Elvis Costello and longtime collaborator, 18-time GRAMMY® and Latin GRAMMY® award-winning producer, Sebastian Krys, have brought together a stunning international cast of some of the biggest Latin rock and pop artists from around the globe to interpret Elvis Costello and The Attractions’ album, This Year’s Model, entirely in Spanish. The inspired Spanish-language adaptations are set to the band’s classic studio performances, culled from the original master recordings, which have been newly mixed by Krys, revealing a new power and intensity to The Attractions’ 1978 instrumental performances. The mixes, sometimes running on, allow us to now hear “What Happened Next:” Costello and Mick Jones of The Clash lock dueling rhythm guitars in a thrilling coda to “Pump It Up” or Pete Thomas almost demolishing his drum kit at the end of “No Action.” There is even the occasional vocal cameo appearance by the bandleader, but the album can now be enjoyed in an entirely new way. Spanish Model is set for release September 10 on UMe.
As Costello and Krys began to think of artists that would be a good fit, they discovered that This Year’s Model was an important record to many artists in the pan-Latin world, but its true nature had never been fully appreciated because of the language barrier. They enlisted many Costello fans, a few who Krys and Costello felt would be a great fit for the song, and all of whom have stellar careers and were excited to participate and bring their own styles to the immediacy and poignancy of the original songs, helping to create an entirely new listening experience.
Spanish Model features such artists as: Cami, Draco Rosa, Fito Páez, Francisca Valenzuela & Luis Humberto Navejas (lead singer of Enjambre), Gian Marco & Nicole Zignago, Jesse & Joy, Jorge Drexler, Juanes, La Marisoul, Luis Fonsi, Morat, Nina Diaz, Pablo López, Raquel Sofía & Fuego, Sebastián Yatra, and Vega. They sing these timeless and universal songs, which have been expertly translated and adapted into Spanish to retain their meaning, energy, attitude, and wit. The concept represents what may be a first: an artist replacing their vocals with newly recorded performances by other artists singing in another language, backed by the original music. The full track listing is below:
1. No Action – Nina Diaz
2. (Yo No Quiero Ir A) Chelsea ((I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea) – Raquel Sofía y Fuego
3. Yo Te Vi (The Beat) – Draco Rosa
4. Pump It Up – Juanes
5. Detonantes (Little Triggers) – La Marisoul
6. Tu Eres Para Mi (You Belong To Me) – Luis Fonsi
7. Hand In Hand – Francisca Valenzuela y Luis Humberto Navejas
8. La Chica de Hoy (This Year’s Girl) – Cami
9. Mentira (Lip Service) – Pablo López
10. Viviendo en el Paraiso (Living In Paradise) – Jesse & Joy
11. Lipstick Vogue – Morat
12. La Turba (Night Rally) – Jorge Drexler
13. Llorar (Big Tears) – Sebastián Yatra
14. Radio Radio – Fito Páez
15. Crawling To The U.S.A. – Gian Marco y Nicole Zignago
16. Se Esta Perdiendo La Inocencia (Running Out Of Angels) – Vega
The album includes 16 tracks drawing from the original U.S. version of This Year’s Model (“Pump It Up,” “Radio Radio,” “This Year’s Girl,” “The Beat”) plus several other songs from those sessions. The album will be available on CD, digital and 180-gram vinyl.
This Year’s Model, which has been newly remastered, will also be released concurrently on CD and 180-gram black vinyl with the addition of “Big Tears” and “Radio Radio.” A limited edition version, that pairs both Spanish Model and the new pressing of This Year’s Model together as a 180-gram double LP, will be released exclusively via ElvisCostello.com, uDiscover and Sound Of Vinyl webstores.
Today’s launch is heralded with the release of an exciting video from Colombian superstar Juanes, whose own recently released Origen album was also produced by Sebastian Krys and featured Pete Thomas on drums. His exhilarating performance of “Pump It Up,” (with its spitfire lyrics now in Spanish) manages to match the same intensity and feel as the original, while Costello’s original backing vocals provide the trademark chorus and an instant familiarity. The video plays on this by transforming Costello’s signature video by rotoscoping the original and inserting Juanes’ head in place of Costello’s to create a playfully updated version that’s a perfect blend of the old and new, that this daring album embodies. “’Pump It Up’ is such an iconic and signature song from Elvis’ amazing repertoire, that it was a real honor to have the chance to sing with the original 1978 recording and be a part of that propulsive energy,” Juanes said.
Spanish Model exudes the same kind of energy and spirit as the original but with a Latin twist. With 19 featured artists representing 10 countries and territories across the Spanish-speaking world including: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, Uruguay, plus several from the United States. The album is truly a global, collaborative affair. Costello’s spiky guitars collide with band mates Steve Nieve’s carnival-esque keys and the urgent, propulsive rhythms of bassist Bruce Thomas and drummer Pete Thomas, as The Attractions virtually back a host of Latin music legends, contemporary stars and burgeoning artists for a set of thrilling Spanish-language performances imbued with each artist’s singular identity and style.
The idea for Spanish Model dates back to 2018 when it was sparked by a request by show runner, David Simon (“The Wire,” “Treme”), to turn “This Year’s Girl” into a duet with a singer, Natalie Bergman for the opening credits of the second season of his show, “The Deuce.” Shortly after that came to fruition, allowing Costello to hear his song in a new way, he had a dream where he heard This Year’s Model, but in Spanish. With his curiosity and interest piqued he called his frequent collaborator, Argentinian-born, Latin GRAMMY Producer of the Year, Sebastian Krys, about the idea of having artists sing the entire album over the original backing tracks. It wasn’t long before the two were figuring out how to make the dream a reality.
Since releasing, My Aim Is True, in 1977, the ever musically curious Costello has allowed himself to follow his artistic desires wherever it takes him, often into unpredictable yet exciting territory. Across more than four decades, the iconoclast has reveled in exploring the human condition through a wildly diverse catalog that includes collaborations with Burt Bacharach, Allen Toussaint, Paul McCartney, T Bone Burnett, Brodsky Quartet, Spinal Tap, Anne Sofie von Otter, The Roots and his wife, Diana Krall along with many others spanning a dizzying array of genres, from country and jazz to orchestral, pop, rock, experimental and beyond, all the while keeping his audiences on their toes. After winning a Grammy for Look Now, his 2018 album with The Imposters, Costello recently released a French language EP, featuring French adaptations by Iggy Pop, Isabelle Adjani, Tshegue, Etta Somatis & AJUQ of songs from his acclaimed 2020 album, Hey Clockface.
“Part of the fun of this project is its unexpected nature,” Costello said. “Although, I think people in my audience that have been paying attention are pretty much used to surprises by now.
“When Elvis told me the idea,” Krys said, “it took me about 15 seconds to answer. I have been in so many situations where I was trying to turn Latin artists onto Elvis Costello’s music. The feedback I heard most often was ‘I love it. I wish I knew what he was saying.’ Spanish Model is an opportunity to turn an entire side of the world onto this great record and through these voices, get these ideas out. Lyrically, This Year’s Model is still relevant today, what the songs have to say and how they say it.”
Costello and Krys worked closely with all the artists and in some cases with several songwriters, including Elsten Torres, Ximena Muñoz, Luis Mitre, Andie Sandoval, and Vega, to adapt the lyrics so the Spanish versions would seamlessly capture each song. With the lyrics in place, each artist set out to record.
The translation was key as Luis Fonsi explained: “The lyrics felt really natural. Nothing stuck out, and you can’t just read it. You must sing the lyrics to really know if the song will work or not. From the first time I started singing ‘You Belong To Me,’ it just felt natural. It’s true to the original lyric. It has that same energy.”
“It’s tricky,” Fonsi said, “because you want to respect the original version. I tip-toed my way around it. Do you veer off a little bit? What’s the perfect combination?”
“I had a blast singing ‘Triggers,’” La Marisoul said. “The translation was beautiful. I just love ballads where I can get down and sing.”
Costello first hinted about the release last year when he created an “October surprise” playlist, 50 Songs for 50 Days, which included a, briefly available, preview of Spanish Model with Gian Marco and Nicole Zignago’s politically charged version of “Crawling To The U.S.A.” Costello and Krys recently discussed the origins of Spanish Model at the 2021 Latin Alternative Music Conference last month.
“This Year’s Model is about desire and how that relates to love, fashion and to the male gaze towards women and control, especially in political control over us all,” Costello said. “I don’t think there’s anything that somebody in another language would not have encountered. Some of the lyrics might be a little obscure because I use peculiar English idioms, but I constantly fall in love with records in other languages in which I don’t even know one or two courtesy words. What you respond to is the humanity, the pride, the sorrow, the celebration.”
Ultimately, Spanish Model echoes the personal journey of celebrating influences and inspirations that Costello has embarked upon in countless creative ways over the years, whether taking him outside his comfort zone, expanding his musical repertoire or, as with this project, discovering something new altogether.