Elvis Presley sang “Wooden Heart” in German. Shakira can sing in Portuguese, English, and Italian. Andrea Bocelli has sung songs in English, Italian, French Portuguese, and Latin! Celine Dion showed off singing in perfect Chinese.
In order to sing in a different language, you need to understand the meaning of the words in your first language, then learn the lyrics and the correct pronunciation of those words. We will cover that and more in this article.
Interpret the song in general. We cover that in more detail here. You need to know what you’re singing about and thanks to the almighty power that is Google, you can look up translations for pretty much anything. I recommend genius.com. which provides translation for several languages other than English, and a Romanization* translation as well. Just hover the mouse button over the text and it will show you. For an example, check out the lyric page for the song “POP/STARS” by K/DA.
*Romanization: in linguistics, is the conversion of writing from a different writing system to the Roman (Latin) script, or a system for doing so.
Another example, the song “Last Song” by Japanese singer Gackt. The first line translated to English is “Walking around aimlessly by myself”. Genius shows how to say that in Japanese in English text: “Atemonaku hitori samayoi arukitsuzuketa”. I know, looks like gibberish and sounds like gibberish but believe it or not, you’re learning Japanese. Some languages will be easier to sing in than others. Italian and French for example, would be easier to grasp than Asian languages considering how closely related several European languages are to the English language.
Listen carefully to the song and repeat the phrases over and over. Find the foreign song on YouTube then slow it down. It does sound a little weird but you will get a better grasp of the lyrics and timing of the song. This technique is particularly helpful for learning fast paced pop songs.
Look up basic tutorials on how to speak in a different language and mainly get an idea for the rhythm. It’s not necessary to become fluent in another language but online tutorials on YouTube can be very helpful in coming to understand the rhythm of a different language.
Write the lyrics down. This might seem like an arduous task, but writing is great for memory. Not laptops. Medical Daily has a great article about memory techniques.
Sing the foreign song in your own language so that you will come to own the song.
What if I still struggle to sing in a different language?
Sing parts of the song in the original language and the rest in English or your native language.
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