Listen to Music and Learn Spanish: Bachata

I remember the first time I heard a Bachata song. I was in the Dominican Republic for my cousin’s wedding. We went out to a night club and a Bachata song came on. I thought I knew how to do all the dances because I knew salsa, meringue and cha cha. Since my cousin has always been infinitely cooler than me, I was ready to impress him with my dancing skills. I got my chance toward the end of the night when my cousin grabbed my hand for a dance…but then I realized that I had no idea how to dance to song that was playing! He tried to teach me, “Step to the right 3 times and then do a little hop, step to the left 3 times and do a little hop.” I almost got it by the end of the song, but I definitely did not impress anyone! Check out a proper Bachata dance.

Despite my rough beginnings with Bachata, I really love this music and the dance. When I go out Latin dancing and I hear a Bachata song come on, I grab the first available partner and proceed to the dance floor.

A Quick History of Bachata

Similar to my rough first experience with Bachata, the genre itself had rough beginnings. Bachata began in the rural parts of the Dominican Republic during the early part of the 20th century. According to Wikipedia,

During much of its history Bachata music was denigrated by Latino/Caribbean society and associated with rural backwardness and delinquency. As recently as 1988 Bachata was considered too vulgar, crude and musically rustic to enter mainstream music. In the 1990s, bachata’s instrumentation changed from acoustic guitar to electric steel string. The new electric bachata soon became an international phenomenon, and today bachata is as popular as salsa and merengue in some Latin American dance-halls.


Listening to Bachata to Learn Spanish

I also like this style of music for Spanish-learners. The sound of the music is less intimidating than some other styles of Latin music. Last weekend I had some Bachata playing in my apartment when guests came over and they commented about how nice the music was. This music is also great for learning Spanish because the tempo is slower and students can understand the song lyrics  more easily than a lot of other styles. I suggest checking out “Dile El Amor” by Aventura which is a great song for listening, dancing or practicing Spanish.

Aventura is one of the most famous groups. Others to look for are Xtreme, Prince Royce and Moncha y Alexandra. One of the easiest ways to get started listening to Bachata is to make an account with Pandora Radio and create your own radio station based on one of these artists.



¡Calle 13 at the Latin Grammy Awards!

Last night was the Latin Grammy awards. As you can see from the picture above, the biggest winner of the night was Calle 13. I’ve been a fan of Calle 13 ever since I went to Chile and heard their music in 2006. In fact, I even posted a blog about one of Calle 13’s songs a few weeks ago. I’m not as familiar with their newer music, but I’m definitely going to have to catch up and see what won this impressive load of Grammys!

My friend Maritza watched the Grammy awards from start to finish, you can more about the show and the winners on Maritza’s post about the Latin Grammy Awards.

Jueves Musical: Me Voy por Julieta Venegas

I’ve been writing “Miércoles Musical” on Wednesdays, but I got way too busy yesterday to write anything, so this week we’ve got “Jueves Musical” on Thursday instead.

This week’s song is “Me Voy” by Julieta Venegas. Julieta Venegas is a very popular singer-song writer from Mexico. She’s been around for a few years and has created a lot of music that I really like. I always recommend Julieta Venegas’ music for learning Spanish because her music is slower and she uses fairly standard, simple vocabulary in her song lyrics. By the time you’re at an intermediate level, you should be able to understand a lot of what she is singing about without having to look up the lyrics. Plus, I enjoy the style of her music and her voice.

I first heard this song right before I went to Chile to teach English. I remember getting excited because I could understand a lot of the lyrics the very first time that I listened to it. It got really popular while I was in Chile, so hearing it now always takes me back to that time.

If you watched the video, you can probably tell that this song is about a breakup.

Chorus Lyrics

Me voy…I’m leaving

Qué lástima pero adiós…What a shame but goodbye
Me despido de ti y…
I bid farewell to you and
Me voy…
I’m leaving

Qué lástima pero adiós…What a shame but goodbye
Me despido de ti….
I bid farewell to you

 Grammar Alert!

You’ve probably seen the word voy before. It comes from the verb ir which means “to go.” Ir is the most used verb in the Spanish language. Voy is the “yo form” of ir. You can say voy or yo voy to mean “I go.”

So now you know what voy means, but what is me voy?

Me voy  and voy essentially have the same meaning, but there is a subtle difference. Me voy shows more intensity than voy. Me voy can be translated as “I’m leaving” or “I’m getting out of here”. Voy means “I go” or “I’m going.”

So, by using me voy in the song, Julieta Venegas isn’t just saying that she’s going out of the house to buy groceries. She is leaving him and dumping him and not coming back.

On Your Own

Read the complete lyrics and English translation for “Me Voy”.


Spanish Phrases in “Lento“ by Julieta Venegas

I’ve always loved this song since I first heard it when I was living in Chile. The title, “Lento” means “Slow”. Throughout the song she says “más lento”, “slower”, many times.  Lots of Spanish phrases use this word “más” in front of an adjective like “lento” in order to compare two things. In English, we say “slow” and “slower.” In Spanish, it’s “lento” and “más lento.” Listen for this when you hear the song.

“Lento” not only sounds pretty, but I like the message that she is sending to the guy who is interested in her. She is telling him to slow down, have patience with her and wait for her. Here are my favorite lines.

Ser delicado y esperar,                                                 Be delicate and wait
dame tiempo para darte                                              Give me time to give you
todo lo que tengo                                                           Everything that I have

“Delicado” looks a lot like “delicate” in English, but it might be better translated here as “sensitive.” I don’t hear a lot of women asking their guys to be “delicate”, but I do hear the word “sensitive” used often.

Here’s a link to the rest of the lyrics for the song.