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Singing in English at the Eurovision 2019 – Are we losing national identities?

April 14, 2019 3 min to read

The first edition of the Eurovision took place back in 1956 when the international music event was organized to unite the people of Europe. This happened in two ways: The first one being a mainly technical challenge in which people tried to enable a live broadcast in multiple countries simultaneously. The second focusing on bringing together different cultures within Europe in a festival of amusement and music. However this might have been successful more than 60 years ago, does the Eurovision still serves its purpose today? An increasing amount of entries perform their songs in another country’s language and yet another country’s style of music. Is national culture and pride losing it to the urge and competitiveness of winning the coveted award?

Why go for English?

Within Europe, most countries speak English as a second, third, or more language. Therefore, if a song is sung in English it is easier to understand the lyrics and meaning of the song. As the Eurovision 2019 winner will once more be decided by both a jury vote and a public vote, you will need to make sure to get popular in both categories. The sing-along-ability gets higher as the lyrics are easily understandable as well, which is also one of the reasons to move away from a national language. Catchy (English) songs tend to get more votes in comparison as we are more used to hearing those on the radio and are therefore accustomed to it.

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This hasn’t always been the case. A scandal took place in ‘65. Sweden was the first country to take the plunge with artist Ingvar Wixell: It was the first time that a full performance in the race was sung in a language that was not an official language of the country being represented. A language rule was enforced in the competition from ‘66 until ‘72 and once more from ‘78 until ‘98. This regulation required all acts to perform in the national language of the corresponding country to make sure culture and language would be portrayed on stage. In ‘99 the European Broadcasting Union abolished the language rule which opened a window of opportunity to all participating countries to perform in English once again.

Even though it is now still legal to perform at the Eurovision in a language other than your national one, some people still oppose the idea. A lot of singers carry an accent while singing in English which can be distracting from the original topic of the song. Over the past years, some countries have tried to mix things up by singing in a different language than English or their national one. For example, Latvia performed in Italian back in 2006 and in ‘12, Romania entered an entirely Spanish song to the competition in honor of their Cuban roots in music.

Sing in English, upgrade your chances?

Put simply: yes. Looking at previous winners of the Eurovision, in general, would suggest chances do improve if you were to perform in a universal language. The Eurovision 2017 had the highest amount of entries that were sung completely in English. French appears to be a popular language as well, as the language has won 14 times in the Eurovision.

This year, out of the 41 countries competing, only ten are fully performing in a language other than the English one. The Eurovision 2019 odds show as well that the English language is attractive to the bookmakers: the top 3 acts in the odds are all in the universal language. Are you getting pumped for the biggest music event of the year as well? Here you can not only see the odds but also listen to all entered songs.

Who are you cheering for in May 2019?

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Remi

Remi is a full-time barber but when he clocks out his other passion is Formula 1 racing, which he enjoys seasonally along with other high adrenaline sports.

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