Top Ten Foreign Covers of Classic English Language Songs
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou might be the weak link in Wes Anderson movies, but it did allow viewers to hear old songs in a new way. Throughout the movie, Brazilian singer Seu Jorge had random interludes in which he picked up his guitar and sang David Bowie songs in Portuguese. Even Ziggy Stardust himself was impressed by these renditions and is supposedly quoted in the album's liner notes as saying, "Had Seu Jorge not recorded my songs acoustically in Portuguese, I would never have heard this new level of beauty which he has imbued them with."
With Seu Jorge playing a free concert this Saturday at Hollywood ArtsPark, hosted by the Rhythm Foundation, it seems fitting that we examine the top ten foreign covers of English songs. Some are by the original artists trying to impress other markets, others are by new artists, but all are worthy of your time.
10. "Mellow Yellow" by Arik Einstein
Perhaps the least mellow sound in any language is that "ch" in Hebrew that comes from the back of the throat. That guttural sound makes its appearance several times in this Donovan cover.
9. "In My Room" (German version) by The Beach Boys
And they say, German isn't a romance language. Mike Love and the Wilson boys beg to differ in their translation of the original California classic.
8. "If I Were a Carpenter" by Johnny Hallyday and Emmylou Harris
If Spanglish is a combination of Spanish and English, what can you call this duet where Hallyday sings his verses in French and Harris in English. Englench? Frenglish? Magic?
7. "Magic Carpet Ride" by Pizzicato Five
This cover by the Japanese band emits a loungy, hipster vibe that barely allows you to recognize the Steppenwolf classic from which it springs.
6. "Wer Kennt Den Weg" by Johnny Cash
When you think the words "Walk the Line" and Germany, it conjures images of goosestepping Nazis. But Johnny Cash tries to remedy this with this version of his song.
5. "Rock the Casbah" by Rachid Tahar
The last jokey entry on the list is an Arabic rendition of this Clash staple. But it looks so much like a clip from Borat that we couldn't resist including it.
4. "All Is Full of Love" (Icelandic Version) by Björk
Odds are, unless you're a Sugarcubes fan, you've never heard Björk sing in her native tongue. You can now cross that off your bucket list.
3. "Burro" by Beck
This Spanish version of "Jackass" as performed with a mariachi band has the soul and humor that we so dearly miss from Beck's recent work. Remember what once was with this song.
2. "Paint It Black" by Marie LaForet
This chanteuse also performed wonderful French versions of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence" and Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind," but nothing tops her sexy fury in this Rolling Stones song.
1. "Life on Mars" by Seu Jorge
As huge David Bowie fans, we're still uncertain whether we enjoy this version more than the original. Fortunately, we don't have to choose. We can listen to Bowie's glam-rock original and immediately follow it with Seu Jorge's acoustic Portuguese croon.
Seu Jorge. Hollywood ArtsPark Experience: Rio. 6 p.m. Saturday, July 27, at Hollywood ArtsPark, 1 Young Circle, Hollywood. Admission is free. Call 305-672-5202, or visit rhythmfoundation.com.
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