As Eurovision is a song contest, all competing entries must include vocals and lyrics of some kind; purely instrumental pieces have never been allowed. Presently competing entries may be performed in any language, be that natural or constructed, however the rules on the language(s) in which a country’s entry may be performed have varied over the course of the contest’s history.
From 1956 to 1965, there were no rules in place to dictate which language a country may perform in, however all entries up to 1964 were performed in one of their countries’ national languages. In 1965 Sweden broke with this tradition by being performed in English; a new language rule was subsequently introduced for the 1966 contest for all competing countries, preventing entries from being performed in any language other than one of the relevant country’s officially recognised national languages.
The language rule was first abolished in 1973, allowing all participating countries to sing in the language of their choice; the rule was reintroduced ahead of the 1977 contest, however as the process for choosing the entries for Belgium and Germany had already begun before the rule change was announced, they were permitted to perform in English for that year’s edition. The language rule was abolished once again in 1999, resulting in 14 of that year’s 23 competing entries featuring English lyrics.
Since the abolition of the language rule, the large majority of entries at each year’s contest are now performed in English, given its status as a lingua franca; at the 2017 contest, only four songs did not contain any English lyrics. Following Salvador Sobral’s victory in that year’s contest with a song in Portuguese, however, the 2018 contest in Lisbon marked an increased number of entries in another language than English, a trend which was repeated in 2019.In 2021, the first, second, and third places were all won by non-English songs for the first time since 1995.
The freedom of language has, however, provided opportunities for artists to perform songs which would not have been possible previously, with a number of competing entries in this millenium having been performed in an invented language, and artists have also used this linguistic freedom to perform in languages other than English which are also not official languages of their country.
As the contest is presented in both English and French, at least one of the contest’s hosts must be able to speak French as well as English.
The following is a list of languages used in the Eurovision Song Contest since its inception in 1956, including songs (as) performed in finals and, since 2004, semi-finals.
The rules concerning the language of the entries have been changed several times. In the past, the Contest’s organisers have sometimes compelled countries to only sing in their own national languages, but since 1999 no such restriction has existed.
Rule changes. From 1956 until 1965, there was no rule restricting the language(s) in which the songs could be sung. For example, in the 1965 Contest, Ingvar Wixell of Sweden sang his song in English. However, in 1965, a rule was imposed that a song must be performed in one of the official languages of the country participating. For seven years, this new language policy remained in place until 1973 when it was officially revoked from the official rules of the Eurovision Song Contest.
From 1973 to 1976 inclusive, participants were allowed to enter songs in any language. Several winners took advantage of this, with songs in English by countries where other languages are spoken, this included ABBA’s Waterloo in 1974 for Sweden and Teach-In’s Ding-a-dong for The Netherlands in 1975.
In 1977, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the Contest’s organisers, reimposed the national language restriction. However, Germany and Belgium were given a special dispensation to use English, as their national song selection procedures were already too advanced to change. During the language rule, the only countries which were allowed to sing in English were Ireland, Malta and the United Kingdom as English is an official language in those countries. The restriction was imposed from 1977 to 1998.
From 1999 onward, a free choice of language was again allowed. Since then, several countries have chosen songs that mixed languages, often English and their national language. Prior to that, songs such as Croatia’s “Don’t Ever Cry” (1993), Austria’s “One Step” and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s “Goodbye” (1997) had a title and one line of the song in a non-native language. In 1994 Poland caused a scandal when Edyta Górniak broke the rules by singing her song in English during the dress rehearsal (which is shown to the juries who selected the winner). Only six countries demanded that Poland should be disqualified, and, with the rules requiring at least 13 countries to complain, the proposed removal did not occur.
Since 2000 some songs have used fictional or non-existent languages: the Belgian entries in 2003 (“Sanomi”) and 2008 (“O Julissi”) were entirely in fictional languages. In 2006 the Dutch entry, “Amambanda”, was sung partly in English and partly in a fictional language.
The entry which used the most languages was “It’s Just a Game”, sung by the Bendik Singers for Norway in 1973. It was performed in English and French, with some lyrics in Spanish, Italian, Dutch, German, Irish, Serbo-Croatian, Hebrew, Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian. In 2012 Bulgaria was represented by the song “Love Unlimited” sung by Sofi Marinova, which mainly had lyrics in Bulgarian, but with phrases in Turkish, Greek, Spanish, Serbo-Croatian, French, Romani, Italian, Azerbaijani, Arabic and English. 1969 Yugoslav entry “Pozdrav svijetu” was mainly sung in Croatian, but also had phrases in Spanish, German, French, English, Dutch, Italian, Russian and Finnish.
As of 2021, only one country never entered a song in one or more of their national languages – Monaco has never used Monégasque, its traditional national language.
On the other hand, as of 2021, there are only ten countries whose representatives have performed all their songs at least partially in an official, regional or national language: Andorra, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco and Morocco. In addition, former countries Serbia and Montenegro, Yugoslavia, and current countries Australia, Ireland, Malta and the United Kingdom, have only been represented by songs fully in an official language.
Criticism. French legislator François-Michel Gonnot criticised French television and launched an official complaint in the French Parliament, as the song which represented France in 2008, “Divine”, was sung in English. A similar incident occurred again in 2014, when Spanish artist Ruth Lorenzo was criticised by the Royal Spanish Academy after the Spanish national selection for singing her entry, Dancing in the Rain, with some lyrics in English.
Languages and their first appearance. Languages are fully counted below when they are used in at least an entire verse or chorus of a song. First brief uses of a language are also noted.
|Country||First performer||First song|
|1||Dutch||1956||Netherlands||Jetty Paerl||“De vogels van Holland”|
|2||German||Switzerland||Lys Assia||“Das alte Karussell”|
|3||French||Belgium||Fud Leclerc||“Messieurs les noyés de la Seine”|
|4||Italian||Italy||Franca Raimondi||“Aprite le finestre”|
|5||English||1957||United Kingdom||Patricia Bredin||“All”|
|–||phrases in Spanish||Germany||Margot Hielscher||“Telefon, Telefon”|
|6||Danish||Denmark||Birthe Wilke & Gustav Winckler||“Skibet skal sejle i nat”|
|7||Swedish||1958||Sweden||Alice Babs||“Lilla stjärna”|
|8||Luxembourgish||1960||Luxembourg||Camillo Felgen||“So laang we’s du do bast”|
|9||Norwegian||Norway||Nora Brockstedt||“Voi voi”|
|–||title in Sámi|
|10||Spanish||1961||Spain||Conchita Bautista||“Estando contigo”|
|11||Finnish||Finland||Laila Kinnunen||“Valoa ikkunassa”|
|12||Serbo-Croatian[N 1]||Yugoslavia||Ljiljana Petrović||“Neke davne zvezde” (Неке давне звезде)|
|14||Slovene||1966||Yugoslavia||Berta Ambrož||“Brez besed”|
|–||phrases in Russian||1969||Ivan & M’s||“Pozdrav svijetu” (Поздрав свијету)|
|15||Viennese (dialect of German)||1971||Austria||Marianne Mendt||“Musik”|
|16||Maltese||Malta||Joe Grech||“Marija l-Maltija”|
|17||Irish||1972||Ireland||Sandie Jones||“Ceol an ghrá”|
|18||Hebrew||1973||Israel||Ilanit||“Ey Sham” (אי שם)|
|19||Greek||1974||Greece||Marinella||“Krasi, thalassa kai t’agori mou” (Κρασί, θάλασσα και τ’αγόρι μου)|
|20||Turkish||1975||Turkey||Semiha Yankı||“Seninle Bir Dakika”|
|–||title in Latin||1977||Finland||Monica Aspelund||“Lapponia”|
|21||Arabic||1980||Morocco||Samira Said||“Bitaqat Hub” (بطاقة حب)|
|–||phrases in Northern Sámi||Norway||Sverre Kjelsberg & Mattis Hætta||“Sámiid ædnan”|
|23||Romansh||1989||Switzerland||Furbaz||“Viver senza tei”|
|24||Neapolitan||1991||Italy||Peppino di Capri||“Comme è ddoce ‘o mare”|
|25||Antillean Creole||1992||France||Kali||“Monté la riviè”|
|26||Serbian (variety of Serbo-Croatian)[N 1]||1992||Yugoslavia||Extra Nena||“Ljubim te pesmama” (Љубим те песмама)|
|–||phrases in Corsican||1993||France||Patrick Fiori||“Mama Corsica”|
|27||Bosnian (variety of Serbo-Croatian)[N 1]||Bosnia and Herzegovina||Fazla||“Sva bol svijeta”|
|28||Croatian (variety of Serbo-Croatian)[N 1]||Croatia||Put||“Don’t Ever Cry”|
|29||Estonian||1994||Estonia||Silvi Vrait||“Nagu merelaine”|
|30||Romanian||Romania||Dan Bittman||“Dincolo de nori”|
|31||Slovak||Slovakia||Martin Ďurinda & Tublatanka||“Nekonečná pieseň”|
|32||Lithuanian||Lithuania||Ovidijus Vyšniauskas||“Lopšinė mylimai”|
|33||Hungarian||Hungary||Friderika Bayer||“Kinek mondjam el vétkeimet?”|
|34||Russian||Russia||Youddiph||“Vechnyy strannik” (Вечный стрaнник)|
|35||Polish||Poland||Edyta Górniak||“To nie ja!”|
|–||phrases in Ancient Greek||1995||Greece||Elina Konstantopoulou||“Pia prosefhi” (Ποιά προσευχή)|
|36||Vorarlbergish (dialect of German)||1996||Austria||George Nussbaumer||“Weil’s dr guat got”|
|37||Breton||France||Dan Ar Braz & l’Héritage des Celtes||“Diwanit bugale”|
|38||Macedonian||1998||Macedonia||Vlado Janevski||“Ne zori, zoro” (Не зори, зоро)|
|39||Samogitian (dialect of Lithuanian)||1999||Lithuania||Aistė||“Strazdas”|
|40||Styrian (dialect of German)||2003||Austria||Alf Poier||“Weil der Mensch zählt”|
|41||Imaginary language||Belgium||Urban Trad||“Sanomi”|
|42||Latvian||2004||Latvia||Fomins & Kleins||“Dziesma par laimi”|
|43||Catalan||Andorra||Marta Roure||“Jugarem a estimar-nos”|
|44||lines in Ukrainian||Ukraine||Ruslana||“Wild Dances”|
|46||lines in sign language||2005||Latvia||Walters & Kazha||“The War Is Not Over”|
|47||Montenegrin (variety of Serbo-Croatian)[N 1]||2005||Serbia and Montenegro||No Name||“Zauvijek moja” (Заувијек моја)|
|48||Albanian||2006||Albania||Luiz Ejlli||“Zjarr e ftohtë”|
|–||phrases in Tahitian||Monaco||Séverine Ferrer||“La coco-dance”|
|–||phrases in Andalusian Spanish||Spain||Las Ketchup||“Un Blodymary”|
|–||phrases in Italo-Dalmatian||Croatia||Severina||“Moja štikla”|
|49||Bulgarian||2007||Bulgaria||Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankoulov||“Water”|
|50||Czech||Czech Republic||Kabát||“Malá dáma”|
|–||phrases in Armenian||Armenia||Hayko||“Anytime You Need”|
|–||phrases in Romani||2009||Czech Republic||Gipsy.cz||“Aven Romale”|
|51||lines in Armenian||Armenia||Inga and Anush||“Jan Jan” (Ջան Ջան)|
|–||phrases in Karelian (dialect of Finnish)||2010||Finland||Kuunkuiskaajat||“Työlki ellää”|
|–||phrases in Swahili||2011||Norway||Stella Mwangi||“Haba Haba”|
|–||Gheg Albanian||2012||Albania||Rona Nishliu||“Suus”|
|53||Udmurt||Russia||Buranovskiye Babushki||“Party for Everybody”|
|54||Mühlviertlerisch (dialect of German)||Austria||Trackshittaz||“Woki mit deim Popo”|
|–||phrases in Azerbaijani||Bulgaria||Sofi Marinova||“Love Unlimited”|
|–||phrases in Georgian||Georgia||Anri Jokhadze||“I’m a Joker”|
|55||lines in Romani||2013||Macedonia||Esma & Lozano||“Pred da se razdeni”|
|–||Chakavian (dialect of Croatian)||Croatia||Klapa s Mora||“Mižerja”|
|–||phrases in Pontic Greek||2016||Greece||Argo||“Utopian Land”|
|56||lines in Crimean Tatar||Ukraine||Jamala||“1944”|
|57||Belarusian||2017||Belarus||Naviband||“Historyja majho žyccia” (Гісторыя майго жыцця)|
|–||phrases in Sanskrit||Italy||Francesco Gabbani||“Occidentali’s Karma”|
|–||phrases in Japanese||2018||Israel||Netta||“Toy”|
|58||Georgian||Georgia||Ethno-Jazz Band Iriao||“For You”|
|–||phrases in Torlakian (dialect of Serbian)||Serbia||Sanja Ilić & Balkanika||“Nova deca” (Нова деца)|
|–||phrases in Abkhaz||2019||Georgia||Oto Nemsadze||“Keep on Going” (სულ წინ იარე)|
|–||phrases in Amharic||2020||Israel||Eden Alene||“Feker Libi” (ፍቅር ልቤ)|
|59||lines in Sranan Tongo||2021||Netherlands||Jeangu Macrooy||“Birth of a New Age”|
Winners by language
- Serbo-Croatian is the name given to the pluricentric language to which Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian and Montenegrin belong. At the time of Yugoslavia’s existence there was little distinction between the four standard varieties: the term Croatian came into use during the 1970s; Serbian and Bosnian evolved politically in the 1990s, and Montenegrin in the 2000s. Varying sources outline the language in which Yugoslav entries were performed differently, and another view is that the first entry performed by an artist from each Yugoslav constituent republic can be considered the first for their respective languages: “Neke davne zvezde” for Serbian in 1961, “Brodovi” for Croatian in 1963, “Život je sklopio krug” for Bosnian in 1964, and “Džuli” for Montenegrin in 1983.
- This song was partially sung in Ukrainian.
- [N 3] This song was partially sung in Crimean Tatar.
From the first Contest in 1956 until 1965, and again from 1973 until 1976 there was no restriction on language. From 1966 until 1972, and again from 1978 until 1998, songs were required to be performed in a national language. The national language rule was actually instituted shortly before the 1977 Contest, but some countries had already selected non-national language entries, and they were allowed to enter without any changes.
Languages in the national selections. This list presents the languages that have appeared in national selection songs but haven’t managed to represent their country at Eurovision. Phrases of Northern Sámi have appeared at Eurovision, but not a complete song.
Julie & Nina
“League of Light”
|1979||Faroese||Annika Hoydal||“Bølgen (Aldan)”|
|West Frisian||Netherlands||Gina de Wit
|“Hjir is it begjin”
“Tusken skimer en ljocht”
|Northern Sámi||Norway||Ann-Mari Andersen
Elin & The Woods
“First Step in Faith (Oadjebasvuhtii)”
“We Are As One”
|2008||Silesian||Czech Republic||Čechomor||“Józef, mój kochany”|
|Livonian||Latvia||Kristīne Kārkla-Puriņa||“Rišti räšti”|
|phrases in Southern Sámi||Sweden||Jon Henrik Fjällgren||“Jag är fri (Manne leam frijje)”
“En värld full av strider (Eatneme gusnie jeenh dåaroeh)”
|2016||phrases in Yoruba||Finland||ClemSO||“Thief”|
|2019||phrases in Pitjantjatjara||Australia||Electric Fields||“2000 and Whatever”|
|phrases in Tagalog||Romania||Bella Santiago||“Army of Love”|
Winners by language. Between 1966 and 1972, and again between 1977 and 1998, countries were only permitted to perform in their own language; see the main Eurovision Song Contest article.
Since the rule change, only three songs in non-English languages have won: Serbia’s “Molitva” in 2007 (Serbian), Portugal’s “Amar pelos dois” in 2017 (Portuguese), and Italy’s “Zitti e buoni” in 2021 (Italian). Also, Ukraine’s winning entries in 2004 and 2016 combined lyrics in English with Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar, respectively.
In 2017 “Amar pelos dois” became the first Portuguese-language song to win the contest, the first winner since 2007 to both be in a language that had never produced a winning song before and be entirely in a language other than English. Among all Eurovision winning entries, only Ukraine’s were performed in more than one language.
2021 was the first year since 1995, and the first since the rules were changed to allow the use of any language, that the top three songs were all sung in a non-English language: Italian (first) and French (second and third).
|33||English||1967, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004,[N 2] 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,[N 3] 2018,[N 4] 2019||United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Turkey, Ukraine, Greece, Finland, Russia, Norway, Germany, Azerbaijan, Austria, Israel|
|14||French||1956, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1965, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1977, 1983, 1986, 1988||Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Monaco, Belgium|
|3||Dutch||1957, 1959, 1969||Netherlands|
|Hebrew||1978, 1979, 1998||Israel|
|Italian||1964, 1990, 2021||Italy|
|2||German||1966, 1982||Austria, Germany|
|Serbo-Croatian[N 5]||1989||Yugoslavia[N 5]|
|Ukrainian||2004[N 2]||Ukraine[N 2]|
|Crimean Tatar||2016[N 3]||Ukraine[N 3]|
Entries in imaginary languages. Three times in the history of the contest, songs have been sung, wholly or partially, in imaginary languages.
Performances with sign languages. Some performances have included phrases in sign languages on stage.
|2005||Latvia||Walters & Kazha||“The War Is Not Over”|
|2006||Poland||Ich Troje||“Follow My Heart”|
|2011||Lithuania||Evelina Sašenko||“C’est ma vie”|
|2015||Serbia||Bojana Stamenov||“Beauty Never Lies”|
The best placed entry in each language. This list presents the highest placed song by each language. Songs performed only partially in the given language that have placed higher than the ones completely in that language are included too.
|Language||Most recent year||Country||Performer||Song|
|33 wins||English||2019||Netherlands||Duncan Laurence||“Arcade”|
|14 wins||French||1988||Switzerland||Céline Dion||“Ne partez pas sans moi”|
|4 wins||Hebrew||1998||Israel||Dana International||“Diva” (דיווה)|
|phrases in Hebrew||2018||Netta||“Toy”|
|3 wins||Dutch||1969||Netherlands||Lenny Kuhr||“De troubadour”|
|2 wins||Norwegian||1995||Norway||Secret Garden||“Nocturne”|
|Swedish||1991||Sweden||Carola||“Fångad av en stormvind”|
|Italian||1990||Italy||Toto Cutugno||“Insieme: 1992”|
|German||1982||Germany||Nicole||“Ein bißchen Frieden”|
|win||Portuguese||2017||Portugal||Salvador Sobral||“Amar pelos dois”|
|Serbian||2007||Serbia||Marija Šerifović||“Molitva” (Молитва)|
|Danish||1963||Denmark||Grethe & Jørgen Ingmann||“Dansevise”|
|Polish||1994||Poland||Edyta Górniak||“To nie ja!”|
|3rd||Bosnian||2006||Bosnia and Herzegovina||Hari Mata Hari||“Lejla”|
|Russian||2003||Russia||t.A.T.u.||“Ne ver’, ne boysia” (Не верь, не бойся)|
|Turkish||1997||Turkey||Şebnem Paker & Grup Etnic||“Dinle”|
|4th||Hungarian||1994||Hungary||Friderika||“Kinek mondjam el vétkeimet?”|
|Icelandic||1990||Iceland||Stjórnin||“Eitt lag enn”|
|Bulgarian||2007||Bulgaria||Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankoulov||“Water (Voda)” (Вода)|
|4th||phrases in Bulgarian||2016||Poli Genova||“If Love Was a Crime”|
|5th||Greek||1997||Cyprus||Hara & Andreas Konstantinou||“Mana mou” (Μάνα μου)|
|3rd||phrases in Greek||2001||Greece||Antique||“(I Would) Die for You”|
|5th||Estonian||1996||Estonia||Maarja-Liis Ilus & Ivo Linna||“Kaelakee hääl”|
|6th||Austrian dialects||2003||Austria||Alf Poier||“Weil der Mensch zählt”|
|7th||Slovene||1995||Slovenia||Darja Švajger||“Prisluhni mi”|
|Neapolitan||1991||Italy||Peppino di Capri||“Comme è ddoce ‘o mare”|
|Finnish||1989||Finland||Anneli Saaristo||“La dolce vita”|
|11th||Romanian||2013||Moldova||Aliona Moon||“O mie”|
|6th||phrases in Romanian||2005||Zdob și Zdub||“Boonika bate doba”|
|13th||Macedonian||2012||Macedonia||Kaliopi||“Crno i belo” (Црно и бело)|
|12th||phrases in Macedonian||2006||Elena Risteska||“Ninanajna” (Нинанајна)|
|13th||Romansh||1989||Switzerland||Furbaz||“Viver senza tei”|
|Luxembourgish||1960||Luxembourg||Camillo Felgen||“So laang we’s du do bast”|
|4th||phrases in Corsican||1993||Patrick Fiori||“Mama Corsica”|
|15th||Irish||1972||Ireland||Sandie Jones||“Ceol an ghrá”|
|17th||Belarusian||2017||Belarus||Naviband||“Historyja majho žyccia” (Гісторыя майго жыцця)|
|18th||Slovak||1996||Slovakia||Marcel Palonder||“Kým nás máš”|
|Arabic||1980||Morocco||Samira Said||“Bitaqat hub” (بطاقة حب)|
|2nd||phrases in Arabic||2019||Italy||Mahmood||“Soldi”|
|18th||Maltese||1972||Malta||Helen & Joseph||“L-imħabba”|
|8th||phrases in Maltese||2000||Claudette Pace||“Desire”|
|19th||Breton||1996||France||Dan Ar Braz & L’Héritage des Celtes||“Diwanit bugale”|
|25th||Lithuanian||1994||Ovidijus Vyšniauskas||“Lopšinė mylimai”|
|12th||phrases in Lithuanian||2018||Ieva Zasimauskaitė||“When We’re Old (Kol myliu)”|
|SF 14th||Georgian||2019||Georgia||Oto Nemsadze||“Sul tsin iare” (სულ წინ იარე)|
|SF 15th||Armenian||2018||Armenia||Sevak Khanagyan||“Qami” (Քամի)|
|4th||phrases in Armenian||2008||Sirusho||“Qele, qele” (Քելե, քելե)|
|SF 17th||Latvian||2004||Latvia||Fomins & Kleins||“Dziesma par laimi”|
|SF 13th||phrases in Latvian||2014||Aarzemnieki||“Cake to Bake”|
|SF 18th||Catalan||2004||Andorra||Marta Roure||“Jugarem a estimar-nos”|
|SF 12th||phrases in Catalan||2007||Anonymous||“Salvem el món”|
|SF 28th||Czech||2007||Czech Republic||Kabát||“Malá dáma”|
The most recent entry in each language. This list shows the most recent entry performed in each language. If the latest entry is only partly sung in the given language, the latest song solely in the language is listed too. The entries of the same year are presented according to their placing; songs completely in the given language are listed first, followed by the songs partly in that language.
|Icelandic||Iceland||Hatari||“Hatrið mun sigra”|
|Slovene||Slovenia||Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl||“Sebi”|
|Serbian||Serbia||Nevena Božović||“Kruna” (Круна)|
|Albanian||Albania||Jonida Maliqi||“Ktheju tokës”|
|Hungarian||Hungary||Joci Pápai||“Az én apám”|
|phrases in Arabic|
|Georgian||Georgia||Oto Nemsadze||“Sul tsin iare” (სულ წინ იარე)|
|phrases in Abkhaz|
|phrases in Northern Sámi||Norway||KEiiNO||“Spirit in the Sky”|
|phrases in Danish||Denmark||Leonora||“Love Is Forever”|
|phrases in German|
|phrases in French||France||Bilal Hassani||“Roi”|
|phrases in Turkish||San Marino||Serhat||“Say Na Na Na”|
|phrases in Polish||Poland||Tulia||“Fire of Love (Pali się)”|
|phrases in Croatian||Croatia||Roko||“The Dream (Heroj)”|
|Greek||Greece||Yianna Terzi||“Oniro mou” (Όνειρό μου)|
|Armenian||Armenia||Sevak Khanagyan||“Qami” (Քամի)|
|Montenegrin||Montenegro||Vanja Radovanović||“Inje” (Иње)|
|phrases in Hebrew||Israel||Netta||“Toy”|
|phrases in Lithuanian||Lithuania||Ieva Zasimauskaitė||“When We’re Old (Kol myliu)”|
|2017||Belarusian||Belarus||Naviband||“Historyja majho žyccia” (Гісторыя майго жыцця)|
|2016||Bosnian||Bosnia and Herzegovina||Dalal & Deen feat. Ana Rucner & Jala||“Ljubav je”|
|phrases in Crimean Tatar||Ukraine||Jamala||“1944”|
|phrases in Bulgarian||Bulgaria||Poli Genova||“If Love Was a Crime”|
|2015||Finnish||Finland||Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät||“Aina mun pitää”|
|phrases in Romanian||Romania||Voltaj||“De la capăt (All Over Again)”|
|2014||phrases in Latvian||Latvia||Aarzemnieki||“Cake to Bake”|
|2013||Romanian||Moldova||Aliona Moon||“O mie”|
|Estonian||Estonia||Birgit||“Et uus saaks alguse”|
|Bulgarian||Bulgaria||Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankoulov||“Samo shampioni” (Само шампиони)|
|Croatian||Croatia||Klapa s Mora||“Mižerja”|
|Hebrew||Israel||Moran Mazor||“Rak bishvilo” (דיווה)|
|phrases in Romani||Macedonia||Esma & Lozano||“Pred da se razdeni”|
|2012||Udmurt||Russia||Buranovskiye Babushki||“Party for Everybody”|
|Swedish||Finland||Pernilla||“När jag blundar”|
|Austrian dialects||Austria||Trackshittaz||“Woki mit deim Popo”|
|phrases in Russian||Russia||Alexej Vorobjov||“Get You”|
|phrases in Swahili||Norway||Stella Mwangi||“Haba Haba”|
|2010||Dutch||Netherlands||Sieneke||“Ik ben verliefd (Sha-la-lie)”|
|2009||Russian||Latvia||Intars Busulis||“Probka” (Пробка)|
|phrases in Ukrainian||Russia||Anastasia Prikhodko||“Mamo” (Мамо)|
|phrases in Catalan||Andorra||Susanne Georgi||“La teva decisió (Get a Life)”|
|2008||Turkish||Turkey||Mor ve Ötesi||“Deli”|
|2007||Czech||Czech Republic||Kabát||“Malá dáma”|
|phrases in Tahitian||Monaco||Séverine Ferrer||“La coco-dance”|
|2004||German||Austria||Tie Break||“Du bist”|
|Latvian||Latvia||Fomins & Kleins||“Dziesma par laimi”|
|2000||phrases in Maltese||Malta||Claudette Pace||“Desire”|
|1997||Danish||Denmark||Kølig Kaj||“Stemmen i mit liv”|
|1996||Breton||France||Dan Ar Braz & L’Héritage des Celtes||“Diwanit bugale”|
|1994||Lithuanian||Lithuania||Ovidijus Vyšniauskas||“Lopšinė mylimai”|
|1993||phrases in Luxembourgish||Luxembourg||Modern Times||“Donne-moi une chance”|
|1992||Antillean Creole||France||Kali||“Monté la riviè”|
|Luxembourgish||Luxembourg||Marion Welter & Kontinent||“Sou fräi”|
|1991||Neapolitan||Italy||Peppino di Capri||“Comme è ddoce ‘o mare”|
|1989||Romansh||Switzerland||Furbaz||“Viver senza tei”|
|1980||Arabic||Morocco||Samira Said||“Bitaqat hub” (بطاقة حب)|
|1972||Irish||Ireland||Sandie Jones||“Ceol an ghrá”|
|Maltese||Malta||Helen & Joseph||“L-imħabba”|
- [N 1] This song was partially sung in Ukrainian.
- [N 2] This song was partially sung in Crimean Tatar.
- [N 3] This song contained phrases in Hebrew and Japanese.
As of the 1999 Contest, the restriction was again lifted, and songs may be performed in any language. As a result, many of the songs are performed partially or completely in English. In2003, Belgium made full use of the so-termed free language rule, and entered a song, “Sanomi”, in an artificial language created especially for the song. This proved successful as the country finished second, only two points behind Turkey. The same tactic was used in 2006 by the Dutchentry Treble which is partially sung in an artificial language and once again by Belgium with their 2008 entry “O Julissi”.
No entirely instrumental composition has ever been allowed in Eurovision contests. Latvia did their act in a cappella in 2006, as did Belgium in 2011.
Dialects and regional languages: On some occasions, dialects of a language or a very rare language have been used in a song entry:
- 1971, 1996, 2003 & 2012 – Austria sang in various dialects of German
- 1972 – Ireland sang in Irish, one of the two official languages of Ireland
- 1982 – Germany sang in German but after winning performed the reprise in four different languages: German, English, French and Dutch
- 1989 – Switzerland sang in Romansh, the fourth language of Switzerland
- 1990 and 2012 – Finland sang in Swedish, which is the country’s second official language.
- 1991 – Italy sang in Neapolitan, an Italo-Dalmatian language spoken in Naples and surrounding areas.
- 1992, 1993, 1996 and 2011 – France sang in the languages of Creole (1992), Corsican(1993 and 2011) and Breton (1996).
- 1999 – Lithuania sang in Samogitian, a dialect of Lithuanian
- 2004 – Estonia sang in Võro, which is considered by some to be a dialect of Estonian, and others, a separate language
- 2003, 2006 and 2008 – In 2003, Belgium’s Urban Trad sang “Sanomi” in a completely made-up language, while the Dutch participants in 2006, Treble, sang half of their song “Amambanda” in a fictional language. In 2008, Ishtar performed their song, “O Julissi” in a fictional language as well.
- 2006 – Monaco sang partially in Tahitian.
- 2009 – The Czech Republic sang partially in Romani, the language of the Romani people.
- 2011 – Norway introduces lyrics in Swahili.
- 2012 – Most of the lyrics of Russia’s entry were in the Udmurt language (which, alongsideRussian, is the official language in Udmurtia).
Language issues: Many European countries were founded on ideas of linguistic unity and because of the sometimes unwelcome dominance of the English language in modern pop music, the language of a country’s Eurovision entry can be a contentious issue. Some entries are performed in English to reach broader audiences, though this is sometimes looked upon as unpatriotic. In recent years up to 2007 the number of non-English language entrants has decreased, with mostly Eastern European countries, French language countries, Spain and Portugal performing in their native language. In terms of recent Contest performance, most non-English songs have been far less successful than those in English. Until 2007, the last wholly non-English language winner was Israel’s Dana International, who performed Diva in Hebrew in 1998. The 2004 winner,Wild Dances performed by Ruslana, was partially sung in Ukrainian. After 2007 when Marija Šerifović won, singing in Serbian, the number of non-English contestants increased again in 2008. Almost half of the performers contested in their native language.
In some cases, the lyrics are written and recorded in two different versions (usually English and a national language) or a single multi-language version. Examples include:
- Denmark, where the national selection procedure allows freedom of language, but if the winning song from their national competition is in Danish, it must be re-written in English for the competition.
- Sweden, even as there is no outspoken rule the song must be translated into English, it has usually been done so (if allowed in the rules), as in 1965, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1999, 2000, 2004, and 2006.
- Macedonia, who held a vote to decide whether their 2005 song should be in English orMacedonian.
- France, whose entry in 2001 was performed partially in French and partially in English. The2007 entry was sung in Franglais. The French entry in 2008 caused controversy as it was all in English and people were unhappy about being represented with an English song. In 2012 Anggun Performed her song Echo partly in English but mostly in French.
Rule changes by year:
- 1956 First contest – each of the 7 competing countries were obliged to hold a National selection final to choose their entries.
- 1957 After Italy’s song lasted 5:09 minutes, rule changes were introduced to limit maximum song times to 3 minutes – which still operates.
- 1958 The convention of the winning country being invited to host the following year’s contest is introduced. However, several countries would decline the opportunity in subsequent years.
- 1959 Professional publishers or composers were no longer allowed in the national juries.
- 1962 Voting system change. Each country had 10 jury members who awarded their three favourite songs 3, 2, and 1 points in order. Previously countries awarded 1 point to their favourite song.
- 1963 Jury sizes doubled to 20 and points awarded were 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1.
- 1964 Jury sizes revert to 10, and points are now 5, 3 and 1. It becomes possible for a unanimous jury to award all 9 points to one song – but this does not occur.
- 1966 Countries must now sing in one of its national languages.
- 1967 Scoring system reverts to the one used between 1957 and 1961. Each of the ten jurors awards a single point to their favourite song – so in theory a country could be awarded all 10 points, although the highest tally allocated under this system was 9 by the Belgian jury forDana’s 1970 winning song.
- 1968 Although not a rule change, the contest is broadcast in colour by 6 of the 17 countries competing. It has been available in colour to broadcasters each year since.
- 1970 Following a four-way tie in the 1969 contest, a tie-break rule was introduced with provision for a sing-off and a show of hands from the juries to elect a winner.
- 1971 Another voting system change. Each country had two jury members, one under 25 and one over 25. They each awarded 1 to 5 points for each song. This created an issue where some juries gave fewer points out than others. The rule permitting groups of up to six performers on stage was introduced. Previously, entrants could only perform solo or as a duet.
- 1972 Each country had 2 jurors present in the hall. Each juror awarded all songs with a score between 1 and 5, so each country gave all other countries a score between 2 and 10 points.
- 1973 The rule forcing countries to sing in one of its national languages is relaxed – however this is only in place for 4 years.
- 1974 The scoring system used between 1957 and 1961 and between 1968 and 1970 is restored for a third time.
- 1975 The scoring system that still operates today is introduced. Each jury would now give 12 points to the best song, 10 to the second best, then 8 to the third, 7 to the fourth, 6 to the fifth and so forth until the tenth best song (in the jury’s opinion) received a single point. Unlike today, the points were not given in order (from 1 up to 12), but in the order the songs were performed.
- 1976 As the cost of staging the contest increases, a new rule was introduced that, in future, each participating broadcaster would have to pay a part of the cost of staging the contest.
- 1977 Countries must again revert to singing in their own national languages.
- 1980 The jury spokesperson now read the points out in numerical order (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 12) rather than in song order.
- 1987 As the number of countries reached a record of 22, the EBU imposed a limit on the number of countries competing. Although set at 22, this limit has varied slightly over the years.
- 1990 Following Sandra Kim’s 1986 win for Belgium at the age of just 13 and controversy over two performers in 1989 being just 11 and 12 years old, a restriction on competitor’s age was introduced. The minimum age is now 16 at the time of the event.
- 1993 After the breakup of Yugoslavia, a pre-qualifying round was introduced.
- 1994 Relegation had to be introduced to accommodate the ever-increasing number of countries wishing to compete. Initially the bottom five countries from 1993 would not get an entrant at the 1994 contest. The relegation rules would change slightly over subsequent years.
- 1994 This year’s contest saw the highest number of participants in the 1990s, with 25 countries performing.
- 1997 After controversy over a 1996 pre-selection procedure (similar to 1993) which resulted in Germany being omitted from the contest, the selection procedure changed to allow only the countries with the best average scores over the previous four years.
- 1997 Televoting was trialled in five countries and would become the preferred method of voting from 1998.
- 1999 Restrictions are lifted again allowing countries to sing in any language.
- 1999 Countries preferences to use backing tracks virtually leads to the abolition of orchestras. Live music became optional and all broadcasters since 1999 have declined to use an orchestra. In 2004, all live music was banned; even artists on stage were not allowed to play their instruments live, even if they explicitly voiced their wish to do so. This live music prohibition is still in place.
- 2000 The “Big Four” rule is introduced giving France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom automatic entry in the contest regardless of previous performance. In 2011 it was expanded with Italy, becoming “Big Five”.
- 2004 Relegation rules, which varied slightly since 1994 were dropped and a semi-final was introduced. Countries eliminated in the semi-final were still allowed to vote on the final, so the convention of reading the scores in both French and English were dropped. The spokesperson would now read the score in one language with presenters repeating in the other language.
- 2006 Jury spokespersons no longer read out all the points from 1 up to 12. Instead the scores up to 7 points are displayed briefly before the spokesperson reads out their 8, 10 and 12 point allocations.
- 2008 With a record entry of 43, a second semi-final was introduced. Juries were used to allocate a wild-card place in the final from each of the semi-finals. 25 countries now compete in the final.
- 2009 After criticism of the voting system after the 2007 Contest, changes in the voting procedure were made with the re-introduction of a national jury alongside televoting (split 50/50). This format would be extended to the semi-finals in 2010.
- 2010 People can vote from the first song until the end of vote.
- 2012 The fifteen-minute televoting window is restored due to criticism of the voting method after the 2011 contest. 26 countries now compete in the final, because Italy made comeback in 2011 and became a “Big Five” country along with Germany, France, Spain and United Kingdom.
- 2013 The format of the jury/televoting result is changed slightly in that all songs are now ranked instead of being given a score in each method, this is then merged and the ten highest ranked songs receive points in the usual manner. Also, for the first time, the running order in all three shows is determined by producers of the show instead of a random draw, which is supposed to give each song competing a fair chance of success.
- 2015 The EBU considers the possibility of inviting countries outside of the European Broadcasting Area or the Council of Europe to participate in future editions of the contest. The first of such “guest nations” was Australia in 2015. This also bumps up the number of countries competing in the final to 27.
Cristicism (Opposition to English singing in non-anglophone countries): French legislator François-Michel Gonnot criticized French television and launched an official complaint in the French Parliament, as the song which represented France in 2008, “Divine”, was sung in English. A similar incident occurred again in 2014, when Spanish artist Ruth Lorenzo was criticized by the Royal Spanish Academy after the Spanish national selection for singing her entry, Dancing in the Rain, with some lyrics in English.