Ever catch yourself singing songs while having no idea what the words actually mean? Then, this list is for you.
Music lovers all around the world are pretty open to anything, it doesn’t really matter where it’s from. It doesn’t happen often, but every now and then a truly great song, one sung in a foreign language, tops the charts globally.
So, in celebration of the phenomenal global success of “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, ably assisted by the vocal talents of Justin Bieber, we decided to take a trip down memory lane and look at songs in the recent past that brought a slightly more exotic vocab to the charts.
- 1999 – Livin’ la Vida Loca – Ricky Martin
Ricky Martin has often been called the Latino Elvis and when “Livin’ la Vida Loca” punched through from Latin Charts to Pop ones in the States, the whole world felt the shockwave. We have all grooved to this song at some point in our lives, hence, it is no surprise that it still maintains a cult following.
- 2002 – The Ketchup Song (Aserejé) – Las Ketchup
Three ladies, one catchy tune, and voilà! global stardom. This was a huge international hit and was #1 in several countries. Although, most of the words in the song are totally made up, still, it is irritatingly catchy or should I say ketchy… get it? No? Oh, well… Moving on, it even has its own dance, involving a kind of hand jive and lots of gyrations which further makes the song one of those that are freakishly impossible to get out of your head.
- 2004 – Dragostea Din Tei – O-Zone
Some of you probably remember this one. Moldovan pop group, O-Zone released “Dragostea Din Tei” in Romania in 2003, but the love that it received when it had it’s worldwide release in 2004, made it a cult hit. The song is also informally known as “Ma Ya Hi” and “The Numa Numa Song”. The song is written in Romanian, and the title is difficult to translate due to the lack of context for the phrase. According to Wikipedia, the title means “ Love from the lindens”, which doesn’t really make any sense, but you can’t do anything about that now, can you?
- 2002 – Gasolina – Daddy Yankee
He’s doing it now with “Despacito”, he did it then with “Gasolina”. The track exploded almost 13 years ago and irrevocably altered the business, sound and aesthetic of Latin music. Daddy Yankee earned the title of “the messiah of reggaeton”, thanks to the earth-shattering success of the song. The artist has a particularly special place in the hearts of reggaeton lovers. Since, people don’t really know what D.Y. is really talking about in the song, wild theories have emerged from alcohol to drugs. He is talking about his favourite car though, right?
- 2010 – We Speak No Americano – Yolanda Be Cool
Despite sounding very Italian, the track actually comes from Australia. The global appeal of this Jazz/Swing tune exists in its ability to mix old with new. It’s super catchy. It has a clipped horn sample, it has an old Italian dude crooning, and it even has a little bit of a Swing to it. Some might say that is all you need.
- 2012 – Gangnam Style – PSY
Take that look off your face, you knew this was coming. “Gangnam Style” took the world by storm ever since it was released. PSY made cheesy dancing cool again and bad dancers all over the world rejoiced in that fact. The video is goofy, silly, and fun, so, no wonder, it is YouTube’s most watched video with over 2.8 billion views.
- 2014 – Bailando – Enrique Iglesias
Enrique Iglesias is arguably one of the best Latin singers in the world today, and let’s be honest, he’s not exactly hard on the eyes either. People continue dancing to the rhythms of “Bailando” and the Latin anthem has recently entered the “2-billion views club” on YouTube. The song is a quintessential Enrique song as he went back to being who he really is and to say that the fans were overjoyed, would be a bit of an understatement.
Well, that was it for this time. Let us know what you think and do tell us if we missed some songs in the list.
By Urmila Sabharwal