Tuesday, January 17, 2017

My favorite versions of "How Far I'll Go" from Disney's "Moana/Vaiana/Oceania"

Hey guys!

So anyone who has talked to me for any more than five minutes will know that I'm obsessed with languages, and anyone who hangs out around me for a while will probably find out eventually that I'm a huge Disney fan as well. As I mentioned in a post I made in September, listening to different dubs of songs from Disney movies in middle school is part of what helped to solidify the foundation of my passion for all things linguistic. As such, many of the movies continue to have a special place in my heart even outside of deep childhood nostalgia.

Disney's most recent movie, Moana (also known as Vaiana or Oceania in other versions) is one which I enjoyed immensely due to the quality of the movie itself, its beautiful animation, engrossing story and compelling characters, and its rad Polynesian representation. A few weeks ago, an official multilingual version came out on Disney's Youtube channel, ensuring a moment of guaranteed fangirling from the likes of me.
Though the entire soundtrack was lovely, I greatly enjoyed the song "How Far I'll Go" specifically, due to its beautiful and catchy tune, and its message that made my intrepid inner traveler sing along with joy.
In the weeks since, I've listened to a number of specific dubbed versions of the song, some of them in the above video, others not. And I figured, why not share them with you all?
A few versions I would very much like to listen to and get a good impression of, namely the Turkish version, the Korean version, the Japanese version and every single Nordic version, are sadly not out yet, as the movie has not yet been released in many of those countries. But nonetheless, I will start off by sharing some of those that I've listened to many times and grown to love quite a bit over the past few weeks.

1) Bahasa Melayu - Malay
This is one of a couple of versions of the song that unfortunately do not belong to an official dub of the movie in their respective languages. But as I've listened to it, the Malay version has become one of my favorites for sure. Though she undoubtedly sounds a bit more mature compared to the other versions, Ayda Jebat sings with both enchanting force and soothing ease in all the right places, and hits those high notes with power that just can't help but illicit a resounding, "yaaaaaaas."

2) Pilipino - Filipino
Another version without an official dub. But it makes up for this lack by showing that it's a language that surely deserves one. What's really amazing about this one is that it's completely fanmade in origin, in the translation of the lyrics, singing, production of the video that goes along with it, everything. And for such a beautiful and engrossing version, that surely deserves hella thumbs up.

3) Русский - Russian
As something of a connaisseur of multilingual Disney, I can say that in the years since I first got hooked, Russia has stepped its dubbing game up significantly. The Russian version was one of the first dubbed versions of "How Far I'll Go," and I was hooked instantly. Similar to Ayda Jebat, Zina Kupriyanovich sings with power and subtlety everywhere appropriate, providing in contrast a bit of a youthful touch that ideally complements Moana's character. It remains one of my favorites. Молодец, Россия.

4) ไทย - Thai 
This version has a bit of a special significance to me for helping me to recognize the beauty of its language. I have to admit that previously, I had little interest in Thai, and even found its highly singsongy rhythm to be jarringly choppy. But after listening to this version, hearing the sounds of the language woven into Maneepat Myra Molloy's incredible vocal talent, I have begun to appreciate the sound of the Thai language much more and now am much more able to recognize its beauty. Check this one out, folks, you won't regret it.

6) Nederlands - Dutch
Dutch gets what is in my mind something of an underserved reputation as an ugly language. While it's true that many of the sounds can seem kind of harsh, it's a language that like any other can be a vessel of very tender and poetic emotional power. I may be a bit biased in that sense as I have a few very dear friends who either are Dutch or speak the language fluently for other reasons, but I digress. In any case, Vajèn van den Bosch sings the song beautifully and powerfully, and I'm sure that her version will help you to see the tender and expressive of the Dutch language, as it has done for me.

7) Italiano - Italian
Now, as an Italian myself, I may indeed be quite biased. Furthermore by the fact that I saw Moana (or Oceania, as it's known in the Italian dub) for the second time in a movie theater in beautiful Bologna right before Christmas in the company of my dear friend Sofia. But, attempting as much as possible to separate my opinion of this dub from the love I feel towards my own Italian language and heritage, I truly believe it deserves a place on this list. Chiara Grispo, I believe, out of all the dubs I've listened to, is one of the most similar to the original - which is, to say, a good thing. She's incredibly loyal to the spirit of the original version, while still managing to give the Italian version an original touch. And, for the most part, I truly love how they translated the song. I'm sure I would say the same of the other dubs if I were able to understand them as I understand Italian. But the line, "l'orrizonte mi chiama a sé per nome, ed io non so, dov'è che andrò," meaning "the horizon calls to me by name, and I don't know where it is that I'll go," brings tears to my sappy travel-loving heart. Buon lavoro, compatrioti miei.

8) English
The original version is a must on this list as well. Every single dub I've listened to so far is beautiful in different ways, each singer providing wonderful interpretations of the character with touches of local flair. But in my mind, there is no way around it; Auli'i Cravalho is Moana. She sings with a vocal talent far beyond her fifteen years, making it seem effortless. I also greatly admire her as a native Hawaiian able to represent her culture in a much needed installment of Polynesian representation. And she does so with ability, grace, poise, and flawless vocals. Auli'i helped me to fall in love with this song, character, and movie, and for that the original version will always have a special place in my heart.

9) Bahasa Indonesia - Indonesian
Another version without a dub. One that, admittedly, I've grown to like a lot. When I first listened to it, I didn't like some of the ways in which Maudy Ayunda dips and hovers around some notes and phrasing that clash somewhat with many of the other versions. But as I've listened to it more and more, I've found that it's grown on me, and that the differences in the cadences of her singing help to render the version all the more unique. She sings with a little less force and power than many of the other singers, but far from being a bad thing, this allows her to put forth a great version in a way that's loyal to her own vocal talent, making for a lighter and more subtle version that is no less of a pleasure to listen to. Well done, Indonesia. Hoping you'll get to put on some full official dubs in the future, as if this is any indicator, they'd be great.

10) Српски - Serbian 
I'll replace this video if one of better quality is uploaded on Youtube at any point, as it's sped up 3% and clearly recorded in a theater. But what is still able to shine through with obvious clarity is the vocal prowess and mastery of Ivona Rambosek. She is probably the most youthful-sounding of the versions I've written about on this list, which far from being a bad thing means that she sings with incredible energy, confidence, and beauty which transcends the imperfect quality of this video.

11) Flemish - Vlaams
Notwithstanding that they're essentially different accents of the same language, and the lyrics of the Flemish version match those of the Dutch one nearly to a tee, Laura Tesoro offers an interpretation that is markedly different from that of Vajèn van den Bosch. Her deeper voice offers a rich and potent imagining of the character, and also offers a chance to compare the phonetic distinctions between Netherlands Dutch and Belgian Dutch. Different, but good different. Erg mooi.

12) Ελληνικά - Greek
Unfortunately this is another dub that is currently available for listening on Youtube only with a low-quality theater recording. But fear not, because Marina Satti is yet another vocal powerhouse whose prowess shines through any grainy quality the universe throws her way. She seems to be an interesting halfway point between Ivona Rambosek (Serbian) and Ayda Jebat (Malay), combining a a refreshingly youthful tone with a vocal might beyond her age. Nothing but praise for Greece.

12) Español latinoamericano - Latin American Spanish 
Full disclosure: though in terms of preference towards the actual accent I'm a big fan of Castilian Spanish (raincheck on an upcoming post about accents I like in different languages), I prefer the Latin American dub. The Castilian version I found to be a little too young, whereas the Latin American version, though still quite youthful sounding, brings this song the power it needs and clearly gives it her all. Her voice is strong but melodious, and a pleasure to listen to.

13) 한국어 - Korean
So-Hyang starts off with a very soft spoken, subdued tone that is able to show a more sensitive and tender side to the character, more so than almost any of the others do. It makes for a very relaxing listen, while still being emotional enough not to bore. Then as the song progresses, a determined and commanding power suddenly comes out, and solidifies her place even more as one of the best dubs.

14) Íslenska - Icelandic 
Currently only this lower quality video is available on Youtube, which I will replace as well if a better one appears. I may be a bit biased as a big lover of the Icelandic language, but upon hearing this version, I for one have been hooked by Agla Bríet Einarsdóttir's lovely voice. I've said of many singers on this list that their vocal talent is far beyond their years, but I think this is especially true in her case, given she's thirteen! She deviates from the typical articulation and stress on some phrases of the song as compared to many of the other singers. At times it works in her favor, at others not as much; there are admittedly a few points in the song where the way she deviates in this way is not so much to my liking. Nevertheless, there are ample parts of the song where her mastery and rich tone make up for it adequately and then some. Vel gert, Ísland.

15) Deutsch - German 
The German Moana (or Vaiana, as she's known in her dub) sings quite differently from many of the others. Her voice is a little more grainy, a bit more mature sounding, and a little less strong. But in the end, it seems to work in her favor. She sings with power and grace defined on the terms of her vocal abilities, and will surely work to prove wrong anyone who thinks German is an ugly language too.

That's all I can think of for the time being. I hope you all love these versions as much as I do, and if a better video of the Serbian version or any other missing ones are uploaded, or I think of any others, I will return to edit this post. 
Thanks for reading in the meantime. Enjoy the vocal talent and have fun today.


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