Donna Rouge - Fake - 80sneverend - Lost in translation

Lost in translation

Fake – Donna Rouge

And on the floor the queen in the light
Let all your feeling groove for me
Voglio fare l'amore tutto il giorno,
Tutta la notte, sempre
I don't understand but
I can feel it, too, I can feel it
#Fake #DonnaRouge

We all know how important it is to speak or at least understand foreign languages. And if it is certainly increasingly indispensable in today’s global and interconnected world, already in the 80s there were songs to make us understand how important it was.

Maybe songs in multiple languages: without disturbing the linguistic unicum of Der Kommissar and in general of all of Falco’s repertoire, we can also remember Howard Jones who created a version of Like to Get to Know You Well with the chorus in English, French and German (and the cover in about ten languages), or Blondie, who loved to insert phrases in other languages, as in Call Me, or in French Kissin’ in the U.S.A.

But there is a song that, with a lot of humour, brought the theme of foreign languages to European discos. Imagine yourself flirting with a person you want, and this person gives you the most explicit invitation possible, but unfortunately in a language you don’t know, and therefore you are left in doubt or at a standstill, especially if you are a little shy and inexperienced like we were in the 80s.

This is exactly what happened to the singer of Fake, a Swedish pop/disco band who became famous in the last months of 1983 with their beautiful, very witty and above all very danceable Donna Rouge (the title was already in two languages): the song is in English, but at a certain point the girl in the group addresses him in Italian (not a trivial choice for a Swedish group) and he calmly wastes the moment saying that he doesn’t understand the phrase, but anyway…. But anyway the moment is gone now, my dear Tony!

Tony Wilhelmsson was the lead singer of Fake, a group formed a few years earlier mainly on the initiative of Erik Strömblad (but in Europe he often forgot the dots of the “o”), who in the video is the one we see furthest to the left playing the keyboards. The group was originally called Size 46, then in the transition to the early 80s there were various changes until the arrival of the singer Tony.

I have always wondered if this song really had a phrase in Italian in its original version, and I discovered something very interesting: in fact the English version with the phrase in Italian was not the first version; in the original one, which can still be found on YouTube, the song was already titled Donna Rouge, it was sung in Swedish, but always with the Italian phrases clearly present! Actually, there was a last sentence in Italian (not completely correct for a native speaker) which was removed in the international version we know.

After the founder and the singer, we must of course mention the lady, who naturally becomes the protagonist with her phrases. Although very young (she was only seventeen), Ulrica Örn was already known in Sweden because she had been the protagonist of a film, G, which told the story of three young people (G was the name of a nightclub they frequented). One of the protagonists is in love with Mia, played by Ulrica (whose real name is written with a k, Anna Ulrika Örn, but for the Swedish public she had already sweetened her name with a c).

Ulrica, who is still famous today and is an established journalist, left Fake in the mid-80s, so in the video of the group’s only other international success, Another Brick from 1985 we no longer see Ulrica’s red hair, but the blonde Lenita Rydberg, a Swedish singer who was engaged to Joey Tempest, the leader of Europe, and who however was never really part of Fake even though she appeared in the video with the founder Erik.

Talking about videos, we must realize that Donna Rouge didn’t even have a real video, but luckily other Dinosaurs like us have passed on the images of music TV shows. And this in fact was perhaps the only limit of Italo-disco and dance in general: the budgets were often so limited that it was more important to be heard in discos rather than to be broadcast on music channels. This does not mean that success, when it came, was any less relevant!

In short, this song made us dance a lot, perhaps it made us smile, but Tony’s face after Ulrica’s phrases must certainly make us think about how important it is to speak or at least understand the right language at the right time!

Fake on Wikipedia

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