Two Sorayas and a Tormenta in a mix of Spanish music old and new

It’s holiday time! And with it comes the chance to update my music playlists. Having recently covered what’s hot on the Portuguese and Brazilian music scene, this time I’ll look at the Spanish-singing world. The official Spanish sales chart, which has a real eyesore of a website, shows how – Enrique Iglesias apart – the Spanish chart is dominated by songs in English, while this Spanish Top 20 airplay chart rather bizarrely had more Portuguese offerings on it (two songs each by D.A.M.A and Anselmo Ralph, one by Badoxa) than Spanish ones, but this Top 50 chart had a wider representation of Spanish artists and some good stuff too.

This one is a new entry on it. I think it will do well, it grows on you. It’s got a Cocteau Twins-type guitar feel in the chorus. And two sultry singers and a lot of wet shirts in the video. It’s former Eurovision contestant Sonraya feat Vega and El Huracán (The Hurricane).

And here you can see what goes into the making of a music video nowadays…

Incidentally, there was a very successful Colombian singer also named Soraya, who unfortunately died of breast cancer in 2006 at the age of 37. Here is a lovely song by her, De Repente (Suddenly).

Back to the present, another new entry on that Top 50 chart is Todo Lo Que Tengo (All That I Have) by a youthful (mid-20s)  Xuso Jones, who apparently came to attention as an internet sensation. Judging by this, he is one to follow as he gains more mainstream recognition.

Now, onto a couple of classic hits that I tagged with my Shazam app recently while listening to a Spanish golden oldies radio station…

This one goes back to the 1970s, and the singer Nino Bravo has an impressive voice – he sounds like a Spanish Tom Jones or Tony Christie. Unfortunately he also died too young – in a car crash aged just 28. Un beso y una flor (A Kiss and A Flower), was very popular in the Latin world at the time and was released just before he died.

Now onto a prolific Argentinian singer, Tormenta (real name Liliana Esther Maturano) who is 62 now. This is very early 70s too… it’s Adiós Chico de Mi Barrio (Goodbye, Guy From My Neighbourhood) … gosh, this reminds me of so many cheesy pop songs in my teens!



The conditional in Portuguese

So far we’ve covered the present and future tenses in Portuguese, now let’s have a look at the conditional, which is not very complicated to form. This time, instead of using the verbs falar (to speak), comer (to eat) and partir (to leave), I shall use a different trio.

There are three sets of regular verbs in Portuguese

  1. those ending in ar, for example, andar, to walk
  2. those ending in er, for example, beber, to drink
  3. those ending in ir, for example, abrir, to open

In the present tense, you have to drop the ar, er and ir to get the verb stem, to which you add the present tense suffixes, but the conditional is like the future tense and the suffixes are merely added to the infinitive. And once again, thankfully, there is just one set of suffixes for all three verb groups. They are -ia, -ias, -ia, -íamos, -iam

Andar conjugates thus:

  • eu andaria – I would walk
  • tu andarias – you (singular, familiar) would walk
  • você/ele/ela andaria – you (singular), he, she would walk
  • nós andaríamos – we would walk 
  • vocês/eles/elas andariam – you (plural), they would walk
When it's time for "walkies", the conditional form of andar comes in useful if you are lazy. You would say "andaria mas..." ("I would walk but...) and then give your excuse not to go for a walk.

When it’s time for “walkies”, the conditional form of andar comes in useful if you are lazy. You would say “andaria mas…” (“I would walk but…”) and then give an excuse not to go.

LEARNING HINT: It’s fairly easy to remember the conditional suffixes: just remember that there is an “ia” theme, and the usual verb ending patterns apply. So as is often the case, the tu form takes an -s at the end, the nós form takes its usual -mos ending, and the third person plural (vocês/eles/elas) has its -m ending.

Beber conjugates thus: beberia, beberias, beberia, beberíamos, beberiam (I would drink, you would drink, etc)

Abrir conjugates thus: abriria, abririas, abriria, abriríamos, abririam (I would open, you would open, etc)


Like the future tense, there are three exceptions (the same three verbs with a –zer connection). As with the future, the ze is dropped and an abbreviated stem is used:

  • dizer (to say) – dir is used as a stem: diria, dirias, diria, diríamos, diriam
  • fazer (to do) – far is used: faria, farias, faria, faríamos, fariam
  • trazer (to bring) –  trar is used: traria, traias, traria, traríamos, trariam

Soon I will look at the imperfect in Portuguese, then after that we will see how Portuguese uses the conditional and imperfect in slightly different ways to English.


See the VERBS section on the main menu and also the following posts:


Hot songs in Brazil and Portugual

It’s been a while since I looked at the Portuguese-Brazilian music scene, so here goes.

The Brazilian music charts tend to be dominated by música sertaneja (click to read the Wikipedia explanation). The acts are often male duos, sometimes brothers. One such brother combination is Henrique e Juliano, who are doing well in Brazil with the song Cuida Bem Dela (Take Good Care of Her), filmed live in what looks like an impressive modern church in the capital, Brasilia. I’m not a great fan of the Sertanejo music scene, but this crosses over into mainstream and I quite like it.

The gist of the song is this….

Esse é meu único aviso – This is my one piece of advice
Se ela quis ficar contigo – If she wants to be with you
Faça ela feliz, faça ela feliz – Make her happy, make her happy
Cuida bem dela – Take good care of her
Você não vai conhecer alguém melhor que ela – You won’t find anyone better than her

Surprise, gasp, surprise! There is a rare rock hit on the Brazilian charts too, courtesy of the outfit known as Malta, winners of the Superstar talent show contest earlier this year. I’ve been scouting for a while now for a decent new-generation Brazil rock band to follow, they could be in contention! The song is Diz Pra Mim, (Tell Me) and it’s taken from the album Supernova, which I think might be my Christmas present to myself.

One of the judges on Superstar was the ever popular Ivete Sangalo. She is getting a lot of airplay with this, Beijos de Hortelã (Mint Kisses).

Over in Portugal, they are hailing a new force on the scene, D.A.M.A. There is an interview with them in Portuguese here, but if you right click on it and use the “translate into English” option you will understand it well enough. They seem quite witty, the interview is full of risos (laughs). Perhaps their spectacular rise has been helped by recently being the support act for One Direction in Portugal, but don’t call them a boy band, they insist they are not, as they write their own material, etc. (in the interview they say in 10 years’ time One Direction will be the support act for them – risos). Anyway this is very catchy and it’s top of the airplay chart in Portugal. Às Vezes means Sometimes.

Finally, here is the Danish-born Mikkel Solnado, the son of a Portuguese actor Raul Solnado, teaming up with Joan Alegre for E Agora? (And Now?). Mikkel’s background and unexpected rise to fame (he composed jingles for adverts initially, and much of his material is in English) make interesting reading. There is some information on him in English here, and a lot more, including a video interview, in Portuguese here. The song is pretty smooth, and from what I have heard, his debut album It’s Only Love, Give It Away is worth investigating.

How good is singing judge Delia? You be the judge

Delia – real name Delia Matache – has been holding on to the top spot on the Romanian top 100 airplay music chart for a number of weeks now with Pe Aripi De Vant (Gone With The Wind). She has been a voice coach and a judge on the Romanian X Factor TV show, so is an influential figure on the local music scene, in the same way that Claudia Leitte is in Brazil. I have been following Delia’s progress ever since I discovered her song Doar Pentru Tine earlier this year (see Music for a Romantic Weekend, Part 1). That song didn’t make much of an impression on the charts, but Pe Aripi De Vant certainly has, and the video is stylish. Check it out.

If you are going to be a judge on a TV talent show, you have to practise what you preach. Some singers sound great in the studio, where sound engineers can mask their flaws, but then you seem then perform in a stripped down semi-acoustic set and you think, how embarrassing, they can’t sing for quids! They’re flat, they can’t hit the note! So I was curious to see how good Delia was in these circumstances. Listen to this performance of the song on Radio Zu, what rating would you give her?

Quite a voice, eh? Not sure about the headwear, though. It looks like a cross between a chef’s hat and a ramekin with a sagging souffle inside!

Here’s a version with the lyrics.

Aldi’s ‘Perfect Aussie Christmas’ takes place in … Romania! (Budgie smugglers included)

The fortified Saxon church in Biertan, Romania. Photo from Wikipedia.

The fortified Saxon church in Biertan, Romania. Photo from Wikipedia.

It’s not often that you get a Romanian connection in Australian television advertising, but here’s one. German grocery retailer Aldi has produced an advert about the “Perfect Aussie Christmas”. It’s supposed to be set in a (fictitious) Scandinavian town called Julbacken, but the real life location in the advert is Biertan in Transylvania, Romania. According to some reports, the centre of the nearby town of Mediaș was used in filming too. However, the most scenic bits, in which you can see the historic fortified Saxon church (pictured above), are definitely set in Biertan. And yes, you can hear Romanian in the advert too.

The ad looks at the sort of things an Australian might do over Christmas (where it is bloody hot at the time of the year) and transposes them to Europe (where it is bloody cold). Hence there is a surf lifesaving team dressed in “budgie smugglers” * – the swimwear much favoured by our Prime Minister (and Bernardo too, I might add, when he does his  swimming). And there are demonstrations of cricket games and impersonations of hopping kangaroos.

Oh, and if you are wondering what the “Duni” wooden shack is, that is a “dunny” – an outdoor toilet. For some reason, in early Australian housing, the dunnies were set up in isolation away from the rest of the house, usually right at the bottom of the back yard. Going to the toilet in the middle of the night must have been laborious, and scary for the kids.

Here is the advert in which Romania is looking good …

Unfortunately I did not get to see Biertan on my visit to Romania last year. The language course I did there included a cultural outing from Sibiu to Sighișoara (the other famous Saxon citadels in the region) but not Biertan, even though it is only about 10km off the main road. I believe Biertan is now included in the itinerary. I will do it next time!

* The Urban Dictionary says budgie smugglers is ‘Australian slang term for men’s tight-fitting Speedo-style swimwear. The ‘lump in the front’ apparently resembles a budgie when it is stuffed down the front of someone’s shorts.’

Going from Biertan to Sydney, Australia, here is a fun look at budgie smugglers … and you can see why Australia is such a popular destination for Europeans at Christmas time – the beach and surf looks fantastic. I’ll smuggle my budgie this summer.

Tips on Romance languages from the Transparent team

All was lost if the tape got stuck in the machine! Image from Pixabay

Images from Pixabay

announcer-316584_640Language learning aids have gone through interesting technological phases in my time: thankfully cassettes (Remember them? If not, then you must be so young, but the pictures will give you some idea) did not last long. They seemed like a great invention at the time, but if the spool of tape got stuck it would end up looking like reams of black spaghetti (the black spaghetti in the smaller picture is only a mild version, you should have seen the spaghetti when it was really twisted!). Cassettes soon gave way to audio CDs, then computer software became affordable too and added interest to the mix. I suppose apps are the way to go now.

The first computer language learning program I bought was Transparent Language’s Portuguese, and one could also subscribe to the company’s Portuguese Language Blog. The posts come in by email (you can subscribe on the top right-hand side of their website). It’s pretty comprehensive, its archives go back to June 2007.

Transparent Language has blogs on other languages too, of course, including French, Spanish and Italian, but not Romanian, and offers tips on language learning. I came across a post recently by Malachi Rempen entitled “How to Keep Multiple Languages Straight“. Rempen is a Swiss-born American film-maker who has lived in France, Morocco and Italy, and currently lives in Germany, so his brain has had to grapple with many languages. His post outlined how he tried to stop muddling one language with another.

What he had to say about Romance languages was encouraging.

“Learning romance languages is great because the grammar is basically the same across the board, with a few exceptions and oddities here and there. Plus, since they’re all based on Latin, a great number of words are the same. And the more complicated the word, the more likely it is to be the same in all the romance languages. If you’re reading this article you have a huge head start on Spanish and French, since you already know words like “complicated” and “exception” and “pronunciation” (watch out for false friends like “embarrassed”, though, or you’ll be telling everyone in Madrid you’re pregnant).”

To read the item in full, go here. Hope you are inspired! Cheers.