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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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!
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 »
France should’ve won. Paris 2019 sounds really nice.
Many people said Albanian isn’t a good language for singing at Eurovision. well…I guess they were proven wrong.
Europe definitely wants diversity at Eurovision. And so do I.
As someone said before, the song just needs the “natural sense of universality”.
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.
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
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 »
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.
Mall, Mercy and Hvala Slay were my favorite 2018 non-English entries.
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!
Your profile pic is really cute, Victor 😉 😀 ?
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.
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 »
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…
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.
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.
Among non-English one songs, I liked the Estonian, French and Armenian ones the best. Serbia also had a decent one.
I ship Bernardo and Robyn <3
I love Mall, very shop centered.
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 »
omg I love Kuula and Randajad.
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.
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
aww thank you <3 But yes #bringbackEstonianfor2019
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.
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 »
Sandra Nurmsalu should have won in 2014
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 😀
Great! Another top 10 finish to Italy. But no trophy again. I’ve been saving memes for that.
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.
What d’you mean? They got a respectable place on the left side of the scoreboard.
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 »
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.
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”
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%.
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 »
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.
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.
We’re still waiting for justice after 2015 haha!
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.
I believe that’s the main problem with the juries. They struggle to accept diversity, with few exceptions.
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
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.