It’s funny how the disparity in popularity can be so vast across country lines. Many American and British artists reach #1 or top 10 status in non-English speaking countries, yet as of today, JAIN is #16 on Spotify’s top trending tracks in France with a song from 2015 and you’ve most likely never even heard of her.
With almost 50,000 Facebook likes, approximately 8,000 Twitter followers and an ever-growing fan base, JAIN is an artist – by American standards- who should be featured in edgy Interview magazine spreads and getting photographed at award shows under the headline: ‘The Next Big Thing’.
Yet, here we are.
I remember the first time I ever went abroad. While I was encouraged to ‘try out’ my Spanish in Spain, I was told not to worry, “Everyone speaks English in Europe, when in doubt, speak your language!” Great! (For me.) I can’t imagine what it’d be like traveling to a country linguistically blind and each time I research music in different countries I come back to this question: Why the hell haven’t we sufficiently educated ourselves in other languages?
Listen, I understand that America is a melting pot and rife with amazing, different and varied cultures and dialects – it would be incredibly hard to pick one ‘second-language’ (though, I believe ours is loosely Spanish based on population), but I run into too many kids, myself included, who often feel so comfortable knowing that ‘everyone speaks English’ abroad that we never reach out and really perfect another country’s dialect and form of communicating.
Music is so appealing because a beat is a universal language. An instrumental performance can be inclusive and void of any allegiance to a people or place. We can come together around the sounds we hear and be moved by our own personal interpretations of a melody.
You might not know JAIN and I didn’t until tonight. If a 21 year old in Denmark, India, Japan, or Russia knows who Justin Bieber is, it would be advantageous for young people to follow suit and listen to tracks by artists in different languages. Opening our minds to the music of other’s cultures tells us far more than we’d expect about the pulse of their people and community as a whole.
It shows us what lies near the heart of their people and that perspective is invaluable.