It would seem that the English language is present in everybody’s day-to-day life; it is an official language of the United Nations, the language of choice for international contacts, and has been described as the first universal modern language of mankind. Additionally, it is a leading language in pop culture, mainly cinematography. But what about music? What is the world listening to – are people listening to music in their mother tongue or in universal English?

If you were to study top lists of hit songs from all over the world, the found results can be interesting. Thanks to this analysis, journalists from <i>The Economist</i> magazine found that Spotify users can be divided into three groups:

English language group

As you might guess, this group includes residents of English-speaking countries, but only them, citizens of Switzerland, Portugal, Denmark, and the Czech Republic are also the ones who listen to music in English.

Local language group

This group includes listeners from Turkey, Sweden, Japan, India, Greece, Germany, France, and Poland – showcasing that in those countries people prefer listening to songs in their mother tongue.

Spanish language group

This group mainly includes Spaniards and residents of Central and South America. Those are the regions, where songs in Spanish are the most popular.

This division clearly shows that besides English, there is only one other language that can be its own separate group – and that’s Spanish. In the Spanish language group, the popularity of mainstream English songs declined over the past few years from 25% to 14%. On the other hand, in the local language group, songs in English language account for only 30% of all the streams on Spotify.

However, it’s undeniable that English is still the crowning language of all the top charts around the world. In the last 5 years, amongst the 50 most played songs on Spotify, as many as 47 are in English. It might be safe to say that as of late the music market is slowly diversifying, and a proof of that is in a fact that Bad Bunny, a singer from Puerto Rico, was one of the most played musicians in 2020-2021. And also, who could forget the success of the song <i>Despacito</i>. It is also worth mentioning that K-pop is gaining in popularity as much as those in the Spanish language, if not more.

What is also interesting is the fact that the season has a lot to do with the type of the music on the radio or on the music platforms. For example, during Christmas, Christmas themed songs are played by stations more frequently. The majority of them are in English, and they are topping the charts, which is why <i>All I Want for Christmas is You</i> by Mariah Carey every year breaks the popularity records amongst all the groups of users on Spotify.

Spotify is not the only place where the ever-changing taste of people can be observed. Songs of English-speaking artists, and those who use their own mother tongue, are gaining worldwide recognition thanks to… TikTok! The songs used in the background of short videos are becoming wildly popular in many countries, which means that the non-English music has a chance of becoming very successful!

You may wonder what it looks like in our translation agency? We wholeheartedly agree with the statements above, as during our working hours’ music from all over the world plays in the background.


(Translation K.P.)

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