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Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5384
Topic starter  

Lately I noticed two things with my own music: only about 40% of the people who listen to them speak Dutch yet I feel much more comfortable writing lyrics in Dutch then English. This got me thinking since practially all music I listen to myself is in languages I can, atleast somewhat, understand and follow. So I was wondering how you all feel about languages and music. Does a song has to be in your native language? Does the accent matter? Would you rather have sing someone with an odd language in your native language or with the natural accent of a language you don't understand? And would you rather listen to mediocre lyrics in an understandable language or great lyrics in a language you don't understand. And if you listen to a song in a language you don't understand, do you make your own story up or do you try to figure out what's it about?

I know, many questions, but it seems interesting to know. Or atleast to me. :P

Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 153

The great majority of music I listen to is in English, but some bands or specific songs I listen to are in languages I don't understand - mainly KMFDM has some songs all in German, and at one point I liked Rammstein, I think all their songs are in German too.

I certainly prefer a great movie in another language with subtitles to a mediocre movie in English. I probably just haven't been exposed to the same situation with music as much.

-- Voidious

Noble Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1120

I much prefer music with the singing done in English, as it is the only language I speak. So, I also would rather listen to a singer who is not fluent in English singing in English, rather than his/her native language. For me, I just prefer to understand the lyrics, which is only possible for me if it is English.

Honorable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 632

The different languages make singing even more interesting, singing in french is very different from english and the unique way things flow and rhyme in each language make things even more unique.

I like listening to singing in other languages sometimes, I usually don't make up the lyrics, but I might ask someone who speaks it what the song is about.

In the new Lord of the Rings Musical they sing in Elvish

"And above all, respond to all questions regarding a given song's tonal orientation in the following manner: Hell, it don't matter just kick it off!"
-Chris Thile

Member Moderator
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5366

I lived in Germany for a couple of years, and the first thing I noticed when listening to local bands was "hey - the lyrics still rhyme." From then on, it was just as easy to listen to bands playing in their own language as it is to listen to bands singing only in English.

I like Rammstein too, and Die Toten Hosen (are they still going?), and whenever I'm travelling in Europe I always listen to local radio and TV stations to get a feel for their music too. It's a must, I think.

Lyrics in Swedish must be complicated - they've got words that are hundreds of letters long. Do they still get them to rhyme?


A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at:

Noble Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1226

Oh, man, sing in your native tongue. It'll have way more musicality and flow.
Better yet, sing in no discernible language at all, like one of my musical heroes:


Famed Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 3460


I once read a comment made many years ago by somebody in Britain. He said that he didn't mind what language Opera was sung in - provided it was one that he didn't understand.

It sounds at first like just a smart remark, but I have to say that I agree with him. I enjoy operas in French and Italian especially, as those languages have their own beauty of sound and expressiveness. The actual words are often pretty banal too, and if they're translated into English they seem to lose a fair bit of their magic anyway.

So, no, I don't really mind what language a song is in just so long as it the composer has a feel for the sound of language and the way it connects to the emotion of the song.



Honorable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 519

To be honest, being a guitar player, I've butchered the words to just about all the songs that I thought I knew! I don't listen to the words, I find myself listening to the emotional content of the song as a whole.

Same thing with Opera. I also listen to a lot of Mexican music which I really enjoy. Can't understand a single word. But I really like it!

I just remembered something that just happened to me.

At a local watering hole near me, a good friend of mine was playing "Stairway". I'm sitting there listening to the flow of the song and wondering why he was playing it, it was out of character, he normally plays Irish songs. He was doing a good job of it but everyone was laughing. I started to get a little upset until I listened to the words.

He was singing the theme song to "Gilligans Island"! Perfectly in time!

I don't know if I should be ashamed or not, but it was a great performance.

At least it taught me not to be THAT serious anymore.

When I die, I want to go peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming......
like the passengers in his car.

Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5899

I don't mind listening to music in other languages - Thai rock is really interesting. I don't like to listen to translations of songs that I've heard in their original language, though. They to lose everything in the translation.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
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Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 2852

Active Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 12

As a native English speaker living in NL, I can say that as for Dutch language artists, I really don't listen to many of them. That's not to say I don't listen to Dutch music, just that the ones which have really stolen my heart either don't tend to be very vocal musically (Flairck) or don't sing in Dutch (Ayreon, the Gathering). Blof is rather nice, but not quite my style. I don't know if it's a language specific thing, or lack of bands I've come across yet. :)

With that said I do however listen quite a lot to scandinavian/nordic bands who don't sing a lick of English and I adore them all the same. Varttina, Hedningarna and others of that nature spring immediately to mind. In the end, I don't think it's about the language of the words for me or whether or not I can sing along in the shower at home, but the music itself which speaks. No borders there :)

Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5134

No, I like the musicality of languages themselves, so it doesn't matter to me. But I'm a bit of a language geek.

Well we all shine on--like the moon and the stars and the sun.
-- John Lennon

Reputable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 396

I don't really consider the lyrics to be that important, so language isn't a barrier for me. I happen to like the Concrete Blonde switch to spanish on "Los Illegals" and I'm a big Los Lobos fan.

I heard a cover of Kiss "Shout It Out Loud" in Italian while in Naples, sounded really cool.

PFM is a great Italian band from the 70's. Switched to English for sales, I guess.

I have a thrash metal live tape of German bands that talk to the audience in German and then sing in English. Quite disappointing, I wish the songs were in German.

A friend went to Panama and brought me a Rap CD in spanish, the only line I heard in english was "Welcome to Panama, mother ....."

I used to have a copy of Peter Gabriel's third album in German, really miss it. I hear the songs in english and somethings missing.

I got this mp3 cd of Russian techno dance music and I have a few middle eastern techno dance discs. Way cool.

and I always wanted to hear Scorpions in German.

I guess I just get tired of hearing english all the time.

Maybe I should start doing songs in the language that ws made up for Blade Runner. That would be cool.

Brain-cleansing music for brain-numbing times in a brain dead world

Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 7850

When I listen to Rammstein I just assume it's all obscene anyway.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."

Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4478

Having not been exposed to much music in other languages I'd have to say I prefer English. My daughters ex-boyfriend was from Holland and wrote a lot of originals that I though t sounded pretty cool even though I had no idea what he was saying.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!

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