WootBot


quality posts: 14 Private Messages WootBot

Staff

America's got a reputation as being insular, but every so often something breaks down our English-speaking walls. It goes in phases, and from time to time we all agree as a nation to embrace a foreign language, for just a little while, and we make a non-English song into a smash hit. Today Scott sorts out those immigrants to the pop chart, the tunes too good to be translated. Let's start with one of the most famous:

Ritchie Valens - La Bamba

 

LaBamba

 

Top Thirty in 1959, and a Number One in 1987, this Ritchie Valens hit has an opening that's instantly recognizable. It's based on a traditional folk wedding song, just jazzed up a little. You know, 50s style! What more is there to talk about? There's a reason this music still rates airplay even today.

Can you think of any foreign-lyric hits off the top of your head? Zip inside and see if you've guessed right, and if you haven't, plan to throw your answer in the comments. See you adentro?

 

Before we begin, let's talk about our new Spotify playlist. We're still testing it out, but our plan currently is to feature the previous week's playlist by taking Scott's choices from the blog and your choices from the comments and serving up a nice, long, one week later mix. Make sense?

So this week, our Spotify playlist is showcasing last's week's pop instrumental post, and next week in this spot, you can enjoy this week's selections. We'd love your feedback as we sort out the best way to include everyone, so please, let us know in the comments if you've got any better ideas. But first enjoy these fine foreign hits, starting with…

Kyu Sakamoto - Sukiyaki

 

kyus

 

This catchy little Japanese song went to Number One on the Billboard charts in June, 1963, making it the only Japanese song to ever reach the top spot in America. It's also one of the few Japanese songs to rate soulful covers and NSFW rap references. And Kyu-chan even scored a postage stamp after his untimely passing! What greater honor is there for a singer?

Jordy - Dur Dur D'être Bébé (It's Tough to Be a Baby)

 

jordy

 

This is what it was like in 1992. We were so screwed up coming out of the 80s that a four year old French baby had a Number One worldwide hit. Americans couldn't completely understand the lyrics, since they were a mix of French and baby talk, but… well, maybe it's worth mentioning that ecstasy was getting popular around the same time Jordy had his hit. Other than that, there's not really an excuse.

Nena - 99 Luftballons

99

Nena gets in on a technicality, because she did re-record 99 Red Balloons for the American market. However every kid that heard there was a German version just had to hear it, and some radio stations alternated between languages depending on the DJ's mood. It probably didn't hurt that the anti-war message was vague enough to fit any ideology, so it could be anti-Russian or anti-American or anti-both, depending on what the listener preferred. Sort of like 80s Germany itself, this song made for an excellent political tool with a catchy beat.

Men At Work - Down Under

 

workmen

 

You think this is in English? That's because you were fortunate enough to grow up after the Australian Invasion. In 1982, there wasn't an Internet where we could type in words like "chunder" and "Vegemite" any time we wanted. It was hard work to figure out this Number One song, and yet, the answers were so endearing that it put Australia to the front of then-modern culture. Guess we'd all made the effort so it had to count for something. Is it too revisionist to say the ARG marketing campaigns all owe a debt to Men At Work?

You know a foreign song that isn't listed here? It doesn't have to be top of the charts to count. Drop it in the comments, then join us in our Turntable.fm room to celebrate music from all the nations. And be aware: some images are from the corresponding song's Wikipedia page and are here under fair use.



Quality Posts


motospyder


quality posts: 16 Private Messages motospyder

Dominique by The Singing Nun.
Was that high enough on the charts to count?

KMHinsman


quality posts: 1 Private Messages KMHinsman

Volare, by Dean Martin and others
Una Paloma Blanca, by George Baker (?) I think this was released in English and Spanish
The Girl from Ipanema, by Getz/Gilberto released in English and Portuguese
Sie Liebt Dich (She Loves You), by the Beatles
Sukiyaki by ? in Japanese
I was going to say Dominique by the Singing Nun, but somebody beat me to it :-)

maxrfb


quality posts: 8 Private Messages maxrfb

The original version of Rock Me Amadeus, before they jacked the beat and put some spoken "facts" for radio air play.
I suppose you could stay with Falco and pick up Der Kommisar with After the fire.

wow. I actually bought a Robot Elvis.
What was I thinking?

monarq7


quality posts: 3 Private Messages monarq7

After The Fire's "Der Komissar"? No, really?!?!?!?


Oh, and Los Del Rio's "Macarena", Alright?!?!?

tedzilla99


quality posts: 31 Private Messages tedzilla99

Enigma - Sadeness pt. 1

Gerardo - Rico Suave :-P

DaLemming


quality posts: 7 Private Messages DaLemming

If we can count Down Under for some colloquialisms, can we include Mr. Roboto for its chorus?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cShYbLkhBc

rickseiden


quality posts: 2 Private Messages rickseiden

Billy Joel's "You Were the One" had a whole stanza in French, and was actually titled "C'Etait Toi (You Were The One)."

motospyder


quality posts: 16 Private Messages motospyder

Oye Como Va by either Santana or Tito Puente (Tito wrote it).

cordydan


quality posts: 4 Private Messages cordydan

Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer" has a verse in French. It made it to 92 on the Billboard Charts.
Does that count?

oldcqr


quality posts: 13 Private Messages oldcqr

Heck, if we are going with Falco why not Vienna Calling? It made top 20 (18th).

Or, if we are letting bands in on technicalities, why not Rush? Some to this day still question if Neil Pert's overly cerebral lyrics are actually understood by those who speak English. "New World Man" broke the top 40 (21).

http://youtu.be/WNkAtgX-HT4

Jairoulle


quality posts: 3 Private Messages Jairoulle

My Boy Lollipop by Millie Small
The Israelites by Desmond Dekker and the Aces
both '60s hits from Jamaica.

craigthom


quality posts: 63 Private Messages craigthom
motospyder wrote:Dominique by The Singing Nun.
Was that high enough on the charts to count?



Damn! This is what I get for working during the day.

#1 on the Billboard pop chart, so I think that qualifies.

I don't know if "Ça plane pour moi" by Plastic Bertrand was a hit, but it should have been (although I'm partial to the Sonic Youth cover).

CowboyDann


quality posts: 716 Private Messages CowboyDann

abitterwoman


quality posts: 27 Private Messages abitterwoman

I really like Ensemble by Coeur de Pirate. Can be seen
here!

"Computers don't make errors. What they do, they do on purpose."

LarryLars


quality posts: 65 Private Messages LarryLars

Achtung baby!

The Beatles "Sie Liebt Dich" (She Loves You) was released in the USA in 1964, and peaked at #97 in the Billboard Hot 100. Not too shabby since the English version was #1 a few months earlier.


!

Have you checked your Private Messages lately?

tjamil


quality posts: 26 Private Messages tjamil

A little late to the party, but I would like to offer up The German DJ Sash! had some hit dance songs in the late 90s

Encore Une Fois which is also used in many commercials, and Ecuador

rayray099


quality posts: 6 Private Messages rayray099

Jaan Pehechaan Ho!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyEnG_DEB1I

Jairoulle


quality posts: 3 Private Messages Jairoulle

The entire British Invasion of the 60s! The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Herman's Hermits, etc. were all from the U.K.

indigoboo


quality posts: 1 Private Messages indigoboo

Mad Men brought a track back from the dead just recently. The song is Zou Bisou Bisou, and was originally sung by Gillian Hills. After seeing it on the show a couple of weeks ago, I have heard it talked about a couple of times, and heard it on Sirius radio.

CowboyDann


quality posts: 716 Private Messages CowboyDann
Jairoulle wrote:The entire British Invasion of the 60s! The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Herman's Hermits, etc. were all from the U.K.



I tought the whole point of this was foreign language songs. In that case I got a remarkable story of a london based artist who had to give up on her dreams of being a musician for 30 years.

(This was my original post I figured I could dust off at another time. I deleted it because the song was in english.)

How about delayed foreign sensations?

When Vashti Bunyan recorded her album just another diamond day in 1970 nobody recognized it. She gave up on a music career because of how poorly the album did. Somehow in the year 2000 it became a huge hit mostly because of this song: The Train Song has over a million views on youtube and this recognition inspired her to release other songs she had been working on and she finally achieved her dream of being a music sensation releasing her second (and critically acclaimed) album in 2005.

This song is kind of a secret hit because even though it has millions of views everyone I ever show it to has never heard it before.

Read more on wikipedia

agingdragqueen


quality posts: 126 Private Messages agingdragqueen

Staff

Better late than never! Spotify list for this post is now up here: http://open.spotify.com/user/129275051/playlist/3y9vRVtfsOhUK9OWXT8ej

There were a good chunk I could not find, but I replaced some with the some I knew and liked. Turned out to be a good mix, so please enjoy!


craigthom


quality posts: 63 Private Messages craigthom
agingdragqueen wrote:Better late than never! Spotify list for this post is now up here: http://open.spotify.com/user/129275051/playlist/3y9vRVtfsOhUK9OWXT8ej

There were a good chunk I could not find, but I replaced some with the some I knew and liked. Turned out to be a good mix, so please enjoy!



That Spotify link doesn't work for me.