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As odd as the title sounds, it’s pretty much close to the truth. I first noticed this phenomenon not long after moving here. With a lot of free time on my hands combined with the constant rains of October, I found myself taking in a huge amount of Costa Rican radio. Nestled within a good variety of radio stations were (are) at least three that play English language songs; mostly pop music from the 60s, 70s and 80s. On all three, songs by the Bee Gees make regular appearances; their distinctive, impossibly falsetto voices immediately recognizable. My formative years having been in the anti-disco 80s (we used to make fun of the Bee Gees and all things disco), I never paid any attention to music by those long-haired, bell-bottom wearing English/Australians. Thus biased against the Bee Gees, I thought, “how odd, the Bee Gees attained immortality by accident in Costa Rica”. I thought this, that is, until we visited my father-in-law for a party he was throwing. At first it seemed like one of those everyday parties with friends and some family where people eat grilled food, drink, laugh, reminisce and talk about old friends, etc. Well, it was that actually but what made this party extra special was the unveiling of the karaoke machine. Everything was normal until we suddenly heard the echoing voices of Paul and friends belting out Spanish soft rock songs in complement to what is probably best described as karaoke music. From what I heard, karaoke music is related to and might even be the same as elevator music, “musak” or the strange results of combining alcohol, a Casio and someone who thinks they are a musician. In other words, you sing along to tunes that are recognizable but sound like they are from a bad, surreal dream. And on my father-in-laws karaoke machine, you also get to watch a slide show of Japanese nature and villages. Things like Mount Fuji, rushing streams, a quaint waterwheel, and lots of flowers. All of these “wholesome” scenes are accompanied songs ranging from Frank Sinatra to Journey to those enduring pop stars in Costa Rica; the Bee Gees. Yes, some party guests even sang songs by the Bee Gees. Not “Staying Alive”, thank goodness, but other, slower songs such as, “How Deep is Your Love” or “Inside and Out”. Nor did they sing with high pitched voices which is unfortunate because that would have been absolutely hilarious. No matter; I was intrigued. I mean how can one not be intrigued by seeing beer drinking, fairly macho guys attempting to sing Bee Gee songs while watching a screen with “pleasant” post-card like scenes of nature; in Costa Rica of all places. It was at this time that I began to suspect that they weren’t playing the Bee Gees for nothing. Was it possible that Costa Rica actually liked the Bee Gees?!? That they listened to them on purpose? And better yet, if so why? How did thus happen? I asked Paul why they play so much Bee Gees and his answer says it all: “Ah yes, the Bee Gees! Very good music, a very good group.” Actually not all Costa Ricans are Bee Gee fans. No, its mostly 30 and 40 somethings that can’t get enough of those high-pitched voices but surprised I was and am. I had no idea just how international the Bee Gees were, nor that they actually composed some pretty good pop songs. The Bee Gees are actually one of the highest selling musical groups of all time! So, no wonder their music lives on in Costa Rica. Yes, I admit it; the Bee Gees make some good songs! Despite the strange falsetto voices from down under, many of their songs sound pretty nice. Although you won’t catch me doing any Bee Gee covers during rare karaoke sessions, I might stop the radio dial upon hearing the distinctive music of those three talented English/Australian brothers. “Night feeveeer. You know how to show it. Aaaaaah.”  

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One Response to “Costa Rica loves the Bee Gees”

  1. Like you, I used to detest the BeeGees when I was younger. I’ve heard my father play his BeeGees tapes over and over again, and I remember I was a bit shocked to find out that those almost-girly falsetto notes were actually sung by grown white men!!!

    But I guess, the BeeGees’ music grows on you… and when you take note of the lyrics and melodical components, it’s actually a great piece of pop-music! I’m still hooked on their music to this day, and would also stop the radio dial when I hear their music play on the radio!

    A very fascinating read. Very well written! Keep it up!

    Cheers!

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