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
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Is it now OK to have sex with animals?
- After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Alien conspiracy theorists think the government is on the verge of spilling big secrets
- 7 health benefits of playing video games
- The hilarious hypocrisy of Republicans complaining about the imperial presidency
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- Ferguson riots were terrible — but this racist reaction was worse
Subscribe to the Week