When I was in high school, I was asked why I listen to songs in languages I don’t understand.
At the time, I couldnt formulate a proper answer, so I just said “I don’t know, I just do?” Normally, it wouldn’t be completely out there to listen to songs in another language, but back then that’s all I listened to, so it was a pretty valid question.
Over the years, the question stuck with me, and while as adults (or near adults) people don’t outwardly question musical tastes (except for assholes), I have an answer to that question now.
For me, the vocals are the same as the instrumentals, they follow, create, or accentuate the song’s rhythm or beat. It doesn’t matter if I understand the lyrics or not, the sound and how pleasant it is to my ears is what matters the most. Take for example, the song “Los! Los! Los!”, the ending theme for The Saga of Tanya the Evil (sung by Aoi Yuki)
And here is the song without the vocals.
The vocals create and amplify the song’s rhythm, without them the instrumentals are still strong, but the vocals give the song more urgency and the listener something to latch onto when following the beats.
Another great example of the vocals creating that beat and sound to listen to is the opening theme for Persona 3:FES (also justifying my cover image).
A mix of the original ending theme from Persona 3 and Mass Destruction, FES’s opening theme goes from sweet, flowing melody to awesome rap vocals by Lotus Juice that punctuates the ear drums with sharp hits.
One of my favorite examples of listening to vocals I don’t understand is any of Emi Evans’ tracks from Nier or Drakengard. For the songs, Evans created a “chaos language” that, well, no one can understand. Apparently it’s supposed to be based on how Gaelic would sound in a thousand years? In any case, the end result is beautiful.
When the vocals come on, oh, they hit the right spot in my brain.
This isn’t to say that I don’t listen to the lyrics. If they’re in a language I understand, my brain will automatically cause me to comprehend the words, and it’s nice to know what’s being sung. However, understanding the lyrics isn’t a criteria on which I judge songs (unless the lyrics are really offensive, then I probably wouldn’t listen to them).
The sounds are more important to me than understanding the words. After all, language as we know it evolved long after people started walking the earth.
What about you? Do you find it important to understand the lyrics to a song? Why or why not?