Last summer I noticed something cool while listening to the radio. “Con Calma” by Daddy Yankee was playing which is a song entirely in Spanish. Throughout my life I have heard various American pop artists with Latin inspiration in their music, but I hadn’t heard music that was completely in a different language on the radio in the United States. With English being the dominant language (meaning numerous people who don’t speak English as a first language seek to learn it) in the world, American pop artists have been slow to incorporate other languages into their music. Music in other languages has also struggled to penetrate American pop radio. However, artists outside of the United States who predominately sing in other languages have been incorporating English phrases for much longer, like in K-pop for example. I noticed this quite a bit while in Spain and listening to their pop radio as well.
It’s incredible to see English-speaking artists now embracing other cultures in music and subsequently other languages as well. Some English-speaking artists are now creating music with Spanish-speaking artists and even singing in Spanish (and other languages) themselves. I’m hoping that hearing other languages on the radio will encourage more people to learn a second language which is typical outside of the United States. I’m excited to see artists in other genres incorporate other languages into their music as well as I think that’s the direction we’re heading.
To showcase some great music in Spanish, I created this Spotify playlist called Spanglish. Some of the songs are completely in Spanish, some are a mix of Spanish and English, and some are just in English but have a heavy Latin influence. Most of the Spanish songs I either heard in my high school Spanish class, while in Spain, or in a Zumba class. “China”, by a variety of Spanish artists, I remember hearing at a restaurant in Spain and thinking I was going crazy because it sounded just like “It Wasn’t Me” by Shaggy (spoiler alert: it does quote “It Wasn’t Me” and I wasn’t crazy). Many of the mixed language songs involve a Spanish-speaking and English-speaking artist or are a remix of a song that was originally just in English or Spanish. There’s even a couple of songs from one of my favorite musicals, In the Heights, which is about the Latin American population in New York. You’ll definitely recognize a lot of American pop artists on this playlist but hopefully you’ll also discover some great artists who primarily make music in Spanish. I also hope this playlist will help with that wanderlust feeling that I’m sure we all have from being inside so much due to COVID-19. Enjoy!