What's your favorite song in a language you don't understand?

This one. I have no idea what language it is or what he’s saying, but damn, is it a catchy tune. 24 Timmar - YouTube

“Maldito” by Jessy Bulbo. I understand a little Spanish, but I don’t know what this song is about.

And if standard German isn’t enough for you:

I’m only a beginner in German, so I can’t understand more than the occasional word sung in the language. I’ve been a fan of Nina Hagen forever, and I’d love to understand more of her work Deutsch. She’s recorded a number of tracks in both English and German; the Bee Happy album is largely an English-language version of FreuD euch so I can groove to “Riesenschritt” and understand it, knowing it’s her cover of The Monkees’ “Giant Step.”

If I had to pick a fave song in the untranslated language though, I’d go with Rammstein’s “Der Meister” or Laibach’s “Tanz mit Laibach.”

Undoubtedly Coisich a Ruin by Capercaillie. I don’t speak Gaelic, and I doubt I could say those lyrics even with practice. But I love the group and this song.

I guess Latin is a foreign language. So: Gaudete

…with honorable mentions to the Pearl Fishers duet by Bizet and the totality of French rap music (no, honest, rap in French works remarkably well.)


I prefer the German version 99 Luft Ballons.

Also, I like this one:

I’d give anything to learn Gaelic:

And before anyone chimes in, Smells Like Teen Spirit and Louie, Louie don’t count.

Swedish. The artist is Magnus Uggla (no, not ugly, it’s Swedish for Owl).

I’m cheating, because I do know Spanish, but this song is smokin’

And how about some Arabic Disco (Actually Rai, which is a sorta fusion created in France). This was produced by Was (not)Was

As for Rammstein. This is a couple of years old. A friend, half German and fluent, assures me it’s not a celebration of Germany. Quite the opposite.

Note: it takes a while to get going and it’s not for the super squeamish, i.e. quite a lot of graphic violence:

Emabhaceni by Miriam Makeba

I don’t know what language this is, but I like the English interpretation:

Lucky by Lucie, Too

Just perfect power pop.

We saw him perform in Bamako, Mali. A real treat. I could have also just mentioned most Malian artists in this thread like Habib Koite and Salif Keita. Also the music of Brasil, even though I no longer speak Portuguese. The Sergio Mendes album Brasileiro is one of the best. Can you tell I’m a fan of the world music genre? Oh, I forgot the late and brilliant Amalia Rodrigues, the queen of Portuguese Fado music.

We once went to a bal in Bidart, way South West France and attended a gig in Basque. The only words I understood in the entire set were “harmonium” and “Maria Magdalene”. Very good gig though.


The Comedian Harmonists

Speaking of Steeleye Span, Cam Ye O’er Frae France.

“SukiyakI” by Kyu Sakamoto. You beat me to it. That’s the first song that came to my mind. I love it as much now as I did in 1963. Its haunting sound has always pulled at my heart strings.

One time I was in a store and that song played on the PA system. When it came to the whistling part, people all over the store began whistling!

By the way, the original (and best) lyrics as sung by Mr. Sakamoto are not the lyrics A Taste of Honey sang in the 1970s. Completely different.

I saw the Ethiopian “supergroup” Qwanqwa a week ago. It was my first exposure to them so I don’t have a favorite song, I don’t know what their song titles are, I don’t even know what language (or languages) they were singing in. But they had the crowd on their feet dancing and the pace never let up. And they’re still touring the U.S. so you can still catch them. They deserve some mention.

Hmmm. Searching for videos I came across this great one from before the vocalist joined the group. The instrumentalists were just as terrific live.

And here’s one from their current tour.

Sorry, but The Kingsmen’s version of “Louie, Louie” is a perfect example of a favorite song whose words are often incomprehensible.

A semi-favorite song from a German group whose lyrics don’t make sense even when they’re in English:

Onward marching to the “Rock of Ages”
Torn off pages from a magazine
Soldiers fading from the Earth degrading
Sun’s lost out to margarine

Kingdoms, empires read in tea leaves
Everybody fold your hands upon your heads
And hear the news
Somebody somewhere somehow sometime
Looked behind the arass
Where the groupies killed the blues

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