Song Lyrics In Other Languages Whose Meanings We Just Learned
Often there are song lyrics we all cannot get out of our heads – even when they are in different languages. Yet, what’s curious is that most of us will be singing along to songs with foreign lyrics without realizing what they mean. This can lead to you earning a few wary or strange looks if you’re singing about something that might not be for public ears.
Fortunately, we’ve rounded up a few of the greatest songs to tell you about the song lyrics in other languages whose meanings we just learned. This immersive list should shed some light on what you’re singing and give you an idea about if it’s best kept for your shower.
- 1511 VOTES
All Night Long - Lionel Richie
In 1983, the international smash hit “All Night Long" reached the top 10 in several countries and topped the Billboard Hot 100. However, it took significantly longer than a night for Richie to complete the song.
According to the New York Post, “All Night Long” wasn’t finished until Richie was having dinner with a friend - a Jamaican gynecologist - and he stated (in a Jamaican accent) that he was going to be working all night long. Another interesting song tidbit is that the exotic-sounding lyrics in the song are complete gibberish.
According to Richie, “Tam bo li de say de moi ya, Hey Jambo Jumbo” are words he made up after a friend at the UN couldn’t get him African phrases fast enough.
- 2535 VOTES
While this song ended up being a hit in both America and Germany, “99 Red Balloons" is not a word-for-word translation of "99 Luftballons.” Written during the Cold War, both songs tell the story of 99 harmless balloons being released into the air, which starts a domino effect of war and devastation, and ends with the apocalypse. One translation of the German version puts it like this:
99 balloons on their way to the horizon / People think they're UFOs from space so a general sent up a fighter squadron after them / Sound the alarm if it's so but there on the horizon were only 99 balloons.
99 fighter jets / Each one's a great warrior / Thought they were Captain Kirk then came a lot of fireworks / The neighbors didn't understand anything and felt like they were being provoked so they shot at the horizon at 99 balloons.
Compare that to the English version:
99 red balloons / Floating in the summer sky / Panic bells, it's red alert / There's something here from somewhere else / The war machine springs to life / Opens up one eager eye / Focusing it on the sky / The 99 red balloons go by / 99 Decision Street / 99 ministers meet / To worry, worry, super scurry / Call the troops out in a hurry / This is what we've waited for / This is it boys, this is war
Both versions end in basically the same way. From Germany:
99 years of war left no room for victors. There are no more war ministers nor any jet fighters. Today I'm making my rounds see the world lying in ruins. I found a balloon, think of you and let it fly (away).
From the USA:
It's all over, and I'm standing pretty / In this dust that was a city / If I could find a souvenir / Just to prove the world was here / And here is a red balloon / I think of you, and let it go
- 3229 VOTES
Crackity Jones - Pixies
One of the biggest mosh pit songs of the past was “Crackity Jones” by The Pixies. This song has one of the catchiest choruses, but it's founded on a somewhat dark personal history.
According to lead singer Frank Black, it’s about a gay college roommate who was frighteningly violent. He lived with this man during an exchange program in Puerto Rico in 1985. This history is why parts of the song have Spanish lyrics.
One of the darker parts of the song is the verse where he talks about the mental state of his roommate:
Please forgive me, José Jones… You need these walls for your own… I’m movin’ out… of this hospedaje (dorm room)… I’m afraid you’ll cut me, boy.
Years later, Black gained a deeper understanding of mental health problems and learned that his roommate wasn’t crazy or bad but someone who needed help.
In a 2014 interview with Mojo magazine, Black said: “Looking back, he just had some mental health issues. I found him frightening and a little mysterious.” He further went on to say he would have had a more nurturing attitude toward a similar situation if it had happened now.
- 4262 VOTES
Bloody Mary - Lady Gaga
According to Lady Gaga, her song “Bloody Mary” was inspired by Mary Magdalene, who she believes is the ultimate superstar, and her car. Gaga also said that when creating this song, she struggled between fantasy and reality, which might explain why this electro ballad has religious themes.
During the song’s duration, Gaga sings an emotional French lyric, “Je ne veux pas mourir toute seule,” meaning “I don’t want to die alone.” She also ends the song with the Portuguese phrase “liberdade e amor,” meaning “freedom and love.”
These lyrics and the other verses in the song highlight a mother’s love for her son (Jesus), whom she has to watch die for the greater good (the sins of others).
- 5128 VOTES
Life Goes On - BTS
The COVID-19 pandemic affected millions of lives, but there were shining lights during this tremulous time, and one of them was the “Life Goes On” song released by the KPop group BTS.
This 2020 song is about telling the world that even though they are facing a new normal, life continues onward. There is also a message of healing to fans and the world, which is why it became so popular when it was released.
Although most of the song is in Korean, there are English bits here and there, with one of the more beautiful Korean and English amalgamations being the lyrics:
like an echo in the forest…haruga doraogetji…haruga doraogetji… amu ildo eopdan deusi… yeah, life goes on… like an arrow in the blue sky… to haru deo naragaji… on my pillow, on my table… yeah, life goes on… like this again.
This translates to:
Like an echo in the forest
The day will come back around
As if nothing happened
Yeah, life goes on
Like an arrow in the blue sky
Another day flying by
On my pillow, on my table
Yeah, life goes on
Like this again
Interestingly, the “Life goes on, let’s live on” phrasing was the band’s primary message during their speech at the 75th UN General Assembly.
- 6289 VOTES
Gagnam Style - Psy
The first Youtube video to achieve 2 billion views was the music video for Psy’s song “Gangnam Style.” This song exploded near instantly and became a worldwide hit even though it was sung almost entirely in Korean. In fact, the only part of the song not in Korean is the line: “hey... sexy lady.”
According to Psy, the song is about telling his point of view of Seoul’s Gangnam District. In some of the verses, he points out how calm it is during the day in the district and how, at night, the insanity occurs.
In addition, he also sings about the luxurious lifestyle associated with those who live in the Gangnam districts, and he compares a sexy lady who knows how to be wild (hence the English line) to the district.