Liberals Will Re-record Badly Translated French Language Campaign Song

Melanie Woods
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, left, is using a song by Canadian band The Strumbellas for his campaign. Lead singer Simon Ward is pictured at right.

Every campaign needs a catchy theme song. It captures the spirit of a campaign and can rally supporters — or at the very least get stuck in their heads.

But now the Liberal Party of Canada has announced it will re-record the French-language version of their campaign song “One Hand Up,” after astute social media users noticed that the French translation was less than perfect. 

The song was recorded by Canadian band the Strumbellas on their 2019 album “Rattlesnake.” For the uninitiated, the Strumbellas are the kind of band whose music scores Apple commercials or teen movies about finding your voice or breaking out of your shell.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau shared both versions of the song on his personal Twitter account.

However, the Strumbellas, apparently, are not francophones. According to the band, they hired someone to do the French translation of the song for the campaign. But there were a few key mistakes.

Most notably, the lyric “we can hold one hand up for tomorrow. We can hold one hand up to the stars” in French translates as: “On lève une main haute pour demain. On lève une main haute aux étoiles.”

But instead of “on lève,” which means “we raise,” French-speaking Twitter users pointed out that the song uses “enlève,” which means to remove.

So basically, the song is saying to “remove one hand.” Sounds like a bad Google translate. And people took notice. 

Even Quebec Liberal Party legislator Gaétan Barrette called out the horrible translation.

In a statement posted to Twitter, the Strumbellas apologized for the error.

The Liberals say the group plans to re-record the song with better lyrics. 

The Summer of 2019

The Liberal Party isn’t the only one with a big-ticket campaign song. The Conservatives launched theirs last week, penned by the same songwriter who helped Bryan Adams write “Summer of ’69.” But instead of getting your first real six-string and playing it til your fingers bleed, it’s a more of a “stomp and clap at a sports arena vibe.” Take a listen:

The Tories opted not to release a full French-language version, but did share a bilingual version with French lyrics for the second and last verses.

“We Are The Greens”

The Greens haven’t released a formal campaign song yet, but hinted at one during a rally in Victoria last week. During a video taping of the song, the party’s Vancouver Island candidates took to the stage to sing “We Are The Greens,” which, as expected, talked a lot about centrism, stopping pipelines and a Green New Deal.

The highlight though? Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidate Paul Manly on electric bass. Gotta admit, he can rock it.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and supporters sing during a rally in Victoria Sept. 9.

The NDP haven’t released a formal campaign song yet, but if they do you can bet it’ll probably be accompanied by a custom Jagmeet Singh dance.

Watch: Jagmeet Singh celebrates byelection win

UPDATE: This story has been updated with a statement from the Strumbellas. 

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