Follow TV Tropes

Bilingual Song

Go To

A song where the lyrics are in multiple languages.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
Pichu-kun on Mar 13th 2018 at 11:27:52 AM
Last Edited By:
Pichu-kun on Jul 19th 2018 at 9:50:30 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: 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.

In film or theater examples, the bilingual lyrics can also reflect the plot or setting of the story.

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.

Anime and Manga

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.
  • 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.
  • In Moana, the song "We Know the Way" has lyrics in both English and Tokalauan.
  • The Prince of Egypt: The film version of "When You Believe" is in English except for the bridge, which is a condensed version of the Hebrew "Song of the Sea" from The Book Of Exodus.

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).
  • 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.
  • The English version of Enrique Iglesias' "Bailando" is actually part-Spanish and part-English. Most of the lyrics are translated, but Spanish is sprinkled about and Gente de Zone's part is still in complete Spanish.
  • Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" has a few lines in French.
  • The song "Aalash Kwnana" by U-Cef has an Arabic chorus but also rapping in English.
  • Clotaire K's "Lubnan" has rapping in English but choruses in Levantine Arabic.
  • Many songs from the Ar tonelico series are sung in both Japanese and the series' Conlang Hymmnos.
  • 16 Horsepower's cover version of "The Partisan" has David Eugene Edwards singing the English translation, and guest singer Betrand Cantat singing the original French lyrics.
  • Secret Chiefs 3's cover version of "La chanson de Jacky" starts in English and ends in French—because their version is a Recursive Adaptation that combines bits from Jacques Brel's original version with bits from Scott Walker's cover.
  • "Ah Ya Albi", by Hakim (Egyptian) and Olga Tañon (Puerto Rican), singing in Arabic and Spanish respectively.
  • "Michelle" by The Beatles is sung partly in English and partly in French.
  • 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.

Puppet Shows

  • 'Sesame Street'':
    • One verse of "Sing" is often sung in Spanish.
    • "Mando" is about a guy named Mando finding words in Spanish that rhyme with his name.
    • "Spanish Me, English Me" is about being bilingual and speaking both Spanish and English.

Theatre

  • Elisabeth:
    • The phrase "Éljen, éljen Erzébet!" is repeated throughout the second-act song "Éljen", which depicts Elisabeth's coronation as the Empress of Hungary. Interspersed with German verses, the phrase means "long live (Empress) Elisabeth", with "Erzébet" being the Hungarian form of the name.
    • Numerous concert-style performances have featured multilingual versions of the musical's signature ballad, "Ich gehör nur mir". The Helene Fischer show brought together six actresses who played the eponymous role, showcasing the song in seven different languages: German, Hungarian, Japanese, Finnish, Korean, Dutch, and Swedish.
  • The lyrics to "Wilkommen" from Cabaret have phrases that are spoken or sung in German, then repeated in French and English.
  • 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".

Theme Parks

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

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.

Western Animation

  • The Betty Boop short A Language All My Own has Betty singing title song in English and Japanese.

Feedback: 43 replies

Mar 13th 2018 at 11:30:49 AM

Coco has a number of songs with varying amounts of Spanish and English.

Mar 13th 2018 at 11:58:32 AM

  • Circle of Life, the famous opening number from The Lion King, has lyrics both in English and in Zulu.

Mar 13th 2018 at 12:08:28 PM

Just edited my comment to say Zulu, rather than Swahili, because that's what it actually is.

Mar 13th 2018 at 1:13:31 PM

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.

Mar 13th 2018 at 2:02:22 PM

  • "Feliz Navidad" by José Feliciano features verses in Spanish and similar verses in English.

Mar 13th 2018 at 2:02:33 PM

  • 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).

Mar 16th 2018 at 10:26:19 PM

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.

Mar 14th 2018 at 3:23:55 AM

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.

Mar 14th 2018 at 5:10:03 AM

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

Mar 14th 2018 at 8:05:29 AM

  • "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.

Mar 15th 2018 at 2:46:50 PM

  • The ending theme of Journey, "I Was Born For This", has verses in Latin, Old English, Classical Greek, French, and Japanese, in that order.

Mar 15th 2018 at 2:54:34 PM

Correction for the Madonna example: isla pronounced with the s is the correct Spanish. Without the s is English...

Mar 15th 2018 at 4:01:01 PM

Freddy Fender's 1975 country ballad, Before the Next Teardrop Falls, has the first verse sung in both English and Spanish.

Mar 15th 2018 at 4:10:20 PM

^^ 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".

Mar 15th 2018 at 5:30:30 PM

^ 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.

Mar 15th 2018 at 6:55:17 PM

  • Most of Russkaja's songs are in a mix of german, russian and occasionally english.

Mar 15th 2018 at 7:07:41 PM

  • "Michelle" by The Beatles is sung partly in English and partly in French.
  • Sesame Street: "One verse of "Sing" is often sung in Spanish.

Mar 15th 2018 at 7:10:38 PM

Mar 15th 2018 at 8:45:40 PM

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".

Mar 16th 2018 at 12:05:35 AM

^ 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

Mar 16th 2018 at 10:12:53 AM

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.

Mar 25th 2018 at 3:26:09 PM

  • "Ah Ya Albi", by Hakim (Egyptian) and Olga Tañon (Puerto Rican), singing in Arabic and Spanish respectively.

Mar 25th 2018 at 3:42:09 PM

  • The lyrics to "Wilkommen" from Cabaret have phrases that are spoken or sung in German, then repeated in French and English.

Jun 17th 2018 at 11:52:06 AM

Theatre

  • Elisabeth:
    • The phrase "Éljen, éljen Erzébet!" is repeated throughout the second-act song "Éljen", which depicts Elisabeth's coronation as the Empress of Hungary. Interspersed with German verses, the phrase means "long live (Empress) Elisabeth", with "Erzébet" being the Hungarian form of the name.
    • Numerous concert-style performances have featured multilingual versions of the musical's signature ballad, "Ich gehör nur mir". The Helene Fischer show brought together six actresses who played the eponymous role, showcasing the song in seven different languages: German, Hungarian, Japanese, Finnish, Korean, Dutch, and Swedish.

Jun 17th 2018 at 8:54:41 PM

Many songs from the Ar Tonelico series are sung in both Japanese and the series' Conlang Hymmnos.

Jun 18th 2018 at 8:18:16 PM

Music:

  • Sixteen Horsepower's cover version of "The Partisan" has David Eugene Edwards singing the English translation, and guest singer Betrand Cantat singing the original French lyrics.
  • Secret Chiefs 3's cover version of "La chanson de Jacky" starts in English and ends in French—because their version is a Recursive Adaptation that combines bits from Jacques Brel's original version with bits from Scott Walker's cover.

Jun 18th 2018 at 10:01:09 PM

Film Animated

  • In Moana, the song "We Know the Way" has lyrics in both English and Tokalauan.

Music

  • The song "Aalash Kwnana" by U-Cef has an Arabic chorus but also rapping in English.
  • Clotaire K's "Lubnan" has rapping in English but choruses in Levantine Arabic.

Jun 20th 2018 at 4:30:35 PM

More Sesame Street examples:

  • "Mando" is about a guy named Mando finding words in Spanish that rhyme with his name.
  • Downplayed for "Put Down the Duckie", which has one line in Spanish, and only sometimes.
  • "Spanish Me, English Me" is about being bilingual and speaking both Spanish and English.
  • "Siesta Fiesta" is mostly in English but has a few Spanish words.

Jun 20th 2018 at 8:28:45 PM

Film Live Action

  • "Deewangi Deewangi" from Om Shanti Om is mostly in Hindi, but has refrains in English.
  • "Jai Ho", the closing song from Slumdog Millionaire, is mostly in Hindi, but has a verse in Spanish.

Music]

  • "The Prayer" is a song sung mostly in English, but has a bridge in Italian.
  • "Makeba" by Jain switches back and forth between English and French.

Jun 23rd 2018 at 7:47:14 PM

Not sure where to put this (if in examples or in description), but here it is:

  • This is a kind of Omnipresent Trope in Japanese Music, since it's transversal in a lot of groups and singers (since J-Pop singers to Visual Kei bands) usually sing in japanese with words and rhymes in English, in which also most of the song names are in English, even when the song is in fully Japanese.

Some other examples I found:

  • Another Madonna example: the song "Who's that girl?" also features some rhymes in Spanish, prominently in the chorus.
    Quién es esa niña? (Who's that girl?) Señorita más finanote  (Who's that girl?)

Jun 23rd 2018 at 7:50:12 PM

  • Lilo And Stitch has "Hawaiian Rollercoaster Ride'', which features lyrics both in Hawaiian and in English.

Also, hatted.

Jun 23rd 2018 at 8:01:10 PM

Also, would this count?

  • "No Hablo Ingles" by Bowling For Soup, in addition to containing the titular line repeatedly as a humorous stock reply to various questions, there's a line where a man asks the singer "Donde esta casa de pepe?" note , followed by the singer declaring " He no hablo ingles!" They count to the chorus in Spanish as well.

Jun 25th 2018 at 8:19:46 AM

  • The Miyavi song "Señor Señora Señorita"note  is sung in Japanese, but has he title of the song (also said in the beginning of this) as well some rhymes in Spanish and some parts in English.

Jun 25th 2018 at 4:13:49 PM

Blondie - For their 2002 Greatest Hits album, the producer intercut one verse from the French version of "Sunday Girl" into the original English version to create a special version for the album. Also their song "Denis" had verses in both English and French.

Jun 26th 2018 at 1:42:06 AM

Several early Pixies songs are bilingual in English and (bad) Spanish, especially "Isla de Encanta" and "Vamos".

Jul 1st 2018 at 11:51:21 PM

Music

  • One of the modern remixes of the Bollywood song "Tu Tu Hai Wahi" includes a bridge in English.

Jul 2nd 2018 at 12:01:36 AM

  • Wreck It Ralph: "Sugar Rush", the theme-song for the in-universe video game of the same name, contains lyrics in both Japanese and English, fitting for the game's Japanese origins.

Jul 2nd 2018 at 6:15:02 PM

Advice: Break out Music examples into their own section and sort them by genre.


Metal:

Jul 9th 2018 at 9:56:59 PM

Film Live Action

  • "Girls Like to Swing" from Dil Dhadakne Do is mostly sung in Hindi, but has an English refrain.

Jul 10th 2018 at 2:02:22 AM

Blur's "To the End" is mostly in English, but has a few repeated French lines sung by guest singer Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab.

Calexico's "The Ballad of Cable Hogue" has verses by the male protagonist sung in English, and verses from the point of view of the song's Femme Fatale, sung in French by guest singer Marianne Dissard.

Jul 19th 2018 at 12:47:55 AM

Bump because I feel this should be updated, lotta unadded examples.

Jul 19th 2018 at 9:50:30 AM

Also

Top