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Today is European Day of Languages. I spend a large part of each week speaking with colleagues and partners around Europe, and I’m forever grateful for their excellent English. Languages fascinate me, but being fluent in any other language doesn’t seem to be in my skill set.

That is except when the other languages are in the lyrics to songs. Once you mix in the music, then I’m with it. As someone who looks at music around the continent, I can assure you that language is no barrier when it comes to having a hit song.

The most obvious example is the sheer number of tracks in English that are listened to around the world. Beyond that, it gets more interesting.

Songs in Spanish are insanely popular, especially in the summer. Spanish language music got a bit of a bad name in the 1990s thanks to songs like The Ketchup Song and Macarena. That has now changed.

Despactio by Luis Fonzi and his gang did a lot of work re-igniting the popularity of Spanish music, paving the way for artists like Bad Bunny, Alvaro Soler and Rosalia to become world-wide stars.

How about French language music? It’s come along way since the slightly sleazy Je T’Aime… Moi Non Plus (you may have to ask an older person). Aya Nakamura is far from sleazy. Her music oozes attitude and emotion and goes down well across the continent. I’d urge you to look at her back catalogue.

There aren’t many contemporary Italian language songs going around. However, being in Italian hasn’t stopped many of us learning the words to some of the greatest music ever composed – Nessum Dorma, O Sole Mio and Volare are all instantly recognisable.

An honourable mention must go to Stefania by the Kalush Orchestra. The Eurovision winner, entirely in Ukrainian, was a global hit earlier this year and earned them a Glastonbury performance too.

Sadly, other European languages don’t seem to export so well. There’s some great music being made in Germany, The Netherlands and Sweden, but their songs don’t seem to travel as well as music in some other languages.

On this European Day of Languages, why not check out music by Miss Li, Wincent Weiss or Boef to hear the music being made in languages that you probably don’t get to hear every day.


Written by Euan McMorrow, Content Director at AVC Immedia.