Frozen isn’t exactly on my list of top favorite Disney movies, but I really can’t let go of “Let It Go“. Although I’m not a huge fan of the events that led up to the moment Elsa sings this and the events that followed after, this song is really something powerful. At first I thought I was just fangirling over Idina, but after listening to different versions of the song, I realized that nope – it’s just a really, really good song.
I’m sure there are a lot of other people who have discussed, interpreted, and dissected this song every which way, so I won’t go into a full analysis of it. I just love how the song builds, and how it expresses the complete feeling of freedom when you just be yourself.
What interests me even more are the foreign language versions of the song. It’s interesting to hear how other singers interpret the song, and how the song’s meaning is preserved (or even further empowered) by the foreign language translations. Here are my favorite official foreign language versions of “Let It Go”:
Dutch (Singer: Willemijn Verkaik)
Title: Laat het los, laat het gaan (Let It Go, Let It Go)
I just LOVE Willemijn Verkaik’s powerful voice! And it’s no wonder she was chosen to do this song – she’s known for playing Elphaba in the German-language version of Wicked. I just watched this video of her singing Defying Gravity in three languages, and she gave me goosebumps! She also did a beautiful cover of the English version of Let It Go.
Mandarin (Singer: Hu Weina/Jalena Hu)
Title: 随它吧 (Suí tā ba) (Let It Be)
I don’t know much about Hu Weina (a.k.a. Jalena Hu) outside of the YouTube videos I dug up, but after being disappointed by the vocals in some of the other Asian versions of Let It Go, hearing her voice was like a breath of fresh air.
Swedish (Singer: Annika Herlitz)
Title: Slå dig fri (Break Free)
I really have this thing for powerful mezzo-soprano voices, and Annika Herlitz really nails it! And it’s not just vocal power either – listen to all that emotion she puts into it! <3 I also love the lyrics for this version. Even though it’s more or less a direct translation of the original English lyrics, the chorus, “Slå dig loss, slå dig fri” (Break away, break free) is just beautiful. Annika also did her own amazing cover of the English version.
Honorable Mention: Japanese (Singer: Takako Matsu)
Title: Ari no Mama De (As I Am)
I have to say it despite the risk of sounding completely weaboo/otaku: Japanese is a beautiful language, and the poetry of it really shines through in many Japanese songs. Whether they were originally written in Japanese or translated from English, Japanese songs tend to be very introspective and convey feelings that I never even knew how to describe properly.
While translating the Japanese movie and pop versions of “Let It Go”, I was amazed by how much feeling they conveyed. Imagine all the feelings of relief, independence, and self-confidence expressed by the original English version amplified a hundredfold. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but seriously, how does the English “Let it go, let it go, can’t hold it back anymore / Let it go, let it go, turn away and slam the door” compare to the Japanese “I’ll show you how I really am / I’ll become my true self”? The Japanese version of the song takes the whole idea if letting go of your fears and just being happy as you are to a whole new level.