Whenever we hear a Eurovision song, we expect to hear it in English—despite the fact it’s not the native language of any participating countries bar the UK and Ireland. Strategy-wise that’s a good idea—until you forget HOW to sing in English. Eurovision has been rife with terrible accents and mispronunciations over the years, so we have gathered our top 10 phonetic blunders. Repeat the lyrics slowly, people: someone out there can hear you and will remember to pronounce them correctly in the future.
10. “Satellite” (Lena, Germany 2010)
Singing an entire song in a foreign language can be tiring, can’t it Lena? Especially when you seem to be using an exaggerated London accent. We don’t have a problem with Lena embracing her inner Britishness, but it becomes an issue when she starts thinking about her British themed lunch rather than her lyrics. We understand that you’re tired, but there’s no excuse for telling someone that they “set the pies” rather than they “set the pace”. Whether you enjoy eating pies or not, stick to the lyrics in your song book rather than the words in your recipe book.
9. “Something” (Andrius Pojavis, Lithuania 2013)
It’s fair to say Andrius confused us all when he seemed to be a singing a declaration of love, and then blamed his feelings on his shoes. We were all wondering whether we were hearing the lyrics right by that point anyway, but it was the names of his shoes that truly left us all befuddled. Naming each shoe is weird enough, but what would make most sense, naming them “Love and Pain” or “Love and Spain”? We were left to our own devices pondering this as Andrius had pronounced the lyric so terribly. We had no way of knowing what the names of his shoes actually were!
8. “Hard Rock Hallelujah” (Lordi, Finland 2006)
Eurovision has a tendency to get political. But the last people we expected to share their political views were Finnish “hard rockers” from 2006, Lordi. Funnily enough, they weren’t actually intending to get political. A little slip of the tongue led to the lead singer pledging his support to the US Democrat party and predicting who the future president of the USA would be. Turns out pronouncing “The rock’s about to roll” as “Barack’s about to rule” wasn’t actually incorrect. Who knew monsters were psychic?!
7. “Illusion” (Krassimir Avramov, Bulgaria 2009)
We remember Krassimir Avramov for his terrible vocals in Moscow in 2009. So it must be quite a slap in the face to be told his English skills weren’t all that impressive either. The unfortunate Bulgarian was too busy trying to hit those high notes to realise that his song lyrics were “Baby, I need you so much” rather than “Baby needs to munch”. Forgetting about those few extra syllables could have made the difference between Bulgaria qualifying for the finals and being eliminated at the semi’s. But considering the fact “Illusion” finished in 16th place with seven points at the first semi final, it probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference.
6. “What If” (Dina Garipova, Russia 2013)
Eurovision wouldn’t be complete without an anti-war protest song telling us to “bury our guns” and “come together as one”. Dina Garipova encouraged the people of Malmö to “help each other more” and all be friends. But it all turned a bit morbid after she made one tiny mispronunciation that spiraled the whole chorus into one shockingly bad innuendo. “What if we all opened our arms, what if we came together as one” sounded awfully like “What if we all opened our arse, what if we came together as one”. Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear.
5. “Gravity” (Zlata Ognevich, Ukraine 2013)
When a seven foot giant carried Zlata to the stage in Malmö, we all wondered what his relevance would be to a song called “Gravity”. For a moment, we thought his name was Mike Rafferty, and Zlata had dedicated the entire song to him. But then we realised that she wasn’t even mentioning Mike Rafferty at all and she was actually trying to say “My gravity”. Either way, the lyrics didn’t make much sense: “I’m like a butterfly, spinning ’round a sword as if to dare, I should have stayed up high, It’s stronger than me, my gravity”
4. “What for?” (Aisha, Latvia 2010)
You’d be lying if you said you fully understood what was happening with Latvia in 2010. Aisha looked like a perfectly sweet young singer, but turned out to be a pretty huge pessimist with a pretty strange song. And it all got even stranger when she seemed to say God’s thought’s were “gay and out of reach”. We we’re all totally lost by this point. Turns out she was trying to say God’s “phone today is out of reach”. That doesn’t make any sense either! Back to the dictionaries, eh Aisha?
3. “Unbreakable” (Sinplus, Switzerland 2012)
You’d think practicing your vowel sounds would be a priority when learning to sing a song in English for Eurovision. It clearly wasn’t for the lead singer of Sinplus who got a bit confused between his “a” sounds and his “i” sounds. Resulting in him telling the people of Baku to “swim against the strim, following your wildest drim”. He’a making up his own words! Unfortunately, Switzerland didn’t qualify for the final in 2012, so hopefully that gives them more time to practice the basic a,e,i,o,u!
2. “Drip Drop” (Safura, Azerbaijan 2010)
When you’re trying to make a statement and ask some pretty direct questions, it’s best not to mumble. In 2010, when Safura from Azerbaijan was asking her man “am I in or am I out?” she forgot the golden rule: to speak clearly. In her live performance, we heard something like “am I he or how me ow”! Did she have a piece of hot potato on her tongue? Or was the intensity of the likely breakup with her boyfriend becoming too much for her she forgot all of her phonics?
1. “Angel” (Mika Newton, Ukraine 2011)
When we watched Mika Newton perform, there were plenty of sand related distractions going on to keep our focus away from the fact she didn’t really know what she was singing. Most of us expected her to sing “We are birds, we fly so high and we are falling down, when I dream of you, my dream is so fearless, we are people of the planet, we live human lives”. But instead we had to settle for her mumbles which sounded more like “We are broke our legs so high, we are falling down. When I dream of you I dream, Annsofi and lies. We are people on the planet with inhuman legs”. Oh well, at least she had a nice dress I suppose.