Friday, October 16, 2009

Let's Rock! / Vamos a Roquear!

Rock and roll is as American as apple pie. Too bad someone forgot to tell the world-renowned rockers of the Spanish-language world. These artists can do everything that their U.S. counterparts can, and even add a little Hispanic flare to it. While our rock stars make headlines for their raucous partying, these musicians are receiving international awards and causing international incidents.**


The kings of Spanish rock music are los miembros of Maná. These hombres have rocked Spanish mundo for 30 years. 30 years! They're the Mexican equivalent of U2, and they have the fan base to prove it. If millions of fans worldwide are not reason enough to give these guys a listen, consider their 50+ awards from Billboard, the Grammys and MTV.

The band even traveled to Miami, Florida in 1999 to perform an acoustic set for MTV Unplugged. Although the performance's CD only reached 83 on the Billboard Top 100, it dominated the Latin Billboard charts at number 1 for weeks.

Enough flattery, let's get back to the music. Maná does an excellent job of mixing essential base lines, guitar riffs and drum solos with indigenous Spanish music from both Latin and South America. And the lyrics are just as eclectic. The band sings of everything from faith and revolution to love and heartbreak.

One listen to the band's hit "Justicia, Tierra y Libertad" (Justice, Land and Liberty) could incite a revolution in anyone. An electric guitar drives the song while chorus chants that demand basic human necessities speak for all the unheard indios of the world. The same fervor can be heard in songs like "Nada Que Perder" (Nothing to Lose) and "Fe" (Faith).


Now these musician / revolutionaries are not alone. Colombian-born Juanes is changing the world, raking in the records and swooning the mujeres all in a day's work. The man is a handsome diablo who could be considered the primary masculine sex symbol in the Spanish music world. If his looks and humanitarian work aren't enough, ladies, he was also honored by the government of France as a Knight of Arts and Letters.

Musically, he's just as diversely attractive and his lyrics are laden with tempting innuendos. The Dominican Republic banned his hit "La Camisa Negra" (The Black Shirt) because of its sexually suggestive themes. As offensive as that might seem, Juanes and his black shirt caused even more trouble in Italy. In 2005, los italianos suspected Juanes of fascist ties with his Nazi-rallying song supporting Mussolini followers who wore black shirts. Yikes!

Understandably, this grave misunderstanding did not affect Juanes' image at all. This human rights advocate has earned numerous awards for his coordinating international music festivals. His most recent festival, "Peace Without Borders," received major media attention and plenty of criticism when it was held in (still communist) Cuba. He explained that the controversial nation is a symbol of change and that people of the world need to change as well.


Out of all the of Spanish-language music out right now, Maná and Juanes are two of the easiest bands to enjoy. From light, poppy dance tunes to loud, fast jams, these musicians have something for everyone. If you're learning Spanish, this is the music you should be listening to for help. The best was to learn any language is full immersion into the culture, and the slow, enunciated lyrics of Maná and Juanes practically invite aspiring Hispano hablantes. Adding to the songs mentioned earlier, here are some great places to start your lesson.

1. Maná - Angel de Amor

2. Maná - No Voy a Ser Tu Esclavo

3. Maná - Labios Compartidos

4. Juanes - Es Por Ti

5. Juanes - Para Ser Eterno


DJ Gringuito

**Disclaimer - There will be no embarrassing anecdotes this week.

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