It seems like Latin guys are always asking for forgiveness. What do they want to be forgiven for? Cheating, obviously.
That’s the impression I get when I listen to Latin songs.
Latin guys cheating
First, check out this song:
You think I stopped loving you
You are wrong
I know why I failed. It’s because
I was unfaithful last night
If, sometimes, you felt something beautiful in me
Forgive me, forgive me
Perdóname by Eddy Lover & La Factoria
This song is a duet. The guy is singing about how he is sorry and the girl is saying how much pain he gave her. (The interesting thing is the girl is actually giving the guy a second chance.)
This song is quite popular as it has more than 43 million views on YouTube. It’s fairly recent and a lot of young people listen to it.
You might not be familiar with Eddy Lover and La Factoria (and I know that many of you are not. Reggeaton is not something that everybody’s into despite its popularity.) So let’s hear what Prince Royce says. He has a much bigger (non-Spanish speaking) international audience.
It’s already 2 in the morning but I’m still here
Writing a letter to you
Only thinking of all that happened
And the mistakes made in this love
My last letters I give you in oblivion
How is it possible that you don’t know to forgive?
I promise that I never wanted to hurt you
But even though you go, I will always love you
Mi Ultima Carta by Prince Royce
Here, Prince Royce is being more subtle; he didn’t specifically say that he cheated. But it’s not hard to figure out that he did and the girl is leaving him.
So, again, this is a song about a guy cheating on a girl.
Let me show you one more example. Since I have already picked a Reggeaton and a Bachata, I will pick a Salsa song next:
In the course of life I came to accept that I made a mistake
But one is only human and does wrong things
Forgive me. You are my truth
It’s hard living without you
It feels like you have my other half
Why fight? Why argue? I love you so much
And if I was… forgive me (perdóname)
Aquel Lugar by Adolescentes
Again, it’s a song about a guy who cheated on a girl and asks for forgiveness. The last phrase of the quote ‘perdóname’ is really emphasized in this song as it contains the highest and longest notes.
This theme appears over and over again in Latin music and I can easily think of many other examples. In fact, the phrase ‘Perdóname’ is one of the most popular titles for Latin songs. I just googled ‘Perdoname lyrics’ and came up with many different songs that had the same title.
If you are curious, here is the list of the artists who appeared on the first couple of search result pages:
- Pable Alboran
- La Factoria
- Kumbia Kings
- Pepe Aguilar
- Lucian Colareza
- Yoskar Sarante
- Tito Rojas
- MC Blvd
- Camilo Sesto
That’s just the first couple of pages so there will be many more.
What American (and Bajan) girls sing about getting cheated on
I started with Latin music examples because the theme is so prevalent. But if you turn to the American popular music scene, you will find plenty of songs about cheating too.
While the theme of guys asking for forgiveness is not as popular in American music, there are many girls singing about getting cheated on.
So go ahead and get gone
Call up that chick, and see if she’s home
Oops I bet you thought that I didn’t know
What did you think
I was putting you out for?
Because you was untrue
Rolling her around in the car that I bought you
Irreplaceable by Beyonce
No need to explain right? This song was a huge hit in 2006. (And now it’s already 2013. How come time passes so fast?)
So this song is about a girl who got cheated on. Note that the girl is showing no compassion towards the guy. This, I think, is something quite characteristic in American music.
So, if even Beyonce gets cheated on, then who doesn’t?
You look so dumb right now
Standing outside my house
Trying to apologize
You’re so ugly when you cry
Please, just cut it out
Don’t tell me you’re sorry ’cause you’re not
Baby when I know you’re only sorry you got caught
Take A Bow by Rihanna
This song is quite popular too. I just checked it on YouTube and its official video has nearly 100 million views.
Again, the song is about a girl who got cheated on. The attitude of the girl is very cold and she is very clear that she has no intention of forgiving him. The tone of the song is extremely sarcastic and contemptuous.
Let me show you one more example:
Say you’re sorry
That face of an angel comes out just when you need it to
As I paced back and forth all this time
‘Cause I honestly believed in you
And there you are on your knees
Begging for forgiveness, begging for me
Just like I always wanted, but I’m so sorry
Now it’s too late for you and your white horse to catch me now
White Horse by Taylor Swift
Now the guy is on his knees and begging for forgiveness. Taylor Swift, being a sweet girl as she appears, is not as sarcastic as Rihanna, nor as outspoken as Beyonce, but her point is clear: there will be no forgiving.
Looks like you can’t get away with cheating with American (and Bajan) girls can you?
What about Japanese guys?
I have to admit that I’m not really up to date when it comes to the Japanese popular music scene, but, having grown up in Japan, I have listened to quite a few songs in my life.
Yet, when I tried to think of songs about cheating, I couldn’t come up with any. It’s kind of hard to think that Japanese guys would sing about asking for forgiveness. It’s also hard to think that girls singing about dumping guys who cheated on them would be successful in Japan.
Does this mean that Japanese guys don’t? Of course not! Obviously, they do. They just don’t seem to sing about it that much.
But, even if relatively scarce in number, there must be songs about cheating.
So I did a bit of research.
(Flash news: the world largest dating site for married people had a huge success in Japan after its first launch in Asia in 2013. Interestingly, this website has a similar, dubious price structure to so-called ‘dating sites’ that were prevalent back in the 90s in Japan.)
Japanese girls sing about cheating with guys
What I found was very interesting. Often, when Japanese girls sing about cheating, it’s not when they are getting cheated on. It’s when they are the ones who the guys are cheating with.
You don’t have to make me your number one
Please just let me be with you for a while
Love me, and even if it’s a lie
Tell me that you love me more than that girl
If I become too demanding
You will stop seeing me
I just can’t say anything about it
Because you are the only one
Aitai by Miliyah Kato
From what I understand, Miliyah Kato is the kind of artist the teenage girls are into so I think she makes good comparison with artists like Taylor Swift.
In this song, the girl is the one who the guy is cheating with. This is something different from my previous examples.
But there’s one more thing that should be noted: she tolerates the situation. The idea of blaming the cheating guy is completely absent in this song.
You can find similar characteristics in another song:
If you call me, I will be running to see you right away
Anything else won’t matter, I will come to see you as fast as I can
Even if you don’t love me back
Even if I can’t be with you
You are my one and only destiny
Yasashi Kisu Wo Shite by Dreams Come True
Dreams Come True was a popular Japanese band in the 90s. I can remember some Japanese girls saying that the band was their favourite.
As for this song, again, it’s about a girl who is sleeping with a guy who has a girlfriend (or a wife). And again, all she is saying is how she still wants to be with him. She doesn’t show any disapproving feelings about the guy.
Apparently, Japanese girls have very different ideas about cheating.
The next song talks about a different situation, but has a similar characteristic:
I saw him there
The garden was filled with laugher
He was playing with his kid
The sky was pure
I almost fainted from the shock
If I don’t say good-bye
I can still be with you
You are not the one who I’m not supposed to love
You are the one who doesn’t love me back
But I won’t give up
I will be brave to continue loving you
Hansode by Miki Imai
So I found a Japanese song about a girl who got cheated on. In this song, the girl accidentally discovers that the guy she is dating has a kid. Sounds familiar? But again, you will notice the absence of animosity. She continues dating him.
(I’ve been emphasising this point but I’m not here to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do when you find out that a guy is cheating on you. I just want to emphasise the differences between the examples.)
So, does this mean that Japanese girls are very tolerant when it comes to cheating?
Popular music does not (necessarily) represent reality
Of course, I’m not saying that popular music represents reality in an accurate manner. Popular music isn’t journalism (well journalists are not always accurate either though). But I think if there’s a theme that appears repeatedly, it reflects some aspects of the culture.
Many people say that popular music lyrics lack originality and everybody is saying the same thing over and over again. But if you compare popular music from different cultures, you will notice that some of the most unoriginal lyrics in one culture are in fact absent in other cultures.
Unoriginal lyrics are interesting precisely because they’re unoriginal. It’s what people think is normal. But something that is normal in one place is not necessarily normal in other places. That is why it’s so interesting to pay attention to song lyrics.
Having said this, I know that my examples are quite biased as they mostly come from my rather unreliable memories. So please let me know if you know any good counter-examples.
Bonus: what a Jamaican guy says about cheating
OK, I just can’t finish writing this post without mentioning this song:
Honey came in and she caught me red-handed
Creeping with the girl next door
Picture this, we were both butt naked, banging on the bathroom floor
But she caught me on the counter (It wasn’t me)
Saw me bangin’ on the sofa (It wasn’t me)
I even had her in the shower (It wasn’t me)
She even caught me on camera (It wasn’t me)
It Wasn’t Me by Shaggy
So that’s Shaggy’s answer: when you get caught, just say it wasn’t you.