Sunday, April 15, 2012

(not) lost in translation

Somehow, a recent conversation with a friend turned to a discussion of English-language covers of foreign songs. I'm not exactly sure how that happened (the conversation, not me having a friend) but it inspired me to write this post and share a few of my favorites. Warning: this is going to be Flash-y. I want to include specific videos so I'm going to keep it all in the same format for consistency.

Let's begin. And yes, I know the photo is completely unrelated. I'm doing a thing here, so just let it go.

An oldie but goodie (on both sides of the pond) is "La Mer." Charles Trenet wrote and popularized the song in French in 1946. Later that same year, Jack Lawrence wrote English lyrics and the song became "Beyond The Sea." You've probably heard Bobby Darin crooning it. Here are both versions.





It's hard to say which I prefer. Trenet had an amazing voice and gets credit for penning the tune, but Darin just swings it so hard. Let's call it a draw and make sure both are in your music library.

Moving from France to Germany: Harry Winter had a hit in 1948 with "Und Jetzt Ist Es Still." Here's the original song.



Three years later it was Americanized and became a hit for Betty Hutton as "It's Oh So Quiet." More recently, a crazy cool singer called Björk covered it, complete with Spike Jonze video. I'm going to post that one because, um, Spike Jonze.



I'll also give Björk's version props for being my favorite. No offense to Ms. Hutton but those screams blow me away every time. And the original is a bit stuffy, no?

Finally, the song "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps" has been popularized by a few different acts over the years. Nat King Cole loved performing it, Doris Day has a classic version, and Cake helped reintroduce it to a younger generation. That's just to name a few of the many, many covers through the years. Here's the Doris Day version from 1964.



The song was originally by Cuban songwriter Osvaldo Farres and became a hit in 1947. "Quizás, Quizás, Quizás" is still a Latin staple. Here's the amazing Gaby Moreno doing an acoustic cover.



I'm not sure you can beat that version. Point, set, and match to Gaby.

Like I said, these are just a few of my favorites. Feel free to add yours in the comments or pass them along to us. I'm always interested in hearing the origins of a song I love.

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