10 Songs, 10 Languages: Because music knows no language barrier

For decades people have debated if ‘music is a universal language?’ While some scholars are still firm on denying it, there have been other musicians who have broken the barriers of linguistic abilities, and proven that music is about convening emotions through chords and rhythms.

So imagine yourself traveling in a different country, with a native language you do not understand, and then stopping by at a street corner dancing to the tunes of a song you cannot decipher. Do you still find yourself attached to the sound and notes of it? If yes, then this post is for you.

So, here is a listicle of songs/musicians for your next global playlist – which will let you into the world of real music with great lyrics and music notes without the barrier of language. It also busts the myths regarding foreign language and skepticism spread among the listeners, by conveying how good music can touch our hearts…

#1. Tian Di’, or ‘天地‘ literally translates to ‘world’ or ‘universe’. Tian Di is the first Mandarin-language song Kris Wu has released in a while. In this song, Kris combines traditional Chinese imagery with American hip hop. This showcases the versatility in his musical style, which makes him stand out in the music scene. The MV is extremely artistic as it initially starts with a crystal sky with Kris standing in the forest. It also features traditional Chinese scenes like tea ceremonies and practicing martial arts, as well as modern twists like driving down a long road.music-global playlist-streettrotter

#2. Spring day is a korean song following a frigid winter of teen angst and uncertainty, spring comes as a new beginning; the landscape begins to fill with new life, and new stories begin. And in true BTS fashion, they’ve managed to pull out some obscure literary references to tie into the plot of “Spring Day.” The concept of ‘Spring day’ is to finally choose to leave your youth behind and move forward into the future.The most notable of which is the inclusion of the Omelas Hotel, in reference to the short story by Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.” As DreamTeller theorized, the city of Omelas — as well as the hotel room in the MV — stand as a false utopia: a place where everyone is perpetually happy and carefree, but under the surface, one child must suffer in order to maintain the balance.music-global playlist-streettrotter

#3. Yalla is an Arabic song recorded by Romanian singer Inna for her eponymous and fourth studio album (2015). A dance-pop and eurodance track, “Yalla” is sung in both English and Arabic. Music critics were positive towards the song, commending its production and commercial appeal. An accompanying music video for “Yalla” (which received notable airplay in Romania) was shot by Barna Nemethi in Marrakesh, Morocco and premiered on YouTube on 12 November 2015. Featuring Inna chased by a man at a bazaar, it attracted multiple comments written in Arabic. To promote the single, Inna also had various concert venues. Commercially, “Yalla” peaked at number 13 in Romania and at number 18 on the Polish dance chart.music-global playlist-streettrotter

#4. Bailando is a Spanish song by Enrique Iglesias featuring Descemer Bueno and Gente De Zona, holds the record as the longest-running No. 1 ever in the history of Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart. It not only spent 41 weeks at the top of the chart, but also rose to No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, aided by a Spanglish remix (featuring a Sean Paul guest rap), a rare feat for a predominantly Spanish track. And its backstory is just as improbable.music-global playlist-streettrotter

#5. Uddi Ja is a Persian Urdu song. It is not just beautiful in its lyrics and composition, it is also sung melodiously by Mohsin Abbas Haider. Also it has beautiful meaning. Mohsin Abbas Haider is the singer, writer, composer of this song- ‘Uddi Ja’ making his debut on Coke Studio during Season 9 aired in Aug- Sep 2016 with this fabulous song. This song is nothing but an articulation of connection he felt with Rabb (God, in arabic) during his early days of struggle when he moved to Karachi from Faisalabad. Pakistan’s Music has been able to give voice to their tradition; be it through Sufi music, or folklores.music-global playlist-streettrotter

#6. Tous Les Mêmes, directed by Henry Scholfield, is a French song which  was released on YouTube on 18 December 2013 and features Stromae partly dressed as a woman. The track shows the life of female Stromae, annoyed as she is with the attitude of men and what they do. Throughout the video, Stromae depicts various stereotypical remarks women make about men, accompanied by the non-verbal cues the other characters in the video make. The lighting effects in the video (green light for male Stromae, pink light for female Stromae) aid the interpretation of the song. The video has received over 222 million views as of January 2019.music-global playlist-streettrotter

#7. Kun Faya Kun is a sufi song. The origin is from the arabic words “Kun” which means “to be” or “to exist” & “Faya Kun” means “it is”. So the literal translation of Kun Faya Kun is “Be ,and it is”. Kun Faya Kun is one of the rare songs that had me totally oored from the first moment I heard it. Easily one of AR Rahman’s and Irshad Kamil’s nest works, the beauty of the song is not just in the words or the music but in the complete conceptualization.music-global playlist-streettrotter

#8. All the Stars is an American soundtrack album of the film ‘Black Panther’. If someone had enough popularity among black Americans to resurrect a discussion about migrating back to Africa, that might just be Kendrick Lamar. The rapper’s new song with SZA for the Black Panther soundtrack, “All the Stars,” came to life in a music video that dropped ahead of the film’s release. In the video, which has more than 43 million views on YouTube, Lamar goes on a visually stunning voyage to Africa that’s loaded with symbolism and references to the continent’s many cultures.music-global playlist-streettrotter

#9. Somebody that I used to know is written by he Belgian singer-songwriter Wouter de Backer, better known as Gotye, took the top slot of the UK’s Official Top 40 Singles, before DJ Fresh’s frankly abysmal “Hot Right Now” usurped his crown. He hasn’t come to terms with his break up with his former lover.   He is particularly affronted that what he called love was nothing to his former lover and is scared that it will happen again. He becomes involved in a new relationship.  His new lover explains how he has hurt her because he hasn’t “let it go”.  He recognizes that he’s being a heel.  He signals to her that he has faith in her/is ready to “let it go”.  She signals her faith in him/the relationship.  There is an opportunity for reconciliation.music-global playlist-streettrotter

#10. Thalli Pogathey is a song from Tamil movie-’Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada -2016’. Sung by Sid Sriram, Aaryan Dinesh Kanagaratnam, Aparna Narayanan is a beautiful composition by A. R. Rahman. The song is about a guy’s longing to express himself to a girl; but not knowing how to go about it and thus, having an inner conversation with himself.music-global playlist-streettrotter

About the Author: Riya Kanaujia is a Fashion Communication student at National Institute of Fashion Technology, Bengaluru. Music, Art and Culture is something that has kept her busy since childhood. She feels, these three things are a way to express yourselves and always gives you something to do. Without these three things, there is no purpose to a lot of stuff. Her interests lies in Print and Publishing Media and aspires to be a Publication Designer after completing her graduation.



StreetTrotter is a Travel, Culture & Lifestyle blog, inspiring people everyday with real stories to look good and travel even better. Founded in 2012 by Shraddha Gupta, Founder & COO, this space is all about experiencing new things in life, be it a daring mountain trek, a frugal backpacking trip, a runway look made local, or simply anything that scares you enough to live a little more deeper.

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