STATESIDE STORIES: Music Moments, Then and Now, in Spain and in America

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by Mary Foran

Here are some memories of Spanish music moments I experienced in Spain and an update on the American popular music scene which is sweeping the nation now.


When I was in Spain, I became somewhat of an expert on popular Spanish music, including singers, songwriters, classical and Flamenco guitarists, and even Madrid’s traditional Chotis and the ever-popular Zarzuela. I thought it was a good idea to share Spain’s varied talent with American audiences, from Southern Sevillanas to Celtic-inspired northern Spanish groups.

Singing at the San Isidro fiesta honoring Madrid's patron saint. (Photo courtesy Deke Mills)

Revelers singing at the San Isidro fiesta honoring Madrid’s patron saint. (Photo courtesy Deke Mills)

The variety and innate talent of Spanish musicians always fascinated me and made for a perfect target for my young interests.

Now, back in the States, one doesn’t hear much Spanish music anymore, unless you listen to the Latino stations who might play something once in a while. You can always go specifically to buy a CD of Julio Iglesias or another famous Spanish star, but for the most part, it’s American music that you hear.

American music is everywhere, in the malls, on the radio, on TV music channels, on ipads and iphones and the amazing thing is that the pop classics and nostalgia tunes are being discovered by a new generation.

America has a long history of popularizing teen music starting with American Bandstand on TV from 1952 to 1989 and hosted and produced by the well-known Dick Clark.

More recently, a phenomenon has swept TV viewing with three music format singing contests, starting with the most successful TV program in the history of television, American Idol. It was a music competition series created by Simon Fuller and started airing on Fox on June 11, 2002. It was based on the British series Pop Idol and the concept of the show is to find new solo recording artists. American Idol has a panel of judges who critique the performances but the winner is picked by the American audiences in a texting system. Pop Idol was in turn inspired by an Australian show which TV producer Nig Lythgoe saw and brought to Britain.

Then there is The Voice, another TV voice competition on NBC. Based on the original The Voice of Holland, it first aired on April 26, 2011 and is so far my favorite. There is a panel of four coaches who critique the artists’ performances and guide them through the competition, competing amongst themselves for best coach.

Simon Cowell

Last but not least, there’s the X Factor, which has it’s Spanish equivalent in Factor X. It’s a franchise created by Simon Cowell, originating in England where it was devised as a replacement for Pop Idol. The competition is now held in various countries around the world. The contestants are aspiring pop singers drawn from public competitive auditions. The “X Factor” refers to that indefinable something that makes for star quality. The prize is a recording contract plus the publicity that the contest generates. The X Factor judges “mentor” the contestant, aiding with song selection and styling.

These programs show how popular the discovery of young talent can be, with many of the contestants having become rich and famous in their search for stardom. It certainly shows that American audiences are willing to give complete unknowns a chance at fame and fortune.


Girl singing with mic/eommina from Pixabay
Simon Cowell, CC BY2.0, cropped, Flickr