Russkaya popsa? Otlichno.
August 12, 2012 7:27 AM   Subscribe

I use music a lot in my classroom. This year will be no different. Help me put together the best possible back-to-school playlist of school-friendly pop songs…with one caveat: they can’t be in English.

I have German covered, but I’m looking for songs in other languages, except for Chinese, French, and Spanish (those language teachers have their own stuff).

I have students from all over the world. Go wild! Bonus points for non-Eurovision stuff from Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova.

The only limiter would be if the lyrics are obviously inappropriate like Die Antwoord’s “Wat kyk jy” or Ansiktet’s “Äckligt”. Den svenska björnstammen is great, though.
posted by vkxmai to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
This looks like a job for Gangnam Style!

(Some discussion of the song here.)
posted by gnomeloaf at 8:03 AM on August 12, 2012

The Oranges. Anything by The Oranges.
posted by corey flood at 8:11 AM on August 12, 2012

I like this song from Armenia by Shprot (which is a Russian slang term for stinky fish) called Egir Azat "Be Free". It has a GaGa-vibe to it. It really breaks Armenian female pop traditions. Also Shprot seems very cool.
posted by k8t at 8:33 AM on August 12, 2012

Mongolian hip hop is very good. Here's a song with English subtitles.
posted by k8t at 8:33 AM on August 12, 2012

Alabina is amazing too - she sings in Arabic (and sometimes Spanish). This is one of my favorites. I would recommend her music to anyone. It has a Gipsy Kings vibe (and she duets with them.)
posted by k8t at 8:35 AM on August 12, 2012

If you're up for expanding your pop repertoire to include a bit of reggae, I really, really like Kultiration, who are Swedish and like to sing about rastafari issues.

When I think "non-english pop", though, I think the pillows! They got big here in the states after their music was featured on the FLCL anime. So there's an avenue for further exploration if one of your students decides they like the musical stylings.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 8:37 AM on August 12, 2012

Oh, and don't forget Eurovision! I can't claim that everything there is good, but the winners are catchy, there's an entire event culture build up around it, and lots and lots and lots of music in not-English!
posted by TheNewWazoo at 8:38 AM on August 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is a popular hip hop-ish song from Georgia. Warning: video contains many bikinis.
posted by k8t at 8:40 AM on August 12, 2012

@TheNewWazoo, actually most songs ARE in English. And, IMHO, they don't reflect national culture much. Many are produced by EuroPop producers.
posted by k8t at 8:43 AM on August 12, 2012

Do you care if it's current? Because if not, you neeeeed Morning Musume - Mr. Moonlight. It's great to sing along to even if you don't speak Japanese. (It has a few English phrases.)
posted by snorkmaiden at 8:44 AM on August 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Azerbaijan pop song - singing isn't great but beat is fun.
posted by k8t at 8:51 AM on August 12, 2012

Googoosh was/is the most popular female singer in Iran. Here's her backstory.

Here's an awesome song from the '70s, although in English. But oh wow, is it great. (And demonstrates how progressive Iran was.)

Here's a good song by her in Farsi.
posted by k8t at 8:54 AM on August 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Turkish pop's most fun comes from Tarkan. Here's his most popular song, Kiss Kiss. Impossible for teenagers not to like and the video is great.
posted by k8t at 8:55 AM on August 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Parvarim recorded an entire album of Simon and Garfunkel covers sung in Hebrew. You can download it here.
posted by kitty teeth at 9:12 AM on August 12, 2012

School-friendly Dutch pop, in three distinct styles:
Want Want - Kip Paard Koe
Gers Pardoel - Ik Neem Je Mee
Lucky Fonz III - Ik Heb Een Meisje
posted by neushoorn at 10:27 AM on August 12, 2012

This calls for The Movits - Fel Del Av Garden, Appelknyckarjazz, and Na na nah!
posted by ChuraChura at 10:50 AM on August 12, 2012

For older stuff, you could look at Harry Belafonte (popularizer in the US of some African and Caribbean kid-friendly music) or some of the songs from early 20th century Yiddish theater/pop music - eg Bei Mir Bist Du Shoen.

Also might check flapjax at midnight's posts about music, lots of good stuff in there especially from Africa.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:25 AM on August 12, 2012

Seconding Mr. Moonlight, it's the song my user name is named after!

Try for weekly updates of what's best selling in Japan.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 12:36 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

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