Si tu dois partir, c'est OK...
April 4, 2005 11:25 AM   Subscribe

Cover songs translated from the original language...

I've gotten slightly fascinated by these, thanks to, for example:

Bob Dylan's "If You Gotta Go" done by Lloyd Cole as "Si Tu Dois Partir"
the Pixies' "Where is My Mind" done by Koos Kreuk as "Waar is Mijn Hoofd"
Rachid Taha's Arabic cover of "Rock the Casbah"
Oh, yeah, and Seu Jorge, obviously.

Anyone know of any other interesting examples of this? I figure there's a good mix CD in here somewhere. I'm most interested in English songs covered in other languages, but if you can think of other examples, go nuts.
posted by ITheCosmos to Media & Arts (44 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Well, the Gipsy Kings did a Spanish language version of the Eagles' Hotel California, which is just called "Hotel California". Very well done cover as well.
posted by Inkoate at 11:28 AM on April 4, 2005

The Plugz do a cool Spanish version of Secret Agent Man (Hombre secreto).
posted by sic at 11:36 AM on April 4, 2005

Cornershop do a version of the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood" in Punjabi. It's not great — they play it pretty straight, and anyway the scansion comes out all wrong — but it's interesting to hear once or twice.

I almost hate to mention it, but the Macarena started out in Spanish.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:42 AM on April 4, 2005

april march does laisse tomber les filles in the original french and in english as "chick habit".

mick harvey does l'anamour in english as "non affair".
posted by crush-onastick at 11:48 AM on April 4, 2005

Seu Jorge covered a bunch of Bowie tunes including Life On Mars and Rebel Rebel.
posted by euphorb at 11:51 AM on April 4, 2005

There's a whole bunch of these in Danish, but mostly lame, cheesy covers of lame, cheesy English songs. YMMV.
posted by AwkwardPause at 11:57 AM on April 4, 2005

Oh, yeah, and Seu Jorge, obviously.

apparently it is fairly common* in Brazil for american pop songs to be re-recorded with portuguese vocals -- when I was in Rio i remember hearing a riff that sounded very familar, despite the foreign lyrics, until we realized "OH SHIT! IT'S THE THONG SONG!"

so maybe a brazilian or someone from portugal (YES SOMEONE FROM PORTUGAL WHO HAS IN THE PAST FREQUENTED MEFI) could help you out.

* Well, that's what someone told me down there, but they weren't brazilian, so GRAIN OF SALT
posted by fishfucker at 11:58 AM on April 4, 2005

April Winchell's Multimedia page has a load of funny covers in different languages. Lots of ABBA, Beatles, etc.

Bob Dylan's "If You Gotta Go" done by Lloyd Cole as "Si Tu Dois Partir" --- this was done in French, cajun style around 1970 by Fairport Convention with Sandy Denny
posted by omnidrew at 12:09 PM on April 4, 2005

The delightful movie "Chungking Express" ends with Joey Wang's Cantonese version of a Cranberries song (I forget which one). Mainly what's impressive is how perfectly she copies the weird vocal stylings of the Cranberries.

I recently heard a brilliant "Eclipse total de amor".
posted by Aknaton at 12:10 PM on April 4, 2005

Calexico's cover of French singer Françoiz Breut's Si Tu Disais is in English. On Calexico's live at the Barbican DVD Breut joins in and sings verses in French, alternating with Calexico singer Joey Burns's English verses. It's a wonderful short little song when done by Breut, Calexico, or both. The original version is on Vingt a Trente: Mille Jours (you can also hear it at the first link above, once you figure out the strange Flash navigation); the cover is on Convict Pool.
posted by zsazsa at 12:11 PM on April 4, 2005

Calexico does a very nice English-language cover of Francoiz Breut's "Si tu disais" on the Convict Pool EP. In addition, I found a live MP3 of them performing it with Francoiz and they go back and forth between the languages on different verses.

Marc Almond did an album called Jacques of all Jacques Brel songs sung in English. Then of course there is the whole Jacques Brel is Alive and Well musical, which is sung in English.
posted by matildaben at 12:11 PM on April 4, 2005

Speaking of Brel, Scott Walker's interpretations of his songs are always pretty fantastic:

Amazon: Scott Walker sings Jacques Brel

Import and/or out of print, so it's not cheap, but worth it. I posted a few favorite tracks up so you could get an idea of it before making the purchase:

The Girls and The Dogs [MP3]

Next [MP3}
posted by idontlikewords at 12:15 PM on April 4, 2005

matildaben: Jinx!
Lyrics for both English and French here
posted by zsazsa at 12:18 PM on April 4, 2005

Tocotronic does a German cover of Bananarama's "Robert DeNiro's Waiting" called "Nicola Krebitz wartet." If you can find it, the Fabulöse Thekenschlampen made a career out of covering songs in poorly translated German.
posted by muckster at 12:26 PM on April 4, 2005

Die Fabulösen Thekenschlampen: Titten Theken Temperamente
posted by muckster at 12:27 PM on April 4, 2005

There's a band called The Ukrainians who've covered a bunch of Smiths songs, in, well, I'll let you figure out what language :). I also have a latin cover of the Cure called "Just like Heaven (Como el Chico)". And Petula Clark covers herself, doing "Downtown" in german. (You can probably find them file sharing but email if you want copies from me.)
posted by mdn at 12:30 PM on April 4, 2005

Chapeaumelon covered The Who's "My Generation." It's in French, and highly addictive.
posted by itchie at 12:34 PM on April 4, 2005

Musicals: Rent has been translated into French and Japanese (and probably others; probably other musicals have been translated, but that's the only one I know of).

The only track I've heard from these is the Japanese "Seasons of Love," which has the verses in Japanese and quite a bit of English mixed in, and I just love it. It turns the sentimentality up a notch, but they can get away with that because they're Japanese.

Also: the translations of the Disney animated musicals tend to be really good, and a lot of fun.
posted by Jeanne at 12:41 PM on April 4, 2005

Beyond the Sea, Kevin Spacey's (err, Bobby Darin's) signature song was, I believe, a cover of La Mer (perhaps it went the other way, though).

Los Fabulosos Cadillacs do a ska cover of Strawberry Fields in Spanish.

Johnny Halliday did a bunch of French covers of American pop music.

Petty Booka covers Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka-dot Bikina in Japanese.

Jonathan Richman performs both English and Spanish versions of the same song, Closer/Cerca.

And of course, Katrina and the Waves did 99 Red Balloons, a cover of their German 99 Luftballons (or however it is spelled in German). And as long as we're on a German 80s kick, I have one word for you: Falco.
posted by adamrice at 12:52 PM on April 4, 2005

Oh yeah: there's a recent album called Jazz a St Germain with Angelique Kidjo doing a spine-chillingly beautiful version of Summertime in Swahili (?), and 'Round Midnight in French by Les Nubians
posted by adamrice at 12:57 PM on April 4, 2005

There's a band called The Ukrainians who've covered a bunch of Smiths songs, in, well, I'll let you figure out what language :). -- Sex Pistols and Velvet Underground songs too. and self-link (I run the band's US label).
posted by omnidrew at 12:57 PM on April 4, 2005

The closing track for the delightful "Chungking Express" is actually by Faye Wong (or Wong Fei). Its "Dream Person", a cover of the Cranberries' "Dreams". I certainly like it better than the original. She's covered lots of songs from english artists, including Cocteau Twins, The Sundays, Tori Amos, Maddonna, etc. Her version of "Vogue" might go well on mix cd.
posted by Zetetics at 1:00 PM on April 4, 2005

The Pixies did a Spanish version of "Evil Hearted You."
It's not a cover, but the Beatles did German versions of a couple of their songs: "I want to hold your hand" and "She loves you."
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:01 PM on April 4, 2005

The delightful movie "Chungking Express" ends with Joey Wang's Cantonese version of a Cranberries song (I forget which one).

Correction and expansion: the singer is Faye Wong (who is also one of the stars of the film) and the song is "Dreams".
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:06 PM on April 4, 2005

Oops, Zetetics beat me to it (sat too long in preview).
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:07 PM on April 4, 2005

99 Luftballoons/99 Red Balloons was originally recorded by Nena, not Katrina and the Waves (who are better known for their cheese epic "Walking On Sunshine"). Falco, yes, is a good example of a performer who's done their songs in a native language and then a flip in english -- there's got to be a lot of bands that do this though. Abba and Tatu spring to mind, maybe because they both have four-letter names.

Another great track that's german/english is Peter Schilling's "Major Tom (Coming Home)/MAJOR TOM (VOLLIG LOSGELOST)" which has the added bonus of being (AFAIK) a sort of sequel to Bowie's "Space Oddity"
posted by fishfucker at 1:27 PM on April 4, 2005

There's a great all spanish-The Police-covers album, Outlandos D'Americas, with my personal favorite, Gustavo Cerati and Andy Summers doing a spanish version of Bring On The Night, "Traeme la Noche", which I personally like better than the original.
Also, there's a lot of Boleros, Bossa Nova and such whose popular english versions are actually translated covers of the original spanish and portuguese, such as "Quizas, quizas, quizas" and "Garota da Ipanema"
posted by signal at 1:28 PM on April 4, 2005

Not quite covers: but Charles Aznavour sings a lot of his songs in either French or English (perhaps additional languages for all I know) depending on the audience.
posted by selton at 1:51 PM on April 4, 2005

Thanks, fishfucker--somehow I thought 99 was a self-cover.

I now remember the German and Finnish covers of Suzanne Vega's Tom's Diner, to be found on the compilation Tom's Album.
posted by adamrice at 1:56 PM on April 4, 2005

There are lots of Italian covers of UK/US pop songs; my wife is particularly fond of "E il treno va," Richard Anthony's cover of "Five Hundred Miles" ("Sento già che il treno va..."). And I've just discovered Radio Nostalgia, where you can hear as many as you can stand (I'm listening to an Italian version of "La Vie en rose" right now) -- just click where it says "Ascoltaci sul web/Clicca qui!" in the right column!
posted by languagehat at 1:57 PM on April 4, 2005

The Spanish band Souvenir (who sing in French) did a version of the Magnetic Fields' "All my little words".
posted by Utilitaritron at 2:22 PM on April 4, 2005

Thanks, fishfucker--somehow I thought 99 was a self-cover.

to be clear, 99 luftballoons/99 red balloons is a self-cover -- a self-cover by nena. Katrina and The Waves never recorded it, afaik. Sorry for the confusion.

posted by fishfucker at 2:36 PM on April 4, 2005

There's a great cover of 99 luftbalons (sp?) by goldfinger, in both English and Deutsche, in the same song.
posted by signal at 2:46 PM on April 4, 2005

In Norway there have been some very good albums created where Norwegian artists cover a specific songwriter's songs. I know there is one with Leonard Cohen songs performed by different artists, and another with Bob Dylan songs, performed by one prominent Norwegian singer/songwriter. You should be able to find them by searching for "dylan" or "cohen" here.

Also in Norwegian, Anne Grete Preuss has covered at least a couple of Dylan songs over the years.
posted by edlundart at 3:13 PM on April 4, 2005

At the risk of a brush with obscurity: the Dutch-language Spinvis tune Smalfilm (streams - lyrics) was transcovered into Swedish by Johan Borgert & Holy Madre (mp3). It was confusing for all those involved.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:53 PM on April 4, 2005

OK, now I'm reaching. Shokichi Kina's song Hana, originally in Okinawan, was performed in Malagasy on the "World Out of Time" compilation by Tarika Sammy.
posted by adamrice at 4:18 PM on April 4, 2005

apparently it is fairly common in Brazil for american pop songs to be re-recorded with portuguese vocals

Celly Campano - Estupido Cupido (Stupid Cupid - Was sung by Connie Francis, Wanda Jackson, Neil Sedeka, and others)
Celly Campano - Banho de Lua (Tintarella de Luna - an Italian pop song, I think)
Maria Bethania - Sohno Impossivel (Impossible Dream)
Maria Bethania and Caetano Veloso - Doce Misterio da Vida (Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life)
Gal Costa - Negro Amor (It's All Over Now, Baby Blue - Dylan)
The Jet Blacks - Chapeuzinho Vermelho (L'il Red Riding Hood - Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs)
The Jet Blacks - Carango Ensinado (Lonely Avenue - Ray Charles and many others)
The Jet Blacks - Sonho dos Meus Sonhos (Sweets for my Sweet - The Drifters, The Searchers, many others)
Wanderlea - Boa Noite, Meu Bem (Goodnight Irene - Leadbelly)
Wanderlea - Viver Ser Voce (Long Live Love - Sadie Shaw)
Wanderlea - Esta Noite Eu Sonhei - (Si j'etais le fils d'un roi - Marc Aryan)
Wanderlea - Aquele Triste Adeus (Just a Little Bit Better - Herman's Hermits)
Wanderlea - Em Meus Sonhos (When I'm Alone - The Dave Clark Five)

Nothing too current (no "Thong Song"), and I'm surprised I didn't find any Beatles covers. And don't think I'm the biggest Wanderlea fan in the world; it's just this one record I have.

Like signal says, there are a ton of Brazilian songs translated into English, from Ary Barroso's "Aquarela do Brasil" to just about every Antonio Carlos Jobim hit, to the Mutantes "Technicolor" album -- their own stuff in English.

While we're talking about self-covers, Peter Gabriel did "Shock the Monkey" in German ("Shock den Affen")

And I'm sure there's a million covers of "My Way" in Spanish.
posted by hydrophonic at 4:47 PM on April 4, 2005

Self-covers: Peter Gabriel did German versions of two whole albums (#3 and #4).
posted by kindall at 4:50 PM on April 4, 2005

Just check out The Life Aquatic Soundtrack. From Amazon's description:

Director Wes Anderson's jewel of a comic-character study revolves around the quirks and obsessions of Bill Murray's titular Cousteau-esque deep-sea adventurer and his motley crew of associates. As they did for the director's equally sublime Royal Tenenbaums, Anderson and music super Randall Poster stitch their eclectic source material into a warm, subtly focused new cinemusic whole. Mark Mothersbaugh's original Casio-baroque cues are the perfect complement for Australian film composer Sven Libaek's compelling slices of vintage exotica, while Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie largely provides the musical subtext, either directly or in earnest, through live acoustic renditions by Brazilian troubadour/film costar Seu Jorge. Seasoning the mix to near perfection are smart, vintage Britpop contributions by Scott Walker and the Zombies, Iggy and the Stooges thrashing "Search and Destroy," the evocative Iberian fire of Paco DeLucia, and Joan Baez's dramatic read of Morricone's Sacco & Vanzetti theme, "Here's to You." -- Jerry McCulley
posted by blindcarboncopy at 5:33 PM on April 4, 2005

The Studio Ghibli film Mimi o sumaseba (Whisper of the Heart) uses the John Denver anthem "Take Me Home Country Roads" (covered by Olivia Newton John) as opening theme. One of the plot elements of the story is a girl's efforts to translate the song into Japanese. The Japanese version is the movie's closing theme.
posted by SPrintF at 7:52 PM on April 4, 2005

It's only available as a bootleg, so it is tough to get onto a mix CD, but Björk as an 11 year old (in 1977) recorded an Icelandic version of the Beatles' "Fool on the Hill" ("Álfur Út Úr Hól"), on her first-ever album.
posted by xo at 9:44 PM on April 4, 2005

Portishead put out a rendition of "Only You" in French.
posted by rfordh at 1:51 AM on April 5, 2005

Rebekah Del Rio does an amazing Spanish version of Roy Orbison's "Crying" in Muholland Drive.

Kraftwerk did alot of their albums in both German and English. And Senor Coconut does Latin-flavored, Spanish versions of Kraftwerk songs.

David Lee Roth did his entire album "Eat 'em and Smile" in Spanish, with humorous results.
posted by hellbient at 9:23 AM on April 5, 2005

The Beatles tunes mentioned here are on the album Rarities.
posted by mendel at 9:52 AM on April 5, 2005

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