Press Pause: Why listening to foreign music can benefit you as a person

You consider yourself a reasonably cultured person. You like Thai food, went inter-railing after your A Levels and have seen Spirited Away a few times. However, when it comes to English people and experiencing foreign culture, music seems to drop off the list.

Maybe lyrics are too paramount for the UK listener and not knowing what’s being said deters investment. But I’d call ‘liar, liar pants-on-fire’ on that excuse. The emotional resonance of foreign music is portrayed through delivery over lyrics which, when examined, is far more affecting than mere words.

But LifeHack have done the research. They’ve compiled a bunch of reasons why we should all be listening to music in a language that we don’t understand.

1. You might accidentally learn a new language

Music is actually the best way to learn a new language, especially if you become obsessive with certain tunes. Despite having never visited the mean streets of Staten Island, I can rap a good portion of Wu-tang Clan’s first album just from exposure. Passive listening to lead to involuntarily singing.

2. Rhythm is a universal language

Music has always been a means of dancing, throughout history. Rhythm is something that has no cultural allegiance and you’ll find, especially in hispanic music, that it plays a far more forthright role than it does in boring anglicised music.

3. Expands your horizons

For someone who’s interested in music, it’s vital to know that there are other types and genres outside of the UK and US. Although elements of world music seep into the mainstream, it’s nothing compared to the real thing. It’s like ordering Chinese take-away and passing it off as a genuine experience of the Orient.

4. You can follow your favourite bands into unknown turf

If you’re wondering how to get into foreign music, find out what your favourite bands listen to. If they’re serious musicians, they’ll be taking influence from a variety of foreign artists. From your starting point, regardless of genre, you can find bands and singers from every corner of the globe.

5. Expand your cultural vocabulary

Having an understanding of world music is like being able to speak another language. Never assume that someone’s favourite artist is Bjork because they’re from Iceland but having a grasp of the lesser-known musical heroes of a country can really build relationship when you’re travelling.