Song translation is such a challenging task!
You cannot translate the lyrics word-for-word, otherwise, you’ll kill the song.
Rhythm is important too, but you can’t always find the proper rhymes in your native language, so you’ll have to adapt the text.
Creativity is crucial. You will need to arouse the same emotions conveyed by the source text.
One thing I find tricky is the Italian translation of genders. English, for example, most of the time does not refer to a specific gender. In Italian, the issue is more complex.
A perfect example is “I Want to Break Free”, a song by my favourite band, Queen. The lyrics say:
“I want to break free from your lies
You’re so self-satisfied
I don’t need you”
In English, the sentence may have been written for either a man or a woman. The Italian translator, however, has to choose depending on many factors, such as the background of the song.
John Deacon, the bassist, wrote the song; does that mean he wrote it for his wife/girlfriend? Yes, it can be.
So, how can I translate "you're so self-satisfied" into Italian?
Sei così soddisfatta di te stesso
Sei così soddisfatto di te stessa
Just like with poetry, readers and translators give their interpretations. Plus, songs reach many people with different stories and experiences.
To avoid referring to a specific gender, the Italian translator could rephrase the sentence, but you can't always do that.
What do you think about lyrics translation?
Le mie riflessioni sul mondo della traduzione e non solo.