I’d Like it More if it were Sung in Spanish…

24May10

During the weekend, I unexpectedly took a trip back to my 1999 TRL days via Papa Roach’s mega-hit, “Last Resort.” My friend and I sang along and pumped our fists to the driving beat. The sense of urgency and power of the melody still somehow affected us, even though we tend to disregard Papa Roach-esque bands making music today (and disregard is a euphemism here!)

I can't go on living this way.

Mid-way through the track, I started thinking about the horrific lyrics and stated: “I’d like this song a lot more if it were sung in another language.” We chuckled a bit as we imagined the Spanish and Italian-language versions of “Last Resort.”

This got me thinking more generally: what albums would I like better if they were sung in another language?

One easy way to explore the power of different languages in song is by sifting through the discography of Sigur Ros’ Jonsi. During his musical career, he has sung in Icelandic, Hopelandic (a form of gibberish vocals that fit the music), and English. Personally, I prefer his Hopelandic arrangements because his voice seems to be at its purest and most expressive. While I do not speak Icelandic and have not bothered to search for translations, I consider Jonsi’s Icelandic arrangements to be very pleasant as well. Meanwhile, it is hard for me to stomach some of his English-language songs.

Keep on merrily making magic, my man.

Here is a lyrical sampling from the track “Animal Arithmetic” off his new album Go.

Wake up, comb my hair
Making food disappear
Riding bikes, making out
Elephants swimming down

Unfortunately, It is difficult for me to enjoy some of the songs on Go due to lyrics of this nature, which seem a bit forced and amateur. Granted, English is not Jonsi’s first language, but if you’ve heard any interviews with him, you’ll know that he has no trouble expressing himself in that language.

So, yes, I can say comfortably say that I would appreciate Go more if it were sung in Icelandic or Hopelandic.

Here are a few more albums that I wish were sung in a different language, mostly because the lyrics leave something to be desired or do not fit the music as I feel they should:

Frightened Rabbit – The Midnight Organ Fight —> It’d be better in German.
Akron Family – Love is Simple —> It’d be better in Hindi.
Girls – Album —> It’d be better in Spanish.
Noah and the Whale – First Days of Spring —> It’d be better in French.

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