How to sing English songs the Colombian way


Followers of the blog’s Facebook page may know that I went to see Andrés López’s stand up show. It wasn’t super funny since I’m technically only half a Spanish speaker, but judging by the laughters he got from the audience he’s probably pretty funny. The show La Pelota de Letras apparently has been on for 10 years. The cool thing for me was that you learn a lot about what it’s like to be Colombian, especially the middle class, since he points out the idiosyncratic cultural behaviours, customs and practices of different generations from kids to the back-bent 70-year-olds.

According to López, the 37-42 year-olds, the ‘generation X‘, are really the first bilingual generation who started following English songs – British music, American music.. Apparently half the time they don’t really know what the English lyrics are saying and so the songs go in their heads as English, but after being processed, they come out as Spanish. This means Kool & The Gang’s Get Down On It becomes chicharrones con calzones (deep fried pork belly and underwear..), Air Supply’s Making Love Out of Nothing At All becomes Me quemaron el arroz (They burnt my rice, and there’s no more potato soup..). And in Chicago’s You’re The inspiration ‘And I know..’ is El enano que se convierte en Naranjo (The midget turns into an Orange Tree)!

It is with this piece of background info that I managed to find ‘Esa son Reebok o son Nike?‘ (Are those Reebok or Nike?) funny when I heard it (whereas I don’t seem to have my funny bone sometimes and can get lost in jokes..) A man, Arturo, called up the radio and asked for a song. He said,

‘I want to listen to a song! Would you play a song for me?’

The radio guy went, ‘of course, whatever you want.’

‘The song has a line that says “Are those Reebok or Nike?”.’

‘Are those Reebok or Nike.. hm.. But.. What’s the name of the song?’

‘Are those Reebok or Nike?’

The radio man was clearly puzzled, ‘Are those Reebok or Nike…’

‘The song really sticks!!’ (You’d know it! It’s an earworm!)

‘Would it be this one?’ He then went on and played Of The Night.

‘YES! IT’S THAT ONE! YES!!! THAT ONE!!!’

That cracked up the radio host! This is the rhythm of the night becomes ‘are those Reebok or Nike?’..!

And to top it all off, I’ve found personal evidence that nails it, when a client told me that he thought the song Lean On says Sonino (To lean on), even after he’s heard it hundreds of time not he radio..!

P.S. I have to say this whole imaginary Spanish lyrics is funnier if you have some knowledge of Spanish.. One impressive thing I should point out though is that López spoke non-stop for 3 hours. THREE f*cking hours! It’s the longest standup show I have ever seen and that alone is enough to give him a credit! No break! No interval! I’d never seen anything like that.. As he went through the different generations of Colombians I kept thinking, ok he’s not going to go through all of them since it’s been 1.5 hours. But no, he kept going. Then, 2 hours later.. When is he going to stop? Then, two and a quarter of hours, still no sign of closing up..? 2.5 hours. No, still going strong..

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