The editorial department here at AP are an eclectic musical bunch. On any given day you can hear sounds screeching through our halls that range from intolerable, high-frequency noise to the latest pop-punk sensation. You often get to read our takes on your (and our) favorite artists on the site and in the magazine, but we want to share with you the larger musical libraries that reside within our minds. Impeccable taste or highly questionable? You get to decide as we welcome you to our weekly playlist series.
Music is a language of the soul, maaan. You don’t necessarily have to know what an artist is saying for a song to grab you by the guts and make you fall in sick, strange indecipherable love. So, this week, we’re bringing you our favorite non-English songs.
“Brindo” by Devendra Banhart from What Will We Be
Banhart tends to be a little bit of a wild card, with a sound that can vary widely from track to track and album to album. But my favorite is when he mixes things up via language. Although American, Banhart spent a chunk of his childhood in Venezuela, where he became fluent in Spanish. To describe his warm, soft serenade in “Brindo” as dreamy and tantalizing is an understatement. The video totally captures these vibes, too. Oh, and there’s butt cheek. [BH]
“Le Dîner” by Bénabar from Reprise Des Négociations
When most people think of French music, they instantly go to Édith Piaf. Nothing against Ms. Piaf, but there are a few more to chose from nowadays, and I recommend Bénabar. The singer/songwriter has been performing since the late '90s so he’s got a substantial body of work to choose from. However, with 2005’s Reprise Des Négociations, his songwriting took a more introspective turn. (Not surprisingly, it’s one of his most popular albums.) The opening track “Le Dîner” is a peppy, acoustic number with an insanely catchy chorus. By the time it’s finished, you’ll be wishing you paid more attention in your high school French class. [BM]
“Linda Linda” by The Blue Hearts from The Blue Hearts
The origin of your passport doesn’t mean caca when you’re thinking about that one honey that got away. Because heartbreak—like herpes—is forever. In their role as Japan’s entry in the world’s punk-rock sweepstakes, the Blue Hearts rammed this sentiment home with this 1987 Ramones-meets-Buzzcocks paean to a girl whose memory they can’t shake. The melody is great, the titular hook unforgettable and the tempo is sonic caffeine. But don’t take our word for it: Andrew W.K., MxPx and Me First And The Gimme Gimmes have covered “Linda Linda.” What do they know that you don’t, punker? [JP]
“Supercafone” by Piotta from Comunque Vada Sarà Un Successo
I first came across Piotta in 1999 when I was a 17-year-old choirboy on tour in Italy. (Swear!) We were watching the Italian equivalent of MTV in our hotel room in Florence, and the music video for “Supercafone” came on. I was dumbstruck. Here was a guy who could best be described as looking a bit on the homely side (think Har Mar Superstar, but serious), dancing around in silk pajamas and hot tubbing with half-naked ladies, cutting some serious rhymes (I guess) with a badass two-note horn part and funky guitar line backing him up. I made it my mission for the rest of our choir trip to track down the CD from whence it came, Comunque Vada Sarà Un Successo, and finally found it on the final day of our trip in Rome. I bought it, listened to it maybe twice and then filed it away, but the hook of “Supercafone” has stuck with me to this day. [SH]
“Glósóli“ by Sigur Rós from Takk…
If you can even pronounce the name of this post-rock four-piece, then you’re doing pretty good. Hailing from Iceland, Sigur Rós came into worldview in the early 2000s and have been continuously building their fanbase since. In fact, earlier this month, the band announced their biggest U.S. tour to date, including a headlining show at Madison Square Garden. Although they have a lot of good ones, “Glósóli,” off of their 2005 album Takk…, is a personal favorite. With a building of intensity that grips your insides and child-like whimsy, I can’t help but feel like it’s some kind of Icelandic fairy tale, but then again, it could be an emotional ode to big-breasted women, and I’d have absolutely no clue. Note to self: Learn Icelandic. [BH]
“Et Moi, Et Moi, Et Moi” by The Snivelling Shits from I Can’t Come
“Et Moi, Et Moi, Et Moi” (which translates to “And I And I And I” for all you lovers of freedom fries) was an early-’70s combo-organ-driven garage-rock number by Jacques Dutronc. Fast-forward to 1977, the height of punk rock in the U.K.: Rock journalist/occasional Damned lyricist Giovanni Dadomo puts together the Snivelling Shits with a few of his drinking buddies (including super-producer Steve Lillywhite on bass) and members of proto-punk band Eddie And The Hot Rods. They render Dutronc’s ode to upper-class guilt (“Seven hundred millions of Chinese/And I and I and I/With my life, my little house/With my headache, my mind/I am thinking about it and then I forget it/That's life, that's life”) with such shambolic abandon, you can imagine the snot drying and crusting over onto their leather jackets. Too bad your parents weren’t this cool. [JP]
“Old Jacket (Stariy Pidjak)” by Regina Spektor from What We Saw From The Cheap Seats [Deluxe Version]
Regina Spektor fans have been clamoring for the Russian-born songstress to release an album in her native tongue since Spektor made it big with her sophomore album, Begin To Hope. Until that day happens, fans will have to make do with the few Russian songs Spektor has covered. Like many of her songs, “Old Jacket”, from Spektor’s latest, is a melancholy piano ballad showcasing her unique, haunting vocals—only this one is in Russian so it sounds about 100 times sadder. I have no idea what she’s saying, but I’m assuming it’s something incredibly depressing. Then again, it could be about puppies and cupcakes. [BM]
“Я Cошла C Yма” by t.A.T.u from 200 KM/H In The Wrong Lane
Better known as “All The Things She Said,” this song is far superior in Russian duo t.A.T.u’s native tongue—so much so that it seeps into the English version (listen for the “Ya soshla s uma ah!” chorus background vocal.) Judge all you want, but “Я Cошла C Yма” (“I Have Lost My Mind”) tackles deep identity struggles and desperation stirred by internalizing societal norms that convince you being who you are is “crazy.” [CW]
“Raum Der Zeit” by Wizo from Uuaarrgh!
A huge part of my musical upbringing (as well as pretty much anyone else who came up in the ’90s punk scene) came from cheapo compilations put out by labels like Epitaph, Nitro and Fat Wreck Chords. Such is my love of this song by German punk trio Wizo, found on 1996's Survival Of The Fattest comp. I remember having no idea what the hell they were saying but loving every second of it, eventually buying the full-length it came from, Uuaarrgh!. In short: The record sucked, and I quickly learned the novelty factor of a punk song sung in German. But man, this song still rules, even if I still don't know what they're saying. [SH]
“Qual” by Xmal Deutschland from Fetisch
We (blood) suckers for all things dark and haunted-sounding know that '80s goth tunes satisfy the auditory ache for the macabre. And because everything sounds more sinister in German, Xmal Deutschland are perfect. The only English in “Qual” is a badly pronounced refrain of “I’ll murder you.” Droning along in your best lazily-channeling-the-dead voice, “Deine qual ist meine luuuust, meine liebe” (“Your agony is my pleasure, my love”), drives bats into your belfry. Fact. [CW]
We always like a challenge. So, submit your ideas for future playlists in the comments. Bring it!