me”.

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Leslie Grace, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”.

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Whether through collaborations with English dominant artists, by revitalizing classic American hits or through some other means, Latino artistas are carving out a space for themselves in the mainstream English dominated culture in the U.S., and in this space, it looks like Spanglish is the chosen language.

For more, check out Spanglish Noise and Dancing Composer who also chimed in on the topic!

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