I always like to say that music has the ability to connect people. That being said, it can be difficult to understand the meaning of songs when the lyrics are written in a language you don’t know well or at all. Since I recently got into Korean pop group BTS (pictured above), I thought it might be helpful to give some tips on how to listen to a song in another language for the first time:
- First, listen to the song and keep an open mind. Personally, I’m a huge lyric person. If a song has meaningful lyrics and it has a good melody, I’m pretty much sold on the song. Listening to the song first also helps me when I read the translation of the lyrics because it makes it easier to follow along.
- Next, I look for a translation of the lyrics. For me, I always google “song title English (or any language you want the song translated into) translated lyrics.” Usually, I click on the first website that pops up and then I read the translation. Another helpful tip is to find a website or a YouTube video that has translated lyrics and the lyrics in the original language. Now keep in mind that something in one language may not directly translate into another and the translations that you find may not be 100% accurate. Often if I’m confused about the way a lyric is translated, I will look at multiple sites such as forums to see how other people interpreted the lyric.
- Then, once you’ve found a translation that you like (I recommend looking at a side-by-side lyric translation when doing this), listen to the song again. Reading the lyrics while listening to the song helps me to put the meaning together with the music. I usually do this a few times just so that I know I’m not missing anything.
- Finally, repeat any steps you want! Even when I’ve listened to a song for a while, I will occasionally go back and read a translation again. Sometimes I will even pick up on something that I haven’t heard before or an interpretation that I haven’t thought about.
This step-by-step guide is by all means not complete, but I hope this helps give an idea as to how to listen to music in a different language. As for why listen to music in another language, I’ve found that especially if I’m learning the language such as French it is helpful to listen to music in French as it really helps with comprehension. Even if you aren’t learning the language sometimes it’s cool to explore music from all around the world and make comparisons.
So, do you enjoy listening to music in different languages? If so, what do you like to listen to?
As always, we hope to see you soon at the LRC!