Discovering Encanto in Cantonese

A few things for background:

  • I like to remind NPY that I “discovered” Lin-Manuel Miranda first. That in addition to listening to Hamilton so many times, I also read Hamilton: The Revolution. Whereas he only consumes information as videos.
  • When I ripped my entire Hong Kong pop collection to MP3, I got rid of the bootleg CD evidence and kept the legit CDs. Amongst them is one of my favourites – a double disk selection of 100 (?) Disney songs performed in Cantonese and Mandarin. Since I purchased it around 2000, that tells you up to which Disney animated movies that covers.
  • I lurk a little on Facebook – not much of a great deal of interest goes on there but I earlier this year, I noticed a post on a mommy group, someone asking about a family friendly movie to watch and the two landslide suggestions were Encanto and Hotel Transylvania 4 “you don’t need to have watched the previous movies”. NPY knew about Encanto because it’s Miranda’s work.
  • NPY drew my attention to We Don’t Talk About Bruno – the ensemble piece that has been re-worked so many times, some times excellently, on social media. The kids love that song and are learning a little more of it and it’s just a great song for them to love.

So, somewhere recently, I heard We Don’t Talk About Bruno in Spanish and of course, it’s a story about a multi-generational Colombian family and that’s Miranda’s heritage. But it reminded me of years ago when I explored on YouTube the different languages that Frozen’s Let It Go got translated into. I never got that into it because that song was annoying as heck.

But for Encanto’s six main songs, it was a different story and I went down the rabbit hole saving from the YouTube video to mp3 (using MP3 Convert because I can edit the properties) for Cantonese, Taiwanese Mandarin, Japanese (because of my niece) and finally – fine! – Mandarin Chinese. The six main songs being:

  1. The Family Madrigal
  2. Waiting on a Miracle
  3. We Don’t Talk About Bruno
  4. Surface Pressure
  5. What Else Can I Do
  6. (Dos Orguitas)
  7. All of You

Having listened to Hamilton so many times, we could easily pinpoint some Miranda-isms or “Easter eggs” or “inside jokes” like we heard reference to “drip” in a Hamilton number and it’s “drip drip drip” in Surface Pressure, the clip with which Dolores sings to Mariano reminds us of Angelica, and there are songs in both where Miranda is rhyming words ending in “-ous”. I appreciate far more than NPY does how an artist (a genius) consciously or otherwise has a motif or ties their work together from one production to the next.

When I told NPY about having found Encanto in Cantonese, his remark was, “Oh, just a translation, right?” I went a bit buggy in my head. Like it’s something you can wave away to translate song and rhyme and rhythm from English with multisyllabic words to Chinese or any of the other languages it has been translated into. “Just”! Besides my non-fluency and literacy in Chinese, I wouldn’t be able to translate it successfully in my lifetime!

To manage my collection of songs in different languages, I devised a naming convention as following and with examples:

  • Song_name_English song_name_foreign_lang (Foreign_lang) [2021] Artist_name_English artist_name
  • All of the songs list their Album as Encanto (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  • What else can I do 憑雙手開創 (Cantonese) [2021] Athene Mok 莫子慧, Melodee Mak 麥智鈞.mp3
  • Dos oruguitas マリーポーサ ~羽ばたく未来へ~ (Japanese) [2021] Naoto Inti Raymi ナオト・インティライミ.mp3
  • We don’t talk about Bruno 我們不提布魯諾 (Taiwanese Mandarin) [2021] Various artists.mp3
  • Waiting on a miracle 等待奇迹 (Chinese Mandarin) [2021] Huang Yanan.mp3

I haven’t listened to it on repeat (yet) but initial impressions:

  • I am impressionable and when a commenter mentioned how Melodee Mak is the best at Disney songs, well, I agree!
  • Although we don’t understand all of the words in the Cantonese version, the kids delight in the words they catch, that have emphasis “行雷!!”
  • I feel such nostalgia for back in the day watching cartoons in Cantonese or anime with English subtitles, the lilt and sound that’s uniquely Cantonese and Japanese insofar as my impressions and not quite the same in English.
  • In We Don’t Talk About Bruno “Seven foot frame, rats along his back” in Cantonese reminds me of an iconic Aaron Kwok song

That is the geekiness I wanted to share today!

On this day..