DREAMPOP: Emotion over meaning: the enigmatic lyrics of Cocteau Twins in the languages of glossolalia

25.08.2020 08:25

Having first appeared in religious practices, the term GLOSSOLALIA referred to the ability of a believer to subconsciously use an unfamiliar or non-existing language—the skill listed in nine gifts of extraordinary power given by the Holy Spirit.

In literature, glossolalia refers to combinations of sounds or words that have lost their meaning, but at the same time, form a structure similar to a full-fledged language. This approach to language in creative writing was used by such masters as Lewis CarrollJames Joyce, and Velimir Khlebnikov.


One of the most outstanding uses of an imaginary language in pop music belongs to Cocteau Twins—a new wave band from Scotland considered by many to be the founders of the dream pop genre. The lead vocalist Elizabeth Fraser's unique and otherworldly voice, often described by fans as angelic, is one of the defining factors for the band's idiosyncratic sound. Fraser also used a special method to create their abstract lyrics. 


Another favorite artist of mine: Kate Bush! This Wuthering Heights changed my life as a kid!