A Multilingual 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 separate 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.
- 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.
- Yoko Kanno lives and breathes this trope, as multilingual lyrics are part of her signature Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly musical stylings. As such, she has incorporated them into numerous anime soundtracks.
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex:
- "Inner Universe" combines Russian, English, and Latin.
- "Rise" switches between Russian and English.
- "Velveteen" switches between English and Italian.
- "Player" is mostly sung in Russian, but features a full rap verse in English.
- The aptly titled "Genesis of Aquarion" starts off in Japanese before moving into full English with the Japanese word "Aishiteru" ("I love you") peppered in the refrain.
All this time these twelve thousand years, I know, Aishiteru!
Eight thousand years from the time that I've met you, my love grows strong than ever before
Words can't say of this time I've been waiting to share my love with you
I'd give you my life, I would give you the world to see you smiling every day
One hundred million and two thousand years from now, Aishiteiru!
I want you to know since you came in my life every day, every night you give light into the darkest skies.
- "The Garden of Everything" from RahXephon is a duet between English singer Steve Conte and Japanese singer Maaya Sakamoto. The later portions of the song features both of them singing a round with each other in their own languages.
- "Voices" from Macross Plus is mostly sung in Japanese, but the chorus kicks in with a full verse in English halfway into the song before going back to Japanese to finish out.
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex:
- The otherwise Hindi theme song of Simple Samosa contains the English lines "Meet my sweetest friend, Dhokla!" from Samosa, and "What are you doing? Grow up, boys!" from Jalebi.
- 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 Tokelauan.
- 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.
- Lilo & Stitch has "Hawaiian Rollercoaster Ride'', which features lyrics both in Hawaiian and in English.
- In Song of the Sea, "The Song" has lyrics in both Irish and English.
- 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.
- The title song in The Aristocats, sung by Maurice Chevalier in his last screen credit, starts off in English and transitions to French at the end. Chevalier also did the song for the French dub, in which it's entirely in French.
- Cool Cat Saves the Kids features the song "Cool Cat Loves to Rock", which features verses in both English and Spanish.
- "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.
- 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.
- Andrew Huang Raps in Five Langauges is Exactly What It Says on the Tin; YouTube artist Andrew Huang rapping one song with lyrics in English, Spanish, French, Swedish, and Mandarin.
- "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, a Tex-Mex country singer of the 1970s, had several of these:
- His biggest hit was his 1975 breakthrough, "Before the Next Teardrop Falls." The first verse sung in English, then repeated in Spanish. (Previous versions of this Ben Peters-penned song were in English only.)
- His third big hit, a cover of Doris Day's "Secret Love," had the refrain sung in Spanish. This was a No. 1 country hit and top 20 pop hit in December 1975. About that same time, he also sang a verse of the old Ivory Joe Hunter R&B hit "Since I Met You Baby."
- Country singer Johnny Rodriguez had a couple of instances as well:
- The flip side of his 1972 breakthrough hit "Pass Me By," a cover of the country standard "Jealous Heart," featured a Spanish intro.
- In December 1975, he took "Love Put a Song In My Heart" (written by Ben Peters) to No. 1 on the country chart. The Spanish part — singing the refrain — comes after a Truck Driver's Gear Change. (In going to No. 1, this marked the only time in the history of the Billboard country chart that back-to-back No. 1 country hits featured Spanish lyrics.)
- His 1977 hit, "Eres Tu," is one of the few wall-to-wall all-Spanish songs to make the top 40 of the Billboard country chart, peaking at No. 25.
- In 1978, the ending to his hit "Love Me With All Of Your Heart" is the lyrics to the song from which it is based: "Cuando Calienta El Sol."
- The Clash's classic "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" has all its verses repeated in Spanish by backing vocals.
- 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.
- Las Ketchup's song "Asereje" plays with this trope; it's a Spanish song about a Latino guy who is trying to sing along with Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight," despite knowing no English, so he fumbles it with Spanish homophones.
- A conlang version of this trope is the premise of David Seville's (aka Chipmunks') "Witch Doctor," in which the Witch Doctor's (fake) tribal-language incantation is the chorus.
- Played with by the Aquabats in their faux-prog-rock ballad "Why Rock?," in which a character called "The Alchemist" begins speaking in a strange language... in reality a backmasking of something innocuous.
- Most of Russkaja's songs are in a mix of German, Russian and occasionally English.
- A perfect example is "Energia"; a title which happens to be "energy" in both Spanish and Russiannote , a German/English introductionnote and Russian verses.note
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- "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.
- South African singer/comedian Robbie Wessels generally tends to be Afrikaans-only, but his song Player Twenty-Three (honouring the unsung hero of the national rugby team - its greatest fan) continually switches back and forth between Afrikaans and English.
- "Payday" by Yoon-mi Rae keeps alternating between English and Korean.
- Neo-house artist Yaeji typically mixes English and Korean in her lyrics. For example, "Raingurl" has an Enlish hook but alternates between English and Korean every other line.
- Korean-American artist Holiday Cho (aka The Black Skirts) mixes English and Korean in his music. Some songs, like "Kangaji" have an English chorus and Korean verses, and "Dientes" has the first half in English, but switches mid-sentence to Spanish in the second half.
- Cardi B's "I Like It" has a verse and the chorus by Cardi in English, and two other verses by J Balvin and Bad Bunny in Spanish.
- The lyrics to David Bowie's "It's No Game No. 1" are screamed/sung in English by Bowie, and spoken by a Japanese woman in her own native language.
- Japanese rock band, Dustz, is fronted by French-Japanese actor/singer Ray Fujita where most of their songs have a mixture of Japanese, English and French. Their cover of Dragon Ash's "Fantasista" also contains some French in it.
- Sting's "Desert Rose" is a duet with English lyrics sung by Sting himself and Arabic lyrics sung by Algerian singer Cheb Mami.
- The Bayside Boys remix of "Macarena" by Los Del Rio has English verses and a Spanish chorus. The original song was originally in English.
- Rick Trevino's "Just Enough Rope" had three versions, one in English, one in Spanish, and one that alternated between the two languages.
- Calexico's "The Ballad of Cable Hogue" had alternate verses sung in English by the title character, and in French by a Femme Fatale played by guest vocalist Marianne Disard.
- "Fiesta" by The Pogues has a whole verse in Spanish as well as bits of Spanish sprinkled into the English verses.
- On Pizzicato Five's US compilation album The Sound of Music, "Happy Sad" and "CDJ" are special mixes using sections from both the English and Japanese versions.
- 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.
- 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".
- One verse of "Cell Block Tango" in Chicago is in Hungarian. The character is the only "Married Murderess" who is innocent, and explains that she tried to tell the police that but they didn't understand her. The other murderesses don't understand Hungarian either and after she's finished say "Yeah ... but did you do it?"
- The titular anthem from It's a Small World is sung in a variety of languages throughout the ride.
- 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 Chaotic.note During Ending E, the vocal track alternates between all three versions.
- Many songs from the Ar tonelico series are sung in both Japanese and the series' Conlang Hymmnos.
- "Liberi Fatali", the opening song of Final Fantasy VIII is sung mostly in Latin, but opens and ends with the chant "Fithos lusec wecos vinosec", an anagram of English words.
- The Betty Boop short A Language All My Own has Betty singing title song in English and Japanese.