Breaking down the songs of Eurovision 202012 May 2020 at 16:00 CEST
The Eurovision Song Contest always provides an eclectic mix of musical tastes and a melting pot of culture through its music. What do these Eurovision 2020 songs have in common, how many songs are sung in their native language and what overall themes have emerged from their lyrics? Without further ado, let's find out!
The meaning behind the lyrics
Life's struggles and lessons
A number of Eurovision 2020 songs centre around life's difficulties and the process of self-development, self-discovery and growth. Benny Cristo's Kemama, for the Czech Republic, is based on his real-life experiences growing up with adversity. The same is echoed in Sandro's song for Cyprus, Running, that takes a looks at life's hardships and the storms we have to weather on the way. Moreover, The Roop's On Fire, for Lithuania, was inspired by others' lack of self-confidence and the idea that people underestimate and write themselves off too often and too quickly.
Finland's Aksel spoke about this feeling of inadequacy in Looking Back and asks whether the milestones we set for our lives have any real value or does achieving them even make us happy. In Gjon’s Tears' Répondez-moi, for Switzerland, we hear him work through his personal story that addresses the themes of origin and self-questioning: "Everyone asks themselves why exactly we are here, where do we come from and where are we going... these are questions that I think about a lot".
Meanwhile, Belgium's Hooverphonic wrote Release Me from personal experience. It is about coming to terms with finality and saying goodbye, which everyone has to do, "at one point in life, to a friend, family or lover," said Alex Callier, member of the band.
Poland's song Empires, sung by Alicja, talks about human nature to "build and destroy"; how people tend to build empires, but ultimately become blind to what is important.
Despite some introspective heaviness, many of the songs sing lessons of empowerment, encouragement and optimism in the end. As Jeangu Macrooy's (the Netherlands) title suggests, the highs and lows that life brings ultimately allow us to Grow.
Lesley Roy (Ireland) embodies this message of resilience in her song, Story Of My Life, about overcoming things in life and getting back up again. "We don’t speak often about the mental health problems our generation faces," says VICTORIA from Bulgaria, who's song, Tears Getting Sober, also tells a story about overcoming pain and then moving forward. With her entry, she hopes to inspire others to do the same.
Sandro further portrays this concept in his song which pushes others to keep on Running through such times of difficulty. Vincent Bueno's song for Austria, Alive, is also about change and draws listeners to action by telling the story of becoming alive through the release of one's own ego.
Many other Eurovision 2020 entries endeavour to encourage others to choose their own paths in life, like in Grow, where Jeangu hopes he makes people, "feel a little less lonely in their search for happiness". Gjon’s Tears' also wants to inspire others to take their own path in life with his song and Aksel wishes to, "make people understand that they should seize the day". This is a sentiment exemplified in the Danish entry YES, performed by Ben & Tan, in their upbeat, happy and hopeful entry that motivates everyone to say yes to life and love.
Azerbaijan's entry, Efendi's Cleopatra, is a song about not second-guessing yourself, trusting your gut instinct, standing up for yourself and being a “queen” - even when things get tough. With this song, she aims to motivate listeners to be proud of themselves. This is very much in line with the message from Lithuania's The Roop.
Stefania's SUPERG!RL (Greece) challenges teenagers to believe in themselves and chase their dreams, while Samanta Tina's Still Breathing (Latvia) similarly spreads a strong message of female empowerment. Both artists' songs reflecting their experiences with the struggle of juggling multiple projects and the expectation of "doing it all".
On a light note, YOU from Vasil (North Macedonia) invites us to connect, open up, dance, and celebrate the moment. The official music video embodies the song by portraying the moment someone shows you that it takes, "just one look, one connection, to make a difference and start a beautiful change for the better," says Vasil.
The class of Eurovision 2020 have shown that despite life's hurdles, we can always fight, learn from the experience and rise above.
Love in all it's shapes and sizes
While there are a large number of entries about confidence, resilience, and life's complications, there are also a few songs about love and relationships, from ROXEN's Alcohol You to Uku Suviste's What Love Is. And what is the Eurovision Song Contest without love songs, anyway?
Go_A's entry for Ukraine, Solovey, is about a strong girl who falls in love. When she realizes that she is no longer taken seriously, her strength enables her to turn the tables and handle the situation with dignity. Norway's Attention differs from this message, in that it is based on Ulrikke's personal experience of change ourselves to please others when it comes to love.
Australia's Montaigne depicts the 'enough is enough' phase of a relationship breakdown in Don't Break Me, in which she reflects on the situation, "where one person feels like they are putting much more time, energy and resources into the relationship than the other person and becomes frustrated and resentful".
Alternatively, Uku Suviste's What is Love is about the feelings that come with falling in love, while Ben Dolic's Violent Thing (Germany) is about "working on love". On the other hand, Senhit's entry, Freaky, is a song to celebrate life, freedom, love in all its forms. The San Marino artist reminds us that, "today, more than ever, we need to feel close to each other, to dance and to smile. Nevertheless, do not stop doing that."
Although some songs talked about the challenges of unrequited love, adapting ourselves to suit others and the ending of a relationship, the class of Eurovision 2020 also reminded us of the beautiful experience of new love and reminds us to acknowledge love in all its shapes and sizes.
WATCH: All the Eurovision 2020 songs' official video clips on our official YouTube page.
Songs by the artists
Many of the Eurovision 2020 songs were written, composed and/or produced by the multi-talented representative artists themselves. Gjon's Tears, for example, wrote and composed Répondez-moi with songwriters Xavier Michel, Alizé Oswald and producer Jeroen Swinnen as part of a Swiss songwriter camp. As did Ana Soklič, with Bojan Simončič, for her song Voda for Slovenia.
James Newman from the United Kingdom also penned his entry, My Last Breath, himself alongside an all-star team of Adam Argyle, Ed Drewett and Iain James.
Norway's Attention was written by Ulrikke together with Christian Ingebrigtsen from the world-famous pop group A1 and Eurovision legend, Kjetil Mørland. The Norwegian representative wrote the song over a few sessions, spending a lot of time on the production. She said it was important that her "song sounded organic and raw" and did so by implementing live string players in the studio instead of computer-generated strings.
Latvian representative Samanta Tina produced her 2020 entry alongside producer Arnis Račinskis which was also co-written by Aminata Savadogo. Story Of My Life, Ireland's Eurovision song by Lesley Roy, was penned and co-produced by the artist in collaboration with some of her favourite co-writers in Nashville: Robert Marvin, Catt Gravitt and Tom Shapiro. Uku Suviste even composed his song What Love Is for Estonia as did VAL from Belarus for their song Da Vidna.
The Netherlands' Jeangu Macrooy provided all instruments and arrangements for his song, together with Perquisite, in addition to writing it himself. Similarly, Alex Callier from Hooverphonic (Belgium) wrote Release Me as well as composed their entry with Italian composer, Luca Chiaravalli.
Some of other artists involved in their song-making process include Iceland's Daði og Gagnamagnið (Think About Things), Georgia's Tornike Kipiani (Take Me As I Am), France's Tom Leeb (Mon Alliée), the Czech Republic's Benny Cristo (Kemama), Sandro for Cyprus (Running), Bulgaria's VICTORIA (Tears Getting Sober), Austria's Vincent Bueno (Alive), Australia's Montaigne (Don't Break Me) and Armenia's Athena Manoukian (Chains On You).
FIND OUT MORE: Check out the artist's participant pages to learn more about the development of each song and who contributed to them.
The language divide
As reflected on a lot in recent years, most songs for Eurovision 2020 are sung in English: a total of 28 this year, including Moldova's Prison sung by Natalia Gordienko, The Mamas (Sweden) with their song Move, Fall From The Sky by Arilena Ara from Albania and Destiny's All Of My Love for Malta.
That leaves us with another 13 songs in other languages. Tom Leeb's Mon Alliée (The Best In Me) is sung in a combination of English and French and, technically, Georgia's Tornike Kipiani sings in English, Italian, Spanish and German in Take Me As I Am.
While Russia's Litte Big adds a splash of Spanish into their largely English-speaking song Uno, Spain's entry, Universo, is sung fully in Spanish by Blas Cantó. VAL performs in Belarusian, Damir Kedžo's song Divlji Vjetre is sung in Croatian, Diodato's Fai Rumore in Italian, Ana Soklič's in Slovenian, Elisa, with her song Medo De Sentir, in Portugees and Hurricane's Hasta La Vista in their native Serbian.
This year, the artist with the most languages in a song goes to Israel's Feker Libi, sung by Eden Alene, which uses an impressive 4 languages: English, Hebrew, Amharic and Arabic.
Interestingly, Go_A's song Solovey, meaning 'Nightingale', is the first time in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest that Ukraine has submitted a song entirely in the Ukrainian language.
It's not all about the lyrics
While many entries are not singing in their native language, some go on to incorporate their culture and background into the music itself.
Azerbaijan's Cleopatra from Efendi incorporates ethnic sounds with 3 traditional Azerbaijani instruments; an oud (a traditional guitar-like string instrument), a balaban (a wind instrument) and a tar (a string instrument added to the UNESCO's List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity).
Feker Libi, for Israel, is a colourful pop gem that fuses together African dance beats with an infectious middle eastern sound. Ukrainian folk instruments and ethnic vocals give a Ukrainian vibe in Solovey, while Vasil's YOU incorporates ethnic chants, bass, plucks, tarabuka and chords to enhance that cultural vibe throughout the song.
Can't get enough of the Eurovision 2020 songs? Be sure to tune in to the Eurovision Song Celebration 2020 on Tuesday 12 and Thursday 14 May, Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light on Saturday 16 May and your country's other alternative broadcasting shows.