Foreign language pop songs are overtaking 'universal' English lyrics

4 April 2019, 10:29

'Despacito' by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee broke the foreign-language No. 1 UK record in 2017
'Despacito' by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee broke the foreign-language No. 1 UK record in 2017. Picture: Getty Images

By Sofia Rizzi

Are English language songs slowly dropping off the charts following a surge in Spanish and Asian music?

Songs sung in English topping the charts might be a thing of the past as a new generation of music from Latin America and Asia are creeping up the charts.

According to IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry), the top single of 2018 was 'Havana' by Cuban-American Camila Cabello, which included a Spanish remix.

'Despacito', another song sung in Spanish, made it into the top ten. The single was released by Puerto Rican Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, alongside Justin Bieber.

The IFPI released their annual Global Music Report this month and the figures show that music is now more than ever a truly global industry.

China only first entered the global top ten last year, but has already jumped up to No. 7 this year. South Korea, at No. 6, has seen one of the highest rates of growth (17.9%), and Brazil followed closely behind (15.4%).

Britain still remains one of the leading contributors in the music industry, and became No. 3 in the top ten this year.

Jeremy Marsh, of Warner Music, told The Times: 'Many predicted the globalised world of streaming would see Anglo repertoire flood other markets. But we’re also seeing a huge flow of music back the other way.'

Now, a significant amount of UK number one songs have been non-English, including the below:

1969 - 'Je T'Aime... Moi Non Plus' - Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin
1977 - 'Chanson D'Amour' - Manhattan Transfer
1981 - 'Begin The Beguine' - Julio Iglesias
1986 - 'Rock Me Amadeus' - Falco
1987 - 'La Bamba' - Los Lobos
1990 - 'Sadness Part 1' - Enigma
2002 - 'The Ketchup Song' - Las Ketchup
2010 - 'We No Speak Americano' - Yolanda Be Cool
2012 – 'Gangnam Style' – Psy
2017 - 'Despacito' - Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee feat. Justin Bieber
2018 - 'Havana' - Camila Cabello