Foreign Music


Ariana Fahri

Music is a worldwide phenomenon that spreads across countries and languages. Even when a language barrier exists, people still find themselves listening to music in languages they do not understand. Foreign Music can be just appealing to American audiences as American songs as seen by Kpop’s rise to fame. However, many types of foreign music lack coverage in the US such as Latin Rock, Russian rap, Indian film music, and Nigerian Alté.

However, the music that gains worldwide acclaim tends to not be that popular with home audiences as seen with many Spanish songs. Even though, Latin Music is gaining popularity in the US with hits like Despacito and Bailando topping the charts in recent years. Despacito, a song with Luis Fonnsi and Justin Bieber, spent more time at the top of the chart than any other non-English songs. In fact, of foreign languages playing on the radio in the US, Latin music is the most widely heard and played on the radio, surpassing country music’s consumption numbers in 2017. In South America, the urban genre in the Latin music industry, a mix of reggaeton and trap,  is not as well liked as rock and pop. There are worries that if the focal audience is foreign, that songs outside of the realm of urban music will no longer be written. Maria Maria by Santana has a familiar chorus but many do not know that he is regarded as one of the greatest Latin rock bands of all time according to Rolling Stone magazine. 

Next on the list is Indian music. While it is relatively hard to find in places outside of the Silicon Valley, there is a new, thriving Bollywood station on the radio playing on 92.3. Indian music reflects the influence of the different traditions, cultures,and languages in India. However, the most commonly listened to music come from Bollywood films. Chaiyya Chaiyya from Dil Se and Chennai Express’ hit songs are examples of the winning combination of catchy music and popular film stars in India’s music industry. 

Russian artist Timati has become the face of the growing wave of Russian Rap music. He launched his own music recording company called Black Star Inc that has grown to include more artists since its creation in 2006. The group has thrived and developed into the hallmark of Russia’s rap industry. He combines social commentary and satirical lyrics in his songs, such as in дерзкая, or bold, where he pokes fun at the culture of daring selfie-taking girls. Timati’s lyrics that range from serious to mocking have won over Russian radio and fans.

Nigeria’s music scene has developed a new style of music called Alté, meaning alternative. Alté artists like Santi are rebelling against the conservative version of artistry accepted in Nigeria. His song Raw Dinner  is a prime example of how Alté creates a unique approach to music by experimenting with different styles like pop,indie, and R&B to produce an aesthetic music video. The Alté genre’s focus on creativity and appealing presentation defines this Nigerian movement. 

Across the globe, the predominant style and favored genre varies and all it takes to discover it is widening your search parameters.