By Aisha Sharipzhan
Listening to international artists can be a cool way to practice a foreign language or simply to broaden your musical horizons. As an amateur music journalist who grew up in Europe and attended international schools, I wanted to share a playlist of foreign artists I have loved for a long time and ones I have recently discovered. Ranging from the U.K. to Iceland to Russia, these songs cover a wide range of genres, and are either in the artist’s native language or in English. Enjoy!
“If You’re Here,” released with the album Mellow Waves last summer, showcases Cornelius’ experimental electronic tunes. Soft Japanese vocals bring a sense of melancholy to balance out the dissonant syncopations of the melody. Cornelius is the pseudonym of Japanese musician Keigo Oyamada. He is a recording artist and producer who has also worked on the soundtracks for Japanese television series Ghost in the Shell: Arise and the film Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie. Cornelius will be performing at the 9:30 Club in Washington. March 7.
This young, south London-based band only has one song on their SoundCloud at the moment, but according to their page, new music is on the way sometime this year. The song “Forever” is a great introduction to the band and the modern grunge music scene. Hinging on bedroom pop with its dreamy melody and vocals, their sound is raw and in your face, and definitely worth listening to. Hussy is currently on tour in the U.K.
It was incredibly difficult to choose just one song by Danish indie band Mew for this playlist. Their edgy sound leans toward alternative rock with high-pitched vocals and a melancholic ambiance. With vocals in English, Mew is highly experimental and never ceases to impress, no matter how different one album might sound from the last. I recommend every song on their 2003 album Frengers, as well as checking out their latest album Visuals released last year.
Kensington is a Dutch alternative rock band that will appeal to those who listen to bands like Imagine Dragons or Bastille. The song “Home Again” was featured on the international release of their second studio album Vultures. Recorded in English, their music is what you would expect to hear during the movie montage of the main protagonist working hard towards a goal, or during the climax when said the main protagonist finally achieves their goal. For feel-good and easy-on-the-ears music, Kensington is a great place to go. Another song I highly recommend by the band is “Riddles,” released 2015 on the album Rivals.
Seeed is probably one of the most unique bands out there, creating music that falls under the genre of Reggae-rap. With German lyrics (and one verse in English), “Dickes B” has become a classic clubbing song in Germany, which will come as no surprise when you hear it. Fun, playful and upbeat, the song is about the city of Berlin, ranging from its nightlife to the Spree river. The music video for the song also highlights areas of Berlin like the Turkish market, the Berlin Cathedral and the city’s yellow trains. I absolutely fell in love with Berlin when I studied abroad there a few semesters ago, and this song has been a great way for me to revisit those memories.
If you’re in need of some new study music, or just want to feel extremely emotional and cry a little bit, listen to the experimental ambient musician Ólafur Arnalds. “Near Light” was one of the first songs I heard from the Icelandic artist, and I could not get enough. Arnalds mixes traditional instruments, such as piano and violin, with electronic beats, creating mesmerizing music guaranteed to give you goosebumps.
Viktor Tsoi of the grunge band Kino was the Kurt Cobain of the Soviet Union. When he was tragically killed in a car crash in 1990, fans gathered in his hometown, St. Petersburg, Russia, to grieve. This ’80s-era song brings me back to childhood memories of my Kazakh father (Kazakhstan was part of the Soviet Union) singing along to Soviet Russian rock music. It’s no wonder my father felt nostalgic listening to Kino with their introspective and lonely lyrics. Even if you don’t understand Russian, you’ll enjoy the catchy bass lines and guitar riffs, and connect to the emotion felt in Tsoi’s moody vocals.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Cornelius’s Facebook page.
Aisha Sharipzhan is a senior journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.