Thursday, August 30, 2012

Singing gibberish

My recent obsession with PSY's GANGNAM STYLE and a conversation with friends about music in French made me think of all of the songs I've danced/bopped my head/sung along to without knowing what in the world the singers were saying. Given the popularity of English-language music worldwide, I'm sure I'm not alone - there are kids in South America singing along to Justin Bieber not really understanding the words coming out of his mouth - but I think it's super rare for that to happen here in the U.S., partly because we're generally not as exposed to world music.

I didn't grow up in the U.S., and I had quite a few friends who didn't speak English. As a kid, I found it hysterical to listen them sing along to their favorite Duran Duran song, because they thought it sounded just like what Simon Le Bon was saying, and to me it sounded like complete gibberish. Unfairly, they couldn't in turn laugh at me when I sang in Spanish - well, except to laugh at how horrible a singer I was.  The great equalizer was when a song in a language than none of us spoke became popular - then we all sang along with our own nonsensical lyrics.

Here are some of the songs I sing along to in gibberish to this day - not surprisingly, most are from my youth:

Desireless "Voyage Voyage" - I think she's singing about going on a trip somewhere, and at some point she may be looking at the ocean, but other than that, I'm out. Still love this song way better than the Spanish language remake "Vuela Vuela" by boy band Magneto - which is infinitely less new agey and trippy.

Nena "99 Luftballons" - I danced along to the German version not knowing what the song was about, then I remember watching the video and being even more confused. Somehow the English version about red balloons did not resonate in the same way.

Raffaella Carra - "Rumore" - Possibly my favorite disco song of all time, this song can instantly put me in a good mood. I've listened to it so many times I think I may actually sing along in something that sounds remotely like Italian, but other than some bit about a beating heart, I still don't really understand the lyrics.

Falco - "Rock Me Amadeus" Amadeus was a superstar of his time....and a bunch of other stuff. Somehow it was a fun car sing-along song, even if you didn't know what the heck was being sung/rapped.

Paralamas do Sucesso - "Alagados" - ok, in theory Spanish and Portuguese aren't that different, but in practice...I remember liking this song, but only understanding about 15% of what was being said. Then they recorded a Spanish language version, and I realized that it was kind of depressing.

Vanessa Paradis - "Joe Le Taxi" - the song that inspired this post. Is it about some girl in love with a possibly shifty taxi driver? No clue.

B21 - "Darshan" - from the "Bend it Like Beckham" soundtrack. I love dancing to this song. ZERO clue what is going on lyrically. 

I would love to hear from anyone reading this about songs they enjoy listening/singing along to even though they don't understand the lyrics. Preferably songs released in the last year or so. (I'm all about pretending to be hip and with it.)

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