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
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.
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
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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.
- 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 Germandub 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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 intersting 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 peform 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."
- 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?
- 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 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 German dub of Garfield and Friends does this to the songs after episode 39. "Yah! Aah! Ooh! Eee!"(The song in the U.S. Acres segment "The Bunny Rabbits is Coming!") and "We're Ready To Party" (the second opening theme) are two examples of this.
- All foreign dubs of the Super Mario World TV series leave the opening theme song intact in English (although early editions of the show in Germany used the Plumber Rap from The Super Mario Bros. Super Show).
- 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.
- 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.