A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

English was surely an advantage

The other day I had a look at how dominating the Nordic countries have really been through the years. I think it is time to take a look at the three countries who always had the right to sing in English: United Kingdom, Ireland and Malta.

Under the old language rule where all participating countries had to sing in (one of) their official languages, these three had a clear advantage.

Not particularly because people understood what they sang (sometimes that would be a huge disadvantage - also, large parts of the audience are not fluent enough in English to understand the lyrics anyway) but more because English sounded familiar.

Everyone is far more likely voting for things familiar rather than anything exotic. This list shows all years where these three made it into top five and what placings they had there.

United Kingdom entered the ESC in 1957, Ireland in 1965 and Malta in 1971 (but didn't start participating regularly until 1991).

1959 - UK (2nd)
1960 - UK (2nd)
1961 - UK (2nd)
1962 - UK (4th)
1963 - UK (4th)
1964 - UK (2nd)
1965 - UK (2nd)
1966 - Ireland (4th)
1967 - UK (1st), Ireland (2nd)
1968 - UK (2nd), Ireland (4th)
1969 - UK (1st)
1970 - Ireland (1st), UK (2nd)
1971 - UK (4th)
1972 - UK (2nd)
1973 - UK (2nd)
1974 - UK (4th)
1975 - UK (2nd)
1976 - UK (1st)
1977 - UK (2nd), Ireland (3rd)
1978 - Ireland (5th)
1979 - Ireland (5th)
1980 - Ireland (1st), UK (3rd)
1981 - UK (1st), Ireland (5th)
1984 - Ireland (2nd)
1985 - UK (4th)
1986 - Ireland (4th)
1987 - Ireland (1st)
1988 - UK (2nd)
1989 - UK (2nd)
1990 - Ireland (2nd)
1992 - Ireland (1st), UK (2nd), Malta (3rd)
1993 - Ireland (1st), UK (2nd)
1994 - Ireland (1st), Malta (5th)
1996 - Ireland (1st)
1997 - UK (1st), Ireland (2nd)
1998 - UK (2nd), Malta (3rd)
2002 - Malta (2nd), UK (3rd)
2005 - Malta (2nd)
2009 - UK (5th)

From 1973 - 1976 as well as from 1999, there has been a free choice of language at Eurovision and it is enough to be fairly perceptive to see that the placings of these three countries have gone straight downhill since anyone could use English.

Note for instance that at least one of either United Kingdom or Ireland is present in the top five every year from 1959 - 1981. Impressive!

But clearly the tables have turned and the domination is broken. Will they be able to take it back? Will Blue, Jedward or maybe Glen Vella take them back the top placings again?

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