From an NPR article:
In November 1972, Italian pop star Adriano Celentano released a song that hit No. 1 in his home country, despite the fact that it wasn't performed in Italian.From "Now I Know" (a great place to visit, by the way): [A better link for the same place: http://nowiknow.com/archives/]
It also wasn't performed in English.
In fact, it wasn't performed in any language at all.
The song, called "Prisencolinensinainciusol," was written to mimic the way English sounds to non-English speakers.
Despite the fact that the words aren't actual words, the song was incredibly popular in Italy and in other parts of Europe, cracking the top 10 on the Italian, Belgian, French, and Dutch charts (peaking at #1 overall in Italy) and hitting number 46 in Germany. Perhaps the listeners didn't know that the words were made up. Perhaps they didn't care. The song was catchy, regardless, and as any American non-Korean speaker can testify (think Gangnam Style), sometimes the "words" don't matter all that much....
Bonus fact: In 1963, a group named the Kingsmen covered the song "Louie Louie," originally recorded by Richard Berry eight years prior. The Kingsmen's version is a classic and you've almost certainly heard it (but if not, here you go) and likely can sing the whole thing -- kind of. You probably have no idea what the actual words are because they're a garbled mess which is impossible to understand. But that didn't stop an angry parent from writing to then-U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and insisting that the lyrics were obscene. For some reason, this lead to an FBI investigation (!) which concluded, no, the lyrics are just unintelligible. The FBI was right, but they missed something. At about 0:53 into the song, Lynn Easton, the band's drummer, dropped a drumstick and yelled out the f-word. It's audible (but not obvious) in the recording (which if you didn't click to listen to before, you probably will now).
Wikipedia puts it a bit more humorously: " In June 1965, the FBI laboratory obtained a copy of the Kingsmen recording and, after four months of investigation, concluded that the recording could not be interpreted, that it was "unintelligible at any speed".
Back in maybe the late 60s or early 70s there was a Japanese song that was very popular, all in Japanese, and no one knew what it was about. I heard it on the radio constantly, and I can hum the tune now, but I never learned the name. It was one of my favorite songs ever, and I may never find it again.
Anyone know what it might be?
Later - The Queen nailed it in the comments! I had the years wrong, but she still got it. It's "Sukiyaki", by Kyu Sakamoto, on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zpOc9n7dlI. Same version with Japanese and English subtitles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C35DrtPlUbc. I was almost afraid to see the translation, afraid the real words would spoil the song, but they didn't. The English is pretty, too. Sad, but pretty.
(Note that there are a few English covers of the song, but they changed the lyrics entirely. Same tune, but NOT THE SAME SONG AT ALL!)