Code-mixing in Music

Royal Sequiera, Microsoft Research India

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that Bollywood songs, as we know them, are replete with code mixed text. But, what about songs in other multilingual communities? Let us investigate this curious phenomenon in one of our favourite songs, The Ketchup Song:

Friday night it’s party time
feeling ready looking fine,
viene diego rumbeando,
with the magic in his eyes
checking every girl in sight,
grooving like he does the mambo
he’s the man allí en la disco,
playing sexy feeling hotter,
he’s the king bailando el ritmo ragatanga,
and the DJ that he knows well,
on the spot always around twelve,
plays the mix that diego mezcla con la salsa,
y la baila and he dances y la canta
many think it’s brujeria,
how he comes and disappears,
every move will hypnotize you,
some will call it chuleria,
others say that it’s the real,
rastafari afrogitano

The song is Spanish-English code-mixed and the first two stanzas of the song are as shown above. As you might have already observed, the English and Spanish part of the song are written in green and red font respectively. The frequent alternation of languages as in the line, “y la baila and he dances y la canta” adds a speech-like flavour to the song and makes it sound more natural. Perhaps, if the song were monolingual, it wouldn’t have been as catchy as the current one.

Here are other language pairs that have been mixed in popular songs.

Spanish – English:

Tengo Tu Love, Sie7e –
Feliz Navidad, José Feliciano –
La Isla Bonita, Madonna –
Las Ketchup –
Cha Cha, Chelo –
Living La Vida Loca, Ricky Martin –
Macarena, Los Del Rio –
The cup of life, Ricky Martin –
Before the Next Teardrop Falls, Freddy Fender –

French – English:

Que sera sera, Doris Day –
Aicha, Outlandish –
Lady marmalade, LaBelle –
Michelle, Beatles –
Eyes Without a Face, Billy Idol –
Hold on Tight, EOL –
Ma Belle Amie, The Tee Set –

Italian – English:

Underwater love, Smoke City –
Volare, Bobby Rydell –

German – English:

Sailor, Lolita –
Wooden heart –

Portuguese – English:

Corcovado, Stan Getz / Astrud Gilberto –

Arabic – English:

Desert Rose, Sting –

Do you remember the song Circle of Life from the movie Lion King? Did you know that the song is actually code-mixed and that the first stanza of the song is not some gibberish intended to confuse you! Now then, here’s a challenge for you: can you guess the language used in the first stanza of the song?

I hope you enjoyed listening to our “mixed” songs, and that, by now have picked one of them as your favorites! Do you know of any other code-mixed songs that you would like to share with us? Why wait then — please post them in the comment section below!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s