Cover Songs / Re-created Lyrics for each Language

Sometimes hit songs abroad touches our Japanese heart. And sometimes Japanese hit songs touches people’s in any other countries.

In these case, the original songs’ lyrics are adapted or re-created for their own languages or nationalities and released as cover songs.

One of Japanese well-known songs, “Ue o Muite Aruko” (I Look Up As I Walk / 1961) by Kyu Sakamoto was changed to “Sukiyaki” (1963) and covered in English by an American R&B group, 4 P.M (1995).

The original song was produced on the background of political incidents so its lyric says that “I look up as I walk ” to cheer Japanese at that time. But the lyric of “Sukiyaki” was re-created to describe lost love. “Sukiyaki” was titled because the original title couldn’t make sense in the English-speaking world. So the president of British record firm changed the title to “Sukiyaki” after his favorite Japanese dish.

“Itoshi No Ellie”(Ellie My Love / 1979) by a Japanese rock band, Southern All Stars is the popular love song, of which lyric theme is “importance of relationship with Ellie”. Ray Charles covered this song (1989) with re-created lyric “realizing importance of the lost romance with Ellie”. 

“Venus” (1986) covered by Yoko Nagayama became a big hit in Japan. The original English song was released and played by a Netherlands rock group, Shocking Blue in 1969. After 17 years in 1986 the song was also covered by Bananarama.

While the original English version says “I’m your Venus although there is every men’s dream woman”, Japanese lyric of the song proudly says “I’m your Venus”.

Hiromi Go’s “GOLDFINGER99” (1999) covered became the greatest hit in Japan. This original song is “Livin’ La Vida Loca” (1999) in English and Spanish by Ricky Martin.

The theme of Japanese lyric is “love-driven Summer”, which changed from the original version’s story about a men swayed by free-spirited woman and attracted to her.

Here is the song “Canary” (1982) by a Japanese hit-song-maker and singer song writer, Yosui Inoue, of which lyric was re-created to French version “Canary Canary”  (2004) sung by Jane Birkin.

In “Yosui Inoue’s English lyrics Collection” (published by Kodan-Sya) I found Robert Campbell’s reference about this song and comparing the Japanese lyric with the French version in terms of each nationality as following summing-up.

The original Japanese lyric’s theme is a sad canary without freedom has to entertain people with its beautiful voice and feathers.
But the French version says that anyone cannot shut canary’s love although it is engaged in cage.

The Japanese version presents the constraint or limitation. The French version emphasizes the power of love breaks the limitation.

The deference reflects each nationality.

I think his reference as above is the most impressive and these two versions notably present each nationality.