View Full Version : What contemporary song has been recorded in the most languages?
11-20-2006, 12:48 AM
Or at least a whole bunch? Hymns etc. don't count.
11-20-2006, 01:08 AM
"Yesterday" is usually said to be the most recorded song ever, so it's quite possible that it has also been recorded in the most languages.
"Happy Birthday" probably rates pretty highly as well.
In classical music, perhaps Beethoven's "Ode to Joy."
11-20-2006, 01:12 AM
Sorry-- to be clear, by "contemporary" I meant not songs like Happy Birthday or classical pieces. I wanted to say "popular music" but I wasn't sure if that was exactly what I meant. Sorry to have beeen vague.
11-20-2006, 04:56 AM
"Happy Birthday" is so contemporary, it's still under copyright!
Cecil speaks (http://www.straightdope.com/columns/000728.html):
In your book The Straight Dope, you said the copyright on "Happy Birthday" was due to expire in 1996. Does this mean I can now sing this song at my kid's B-day without fear of being visited by the copyright cops? --Ed Banigan, Oak Park, Illinois
Sure. Just don't pass the hat afterward. The copyright laws having been revised, the copyright on "Happy Birthday" now won't expire until 2011--or at least so says Warner/Chappell Music Group, current owner of the song. But the restriction applies only to commercial performances. You can sing it for free to your heart's content.
To recap for those whose memory has faded since our original column on this subject in 1977(!), the music for the song was written in the 1890s by Mildred Hill, with the original lyric "Good Morning to You" by her sister Patty. As near as I can tell, the sisters didn't file for a copyright and many years later their song was stolen by a Tin Pan Alley shark, who published it with the lyric "Happy Birthday to You." The Hills prevailed in court and were granted a copyright in 1935.
According to ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), which acts as a clearinghouse for music royalties, "Happy Birthday" was by far the most widely performed musical work of the 20th century (or perhaps more accurately, the most widely performed work still under copyright protection, and thus within ASCAP's purview). We asked Warner/Chappell what kind of royalties the song was bringing in--they said they'd get back to us. Personally I wish I could have written "Blue Suede Shoes," but I'd settle for Warner/Chappell's check.
11-20-2006, 07:29 AM
Probably the entire score of Jesus Christ Superstar or Les Miserable, both of which have been done in damn near every single language known. I think JCS beats Les Miz because it got a ten year headstart. My own collection contains cast recordings of JCS in Danish, Hungarian, Portugese, Swedish, French, German, Spanish, Czech, Russian, Italian, Dutch and Japanese, and that doesn't include individual songs covered by non-English artists.
Phantom and CATS have to be up there too.
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