Manel is an indie band from Barcelona.  Their second album 10 Milles Per Veure Una Bona Armadura became the best selling album in Spain 10 days after being released. This is more interesting than you might think – the songs are all in Catalan. 
Catalan people are bilingual – they speak their mother tongue which is Catalan and also Castellano the language that some of you may know as ‘Spanish’
But obviously people who live in the rest of Spain are not always bilingual and if they are it is unlikely that their second language is Catalan.
The language question is very important – one the one hand it is just the language of this part of the world so obviously people speak it, write it, dream it and sing it.  But there it also has a long history of being repressed and even nowadays it still brings up controversy. 
People are criticised for speaking it in public. Like the case of the football coach who answered a question put to him in Catalan, in Catalan.  Spanish journalists told him to speak in Spanish. They  weren’t just asking him to translate so they could understand – they wanted him to stop answering in his own language.  Pep Guardiola answers English questions in English, Spanish ones in Spanish and Catalan ones in Catalan. But he is only criticised for the Catalan part. Strong reactions. As if the language is a threat.  As if it is a language which needs to be put in its place.
So, it is actually very amazing that an album sung totally in Catalan is top of the Spanish charts.
Here is the track called Aniversari.  It has the lyrics in castellano so you can hear one and read the other!
I hear this on the radio almost every day so I have gone from ‘sort of finding it ok’ to really enjoying it.
PS Tomorrow. Virtual Vermut. At a time when it suits you. Fins Ara!

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4 thoughts on “

  1. I didn’t know this was such a hit, though there is also the reality that the Spanish as a whole are quite accustomed to listening to music that they don’t understand given all the English rock they listen to….

    Fins demà!

  2. thanks for those comments – Oreneta, I know people listen to english music without understanding but that is something that many aspire to learn. Catalan for many Spanish people is something they want to pretend isn’t important. that is what made it incredible for me. It has changed the way I see Welsh a bit. In England it is sometimes a bit annoying when you go to Wales and things are in Welsh and you feel an idiot for not understanding. i can see how this is such a wrong reaction. Of course Catalan is spoken much more widely than Welsh but even so….Can’t imagine a Welsh song being top of the UK charts.
    Jan – great that you wrote in Catalan. thanks so much. And as I said – what does it matter if it has errors – it’s important just to do it. (btw I don’t know if it’s right or not – need to ask a Catlan!) K x

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