Arts, Culture & Media

Global Hit - Meaningless lyrics

The Eurovision Song Contest is underway. Each year, the countries of Europe pick musicians to represent them in a televised competition.

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It's a bit like American Idol -- but with national pride at stake. This year's entry from Belgium is out of the running already.

But it's still in the news, as The World's Alex Gallafent explains.

The song in question is called "O Julissi". Don't ask me what it means, because it doesn't mean anything.

Tlyrics are in an invented language. And this invented language isn't very easy to remember. Composer Michel Vangheluwe:

�Ha ha - that's good - the composer doesn't know the words.�
Luckily, Vangheluwe wasn't singing O Julissi in the Eurovision Song Contest. That job fell to a professional mezzo-soprano, accompanied by Vangheluwe's band, Ishtar.

Vangheluwe says O Julissi is meant to capture.

�Te happiness and the joy of a child who doesn't have to think about life.�

Presumably, that child doesn't have to think about being understood either. Some wondered if the made-up language of O Julissi could help bridge the gap between Belgium's actual languages.

The country is divided along language lines. Most people speak either French or Dutch, referred to as Flemish. But that wasn't on Michel Vangheluwe's mind when he wrote the thing.

�I didn't think about this - it could be a symbol for bringing people together. I mean, language nowadays can be a political issue but it shouldn't.�
By the way, Ishtar's not the first musical outfit to experiment with invented languages.

Go back to 1946 and you'll find the vocalese of jazz musician Slim Gaillard - a style of speech called Vout-O-Reenie.

Contemporary composers are still drawn to making up their own languages. Welsh composer Karl Jenkins has gone whole hog with his Adiemus series. Jenkins says he wants to reflect the sounds of languages from all over the globe.

For The World, I'm Alex Gallafent.