For some reason the UK doesn’t really ‘do’ foreign language music as a general rule. While our European neighbours are happy to accept a catchy tune in any tongue, a mainland hit doesn’t stand a chance on these shores unless it’s a largely instrumental dance track with an easily repeatable vocal hook, or been re-recorded with new English lyrics for our ease of consumption. Even a song as boneheadedly simplistic as Basshunter’s Boten Anna only crossed over here when it was re-titled Now You’re Gone and had all the forenz taken out.
The funny thing is that of all the major modern art forms – reading, cinema etc – it’s music that can be most easily enjoyed without compromising the native tongue. Two series’ of The Killing and a lifetime of Eurovision fandom have not yet given me the ability to speak fluent Danish, but I understand the visceral heartache communicated in Medina’s For Altid as easily as I understand any English pop ballad. It’s there in the dreamy, With Every Heartbeat-esque synths – which drop out to magnificent effect before the final chorus – and in her husky, melancholic delivery.
Nevertheless, for whatever reason the UK music industry is as resistant to linguistic diversity as it’s ever been. As far as I recall, the last foreign pop track that wasn’t a one-off club track to become a significant hit on our shores was the magnificent Moi… Lolita by Alizeé way back in 2002, and even that was treated as a novelty, with none of her excellent subsequent singles making the slightest impression (Check out J’en ai marre, it’s almost as good).This song probably won’t be the one to break the drought, but rumour has it that the inevitable English version is on its way. She’s already tried this with her earlier megahit Kun For Mig – which made a brief UK chart appearence as You & I – but as so often happens it lost a fair part of its magic in the translation. I wish her the best but personally, I’ll be sticking to my Sarah Lund impressions.