Friday, October 3, 2014

A Multilingual International Hit: "Bailando" by Enrique Iglesias

Here at the Lingua File we're big fans of music, especially multilingual music. Over the past few weeks, we've been hearing a lot about the widespread international popularity of the song "Bailando" by Spanish artist Enrique Iglesias, so we thought we should give it a listen.

While "Bailando" certainly fits the stereotype of your everyday catchy pop song, we did enjoy listening to it, which certainly counts for something. However, we were most interested in the fact that it has been released in several different versions. There are currently four versions of "Bailando" being played on pop music radio stations throughout the world. It has reached high chart positions throughout the world, including the top spot on charts in Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Finland, Mexico, and Spain, as well as number 1 on two different U.S. Latin song charts.

First, there's the original Spanish version, which features Cuban artist Descemer Bueno and Cuban reggaeton group Gente D'Zona, who wrote the song together.

Enrique also released an "English" version in countries such as the United States, though it would really be more appropriate to call it the Spanglish version. In this version, Jamaican rapper Sean Paul is added to the mix. He raps in English, Gente D'Zona stick to Spanish, and Enrique sings a bit in both languages, including the Spanglish section when he sings lyrics such as "I wanna be contigo, and live contigo, and dance contigo". (In case you're wondering, "contigo" means "with you" in Spanish.)

Enrique Iglesias has been one of the world's biggest Latin music stars for well over a decade, often releasing songs in both English and Spanish. However, we were somewhat surprised to find out that he also released his latest hit in two different Portuguese versions, though it makes sense given his popularity in Portuguese-speaking markets.

The Brazilian Portuguese version features vocals by Brazilian singer Luan Santana. Instead of being performed solely in Portuguese, it consists of lyrics in what is sometimes called Portuñol, a mixture of Portuguese and Spanish. For example, the Spanish line "Ya no puedo más" is followed by the Portuguese "A nossa melodia tem calor".

However, what we found most interesting were the many differences between the two Portuguese versions of the song. The final version, created for Portugal, includes vocals by Portuguese singer Mickael Carreira. While it also contains alternating lines in Portuguese and Spanish, the Portuguese lyrics are often completely different from the Brazilian Portuguese version.

We certainly expected to hear differences in pronunciation as well as the occasional use of more appropriate regional terminology, yet we were surprised to see wildly different lyrics in some parts of the song. For example, the Brazilian version contains the line "Dois corpos no cio, um imenso vazio, esperando o amor", yet the same line in the Portuguese version is "A noite em que sinto teu corpo mexendo, subindo e baixando". While both convey a similarly "sexy" message, we are still curious to know why two different phrases were used. Our guess is that perhaps each of the featured artists came up with their own additional vocals.

Have you heard "Bailando" on the radio in your country? If so, what do you think of it? Let us know in the comments.