Can anyone tell yo ein uta that I'd liubi?
August 27, 2007 6:01 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend any good "multilingual" songs?

I love "Liubi, Liubi, I Love You," Romania's entry in Eurovision 2007. For those who haven't heard the song, it's basically a love ode performed in six languages. The chorus starts in English, then cycles through everything from Italian to Russian to Romanian. The very end is a crazy cut-and-paste mix of lines from each language's chorus--code-switching indeed!

Here's a Youtube link to give you a better idea of what I'm talking about.

I'm calling "Liubi, Luibi[...]" a "multilingual" song because that's what Youtube users are dubbing Disney mash-ups that accomplish the same thing: songs cycling through multiple languages in not just words, but entire lines or choruses.

So, can any of you musically-inclined, language-loving MeFites recommend some good songs or artists that I'd like? (I don't really care so much about genre, though songs with catchy hooks and cellos are a bonus!)
posted by ElectricBlue to Media & Arts (35 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Culcha Candela has lyrics in German, Spanish, English, (all in the same song, I mean) maybe others I can't remember off the top of my head -- this is on their album Union Verdadera, I haven't heard the others.
posted by obliquicity at 6:09 PM on August 27, 2007

Best answer: Hmmm. Sigur Ros, I heard, "invented" a language for his music.

As did Yoko Kanno, for some of her songs (I recommend Green Bird, which she wrote, performed by Gabriela Robin) and also, Yoko herself is bilingual so it's fun to hear her switch between songs.

I hear Loituma (of Ievan Polka fame) did something similar.

Kahimi Karie is trilingual and her music frequently shows it (English, French, Japanese.)

Utada Hikaru performs the same songs in different languages, rarely mixing them, but that's not quite what you want, I suppose.

Some IOSYS songs have multiple languages in them, although vocals can be sparse (Marisa Stole The Precious Thing is one such, it's on youtube.) Give it a listen all the way through before dismissing it, and find a subtitled version as you probably won't recognize the English bits (the accent almost overpowers the words.)

That's all I can come up with at this particular moment.
posted by Phyltre at 6:11 PM on August 27, 2007

This is obscure. But...

there is a hebrew song by the Israeli group KAVERETH called THE SUPERMARKET SONG that switches to english in the middle of the chorus; the english lyrics are
"give me the money and I'll give you my heart".

Let's see if I can find the you tube link.

... i am new here and having trouble putting a hyperlink in the post. here is the address:...

The song starts at 4:16. Enjoy.
posted by wittgenstein at 6:26 PM on August 27, 2007

Best answer: There's that famous Manu Chao song "Me gustas tu" that has lyrics in Spanish and French. His albums can have five different languages in them (French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, English come to mind), although not always in the same song.
posted by mosessis at 6:39 PM on August 27, 2007

Best answer: I can't recommend anything more than this single song, but check out Alberto Camerini's Tanz bambolina, in Italian, German, Spanish, French and English. He also has rad silver pants.
posted by nomis at 6:49 PM on August 27, 2007

Sublime - Caress Me Down
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:51 PM on August 27, 2007

Best answer: there are a lot of songs with english/spanish lyrics (and let me say, your spanglish is so fake, abochórnate o véndete como macy gray - tego calderón :o). i suspect you want more languages, but one really good spanglish song is a puerto rican rap by calle 13 (i'm not sure this track really counts as reggaeton) in which a shop owner recounts how p-diddy tries to order a coca-cola. a blog post discusses it here. if you can understand the lyrics, it's hilarious.

you can hear the first 30 secs on
posted by andrew cooke at 6:59 PM on August 27, 2007

seconding Manu Chao.

Smoke City is very beautiful: Nina Miranda sings in Portuguese/English with a French accent.
posted by solongxenon at 7:07 PM on August 27, 2007

The catchy folk classic Nil Na La is usually sung in Irish with one English verse. My favourite version was by a band called After Hours but I doubt you'll find that. Solas definitely have a version, but can't find the audio online.
posted by Abiezer at 7:08 PM on August 27, 2007

Bobby Vinton's "My Melody of Love" has some Polish lyrics:

I'm lookin for a place to go so I can be all alone
From thoughts and memories
So that when the music plays I don't go back to the days
When love was you and me


Oh, oh moja droga jacie kocham
Means that I love you so
Moja droga jacie kocham
More than you'll ever know
Kocham ciebie calem serce
Love you with all my heart
Return to me and always be
My melody of love
posted by Oriole Adams at 7:08 PM on August 27, 2007

Noa (Ahinoam Nini) sings in both Hebrew and English, sometimes French, and occasionally snippets of other languages as well. "Babel "and "Ilanot" are good examples of bilingual/multilingual songs. Also, "Terminal" has the chorus "Terminal, je t'aime, I love you terminal, bella mia"; "Boker" is in Hebrew with a few "Good morning"s thrown in.
posted by bassjump at 7:11 PM on August 27, 2007

Best answer: Teo Torriatte by Queen is partially in Japanese.
posted by Oriole Adams at 7:12 PM on August 27, 2007

Some bands/artists I have in my collection that do this at least once, sometimes more (and a lot of these are only bilingual): Seconding Manu Chao, Molotov, Yerba Buena, Ozomatli, Gogol Bordello, Orishas, maybe Cesaria Evora (she has songs in at least Cape Verdean Creole and Spanish. I don't recall if she sings entire verses in different languages in the same song), Sublime (I think there's only one example, "Caress Me Down"), Puya, maybe Sepultura (they notably sing almost exclusively in English, despite being from Brazil. I know they have songs in Portuguese. I don't remember if they have any in both).

Also, I can think of a lot of Brazilian songs that the artists translated into english as well. Often you can find live versions that switch languages by chorus. Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Os Mutantes, "Samba de Uma Nota So/Samba in One Note", "Girl From Ipanema/Garota da Ipanema" come to mind.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 7:24 PM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Excellent, guys. This is the kind of stuff I'm looking for. :) Please keep it coming!
posted by ElectricBlue at 7:45 PM on August 27, 2007

The Goldfinger version of 99 luft balloon has both german and english.
posted by kjs4 at 9:08 PM on August 27, 2007

Best answer: Stevie Wonder: Ngiculela - Es Una Historia/I Am Singing (Zulu, Spanish, and English)

Definitely agree with reggaetón - there's a lot of back and forth between Spanish, English, and Spanglish. And I agree that Calle 13 is great...they're hilarious.

Also, music played on "hurban" radio stations is often multilingual. Look for playlists from these stations if you're not already familiar.
posted by splendid animal at 9:16 PM on August 27, 2007

This is a song by my band, in English and Spanish. We sing songs in Spanish, English, Creole, Portuguese, Japanese, Zapoteco, Garifuna and other languages, though each song is mostly monolingual.
posted by micayetoca at 9:29 PM on August 27, 2007

Seconding some of the Sublime stuff. Also Selena.
posted by Industrial PhD at 9:40 PM on August 27, 2007

Surprised that nobody beat me to this yet, but Mentirosa by Mellow Man Ace is a classic.
posted by neilkod at 9:56 PM on August 27, 2007

"Should I Stay or Should I Go," by the Clash, has background vocals repeating the lyrics in Spanish in the second (I think) verse. Can't vouch for the quality of the Spanish. In the otherwise Serbo-Croatian song "Dozivjeti Stotu" by the Yugoslav group Bijelo Dugme, they yell a highly Slavicized "No sex no drugs no rock en roll" in the middle.
posted by escabeche at 10:06 PM on August 27, 2007

Best answer: I love codemixing. However, I'm mentally disqualifying 99% of the Japanese or Korean or Chinese music that I listen to, because the English lyrics are usually nonsense. Rie Fu's "Life is Like a Boat" does a good job with coherent English and Japanese together. The Japanese pop/dance group globe did "Wandering Destiny" with Japanese, English, and French (the latter two by the group's half-Japanese, half-French "rapper," whose English is not so great). Apparently their most recent release includes Spanish, too, but I haven't heard it. Oh, speaking of--if you're up for a bit of crack-addled culture-blender befuddlement, look up "Matsuken Samba" on Youtube. Izzy Cooper and the original performers the BOOM did a lovely Japanese/English version of "Shima Uta" (Youtube only has the very good Gackt version with no English, though I think this version has a great deal of Okinawan dialect included, which is its own kind of codemixing).

When I went to see Inti Illimani perform in Berkeley, they sang in Spanish, Portuguese, English, and Italian. They were pretty amazing.
posted by wintersweet at 10:09 PM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Regina Spektor's Apres Mois has some English, some Russian, and a tiny bit of French too.

Shakira's "Ojos Asi" switches between Spanish and Arabic.
posted by tatiana wishbone at 10:16 PM on August 27, 2007

"The Partisan" is an English/French song about, well, partisans in World War II. I like the Leonard Cohen version, and there's no shortage of covers on Youtube.

Warren Zevon tosses a few lines of Spanish in his songs pretty regularly ("Veracruz" from Excitable Boy; "El Amor de Mi Vida" from The Wind; both English and Spanish versions of "Leave My Monkey Alone" on Sentimental Hygiene, but those don't really count here). He also uses a bit of Russian in "Run Straight Down" from Transverse City.

Stereolab uses French and English in "Miss Modular" on Dots and Loops. Hooverphonic switches between French and English pretty freely on A New Stereophonic Sound Spectacular ("Plus Profond" comes to mind immediately).

Cibo Matto has a very tiny bit of French in the mostly English song "White Pepper Ice Cream". "Theme" has a tiny bit of Italian, a bit of French, and a longish bit in Japanese. And some English, too. Both are on Viva! La Woman.

Arcade Fire have some English/French songs as well: "Black Wave" from Neon Bible and "Haiti" from Funeral.
posted by amery at 12:11 AM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Lots of stuff from Love Psychedelico is in English and Japanese. Hassan Hacmoun, Les Yeux Noir & Ozomatli had a track called "Believe" on the "Constantine" soundtrack, that's in English, Spanish and Moroccan, IIRC. Lou Monte sang "Lazy Mary" in English and Italian, and even announced the switches between languages.
posted by evil holiday magic at 3:05 AM on August 28, 2007

"You are the one for me" with Charles Aznavour.
posted by springload at 4:24 AM on August 28, 2007

Best answer: I don't have any specific recommendations, but wanted to mention that another term for what you're looking for is "macaronic song." Googling the term brings up lots of information about (mostly) folksongs in two or more languages.
posted by misteraitch at 4:27 AM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Hélène Ségara & Andrea Boccelli - Vivo Per Lei (FR/IT)
Hélène Ségara & Laura Pausini - On n'oublie jamais rien, on vit avec (FR/IT)
Gregory Lemarchal & Lucie Silvas - Même Si (FR/EN)
Youssou N'Dour & Neneh Cherry - 7 Seconds (Wolof/French/English)
posted by rom1 at 5:07 AM on August 28, 2007

Best answer: Daniel Lanois' "Jolie Louise" switches back & forth between French & English almost every other line.
posted by Johnny Assay at 5:47 AM on August 28, 2007

Blondie's cover of Denis sticks in a very of French in the middle.
posted by rongorongo at 7:44 AM on August 28, 2007

Jacques Brel's "Marieke" is in French with a Flemish chorus.
posted by matildaben at 8:32 AM on August 28, 2007

Zeca Baleiro - Samba do Approach

"venha provar meu brunch
saiba que eu tenho approach
na hora do lunch
eu ando de ferryboat
eu tenho savoir-faire
meu temperamento é light
minha casa é hi-tec
toda hora rola um insight
já fui fã do jethro tull
hoje me amarro no Slash
minha vida agora é cool
meu passado é que foi trash"

posted by Zé Pequeno at 9:14 AM on August 28, 2007

He also uses a bit of Russian in "Run Straight Down" from Transverse City.

Er, make that "Turbulence".
posted by amery at 11:26 AM on August 28, 2007

Best answer: No one's mentioned The Pixies? There's usually a couple Spanish verses on their albums.

Also six million Mexican bands from the late '60s through early '70s, playing American garage standards. I'll look some up when I get home.
posted by klangklangston at 11:52 AM on August 28, 2007

Gogol Bordello is a "Gypsy Punk" band currently operating in NYC that drifts through the various languages of it's contributing vocalists almost continuously in every song.

Plus, their stuff is catchy.
posted by Crosius at 3:57 PM on August 28, 2007

Il Divo has quite a few songs that switch between spanish, french and english.
posted by snoogles at 5:36 PM on September 6, 2007

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