This is surprising as most countries participating don’t speak English as a second language -let alone a first one! However, one of the great Eurovision past-times of us overbearing English-speakers is to find amusement in the various mixed metaphors, silly similes and crazy conundrums that make it into the lyrics sheet.
Here are eight entries that embraced poetic licence, and should probably never have been in English:
Greece: ‘S.A.G.A.P.O’ - 2002
At last count, the back-up singers repeat the same word 82 times in the song. Michalis Rakintzis ends every verse with “give the password”, but ends each chorus with “say the magic word”. What do you want, Michalis? Do you want to let us in? Or make us disappear? Here’s a suggestion… say Abracadabra! And, we’re gone!
United Kingdom: ‘Teenage Life’ - 2006
Yes, even the native English speakers struggle with the language sometimes! If this was in any other language, we would label it as “European Chic” or “Artistic”.
With lyrics like “Sunshine and shade, those girls I'd serenade, thinking of those sixth form chicks that misbehave,” there’s all kinds of wrong here.
Set in a classroom, surrounded by buxom schoolgirls, Singer Daz Sampson looks like he ought to be on a watch list. His final words are “Vote for the music”. And Europe did. Just not for this.
Norway: ‘My Heart is Yours’ - 2010
This takes out the award for “Song Most like an M.C. Escher Drawing”. Singer Didrik Solli-Tangen opens with “You are like a sunset, behind a mountain, somewhere, when I cannot see you”. Didrik, if one is like the sunset (that you can see behind the mountain), then one cannot ‘not’ see the sunset, because you’ve said already they are ‘like’ the sunset. Which you ‘can’ see. Behind the mountain. Somewhere.
Armenia: ‘Boom Boom’ - 2011
No, this isn’t the 90s classic by Paul Lekakis (‘Boom, Boom Let’s Go Back to My Room'). This is Emmy.
Her website describes her as “Armenia’s Number 1 Pop Diva”. Riiiightio. Suppose that’s better than saying “Armenia’s first song to never qualify for the Grand Final at Eurovision”.
With such gems as “It’s time to win me in the ring of love, babe”, one can only assume Emmy was a fan of Rocky. It all falls apart at the chorus of “Boom boom, chucka chucka, your love is like-ah like-ah”.
United Kingdom: ‘Sounds Good to Me’ - 2010
UK’s Josh Dubovie went from obscurity to fame and back to obscurity in 2010 via a song written by Stock and Waterman (without Aitken). With loose interpretations of past participles (“All the love been working so very well”) and improper context of irregular verbs (“How do I begin to imagine all the happy faces I would like to see?”), it’s no wonder this song finished last.
Ukraine: ‘Tick Tock’ - 2014
From the contradictory similes “My heart is like a clock, it’s steady like a rock” - to the uncomfortable original opening line “We belong to each other like a sister to a brother,” Mariya’s Yaremchuk doesn’t fail to disappoint with this corker.
Clearly the spectacular stagecraft featuring dancers in giant spinning hamster wheels gave it the edge to still place sixth in the Final.
San Marino: ‘The Social Network Song’ - 2012
The song was originally called ‘The Facebook Song’, but San Marino’s Valentina Monetta was forced to change it to avoid being disqualified. So instead the song is full of cyber-innuendo, but no one expected the pure poetry that is “do you want to come to my house and click me with your mouse”.
Latvia: ‘Cake to Bake’ - 2014
From the start, vocal adventurer Aarzemnieki’s lyrics are so nebulous you think you’re reading a poem by Keats.
The highlights include “I talked to a Unicorn the other night” and “I swam through a shark tank bloodily”. Was he baking a cake or was he making a quiche? So much Nigella and not enough Peter Russell-Clarke. It didn’t qualify for the final that year. Everyone was left hungry. It really needs to be seen to be fully appreciated.