The US pop charts have been full of Spanish-speaking singers for most of my life: Enrique Iglesias, Carlos Santana, Ricky Martin, Shakira, even Jennifer Lopez. These musicians all speak Spanish as their first language, but they all produce records in English, or largely English, for the US market, which is why I’ve heard of them. Juanes, then, might be the most famous Spanish-language pop singer who doesn’t sing in English. As such, I’d never heard of him until last week.
As it turns out, a friend of mine is a lifelong fan, and so I went to his concert at Madison Square Garden last Wednesday. The audience was diverse in age, but mostly seemed to speak Spanish como lengua materna. To prepare, I listened to as many of his songs as I could, so I would know what I was hearing (and so I had a chance to look up any words I didn’t know).
The concert was almost nonstop singing, with very little in the way of banter. He sang 22 songs in total, which seemed like a lot, and included all his hits that I’d heard of.
I think my favorites are Mil Pedazos, Volverte a Ver, Juntos, La Camisa Negra, Mala Gente, and A Dios le Pido … which is a lot of favorites, really.