Sometimes Eurovision can feel dominated by English-language songs, but there are always plenty of songs performed in other languages. This year, 11 songs competed in the contest with lyrics other than English. But how did they do? Let’s take a look at the non-English songs that competed at Eurovision 2019.
Note: For this list, we’re including bilingual songs that had some English lyrics, as well as those sung entirely in a non-English language. However, we’re not including songs with predominantly English lyrics that include a few lines in another language, such as those from Norway, Croatia or Denmark.
11. Portugal: Conan Osíris – “Telemóveis”
Place: 15th in the semi-final with 51 points
Portugal has never once given in to the temptation of sending a song with entirely English lyrics. Conan Osíris’s avant-garde “Telemóveis” was performed in Portuguese, with lyrics exploring mobile phones and the afterlife. Sadly, it wasn’t enough to get Portugal back in the grand final, finishing 15th in its semi.
10. Georgia: Oto Nemsadze – “Keep on Going”
Place: 14th in the semi-final with 62 points
For the second year in a row — and the second time ever — Georgia entered a song with lyrics entirely in Georgian. The stirring “Keep on Going”, along with the strong vocals of Oto and his backing singers, created a memorable performance, but unfortunately it placed 14th in its semi-final.
9. Hungary: Joci Pápai – “Az én apám”
Place: 12th in the semi-final with 97 points
Hungary had enjoyed an eight-year qualification streak, and had made the final three times with songs performed entirely in Hungarian. Sadly this came to an end in 2019. While many appreciated “Az én apám” for its heartfelt emotion, it missed out on qualifying, placing 12th in its semi-final.
8. Poland: Tulia – “Fire of Love (Pali się)”
Language: Polish, English
Place: 11th in the semi-final with 120 points
“Fire of Love (Pali się)” was the first time that audiences heard Polish on the Eurovision stage since Donatan & Cleo in 2014. While Tulia’s song had an English intro and outro, it was predominantly sung in Polish. The rock meets folk song placed 11th in its semi, just three points away from qualifying.
7. Spain: Miki – “La Venda”
Place: 22nd in the grand final with 54 points
Spain kept with its general trend of songs with Spanish lyrics. The uplifting “La Venda” captivated televoters, ranking 14th. However, the jury was less convinced and overall Miki’s song placed 22nd in the grand final.
6. Serbia: Nevena Božović – “Kruna”
Place: 18th in the grand final with 89 points
The last time Nevena Božović represented Serbia at Eurovision was in 2013, when Moje 3 missed out on qualifying with”Ljubav je svuda”. It was better luck this time, however, as “Kruna” made it to the grand final, where it placed 18th.
5. Albania: Jonida Maliqi – “Ktheju tokës”
Place: 17th in the grand final with 90 points
Fans were relieved when, for the second year in a row, Albania did not “devamp” the Festivali i Këngës winner into a version with English lyrics. Jonida Maliqi delivered a strong vocal performance with the emotional message of “Ktheju tokës”. The song finished 17th in the grand final.
4. France: Bilal Hassani – “Roi”
Language: French, English
Place: 16th in the grand final with 105 points
“Roi” has the most amount of English in it, but the lyrics are predominantly in French. Bilal Hassini’s “Roi” tells a tale of self-empowerment, and its message resonated with viewers. The song placed 16th in the grand final.
3. Slovenia: Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl – “Sebi”
Place: 15th in the grand final with 105 points
After having mixed results with English-language songs, Slovenia seem to have hit on a more successful formula. For the second year in a row, Slovenia reached the grand final singing in their own language. The intimate “Sebi” placed 15th, Slovenia’s third best result in the past decade.
2. Iceland: Hatari – “Hatrið mun sigra”
Place: 10th in the grand final with 232 points
After languishing for four years in the semi-finals, Iceland finally broke the dry spell with an Icelandic language song. “Hatrið mun sigra” placed tenth in the grand final. Hatari gave Iceland its sixth best result ever, and its best result for the Icelandic language since 1992.
1. Italy: Mahmood – “Soldi”
Place: 2nd in the grand final with 472 points
For the second year in a row, Italy is the country behind the most successful non-English entry. Mahmood’s Sanremo-winning “Soldi” is mostly sung in Italian, but also contains a couple of lines in Arabic, rarely heard at Eurovision. The close second-place finish of “Soldi” established this non-English song was one of the stand-out tracks of Eurovision 2019.
Poll results: What is your favourite non-English song of Eurovision 2019?
Earlier this year we asked wiwibloggs readers what was your favourite non-English song of Eurovision 2019. Echoing the contest results, your favourite was also Mahmood’s “Soldi”. The readers’ second favourite, however, was Conan Osíris with “Telemóveis”, a twist on his semi-final result.
- Italy: “Soldi” – Mahmood 20.37% (1,422 votes)
- Portugal: “Telemóveis” – Conan Osíris 12.89% (900 votes)
- Iceland: “Hatrið Mun Sigra” – Hatari 12.42% (867 votes)
- Albania: “Ktheju Tokës – Jonida Maliqi 11.23% (784 votes)
- Slovenia: “Sebi” – Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl 10.43% (728 votes)
- Spain: “La Venda” – Miki 10.11% (706 votes)
- France: “Roi” – Bilal Hassani 6.75% (471 votes)
- Poland: “Fire of Love (Pali Się)” – Tulia 5.29% (369 votes)
- Serbia: “Kruna” – Nevena Božović 5.27% (368 votes)
- Hungary: “Az én Apám” – Joci Pápai 4.15% (290 votes)
- Georgia: “Keep on Going” – Oto Nemsadze 1.07% (75 votes)
What do you think? Should more countries enter non-English songs? Should the national language rule be reinstated? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Iceland is one of the most liked songs also.
People on here seem to go on and on about national language but they either have ignored or have forgotten that since televoting was introduced and national language rule was dropped that English language songs have been preferred by the voters too. Yes Salvador won but that’s also an exception. Even the televote winner this year was in English. The fact that only two winners were native language says a lot. Voters want native and national only if it’s something spectacular .
Soldi is an example of a wonderful non english song, and it was very close to win this esc: a song in Italian and arabic ! And Mahmood dared to sing not the usual ballads that Italians do very well (as the ballad of Ultimo in Sanremo festival) but an original and unique song.
Soldi is one of the most successful songs of this year and he’s, for many people, “the new Stromae”.
So it is possible to have success with a non english song but it has to be with exceptional quality, I think.
Juries really damaged Serbia. If just televote it would have got 11th, which is closer it should have ended up in my opinion.
They shouldn’t allow only 5 people to have 50% of a country’s votes – that is too much power and promotes corruption.
Albania this year was the best
hatrid mun sigra!
my ideal stage design of Eurovision 2020
soldi being the commercial winner of this edition despite being in italian should ring a bell for other countries to send more modern, urban songs
How is Soldi the commercial winner?
There is barely any difference in chart success between Arcade and Soldi.
Maybe you should have a look at Soldi’s and Arcade’s English wiki pages and examine the charts stats. Both songs have similar success in the charts.
You should look more than just wiki pages. Not everyone is free enough to look up all the details and upload them on wikipedia.
There’re other charts releated to Itunes, spotify or apple musics as well.
UK could learn from them!
The were only few non-english entries appreciated by the juries since 2009
– France 2009
– Italy 2011 (OK, partly sung in English…)
– Estonia 2012
– Albania 2012
– Spain 2012
– Portugal 2017
– Albania 2018
– Italy 2019
Please correct me, if I had forgotten something to mention
No, I wrote “Non-english entries”
I get the joke 🙂
2012 was LIT for non-English songs.
Juries not supporting non-english songs is a major crime and so outrageous. Let‘s get rid off all these pop radio, pop record label managers and former contestants on the panels. We need real experts or an amateur panel like before.
Another reason for claiming to reform rigorously the jury system ! I don´t wanna abolish them….
France has English in it and so does Serbia so why was Croatia not there and the best one is Albania
The lyrics of Croatia are English for the most part, with only a couple lines in Croatian. France and Serbia are mostly in French and Serbian respectively, and only include a few English lines.
Yet it still has a minuet or so in Croatian I hate the song
It would be great to see more countries not singing in English. I would also love to see the UK enter a song in Welsh.
That would be great ! UK have nothing to loose anyway….
Too many good non-English songs to choose from. Italy is my favourite.
Otherwise there are a lot of countries gonna fail every year with songs in English….
Sometimes could a song jn native language so much better but the responsable persons do not dare.
Moreover: The ESC have nothing to do with the habitual pop culture.
Following your logic, which is well articulated, are you effectively saying that the UK, Ireland and Australia are currently disadvantaged because lots of countries sing in their language, and ergo, they lose some of their unique appeal? For example, if there were 15 Soldi-type songs sung in Italian in the competition, would Mahmood have done as well as he did? I often think the native English-speaking countries get a bad press partly because English is saturating the competition. English is not the language of the world, it is the language of the English (and English speaking countries) – is there… Read more »
No, in France, Italy and Spain the native language dominates.
And what was the reason for Salvador`s victory two years ago?
No, I don´t. In the spanish charts the highest rank for an english song is actually #11. In the Top 10 are only songs in Spanish and surprisingly “Soldi”.
These all are not convincing me, sorry….
I understand where you are coming from, but I would caution comparing North Macedonia to Serbia. With the former, it was clearly a “message” song – ie, women’s empowerment. Those type of songs always do well in Eurovision, regardless of language, and as I understand the Serbian song, it did not have the same message. There were plenty of English-language ballads which did awfully – see Moldova, UK, Montenegro, Germany. I really don’t believe language is as important as you state. Also, you didn’t address my comment that it is unfair to English-speaking countries having other countries sing in English,… Read more »
Well Serbia sent a “women’s empowerment” song in English in 2016, with Sanja Vucic’s “Goodbye” about leaving an abusive relationship and striking out on one’s own, yet it only got 18th place.
The fact is ‘North’ Macedonia was rewarded for its name change – which the majority of Macedonians did not want. It was forced through by a puppet government.
Eurovision was used politically to boost Macedonian’s new name of North Macedonia.
Soldi is having a lot of success everywhere -Israel Spain Lithuania Greece Sweden, aldo the Netherlands…
I don’t know if being in English it would have won, maybe yes; but it’s fantastic to see a catchy, deep, autobiographic Italian “marocco pop” song loved everywhere !
Personally in my opinion “Soldi” is beside “Kuula”, “Kedveszem”, “Birds”, “Love injected” and “Amar pelos dois” one of the best entries in this ESC-Decade and four of them we´re not sung in English….
I was talking to Tibor and Colin on a different post about how the juries were harsh to non-English entries. And I believe Tibor summarized quite well in the comment here: the jury tend to rewards what’s mainstream, even about the language of the song. Which in my opinion reflects the lack of diversity on their composition. The audience, that would have an excuse to not go to songs in a language they can’t understand, is much more open to foreign languages than the music experts, that were supposed to put quality before anything else.
But they choose Salvador as their winner, but is was an exception…..
True. Let’s say the juries won’t stop a phenomenon to happen, but usually put songs that should be in the middle of the road in the end of the scoreboard and borderline qualifiers end up eliminated.
Yeah, we can drop the “much”. But I feel that the televote can embrace easier something that challenges them. When the logic would be for the juries to behave like that. Hatari was a perfect example of that. Also Conan, that did badly with both, but much worst with the juries.
In 2015 a non English song would have won with the televotes (Italy) but was downvoted by the juries.
Germany needs to sing in German, They will blow everyone’s mind
I absolutely agree with you !
They seem to be very averse to their own language in the ESC…like they are scared to send something unique and genuine, rather than the generic anglo stuff they’ve been sending for years.
With the exception of last year´s entry, although personally me prefer another musical styles for Germany to ESC.
Woki no dem popo
That was Austria
It´s not idle talk !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And what should do Ireland (except 2018) und UK ? They can´t blame their failures to the language….
In my opinion THIS is the main reason for an eventual success at ESC: The quality at all and not the language !
Belarus is not included In list ? It was also in native language !! Gibberish with Russian accent?
Belarus was the greatest crap of all this year…. Poland and Hungary deserved the final so much more !
I know winning is not everything, but consider this: 21 contests since language rule ended, and only 4 winners completely/partially in a non-english language.
How sad is that?
Considering we have had 6-12 non English songs each year the past few years out of 37-43 , it seems like 4/21 is a proportional ratio
Some people say that countries ‘need to send songs in their native language,’ but what they don’t remember that some languages just aren’t as melodic as others- as a Dutchie I can say that our language just isn’t as nice to the ears- especially for someone in Moldova or Azerbaijan. But for the lovers of native languages JESC is a great place to discover more languages- even Irish and Azerbaijani!
True, you can also see it when looking at Belgium’s results before ’99. All top 3 results were sung in French. Most last place results were sung in Dutch.
If the song is melodic and catchy enough, who cares whether the language sounds “good” or not. It’s like you guys are allergic to singing in your own language or something. A shame, really.
That’s true, the problem is not the language but how accessible the sound and the melody are to foreigners.
Edsilia finished 4th singing in Dutch and that was pretty good.
But on the other hand, there’s Sieneke…. (a very traumatic recent attempt)
The lyrics of “Hemel en Aarde” were specifically written to avoid any of the hard sounds like G and K.
Vrede is one of my favourite Dutch entries ever, but the English version, though well sung, has appalling lyrics about a giant mouse. Juries would not enjoy that. And I think Tikke-tikke-tak would have won just as well as Ding-a-dong
Would be fun if Ireland sang in Irish.
UK sang in Welsh
Honestly Celtic languages are quite melodic. Considering Ireland’s last victory was with a very Celtic inspired song, this might work. At least you couldn’t accuse them of being generic.
Over the last 20 years, 17 out of the 20 last places were also sung in English. If I follow your train of thoughts, that means that singing in English is also a great way to place last. You’re making a common statistical mistake which is you’re mixing up causality and correlation. English is correlated with winning because more songs in English participate: with 30 out of 40 songs in English, of course there’s a much higher chance that the winning song is in there. That doesn’t mean that it’s the English that makes it win… I don’t agree with… Read more »
I did read your comment, and I still don’t agree. The UK and Ireland only started cru shing this game in the 90s (with 5 wins and 5 runner up positions among these 2), and I do think that’s because they sent a bunch of great songs. Before that songs in French were actually a lot more popular: by the early 90s, 14 songs in French had won, 15 in another language and only… 9 in English (that’s only a 25% ratio). If what you say is right, why didn’t the golden age of English songs happen before that? Why… Read more »
Because French chanson was very popular in the fifties and sixties. There was no such thing as English language pop music.
I still believe the “jury not rewarding native songs” has something to do with Bjorkman, but generally, singing in native language can be a disadvantage in the name of accessibility. Well, 2020, bring me more native and disprove my theory.
It’s sad because in relation to what you said, some countries would resort to having half-native language and half-English language in their songs hoping to score higher from the juries and televotes. At least it worked for some.
I don’t think sending a pop song in English is a safe way. They can be very underrated sometimes, like Bulgaria 2018 and Cyprus 2012 etcetc.
The worst example in this category is Spain 2016. For me personally was it absolute cheap and horrible to hear “my” Spaniards singing in English – fortunately it failed well, especially the televoters almost ignored it.
Germany ist a very particular case…..
The outcome is…more English next year, thanks to our “professional” juries.
Nope. Portugal, Georgia, Croatia, Italy, Iceland, Serbia, Albania, Spain and Slovenia all got more points from the televoters than from the juries. The only exceptions are Hungary and France.
Albania can go to h e ll with their screams, but Spain is a crime. And most of all… Italy. Enjoy your win Netherlands, but you must know Italy was better.
In Albania we say: Na rrufsh bolet.
And you need to get over yourself and surpass your depression … there is Eurovision in 2020 again … live life in the meantime …
If Italy was so much better than the Netherlands, why did it not win? It came 3rd in Televote and 4th with the Jury’s, so what are you talking about??
It could have won, there were only 26 points left. And Netherlands also didn’t win neither the Televote nor the Jury’s vote.
Eurovision is decided by 50% jury vote and 50% tele vote. So the only thing that matters is who got most points in that combined vote.
And you can spin it as much as you want but Italy got less jury points and less tele vote points then the Netherlands.
Exactly, that’s what i mean..
Yes but also blogs like this or the bookmakers can have a part of responsability on influencing the votes …they placed italy as 6th or 7th the days before the final and put arcade as the announced and sure winner. Also duncan was annoyed by that! Without all this promotion for arcade I don’t know if the winner would be arcade or soldi.
Sincerely, without polemic
I like both Duncan and Mahmood, but I prefer the italian song more.
Yes it is all a big conspiracy against poor Italy.
Most viewers don’t even read any Eurovision fansites. They just vote for the songs they like best.
Duncan only lost the jury vote by 10 points, purely because the juries of Italy, Azerbaijan and Russia didn’t give him any points for strategic reasons.
I wouldn’t say the Italian jury vote was strategical, it’s random every year. They gave 12 points to Barei , Dihaj, Rybak and now Leonora, not to mention they blanked Euphoria. It’s a disgrace.
Serbia, Albania and Poland were all ROBBED. Slovenia’s performance left me feeling a little cold but the song alone makes it deserving of a higher place. Ugh. In another year where the final isn’t as strong, these songs could have been contenders for top 10 spots.
I know Noway’s was predominantly in English but the small part in the native tongue must have helped them win the televote?
Norway had an amazing live arena performance and yes Fred’s part was very strong . That moment with Fred joiking and the fire was very effective and memorable.
Actually, Hungary qualified 4 times singing entirely in Hungarian, in 2005, 2013, 2017 and 2018
I will always be a Serhat fan. You can enjoy your beloved f a r t s.
Non talented singers do also have their own fans … I mean if Britney Spears has had hers for 20 years … so can a dentist …
As a native English speaker, I do wonder why so many artists choose to sing their song in English. I suppose it is to make the song as accessible as possible, but two of my favourites this year were Italy and Iceland, so I really don’t think language matters, it is the quality and emotion in the song that counts. Plus, if you are not a native English speaker and try to write in English, you run the risk of getting the meaning wrong or it being misinterpreted. A few examples: “I’ll swallow hard” – doesn’t get across what Sergei… Read more »
Strangely enough, the swallowing hard thing comes from a native speaking songwriter. I mean, Croatia and Lithuania as well, in part. Rather sad, actually.
That’s interesting, I didn’t realise native English speaking writers were involved as well. I guess this proves that writing is a tricky business, so perhaps more reason to stick with what you know best?
Sometimes the English lyrics confuse me grammatically. Like why “when she go low, she go so low” rather than “goes”? Flashing back to two years ago, why “it don’t come easy” instead of”it doesn’t come easy”? It is not what the teachers teach in kindergarten.
And the obvious confusion with “solo” in that song brings a wonderful, alternative meaning to that song.
The Victorian in me would say, “well, they are not singing English anyway!”
It’s a compromise to make it sound better. Singing those lines with gramatically correct words can ‘grate your ears’, according to these songwriters.
Duncan wouldn’t have won if he had sung in Dutch. People call Dutch an ugly language.
That is also why the language rule shouldn’t be reinstated. Countries that speak languages that are considered ugly are at a clear disadvantage in that case.
I like the dutch language, but I have to confess that “Arcade” certainly sounds better in English.
Quite interesting that we have a full row of non-English song qualifiers placing 15th to 18th back to back.
“Should the national language rule be reinstated?” Uhm, should I shock y’all?
I thought about all National Finals being presented – not the songs! just the moderation! – in English, due to respect for the foreign fans. Watching things like Eesti Laul without understanding a word is no fun at all, whereas Australia Decides was a pleasure for my ears and my brain 😀
The NFs are there for the locals to decide THEIR country’s representative, not for you to have every single word explained to you. I hope the nation of Estonia will continue to disrespect the hell out of you.
I thought that this reaction would happen ofc, but let me say 1 thing: Estonia was just an example. I would also insist that MY National Final in Germany is presented in English, so that YOU can understand the show. Isn’t that kind of me? 🙂
German is my mother tongue and it would not be kind if I had to endure someone blabbering in English with an awful German accent for two hours, unless it’s Barbara Schöneberger.
And yes, of course that reaction was going to happen. If not from me, it would have come from literally anyone else who is sane on here.
“Who is sane on here” 😀 LOL. Well, sometimes you just have to think about things and spinnin’ around a bit 😀 National Finals are becoming international events and I wouldn’t mind a bit of “Welcome Eurovision fans from all over the world to our National Final, let’s celebrate music together” 😀
Knowing full well those fans are likely to watch their shows through pirated means. How often do most lift the geoblock on their respective livestreams?
Agree, @James, that would be the next problem we have to solve. It is insane that Eurovision National Finals are not open to watch for the whole world. I mean from what I read here, Americans even have problems to watch Eurovision itself. This cannot be the case in 21st century in a contest of bringing people together…
For me it´s not insane. The national finals are at first for the public at home…. You can exagerate the crazyness about English language.
Please say this to Portugal, Spain, France and Italy …
It will be never happen ! It´s better to broadcast with subtitles, just like in Finland during every performance at ESC. Where´s the problem for you ?
Dream on, boy, dream on….
Will the Italians stage a riot if Sanremo is won by an English song?
The Italian music industry doesn’t seem like the type that depends solely on monolingual English songs to sell records, and it shows on Sanremo.
In sanremo songs have to be in Italian….
For me “Celebrate Diversity” would also mean, seeing an Italian artist singing in English one year, then an Italian entry, the 3rd year sth bilingual, etc. (I know my concepts are very open-minded and international and it annoys some people… Sometimes I’m too philosophic ^^)
In fact, I am not against the idea of countries selecting English songs. If all countries send songs in their native languages, how could I enjoy singing along? I would only be able to sing UK and Australian songs! (well, maybe a bit Italian) Singing the songs is a part of enjoyment in Eurovision. Plus, we would not have heard Loin d’ici and La Forza if Austria and Estonia had to send German and Estonian songs. Having said that, I started learning Italian two years ago partly because of Occidentali’s Karma, and being able to watch Sanremo and understand a… Read more »
What´s your opinion about a song in German, Swedish or Azeri (Never or long time not happened anymore at ESC) ? Or song for UK in Welsh ? This I call DIVERSITY, too. Europa have so many languages and this sounds very interesting.
@Mr X: My opinion about a song in German? Roger Cicero was amazing in 2007! <3
No, a song in German for the future….
Yes, the national language rule should be reinstated !
All of these except Italy were severely underrated by juries.
Agree but Italy could be placed even higher by juries (
that’s why I said severely, Italy was still underrated but not as badly as the others.
Italy could’ve won, if the juries would’ve respect it more. North-Macedonia and Sweden over Italy, really juries?
The same is true for the Netherlands. Arcade and Soldi were both clearly better than Proud and Too Late For Love.
Every freaking year Malta is overrated by Juries , the one year they actually send a current, quality song they are like ohk let’s give you 75 points
Italy did better with the public, and the juries tried to save Hungary.
Hungary was losted even before ESC