What are the best non-English songs?

Lashonde Lavelle Christian
November 4, 2020
3 minutes
What was Beethoven’s favourite fruit? Ba-na-na-naaaa!!
We’re just messing with ya. However, we are here to talk about some serious music.
From some of the earliest establishments of music, English songs have always been prevalently dominant in the musical world. Which has been alright and have indeed produced some phenomenal hits.

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No ifs, ands or buts, in 2003, the Rolling Stones Magazine, named their top 500 songs of all time. Standing at number 1 & 2 then, were songs like ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ by Bob Dylan and ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction’ by the Rolling Stones.
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The list was legit and had some of the best music, but unfortunately, that one and the many other charts or lists which were released, MAJORLY consisted of only English songs (which is still mostly the case by the way, in case you’re wondering).
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You see, most of the world’s recorded music has been and is controlled by “the big three” – Universal, Sony BMG and Warner – corporations established in Britain or America, who together control up to 80% of today’s market.
Before the Internet and music streaming platforms, radios and music charts were the ways in which the masses tuned into the latest music. Controlled by the big three, they pulled all the strings, and English-language songs went on to receive the most exposure.
Image via Universal Music

The fame and recognition these English songs attained, basically made artists reluctant to put out songs in any other language, for fear of them being inconsequential, or worse, biting the dust altogether.
Be that as it may, pioneered by YouTube, countless other music streaming services were then born and there on out, non-English songs slowly found a way to reap the limelight. Albeit few in numbers, non-English tracks did indeed, grow steadily over the years.

According to the Billboard charts, the Hot 100 received more than 1 non-English song, (in the top 10) in both 2018 and 2020. Which is disappointingly low, as compared to the number of English songs that made it, but also pridefully many since the year 1961.
Popular music streaming apps, like Spotify and Apple Music, have since allowed millions of consumers to access different types of music, as compared to the kinds they were once traditionally used to. Besides consumers, artists have also taken a step forward into releasing more music from different languages.

Although many of these artists still do not get the same opportunities and platforms as English language artists, modern technology has in fact, provided a sturdy foundation into them grasping somewhat, wider exposure.
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Which is why this year alone, there has thus far, been three non-English songs featured in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. The third one, from the very same band who already got two of their hits on the chart, then went on to claim the number 1 spot for two weeks straight, at the end of August – song, ‘Dyanmite’.

Though minor, this increasing shift in the landscape of music is more crucial than you know, and this is why: -

1. Learning & Appreciating New Language and Cultures

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Tuning into songs from other languages directly help in learning and appreciating different languages which exist out there.
For instance, we are more prone to humming or singing a song we hear often, regardless of whether we understand the language or not. This then leads listeners to find out what those lyrics actually mean, inherently teaching about different cultures.

2. Breaking Down Language Barriers

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Besides that, music from other languages also have the ability to break down language barriers. Many surveys have since proven that listeners of Korean and Spanish music, grow a deep-rooted desire to want to speak those languages. This in turn, helps listeners build groups, relationships and circles who share mutual music and language interests.

3. More Good Music

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The great saying is that you don’t need to understand the song to enjoy great music, and we agree. Some of the best, most beat-dropping, intoxicating songs, are those we hardly understand, and yet we love them anyway! So, a definite up side to non-English songs, is having a larger variety of selections.

4. Provides Opportunities for Artists

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Last but not least, engaging, streaming, listening and purchasing music from other languages, also provides more opportunities to the artists who sing them. Not only will this grant them potential to grow, but it will also give them a chance to be recognized on a more international scale.
After all, at the end of the day, it is consumer support all artists count on, to make a living, and if we don’t support these non-English artists, then who will?
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