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4 Crazy, Early Foreign Language Versions of Beatles Songs

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It was 50 years ago this week that the Beatles first landed in the U.S. and set off a wave of Beatlemania from coast to coast with their historic appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. By the end of the 1960s, their music had spread worldwide, not only in their own recordings, but in versions translated into other languages and sung by local pop stars. Here are 4 of the …best?...strangest?...most dumbfounding? Whatever they are, you don't want to miss them.

1. Russian: "Let It Be"

Be careful with this one; you won't be able to unsee it. It's from a 1974 Russian film called Magic Lantern, and at the time this was one of the only state-sanctioned ways Soviet youth could get access to Western music. Here's what the lyrics are saying:

Everything's happened before in the world
People are always the same
That's how it was, it is, and always will be

Ah, refreshing Russian pessimism. The best part is at 1:04, where the woman singer reacts to the children's chorus joining in. You know that's the expression every pop diva secretly makes in her head whenever a children's chorus starts up in her song.

2. French: "When I Saw Her Standing There"

Johnny Hallyday, the first French rock star, has been huge in the French-speaking world for decades. His most recent album, a live recording of his Born Rocker Tour, just came out last year. Here he is 50 years ago, applying his signature rocker growl to "When I Saw Her Standing There (Quand Je l'ai Vue Devant Moi)". It will charm you, if you can just ignore the off-beat clapping of the audience.

3. Cantonese: "Eight Days a Week"

Chan Po Chu, otherwise known as Connie Chan, was the biggest teen sensation of 1960s Hong Kong. Here's a clip from one of her many films, where she and her friends use some of that newfangled music to distract a guard while they break out of prison. They sound so sweet and jolly. He'll never suspect a thing.

4. Hindi: "It's Been A Hard Day's Night"

I found this by chance on YouTube. There's not much information about it, but it's by Mahendra Kapoor, whose voice was featured on Bollywood movies for decades, and it's amazing. The syncopated beatnik handclapping, the sax solo, the male backup singers, the joyful background whoops and yelps—you never heard Beatles like this before.

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New AI-Driven Music System Analyzes Tracks for Perfect Playlists
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Whether you're planning a bachelorette party or recovering from a breakup, a well-curated playlist makes all the difference. If you don't have time to pick the perfect songs manually, services that use the AI-driven system Sonic Style may be able to figure out exactly what you have in mind based on your request.

According to Fast Company, Sonic Style is the new music-categorizing service from the media and entertainment data provider Gracenote. There are plenty of music algorithms out there already, but Sonic Style works a little differently. Rather than listing the entire discography of a certain artist under a single genre, the AI analyzes individual tracks. It considers factors like the artist's typical genre and the era the song was recorded in, as well as qualities it can only learn through listening, like tempo and mood. Based on nearly 450 descriptors, it creates a super-accurate "style profile" of the track that makes it easier for listeners to find it when searching for the perfect song to fit an occasion.

Playlists that use data from Sonic Style feel like they were made by a person with a deep knowledge of music rather than a machine. That's thanks to the system's advanced neural network. It also recognizes artists that don't fit neatly into one genre, or that have evolved into a completely different music style over their careers. Any service—including music-streaming platforms and voice-activated assistants—that uses Gracenote's data will be able to take advantage of the new technology.

With AI at your disposal, all you have to do as the listener is decide on a style of music. Here are some ideas to get you started if you want a playlist for productivity.

[h/t Fast Company]

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Stradivarius Violins Get Their Distinctive Sound By Mimicking the Human Voice
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Italian violinist Francesco Geminiani once wrote that a violin's tone should "rival the most perfect human voice." Nearly three centuries later, scientists have confirmed that some of the world's oldest violins do in fact mimic aspects of the human singing voice, a finding which scientists believe proves "the characteristic brilliance of Stradivari violins."

Using speech analysis software, scientists in Taiwan compared the sound produced by 15 antique instruments with recordings of 16 male and female vocalists singing English vowel sounds, The Guardian reports. They discovered that violins made by Andrea Amati and Antonio Stradivari, the pioneers of the instrument, produce similar "formant features" as the singers. The resonance frequencies were similar between Amati violins and bass and baritone singers, while the higher-frequency tones produced by Stradivari instruments were comparable to tenors and contraltos.

Andrea Amati, born in 1505, was the first known violin maker. His design was improved over 100 years later by Antonio Stradivari, whose instruments now sell for several million dollars. "Some Stradivari violins clearly possess female singing qualities, which may contribute to their perceived sweetness and brilliance," Hwan-Ching Tai, an author of the study, told The Guardian.

Their findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. A 2013 study by Dr. Joseph Nagyvary, a professor emeritus at Texas A&M University, also pointed to a link between the sounds produced by 250-year-old violins and those of a female soprano singer.

According to Vox, a blind test revealed that professional violinists couldn't reliably tell the difference between old violins like "Strads" and modern ones, with most even expressing a preference for the newer instruments. However, the value of these antique instruments can be chalked up to their rarity and history, and many violinists still swear by their exceptional quality.

[h/t The Guardian]

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