music is universal…

… or is it?

i wonder how many of you like songs with lyrics you can’t understand (because you don’t understand the language). and if you do, how many songs like these do you like?

i had always thought it was like that: good music would sound good to my ears, no matter what language the lyrics use. because if the melodies hit the right notes in my ears, they would resonate in my heart as well, causing me to like the music.

the first album i ever bought after i was done listening to kids songs (probably when i was about 10 years old) was from a band called Smokey Mountain. it’s a Filipino band, and though the song that made me bought the album was sung in English, the album was full of songs sung in Tagalog. and since i listened to it back and forth, i actually memorized all the lyrics, even the Tagalog ones. did i like the songs? definitely. did i understand Tagalog language? not at all.

and then when i was in middle school, i got addicted to seeing Chinese kung-fu TV series. one of my biggest addiction was the White Snake Legend, which was also a musical. of course i bought the album when it came out. like i did with the Smokey Mountain’s album, i played it dozens of times a day & i memorized the lyrics… which was naturally in Chinese. don’t ask me what Chinese language specifically, i still can’t tell the difference and i did not know a single meaning of those words. but i loved the songs, and that was enough.

next came the Japanese craze. blame those J-drama series they showed on the national TV channels, but i began by liking the opening songs of these series. and finally found several J-rock bands which completely rocked my world (L’arc~en~Ciel was my most fave of all). in this case, i don’t know if having a super hot singer (=Hyde!!) helped me to like the songs, but the truth is that first i came to like these songs without understanding the lyrics, and partly because of that i then decided to learn Japanese language.

afterwards, it was time for me to be introduced to Indian music. it started when i learned how to play tabla, and our teacher became sort of a family friend, and suddenly we started listening to Indian music & songs in our car whenever we went out (not Bollywood, though). i didn’t get to memorize the lyrics this time, haha… but i did remember the melodies and i can truly say that i enjoyed and liked these songs in foreign language.

after all of this, i moved to Finland. i learned the language first, before anything else, and i seemed to forget about music.

it took me a loooong while to finally be able to say that “i like this (Finnish) band/singer”. and this makes me wonder, if music really is that universal after all?

i must admit, the difference between my life here and in Jakarta was more than just the language. for example, i did not have TV for a while here in Finland, and so i was not exposed to music videos like i was back in Jakarta. the malls or shopping centers that i go to in Finland always play songs in English, and very few of them play songs in Suomi. after a while, it became a habit for me to just forget about Finnish songs, and instead i always listen to radios that play familiar songs in English.

only lately did i finally give it a chance again. i was tired of listening to my same old playlist over and over again, and also the radio that always play English songs seemed to not have moved forward with their song list. so i forced myself to listen to some other radio station, one that plays pop music in English and also Suomi. almost every day i did this, and when i one day woke up with one of the Suomi songs ringing in my head, i knew that it had worked. 😀

some of these Suomi songs i fell in love with the lyrics. some of them i fell in love with the melodies. when i realized these, i was like, hey… there are actually some really good tunes here, and Suomi language sounds more beautiful to me than ever. and then i became thankful that i can actually understand what the lyrics mean this time, it really does resonate even more with my heart when i know the meanings.