The Billboard Hot 100 has been home to some of the best songs released in the United States, for over six decades. Almost all of the songs featured on the list are English, but on certain memorable occasions, a foreign language song does make its way to the top of the chart. In this article, we share our pick of the best non-English songs that have topped the Billboard Hot 100.
“Sukiyaki” – Kyu Sakamoto (Japanese – June 15, 1963, for Three Weeks)
Sukiyaki is the only song on this list that was written in a non-European language. The song originally titled “Ue o Muite Arukō,” literally translates to I look up as I walk. It was a massive hit in Japan. A weird thing about the song is its name Sukiyaki, which refers to a Japanese beef dish and doesn’t relate to the song in any way.
The handsome Kyu Sakamoto sang the misleadingly-upbeat song (especially if you understand the lyrics) with some panache. The song was meant to paint a sad image of the Japanese protests against the US military occupancy in the 1950s.