Love Songs from Across the World

Reading Time: 3 minutes
romantic couple with guitar
Photo by Andres Ayrton
Arabic

Fairuz, the most celebrated singer in Lebanese history and arguably one of the most iconic singers in the entire Arab world, offers such a plethora of haunting love songs that it’s hard to pick one, but we’d like to recommend one of the happier ones: “قمرة يا قمرة” (‘amara ya ‘amara), “Moon O Moon.” The lyrics and translation are in the video, or you can read them here.

Armenian

Յարը մարդուն յարա կուտա” (yareh mardu yara kuta), which means “The Lover Gives the Person Pain.” A classic Armenian love song that’s been remade a number of times. Click on the title for the version by Alla Levonyan, or try the version by Haig Yazdjian. Click here for the lyrics and a translation into English.

French

Congolese singer-songwriter Lokua Kanza is something of a polyglot, singing in six different languages. A beautiful and uplifting early example of his work is “C’est ma terre,” “It’s My Land.” Lyrics and translation are available here.

Kurdish

“Dil Kuştiyê” or “Broken Heart” was originally written by Mihemed Şêxo, and you can hear his classic version of it here. Like any classic hit, it’s been made and remade, such as this version by Diljen Ronî. See the text accompanying that second video for the lyrics, and let us know if you come across the English translation anywhere! (In the meantime, check with your Kurdish Language Partner for anything you don’t understand.)

Persian

Googoosh, a Persian diva who’s been singing since the 1970s, offers a live performance of “غریب آشنا” (gharibe ashena), meaning “Familiar Stranger.” You can view the lyrics here, and scroll to the very bottom for the English translation.

Russian

Kazakh rapper Jah Khalib sings in Russian and is one of the most popular singers across the former Soviet Union; he has made his home in Kyiv since 2019. “Лейла” or “Leila” is a relatively recent hit, and you can read the lyrics here.

Spanish

Everyone knows Colombian singer Shakira, but how many of her songs can you sing in their original language? “Whenever, Wherever,” the English version of her hit “Suerte,” is far from an exact translation. Check out the lyrics to see what changed.

Ukrainian

Rock band Okean Elzy formed in 1994 in Lviv and has been playing ever since. In their heartbreaking hit Obijmy, the singer turns to his lover for comfort in the midst of war. Lyrics and translation are here.

Got a favorite love song in a NaTakallam language? Comment and let us know? And if you prefer Spotify, we’ve collected most of these songs on a playlist there too. Pop on those headphones, prop up your feet, and put your cares behind you for a few minutes.

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Mikaela Bell

Mikaela Bell

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