Lauren Gawne writes:
There were the obligatory white pants, smoke machines and flame throwers, as well as a rise in the popularity of female drummers, beards and women showing their knickers to the world. Eurovision 2012 had a very solid final and apart from Sweden’s breakout hit Euphoria (above, a genuinely good dance song with crab-walk dance moves and fake snow) it was difficult to guess who was going to place well.
Fortunately here at Fully (sic) we’re not likely to judge a country on the quality of their bad pop, just what language they chose to belt it out in. Like last year it was a strong showing for English, but with the numbers being boosted to 26 finalists there was a bit more space than last year for some linguistically non-standard ditties to get in there.
The French and Spanish entries performed in their native tongue like they do every year (France deserving to place much higher than 22 for Anggun’s stunning performance). Albania’s Rona Nishliu looked like a character from an old series of Dr. Who, and managed to belt out an operatic number that, while in Albanian, largely fell back on wacky vocal acrobatics to convey the emotion of the song. We also heard songs in national language from Boznia & Herzegovina, Estonia and Serbia. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they were all ballads – an easy genre in which to depict emotion without worrying about details.
Pasha Parfeny from Moldova went for a Moldovan title Lăutar and then sang in English. Embarrassingly, I thought that much of the Can Bonomo’s track was in Turkish, but the whole thing was in English – I blame the raucous over-enthusiasm of our lounge room audience and too much cheese for that one.
There’s a growing trend in having a song in both English and a county’s national language. It makes sense to not have your performance too overwhelmed by misplaced English vowels, but still have a catchy hook everyone can remember without having to rely too heavily on fall-backs like ‘la la la’ and ‘boom boom boom’. We saw this from Italy’s Nina Zilli, Romania’s Mandinga, F. Y. R Macedonia’s Kaliopi (who used English to round out her militaristic power ballad) and the Russian Buranovskiye Babushki were definitely a highlight. The cute grannies with the rotating oven belted out the verses in their native tongue, Udmurt – a Uralic language spoken by fewer than half a million people in Russia and Kazakhstan. to ensure that everyone got the song the crowd-winning chorus broke out into English ‘Party for everybody! Dance! Come on and dance! Come on and dance! Come on and… Boom! Boom!’ It was the only non-national language apart from English in the grand final.
Although the competition was English-heavy there were three non-English songs in the topic five, with the Russian grannies, Serbian balladeer and Albanian time-witch placing second, third and fifth respectively. It lends weight to my general belief that the language of a song is secondary to a good dance routine, catchy riff or wacky premise. With Russia in second place it was also one of the strongest showings for a minority language.
Voting this year was once again an English-fest. Last year France were the only country to give their vote in French, but this year they were joined by the Principality of San Marino, a city-state perhaps attempting to differentiate themselves from Italy, which surrounds them. Several countries, including Denmark, Israel and The Netherlands threw in a smattering of their native tongues to live a local flavour to their votes.
So next year Eurovision is heading to Sweden! I can already say fika and min chef är dum i huvudet (‘my boss is stupid’… it’s a long story, and possibly not useful). Sweden is famed for its proficient English speakers so it’s likely that there will be an even heavier Anglo-presence next year. It’s a bit disappointing.
[This post also appeared on Superlinguo]