I’ve shied away from posting on Eurovision Song Contest – there’s simply too much to say about it – but I did post about Brexit just after the referendum result. And though it’s impossible to stay, there’s one thing I must say before we go…
I’m all about therapeutic activity now, so although the United Kingdom isn’t leaving the Song Contest (indeed, we may be getting English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish entries if the Kingdom decides to disunite itself in due course), I thought I’d try one last time to get at the essence of what we’re leaving. Of course, Eurovision includes countries like Israel, Azerbaijan and Australia. Listen, that doesn’t matter. It’s all about life’s song. It’s all about the therapy. So I decided to do a content analysis of Eurovision song lyrics. What is it that is favoured (and rejected) by the wider European family? Indulge me.
A few notes of technical caution first. For one thing, most pop songs are certainly repetitive. Of course, repeating the word love over and over again has some consequences but ultimately it doesn’t really account for the sense that is communicated through context. In this respect the sort of content analysis I have done here is going to show the same number of “hits” for someone singing, “I love you,” as it does for, “I don’t love you at all, and I never did, you vicious bastard!” My basic analysis wouldn’t pick up context and semantics although the corpus of text is there should anyone have time on their hands to do that. And, of course, we all know that other factors may be at play when it comes to winning the Eurovision song contest. These factors range from the attractiveness of the singer(s) and the order of the songs, to the political bloc voting. All of these other factors are, ultimately, great fun.
First of all, then, what about the Eurovision winners this century (i.e., all of them since 2000)? Well, some words appear frequent that would not be expected (teardrops, heroes, running, scared and hallelujah) but that is down to specific mentions in certain songs (our sample size is 18 here). But across the songs, the most frequent words were love and I’m (60+ mentions each), closely followed by wanna, come, and can. You’d expect love to be standard fodder for any pop song,. And you’d be right… but typically girl, heart, feel and yeah also feature frequently. Europe has no truck with gender or internal anatomy (see Eurovision losers…). It’s a single message of an invitation to join in the love party!
I organised these words into WordClouds in a new graphical feature, below!
Eurovision Winners (2000-2018) lyrics word count
That’s the winners. What about the losers? And specifically, those finishing in last place in the final. First thing to note is that even if we just count those in last place there are many more “losers” than winners because the voting system has always landed a few at, or just hoverring above, nul points. Actually very few countries get nul points these days. But the losers give a very different and somewhat alarming picture of content. Baby and shake have the highest word count – make of that what you will but it’s good to know that child cruelty is not something rewarded with high marks by the national votes. Also featuring high on the list: celebrate, bye, clap, hands, and… bum. While this list suggests a party of sorts it sounds a little like the sort that you have to sit through as a mid-teen after distant relatives’ weddings. My experience may be unique, but those tend to end in a conga, with Uncle Ron getting a bit “handy”… Again, some unusual words appear – moustache – that are attributable to repeated references in a single song. And yes, you’d be right to assume that was the French entry (2014).
Eurovision Losers (2000-2018) lyrics word count
It’s just therapy, and nobody should read much into it. Or maybe you should. But, naturallement, I’ll be thinking of you, in most everything I do...