You grew up listening to some of them. Enjoyed your youth dancing to others. You’ll remember most of them. They are all great hits and, thanks to the rise of globalisation, they succeeded worldwide being sung in English. But you probably didn’t know English wasn’t in fact the language they were written, composed or released originally. Here’s a list of songs that became enormous hits and you – most probably – didn’t know were originally not in English:
Frank Sinatra – My Way
Believe it or not this classic is based upon a different classic. Sinatra’s legendary song was released in 1969 and became one of the most remembered and admired songs of all time. Though the lyrics were totally rebuilt by composer Paul Anka, the melody was taken almost literally from 1967 Claude François song, Comme d’habitude. After the years, Sinatra’s version overshadowed the original French one, to the original singer’s misfortune.
Nena – 99 Red Balloons
Most of European youngsters may recall English version of this 80’s classic pop song by having heard it on parents’ nostalgic throwbacks. Not for Americans though, since the original German version became the hit version there. An interesting thing about both versions of this song are that the version that is best known is dependent on the country. But, one thing is clear: the song, released by German band Nena in 1983 and translated in 1984, was a total hit and it was originally recorded in German language.
ABBA – Waterloo
Back in 1974, it was revolutionary to watch a Swedish band performing in the Eurovision Song Contest with a song that wasn’t sung in Swedish. Despite the fact that Waterloo by ABBA is famously known for its English version, it was nevertheless originally written in Swedish and later translated. We can’t deny the impact of the song in European culture after that, but… would they have won Eurovision singing it in Swedish? Our bet is yes, since the song is actually good and catchy, no matter which the language.
Jennifer Lopez & Pitbull – On The Floor
Well, this is a pretty obvious one. When JLo’s dance anthem was hitting all the clubs back in 2010, almost nobody thought the melody was original. In fact, it was inspired by one of the most popular dance songs of all time: Lambada, a classic from 1989 also known as “the forbidden dance”, originally performed in Brazillian by a French/Brazillian group. What is less-known is that Kaoma’s song wasn’t even the original version of the song. It was based on a different song: Llorando se fue, a 1981 song in Spanish from Bolivian group Los Kjarkas. Actually, Lambada was an unauthorized translation of that previous song, but it became way more successful and it’s now part of pop music history.
t.A.t.U – All The Things She Said
One of the 2000’s most iconic and remembered songs worldwide was performed by Russian duet tAtU. Though the song became a global hit by late 2002 in its English version, the original one had been released two years prior and was originally recorded in Russian. Nowadays, the first version is seen as an oddity, but actually it was the first version of the song.
Bobby Darin – Beyond The Sea
We finish with another timeless classic. This song was recorded by many artists, but the best-known version is 1959’s Bobby Darin’s version. We can all say that we’ve heard this song more than once for sure. But… can we all say we knew the original version dates back to 1942 and was performed in French? Well, now you can. Charles Trenet released La Mer in 1942, and seventeen years later, Darin’s version took its popularity to unexpected limits.
So, were you surprised by this list? Do you want to find out some more cool facts about Europe?