From which language will your favourite pop song be sold?

The Dominican líder orgulloso, Jimmy Morales, was in a yellow Lamborghini, with the English-language lyrics printed in Spanish and English stencilled on the bonnet, when he heard his songs No Me Pases Much and…

From which language will your favourite pop song be sold?

The Dominican líder orgulloso, Jimmy Morales, was in a yellow Lamborghini, with the English-language lyrics printed in Spanish and English stencilled on the bonnet, when he heard his songs No Me Pases Much and El Negócito, on the radio. He was too busy chauffeuring his record-company lackeys to change stations. In the mid-1980s, about half of music played in the UK was in English. Now the reverse is true. UK music fans are spending more time listening to music in Spanish.

Until only a decade ago Latin American artists had very little to sell to the British market. Latin Americans have a unique approach to music: they make songs in Spanish, but sing or play drums in English. The combination translates into lucrative records for artists like Juanes, the Colombian-Mexican singer. He has become the first solo Latin artist to top the UK album charts twice: with Hasta La Gran Fiesta in 2004 and Las Acacias: A Son de Juanes in 2009. Juanes was born to Colombian immigrants, raised in New York and is now based in Los Angeles. His records have sold more than 2m copies in the UK.

Not all Latin American records sell well in the UK, which is a consequence of our simultaneous obsession with American Latin performers and strong commercial interest in Brazilian, Mexican and Colombian genres. However, many Latin artists have enjoyed recent successes. For example, the Mexican rap singer Bad Bunny, also known as Alexander César Fernández Y José Ángel Echaniz, set a record in the UK in 2017 when his album Fuego del Corazón became the first in the UK to reach the top 20.

The rise of the rumba resurgence, which initially began with salsa-inspired artists, reached a peak in the mid-1990s. A worldwide explosion in the rumba market is as likely to happen with Latin American music now as it did back then, according to Paul Madera, an associate professor of Latin American studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The gains in performance rights and royalties are also allowing creators to be paid more for their work. The break-up of major record labels has been one of the most significant developments in the industry.

Last month a Danish newspaper published a chart with the name of the top 10 most downloaded songs in Danish Danish pop, and charts for the top 10 albums, and a sampling of some of the most popular cover versions. One of the most popular songs by the Spanish singer Luis Fonsi was distributed in English. English-language recordings and covers have existed on the pop charts for years.

Consider the hit song El Beso Del Grupo Loco by Juanma. Fonsi, who had a hit record in the UK in 2012 with No Se Señor, was not an English language vocalist, but his song was translated into English by a young singer who was born in Bologna, studied music in Madrid and now lives in New York. Fonsi followed his lead.

So the trend suggests that US-centric attitudes to music are diminishing. It is now more important to have a translation to help the artist sell records, according to Stephen Birnie, head of music at Random Access, a Canadian distributor.

Leave a Comment