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Music stirs the soul. Music will move you in some way, whether you are listening to a sad folk ballad, an upbeat disco tune, or anything in between. It is a language of love, chaos, redemption, jealousy, happiness, and more. Although quite often, it is the melody that makes these emotions bubble up, the lyrics are what create those everlasting memories.

Music is written in all languages, and even though, in some cases, a song can be spectacularly popular worldwide without needing to be translated from its original language, in many cases, there are famous songs that work in all languages. Here, we’ve put together some of the finest examples of songs that often get translated into multiple languages, showcasing the need for accurate translation services in songwriting and many other professional settings.


Happy Birthday

Maybe the most obvious song for us to begin with, ‘Happy Birthday to You,’ has been translated into over 30 languages. It is an instantly recognizable tune that almost everyone understands as soon as they hear it, even if sung in a different language. It was written in 1893, and the Guinness Book of World Records named it the most-recognized song in English in 1998.

However, this understanding is only the case because it has been translated into many different languages, and the tune is kept the same. Different types of birthday songs are sung in different languages, following different customs, but this one stands out and is universal, wherever you are, however old you are, and whatever type of birthday party you are celebrating!

Pop Songs

Countless examples of pop songs have been translated into many different languages to reach a wider audience. ‘Ai Se Eu Te Pego,’ a song by Michel Teló, is the most translated song in the world, with 131 different versions, whilst the mega-group BTS, from South Korea, is the non-English act that has the most translations, as 239 of their songs have been translated, into 59 different languages!

Another good example of modern pop songs that have been translated multiple times (into 18 languages) is from the US band OK Go. They are famous for creating innovative music videos enjoyed worldwide, and their song ‘This Too Shall Pass’ from the band’s third studio album. Since its release in 2010, the song has been heard in TV shows such as The Vampire Diaries and movies such as The Vow and has inspired many.

Quizás, Quizás, Quizás

A popular Cuban song by Osvaldo Farrés, it was originally written in Spanish and became a hit for Bobby Capó in 1947. It has had an interesting journey since then, with the English version of the song ‘Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps’ and the French version ‘Qui sait, qui sait.’

Notable covers include Bing Crosby, Doris Day, and Andrea Bocelli, but one of the most famous versions was by Nat King Cole, who sang the song in its original Spanish. His cover was famously part of the Wong-Kar Wai movie ‘In the Mood for Love.’

Christmas

The most popular Christmas carol found in many different countries and cultures and translated into over 100 languages is ‘Silent Night.’ Originally, ‘Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht,’ it was written by Joseph Mohr (an Austrian priest) in 1816 and was surprisingly originally written to be played on guitar. John Freeman Young translated it into English, as he did many Christian Hymns, and it is now universally recognized as one of the most popular Christmas hymns, no matter what language the lyrics are sung in.

Songs for children

Most Disney films have songs specifically written for a film, so they are protected by intellectual copyright. One exception is the song ‘It’s a Small World (After All). UNICEF requested that it be copyright-free and that the song be a gift to all the world’s children. The Sherman Brothers wrote the song in 1963, and it has been performed by children’s choirs worldwide ever since. It has been translated into over 25 languages.

If you could translate any song into another language, what would it be and why? So many great songs worldwide deserve the message in the lyrics to be heard by a wider audience in multiple languages. Sometimes, it isn’t always necessary to have a beat and a melody enough to get the feet shuffling and the body moving, but it makes a lot of sense when the message is important and hopeful.

AlexandreG.
Is just a guy who got tired of bothering his friends talking about music, and decided to create a blog to write about what he loves the most.
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