Since Jamala’s bilingual winning song “1944” and Salvador Sobral’s Portuguese winner “Amar pelos dois”, we’ve seen a massive increase in non-English songs at Eurovision. But how did these songs stack up at Eurovision 2018? We take a look at the non-English songs that competed in Lisbon.
Please note: we are not counting songs in English that may have used an occasional word from another language.
13. Georgia: Ethno-Jazz Band Iriao – “For You”
Place: 18th in the semi-final with 24 points, 5% of available points
While Georgia’s song had an English title, it was the first Georgian Eurovision entry to have lyrics entirely in Georgian. Ethno-Jazz Band Iriao brought a pleasant moment of calmness to the middle of the second semi-final, but their rich harmonies were not enough to get the group to the grand final, finishing last in the semi.
12. Montenegro: Vanja Radovanović – “Inje”
Place: 16th in the semi-final with 40 points, 8.33% of available points
The two times Montenegro has qualified for the grand final, it’s been with a Balkan ballad with Montenegrin lyrics. But history was not about to repeat in Lisbon with “Inje” (Frost). Vanja Radovanović finished 16th in the semi-final, with only 40 points.
11. Armenia: Sevak Khanagyan – “Qami”
Place: 15th in the semi-final with 79 points, 15.67% of available points
Sevak Khanagyan won national final Depi Evratesil, meaning that his song “Qami” (Wind) would be the first Eurovision entry sung entirely in Armenian. However, the emotional ballad didn’t have enough support to make it to the grand final in Lisbon. The 15th-place semi-final finish of “Qami” broke Armenia’s five-year qualification streak.
10. Greece: Yianna Terzi – “Oniro mou”
Place: 14th in the semi-final with 81 points, 16.07% of available points
Greece hasn’t done badly in the past with Greek song lyrics — “Opa!” placed 8th in 2010. However despite having huge support from Greek fans, “Oniro mou” (My dream) was not so successful in 2018. While the song placed 10th with the televote, a lower jury score ensured it missed out on qualifying, finishing in 14th place.
9. Portugal: Cláudia Pascoal – “O jardim”
Place: 26th in the grand final with 39 points, 3.87% of available points
In 2017, Portugal delivered the second non-English song to win Eurovision since the free-language era began. This year they stuck with the Portuguese language, but the tender ballad “O jardim” (The garden) did not enjoy the same success. Portugal join Austria 2015 in being a host country that finished in last place.
8. Spain: Amaia y Alfred – “Tu canción”
Place: 23rd in the grand final with 61 points, 6.05% of available points
OT 2017 sweethearts Amaia and Alfred sparked renewed interest in Eurovision amongst Spanish viewers. However, their love ballad “Tu canción” (Your song) didn’t melt the hearts of many viewers outside the Iberian peninsula. The 23rd-place finish was, however, better than Spain’s last placing in 2017.
Next… we look at the remaining non-English songs and see how they did.
What do you think? Can a country do well with a non-English song? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
I liked Spain a lot
There were really good non english songs this year. In this list, I liked Montenegro and Armenia. Both beautiful songs.
I do think that a country can do well with a song in its native language. It all depends on the song and the artist, the whole act actually. That’s when the message will come across despite the language.
there are lot of different languages in europe and this diversity needs to be shown, before 2016 almost all country presented a generic pop song in english, this year was more dynamic, more representative but unfortunately people forget the eurovision is about the song and not about the pyrotecnics and when it happens the things ended up like this year
As long as you speak the political language well, you can win this contest with any song. Let’s do thiiiiis!!!
The non-English trend ended before it really got started
It is a scandal how juries ignored Portugal in the final, yet they massively supported it last year! So weird. It’s also a bit wtf to see juries supporting Albania’s song which was very inferior compared to Portugal.
I agree about Portugal. I’m shocked it ended-up in last place.
The Albanian entry was OK, but Portugal certainly underperformed.
In my opinion, “O Jardim” was undermined by its lackluster production. The vocals were beautiful, but the backing music never really took off. The piano/synthesizer and guitar came off as sounding like something from a generic late 80’s pop ballad. I think it might have needed some strings instead of guitar.
Language is incidental. What matters is the song. If it is a good song people vill vote for it. Last year all non-English songs made it to final because they were good. This year most flopped because they weren’t good. Nothing stood out with them.
I really do think language has started to become second fiddle in ESC these Days..
ESC fans always say that they love National language songs and that countries should send songs in non english. But at ESC those songsr rarely makes an impact at ESC. So the fans make the artists a huge non favour.
People vote for what they like, regardless the language.
I’m still cackling at how Greece failed to qualify despite having its main buddies Albania, Bulgaria and Cyprus ALL in its semi! It’s beyond me… it clearly shows that if you have a song where you do whale sounds for three minutes, you’re going nowhere no matter what country you represent.
There were no “whale sounds” for three minutes. There were only whale sounds for ONE minute at the end, when she (attempted) to sing those high notes. The other two minute were her looking bored.
The song itself was nice. She just couldn’t perform live.
If I was a jury member for the contest, I would rank all the non-English language songs in my top ranks even if I like them less than English songs. I guess I’d be corrupt in that regard.
For the songs on this first half of the list: GREECE WUZ ROBBED
The live performance was, sadly, not staged as strongly as the music video of the studio version, but it still deserved to make the Final. Silly juries!
It deserved to tank as it did. It was a very flat and forgettable song, and two-thirds of its televote points came from neighbors anyway. All the semi 1 qualifiers were deserving finalists.
Saving Albania was probably the only thing the juries did right this year, but at least they did. No crime detected, sorry.
Speaking of the Hungarians not on the first part of this list, and the Israelis who probably don’t have enough Hebrew in their song to be on the second part of this list, you will probably enjoy listening to Viszlát Toy on the official AWS youtube channel. Netta’s singing on top of AWS’s music, it is delightful and funny and memetacular. I honestly would not mind it opening Eurovision 2019.
I like “Qami” and “O Jardim”. I prefer the original version of Sevak’s song though. Sadly, both did terrible, but somehow I understand why.
English is also a foreign language to me, so…
Then explain to me how on Earth Israel won at this particular point in time.
Although I agree that every ranking in the contest has in some way been politically influenced, you can not say that televoters and jurors make decisions entirely upon political beliefs, or else every country’s ranking would stay roughly the same year-on-year. Betting odds also change every year with no correlation to political affairs – bear in my mind that they are companies trying to earn money so there is no reason they would be try to be inaccurate. And also, wouldn’t the EXTREMELY CONTROVERSIAL promotion of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital have the reverse effect of allowing her to win, since… Read more »
I love to hear non-english songs at Eurovision! The only bad thing is that I cannot sing well along to them. I learn the lyrics of a song very fast by listening and I love it to sing and perform along with the artists. But with Albania or Spain 2018 (non-english songs) I cannot sing that well as with Finland and Norway (English songs). You understand my problem with foreign languages haha 😀 😀
Its eurovision song contest…not english-song contest or radio-friendly song contest or even mega-hits contest
Albania has always done well with Albanian versions, remember Rona with Suus and now Eugent with Mall.
True, but 2013 was a disaster. I hope they keep going in Albanian
Must of been a weak year for non-English entries, because Albania 2013 was awful.
Albania 2012, however, was excellent.
One song that should have been in the native language instead of english was OUR CHOICE from Iceland. HEIM would have had a better chance at qualifying. It is still one of my favorites and people were way to harsh about the songs cheesy lyrics. Ari Olaffson can sing and he is very endearing when being interviewed.
What an amazing song
It finished with 0 televote points… nothing was going to save it.
I don’t care about the Eurovision ‘fashion’ or tendencies, I will always appreciate singing in one’s own language. One of the reasons why I watch the contest is to get to know other cultures, and I’m happy if the songs stay in their first languages and are not changed into English (it’s an extra point from me ;)). The meaning should be given then by commentators (and that should be definitely corrected) plus significant perfomance if the artist needs it.
I don’t think it’s about the language. Do you think this song could do much better if they were in English? They just weren’t the best and not high-impact enough.
People are so used to hear songs in English so that they tend to overlook songs in foreign languages. Now it seems that the only way to catch attention/get message across is to either make the song to stand out somehow. Or unfortunately, change it to English, which saddens me. Look at this years top 10: only 2 managed to get in and that’s Italy and Estonia both in Italian, rest of them are in English and looking at it is so underwhelming, especially when there was a remarkable increase of non-English songs this time. It hurts to see non-English… Read more »
France also can be added to this list. But the thing i hate every year is that a lot of people from other countries ask France to absolutely send a song in french and not in english. So we send a song in french, people are happy and the only thing people do to thank us is place us very bad in televote. Seriously stop say you want french language song if after ask that, you place France 17th in televote. I see so many people say “french is so beautiful language” “Mercy is a fantastic french song” . I… Read more »
France was 11th with televote by average ranking!
It did quite well in many televotes 🙂
The problem this year was your performers not the language! People do love French.
Eurovision is much bigger than the English-speaking fandom. Keep that in mind.
But “Mercy” is indeed a great song. The staging was quite dull though.
Would “Toy” be considered a semi-bilingual song as words and sounds in Hebrew were apparently peppered into the song?
Netta actually fought doron madali to add hebrew words for toy as “ani lo boba” and “stefa” werent planned for the final cut of toy… netta really wanted hebrew in toy… so she maneged to add a few words… excuse me for my english <3
Don’t worry, Sevzch. Just keep practicing. 🙂
Didn’t know that, and I’m glad Netta fought for the Hebrew inclusions. Toy would probably not have won without them, I’m confident. That “middle verse” with all the Hebrew bits and all the Jewish wedding customs is, by far, the best verse of the song. All of that distinctively makes Toy a song “that only could have been sent by Israel”, and puts a distinctly Jewish-girl-dissing-pushy-Jewish-jerk vibe onto the proceedings. By contrast, most of Israel’s recent songs are exactly as flat and bland as most recent songs from Sweden and Swedish-exports like Fuego: *any* country could have sung those songs,… Read more »
I think “Fuego” had some traditional instrumental from Cyprus/Greece. Am I right?
Where sis? The “Fuego” post-chorus drop is just some random Oriental-sounding electronic sound that’s very frequent in Scandinavian productions.
I thought the instrumental (also in the beginning of the song), was from that region.
Lmao no it’s pure Scandipop.