Produced by

Esperanto Pop: Global Music For Global Domination

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Esperanto (flickr/Stopped.)

After repeated listens to British pop band One Direction's sophomore album, Take Me Home, Billboard editor and Soundcheck regular Joe Levy adds an entry to the dictionary with a category of music he calls "Esperanto Pop." We hear how a variety of acts from ABBA to PSY to Usher are making music engineered for the biggest pop market possible -- the world.

Esperanto Pop [es-puh-rahn-toh pop] (noun). Esperanto Pop is global pop engineered to work for a worldwide audience. From Elvis to Prince to Kanye, great pop works by crossing boundaries. But Esperanto pop does something different: It erases borders. The result might be the same, but the feeling isn't. Crossing boundaries is daring; erasing borders is diplomatic. (Joe Levy)


Joe Levy

Comments [8]

Hm... I speak Esperanto and I'm kind of frustrated after reading this article. The title doesn't fit with the Esperanto culture and idea: "domination" is not the best word to talk about this topic. And why a world wide concept would bring only songs in English? Where's the real culture diversity of our planet? I'm unshakeably sure that Billboard and Soundchek, as well as Joe Levy, are conscious for this reality. Hope soon read about the real Esperanto music from many countries. It's not a fancy, but it's a rich production from many countries, without cultural barriers. It's worth an article about that. Hugs from Brazil and sorry for the English mistakes in this comment. By the way, that's a blog where I talk about Esperanto music (in portuguese): .

Nov. 18 2012 09:55 AM
Sandi from Paris

Wow, NPR you have successfully frustrated most of the commentators on this page. I think that it would have been worthwhile to note that Esperanto has developed into a living language, and is used by a growing group of native speakers! It might have been worthwhile to think a bit more about how to frame this subject before launching into your reportage. The misnomer “Esperanto pop” definitely insulted some listeners who were hoping to hear a nice bit on, well pop music sung in Esperanto. It is all very ironic actually, because Esperanto was created to create a truly equal language with no dominant culture (like English!). This music is hardly that… even if half of it is produced in Sweden . Semantics aside, I DO like the concept that the guest was trying to explain. While pop has always been created to be “popular” … now it feels more manufactured than ever, and therefore cultureless, created only for economic gain. Unless you consider club culture to be some kind of Universalist diplomacy – and I’m not very comfortable with Gaga being my ambassador.

Nov. 17 2012 11:11 PM

Why don't our children learn Esperanto early in primary schools when their brains are adept at picking up languages? How many Esperanto teachers did we have all over the world? But now any trained primary teacher can indeed teach it even without knowing it first themselves. All the resources that a teacher needs to teach and at the same time learn this easy language are now available at This material can be translated and adapted for all other peoples throughout the world so all children can be learning it at the same time and their teachers will be opening up the whole world for the children as well as themselves. Internet will play a great part in this.

Nov. 17 2012 10:47 PM
Andrea Fontana from Italy

Quality prog music (genre: ethno-progressive) in REAL Esperanto:
(concert by Reverie, ethno-progressive ensemble from Milan, Italy, held in 2011 in Copehagen, Denmark)

Nov. 17 2012 06:46 PM
Penny Vos from Australia

Esperanto is about erasing barriers not boundaries. Keep your language and culture but gain a world-communication "superpower" for extra fun and function!

Esperanto pop and other musical genres can be heard and bought at


Nov. 17 2012 03:35 PM
Henri Masson from France

Facts about Esperanto in French :

Automatic Translation from Esperanto to 64 languages :

Nov. 17 2012 12:11 PM
russ from Wroclaw

Sure, you CAN define "Esperanto pop" that way to mean pop music sung in English for economic reasons to sell to a wider audience.

But it's a misleading false definition; after all "English pop" means pop music in English, "German pop" means pop music in German, etc.

Esperanto speakers DO exist (as a moment's googling would show you). And of course (the same as with other languages) there is music in Esperanto (including pop and other styles). You might search the bands Perdita Generacio, Pafklik, Persone, Kajto, JoMo, Kim Henriksen, La Porkoj, Supernova, Martin kaj la Talpoj, for example ...

Nov. 17 2012 12:03 PM
Neil Blonstein from NYC

You deeply sadden me. Esperanto is one of the most useful languages for teaching me the best of all cultures. I correspond with hundreds of Indonesians, Nepalese, Vietnamese and Iranians. Please Google Esperanto. Go to Youtube and see hundreds of music videos in Esperanto and cease to be ignorant at the most intelligent radio station that I every heard. I am your (NPR/WNYC) biggest fan for so many years. Relating to Michael Jackson, he actually introduces his HISTORY video-clip in Esperanto. Relating to Scandinavia---I love that region---and Esperanto is alive and well in Stokholm and a dozen other Scandinavian cities where I have visited. We periodically have conference in that region with two thousand participants.

Nov. 17 2012 12:19 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.