Swedes and English: Music in a bilingual nation

In the Sweden of today, you’ll have to look hard to find someone who isn’t at least partially fluent in English, that is, among the younger generations. If you spoke to octogenarians they’re unlikely to understand you, then again there’d be one or two exceptions. More and more, people in Sweden are achieving relative fluency in English at an early age. This is largely due to the fact that we import a lot of entertainment i.e. TV-shows etc. from the U.K. and the U.S. which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone since Swedish Television generally is pretty bad (with the odd exception or two).

In terms of music on the other hand Sweden, and Scandinavia in particular, have long been a cradle for different subgenres of metal:
Hammerfall, Soilwork, In Flames, Dragonland, Falconer, Mustache, Aeon, Amon Amarth, Arch enemy, At the Gates, Dark Tranqulity, Scar Symmetry, Otyg, Vintersorg, Sonic Syndicate, Opeth, Sabaton, Entombed, and Meshuggah, just to namedrop a handful of bands. In recent years we’ve begun to see some of these bands attempting biligual enterpretations of their songs in alternate versions.

One such example is Falconer, who with their album Armod (Armod: elände, misär. English: Pauperism or Poverty) explored a more folk inspired sound. Personally I enjoy Folk Metal but it presents an interesting challenge that Falconer has tackled admirably – in my oppinion at least. One such example would be a song of theirs titled Svarta Änkan / The Black widow. 

One of the difficulties with this song in particular, I imagine, is making a translation of a song originally sung in archaic swedish and on top of that making it sound true to the original version. Not an easy feat, but I really admire that they made the effort. Translations and attempts at bilingualism allow us to share small parts of culture and it is something I would personally like to see more of, not just between Swedish and English.


About Fredrik Kayser

Everything is connected.
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4 Responses to Swedes and English: Music in a bilingual nation

  1. Fredrik Kayser says:

    The Norwegians have some pretty amazing musicians too, Josh :D e.g. Wardruna, Dunderbeist, Gåte, Tyyl, just to name some (mixed genres).

  2. Fredrik Kayser says:

    Couldnt agree more, Shane! One of my personal favourites! :)

  3. joshbertetta says:

    Whatever language it’s in, you Swedes make some damn good music. Rock on Sweden! :)

  4. shanechall says:

    I like the concept of these bands staying true to their roots, and with more modern musical genres. Plus that Falconer track…oh man, that is a new favorite. I was sold halfway in after the female vocals, just beautiful overall.

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