The Song Remains the Same
Basically, when an imported work is translated, theme songs and other songs are left in the original language. There's a really good reason for this; due to differing language structures, perfectly respectable foreign-language lyrics are nonsensical in English. Songs (like all poetry) are much, much harder to translate than regular dialogue. Hence, rather than overhaul the lyrics in the song as is normally done with spoken dialogue, the song is played in the original language to avoid dialogue failure of Zero Wing proportions. This is an aversion of Alternative Foreign Theme Song, where the theme of a foreign TV show, game or film is changed to a completely different one when aired in another country. Named after the Led Zeppelin song. Not to be confused with the band's concert movie titled The Song Remains the Same. Should not be confused with the Revolution episode "The Song Remains The Same" and the Supernatural episode "The Song Remains The Same". Loosely related to Translated Cover Version.
open/close all folders
- When FUNimation licensed One Piece, they used the original tune and translated the lyrics.
- Chiisaki Mono, the ending theme of Pokémon: Jirachi: Wishmaker, of which the first half of the song is rewritten with new English lyrics, then switches back to the Japanese version in the second verse, ultimately resulting in a Japanese-English duet. The full Japanese version is available as a bonus feature on the DVD.
- Rurouni Kenshin: The English adaptation of the theme song uses the same music, but translated lyrics.
- Sailor Moon: Same music, entirely new (rather than translated) lyrics, which do not match the theme of the original Japanese version, (but adds a kick-ass guitar solo).
- When The '90s dub started using the original Japanese music for the BGM one insert song was left completely untouched, after that all instances of insert songs used English Lyrics with the Japanese music.
- Ranma ˝: Usually plays it straight, but does avert it on (some of) the OVA releases.
- And when someone sang the first song in-series it was changed to English.
- For the first 4 or 5 seasons, they actually went to the effort of having the translated subtitles match the music syllables, meaning you could actually sing along if you so wanted to. Later seasons though just translated the lyrics straight up.
- Haruhi Suzumiya With A Twist, in that it's played straight in the opening and closing sequences, but when Haruhi sings on stage as part of ENOZ, the dub actually bothers to have an English version of the song.
- The Russian version did translate the opening and ending.
- Averted in Nerima Daikon Brothers, dubbed by ADV Films, because the whole series is a musical and it wouldn't have made sense not to translate the songs, theme included.
- The one exception is the Prime Minister's theme, which plays in the background when he first appears. The song was only included in the BGM track ADV received, so they couldn't remove the Japanese vocals.
- FUNimation often averts this by adapting the original theme song into an English version (i.e., same tune, translated lyrics). Fruits Basket, Desert Punk, Detective Conan, Ouran High School Host Club, and One Piece all come to mind. Many of these dubbed themes are surprisingly good (though not all of them are as good as others).
- Every single incarnation of Astro Boy. The original & 80s versions wrote new lyrics to the same tune (infact the 1960s English version was the first one to have lyrics. The first season of the Japanese version only had an instrumental, but new episodes made after the series was first exported & older ones in syndication added Japanese lyrics). Strangely, both American versions had completely different lyrics for the same tune, while the Japnese ones were the same in all versions. Both the Japanese & English versions of the 2003 series dispensed with the iconic Astroboy theme, the Japanese going the modern Anime Theme Song route with TRUE BLUE by ZONE, while the dub had some techno instrumental tune possibly for music licensing issues (the classic theme song is used as the ending theme for some of the Japanese episodes, though).
- Record of Lodoss War: The closing theme is translated into English in the dubbed version. Scarily well-translated, at that.
- Ouran High School Host Club: The opening and ending songs are translated into English surprisingly well.
- The Speed Racer TV series: The opening theme was translated to English, but not very well:
Here he comes, here comes Speed Racer
He's a demon on wheels
He's a demon, and he's gonna be chasing after someone
- What's interesting here is that the English opening is actually based on the version of the tune that plays over the original's closing credits.
- The Spanish dub of Naruto has a rare exaggeration of this, in that not only they leave the original songs, but add subtitles.... in Japanese. With no Spanish subtitles.That sure is useful.
- The latin american dub of some songs are changed but keep the same meaning as the song, and came out very good Like this Op from Cardcaptor Sakura
- Played straight in the North American dub of InuYasha. The Latin American dub, however, has some of the openings translated into, and sung in, laughably bad English. The first opening, for example. And that's probably the best one.
- One episode of Slayers Next has Lina and Amelia casting a (completely useless) song by dressing in sailor fuku and doing a song and dance routine. They end up doing it twice, once doing it one line at a time, followed by them actually singing the entire song. In dubbed versions, the first pass is done in the dubbed language, while the second is done in the original Japanese. (The English dub even has Lina declaring "In Japanese!" beforehand.)
- Tenchi Muyo!! and most of its spinoffs featured English dubbed theme songs.
- The theme songs for Outlaw Star weren't translated, except for the two times the first ending theme is featured being sung by Mefina.
- The English and Italian dubs of Puella Magi Madoka Magica leave the opening and ending theme in Japanese.
- The English dub of Death Note features the original Japanese songs, with both Japanese and English subtitles for the lyrics. It's well translated, and it's quite easy to sing along with the English lyrics.
- Mobile Fighter G Gundam retained the original Japanese songs "Flying In the Sky" and "Trust You Forever", despite the latter having an English version.
- The majority of the soundtrack for .hack//SIGN, including its opening theme Obsession, was sung in English by a Japanese artist. Making for an easy transition for English release.
Films — Animation
- For the dub of Princess Mononoke, the lyrics of the theme song and Women Workers' Song were both translated. (Bizarrely, the latter appears in the Japanese version on the soundtrack.)
- The Finnish dub of Happy Feet didn't have the songs dubbed but subbed. Usually the songs are also translated in Finland, but probably the company translating Happy Feet couldn't afford to organize translating the songs.
- Usually, songs in the Disney Animated Canon are dubbed in Germany. But I'm Still Here from Treasure Planet was neither dubbed nor subbed.
- Speaking of Alice In Wonderland, the Mandarin Chinese and 1991 Brazilian Portuguese dubs leave all the songs in English.
- The Mandarin Chinese and Serbian dubs of Dumbo receive this treatment as well.
- The main criticism leveled against the Hungarian dub of The Nightmare Before Christmas is that the songs, which carry about as much significance as the dialogue, are left in English. What makes this even more bothersome is that the subtitles for the songs on the DVD don't even use the same name translations as the dubbed parts (although the subtitles for the spoken dialogue are the same), thus the movie makes no sense if you watch it on DVD. More fitting and beautifully translated subtitles were only available to go with the movie's television broadcasts.
- The German dub of Recess: School's Out leaves all of the songs in English. This is true for most of the dubs.
- In the Astérix films Asterix and the Big Fight and Asterix Conquers America "Zonked" and "We Are One People" are in English in all versions. Same goes for "Get Down on It" and "Eye of the Tiger" in Asterix and the Vikings. An unusual variant in that all the films were originally in French.
- For Asterix and the Vikings, Céline Dion recorded French and English versions of "Tous les secrets"/"Let Your Heart Decide".
- In foreign dubs of A Goofy Movie, Powerline's songs remain in English.
- And in most of dubs of this movie - the Lester's Possum Park song.
- In a bizarre subversion, the Portuguese dub of "A Monster in Paris" doesn't feature the songs in its original French version. Instead, they're in English. And it's not even like English is closer to Portuguese than French. This means that many people thought the movie was American, and felt a bit disappointed.
- This is done again in the dub of The LEGO Movie: what many consider the movie's theme song, Everything is Awesome, is kept in English. In fact, when Emmet is asked what his favourite song is near the beginning, he mentions the original title of the song.
- In the French, Italian, and Mandarin Chinese (both Mainland and Taiwanese) dubs of The Brave Little Toaster, all the songs are left in English. (In fact, right before "City of Light", the French dub has the characters literally saying, "Let's sing in English!")
- The Croatian dub also uses this trope, with the exception of a horribly dubbed (and mostly instrumental) version of "Worthless".
- In the 2nd Russian dub, "City of Light" is the only song left entirely in English, while the rest of the songs vary between a mix of dubbing a few lines, using a Voiceover Translation, and leaving some parts in English.
- In the Brazilian Portuguese dubs for The Smurfs and the Magic Flute, all the songs remain in English (using the UK version). In the 2nd dub, only "The Ballad of Friendship" is dubbed.
- For the 1st Italian dub, most of the songs play either entirely or partially in French. The only song entirely dubbed is "The Ballad of Friendship".
- The European Spanish version only dubs two songs: "Personality" and "Peewit Wants a Smurf". The rest of the songs are left in French for the 1979 dub and English for the 2011 dub.
- The Care Bears: Adventure in Wonderland does this to its European Spanish and Italian dubs.
- Disney went to great lengths to make sure Frozen's main song Let It Go was perfectly translated for every language release. Ensuring it sounded exactly the same with the same beats. They even went through an exhaustive search to find singers that sounded exactly like the original for each language.
- In Persepolis, Marjane sings "Eye of the Tiger" in stunted English in all versions.
Films — Live Action
- In the German version of Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, spoken dialogues are dubbed, songs are subbed. What makes this example odd is the fact that ca. 80 - 90 % of the dialogue is sung instead of spoken, and you have to wonder why they even bothered to dub the negligible rest.
- After spirited discourse in German, Captain Jean-Luc Picard suddenly launches into "A British Tar" with a very British accent in the German dub of Star Trek: Insurrection. The abrupt change is made all the more noticeable by Commander Worf's sudden glance over at the now-singing captain. It can be seen here
- In the English dub of Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster, the songs the nightclub singer sings are left in Japanese.
- The bizarre, surreal male chorus at the ending moments of the film that fits surprisingly well with the mood is cut out and replaced with a reprise of the opening. Shame.
- The Hungarian dub of The Muppet Show leaves all the songs (including the theme) in English.
- Nikolai Volkoff would sing the "Russian National Anthem" before his matches, but it was really just nonsense words to the tune of the real anthem. This is because Nikolai, despite the character he played, was a Soviet defector and avowed anti-communist, and couldn't stomach the idea of glorifying the Soviet Union in song, even as part of his act.
- Operas with lots of dialogue are sometimes performed with the songs in the original language but the dialogue translated. (For example, this performance of The Magic Flute.) In addition to preventing the inherent problems of translating song lyrics, this helps the audience follow the plot better and makes it easier on the singers, who would be familiar with well-known pieces in their original language rather than various very different singing translations, and who may be able to pronounce a foreign language by rote in a song but not speak the language well in spoken dialogue.
- The Tales Series usually cuts the lyrics altogether in the opening songs. Tales of Vesperia, on the contrary, translated and wrote English lyrics to "Ring a Bell." It was even sung by the original artist.
- Square Enix loves averting this. The result is often songs which possess the same melody as the Japanese version but different lyrics. Such as Simple and Clean in Kingdom Hearts, Sanctuary in Kingdom Hearts II, and the majority of The World Ends with You soundtrack.
- Although they have been doing that less and less in recent years. For example, Final Fantasy: Dirge of Cerberus' theme songs "Longing" and "Redemption" (sung by Japanese rock-star Gackt) remained in Japanese.
- Also, Advent Children's theme song "Calling" remained Japanese. So did Crisis Core's theme song, "Why".
- The reason for the Kingdom Hearts songs having English translations is because singer Utada Hikaru was raised in America and fluent in English. The singer for FFXII's theme is half-Japanese, half-American and lived in Hawaii for a number of years. As for The World Ends with You, the singer lived in Japan but attended English speaking schools.
- The songs for Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles are interesting cases. The English titles are different ("Kaze no Ne/Sigh of the Wind" became "Morning Sky" and "Hoshizukiyo/Moonlit Starry Night" became "Moonless Starry Night." However, the lyrics to the English songs are actually very close to direct translations of the originals.
- The Rune Factory series averts this; the theme songs are translated. It actually sounds like they got the same singer of the Japanese songs to perform the English ones, which unfortunately often makes it difficult to understand the lyrics at all.
- The Wario Land 4 song played in Palm Tree Paradise is kept the same (and has hard to understand Japanese lyrics). The song itself is also in the sound test. Hear it here
- Strangely, despite the game being made in Japan, the title music stays in English in both versions.
- In WarioWare : Mega Microgame$, both the American and European releases keep the Japanese songs for Dribble and Spitz' and Kat and Ana's stages.
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl has a theme in Latin. Nobody speaks Latin as their native tongue. At all.
- The English version of Astal simply removed the vocals to the OP, "Let Me Try Again."
- Final Zone II dubbed the Japanese opening song into English.
- Lunar: The Silver Star: Working Designs dubbed the opening theme into English, with rather different lyrics from the Japanese ones, a straight translation of which was also included in the manual.
- Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon for the Nintendo 64 kept the opening theme in Japanese with subtitles.
- A couple of Looney Tunes shorts, in their Polish translation, feature an odd mixture: the entire cartoon is dubbed, but the songs are left in English, with a Voiceover Translation applied to them (a bland-sounding actor reading the translated lyrics over the English text.) Perhaps the dubbing actors can't sing?
- The German translation does something similar, sans Voiceover Translation.
- Same case for the Korean dub of the Super Mario World Animated Adaption, though they left the insert songs alone.
- Theme tune aside, the Code Lyoko franchise produced a whole CD of songs for the show's fake band, "The Subdigitals," in both French and English. There is one episode that features two of the songs on the CD, and the English lyrics are used in the English dub. A shame, really, because the English lyrics are kind of stupid.
- Save for a very, very few Hungarian dubs of western cartoon shows (like Phineas and Ferb or Sponge Bob Squarepants), the songs are always in English. Some shows offer subtitles (Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, South Park and at times The Simpsons). Usually, though, Hungarians don't get subtitles either.
- While in Spain, Latin America & Brazil The Simpsons normally plays this straight, in the Clip Show of musical scenes, the songs were all dubbed despite originally airing in English.
- In some foreign dubs of Recess, any scene where a group of characters are singing something is usually left in English.
- In the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode, "The Sweet Stench of Sucess", Bloo's song, "My Evil Producer Kidnapped Me and Won't Let Me Go" is kept in English in most dubs. "I'm Just Another Used-Up Deodorant Stick" is dubbed, however.
- The Chinese theme song for Bob the Builder is not dubbed, but subbed.
- The German dub of Garfield and Friends does this to the songs after episode 39. "Yah! Aah! Ooh! Eee!" [note]the song in the U.S. Acres segment "The Bunny Rabbits is Coming!"[/note] and "We're Ready To Party" [/note]the second opening theme[/note] are two examples of this.
- Both theme songs are also left in English for the 2nd Hungarian dub.
- In the German, Greek, Hungarian, and Turkish dubs of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, the main theme song is in English. This was also the case with season 1 episodes in Italian and season 2 episodes in Latin Spanish, as well as one of the Swedish dubs.
- The theme song for The Scooby-Doo Show also uses this trope for the Czech, German, Turkish, Arabic, and Italian dubs, and occasionally for some episodes of the foreign dubs (French, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese) that often use an instrumental version of the theme.
- The Brazilian and Hungarian dubs for The Snorks give this treatment to the sung part at the end of the intro sequence.
- The Alternative Foreign Theme Song in the Romanian dub for The Smurfs remains in English.
- For the German version, the intro sequence is dubbed, but at least one airing of an episode on Boomerang was given this treatment for unknown reasons.
- The ending title song to the episode, "Once in a Blue Moon" is left untranslated.
- The show's original German ending credits from 1988 use a shortened version of the UK English opening theme as well. (This video can be seen here.)
- For the German version, the intro sequence is dubbed, but at least one airing of an episode on Boomerang was given this treatment for unknown reasons.
- Same goes for the theme song to The Bugs Bunny Show in the French dub.
- All foreign dubs of the Super Mario World TV series leave the opening theme song intact in English (although the Super RTL dub of the show in Germany used the Plumber Rap from The Super Mario Bros. Super Show).
- In all foreign dubs of Phineas and Ferb, except for the Japanese dub, the song "Today Is Gonna Be A Great Day" by Bowling for Soup remained in English. And the Russian viewers didn't get any subtitles.
- In the Norwegian dub of Summer Belongs To You, Clay Aiken and Chaka Khan's duet is not dubbed, possibly out of respect for the original artists; even their spoken lines are not dubbed (they don't have many of them anyway).
- For the 2nd Greek dub of The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3, the intro is dubbed, but some episodes use the original English version.
- The Finnish dub of the 1980s ''Care Bears'' series leaves the theme song in English.
- The Japanese dub of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic translates every song in the first 11 episodes - except "Winter Wrap Up" from the episode of the same name, and "Art of the Dress", both of which are left in English. The original theme song also appears during the credits of later episodes.
- Rarity's other two major songs, "Becoming Popular" and "Generosity", were also left undubbed in the Japanese version, perhaps because they couldn't find an adequate singing VA.
- Same goes for basically every song in the Chinese dub. Unlike Japanese viewers, they aren't even granted the courtesy of subtitles.
- There are two different Norwegian dubs of the Peanuts Musical Episode "Flashbeagle": One where all the songs reinterpreted and performed by the Norwegian actors, and one where the songs are left in English.
- The European Portuguese dub of Adventure Time has some of the later songs sung kept in English with added subtitles. The only songs that are dubbed in this situation are the show's theme song and closing credits song.
- The Russian dub of Regular Show that airs on Cartoon Network has the songs "Party Tonight" & "Summertime Loving, Loving in the Summer (Time)" kept in English, sometimes looping because some parts overlap with the original English dialogue. The other original songs, however, are dubbed.
- Most dubs of the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Band Geeks" keep the song Squidward's band sings at the end in English, mainly because it is an actual song by an actual band, so it makes sense to be kept in English.
- The theme song to Alvinnn And The Chipmunks was kept in English for the Greek dub.