Foreign foreign language songs

Guest post from Cesium. Posted here with permission.

It turns out much of the music I like is in foreign languages (natural or constructed), but in particular there’s a bunch of songs from Japanese media with lyrics in European languages. I’m sure there are interesting questions in here about how Japanese culture perceives particular languages…

One-Winged Angel, Final Fantasy VII
A classic! This is the Advent Children version because that’s what I know. (Not the movie. I have not actually seen most of the movie or the game. I just know the song.)

(There’s probably a lot more here, but I don’t happen to have any onhand.)

Ai no Uta, Pikmin
Written as part of the Pikmin franchise, but got translated into French for Super Smash Bros. Brawl?? It’s kind of weird. I like the Japanese version better.

Le Ali Del Principio, Baten Kaitos Origins
This is from the prequel to Baten Kaitos that no one played. It’s one of my favorite songs. Apparently the Japanese accent is really strong though.

(Not Japanese media, but the turret opera from Portal 2 is great too. It’s better with the actual in-game visuals that go with it but they also kind of spoil the ending.)

Guren no Yumiya and Jiyuu no Tsubasa, Attack on Titan
Mostly Japanese, but random German verses are scattered through the lyrics. Really I shouldn’t count it for that since there are a million Japanese songs with random English phrases.
(The first SnK opening became an internet meme for some reason, e.g.)

Blumenkranz, Kill la Kill
❤ Blumenkranz. This anime is really weird. See above about strong Japanese accent, too.


Fly Me to the Moon, Neon Genesis Evangelion
Evangelion used this as their ending theme. Did you know the actual title is “In Other Words”?

Light Your Heart Up, Kill la Kill

I don’t think this actually appears in the series, just the OST? It’s the theme for Mako, who’s pretty great. Singer is an American who lives in Japan.
(Me: “just get rid of your broken wings / you’re strong enough by now”
wings: “hey, everyone’s a little bit broken okay D:”)

For You, Wandering Son
Also ❤ this one, and the anime it came from. It’s a better blend of English and Japanese than most others, IMO, which is largely because the singer is bilingual and lives in Britain part-time.

Ashes of Dreams (New), NieR
Singer is English and lives in Japan. (Seeing a trend here?)
The whole soundtrack for this game is worth a listen. This is actually the only song on there with lyrics in a real language. The other three versions (Nouveau, Nuadhaich, and Aratanaru) of Ashes of Dreams are in made-up phonologies based on how French, Gaelic, and Japanese respectively might sound after evolving for a thousand years, and the other songs use similar extrapolations for those and a few other languages. It’s a really cool idea.

Dawn Awakens, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
This comes from a possible ending of FE10. Reportedly, it’s actually sung in backwards Japanese — transcribe the lyrics in romaji, reverse each line, and sing that as if it were pseudo-Japanese. (I was like “this would make a good puzzle hunt puzzle!” but it hasn’t happened yet.)


Person A:
The normal Japanese version of Ai no Uta is in Brawl as well, and I agree that it’s better than the French version.

Speaking of Kill la Kill, DON’T LOSE YOUR WAY!!! Also there’s a song on the OST called Ping Pong Circulate based on a song by Country Earl. The version on the OST is a minute and a half of techno, followed by (faux) square dance calls. You’ll never hear Ping Pong Circulate as many times as in the original song.

When you said “Constructed Language”, I thought you were going to bring up Ar Tonelico. vvega told me about it, and it’s something about constructed language, end of the world, people singing songs to prevent catastrophe, really cute kid who is actually really messed up, something something? She’s CC’ed because I don’t think I can really explain it that well, but it sounded super cool! The music is interesting too.

  • If you haven’t QQ’ed enough from Ai No Uta, here’s Namida Ga Afuerta, Olimar’s response.
  • The full version of that SnK opening is really interesting. More than what I expected.
  • +++++ for Blumenkranz. First time I’ve heard it but it’s great! I keep hitting the replay button 😀
  • Also, ++ for Ping Pong Circulate. I was about to mention it as well.
  • A bit surprised you didn’t mention Gurren Lagann’s amazing rap / opera “Libera Me (From Hell)” aka. ROW ROW FIGHT DA POWAH

The trope of Japan using a lot of Western things reminds me of this TV Tropes article. iirc, it’s also the reason why a lot of characters have blonde / brown / not black hair – it’s not Japanese and must be cool! There’s also a lot of gratuitous English in kpop (not that I *cough* listen to that or anything)

If you love Engrish, the Persona soundtrack has this in SPADES. My favorites include the Persona 3 FES opening (mumblemumblemumble AND I’M THE ACE) and the Persona 4 battle music (which is more understandable than the P3P battle music’s “Three dots connect to rectangles“). I can’t find the interview, but I’ve heard that the director wanted them to sing in Engrish so it would sound as foreign to English audiences as English lyrics sound to Japanese audiences.

While I’m talking about Persona, this dual mix is really good (playing the live and recorded version at the same time). Persona music in general is really really good (ex. this, its final boss remix, and its FUNKY DANCE MUSIC remix) (while we’re on the subject of video game remixes, Phoenix Wright jazz / orchestra album FTW)

I … feel like maybe this is appropriate

Person B:
++ to Ar Tonelico.  There were three games (even though I try to pretend that the third never existed, it actually does have some amazingly beautiful music, like Ec Tisia in addition to stuff like…EXEC_Z/.?  I like that one, it’s not Ep Nova.) and ~three artists: Noriko Mitose, Haruka Shimotsuki, and Akiko Shikata.  There are a ton of songs for the game, as the premise is “the world is made of music”, oftentimes literally.  Most of the songs in conlang are computer programs (hence things like chmod b111000000/n and METHOD_REPLEKIA/. and EXEC_SUSPEND/.), but some are not.  There’s a lot of Japanese in them, to varying degrees, though some are pure Hymmnos, likeEXEC_HARMONIUS/..  Some showcase several of the numerous conlangs of the Exa Pico universe, like EXEC_FLIP_ARPHAGE/., which includes Ar Ciela, Carmena Foreluna, Japanese, and Central Note Hymmnos.
…also the series has ~four separate conlangs, so have fun!  The wiki is a good place to find out more about the games.

There’s also a new series in the same universe consisting of Ciel noSurge and Ar noSurge.  The games are kind of eh, and the music isn’t quite the same, but it definitely has some gems in there too.  Also they introduced two more conlangs on top of the preexisting four: REON-4213 (and REON-814) and Emotional Song Pact.  Songs I like from Ciel noSurge in REON and ESP respectively are QuelI->EX[cez]->{kranz}; and zu-dao jen-din, and example ones I like from Ar noSurge would be Class::EXSPHERE_NOSURGE; (though it’s pretty violent in comparison) and Lxa ti-cia (which actually has some Ar Ciela in it, as a shout-out).  yal fii-ne noh-iar (which is actually mostly Russian) is also pretty gorgeous; I love Origa’s voice and wish that there were more recorded works of hers. ;_;

The basic idea of the stories in the Exa Pico universe (besides “everything is music”) is a pretty rough one in general.  The common theme throughout the worlds is that humans suck, and despite this, people still try to save humanity.  It’s not covered so much in the games as in the backstory of the world, but it shows up in relevant times.  For example, Xaaaci is sung by the planet after it decides to raze all life back to dirt and start over again, because it just isn’t worth keeping people alive anymore.

I love pretty much anything by Kalafina.  They were the ones to sing the ending theme for Puella Magi Madoka Magica (in addition to the other music for the series), Magia, and they’ve sung a lot of other awesome stuff.  They used to work with Yuki Kajiura as part of FictionJunction, but they have their own songs too.

++ to Persona too!  The Battle for Everyone’s Souls and Aria of the Soul will always be my favorites 😀
There was also a fun fan OST that was created with a neat Fight Theme and a

Person B
…oops.  I was almost done! >.>;;
welp, Fight Theme and Lady Nyarlathotep mixes!

I totally second Nier music, all the way.  Apparently they’re making a Nier 2…!

and as for something *not* in Japanese, Taina, by the Finnish mostly-acapella group Seminaarimäen Mieslaulajat.

I’m sure I have more kicking around, but it’s probably mostly more Exa Pico music, and I’ve already flooded y’all enough with that. >.>;;


Person C:
well known example: origa for ghost in the shell (i’m not the biggest fan, however)

Out of Ar Tonelico music, I happen to prefer EXEC_RE=NATION/. 😀

Kalafina is great, though in terms of this thread, the farthest I’ve heard them get from Japanese is like the word “gloria”. Though, I guess Credens Justitiam from Madoka is in a conlang of some sort?

As far as Scandinavian a cappella, one of my favorites is Dobbin’s Flowery Vale by Rajaton.

Also, you mentioned Russian, so here’s Melody from Cats.

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