This clip is a list of songs in foreign languages that have reached the top of the US charts.
It suggests an interesting elaboration of the ideas of Westernization presented in We Need New Names. In the novel the children sing American songs, such as Lady Gaga. This is one example of increasing Westernization, and a certain type of uneven cultural “development”; they have heard of Lady Gaga, but not the word “wow”.
However, this phenomena also occurs in Western English-speaking places. Numerous songs have become popular in the US despite the fact that most people do not know what they mean. For instance, Gangnam Style is the most viewed video on Youtube even though most viewers do not speak Korean or know what Gangnam is.
The popularity of these songs can be related to Appadurai’s idea of “scapes”. This concept suggests that songs do not just flow away from the US, but also to it, and sheds light on why this occurs. The technoscape and mediascape allow music to be transferred from certain countries (it is probably not coincidence that most of the songs come from industrialized nations). The ethnoscape might have an influence, because when individuals move and become deterritorialized, they may want to experience their native culture, and music might be part of this.
The popularity of these songs can be related to Anderson’s suggestion that the idea of the “sacred language” no longer exists. Therefore, individuals accept the idea that a song contains some truth, even if it is not in their language.
In many of the course texts, such as Quicksand, music is transnational and a means of understanding identity.
– Tanya Sheehan