Sign language interpretations of music used to hard to find. Fortunately, that’s changed over the past few years. More and more musicians have sign language interpreters performing at their events. Deaf artists are harnessing the power of Youtube to share their own sign language music videos of their favourite songs, and even musicians who can hear are using the expressive power of sign language in music videos.
Want to see for yourself? Here are ten fantastic sign language music videos!
Please note: When we describe these videos as amazing, awesome, or cool, we’re not trying to trivialise sign language. We think all languages are cool (and deserving of respect). If you appreciate the artistry in these videos, take a moment to learn about the problems Deaf people still face when it comes to day-to-day communication.
Sia- Soon We’ll Be Found
In this video, Australian singer-songwriter Sia signs the lyrics to the song in ASL as she sings. Throughout the video, her hands signing the words appear as shadow puppets, or covered paint, or glowing in the dark – it’s trippy, beautiful and a great way to showcase ASL. (However, it seems like the special effects might make it harder for Deaf viewers to understand her signs in a few parts of the video.).
Pharrell- Happy in ASL
If this ASL version of Pharrell’s “Happy” produced by Deaf students and staff at Deaf Film camp doesn’t make you smile, consider professional help.
Lamb of God’s “Ruin”
This is the latest sign language music video to go viral. Watch as the interpreter breaks out her best metal face to translate Lamb of God’s “Ruin.”
Sign Language Rap Battle with Whiz Khalifa
In 2014, Jimmy Kimmel hosted a “sign language rap battle.” Three popular American sign language interpreters face off, interpreting Whiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow” as Whiz himself performs. Although Whiz does not clean up the lyrics, ABC did censor them, so it’s still safe for work, and a lot of fun to watch.
I should note that this video is somewhat controversial amongst the Deaf community because 2 out of 3 of the interpreters are hearing.
Rosa Lee Timm- What’s Love Got to Do With It?
Rosa Lee Timm is a Deaf performance artist who specialises in music videos and comedy. This ASL interpretation of Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” is one of her most popular videos, and for a good reason.
Rosa Lee Timm (and Sherry Hicks)- Uptown Funk
This ASL interpretation of Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” is just incredibly fun to watch.
Pearl Jam- Given to Fly
During a tour in 2000, Eddie Vedder noticed ASL interpreter Kimberly Rae Schaefer and brought her up to share the spotlight for “Given to Fly.” I wish this video focused more on her and less on Eddie Vedder, but it’s still a sweet moment.
Keith Urban Rocking Out with ASL Interpreter
In this video, from the Jazz Music Festival in Snowmass, Keith Urban performs a duet with the ASL interpreter. So, she gets to share centre stage instead of being off to the side. One caveat: the audio quality for this video is poor.
Tommy Krångh, the 2015 Eurovision Interpreter
Swedish song language interpreter Tommy Krångh became an overnight sensation in 2015 when he signed for Sweden’s Eurovision finalist competition. This brief clip from the Guardian shows why.
DEAFinitely Dope- No sleep by Whiz Khalifa
This video of DEAFinitely Dope’s Matt Maxey interpreting Whiz Khalifa’s “No Sleep” with an unnamed female friend is infectious and adorable, and the lyrics are uncensored. So, if you click the link, be aware that you will encounter numerous curse words in both English and ASL.
What Does the Fox Say? in ASL
At this point, we know what you’re probably wondering: What does the fox say in sign language? Let the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind attempt to answer that question for you.
As noted above, it’s great to see sign language getting more attention. However, if the only experience you have with sign language is a viral video, you’re not seeing the full picture of the accessibility difficulties faced by the Deaf community. Like all languages, sign languages are both an art form and a means of communication. Thanks to the internet and the increasing popularity of sign language music interpreters, sign language as an art form is more accessible than ever. But when it comes to being able to communicate on a practical, day-to-day level, access is still limited.
If you’d like to make your information more accessible to the Deaf community, we can help. We offer sign language interpreter services throughout the UK. As you might expect, our interpreting services are primarily in BSL, but if you need another type of sign language, please let us know when you order and we’ll try to accommodate. We can also provide you with sign language video services and speech-to-text reporting. For more information, please contact us.