It’s all well and good to march for women’s rights and hold signs about men telling me what to do, but when it’s a sexy Latin man with a crazy good beat, suddenly
If I ask you for a kiss, come and give it to me.
is not only the hit of the summer, it’s the top song for 30 weeks and counting.
Let a politician say the same thing and we’ll be marching for his resignation. It’s disgusting, (Latin) America. It’s disgusting, American women. And it has no place in my classroom, I don’t care how fantastic the beat is, or how much our students love it, or how sexy Luis Fonsi got.
When compelling becomes our only standard for input, we risk falling into a swamp of the trashy and colossally stupid. And that swamp certainly exists. I do not care if my students are head over heels for a song or a singer, feeding them demeaning, predator-toned lyrics as if they were truth is unacceptable.
I’ve been looking around for new music to share with my students and you this year and it’s been tough. Here are some of the lyrics from the current top 50 on the Latin Billboard chart.
I want you to show my mouth your favorite places.
Even though we just met five minutes ago.
If you stay with me or go with another, I don’t really care- we’ll be happy, all 4 of us, we’ll just make the room bigger!
Yep, you read that right. Let’s just make the (bed)room bigger. Because that relationship philosophy is a winner, for sure.
I want to eat you, you’re gonna love it, don’t say no.
Um, I stopped being a food when I was 12 years old and had had enough of my fellow Georgians calling me “honey” and “sugar.” And I’m pretty sure I can still say no every single time I want to.
I feel like yours, I know you feel like mine, so tell your little boyfriend you feel cold with him.
My little boyfriend?
I dream about taking your clothes off, don’t confuse my intentions.
I’m not confused: you’ve got no investment in this relationship at all.
What’s your name? I want to escape with you, to where there are no witnesses.
Wait, is this going to end up on the evening news?
Then there are brilliant, deep thoughts like
All the babies want kush, kush… the gangsters want krippy, krippy.
Bring me the alcohol that takes away the pain… nothing matters to me anymore, not the day, not the time.
Here’s another thing: it’s big news that 6.4% of the Fortune 500 companies are headed by women. Who’s talking about the fact that 10% of the top 50 on Latin Billboard even include women, much less that 2% (1 song) is sung by a female soloist? Well, no one, because it’s our fault this happened. These songs aren’t there because they exist. They’re not there because men are more naturally able to compose and sing hit songs. They’re there because we put them there. What does that say about us?
Even in the stunningly SIX songs of the top 50 that include a female vocalist, ALL BUT ONE are collaborations with same guys spouting the trash you read above, and the women also have brilliant things to say.
With me you see, you never know, one day I say no, another day yes.
Neither you nor I have control.
Or Juanes tells the girl,
I made a mistake with you, but you made one with me too. We suffered some, but hey, we had a good little time.
And off the Top 50, even some of my all-time favorites Jesse y Joy felt like they needed to team up with Gente de Zona (because how can you hope to get a hit without Gente de Zona/Nicky Jam/Wisin/Daddy Yankee/Maluma) to pull off a hit with some drivel about how unreasonable it is for me to want to know where he is at 3 AM.
And so I dedicate my annual #AuthresAugust music post perhaps not to the newest, hottest music, but to music that actually says something real. None of it’s on the Latin Billboard, but some of it may be new to you.
I’m a sucker for a song that talks about real love that takes a commitment. Like Servando y Florentino:
I want to put my last name on your name.
(Notice the lack of reference to taking off her clothes.)
And my heart sang when Carlos Vives was awarded the Latin Grammy for Volví a nacer (careful with the official video).
By your love I was born again… I want to marry you and stay by your side.
Spend with me all the birthdays I have left.
This year has got me thinking, what has possessed everyone to stop saying anything worth saying? What’s happened to Jesse y Joy since Espacio sideral? Where’s No me doy por vencido? But there are some bright rays out there. Of course, I can’t get enough of the awesomeness that is Soy yo by Bomba Estéreo.
And there’s some fun stuff, too. Wow, can Colombia put out some singers, and now there’s a female answer to CNCO in the quintet called Ventino. Me equivoqué is pretty typical immature girl/boyband stuff, but at least it’s not trashy, and the preterite verbs are made for classroom use. And “Evolución de Shakira” is just worthy of being on repeat.
Speaking of fun, even if it is a Coca-Cola Mexico-sponsored push for exercise, putting Reik and Ha-Ash together with David Bisbal was a gem of a collaboration in Te mueves tú.
And speaking of saying real things, I get that saying anything about God is taboo in so many places now, but I don’t operate in that world, and I love, love, love this song. Tell me: who can’t use the message that they were made special and loved? (Using this one for narrating the past this semester!)
On the other hand, Tito el Bambino has also claimed to be an evangelical Christian and used to have some lyrics clean enough to show evidence of that claim. Recently, though, his work can only be labeled soft porn, including the just-released “Dile la verdad,” where he says “Just tell him the truth” to the girl who puts her phone on airplane mode so her boyfriend won’t bother her while she’s getting what she really needs in Tito’s bed.
Have you found any good music lately that actually says something real? Let me know on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments and I’ll keep updating this post with recommendations I get!
- Mike C. reminded me of the positive smash hit that was Vivir mi vida (see my lesson ideas for that song here).
- Take a look at Ana Tijoux’s “Antipatriarca” shared by the amazing and thoughtful Kara Jacobs.
- David W. recommends Fonseca’s “Gratitud” (especially for Día de acción de gracias) as well as Shaka & Dres’s fantastic “Agua para la vida” related to conservation.
- Paula mentioned having heard of a cleaned-up “Despacito” being used for Puerto Rican tourism, but I wasn’t able to locate it. I did however, locate the Sesame Street version, and I laughed so hard my 4-year-old came to see what was up.
- @sralescas reminds us we can’t go wrong with Álvaro Soler’s El mismo sol.
- @Edu4Change shared the Luis Enrique song “Abre tus ojos;” she had her students make a video for the song.
- For schools able and willing to share religious-themed songs, Shannon shared one I love and is new to me, “A pesar de mi” by Alex Sampedro.
- Especially with Día de la Raza coming up, Carmen suggests some pretty old but good music from Ricky Martin: Razas de mil colores. (I love all that guitar work in his older stuff!)
- Many thanks to my amiga Kathy for putting Morat on my radar! Check out “Yo contigo, tú conmigo” (with Álvaro Soler!) and for reminding me of the great song “Hoy es domingo” by Diego Torres ft. Rubén Blades.
- I was one of Camila’s biggest fans (one of the few full albums I’ve purchased was theirs), but I wasn’t impressed with too much Samo had done on his own since he left the band. I hadn’t heard “Inevitable” though! Thanks, Suzie!
Will you let me share one more thing with you? It’s tempting to say “sex sells” and “sex has been around in music for a long time,” but 1) it doesn’t sell if we don’t buy it and 2) in this post I’m not so much taking issue with the sex in the songs as I’m taking issue with the predatory, demeaning sex in the songs. The message that I have to do whatever he says because it’s my job to fulfill his needs. All of them. It’s part and parcel with the need for more and more pornographic overtones in every area of pop culture, and you know what? The science is in, and porn not only kills love, it’s connected to sex trafficking. So fight the new drug. For your girls. For your students. For us all.