18 votes

If you had to point out a song in a foreign language either for its catchiness or content, what would it be?

I'd like to hear something different, and am curious about what both the current and past trends have been so anything's welcome really!

Honestly it doesn't even have to have any sung parts; lately I've been getting in Berlin's indigenous techno scene and found myself with lots of remarkable material to listen to.

Here are a few spotlights of mine:

  • A particularly good DJ session of Dirty Doering. His music is what's really pushed me to dip my toes into the techno scene; went to few of his nights and never regretted it so far.
  • Songs such as Le Temps de la Rentrée by France Gall, La Mer specifically sung by Julio Iglesias and Champs Elysees by Joe Dassin are some of my go tos when I'm cooking something.
  • HaifischNikez Allstar is a really good trashy song, pleasant in its own way in my opinion. Watch it as there's a jumpscare at the beginning of the video.
  • Any song by Caparezza. I won't link a specific one cause they're not exactly "melodic", moreso they are extremely clever in the wordplays he makes in each and every one. If i had to suggest an album of his I'd go for Museica.
  • Heard a number of catchy tunes while visiting Israel but ended up not knowing any specific title cause while there my phone died...

edit: pointed out jumpscare

28 comments

  1. [5]
    Deivuh
    Link
    張宇 Phil Chang - 月亮惹的禍 An oldie
    5 votes
    1. [3]
      DyslexicStoner240
      Link Parent
      This sounds so extremely familiar and western in its melody; I'm betting that if someone shuffled it within the background songs at a bar I probably wouldn't notice... I've never even thought...

      This sounds so extremely familiar and western in its melody; I'm betting that if someone shuffled it within the background songs at a bar I probably wouldn't notice... I've never even thought about what 90s folk music could've sounded like in Taiwan, super cool entry, thanks!

      Btw what does the title mean? I tried googling it but it gives out only info about the author on wikipedia and the westernised transcription 'Yue Liang Re De Huo'

      4 votes
      1. ThatFanficGuy
        Link Parent
        Google Translate gives two options: "The Wreck of the Moon" and, one that sounds quite good, "Blame the Moon". Probably not good a translation, given that it's apparently his love that lives on...

        Btw what does the title mean?

        Google Translate gives two options: "The Wreck of the Moon" and, one that sounds quite good, "Blame the Moon". Probably not good a translation, given that it's apparently his love that lives on the Moon.

        2 votes
      2. cykhic
        Link Parent
        A literal translation would be "Misfortune Instigated by the Moon". The song seems to be about heartbreak, and the singer is blaming their partner for causing them to fall in love in the first...

        A literal translation would be "Misfortune Instigated by the Moon". The song seems to be about heartbreak, and the singer is blaming their partner for causing them to fall in love in the first place. The chorus goes on to blame the moon for the romantic atmosphere which caused them to fall in love, as well as blaming the vows they made to each other which softened and opened his heart.

        All this done far more poetically in the song, of course.

        I guess a fair translation would be "All the Moon's fault". There's no equivalent I can think of that fully captures the poetic essence of the original.

        2 votes
    2. ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      Oh, that's a good one. Thanks for sharing!

      Oh, that's a good one. Thanks for sharing!

      1 vote
  2. [4]
    asep
    Link
    Both by Lucio Dalla either L'anno che verrà or Futura. Maybe it's just because they have a strong connection to my childhood but something about these songs' lyrics is so poetic that it sticks...

    Both by Lucio Dalla either L'anno che verrà or Futura. Maybe it's just because they have a strong connection to my childhood but something about these songs' lyrics is so poetic that it sticks with me for a while after I listen to the song. Another nomination Estrelar by Marcos Valle small hidden gem of Brazilian disco, contagiously upbeat there's no way you can feel sad after listening to this song.

    3 votes
    1. ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      Estrelar has real character. It's special in its own way. Thanks for sharing.

      Estrelar has real character. It's special in its own way. Thanks for sharing.

      2 votes
    2. [2]
      DyslexicStoner240
      Link Parent
      Pops a huge fan of Dalla and Fabrizio De Andrè; although they are some years apart I tend to group them together in that circle of Italian Songwriters that were trying to write up poetry that was...

      Pops a huge fan of Dalla and Fabrizio De Andrè; although they are some years apart I tend to group them together in that circle of Italian Songwriters that were trying to write up poetry that was accompanied by music moreso than songs.

      Also I came to realise that i really cannot come up with any number of songs from South America right off the bat... Estrelar's an extremely cool tune though, I love this kind of '80s mood.

      1 vote
      1. asep
        Link Parent
        Your dad has excellent taste in music! For sure Lucio Dalla's music can be described more as poetry, I also feel like everytime I listen I notice something new that I didn't before which is why I...

        Your dad has excellent taste in music! For sure Lucio Dalla's music can be described more as poetry, I also feel like everytime I listen I notice something new that I didn't before which is why I love it so much. If you enjoyed Estrelar there's definitely a whole back catalog of South American funk you're missing out on. Some other ones I like which have a bit of a different feel to them though: Mais que nada, Alegría and Walkman (although this is electronic but it has that same poppy upbeat feel). Some modern songs which I think seem to draw a lot of inspiration from early Latin American funk Superstar and I'm Your Biggest Fan

        1 vote
  3. DonQuixote
    Link
    The Girl From Ipanema with Stan Getz on sax and Joao & Astrud Gilberto singing. This song recalls every 60's movie I've ever seen. https://youtu.be/c5QfXjsoNe4

    The Girl From Ipanema with Stan Getz on sax and Joao & Astrud Gilberto singing. This song recalls every 60's movie I've ever seen.

    https://youtu.be/c5QfXjsoNe4

    3 votes
  4. [4]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. DyslexicStoner240
      Link Parent
      When i read 'Dutch song' i was not expecting something like that! It feels like the type of song you'd expect to hear on TV after the countdown on New Year's eve or during a summer fest of the...

      When i read 'Dutch song' i was not expecting something like that! It feels like the type of song you'd expect to hear on TV after the countdown on New Year's eve or during a summer fest of the sort; gotta say it does definitely check the catchiness mark. Thanks for the input :)

      1 vote
  5. [5]
    ThatFanficGuy
    (edited )
    Link
    If you're asking for good songs sung in a language other than English, then... Svegliarsi la mattina, by Zero Assoluto. Helped me get through some tough times. I think it's a good song even...

    If you're asking for good songs sung in a language other than English, then...

    • Svegliarsi la mattina, by Zero Assoluto. Helped me get through some tough times. I think it's a good song even outside of the context it was important to me in. It's melodic, contemplative, and quiet if you don't know the lyrics. (I don't.)

    • Janym, by Ylvis. It's sung in heavily-accented Russian, with bits of Kyrgyz and English. This is what happens when two random Norwegians decide to become big in a random country you've never heard of.

    • Бери своє [Take What's Yours], by Антитіла. Modern Ukrainian rock, with the lyrics reflective of free spirit and living your life.

    • LUCIFER, by SHINee. Catchy.

    • Поднимайся [Get Up], by Salvador. Sounds like folk punk to me. The "punk" part is definite, given the lyrics: the very first line is "Get up, you're about to get ahead".

    • Major Tom (völlig losgelöst), by Peter Schilling. To me, this is classic German rock – so much so that I associate it with Germany as a whole. Apparently, this is Schilling's retelling of the story of Major Tom, the character from David Bowie's Space Oddity.

    • Du hast mich angeschmiert, by Die Magdalene Keibel Combo. The interesting part is that it's the German rendition of a famous Ukrainian folk song, Ты ж мене пидманула, finding a good version of which I'm at a loss for. Part of the band were two of the Eastern German citizens who'd later become part of Rammstein. Quite surprising to find that kind of a song there, until you remember that East Germany had a lot of Soviet people live and raise children there due to the Soviet control of the territory. The Ukrainian song is folklore in Russia, as well.

    EDIT: also:

    • Zvenit Yanvarskaya Viuga [italianized Russian for "The January Snowstorm is Singing"], by Vanilla Sky. A hard rock rendition of a classic Soviet-era soundtrack, sung in Russian by an Italian band. Apparently, Vanilla Sky fell in love with Russia when they got here, so they wanted to perform something for the Russian fans. The song is well-known around here. You can hear a bit of the original song in the beginning of the video.
    2 votes
    1. [4]
      DyslexicStoner240
      Link Parent
      Dude, you have no idea what kind of nostalgia trip you just sent me through with Svegliarsi la Mattina; it's such an iconic song from the mid 2000s in Italy, and it had reached such levels of...

      Dude, you have no idea what kind of nostalgia trip you just sent me through with Svegliarsi la Mattina; it's such an iconic song from the mid 2000s in Italy, and it had reached such levels of popularity, that I can guarantee 90% of passerbys you could stop anywhere in Italy would still remember the refrain by heart.

      Hadn't clicked in my mind where i heard 'Ylvis' before until i opened the video, then i immediately remembered about What Does the Fox Say? holy shit these guys never run out of ideas!

      K-pop is one of those genres I'd never go out my way to hear but at the same time wouldn't mind stumbling upon on the radio randomly while driving. Tunes are always quite the earworm.

      I was really digging Поднимайся's video with the flying car.

      Major Tom grew on me as I was listening to it, refrain is especially catchy!

      Holy crap, just yesterday the guys from the online German course I'm doing mentioned (around the 3:20 mark) how Rammstein was originally a DDR band, what are the chances?

      Thanks for the list of tunes!

      2 votes
      1. [3]
        ThatFanficGuy
        Link Parent
        Glad you liked 'em. Ah, cool! I didn't realize. Just found it randomly somewhere at the right time, a couple of years ago. That's from the film Black Lightning, to which Salvador wrote a song as...

        Glad you liked 'em.

        Svegliarsi la Mattina; it's such an iconic song from the mid 2000s in Italy

        Ah, cool! I didn't realize. Just found it randomly somewhere at the right time, a couple of years ago.

        I was really digging Поднимайся's video with the flying car.

        That's from the film Black Lightning, to which Salvador wrote a song as soundtrack. The film's about an old Soviet car that as an in-built flight engine. It's a Russian-flavor superhero film where the main character has no superpowers: it's the car that's sci-fi.

        Major Tom grew on me as I was listening to it, refrain is especially catchy!

        Forgot to mention that there's an English-language version of the song.

        Also, I'm going to edit into the comment this cool song. The band is Vanilla Sky – Italians, like Zero Assoluto – and the song is Zvenit Yanvarskaya Viuga, from one of the classic Soviet comedies, done in hard rock fashion.

        1 vote
        1. [2]
          DyslexicStoner240
          Link Parent
          Black Lightning sounds pretty awesome in the same way the only other Russian movie I've ever watched did (that being Hardcore Henry), I'll check it out. That's strange; it's an extremely...

          Black Lightning sounds pretty awesome in the same way the only other Russian movie I've ever watched did (that being Hardcore Henry), I'll check it out.

          Just found it randomly somewhere at the right time, a couple of years ago.

          That's strange; it's an extremely recognisable song in Italy that reached an unbelivable popularity at the time, but at the same time it's been years since I heard it myself last time on the radio. Cool story though, glad you enjoy it!
          You might want to also hear Per Dimenticare which is the most recent super-popular song by Zero Assoluto I can come up by memory, or perhaps Fango by Jovanotti.

          Never heard before of Vanilla Sky strangely enough, but they seem like a cool bunch.

          1 vote
          1. ThatFanficGuy
            Link Parent
            You'd be surprised how many hit Russian songs you haven't heard. :) Per Dimenticare sounds pretty cool: laid-back, relaxed, but with an active rhythm, like a good up-and-go song. Thanks for...

            That's strange; it's an extremely recognisable song in Italy that reached an unbelivable popularity at the time

            You'd be surprised how many hit Russian songs you haven't heard. :)

            Per Dimenticare sounds pretty cool: laid-back, relaxed, but with an active rhythm, like a good up-and-go song. Thanks for sharing!

            Vanilla Sky became known after they'd covered Rihanna's Umbrella. Also a good cover by The Baseballs, a German band that styles themselves after the 50s American rock-n-roll scene.

            2 votes
  6. alyaza
    Link
    oh jeez, i also totally forgot the exceptional albums of christopher tin (you may know him as the person who composed Civilization IV's seminal theme "Baba Yetu". Calling all Dawns and The Drop...

    oh jeez, i also totally forgot the exceptional albums of christopher tin (you may know him as the person who composed Civilization IV's seminal theme "Baba Yetu".

    Calling all Dawns and The Drop that Contained the Sea (more info here and here) are both incredible albums, and there's quite a lot of symbology and culture contained within them. none of the songs on either are in english.

    2 votes
  7. [2]
    alyaza
    Link
    Water no get enemy and most of fela kuti's discography probably qualify both on catchiness but also content. he was an english speaker, but unless you can understand nigerian pidgin english (or...

    Water no get enemy and most of fela kuti's discography probably qualify both on catchiness but also content. he was an english speaker, but unless you can understand nigerian pidgin english (or yoruba, which he also spoke) most of his discography probably won't be readily understandable to you. a lot of it is also social or political, and it got him into trouble with the nigerian government a few times before he died in 1997. incidentally, his music basically created an entirely new music genre called afrobeat, which is pretty significant in africa and the african diaspora around the world nowadays.

    1 vote
    1. DyslexicStoner240
      Link Parent
      oh man, last Summer i heard for the first time Zombi by Fela Kuti and read up his wikipedia page and was amazed by what a remarkably interesting character he was. Will definitely check out Water...

      oh man, last Summer i heard for the first time Zombi by Fela Kuti and read up his wikipedia page and was amazed by what a remarkably interesting character he was. Will definitely check out Water no get Enemy!

      1 vote
  8. [2]
    spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link
    Carabao is sort of Thailand's Santana. I don't know any of the names of their songs, so there's a link to their "best of" album. Herr Mannelig: Here's a version by Gamarna and a much harder...

    Carabao is sort of Thailand's Santana. I don't know any of the names of their songs, so there's a link to their "best of" album.

    Herr Mannelig:

    tells the story of a female mountain troll who proposes marriage to a young human man. The troll is trying to convince "Sir Mannelig" (Herr Mannelig) to marry her. She offers him many great gifts but he refuses her.

    Here's a version by Gamarna and a much harder version by In Extremo

    Israeli techno band Infected Mushroom covering Send Me An Angel (the original video is...interesting).

    And as long as I'm sending you down a deep, dark rabbit hole of strange YouTube music...Moskau.

    1 vote
    1. ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      I read "Moskau" and thought "Oh, like that one by Dschinghis Khan! <started singing the chorus> But no way it's actually that one". Then I opened the link. It was quite popular in Russia. A lot of...

      I read "Moskau" and thought "Oh, like that one by Dschinghis Khan! <started singing the chorus> But no way it's actually that one". Then I opened the link.

      It was quite popular in Russia. A lot of people know the rhythm, though not so much the lyrics, what with them being in German.

      1 vote
  9. papasquat
    Link
    Omega - Gyöngyhajú lány I think this song must have been featured somewhere kinda popular recently, because I've been hearing it in fairly mainstream places over the past couple of years. Anyway,...

    Omega - Gyöngyhajú lány

    I think this song must have been featured somewhere kinda popular recently, because I've been hearing it in fairly mainstream places over the past couple of years. Anyway, it's such a catchy song that I find myself trying to sing along to despite being the opposite of fluent in Hungarian. Just the melody is so powerful, it doesn't even matter if you can't understand the lyrics.

    1 vote
  10. onyxleopard
    (edited )
    Link
    There’s the "Holly Dolly" cover of Ievan Polkka, a popular Finnish song. Another popular version is the a capella rendition by Loituma. Here’s a video that covers the history of the song with...

    There’s the "Holly Dolly" cover of Ievan Polkka, a popular Finnish song. Another popular version is the a capella rendition by Loituma.

    Here’s a video that covers the history of the song with several versions.

    Edit: I almost forgot about the 1990s phenomenon that was the Macarena!

    1 vote
  11. culturedleftfoot
    Link
    Some fairly accessible ones: Alcione - Canção do Exílio Rubén Blades - Plástico Titi Robin & Mehdi Nassouli - La Femme Idéale (live) Toofan - Gweta Buraka Som Sistema - Kalemba (Wegue Wegue). And...

    Some fairly accessible ones:

    Alcione - Canção do Exílio

    Rubén Blades - Plástico

    Titi Robin & Mehdi Nassouli - La Femme Idéale (live)

    Toofan - Gweta

    Buraka Som Sistema - Kalemba (Wegue Wegue).

    And as a bonus, I'll link this freestyle session by Masicka on Tim Westwood even though it's not exactly in a foreign language, because it will probably sound like one anyway lol.

    1 vote