As a translator, I'm also somewhat obsessed about how the lyrics are adapted in different languages, so I find this topic very interesting and could talk for hours about it. In Spain they dubbed the spoken parts and subtitled the rest. The dubbed parts are very few, so they could have subtitled them as well and that would have favored the credibility, but I think they decided to dub those few lines for commercial reasons, to make people believe there would be more dialogues and less songs. If you watch the Spanish trailer
, you may think it's something like Grease
, where you have some songs, but there are a lot of spoken parts too, so you don't have to be reading during the whole film. In Spain people are not used to subtitles, so most of them wouldn't pay the ticket knowing the film mostly consists of songs in English. So I guess a lot of them decided to go to the cinema because it's a famous story with famous actors, and then felt disappointed or even deceived.
The Spanish translator, Quico Rovira-Beleta, says he wrote the subtitles so they would rhyme and have the same metrics as the original lyrics, so people would be able to sing along, therefore he gave priority to the form over the meaning. Anyway, all the subtitles can't be sung, because a lot of them are longer than they should, but when you read them you have some sense of rhythm and even if it doesn't always fit with the music you're hearing, you can believe you're actually reading music instead of prose. However, the translation sometimes sacrifices the consistence of the lyrics. For example, in Red and black
, the blood of angry men
is translated as "la sangre del luchador" (the blood of the fighter), and in Do you hear the people sing
, the song of angry men
is translated as "la canción del que va a luchar" (the song of the one who's going to fight"). You always have to make a choice when you translate, and here the translator went for the rhythm and the rhyme rather than for the literal meaning. In my opinion, the result is not bad, but if you can speak English or are familiarized with the original lyrics it's a little bit strange and you notice it.
If you are very interested in the Spanish translation of the songs in the film, I recommend you this essay
(in Spanish), where the author analyses and compares the lyrics song by song.