As an English-speaker, as an English Eurovision fan, lyrics are very important to me. Language, I find, as an English person, is vital in order to understand someone’s message. It is why I study the lyrics of Eurovision entries very closely. This is what I’m all about. I find some Eurovision songs have genius lyrics, that are just world-class. Others are in French. This is the blog post where I try to decide which is which. I can only hope to do it as well as Julie Frost did in this year’s Austrian final.
I think, overall, Julie would be reasonably impressed by this year’s efforts. Most of them are in English, for starters. There’s also a notable lack of the tiresome cliches about flying in the sky and swimming across oceans that normally make me want to jab at my eardrums with a rusty needle. There is on notable exception to that rule, yet it’s somehow one of the best songs this year.
If I Were Sorry, by Frans piles on the cliches. As well as crossing deserts and climbing the highest mountain, he swims across the ocean, he runs a thousand miles. It works though, because he has his fingers crossed behind his back. The “if” is very powerful in the song. It holds up a sign throughout saying “In case you can’t tell, I’m being sarcastic”.
What I love about the lyrics is that everything is so well held together. There’s the theme of these cliched expressions of love while teasing that Frans won’t do these things and gradually brings in more detail about his relationship. It tells a story and then has the long-awaited payoff at the end.
My one concern is how focused Frans is on asphyxiation. He won’t take a break to breathe, threatens to hold his breath until his face turns blue, he’ll explode his lungs. If Frans ever is sorry, one fears for his physical wellbeing.
At the other end of the scale, Julie may be less impressed by Australia, although she’d be too nice to say so.
There’s nothing there, is there? Dami’s songwriters have just found a phrase they decided sounds cool and put hearts around it to try to make it meaningful. Three times. It’s a cop out. I’ll try to delve deeper into the verses.
We learn two things from this lyric. (1) Dami’s partner is absent, but they’re still together, (2) Dami has an iphone. This line really winds me up. It’s there to tell me how cool and modern Dami is. “Hey, look, she’s using new technology, just like all the kids. Everyone loves Apple and all their products”. It makes me cringe. I’m surprised it got past the EBU’s rule prohibiting commercial messages. Googling maps, as Teo did for Belarus, is a far more generic activity than conducting a video call on an Apple-only app.
Since I first started working on this post, the EBU has reached its judgement on the face time issue. Apparently “FaceTime” isn’t allowed, but “face time” is fine and Dami doesn’t sing the capital letters. The Australian delegation claim they are using the common alternative meaning of “face time” to mean speaking face to face in person. Two problems again. (1) This is rubbish; I’ve never heard anyone use face time like that. (2) The lyrics quite clearly say “But baby you’re not here with me,” so the face time is not in person. The Aussies are taking the piss.
While Australia has problems with lack of worthwhile content, you certainly couldn’t level that criticism at Germany. There’s a lot going on in this song; maybe slightly too much. There’s a story book metaphor, a dragon, and a keyless money chest full of love, all before we get to the main ghost imagery of the chorus.
It might seem strange for two ghosts to haunt each other, but I quite like it. The song is all about a couple sort of breaking up but not quite separating their lives and still relying on each other. The idea of the ghost of the relationship sticking around them is a very interesting and evocative one. It also breathes life into the slightly tired “alone in a room together” line. They’re alone because no one else can see them!
It took me a google to understand “playing house”. Apparently house is a girlish children’s game when you make believe you and your friends are a mummy and daddy raising a family. Maybe the problem was Jamie-Lee came on a bit too strong.
You can learn a lot from Eurovision lyrics. Last year Georgia taught us all about the process of oximation, but I find this year’s Cypriot entry to be equally informative.
See, when I first heard this I thought the lyrics were stupid: dawn and sunrise are the same thing. Turns out they’re not. Dawn is defined as the time when first light appears, as the sunlight is refracted over the Earth’s atmosphere. Sunrise is when you first actually see the Sun. The time difference between the two is typically about 30 minutes. Therefore, if one assumes that the events of this song occur on the day of the first semi final in Stockholm, then the first line above translates as “It’s about ten past four in the morning.”
This precise chronology then falls apart a bit. Somehow the Moon is still providing most of the light. And how is the singer then howling in the moonlight if he is under a spotlight? The spotlight is surely much more powerful than the Moon at any time of day or night. Perhaps he’s not turned the spotlight on? One has to ask, why is Francois from Minus One carrying such cumbersome lighting equipment round downtown Stockholm at stupid o’clock in the morning if he’s not going to turn it on? I think he needs to get a life.
Cyprus may get a bit confused about when the Moon comes out, but Belgium could certainly do with the benefit of their Sun expertise.
Laura seems perfectly happy to accept the completely contradictory idea that the Sun will be out when it’s not daytime. Or, it might be possible that it’s so long after the day has done, that it’s now morning again.
Thankfully, Ireland are here to sort out all this Sunny-Moony talk. You see, Laura, “It’s only dark until the world turns round”. Nicky Byrne must be some sort of scientist. His song does, however, have its own problems. Sunlight is mostly your typical Eurovision fare about believing in yourself and taking your chance to live for the moment. Then there’s the chorus.
It’s a bit sexual-assaultish, isn’t it? I know Ireland haven’t won Eurovision in a long time and they needed to try something new in order to find non-Jedward success, but I don’t think anyone expected an uplifting soft rock ode to one’s right to indiscriminate frottage. The next lines take the song into more confusing territory.
It’s an interesting idea, that you can be a predatory sex pest, just as long as you’re still a virgin. It does beg the question: is this song about the Catholic church?
I can’t help but think of Bulgaria after studying Sunlight.
Let’s hope it’s not that crime. My real problem with If Love Was A Crime is that it seems such a pointless and redundant premise. You could insert anything into that line and it would hold true. If eating Galaxy Ripples was a crime then I would be a criminal. There’s also not enough jeopardy in the verses to make Poli’s love forbidden.
Denmark also prove the old rule that if you put the word “love” in anything it becomes suitable fare for a pop song.
It sounds quite nice, doesn’t it? I can imagine the Lighthouse X lads going out on a nice day’s marching with their amores. They can spend their afternoons together firing their Kalashnikovs of enchantment and throwing grenades of lust. Then they can have a romantic picnic on the killing fields, before they torch an enemy village of infatuation and walk off into the napalm sunset, as they chat convivially about their future together committing crimes against disharmony. Bless.
It is a bit concerning that you’re not allowed to leave the army of love though. It sounds a bit like the indefinite forced military service that is practised under the tyrannical regime of Isaias Afwerki in Eritrea. Denmark isn’t as liberal as it used to be.
I very much doubt that Jamala from Ukraine has such romantic notions of soldiers. Her song is a stark and brutal depiction of the 1944 Soviet oppression of the Crimean Tatars (any connection to current political events are, of course, purely in the ears of the beholder). I like how Jamala avoids euphemistic dancing around the subject. Strangers come to your house and kill you all. She doesn’t pull her punches.
I love the cynical and dismissive rejection of the people that are attacking her homeland. The “Ha” is very important to me. My initial interpretation of “everyone dies” was as simple as it seems: that her people are coming under attack and everyone is dying. However, looking at it now, it seems directed elsewhere. I view it as saying that evil leaders such as Stalin (or Putin if you want to interpret it that way) may want to destroy the Tatars now, but every dictator eventually dies. Their regime won’t live forever and her people will be back. The lyrics work either way and that ambiguity is very attractive to me.
Best of all, 1944 has the best hidden swear words in a Eurovision Song since Krista’s Marry Me in 2013.
This year’s Ukrainian entry is deeply personal and based on genuine emotion. It’s the obvious winner of the 2016 Julie Frost award for best lyrics. World class.