Mind your language

The real contest at Eurovision: worst lyric

With almost everyone choosing to sing in terrible English, this year’s was a tough battle

30 May 2015

9:00 AM

30 May 2015

9:00 AM

Like a reluctantly remembered nightmare, last week’s Eurovision Song Contest already seems very distant. But, in the manner of the Sand people in Star Wars, the nations of Eurovision will no doubt soon be back, and in greater numbers. Disappointingly, with scarcely an alien tongue displayed apart from Montenegrin, the chosen language was poor English. Since it is hard (for those not native speakers) to make out the sense of songs in English, the logic seemed to be to write them nonsensically from the outset.

Sweden’s winning song had a thing about natural history, but showed a feeble grasp of fundamentals. ‘Go sing it like a hummingbird,’ it said, ‘The greatest anthem ever heard.’ Never mind that hummingbirds don’t sing (hence the name). Later, the singer boasted: ‘I make worms turn into butterflies.’ Nice work, even if he only meant caterpillars. There was one more item of entomology: ‘The crickets sing a song for you.’ Again the vibration is not vocal, but comes from the wings.

Unreality obscured the big strobe-pocked hall in Vienna. The Azerbaijan entry, ‘The Hour of the Wolf’, seemed concerned with lycanthropy. Yet the singer displayed a Boy Scout readiness: ‘Yellow glowing eyes, / I’m hypnotised. / I feel brave yet scared, / But I’ll stay prepared.’

Most songs were about the night (=sex) or about war. Either involved ‘the drum that rolls inside’ (five letters, begins with H, from Belgium). Russia, afflicted with synaesthesia, declared: ‘Your heart is like a beating drum/ Burning brighter than the sun.’ It was but a step from firearms to the arms of love: ‘Pull me baby, I’m your trigger,’ sang Israel’s man. The irremediable lyrics of Greece ran: ‘You killed me and I am done, / Without a gun. My light has fade, / I feel betrayed.’ Georgia beat the field by plunging into obscurity in the first two words: ‘Fighter oximated.’

It is not easy to give the palm for the worst couplet. Norway invoked the true spirit of McGonagall with: ‘Honey, I’m telling the truth/ I did something terrible in my early youth.’ Yet the most bathetic was Israel’s refrain ‘And before I leave/ Let me show you Tel Aviv.’

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  • Sean Grainger

    Aha. While grammar mostly eludes me song lyrics are one of my mastermind subjects. Can we start with the great Elvis and ‘I ain’t never did no wrong’? Written by Dave Bartholomew one of rock’n’roll’s aristocracy who now manages Don McLean.

  • A Regular

    Or perhaps the greatest line of all ‘yes, we have no bananas’ !!!

  • Trev Nich

    Why did you use a picture of Latvia’s contestant when she wasn’t even one of the people you criticised in your article?

  • Trev Nich

    France, Italy, Montenegro, Romania, and Spain all used languages other than English (at least partially for Romania). Portugal and Finland got eliminated. They have to sing in English if they want to stand a chance. When there were language rules, Ireland won three consecutives years and four times in a five year period. Since the language rule was abolished, only one winner has not been in English (Serbia).

  • Roseanne

    I don’t understand why you think Norway’s entry was written badly. Not only the couplet do fit the story that the song is trying to tell, albeit a little bit formal sounding than the rest, the way the male singer sang that part hook the audience for the next part. All in all, a good use rhyme I say. If you wanted to see a jumble of rhyming words, you don’t have to look far. UK’s entry is filled with it and they don’t even have the excuse of not being a native speaker. I mean, even the first verse is already a mess and worse, it was followed by with: ‘You’re bound to get sneezes/ Or nasty diseases’. The only good part of that song is the violin part.

  • andylowings

    “I’m a poet, don’t you know it. Hope I don’t blow it. ”

    Always resounds with me for its superficiality.

  • Callipygian

    Hummingbirds aren’t singers as such but they do do more than hum.

    • MacGuffin

      ‘Silent Night, Holy Night, All is calm, all is bright…’


      • Callipygian

        That’s the night when the lights went out in Georgia.

      • Callipygian

        Oh come all ye faithful

  • Dogsnob

    I voted for Vicky Leandros. Best ever.

  • David T

    Their English was nothing compared to the UK’s terrible entry. God Almighty! Probably the worst song in the competion’s sixty year history… and that’s saying something.