FT5: Songs With Inexplicable Spanish Use
In all likelihood you have encountered the language known as English. This bizarre Germanic dialect, which supposedly emanated from a small European island, is ubiquitous in the phenomenon know as “Rock and Roll.” This so-called music inevitably features guitars and talk of “a-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bop-bop,” which I personally suspect may be coded language for violent revolution, or worse, for drugs! Though English is still far and away the language of Rock and Roll (but I’ve got my eye on you Rammstein), increasingly artists who have primarily written in the Anglo-Saxon dialect are starting to branch out into the Romance languages. Through our network of intelligence experts, I was able to obtain the following list which features 5 Songs with Inexplicable Spanish Use.
5. Ween – Buenas Tardes Amigo
Ween is a band always walking the line between parody and tribute, which makes “Buenos Tardes Amigo” a song true to Ween form. Part Mexican folk ballad, part Spaghetti Western soundtrack, and all weird, the song deadpans lyrics like: “I looked at every fiesta/ for you I wanted to greet/ maybe I’d sell you a chicken/ with poison interlaced with the meat.” Are we meant to take this tale of revenge and ridiculous accents seriously? Probably not. But sometimes it’s okay just to enjoy seven minutes of silliness for its own sake.
4. Beck – Loser
I am convinced an alternate universe exists where “Loser” was only a minor novelty hit and the name Beck is remembered solely by enthusiasts of arcane 90’s trivia. But in the more improbable world in which we actually live, “Loser” was a colossal sensation that made Beck a star. Because of this catchy slice of slacker-pop-folk-rap (it’s probably good this never took off as a genre), everyone in the English speaking world knows that “Soy un perdedor” means “I’m a loser” in Spanish. Go ahead, try to work it into a casual conversation if you ever travel to South America.
3. Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs – Wooly Bully
“Uno, Dos, One, Two, Tres, Quatro!” There isn’t much Spanish in this song, but the raucous Spanglish introduction sets the tone for a garage classic. Despite the fact that these opening lines are in two languages, they are without a doubt the most coherent lyrics in the song. What in God’s name is a Wooly Bully and what precisely does it have to do with dancing? Perhaps it would be wise to just set these questions aside and get out on the wedding reception dance floor.
2. The Pixies – Vamos
If you’re like me, when you think about going to the beach, the first thing the comes to mind is a pudgy man screaming like a mental patient. If you don’t feel the same, it’s possible you’re not a Pixies fan. Or you may have just not paid enough attention in Spanish class to translate the chorus of “Vamos.” The much ballyhooed loud-soft-loud Pixies sound has seldom been as ferocious as it is on this track. All the pieces are there. Frank Black’s animal wailing. Joey Santiago’s warped squealing guitar. Not to mention the driving rhythm section that keeps the whole thing from falling apart (Pixies drummer and recent ATH interview subject David Lovering is putting in some serious work in this song). It’s the perfect soundtrack for any demented beach outing.
1. The Clash – Spanish Bombs
War is a serious subject, but the chorus of “Spanish Bombs” may induce snickers from native Spanish speakers. Never has Español sounded this Anglo (except for maybe in the backing vocals of “Should I Stay or Should I Go”). It’s fair to say The Clash aren’t known for using squeaky clean BBC English, and a few peculiar Spanish pronunciations aren’t a detriment either. If anything, the idiosyncratic vocal ticks are just another reason why London Calling is a fantastic record. And in my mind, The Clash are the best cure for any aching corazón.