Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Bengawan Solo And Foreign Songs (Part III)


ITALIAN: Nel blu dipinto di blu, known also as Volare is Domenico Modugno’s signature song. It is the only song ever by an Italian artist to reach number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts. His recording won the Grammy (1958) and is the only foreign-language recording sung entirely in Italian. Written by Modugno himself and Franco Migliacci, it came in third in the 1958 Eurovision Song Contest. But only Dean Martin's version (1958) made its way into the hearts of many Singaporeans. Beats even Bobby Rydell's more upbeat version!

PERUVIAN/ANDEAN: El Cóndor Pasa or Flight of the Condor (1913) is a song by Peruvian composer Daniel Alomía Robles based on traditional Andean folk tunes. It is popular worldwide because it is covered by Simon & Garfunkel in their Bridge Over Troubled Water album (1970). This cover version is called El Condor Pasa (If I Could).

When Simon heard a version called Paso Del Condor by Jorge Milchberg, he personalized it by adding his own English lyrics. They are all listed as songwriters in this version. Perry Como released a cover of Simon's English version on his album It's Impossible. Simon & Garfunkel did release their version as a single in the U.S. and it reached 18 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart.

SPANISH: Singapore guitar groups are familiar with Perfidia (1939), The Ventures classic. It means faithless, treacherous or false and was written by Alberto Domínguez in the 1900s. Aside from the original Spanish, other renditions exist, including an English version by Milton Leeds.

The song became a hit for Xavier Cugat in 1940 and used by Chinese director Wong Kar Wai in some of his movies. Perfidia has been recorded by many artistes as early as the 50s, including Gene Autry, Charlie Parker, Mel Torme, Glenn Miller, Nana Mouskouri, The Shadows, The Ventures, Linda Ronstadt, Nat King Cole, Lawrence Welk, The Four Aces and Perez Prado.

INDONESIAN: Bengawan Solo (1940) in Bahasa Indonesia is by Gesang Martohartono and sung in kroncong style, a popular folk music with influences from the Portuguese. The Japanese, who occupied the country during World War II, brought the song to Japan afterwards. It has become an international hit since.

The song became popular amongst the Chinese community in SE Asia after Malaysian singer Poon Sow Keng recorded it in Mandarin for Hong Kong Pathe (1957). It was further boosted by Ms Koo Mei, who sang her version for Philips Records. Many Chinese language singers have written their own lyrics for the tune, making it one of the greatest classics in S.E. Asia.

The English recording of Bengawan Solo is called, By the River of Love from an early 60s Hong Kong record sung by Rebecca Pan. Sakura Teng and Mona Fong (image) sing it both in Chinese and English. While Teng heats it up, Fong gives it a cha-cha-cha beat!

And so this short journey ends in Asia again. We have come one full circle. If you happen to know of pop songs that have been translated into English, please write in.

Image: You Tube

Information: Wikipedia Songs

Original article: Andy Lim

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