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Far Out 40: The best non-English speaking songs

Since it began, the music industry has been weighted heavily in favour of North American and British artists. This is because most things, particularly economic systems, are established by the global hegemon, which for a long time was the two Western superpowers, America and the UK. Of course, over the years, there have been some hits and artists that have managed to break through to English-speaking audiences and reap the rewards, but these have been a rarity.  

There’s a lot to be said for the way that the English-speaking world dominates the rest of the world in an unfair manner. Whether this be the flow of economic power out of countries that the Western establishment regards as peripheral into the West, or due to the fact that English-speaking countries seem to be unwilling to give anything different a try, musicians from outside of North America and Britain have long struggled to get the plaudits they deserve outside of their homeland.

Yes, this can be attributed to the way that in their native countries, there might not be much of a music scene or industry, but we have to acknowledge that there is much great music worldwide, it’s just that people have long tended to be disinterested when it comes to anything that they’re not immediately familiar with.

Whilst this point is at risk of taking us down a much broader cultural and socio-political path, one thing is obvious. As listeners, we tend to be very close-minded, liking only a specific genre as it fits in with our social standing or viewpoint. We think it’s high time that this change. 

But how about this, instead of looking inwards, why not look outwards? There are incredible musicians worldwide that deserve a wider audience, and it seems rather unfair that they are held back purely because of location and language. It’s also unjust that Western musicians are able to have dalliances with other languages whenever they see fit, as an ‘artistic choice’, rather than, say, a group from Japan or the old Eastern bloc who sing in English with the hope of being able to tap into the Western-centric market. 

Here at Far Out, we’re very aware that our readers are only the most cultured consumers of music. So we thought, what better than creating one of our classic ‘Far Out 40’ playlists of non-English speaking songs? It might just help to brighten up your day. 

There are some familiar faces on the list, including David Bowie and Queen, and they’ve been added as a means of keeping you concentrated. You’ll be surprised by just how brilliant and varied this collection of 40 songs is. Ranging from dance to metal and everything in between, if you’re bored of what you’re currently rotating, look no further. 

As always, we’ve got you. So be prepared to be whisked off to the sunny climes of South America, as well as the rolling plains of Belarus and the frozen land of the giants, Iceland. The mundanity of your week in the office is no more. 

As ever, we’re operating on a one song per artist basis, so the likes of Edith Piaf and Kraftwerk only appear once. From everyone here at Far Out, enjoy.

The best non-English language songs:

  • ‘A la plage’ – Juniore
  • ‘Trouble In The Streets’ – GOAT
  • ‘My Angel (Malaika)’ – Harry Belafont / Miriam Makeba
  • ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ – Bridget Bardot / Serge Gainsbourg
  • ‘Non, je ne regrette rien’ – Edith Piaf
  • ‘Ca plane pour moi’ – Plastic Bertrand
  • ‘Dacw Hi’ – Super Furry Animals
  • ‘Warszawa’ – David Bowie
  • ‘99 Luftballons’ – Nena
  • ‘Guantanamera’ – The Sandpipers
  • ‘A Minha Menina’ – Os Mutantes
  • ‘Svefn-G-Englar’ – Sigur Ros
  • ‘In Maidjan’ – Heilung
  • ‘Ulvinde’ -Myrkur
  • ‘Du hast – Rammstein
  • ‘Mustapha’ – Queen
  • ‘Henkan’ – Bo Ningen
  • ‘Statement‘ – Boris
  • ‘Oye Como Va’ – Santana
  • ‘Ataypura!’ – Yma Sumac
  • ‘Hotel California’ – The Gipsy Kings
  • ‘Athair Ar Neamh’ – Enya
  • ‘Laissez-Moi Tranquille’ – Warren Zevon 
  • ‘Kletka’ – Molchat Doma
  • ‘Statuette on the Console’ – Bodega
  • ‘It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)’ – Peggy Gou
  • ‘La Folie’ – The Stranglers
  • ‘Dripping Sun’ -Kikagaku Moyo
  • ‘Yama Yama’ – Yamasuki Singers
  • ‘Das Model’ – Kraftwerk 
  • ‘Magpie’ – Birdstriking 
  • ‘Kasvetli Kutlama’’ – She Past Away
  • ‘L’Via L’Viaquez’ – The Mars Volta 
  • ‘Soubour’ – Songhoy Blues
  • ‘Kouma’ – Rokia Traoré
  • ‘Apres Moi’ – Regina Spektor
  • ‘Um akkeri’ – Björk
  • ‘Mounemouma’ – Falle Nioke / Ghost Culture
  • ‘Immensita’ – Andrea Laszlo De Simone
  • ‘Sapphire’ – Alcest