Few foreign artists have been able to create such enduring impact with their unique accents on their music. However, Nat King Cole (born in the United States in 1919) is one of them, one more of those singers from the 50s, especially, who dedicated himself to singing in other languages to reach more markets.
When Nat King Cole sang in Spanish, a new song became part of, unknowingly at the time, the historical musical narrative that has built a better world, of higher class, making these compositions previously sung, in many cases, by others, enter into a superior category than all the others.
Next, we’re going to review the discography of the Alabama singer with the intention of recovering his best songs in Spanish, as well as his importance within popular culture in our times.
Quizás, Quizás, Quizás. Nat King Cole’s first major success in Spanish
While his most unforgettable theme, forgive the redundancy, might be Unforgettable, a song from 1951, other songs like L-O-V-E or the purely Christmas ones have cemented the collective memory of his voice, always charming and personal. Jazz was his genre, but within its various facets, he knew how to bring out the best in himself to offer something that exceeded any expectation of confining his music to styles. His songs were Nat King Cole, nothing more. And that’s how they are remembered today.
Quizás, Quizás, Quizá, a song from 1956 (although not the only one released in the same year in Spanish: Canción de Navidad was another), is the great classic of his career in Castilian. That lyric that says “whenever I ask you how, when, and where, you always answer me perhaps, perhaps, perhaps”, accompanied by that instrumentation and that distinctive accent, full of a unique grace and charm.
His presence in television commercials or in movies like In The Mood for Love demonstrates his power, contemporaneity, appeal, and influence. This scene from Wong Kar-Wai’s film demonstrates the universality of Nat King Cole, an American singing a Cuban song in a choreographed slow-motion scene within a Chinese movie.
Cole Español. Cachito, Arrivederci Roma, and Adelita
Two years later, Nat King Cole continued with his songs sung in Spanish, but this time releasing an LP. Among the best songs of the year 1958, three stand out in particular: Cachito, Arrivederci Roma, and Adelita, all included in the album Cole Español. This record contained eleven songs, among which Las Mañanitas also stood out, in addition to the cover, where the singer and pianist posed with the enormous style that characterized him.
I’m not sure if I’d bet money on saying this, but at least I’ll say it: all the songs by Cole that we’re highlighting are still relevant today. Perhaps not their versions? Perhaps, but their versions are equally special. The evidence speaks for itself, but now comes the real good part, what makes our featured artist a unique artist.
Ansiedad, Aquellos Ojos Verdes, and Perfidia, the last King Cole of the decade
To bid farewell to the 1950s, Nat King Cole gifted us the LP A Mis Amigos, which contained three unforgettable songs released in 1959 and which, again, we repeat, remain relevant even today, 60 years later.
We’re talking about an irreplaceable artist due to his talent, not his accent or the peculiarities of the versions he sang, but it’s obvious that that’s part of his charm. In this sense, songs like Anxiety, Those Green Eyes, or Perfidia only confirm that artists like him are unique and will always be fondly remembered for that reason.
Capable of evoking melancholy with his voice and his piano, accompanied or not by other instrumentation or an orchestra, his name will never be forgotten, as long as the option to listen to his songs continues to exist. Whether in this language or any other.
(Madrid, 1987) Novelist by vocation, SEO specialist by profession. Music lover, cinephile and reading lover, but in “amateur” mode.