And yet we get more insular on our European journey. While Spanish music may be able to trade easily with music coming out of South America, their music rarely comes out of the Iberian Peninsula to the rest of Europe.
While the Iglesias father/son combo has found their way to international stardom, far too much of Spanish music is hidden in the Latin charts. So, throw away those fears about foreign lyrics, and just get your ears around this group of artists.
A simple two piece of singer and guitarist, Amaral have been a powerhouse in the Spanish charts for over a decade, with a list of number one albums and a small legion of fans dedicated to their pop-rock sound.
They hit their peak though in the early 2000s, with their third album Estrella Del Mar selling over two million copies over the course of its life in 2002. While the sales numbers have decreased since then, all of Amaral’s next three albums have all debuted at the top of the Spanish charts.
Eva Amaral’s vocal is so incredibly deep and smooth though that you really don’t care what language that she’s singing in, her heart and emotion conveyed without a need for something as petty as words required. Put simply, they cross a language barrier.
One of the few bands in Spain that attempt singing in English, Mono are one of Spain’s best indie rock acts. With a sound a kin to early, raw Franz Ferdinand, all reverb and classical, grandiose vocal Möno make for an interesting diversion from the traditional Spanish guitar and Latin traditions that fuel much of the nation’s output.
While their first album Showtime was an largely English language affair, the band have gone back to singing exclusively in Spanish for their second record El Cielo Esta en Todos Partes, with great effect. The album as a whole sounds far more comfortable, with the Barcelona quintet really finding their sound with this follow-u effort.
They also ditched the occasional synth and electronic input from the first album, focusing more on a 70s and 80s-esque rock and roll sound. While they have only achieved marginal success in the Spanish charts, Möno definitely deserve your attentions if the idea of classic rock given a Catalan twist sounds appealing in any way (their cover of Stereophonics Dakota is the perfect example).
He may be the most stereotypically Spanish artist here, but David Bisbal is an absolute giant of the Latin charts, with more discs named after precious metals than most groups could dream of.
After finishing as the runner up in Spanish talent show Operación Triunfo, Bisbal has gone from strength to strength to become one of Spain’s most loved pop stars.
The Almeria born hunk has a real hold on the charts though, with every single one of his four studio albums cruising into the top slot on the album charts in Spain, collecting David a heady total of 35 platinum records and even 2 diamond records.
He’s also been a massive hit in the Latin American charts, with his last album hitting the top spot in the US Latin charts and Bisbal routinely selling out tours in South America.
The success isn’t undeserved, as Bisbal is insanely catchy, his Latin-pop hooks getting under your skin before you’ve even realised its happening, with a wonderfully smooth voice mixing with his high-tempo rhythms combining in a way that might even make Enrique Iglesias jealous.
Our final exploration into Spain’s charts is Love Of Lesbian. Influenced heavily by The Cure and R.E.M, Love of Lesbian quickly became one of the darlings of the Spanish indie scene when they burst onto the scene with the release of Is It Fiction? in 2002.
While this English language album is currently their only record not in their native tongue, it’s a fantastic introduction to everything Love Of Lesbian. Expect the unexpected, as the band can switch effortless between sweeping and epic indie-pop, to rock and dark electro as easily as a chord change.
The constant though is the gorgeous vocal of Santi Balmes, deep and sonorous and just oozing with personality. Love of Lesbian may not like to stick in a genre, but they are easily talented enough for the constantly changing style to delight rather than frustrate.
That there latest album is basically a giant concept album says everything about the experimental nature of Love of Lesbian, a band still trying to find out which genre of music they like the most despite widespread acclaim.
While Spain may still be biased towards the more traditional, Latin music (and for good reason, it gives their charts a real unique sound) the existence of bands such as Love of Lesbian and Möno show that a Spanish flavour isn’t all flamenco beats and gentle strummed guitar. Even that though, done right, has a wonderfully evocative feel.
Think we’ve missed someone off our Spanish armada? Let us know in the comments section below.
FemaleFirst Cameron Smith