42 Countries participate in Eurovision- Not all get to the Grand Final. There are semi-finals they must go through first.
Five countries are automatically put through to the final every year (United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain and Italy) as they are the major economic contributors to the contest. Also, the winning country are automatically put through to the final. This year its Ukraine.
This year, out of the 42 countries, 35 are singing in English. 7 are singing either in their own language or a foreign language (Not including UK, Ireland and Australia in that). The rules of the Eurovision song contest are ever changing, and that includes the rules on language. From 1966 until 1972 and again from 1978 until 1998, countries were expected to perform songs in one of their national languages. Since 1999 any participating countries can sing in whatever language they prefer. Because of this rule, these days most countries will sing in English.
Over the years, a range of dialects and languages have been used at Eurovision. Ireland have sang in Gaelic (one of their official languages), Finland have sang in Swedish (also an official language). France have sung in Creole, Corsican and Breton. Most will sing in English as the song can reach broader audiences. However this can look unpatriotic to your country and language if you are going to represent your country in a language not spoken by the citizens.
Although singing in English can reach a larger audience, it doesn’t stop other languages from winning the contest. In 1998, Israel won with a song sung completely in Hebrew. In 2004, part of the winning song was sung in Ukrainian. Serbia won in 2007 with a song completely in Serbian. Last year, the winning song contained Crimean Tatar. Proving, as long as you have a powerful song, it shouldn’t matter what language you sing in.
The biggest controversies about language comes from France.
One of the two official languages of Eurovision. There have been times where the song from France has been sung partially in English, which annoyed the French. In 2008 there was outrage that the song representing France was completely in English. Since then if there is English in a song from France, there is only a snippet of English.
Language will always remain a topical issue at Eurovision. With so many languages on the continent, how could it not. The contest has been a yearly event since 1956. Over the years, with all the rule changes the contest has changed considerably! There is even a junior Eurovision contest as there was a rule to prevent children from participating.
So why sing in English?
The statistics show it all. Over the course of Eurovision, 47% of winning songs have been in English. France comes second with 21.2%. In total 14 languages have won at Eurovision. English 47%, French 21.2%, Dutch 4.5%, Hebrew 4.5%, German 3%, Norwegian 3%, Swedish 3%, Italian 3%, Spanish 3%, Danish 1.5%, Croatian 1.5%, Ukrainian 1.5%, Serbian 1.5% and Crimean Tatar 1.5%.
The winning English songs have come from the UK, Ireland, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Turkey, Ukraine, Greece, Finland, Russia, Norway, Germany, Azerbaijan and Austria.
The winning French songs have come from Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Monaco and Belgium.
I might be the wrong person to speak for the nation in this- but don’t you just prefer to hear them sing in their own language??
Obviously, I am a language ‘geek’ so I would love hearing other languages. But, I also have friends who only speak English and love hearing the foreign language songs too. Hearing all the languages can be interesting and at times hilarious when you have the BBC subtitles to go alongside the song. The variation of languages makes the show ‘one of a kind’. Bringing together so many nations, languages and cultures. It is just a pity that these days most of the songs are sung in English.
Over the past few years, the most incredible event to happen to Eurovision was the inclusion of Australia (That country on the other side of the world). Clearly not a European country! Australia first appeared at Eurovision in 2013 in a pre-recorded video titled ‘Greetings from Australia’. This explained why a country on the other side of the world absolutely loved watching Eurovision. They been watching Eurovision for 30 years, though it’s not on a Saturday evening for them! Australia officially marked their debut in 2015 and have been in the contest ever since.
Songs in a foreign language:
- France – French and English
- Portugal– Portuguese
- Spain– Spanish and English
- Hungary– Hungarian
- Croatia– Italian and English
- Belarus– Belarusian
- Italy– Italian
Songs in English:
Albania, Armenia, Austria, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, FYR Macedonia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom
To find out more about the participants of this years Eurovision visit https://eurovision.tv/participants