MondayMusic: When English Isn’t Enough

Here are some songs that I love despite the language barrier. If you haven’t checked out my Spotify playlist yet, you should.

sauti sol
Sauti Sol at Koroga Festival 2015 in Nairobi

  1. Stan Getz – Saudade Vem Correndo ft. Maria Toledo

Language: Portuguese

Country: Brazil

My love for bossa nova is well documented. Basically Astrud Gilberto can do no wrong in my book. This song is a special favorite because it was sampled by The Pharcyde for the classic hit Runnin’ (as well as Mya for Fallen).

  1. Les Nubians – Makeda

Language: French

Country: France

One of the few acts on this list I’ve been fortunate enough to see live, Les Nubians is one of the first non-English-speaking groups I recall listening to. I struggled between sharing this song and Saravah, but this song has more nostalgia attached to it.

  1. LiraIxesha

Language: Xhosa

Country: South Africa

I discovered Lira on the tail end of my first trip to Africa, where I spent most of my time in Southern Africa. Lira sings in English, Xhosa, Zulu, and Sotho. I’m surprised she doesn’t get more play in the States.

  1. Boom Clap Bachelors – Skynd Dig Langsomt

Language: Danish

Country: The Netherlands

Many of you may be acquainted with the group Quadron which has close ties to this group (producer Robin Hannibal is a member of the collective and singer Coco O. is a frequent collaborator). You also may recognize some of their sound after Kendrick Lamar sampled Tiden Flyver for Good Kid M.A.A.D. City. This song, whose title translates to “hurry slowly,” is the first off of an exception album Mellem Dine Læber.

  1. Ana Tijoux1977

Language: Spanish

Country: Chile

I first heard this song, with the same name as Tijoux’s second solo album, during a montage in Breaking Bad and was immediately hooked.

  1. LARYSystem

Language: German

Country: Germany

Another example of a song that made me a fan. She may be the only (non-classical) German artist in my music collection.

  1. Sauti SolSura Yako

Language: Swahili

Country: Kenya

Another group I’ve been fortunate to see perform and in their home country! This song from their Sol Filosofia album was a huge hit.

  1. Stromaequand c’est

Language: French

Country: Belgium

I want Afropunk to stop playing and bring on Stromae as a headliner. That would be AMAZING. He tackles some heavy topics in his work including in this song which talks about my favorite social media Twitter. He’s not a fan. Many might know his Papaoutai video which addresses him dealing with his father’s absence due to the Rwandan genocide. Just spend a while watching his videos. You won’t disappointed.

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