The Justiciers masqués took a bunch of hit songs and translated them word for word into French. “Quand on comprend les paroles, c’est moins bon,” they say.
Is there something inherently appealing about songs in languages you don’t understand, is music magic lost in translation, or are these songs just written badly to begin with?
It’s not a secret that many, MANY, french speaking people have done. Some of my friends listen to top 40 stations and many time, some of us listening to other type of music (Indie, college radio, web radio) have shown them really what they are listening to by translating it. Pearl Jam just doesn’t sound the same in french…..Seriously. “Confiture de Perles” sounds like a rare and expensive morning gelatin!
“quand on comprend les paroles, c’est moins bon” should actually be “quand les paroles sont mal traduites, c’est plus drôle”!!
Or maybe it’s just the fact that even for kareoke they aren’t particularly good.
I think there’s more you’re able to accept as lyrical nonsense when the language isn’t your mother one (or one you can use flawlessly). I have some difficulty with French-written songs for that reason, and can stomach worse lyrics in English than in French.
However, I’m pretty sure there’s a difference between this case of les Justiciers/French Quebec people (like me) with songs in english, which is a language most of us are at least a bit familiar with, compared to real languages we don’t understand (in my case, must more every other languages out there) or even, not understandable by design. Some bands/artists have built imaginary languages for their music. In that case, without being able to understand the lyrics, we have to put them with the music, and I’m pretty sure it means we don’t use the same part of our brain to process this music.
In any case, this “compilation” is definitely not made to be “good” music in French. They translated the songs with the obvious intent to make it funny, and probably to make them bad too (it’s pretty improper (écrapou) french). There have been more or less successful cases of translated songs between French-English that had decent success, though generally, this comes with different lyrics, and the subject of the song might change a lot.
Often, lyrics are chosen with a musical intent to create something, and fit with the music (or vice versa). Thus, straight translation will most likely not keep the same sound/rhythm as the original track. Also, there is much that cannot be rightly translated word-for-word or babelfish-like, like it’s been done here, while keeping intact the original lyrics’ meaning.
Now, that… was flippin’ hilarious!
“mauvais gars, mauvais gars, kessé tu vas faire, kessé tu vas faire quand ils vont venir pour toé…”
Well, considering that people dance to Red Red Wine and Every Breath You Take like they’re romantic songs even though they’re respectively about getting drunk to forget a broken heart and stalking, I think it’s safe to say that people don’t listen carefully to lyrics or simply don’t understand them. ;)
Oh, and of course, there’s the share of songs that are quite dumb lyrics-wise and yet are appealing to people whose understanding of the language is limited. Then again, that wouldn’t explain why some of those dumb songs are popular in English-speaking areas…
For most people, lyrics don’t even matter, as long as they can sing along in their cars, it’s okay. When you’re into music, lyrics start to matter. By doing that, les justiciers masqués were just trying to be funny, the real deal would be to ask english people if they’re really aware regarding what they’re listening.
Look for CDs by Les Baronets, Les Gants Blancs and other Quebecois bands from the 60s and 70s. They do the translations well, had hits at the time, and is what les Justiciers are referencing.
What do you mean here? That you don’t understand french or that we don’t understand english?
Rob Kemp translating Loverboy songs on CHOM a few months ago was way funnier. It should be a regular feature on the morning show.