Zdravo! Slovenia to introduce new language rule for EMA 2018


It looks like 2017 really is the year of non-English music.

Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s Spanish-language anthem “Despacito” has swept the charts, even in the United Kingdom — a country where the last non-English single to sit at the top of the charts was PSY’s “Gangnam Style”. That was five years ago, people. A whole five years ago.

Even in the Eurovision bubble, non-English music is having a moment. You’ll know that Salvador Sobral’s winning Eurovison song for Portugal — “Amar Pelos Dois” — was the first entirely non-English winner since Marija Serifovic’s “Molitva” in 2007. That’s right: an entire decade has passed since Marija took the crown for Serbia (and in Serbian).

Now RTVSLO hopes to ride the wave into 2018.

As evrovizija.com reports, a new language rule will be introduced in time for EMA 2018, requiring that singers perform in Slovene or a recognised minority language during the selection process.

It’s not yet clear whether those acts who advance to the EMA final can then choose to perform in a language of their choice (aka English) in the final or at Eurovision, as in the Icelandic selection process Songvakeppnin.

Since English is out of the question in the pre-selection, which languages will be allowed on the stage at Slovenia’s Eurovision selection? Performers can choose from Slovene, Croatian, German, Hungarian, Italian, Romani and Serbian.

Quite the range. Representing Slovenia next year could be the next Il Volo, and they could sing about anything from ein bisschen Frieden to ein bisschen Freude…

Although some could be surprised about the change that may well become a death sentence on the scoreboard, perhaps Slovenia has brought a welcome decision to a Eurovison that sometimes feels too anglicised. In 2017, thirty-five songs were performed entirely in English, with just Belarus, Hungary, Italy and Portugal performing entirely in their own language. In 2016 only three songs were sung entirely in a non-English language.

Either way, it shall certainly be interesting to see whether the new rule makes a difference to Slovenia’s placing in the contest.

Slovenia’s highest scoring entry, Maja Keuc’s “No One”, scored 96 points at the 2011 contest with Maja performing entirely in English. This year, Omar Naber failed to qualify for the finals with his entry “On My Way”, finishing in 17th place in the semi-final.