One of the most sudden things to connect with when you hear a song is obviously the lyricism. It’s immediate, understandable and relatable. But even when the lyricism falls away — be it because a song is instrumental or sung in a foreign tongue — it often still feels like it’s easy to connect with songs just through the instruments and tone. You might not know what the specific words are, but, in these songs especially, you can still feel the message.
1. Manel – “Benvolgut”
The lyrics to “Benvolgut” interestingly sound like Spanish, French and German fused together, but Manel, an indie group from Barcelona, actually sing in Catalan. This song doesn’t make much sense to me; the title translates to “My Dear Sir” and many translations are largely jumbled, but the lovely brass at the beginning later accompanied by crescendoing strings and percussion provides a perfectly relaxing background to a song that is simply enjoyed.
2. Carla Bruni – “Quelqu’un m’a dit”
Hopefully you’ve seen (500) Days of Summer, and have therefore heard this song, but if not it is possibly one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard. In French, the former French First Lady (yeah, that’s Carla Bruni) sings,”Somebody told me that you loved me. Is it still possible?” For such a difficult question, Bruni delivers it with ease.
3. Kevin Johansen – “Oops”
When I was a kid, whenever my dad cleaned, he played Kevin Johansen and his smooth vocals were sung throughout the house. Admittedly, when I was seven, I found the fact that I couldn’t understand the words super annoying and I begged him to change the song (to no avail). Now that I’m older, I just really appreciate how classy the song is. He sings “Oops, me enamoré otra vez” / “Oops I fell in love again,” which is exactly what the song sounds like: Slowly, easily falling.
4. Sigur Rós – “Heysátan”
When I listen to Sigur Rós, I tend to enjoy the sounds of the Icelandic lyrics as opposed to actually discovering their true meaning. Perhaps this seems ignorant, but the way the band can take so few words and turn them into a near four minute ballad will always impress me and it’s fun creating new meaning with the little content we get.
5. Beirut – “Le Moribond”
Perhaps my favorite thing about Beirut performing Jacques Brel’s “Le Moribond” is how naturally French the American band sounds. With a new instrumental gruffness (especially since this song is performed live) it sounds like a song the band was made to sing.
6. Madeleine Peyroux – “La Vie En Rose”
I couldn’t like this song anymore if I tried. I don’t tend to care who is singing it, as long as they can do the lovely tune justice. Madeleine Peyroux’s rendition makes me feel like I’m sitting in a cafe near the Eiffel Tower, waiting for a friend to arrive. It is effortlessly beautiful.
7. Sufjan Stevens – “Out of Egypt, into the great laugh of Mankind, and I shake the dirt from my sandals as I run”
This is a perfect example of a song lacking lyrics entirely but still maintaining an enticing edge. While I believe classical music in general is great to listen to, many instead find it boring. However, this lovely mix of percussion by the man Sufjan still has a modern edge to it that won’t make it feel like you’re wasting away to Beethoven (but for real – Beethoven rocks).
8. Alexandre Desplat – “Mr. Moustafa”
I can feel the adoration that Zero has for Mr. Moustafa whenever I listen to this song – but as anybody who has seen “Grand Budapest Hotel” knows, more than anything, thoughts of Mr. Moustafa are also tinged with curiosity. It is impossible for me to listen to this song and not feel like a happy mystery is around the corner.
9. Earth, Wind & Fire – “September”
If you have any questions as to why this song would be included on today’s Monday Mixer, I would just ask you to please refer to the publish date. It clearly had to be done.