April Playlist Highlights
There is a bit (or a lot) of confusion out there in regards to what is kizomba and what is zouk. Are these really the same music known by different names or are there genuine differences between the two? It’s a fair question especially if you are new to either genre. To add to the confusion, the names kizomba and zouk are sometimes used interchangeably to describe the same song. The fact of the matter is that kizomba and zouk are different musical genres with very different origins. However, the modern/popular versions of these genres, especially in Europe and North America, have a tendency to sound the very similar. So what is the difference?
Zouk is considered to be of French Antilles origin, specifically the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique and is a musical style that is often sung in French Creole and draws heavily from Antilles cadence-calypso as well as other rhythms from within the region. That said, the first zouk music was not created in the French Antilles but in Paris in the late 70’s by band made up of Guadeloupe and Martinique musicians. The band was called Kassav and they are attributed with creating a fast tempo carnal style of music which came to be known as zouk or zouk-béton. One of the bands original zouk-béton hits “zouk-la se sel medikaman nou ni” is included in this month’s playlist. This early zouk become popular in many French speaking countries but sounds very little like modern zouk. Over time the genre has been influenced by such musical styles as haitian compas and North American R & B and has taken on a new sensual feel. This modern style of zouk is sometimes referred to as zouk-love or zouk-R&B. It is this style that has really brought international popularity to zouk music in recent years.
Kizomba on the other hand, has its origins in Angola and was originally based on Angolan semba and kilapanda music. It is predominately sung in Portuguese although some songs are sung in Kimbundu. Much like zouk, kizomba music appeared in the early 80’s, was up tempo, and sounded different from it’s current day form. Over time kizomba has evolved and appears to have been influenced by zouk music to become what it is today. Some people will also argue that as the international popularity of both genres has grown zouk and kizomba have influenced each other. Regardless, it’s this cross influence that has resulted in two musical styles with quite different origins evolving to sound very similar. That said, there seems to have been an odd connection between zouk and kizomba for a long time. The words themselves has similar meaning. In Antilles creole ‘zouk’ means party and in Kimbundu (a language from Angola) a party is known as a ‘kizombada’.
I suspect the confusion between the two genres will continue for some time and you will continue to find that what one person considers to be zouk someone else will consider to be kizomba. Adding to this confusion are the ongoing debates about the origins and merits of the dances associated with each musical style. Suffice to say that modern zouk and kizomba sound very similar and are often confused. If you need a quick and dirty way to distinguish between the two, find out what language a song is sung in. If the language is French Creole or French the music is probably zouk, if it’s Portuguese or Kimbundu it is probably kizomba. If the language is English or Spanish (see Baila Morena in this months play list) my suggestion is to find the song on a compilation album. If you’re lucky, the song will appear on either on a zouk or a kizomba compilation. If you’re not so lucky it will appear in both.
That’s it for this month. Questions, comments, requests?Send me an email and mark your calendars, Salsaddiction is have a Salsa and Bachata (and zoukizomba) dance party Saturday April 20th. Tickets are available here.
Hasta la próxima