Sunday, August 29, 2010

Parle Americano?

Students in Rome Blog wrote about the latest dance beat Europeans are going crazy over, "We No Speak Americano," Yolanda Be Cool and DCUP's remix of Renato Carosone's "Tu vuo fa l'Americano." Here is the original:

Here is the remix:

The blog also added a link to a translation of the original lyrics. Besides not discussing how nonsensical the Yolanda Be Cool video is, the post also didn't discuss the one thing I thought was odd about this recent hit: it did not (or not yet) top the charts in America (it's popular, but not the most popular). Is this because the Americans are offended by the song? Too proud to know that their culture is killing other culture? Or just knew the absolute truth, that people really did want to speak and act like them? Personally, I think it's because Americans have already formed their own--differing--opinions about the song. In th end, Yolanda Be Cool's translation is catchy, but doesn't really add to the internal conversation Americans have had about their identity in relation to the song. After a brief research, I found these clips, made by Americans, using Carosone's song, having different points of view about American culture and the cultural hegemony represented by speaking American.

1. Sophia Loren's version from "It Started in Naples"

An Italian bombshell performs the song, the guitarists rocks out like a stereotypical American musician, and an American--the prototypical "Americano" that Carasone sang about--learns to love Italy, albeit a fantasy version of it.

2. The Talented Mr. Ripley
The song's main performer, Dickie Greenleaf, doesn't want to be an American; the "audience," Tom Ripley, is also undergoing his own identity turmoil. All set in a jazz club, the most quintessential post-war American export, in Naples. All the characters are forced to deal with their own insecurities with their identity in a foreigner's language.

3. Lou Bega's Fantasy
He doesn't ask you why you want to be American, he tells you: YES! You want to be Americano! But then he presents different and conflicting ideas about the American identity to the point where one asks, "what am I exactly supposed to want?" In the end, he kills it with his dumb answer: money.

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