15 Great Rock Songs From Non-English Speaking Countries

Written by on November 30, 2017

Every couple months, my KPSU radio show Six Degrees of Rockination has a theme. In November 2015, that theme was rock bands from non-English speaking nations. What songs did I play?

 


 

Melody Fall – “Salvami”

This is a pop punk band from Turin, Italy. For some reason, everyone who hears it thinks the band is singing in Japanese. Is there something about teenage boys singing pop punk that makes everything sound Japanese? I have no answers, I just know I like the song.

Le Butcherettes – “The Leibniz Language”

This is probably the weirdest song of the hour by the weirdest band. They’re from Guadalajara, Mexico, and seem to specialize in songs with changing tempos, time signatures, and moods. Check out their song “Henry Don’t Got Love.” It was featured in one of my other theme shows.

OK Punk! – “Not the End”

I don’t know much about this band from South Korea, but it seems they were created for a TV show. Or maybe a TV actress wanted to be a rock star, so she formed this band. Or maybe both stories are true. Or neither. Whatever. I just like the song.

Reflector – “Zhao Ke”

In 2001, this band from Beijing became one of the first Chinese bands to tour the United States. This song really reminds of Green Day.

Balkan Beat Box – “War Again”

Based on the name, you’d think this band was from Serbia or Croatia or Bosnia, right? Nope, they’re from Israel. It seems like almost every band this hour is a bit of a mystery, doesn’t it?

Death By Unga Bunga – “Lesson Learned the Hard Way”

These guys are from Norway and, believe it or not, I’ve actually seen them in concert. Helluva fun show, which is about what you’d expect after listening to their short, peppy, fun songs. Highly recommended live show.

Die Antwoord – “I Fink U Freeky”

This hip-hop duo from South Africa are probably the hour’s most successful band, and this song gives you a very good sense of their style. Energetic rap flowing between English, Afrikaans, and some language called Xhosa, all of it done with intense electronic dance music. You really need to see the video for this song. It’s utterly bizarre.

Schneider TM – “Reality Check”

This is a fascinating song out of Germany. It combines a few simple chords on an acoustic guitar, with a weird pop-electronica sound. Very interesting sound.

Sigur Ros – “Staralfur”

Speaking of interesting, this band out of Iceland is always putting out good experimental stuff. Some of their songs are sung in Icelandic, while others are in a made-up language. This one’s in Icelandic and translates as “Star Elf.”

-M- – “Mojo”

French musician Matthieu Chedid is the heart of this band. I love the energy of this song, and the guitar solo is just face-melting. If you like this one, check out the song “Faites-Moi Souffrir.”

Haustor – “Skidaj Se”

This band out of Zagreb, Croatia, was one of the leading rock bands in communist Yugoslavia in the 1980s. I really like the mood of this song, as well as the saxophone solo.

Inokentijs Mārpls – “Sieviete Nāc!”

Here’s another band from the 1980s that led the rock ‘n’ roll charge in communist Eastern Europe, this time in Riga, Latvia. I had a hell of a time trying to say their name on air. Latvian’s no joke.

Sunny Branch – “Ramonista”

A pop punk band from Yokohama, Japan singing a song about Joey Ramone? What more could you possibly want? Hey Ho, Let’s Go!

Mew – “Witness”

This indie rock band is from Hellerup, Denmark, and I absolutely love this song, with it driving beat and those high soaring vocals.

Luke Kenny – “Tripwire”

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of rock coming out of India, but I managed to find this guy. He’s half-Indian, half-British, was born in Calcutta, and has been a dancer, a VJ, and a Bollywood actor.

 


 

And there you go. Quite a list, eh? Want to hear the entire radio show? Here’s the link. A solid hour of fantastic rock ‘n’ roll from non-English speaking nations.

 

 

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