English didn't always rule the international pop music scene the way it does today. In the '60s, if a group had a hit, they sometimes went back into the studio to record versions in other languages for the European market. Artists would spend a few minutes getting familiar with a phonetic transcription of German, Italian, French, or Spanish lyrics, and then lay down a new vocal track in a take or two. Some of these recordings are preserved for posterity on the compilation album Motown Around the World. There's a reason these singers were stars. The way their charisma shines through, even in a language they don't know, is a testament to their talent as performers. They still completely own the songs. But the language shift will make you hear them in a whole new way.
1. MARVIN GAYE, "WIE SCHÖN DAS IST" ("HOW SWEET IT IS")
Wie schön das ist, daß du bei mir bist. "How beautiful it is that you're with me."
2. THE TEMPTATIONS, "MEIN GIRL" ("MY GIRL")
Wenn es regnet, sehe ich Sonnenschein. "When it rains, I see sunshine…"
3. THE SUPREMES, "WO IST UNSERE LIEBE?" ("WHERE DID OUR LOVE GO?")
Baby, baby, wo ist unsere Liebe? Oh baby, komm. Verlass mich nicht. "Baby, baby, where is our love? Oh baby, come. Don't leave me."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Sorry, GOP, tax cuts don't pay for themselves
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Pope Francis' American problem
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Are there dogs in heaven? Let's hope not.
- Alien conspiracy theorists think the government is on the verge of spilling big secrets
- 10 things you need to know today: December 19, 2014
Subscribe to the Week