Wednesday, September 11, 2019


Last week, I talked about an album Waiata/Anthems in which New Zealand artists took their hit songs an re-recorded them in Te Reo Māori for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week). The album has now been released, and artists are starting to share their work. Here are two of those.

Among the songs on the album are two I’ve previously shared, and because some people may want to hear the two side-by-side, here they are, with the new audio-only version first, followed by the original video.

First, and the oldest of the two, “Don’t Forget Your Roots” by Six60. Originally released in July 2011, it was their second single and hit Number One in New Zealand:

Now, the original version:

I first shared the original version in a post for NZ Music Month back in 2014, and I shared a different video in a post last year about the NZ Music Awards.

Next up Drax Project, and their first big hit, “Woke Up Late”, a song released twice already:

And, the original version

This particular song has now had a triple life: The first, original version (which I also shared in that NZ Music Awards post last year) was released in November, 2017, and hit Number 15 in NZ. That was followed by another version with, with Hailee Steinfeld an American Singer/songwriter and actress. That song also got a new video (WATCH) shot in Los Angeles. The original video was shot in New Zealand. The 2019 version only hit Number 35—maybe it didn’t seem new to Kiwis? I have no idea whether the new version for Waiata/Anthems will chart or not, but it is a very different version.

The entire album is available for streaming on Spotify, though the embed may work for some people, too (it is ad supported for those without Spotify Premium):

As with pretty much every various artists compilations, we may like some songs more than others—I certainly do. I'm not exactly a "fan" of any of the artists, though I like songs by many of them. But that's not the entire point with this album. Instead, it's about helping people perceive Te Reo Māori in new ways, in this case by exposing people to it through pop songs they already know, recorded by the same artists who made the songs a hit in the first place. That's an interesting and fresh approach to spreading awareness of, and appreciation for, the language. It may bother some folks that the lyrics are often interpreted rather than literally translated, but it shouldn't: Literal translation is seldom used in any translation we encounter. In fact, for the sake of understanding and, in this case, artistry, it should be interpreted rather than literally translated.

Probably most of us who hear the songs don't speak Māori, or, at least, not fluently; many of us never will, either. But many of the artists who re-recorded their songs also don't speak the language. If they can do their songs in a language they don't even speak, maybe there's hope for the rest of us, too.

1 comment:

rogerogreen said...

Alas, couldn't get to the 2nd video in Amurica.