Monday, May 16, 2016

The Linguistic Diversity of Eurovision 2016

If you love cheesy songs and over-the-top performances, we hope you had the chance to watch the Eurovision Song Contest this past Saturday! While this year's songs seemed a bit more subdued than usual, there was still plenty to enjoy, including a performance by a young German girl who seemed to be wearing every hair accessory in existence.

As we've mentioned in the past, Eurovision has become increasingly monolingual in recent years, with most songs being performed in English. This year was no exception, but there were a handful of songs in the final that displayed a bit of linguistic diversity, so we thought we should look at them today.

First, there's Austria's entry, which was the only song in the final that consisted entirely of lyrics in a language other than English. However, it was somewhat surprising to learn that the song was in French instead of German, the country's official language. "Loin d'ici" was sung by ZOË, an Austrian singer, songwriter and actress, and finished in 13th place.

Not quite as surprisingly, France also performed a song in French, with a bit of English thrown in for good measure. Its upbeat entry was "J'ai cherché" by Amir, a French-Israeli singer and songwriter, with lyrics that include "You're the one that's making me strong, I'll be looking for you like the melody of my song". It ended up in 6th place overall.

One of the stranger performances of the evening was Italy's "Nessun grado di separazione". Italian singer Francesca Michielin performed the song while standing in the middle of some sort of enchanted garden, and ended the song holding an onion. Primarily in Italian with a short section in English, the song finished in 16th place.

Yalta, a city on the Crimean coast.
Another multilingual entry came from Bulgaria, which submitted the song "If Love Was a Crime". While almost all of the lyrics were in English, singer Poli Genova did include a few lines in Bulgarian as well. The song finished in 4th place, making it Bulgaria's highest scoring entry ever.

Last, but certainly not least, there's Ukraine's entry, "1944". Despite causing controversy due to the song's political undertones (since Eurovision songs are not allowed to be political), this haunting song written and performed by Ukrainian singer Jamala won the competition. It was inspired by the mass deportation of Crimean Tatars from Crimea in the 1940s, including the singer's great-grandmother. It features lyrics in both English and Crimean Tatar.

If you're interested in seeing all of these songs (and more), you can find plenty of videos on the official Eurovision Song Contest YouTube channel.