Created By: Pichu-kun on March 13, 2018 Last Edited By: Koveras on March 25, 2018

Bilingual Song

A song where the lyrics are in multiple languages.

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trope
A Bilingual Song is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: a song whose lyrics are in two, or sometimes more, languages. It's not just random bits of Gratuitous English or Gratuitous Spanish sprinkled into the lyrics, but full on verses are in seperate languages.

This type of song is most common in areas where most of the audience is bilingual, thus they're able to understand the lyrics. It however isn't uncommon for songs to feature multiple languages to add spice to them or reflect the singers' backgrounds.

Compare to Bilingual Bonus.


Examples:

Advertising
  • A television ad from The '60s for Coca Cola has people of various nationalities sing "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing" in their native language while coming together on a grassy hill.

Films — Animation
  • Coco has a number of songs with varying amounts of Spanish and English.
  • Circle of Life, the famous opening number from The Lion King, has lyrics both in English and in Zulu.

Music
  • "Despacito" by Luis Fonsi, featuring Daddy Yankee, was originally a completely Spanish song. The popular remix with Justin Bieber adds an English intro by Bieber and another English portion by Yankee near the end.
  • "Feliz Navidad" by Jose Feliciano features verses in Spanish and similar verses in English.
  • Many of CNCO's songs do this, where their best English-speaker will half sing, half rap a verse in English.
  • The song "Echame la culpa" by Luis Fonsi and Demi Lovato takes this to the extreme, where they sing the lyrics in Spanish and then an approximate English translation, in random sequence (and it's the original).
  • Madonna's "La Isla Bonita" is mostly in English, but has the lines "Como puede ser verdad", "La isla bonita" and "Te dijo te amo", all in Spanish.
  • Freddy Fender's 1975 country ballad, "Before the Next Teardrop Falls", has the first verse sung in both English and Spanish.
  • The South African national anthem includes five languages: two lines in Xhosa, two lines in Zulu, four lines in Sesotho, four lines in Afrikaans, and ending with four lines in English.
  • The intro and outro of "Montreal" by The Weeknd are spoken in French while the verses and chorus are mostly spoken in English.
  • The Mars Volta song "Visecra Eyes" contains verses in English and Spanish
  • The interlude to the Muse song ''I Belong to You" is spoken in French when the rest of the song is spoken in English.
  • Most of Russkaja's songs are in a mix of German, Russian and occasionally English.

Video Games
  • It's implied that Off the Hook in Splatoon 2 provides a fictional language example. Their songs are in Conlang Simlish, but the Japanese concerts provide some lyrics. The text implies that Pearl raps in the typical Inkling language while Marina sing her parts in Octarian (shown by her singing in katakana instead of hiragana).
  • The ending theme of Journey, "I Was Born For This", has verses in Latin, Old English, Classical Greek, French, and Japanese, in that order.
  • "Weight of the World", the Ending Theme for NieR: Automata, has three separate versions: one sung in English, one in Japanese, and one in Chaoticnote . During Ending E, the vocal track alternates between all three versions.
Community Feedback Replies: 23
  • March 13, 2018
    E1craZ4life
    Coco has a number of songs with varying amounts of Spanish and English.
  • March 13, 2018
    WarJay77
    • Circle of Life, the famous opening number from The Lion King, has lyrics both in English and in Zulu.
  • March 13, 2018
    WarJay77
    Just edited my comment to say Zulu, rather than Swahili, because that's what it actually is.
  • March 13, 2018
    oneuglybunny
    Advertising
    • A television ad from The Sixties for Coca Cola has people of various nationalities sing "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing" in their native language while coming together on a grassy hill.
  • March 13, 2018
    MathsAngelicVersion
    • "Feliz Navidad" by José Feliciano features verses in Spanish and similar verses in English.
  • March 13, 2018
    lakingsif
    • Many of CNCO's songs do this, where their best English-speaker will half sing, half rap a verse in English.
    • The song "Echame la culpa" by Luis Fonsi and Demi Lovato takes this to the extreme, where they sing the lyrics in Spanish and then an approximate English translation, in random sequence (and it's the original).
  • March 16, 2018
    Arivne
    Music
    • Madonna's "La Isla Bonita" is mostly in English, but has the lines "Como puede ser verdad", "La isla bonita" and "Te dijo te amo", all in Spanish.
  • March 14, 2018
    kjnoren
    Should probably make it clear in the description that it's not just a single phrase included in the song. Then it's the question on how to handle one-off renditions (like eg how Cornelis Wreeswijk often included a verse of his translation to Dutch of an old Swedish song when he sang it live), or stunts like the 37-language rendition of different translations of "Let It Go".

    • The South African national anthem includes five languages: two lines in Xhosa, two lines in Zulu, four lines in Sesotho, four lines in Afrikaans, and ending with four lines in English.

  • March 14, 2018
    darkchiefy
    The intro and outro of "Montreal" by The Weeknd are spoken in French while the verses and chorus are mostly spoken in English.

    The Mars Volta song "Visecra Eyes" contains verses in English and Spanish

    The interlude to the Music/Muse song ''I Belong to You" is spoken in French when the rest of the song is spoken in English

  • March 14, 2018
    KTera
    • "Weight of the World", the Ending Theme for Nier Automata, has three separate versions: one sung in English, one in Japanese, and one in Chaoticnote . During Ending E, the vocal track alternates between all three versions.
  • March 15, 2018
    Koveras
    • The ending theme of Journey, "I Was Born For This", has verses in Latin, Old English, Classical Greek, French, and Japanese, in that order.
  • March 15, 2018
    lakingsif
    Correction for the Madonna example: isla pronounced with the s is the correct Spanish. Without the s is English...
  • March 15, 2018
    Lawman592
    Freddy Fender's 1975 country ballad, Before the Next Teardrop Falls, has the first verse sung in both English and Spanish.
  • March 15, 2018
    Pichu-kun
    ^^ That example confused me but I didn't feel the need to mention it because I'm not fluent in Spanish. I've never for the life of me seen anyone pronounce "isla" as "eye-luh".
  • March 15, 2018
    lakingsif
    ^ There's the actress Isla Fisher, so I'd guess the English name and the fact that "island" has no 's' sound is where it came from.
  • March 15, 2018
    CactusFace
    • Most of Russkaja's songs are in a mix of german, russian and occasionally english.
  • March 15, 2018
    JoeG
    • "Michelle" by The Beatles is sung partly in English and partly in French.
    • Sesame Street: "One verse of "Sing" is often sung in Spanish.
  • March 15, 2018
    TheWanderer
  • March 15, 2018
    Synchronicity
    In film or theater examples, the bilingual lyrics can also reflect the plot or setting of the story.

    Music
    • Yerba Buena's "Bilingual Girl" is all about this trope — the singer wants a girl who can speak both Spanish and English. Fittingly, the verses are in those two languages.
    • Regina Spektor: "Apres Moi" is in English, but has a verse in Russian. Said verse is a shortened version of a Boris Pasternak poem.
    • Pitbull: "We Are One (Ole Ola), which was written for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, features interjections in Spanish and a full verse in Portuguese.
    • Shakira: "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)", the theme song of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, has a verse in Zulu.

    Theater
    • In The Heights is about a mostly Hispanic-American community in New York City. While most songs are in English with some Spanish phrases, some songs feature entire verses in Spanish, such as "Piragua" and "Alabanza".
  • March 16, 2018
    lakingsif
    ^ note also that Waka Waka was also released in Spanish with the Zulu and South African dialect intact as Waka Waka (Estó es África)

    Edit because accents acting up: esto, es A,frica
  • March 16, 2018
    Kartoonkid95
    Film -- Animated
    • The Three Caballeros: Several of the songs featured have lyrics in both English and Spanish. In the film itself, Panchito sings a verse of the title song in Spanish.

    Theme Parks
    • The titular anthem from It's a Small World is sung in a variety of languages throughout the ride.

    Western Animation
    • The Betty Boop short A Language All My Own has Betty singing title song in English and Japanese.
  • March 25, 2018
    merely1man
    • "Ah Ya Albi", by Hakim (Egyptian) and Olga Tañon (Puerto Rican), singing in Arabic and Spanish respectively.
  • March 25, 2018
    KTera
    • The lyrics to "Wilkommen" from Cabaret have phrases that are spoken or sung in German, then repeated in French and English.
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