Aussievision's top non-English songs of the decade
Non-english songs had a bit of a comeback in the 2010s compared to the previous decade including a winner and many making the top five or ten.
As part of our 'Best of the Decade' series, the Aussievision team all chose their favourite song performed predominantly in another language of the decade. These were their choices:
'Amar Pelos Dois' – Salvador Sobral (Portugal 2017) ~ chosen by Mike
When discussing the best non-english language songs of the decade, it may seem obvious to pick the only one that has actually won the contest in the last 10 years. However, there is something truly special about the 2017 winner. Vintage in its approach and stripped back in its production, the Sobral siblings proved once again that the ‘secret’ to winning the Eurovision Song Contest is to arrive with the best song.
An entry that seemed more suited to 1957 than 2017, there is something about the composition and performance of this song that transcends language. Salvador’s unique performance style was never going to work for everybody, but his delivery really showcased the fragility and overwhelming emotion in the song. For me, if you can be brought to tears without understanding a word of the lyrics then the artist/composer has achieved something special and Amar Pelos Dois delivers that.
'Alcohol is Free' - Koza Mostra feat. Agathon Iakovidisohol (Greece 2013) ~ chosen by Dale
Ok let's start with the obvious, the chorus is in English but almost 75% of the lyrics are in Greek so it qualifies as a non-English song. Now yes... there are songs that transcend language and make you feel emotions you hadn't felt in years, but there are songs like this that just grab you immediately and bring the fun and joy to the contest.
Koza Mostra managed to do this by producing a song that crossed ska with Europop and ethno folk, which are pretty much three of my favourite genres. It was the last Greek song to make the top 10 and it brought a strong message with metaphors alluding to the nation's debt and social crisis. The staging itself was iconic with sleek kilts, light up instruments and a high octane performance, what's not to like? There may be 'worthier' songs but this is a non-English song I go back to again and again.
'Caroban' - Nina (Serbia 2011) ~ chosen by Emma
Caroban is the Serbian word for magical and this song is exactly that. Nina tells the story in Serbian of her magical man who makes everything right when all is going wrong in her world. The song is a catchy throwback to the 1960’s both in sound, staging and choreography. Nina and her three back-up singers look like extras from an Austin Powers movie whilst psychedelic images are projected on the LED screen behind them. With its big band sound and feelgood vibes, Caroban instantly puts me in a good mood and I can’t resist tapping my feet and attempting to sing along in broken Serbian! You can imagine my excitement when I discovered that Nina has since moved to Australia which somehow makes me love the song even more!
'Love Unlimited' - Sofia Marinova (Bulgaria 2012) ~ chosen by Fleur
Who doesn't love an ethno-banger? I sure as heck do and this tune is a must have at any Eurovision themed party. It is far from the typical up-tempo dance songs that we usually hear from the contest. I honestly don’t think it would be out of place at any nightclub for that matter. Okay, I admit that the staging could have been better. Still this song was robbed, I tell you!!! How many songs do you know that contain “I love you” in ten languages?
Sofi could belt out a tune and it no surprise that she is known as the “The Romani Nightingale”. She has a set of pipes that’s for sure. Even after 7 years I am still disappointed that “Love Unlimited” did not make the final, although I do enjoy Tooji’s “Stay” but to miss out on countback. Ouch.
‘Kuula’ - Ott Lepland (Estonia 2012) ~ chosen by Steve
‘Kuula’, Estonia’s entry in Baku and the 6th placed song at ESC 2012, is a track which I believe transcends language barriers: the plea to “listen” (the title’s English translation) is expertly conveyed by combining Ott Lepland’s powerful and passionate vocal with a haunting and plaintive melody. The simply-staged, stripped-back performance rightly focuses the attention on the artist and the story he’s telling, and I find the emotional impact built into the song’s crescendo followed by the softly-delivered final request (“listen to me now”) genuinely moving. I can barely speak a word of Estonian, but that’s really not necessary to appreciate this song’s many charms.
'Ktheju Tokës' - Jonida Maliqi (Albania 2019) ~ chosen by Liv
My winner for 2019 and favourite Albanian entry of all time! I found Jonida, the message and the instrumentation totally captivating the second I saw it at FiK (Albania's National Final). I highly recommend checking out her last nights performance at FiK, it is spine tingling hearing that ethnic realness with a full orchestra.
The feeling of yearning to return to your homeland resonates with me having recently made a significant move in my life myself. I would do almost anything to relive it all again - something I truly feel in Ktheju Tokes. Not many songs at Eurovision feel this genuine and passionate to me so it will always hold a special place. That and wasn't her dress FABULOUS. A queen.
‘Grande Amore’ - Il Volo (Italy 2015) ~ chosen by Ruby
‘Grande Amore’ is the Italian pop opera winner of the decade. Ok – it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but just like Australia’s participation in Eurovision I am here for it. Il Volo’s performance, back in 2015, had its online criticisms, yet I am of the belief that they were truly robbed of a victory in Austria. The televote that night agreed also, with a staggering 14 countries ranking it first in the televote, and with the awarding of the Marcel Bezençon Press Award..
Setting aside the stats, the performance is of epic proportions; whilst understated, the trio presented a timeless piece, which unlike many songs seen this decade, will not go out style. As a non-English entry, Il Volo wins on their ability to convey emotion, with their passion shining through, mixed, of course, with their collection of grins, winks and Armani suits. The voices shine in ‘Grande Amore’, and while I do wish that the extended version has been performed in Vienna, the flawless harmonies shine through, allowing the staging to take a back-seat and present an off-shoot of opera in a simple, delightful format.
'Requiem' - Alma (France 2017) ~ chosen by Alyce
I’ve chosen France’s 2017 entry Requiem by Alma. In a year that in my opinion was not as
memorable as the surrounding years, this stands out as one of my favourites.There are probably a few reasons as to why I love this song so much. I’m quite a big fan of songs that I can dance along to and sing along to, and Requiem ticks both boxes.
I learnt French through most of high school, so although I don’t know what the lyrics mean most of the time, I find it easy enough to pick up and start singing along to. Just as a little side note, I actually prefer the fully French version as compared to the one that was sung at the contest, which had a few lines in English - perhaps because all in French makes it sound more natural.
'Occidentali's Karma' - Francesco Gabbani (Italy 2017) ~ chosen by Kyriakos
Namasté, alé!! Francesco Gabbani’s song ‘Occidentali’s Karma’ has that good feel vibe and catchiness that I admire in a Eurovision song, and is one of those I always go back to listen to and watch. I love that in the 2017 Contest Italy took a risk with the the dancing gorilla and cheesy dance moves making it a memorable performance. Early on I was one of those who thought Francesco might just take it out, but the dark horse for the Eurovision trophy that year surprisingly came in at sixth place.
'La Forza' - Elina Nechayeva (Estonia 2018) ~ chosen by Laura
La Forza is an incredibly special song to me - but it is so much more than that. Not only is it not in English, but it is also not in Elina Nechayeva’s native Estonian or Russian either. The lyrics were co-written by the singer in her second language of Italian - the perfect language for the ethereal contemporary classical number that is La Forza, as well as Elina’s beautiful operatic voice. Through her lyrics and her divine performance, Elina gives the listener a gift of the story of a love so strong and powerful and immense that it makes her fly, but she also conveys to her audience that love can guide one’s way when one is lost, like a single star in the darkest of nights. It is a song so magical that one does not even have to understand Italian to understand the message of the lyrics, but you can be instantly transported into another world through the music, the staging, and of course, Elina’s angelic voice. La Forza is a song full of grace, class, beauty and power, but it is so much more than that. It is an experience.
Well they were the favourite non-English songs from the Aussievision team. We must mention a few songs that were mentioned a few times by many in the group but didn't get anyone's number one - Adio, Mall and Soldi.
So do you agree? Who has taste, who doesn't and who are we missing? Let us know on our social @aussievisionnet on Twitter or Facebook.