“Bonsoir l’Europe!” How languages affect Eurovision scores


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EXPLAINING THE Eurovision Music Contest to an American would possibly go one thing like this: a tacky pop fest that’s low high quality, excessive camp and includes musicians from throughout Europe (plus, confusingly, international locations comparable to Australia and Israel). Greater than 160m persons are anticipated to tune in on Could thirteenth, when Britain hosts the competition’s last on behalf of Ukraine, final yr’s winner.

The voting is usually predictable (although this yr, for the primary time, folks from non-performing international locations can even vote, including some suspense). International locations which can be chummy usually give one another douze factors, the highest mark. The songs are additionally changing into extra predictable, at the very least when it comes to their language. In 1956 seven of the 14 songs had been carried out in French; none was in English. This yr 17 of the 26 are absolutely or partly in English; only one is in French. It’s a shocking pattern given the declining popularity of English within the music trade total.

Songs in English (or partly in English) have gained Eurovision 33 instances; chansons en française 14 instances. That leaves nearly a 3rd of the contests gained in some other language. That is regardless of two intervals (1966-1972 and 1977-1998) throughout which contest guidelines required international locations to sing in their very own languages. Our evaluation of all performances since 1999 exhibits that, on common, songs in languages aside from English obtain 7% fewer factors than these in English. However performers who combine English lyrics with one other language is usually a hit: they obtain 3% extra votes than those that sing in English alone.

Although Eurovision attracts in massive crowds, its winners don’t are inclined to turn into pop sensations (although ABBA, who gained in 1974, and Celine Dion, who gained in 1988 for Switzerland, are exceptions). And the political nature of the competition signifies that acts’ success depends simply as a lot on their international locations’ international relations because the catchiness of their choruses—although it tends to assist if they’re sung in English.

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