Mind your language: Song lyrics literally lost in translation


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The Independent Online

While certain other less worthy things (let's not name them here) were "breaking the internet" last week, over in a small corner of YouTube, one young American woman's efforts were picking up millions of hits without a hint of revealed flesh.

That woman is Malinda Kathleen Reese, 20, whose idea is so fiendishly simple you'll wish you'd thought of it, but whose expert execution of that idea will make you understand why you didn't.

Reese's YouTube channel is called Google Translate Sings, and what she does is use Google Translate to turn song lyrics into foreign languages before changing them back to English and then singing them with gusto. "It started earlier this year when I put the words to 'Let it Go' through a number of languages and made a video which I thought was just too funny not to share," Reese – who is currently studying drama in London – tells me.

Since then, that video has had more than 5,000,000 views. Tricky moments? Reese has had a few, though nothing compares to the 16 attempts it took her to sing the lyric "a whole new world", which, when put through the mangle, came back as "he adventured that is an entire world of tin innovation". "I had to squeeze all those syllables into three notes, and though I try to keep a straight face, sometimes you have to acknowledge that what you have sung is completely ridiculous."

By gum!

He's been on the BBC and the front page of The New York Times, but last week Ben Wilson was lying face down on London's Millennium Bridge doing what he is most comfortable doing: painting tiny works of art on pieces of discarded chewing gum.

Wilson has been known as the "Chewing Gum Man" for about a decade now. And, though any explanation he might give you for why he does what he does might be somewhat rambling, what is clear is that he believes passionately in his art (photographs of which go on show at the Offsite Gallery, London, from this Friday) and knows no other way to better use his life and time.

"It came out of being pissed off with having to explain art intellectually," he says. "Then, as I got more and more upset with how rubbish consumerism was, and how out of touch with the environment we were, I started to do a few chewing gum paintings around my home in north London and people started to respond."

Wilson has been arrested numerous times; but a loophole in the law means that discarded waste is not public property so none of the charges have ever, well, stuck.

And does his unique point of view mean he can finally solve the mystery of who actually throws chewed gum away on the pavement in the first place? "Occasionally, people will spit gum out in front of me and say, 'Draw on that'. Obviously, I tell them to pick it up immediately," he says.

The Klux of the matter

In a move akin to Katie Hopkins hiring Russell Brand to write her material, or Dapper Laughs employing a group of women to create his next comedy character, a section of the Ku Klux Klan in Montana has decided that it would like to recruit more black, Jewish, Hispanic and gay people to its ranks.

John Abarr, the leader of a group called the Rocky Mountain Knights, told local paper the Great Falls Tribune: "White supremacy is the old Klan. This is the new Klan. The KKK is for a strong America." Many Stateside commentators, however, remain highly suspicious of Abarr's motives. Fellow Jews, I call on you to remember the words of Groucho Marx, who famously wrote in his 1959 autobiography: "I don't want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member."

What the Dickens...?

While Scrooge counted his money, the Cratchit family had to make do with what they had, while they stressed over the health of poor Tiny Tim. Thank goodness things have changed, and that those old divisions between rich and poor have been remedied by the social mobility we all enjoy and the success of our trickle-down society, eh?

But what's this in my inbox? "The Ivy Market Grill, the newest offering in Richard Caring's Caprice group, will open on 24 November in London's Covent Garden. "The Ivy Market Grill has teamed up with Kids Company to offer diners the opportunity to give a gift to a child who may not receive one this year. [Diners] are encouraged to bring an unwrapped gift to donate to some of the 36,000 children that the Kids Company services reach across London and Bristol."

"And oh look, darling, the Oscietra caviar is just £160 for 50 grams!"

No rhyme or reason

Another in a regular series of limericks based on recent events:

Despite what the newspapers claim,

It's clear no one at Fifa's to blame,

So let's light a cigar,

As we head to Qatar,

To get on with the beautiful game.