Looking for covers of American or British classic oldies (or even some classic rock tunes) in non-English languages
December 1, 2012 2:04 PM   Subscribe

Looking for covers of American or British classic oldies (or even some classic rock tunes) in non-English languages--for example a cover of the Ronettes "Be My Baby" in French . THANKS! :)
posted by dottiechang to Media & Arts (47 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand and Sie Liebt Dich

Seu Jorge's Portuguese Bowie covers

Marie Douceur, Marie Colere (Paint it Black)
posted by Gordafarin at 2:13 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Including original artists?

You've never heard Marvin Gaye until you've heard him in the language of love. By which of course I mean German.

Marvin Gaye: Wie Schoen Das Ist
Supremes: Baby, Wo Ist Unsere Liebe

[There are at least two albums full of Motown originals in German and Italian out there.]
posted by genghis at 2:14 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Gipsy Kings - Hotel California (Spanish)
Ferhat Guzel - Beggin' (Turkish; a parody but it's awesome so whatever)
The Beatles have covered their own songs in German - Sie Liebt Dich (She Loves You) and Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand (I Wanna Hold Your Hand)

You might be interested in Seu Jorge's Portuguese language covers of David Bowie songs.
posted by capricorn at 2:16 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Runaway in Japanese.
Nat King Cole sings his hits in Japanese (Poorly but A for effort) L.O.V.E. - Autumn Leaves.
posted by damo at 2:22 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Norwegian Wood by Cornershop, in Punjabi
posted by LionIndex at 2:23 PM on December 1, 2012

M (Matthieu Chedid)'s cover of close to me in french, a favourite of mine :-)
posted by PardonMyFrench at 2:32 PM on December 1, 2012

Oh and on second thought, I'm not sure if The Cure fits in the "oldies" category, might be a matter of generational reference...
posted by PardonMyFrench at 2:33 PM on December 1, 2012

Petula Clark covered her own "Downtown" in German.
posted by neroli at 2:35 PM on December 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

I Think We're Alone Now by Lene Lovich in Japanese
posted by kimdog at 2:35 PM on December 1, 2012


Johnny Cash in German

Ma Génération

Wishing & Hoping becomes Stupido Stupido in Italian

The Prisencoleneinsinainciusol guy sings Stand by Me
posted by Gordafarin at 2:35 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nancy Sit: As Tears Go By
posted by neroli at 2:40 PM on December 1, 2012

Ros Sereysothea does the Carpenters "Superstar" in Khmer
posted by neroli at 2:46 PM on December 1, 2012

Fairport Convention covered Dylan's "If You Gotta Go, Go Now" as the French language "Si Tu Dois Partir". And jolly good it is too.
posted by hydatius at 2:49 PM on December 1, 2012

Here's a few more from 1961. I don't know what they're covers of (something famous). 1 2.

Never on Sunday (日曜はダメよ) was covered by Nishida Sachiko (西田佐知子) but I can't find it on youtube.
posted by damo at 2:50 PM on December 1, 2012

here's a pretty good French version of Paint It Black
posted by mannequito at 2:51 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ces bottes sont faites pour marcher - Eileen

I don't know if this is what you really want -- and it's really a case of the opposite, English speaking artists adapting a foreign language song into English -- but there's always Cake's Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps* and the Spanish version, Quizas, Quizas, Quizas.

*You Tube informs me that there's also a Doris Day version, which I suppose came first.
posted by Sara C. at 2:54 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Watching some of the other suggestions, I just found this relatively amazing Italian version of Paint It Black. Though I don't know how many versions of Paint It Black you really need in your life.

This isn't a cover of any particular American rock song, but it feels somehow germane.
posted by Sara C. at 3:18 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

My Boy Lollipop by Sakura and The Quests. Originally a UK hit by Millie Small, this is a nice surf rock style take in Japanese. Enjoy!
posted by kuppajava at 3:33 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Stones did their own "As Tears Go By" in Italian.

A couple in Spanish from Freddie Fender:

"No Seas Cruel" ("Don't Be Cruel")

posted by zorseshoes at 3:46 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Chica Alboratada: Los Straitjackets and Big Sandy
(which is this song - or this version, if you're so inclined. But not this version.)
posted by peagood at 3:54 PM on December 1, 2012

"Bang Bang" has apparently been covered by a million and a half people; my favorite is still by Dalida.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 3:57 PM on December 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Caterina Caselli's "Tutto Nero", aka "Paint It Black" in Italian.
posted by bcwinters at 4:00 PM on December 1, 2012

Here's another questionably apt example, but what about La Bamba?

It's a traditional song from Veracruz, adapted into a rock song by Richie Valens. And then adapted again in the 80's by Los Lobos and Lou Diamond Philips.

Lately I've been enjoying this contemporary sorta folky/indie rock version by East L.A. band Las Cafeteras. Note the presence of ukuleles, a Critical Mass bike ride, guys in trilbies, "BESOS NOT BOMBS!!!" and a kid doing the robot. It's still in Spanish, though.

But what about Hindi? Yes, there's a Hindi language cover of La Bamba. From a Bollywood movie, of course. This is a pretty loose cover -- they don't try too hard to get the Hindi verse lyrics to match the rhythm of the original song.

Maybe you were interested in the Weird Al version, "Lasagna"? Because that exists.

I think this is a Japanese version. At least, it's a version by a Japanese band and I don't recognize any of the lyrics even though I'm pretty familiar with the words to "La Bamba".

There's apparently a Greek version, but the only YouTube example I could find was so unlistenably awful (yes, worse than that Bollywood version) that I couldn't verify that it's really in Greek and not just a Greek pop star singing in Spanish.

Chubby Checker covered it in English.
posted by Sara C. at 4:02 PM on December 1, 2012

Eartha Kitt did a Japanese version of Come On A My House.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 4:04 PM on December 1, 2012

Ohhhhhh...one of my favourite genres!

Rare Mexican Cuts from the Sixties has some awesome 60s' rock done entirely by Mexican bands.

You can find more on Boogaloo Con Senor Amor and Lucha Va Voom: Senor Amor's Mexican R&R Faves.

And then trawl around the Internet for Salma & Sabina Agha, an awesome set of sisters who did Hindi covers of Abba songs.

Teen Dance Music from China and Malaysia has some great bits in there, and Dengue Fever presents Electric Cambodia is also gorgeous.
posted by Katemonkey at 4:18 PM on December 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Here's one that made a strange round trip. Algerian-born Rachid Taha's Lyon-based band Carte de Séjour ("Residence Permit") created music that fused Algerian rai with rock. He's a big fan of The Clash and bumps into them before their show in Paris in 1981. According to Taha, he gave them Carte de Séjour's demo tape, and while he heard nothing from the band after that, Rock the Casbah hits the airwaves months later.

So it's only fitting that he records a cover, Rock el Casbah, with way more Middle Eastern instrumentation and a killer rhythm track. It sounds great, and I think it would fit easily equally well on the streets of Algiers and at alt-rock night at [insert your favourite North American club here].

Better still, for a live performance, he invites The Clash's Mick Jones to perform the tune with him, and the result is stunning.
posted by AccordionGuy at 4:19 PM on December 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

It Might As Well Be Spring sung by Blossom Dearie in French.

Les Eaux de Mars by Stacey kent - in this case a French cover of Tom Jobim's "Águas de Março"

There is also a special sub-category for Christmas songs - for example you will instantly recognise "Vive le Vent"
posted by rongorongo at 4:32 PM on December 1, 2012

oh - and Dylan's "Comme une Femme " by Francis Cabrel
posted by rongorongo at 4:39 PM on December 1, 2012

Kevin Ayers: "May I?" in English; "Puis Je?" in French
posted by rongorongo at 4:54 PM on December 1, 2012

Connie Francis' "Stupid Cupid" in Portuguese.
posted by hydrophonic at 4:57 PM on December 1, 2012

Two versions of California Dreamin' in Spanish: Los Juniors de Arturo Gomez; Los Dug Dugs.

Gimme Little Sign in Spanish.

Under the Boardwalk in Spanish.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 5:19 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Rita Pavone's Gira Gira is a translation of The Four Tops' "I'll Be There."
posted by gubo at 6:22 PM on December 1, 2012

Joe Dassin's 'Marie-Jeanne' is a French rendition of 'Ode to Billy Joe.'
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:25 PM on December 1, 2012

Danielle Denin's "Je lis dans tes yeux/Quand tu m'embrasses" inverts The Beatles' "I'm Looking Through You" from the female's perspective.

I couldn't believe it when I learned that Maurice Chevalier covered "Yellow Submarine" (as "Le sous-marin vert") and it is exactly as awful as you might expect.
posted by dropkick queen at 6:42 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Prince Royce - Stand By Me

On the Coverville podcast, there are sometimes "Lost in Translation" episodes that feature translated songs: Episode 110, Episode 170, Episode 316 , and Episode 717.
posted by knile at 7:02 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Grace Chang (葛兰) does an incredible Mandarin/English version of Georgia Gibbs' I Want You To Be My Baby called I Want Your Love (我要你的爱).
posted by so much modern time at 7:05 PM on December 1, 2012

Oh, another one: a Japanese cover of John Denver's Country Road in the wonderful anime film Whisper of the Heart.
posted by so much modern time at 7:18 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

They're not covers, but The Young Rascals also released Groovin' in a Spanish version and an Italian version.
posted by Daddy-O at 8:30 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Canadian band The Haunted did a great French-language cover of Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze.
posted by Dismantled King at 9:02 PM on December 1, 2012

Previous similar question here, which will probably have more useful suggestions.

I'll repeat my recommendation of Les Surfs (but note that the French lyrics are a bit different than the original).

Toni Basil's 1982 earworm Hey Mickey had a notable Spanish version.
posted by gimonca at 10:15 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sounds like you might be interested in this compilation series from the 1950's-1970's, which includes a lot of covers of American and British popular songs. Here's a couple examples:

Sonia- Aquí En Mi Nube (Get Off My Cloud by the Rolling Stones)
The Ruby Rats- Heatwave (Martha and the Vandellas cover)
Pat Harris and the Blackjacks- Hippy Hippy Shake (This links to their entire EP)

Most of this series consists of covers whose song titles have been translated into the language the cover is recorded in, so it might take a bit of filtering on your part, but this seems to be right up your alley.
posted by _superconductor at 1:42 AM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Bollywood! I Wanna Hold Your Hand by the Indian Beatles.
(True, according to the subtitles, the lyrics are different. But still!)
posted by Rash at 8:53 AM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh my goodness, this is amazing! Thank you everyone for chiming in!

This all started after I went on the hunt for the Spanish language version of Rosie and the Original's "Angel Baby."

Please keep em coming! As someone suggested, I am also interested in non-English versions of songs that are not covers (meaning the same band did English and non-English versions).

You guys are the best!
posted by dottiechang at 1:25 PM on December 2, 2012

How about mixing two languages in one song? I love the little story told in both English and French in Daniel Lanois' Jolie Louise.
posted by mannequito at 3:31 PM on December 2, 2012

A couple songs where the original version is in a non-English language:

Io Che Non Vivo - Pino Donaggio. This song was sung in English, albeit with completely different lyrics, as "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me" by Dusty Springfield.

Gloria - Umberto Tozzi. The cover, in English, was a big hit for Laura Branigan.

Mack The Knife, sung in the original German by Lotte Lenya.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:58 PM on December 2, 2012

Straight out the bayou: En Français: Cajun 'n' Creole Rock 'n' Roll.
posted by Pyrattorney at 8:55 AM on December 6, 2012

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