Thursday, 17 April 2014

Something Better for Eurovision

Recently, Finland selected the song that will represent the country in this year's annual celebration of kitsch and bland that is the Eurovision Song Contest. 

Something Better” by Softengine is somewhat predictable and inoffensive, though not unpleasant. However, it does stand out for its frankly puzzling English lyrics.

Finns usually speak excellent English (indeed often more grammatically correct than that spoken by native English speakers). But with Softengine’s ditty, there is a definite impression that something got lost in translation.

Just consider the opening lines:
Even human bound / People rolling dice / Image on the ground / Such a novel life

This got me thinking... Maybe the true meaning of the song could be reverse-engineered.

So I put the lyrics into Google Translate to get their Finnish “equivalent”, then translated them back into English using the same tool.

This double-translation method has a long history of producing interesting results, including the probably apocryphal (but definitely excellent) transformation of the expression “out of sight, out of mind” into “blind, insane”.

Not surprisingly, the result of the English-Finnish-English translation of “Something Better” proved to be fairly inconclusive.

Maybe Softengine translated their lyrics from Swedish? Again, Google-translating to Swedish and back did not improve clarity. So then I went all out and tried double-translating via various languages.

What I hoped would be “Something [Even] Better” ended up being just as odd and meaningless as the original:

Even human bound
Even the man tied to the
People rolling dice
People rolling dice
Image on the ground
Preview on earth
Such a novel life
This new life
He thought while knowing nothing at all
He thought as he knew, no one does anything
Every option noted
Each option to rate
Or tendency made
Trend or fact
They will carry on until the perfect day
Takes a full day on the border
She said while knowing nothing at all
He said , knowing nothing

So that turned out to be quite a pointless exercise really (was it ever going to be otherwise?). Clearly, Softengine’s lyrics were meant to be enjoyed as unfathomable, and inadvertently amusing as they are.

What's your favourite weird song lyric(s)? Do share!

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