Do Bilingual artists perform and sing songs in different languages at concerts when they travel abroad viz USA, Canada, Italy, Spain, Germany, France etc

Are there examples of those Artists who have performed Bilingual songs?

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    By "bilingual songs" do you mean songs that originally have lyrics that have multiple languages, or songs that have been recorded/performed in a single but different language each time? Mar 23, 2022 at 1:23
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    Well, that's not the same thing. There are lots of artists who perform "localized" versions of songs for a specific country/language, the most common case is songs translated for Spanish audiences (mostly targeted for South America and originally recorded by artists coming from countries that share common history, like Italy). Songs that are originally written with lyrics in more than one language are typically different as their multi-language intent is artistically, culturally or socially important, and translating any of those language might change that purpose. Mar 23, 2022 at 1:40
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    For instance, a well known Italian singer and tv personality, Raffaella Carrà, was also very popular in Spain, and that popularity was also helped by her Spanish renditions of songs originally recorded by her in Italian. She was definitely Italian and originally Italian speaking only, but when her popularity grew in Spain, she actually became a "bilingual" artist. Still, she usually publicly performed only in the language of her audience. Another popular "multilingual" Italian artist is Laura Pausini. Mar 23, 2022 at 1:52
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    Also, many North American singers that have a Spanish or South American ancestry often sing and/or record songs in both English and Spanish, sometimes switching language within the same record/performance, others doing it in a specific language. Jennifer Lopez (who has Puerto Rican parents) often sings in Spanish, or add some Spanish cues/verses in her songs. Céline Dion (who is from Quebec, a French speaking Canadian region) often alternates French with English while performing for French speaking audiences. Mar 23, 2022 at 1:58
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    This question reminds me of all the renditions of "O Canada" I've heard in hockey games where the singer flips between English and French.
    – Dekkadeci
    Mar 23, 2022 at 1:59

1 Answer 1


Well, the question is a bit broad.

First of all, there is a lot of difference between the following, and some of them might even coincide:

  • artists that are actually bilingual, because they are born from a multi-language family, they have traveled/learnt/worked enough to master those languages, or they come from a country that actually has more than one official language;
  • artists that want to target a specific audience speaking a different language;
  • songs localized for cultural (including ethical, political or social) or commercial purposes;
  • songs specifically written for localization (or with lyrics written/adapted for that purpose), maybe for "official" purposes such as national anthems of multi-lingual countries;
  • songs that actually (originally or not) have multi-lingual lyrics;

The first case is usually common for North American artists with a Spanish-related ancestry (usually central or southern America), for example Jennifer Lopez or Selena Gomez. This is also common for Canadian artists, like Céline Dion, who often performs songs in French or switches languages within the same song.

Those cases usually share the second and third point of my above list: those artists often record and/or perform their songs in the language of the country or region they are targeting.

Then there is the case of specific localization, even for non native language speakers/singers. This has been common for centuries: for instance, there are many popular Operas that have been translated (and still sung, sometimes) in a different language: many librettos have been translated and adapted to other languages. German Operas are sometimes sung in English or other languages; Singspiels often have dialogs spoken in the language of the country they are performed; some Operas with librettos written for a language different than that of their original composers' are sometimes sung in that composer's original language.
This still happens nowadays for modern musicals, when they are performed in countries other than the original one.

The problem comes from the fact that lyrics, being poetic in nature, use stylistic devices to portray some intent or feeling, and metre is obviously extremely important from the musical perspective. But not only.
While some basic concepts might be easily translated, some devices typical of a specific language might not portray the same meaning when translated. A typical example is the English "love", which is originally a very broad concept used in the same way between lovers, siblings, relatives and even friends; in many languages, though, it must be more specific: for instance, Italian people would never say "ti amo" to their relatives (or vice versa), but "ti voglio bene" (something similar to "I deeply care about you").

Consider that translation and localization don't always coincide: one thing is to translate the original meaning, another is to provide a (possibly) similar concept that can be better perceived from the targeted audience.

Years ago, Backstreet Boys released their "Quit Playing Games" single that was soon localized and actually sung by them in Italian by their Italian fans as "Non puoi lasciarmi così" (more or less, "Please don't leave me like that"). While the final portrayed concept of the song is similar, the meaning is not quite the same.

Finally, the case of actually bilingual songs is a completely different matter: usually, those songs are written in multiple language for a cultural/social/political/ethical purpose: a song released or performed in a country that has more than one official language (including a national anthem), or to highlight the importance of a language minority in that country; an ongoing war; a necessity for awareness of the countries involved in the matters that are being approached in the song meanings, etc.

Even considering the last aspects, bilingual or localized songs can have different (perceived) meanings, even by a lot. Maybe the purpose of the translation/localization was to be as much "literal" as possible, other times the purpose is to transmit a "philosophical feeling" that could not be translated in any way if not by changing the meaning of those lyrics.

A typical example is the rendition of The Girl from Ipanema recorded by Frank Sinatra with Antônio Jobim from their joined album: the song was originally written in Brazilian-Portuguese and was actually translated in English, but was performed in both languages for that album in order to portray the original Brazilian feeling while keeping most of its lyrics understandable by both its main target (English speaking people) and still likable by the Portuguese listeners that might have enjoyed the "multi-cultural" aspect (and the resulting popularity of their own country).

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    I'm glad you mentioned Sinatra; he was my first thought of an emphatically not bilingual artist trying to sing in a language he was ill equipped for. I've got a whole album of him singing in Spanish, simply piecing together all the words from a phonetic explanation without an inkling of the accent: "Tay kee-air-oh!" Mar 23, 2022 at 12:38
  • Early Beatles singles in German - Komm gib mir deine Hand & Sie liebt dich [I wanna hold your hand/She loves you] Both on Past Masters vol 1. [Ohh, didn't know these too - thoughtco.com/the-beatles-only-german-recordings-4075314 ]
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 23, 2022 at 18:58

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