Intern Picks of the Week – Our Favorite Non-English Songs

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Intern Picks of the Week - Non-English Songs
Intern Picks of the Week - Non-English Songs

Music is a universal language- one that transcends cultural differences and language barriers. The power of music is one that is celebrated uniquely- in each country, in each city, in each household. Diversifying your music taste, and getting a listen into different genres, is one of the most fruitful things you’ll ever do. In that vein, this week we decided to highlight some of our favorite songs from Non-English speakers. If anything, Madeleine, Emily, Brooke, and Benni brought you one step closer to new tunes!

Madeleine’s Pick: “Città vuota” – Mina

Italian singer Mina first graced the music scene in the 60s, where she famously sang Italian hits for over 50 years. “Città vuota” is one of my favorite renditions by Mina. Although I don’t speak any Italian, Mina’s vocal delivery stands alone without a need for lyrics. The track’s ascending melody and bold crescendo are grand, impactful displays of emotion. Mina’s belt is a beautiful expression of love, loss and remembrance. To me, this track is a further example of the uniting power of music, and how songs hold the power to exceed language barriers. 

The track’s instrumentation is warm and classic, featuring stunning string swells, buried harmonies and suspenseful melodic undertones. Mina’s vocal delivery begins gently and tastefully progresses, expanding into a soaring display of her range. Throughout the busyness of everyday, I love listening to music that makes me feel like I’m living in a movie, and “Città vuota” is perfectly cinematic. I’d recommend listening to it to add some drama and wistful melancholy to your morning routine, afternoon walk or daily commute. “Città vuota” has dominated my recent rotation. It’s one of those songs that helps time stand still and allows its listeners to be fully present. 

Listen to “Città vuota” below!

Emily’s Pick: “Rómpelo” – Cimafunk ft. Lupe Fiasco 

I don’t know if there will ever be enough words to describe the absolute talent that is Cimafunk. He has an absolutely intoxicating stage presence; I caught his set at Bonnaroo ‘23 and immediately fell in love with his energy. His love of performing, and his nine-person band, create an electrifying live show that might’ve been my favorite set of the festival. Ever since coming back from the farm, Cimafunk has been the artist I find myself listening to when the weather gets warm. His music sounds like how driving with the windows down in the summer feels like.

“Rómpelo,” specifically, is one of the most addicting songs I’ve ever heard. There is something so groovy about the beat. Matched with the echoes in the chorus and the feature from Lupe Liasco, this track is otherworldly. Cimafunk is an Afro-Cuban rockstar at his core and “Rómpelo” is the perfect track to understand his sound. Blending Cuban rhythms with the sounds and styles from Africa and the US, he’s been able to redefine contemporary Cuban music. 

If you’re looking for a song that has a funky beat and an easily memorable chorus, “Rómpelo” is the track. Although I don’t speak Spanish, the deep dive into lyric translations adds an extra layer of fun to the entire listening process. Cimafunk is bound to blow up in the states as his live show has solidified him as an entertainer and an artist to watch. 

Listen to “Rómpelo” below! 

Brooke’s Pick: “Je suis venu te dire que je me’n vais” Serge Gainsbourg

My pick of the week is the weird and wonderful “Je suis venu te dire que je me’n vais” by Serge Gainsbourg. It’s from his album Vu de l’extérieur, which features a cover of the French singer surrounded by a collage of monkeys. That doesn’t have to do with much, but it was impossible not to mention.  

My introduction to this song was so weird that I can now never forget it. I’ve linked the video I’ll be talking about down below, but what you’ll see is the strangest 2 minutes and 43 seconds that the French have to offer us. Scrolling through Twitter one day, I click on a video of a children’s choir, dressed as an old man adorned with lit cigarettes and full glasses of whisky.  

They sing a modified version of this song, with lyrics changed to, “On est venu te dire qu’on t’aime bien” or “We came to tell you that we like you.” This tribute is performed at Gainsbourg, who is revealed to be sitting directly in front of the army of mini-Serges. Tears stream down his face as he smokes a cigarette and drinks his whiskey, a mirror image to the scene in front of him. It’s unclear if he was moved by the emotion of the rather beautiful cover of his song, or if this is a type of Lynchian torture happening to a violently hungover man. Either way, it is extremely funny.  

Having no idea who this French icon when I first saw the video certainly added to the absurdity of the moment. And the song certainly stuck around in my rotation of music.

Benni’s Pick: “地震波 (Seismic Wave)” -公衆道德 (Public Morality)

Remembering how I stumbled upon this song is a tricky one. Maybe it was a particularly niche Discover Weekly or a one-off recommendation in a very sonically expansive queue, but no matter how “地震波 (Seismic Wave)” found its way to me, I am very happy that it did. 

I have no information on the artist, aside from their being from Japan (and having amazing musical capabilities), but that’s part of the beauty of the track. This song contains so many satisfying elements- vocals swells and vocalizations, pleasing harmonies and vocal doubling, as well as an intricate and exciting guitar part- all working together to form an incredible sonic story. The track perfectly encapsulates the energy of an artist passionately strumming and singing alone in their bedroom while simultaneously achieving a very fantastical and composed musical feat. The artist’s love of music is present in every aspect of this piece, and serves to make “地震波 (Seismic Wave)” even more dear to the heart. 

Listen to “地震波 (Seismic Wave)” below!