Since Jamala’s bilingual winning song “1944” and Salvador Sobral’s Portuguese winner “Amar pelos dois”, we’ve seen a huge increase in non-English songs at Eurovision. But how did these songs stack up at Eurovision 2018? We continue our look at the non-English songs that competed in Lisbon.

In part one, we started counting down the 13 songs with entirely non-English lyrics at Eurovision 2018. We continue the countdown and see which were the most successful non-English songs in Lisbon.

Please note: we are not counting songs in English that may have used an occasional word from another language.

7. Slovenia: Lea Sirk – “Hvala, ne!”

Language: Slovene, Portuguese
Place: 22nd in the grand final with 64 points, 6.35% of available points

Lea Sirk’s anthem of assertiveness was a surprise qualifier for the grand final. She delivered a sassy, upbeat performance and showed that non-English lyrics can work for a fun pop performance. Lea even threw in a few lines of Portuguese for the Eurovision performance. “Hvala, ne!” (Thanks, no!) finished in 22nd place.

6. Hungary: AWS – “Viszlát nyár”

Language: Hungarian
Place: 21st in the grand final with 93 points, 9.23% of available points

Post-hardcore band AWS brought their screamo sound to Eurovision. The powerful song was the third Eurovision entry of the A Dal era to have Hungarian lyrics, and it continued Hungary’s unbroken qualification streak since 2011. While the intense performance of “Viszlát nyár” (Goodbye summer) might not have been everyone’s cup of tea, it still finished 21st in the grand final.

5. Serbia: Sanja Ilić & Balkanika – “Nova deca”

Language: Serbian
Place: 19th in the grand final with 113 points, 11.21% of available points

Sanja Ilić & Balkanika is all about combining traditional Balkan music styles with modern electronic flavours. And of course, where there’s Balkan realness, there’s a Balkan language. As well as Serbian lyrics, “Nova deca” (New generation) had a strong melody and haunting harmonies. It placed 19th in the grand final.

4. France: Madame Monsieur – “Mercy”

Language: French
Place: 13th in the grand final with 173 points, 17.16% of available points

Madame Monsieur’s “Mercy” deliberately kept the French lyrics simple, to ensure it would be understood by both native speakers and even those who only knew a little bit of French. The song was a fan favourite coming into the competition, but its 13th place finish perhaps wasn’t as strong as supporters expected. Nonetheless, the simple chorus delivered a moving moment in Lisbon.

3. Albania: Eugent Bushpepa – “Mall”

Language: Albanian
Place: 11th in the grand final with 184 points, 18.25% of available points

Albania is notorious for translating their Festivali i Këngës winning songs into English. But — like Rona Nishliu’s “Suus” from 2012 — “Mall” (Yearning) proved to work with its original lyrics. Eugent Bushpepa’s song of longing for home, delivered with his fierce rock vocals, earned Albania an 11th place finish in the grand final

2. Estonia: Elina Nechayeva – “La forza”

Language: Italian
Place: 8th in the grand final with 245 points, 24.31% of available points

Opera singer Elina Nechayeva wasn’t singing in Estonia, instead she used the language of opera, Italian. Her crystal clear vocals combined with bold staging ensured that “La Forza” (The force) finished eighth and gave Estonia one of its best finishes in the past decade.

1. Italy: Ermal Meta & Fabrizio Moro – “Non mi avete fatto niente”

Language: Italian
Place: 5th in the grand final with 308 points, 30.56% of available points

Sanremo winner “Non mi avete fatto niente” (You haven’t done anything to me) was wordy and Italian and it had a message. But it also had the very charismatic Ermal Meta and Fabrizio Moro. The song’s staging came with in-camera subtitles in multiple languages which ensured the message would not be lost on viewers from around Europe. The song earned a fifth-place finish, Italy’s sixth Italian top-ten placing since their 2011 comeback.

What do you think? Should more countries enter non-English songs? Should the national language rule be reinstated? your thoughts in the comments section below!

Read more of our lists here

52 Comments
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Adam Jones
Adam Jones
2 years ago

I only speak English so when I hear other languages I always wish they would do an English translation. I will say though, from this years selection, one foreign language song got my attention, Eugent Bushpepa – “Mall” from Albania. Even though I have no idea what he’s singing, I completely enjoy the sound of his voice and the obvious conviction he’s trying to project. Powerful. Strong. Enlightening, yet I still have no idea what he’s singing about but I love it. I’m American so I know most of you probably hate us now. Don’t blame you. But when a… Read more »

jdplatt
jdplatt
2 years ago

France should’ve won. Paris 2019 sounds really nice.

Jo.
Jo.
2 years ago

Many people said Albanian isn’t a good language for singing at Eurovision. well…I guess they were proven wrong.

Jo.
Jo.
2 years ago
Reply to  Jo.

Europe definitely wants diversity at Eurovision. And so do I.
As someone said before, the song just needs the “natural sense of universality”.

namename
namename
2 years ago

I guess you native tongue is something roman or English/German/Swedish/etc.? Cause this is mostly caused by the language you are used to. I don’t have this problem with slavic languages, but I agree that they are quite different from English, so it probably sounds weird to someone who isn’t used to them.

namename
namename
2 years ago
Reply to  namename

I would still assume that this natural sense is not unaffected by your mother tongue. I think french is actually awful, but someone from China might see this completly different

AngieP
AngieP
2 years ago

Slovenia was a pleasant surprise when it qualfied. Hungary wouldn’t be one of my favourites a couple of years ago. As I’m not a fan of rock, I appreciate it more now and I wish more countries send a different sound. France always amazes me since 2016 and they do a good job. Same with Italy! These 2 countries keep their language, 2 beautiful languages and I give them credit for that. Keep going! Albania is a weird entry for me. I really like the song, but the last couple of years we were used to female vocalists singing ballads.… Read more »

Ern
Ern
2 years ago

I don’t think Italy belonged in the top 10.

Estonia should have been top 5.

Hungary and Slovenia were both noise pollution.

The rest are OK, including France which was always very overrated.

Albania is growing on me.

KYLLITO
KYLLITO
2 years ago

Mall, Mercy and Hvala Slay were my favorite 2018 non-English entries.

beccaboo1212
2 years ago

Albania <3

Emma
Emma
2 years ago

Not related to this article but I thought Wiwibloggs might be interested to know that Bella Paige who sang for Australia at Junior Eurovision 2015, has just made it through to the Grand Final of The Voice Australia to be held next Sunday 17th June. It’d be great to see another article on her!

ESCFan2009
ESCFan2009
2 years ago

Your profile pic is really cute, Victor 😉 😀 ?

Sabrina
Sabrina
2 years ago

I still think both France and Italy made the right choices concerning staging, but one paid off with the televote and the other doesn’t. It happens. France had a song that could (unfairly) be seen as exploitative if they played the emotional card. So they kept it simple and chic, hoping that people would get it. While Italy had their strenght on the lyrics, that are phenomenal. So it made sense to try to translate it to different audiences. In any case, both should do way better with the juries.

Catalina
Catalina
2 years ago

I’m always happy to see non-English songs at Eurovision. It’s one of its main appeals to me. As many have already said, I’m still angry about the treatment that the juries have towards Italy. It’s clear they’re only voting for the songs they like the most which is not their job. At least they should be able to justify professionally their points. It might be through a score sheet with some items such as “lyrics/vocals/staging” because clearly they need some help. I also thought that Italy would be a jury favourite but hey, at least the audience has some taste.… Read more »

Ana
Ana
2 years ago

So, Italy keeps on sending songs in their own language, that are NOT typical radio hits – and still they achieve good results (top 10 usually). It means it IS possible.
The question is… Why, oh why can’t they win at last? Juries?
I’m still not over this year’s difference…

Soreau
Soreau
2 years ago
Reply to  Ana

The reason why the juries did not appreciate the Italian entry is that Fabrizio didn’t perform well during the jury rehearsal when their voting takes place. If you watch the footage, you can notice Ermal giving those “WTF?” stares at Fabrizio. He was like, “C’mon, what’s going on?”. In short, this could be compared to Portugal’s case where one could sing but another screwed up. While Fabrizio was great at the Grand Final, unfortunately it was too late for the juries to alter their points.

Polegend Godgarina
Polegend Godgarina
2 years ago
Reply to  Soreau

Loreen stopped halfway through her jury performance to cough, and she still won the jury vote by a massive landslide. Just like with Poland 2016, I don’t think the juries were going to vote for Italy to start with.

Vladimir P.
Vladimir P.
2 years ago

Among non-English one songs, I liked the Estonian, French and Armenian ones the best. Serbia also had a decent one.

DaFlo
DaFlo
2 years ago

I ship Bernardo and Robyn <3

Brexited ingwish
Brexited ingwish
2 years ago

I love Mall, very shop centered.

Kyna
Kyna
2 years ago

Whenever someone asks me which is my favorite Eurovision entry I find myself in trouble to name only one, because I love so many of them so that I can talk about it for hours. But I never had THE one until now. Well, seems like I finally found it, and that’s „Non mi avete fatto niente“. Now like I said I have many entries very close to my heart, but this particular one goes the deepest that no other has managed to reach on that level. So Italy, grazie mille per questa meravigliosa e bellissima canzone. Now as for… Read more »

Jo.
Jo.
2 years ago
Reply to  Kyna

omg I love Kuula and Randajad.

Kyna
Kyna
2 years ago
Reply to  Jo.

Yes (*clap clap*), I’ve been waiting for these kinds of gems from us for years. “Kuula” was literally the last time I got shivers hearing it in my language. I still keep going back to those songs and sing along whenever I hear them.

Roy Moreno
Roy Moreno
2 years ago
Reply to  Kyna

Estonian is one of the most beautiful languages in the contest, if not the most beautiful one!
I, as well, am still listening to Rändajad and Kuula :3
Even sing them (mostly Kuula as it fits my voice better lol, and I don’t have backing vocals for Rändajad).
I need Estonian again in Eurovision! From Israel <3

Kyna
Kyna
2 years ago
Reply to  Roy Moreno

aww thank you <3 But yes #bringbackEstonianfor2019

Hexular
Hexular
2 years ago
Reply to  Kyna

Problem is our good songwriters don’t want write in Estonian. Most of the Estonian songs sent to Eesti Laul have been fairly amatuerish or just WAY too niche for the general public. And the english songs we send are too generic (GTY is amazing though and Siren was also cool)

I really think Randajad was our best entry ever even though i kind of hate Sven Lõhmus’ music. I want something similar back at ESC.

Kyna
Kyna
2 years ago
Reply to  Hexular

Exactly, even listening to recent Estonian songs on the radios are so average, like they’re good, not that horrible, but absolutely lacklustre. They all sound the same, I can literally tell that it’s Estonian by listening to the style and building of the instrumentals. On one side there are the youngsters (quite frequently amateurs), who tend to have really generic English songs and other side so-called veterans have basic average Estonian songs that won’t really hit the international market. We just need a really strong artist(s) with bomb-ass song, that’s all. We do have good singers, we just lack in… Read more »

Kris
Kris
2 years ago
Reply to  Hexular

Sandra Nurmsalu should have won in 2014

Ana
Ana
2 years ago
Reply to  Kyna

Congratulations for your country 🙂
I’m glad that you loved Non Mi Avete…, it was my favourite also, I felt so emotional about this song and I’m always happy when someone praises it ^^
When it comes to songs in Estonian – I agree. I really like entries from your country (I’ve already written here it’s one of my favourite) but the ones in national language are the best. Kuula and Randajad are already mentioned; I want to add Et Uus Saaks Alguse 😀

Jo.
Jo.
2 years ago

Great! Another top 10 finish to Italy. But no trophy again. I’ve been saving memes for that.

NickC
NickC
2 years ago

I am still crying for France. And don’t tell me it is staging, it is not. it just shows how strong xenophobia in Europe has become. But kudos to France for daring to swim against the tide.

Joshua
Joshua
2 years ago
Reply to  NickC

What d’you mean? They got a respectable place on the left side of the scoreboard.

Ute Hart
Ute Hart
2 years ago

I think the only people whose knowledge of French is limited to “a few years of French at school” are possibly the ones in some English speaking countries (the UK and Australia as far as the ESC is concerned and possibly Ireland as sadly the first second language taught is Irish). Elsewhere in Europe people do have more than a few years of French in many countries and in others they do still watch French tv shows and films and even listen to music in French. I am not even counting the countries where French is the or one of… Read more »

Jo.
Jo.
2 years ago
Reply to  Ute Hart

Italy’s staging was ok, I don’t get why people complained so much about it. When they separate from each other, then Ermal sings that “sad lament note”, I knew the public would respond to that.

ted
ted
2 years ago
Reply to  Ute Hart

Be careful calling the UK “english speaking countries” The UK is made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Welsh, Scottish, Irish languages are used in their respected countries.

Most of us learnt French via Kylie Minogue and her 1988 hit single “je ne sais pas pourpoui”

Mark
Mark
2 years ago

It’s total amount of points one nation can score. So If a country got all the 12 points (1,008 points) they’d finish with 100%. If they got all the 6 points (504 points) they’d end with 50%.

Darth Thulhu
Darth Thulhu
2 years ago

While I am quite happy about the number of native-language entries this year, it’s quite sad to see so many crashing out in the bottom of the Final. I know that this was an exceptionally competitive year, but the only one to rank even remotely well (outside of the obligatory francophilic-French song from France and stylish San Remo Italian song from Italy) was Estonia … and that wasn’t a vote for non-English language appreciation as much as it was a vote for operatic virtuosity in any language. Sadly, there is an undeniable, real penalty to singing mostly in a non-English… Read more »

Mark
Mark
2 years ago
Reply to  Darth Thulhu

The quality this year was the poorest since 2007. I’m not surprised so many songs failed since people don’t know what the songs are about.

Polegend Godgarina
Polegend Godgarina
2 years ago

I would have never expected my country (Italy) to do that well–3rd place in televote and just four points behind hot favorite Cyprus. I don’t understand why the public voted for us so heavily yet the juries completely paid us dust, I would’ve expected it to be the other way round… further proof that the juries don’t vote based on what they should but rather choose what they personally like.

Polegend Godgarina
Polegend Godgarina
2 years ago

We’re still waiting for justice after 2015 haha!

Darth Thulhu
Darth Thulhu
2 years ago

I’m honestly not surprised. Ever since Il Volo got the televote victory but a complete diss from the juries, I’ve been quite jaundiced about how the juries treat non-standard Italian entries. The artists can frequently get their message across to a continent-wide non-Italian audience, but the juries rotely dismiss them for not fitting into a standardized box.

Jo.
Jo.
2 years ago
Reply to  Darth Thulhu

I believe that’s the main problem with the juries. They struggle to accept diversity, with few exceptions.

Marc
Marc
2 years ago

In Sanremo MetaMoro won the televote in a landslide in every single show since the 1st night. Something similar happened with Il Volo. Both smash it.
As for juries we know they love safe generic songs and English so I wasn’t surprise. They are the worst as we well know

Roelof Meesters
Roelof Meesters
2 years ago

The juries SHOULD vote for whoever they like, and they should also think about rtistic value. But if the juries would ONLY think about artistic value and the message, ballads would be the only thing winning Eurovision.

Tibor
Tibor
2 years ago

Because uptempo songs can’t have artistic value? That’s nonsense.