Page last updated at 07:09 GMT, Tuesday, 25 May 2010 08:09 UK

Eurovision 2010: How to write the winning lyric

By Mark Savage
BBC News entertainment reporter

Eurovision Song Contest logo 2010
A total of 39 countries have entered this year's contest

What's the main ingredient of a winning Eurovision lyric?

The answer is "love".

If you look back at every winner of the annual song contest since it started in 1956, the most common lyrical theme is affairs of the heart.

"Love" accounts for an impressive 2% - or one in 50 - of the 12,299 words that have been sung from the winner's podium (discounting common words like "I" or "and").

We took every winning lyric from the contest, using English translations where necessary, and fed them into the Wordle website - which provided an image of the most popular Euro-words of the last 54 years.

Word cloud of every Eurovision winner since 1956

(see the full-size image on Wordle)

Romantic lyrics feature heavily - there are plenty of eyes to stare into, and stars to dance under - but there are a few surprises, too.

"Europe" makes an entry, thanks to Italy's Insieme (Together), a 1990 ode to the nascent European Union.

"Hallelujah" also features prominently, due to an overtly religious Israeli entry from 1979, and Lordi's more satanically inclined Hard Rock Hallelujah, from 2006.

Nonsense lyrics, however, fare badly - with the exception of pop standbys like "la la" and "oh oh oh".

Lordi helped to add Hallelujah to the Eurovision lexicon

There are also entries for both "rock" and "rock'n'roll", as lyricists turn to the uniting power of music for inspiration.

Although we have translated all the lyrics into English for the sake of comparison, it is also interesting to look at the most successful Eurovision languages.

English takes pole position - accounting for 42% of all winners.

However, the figures are slightly skewed because, at two points during Eurovision history, countries have been allowed to sing in any language they choose, and they have largely plumped for English over their native tongue.

If you discount those periods (1974-77 and 1999-2009), French emerges as the most popular language, responsible for 31% of winners, compared to 26% for English.

No other language comes close. Joint third place goes to Dutch and Hebrew, with just three winners (5%) each.

Now, let's take a look at the most popular words in this year's contest:

Word cloud of the entrants for the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest

(see the full-size image on Wordle)

Unsurprisingly, love emerges as a major theme again.

Based on that alone, Germany has a good chance of taking away the 2010 trophy. Their song, Satellite, features the highest incidence of the word - repeating it 26 times, accounting for 7% of the lyrics.

Elsewhere, words like "oh", "just" and "let" retain their popularity. A song called Oh, Just Let Me Love You would presumably be a sure-fire winner.

Both "shalalie" and "shalala" make a strong showing, courtesy of the Dutch entry, Ik Ben Verliefd (I'm In Love) - an old-fashioned jive that's considered a rank outsider by most bookmakers.

Milan Stankovic rehearses for the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest
Serbia's 2010 entry is sung by Milan Stankovic

Serbia's Ovo Je Balkan (This Is Balkan), a love song set in Belgrade, accounts for the appearance of the word "Balkan" in the word cloud.

Few entrants appear willing to break the hegemony of English lyrics, which account for 25 of the 39 entries. Only two countries have opted to sing in French - Switzerland and France.

France is also responsible for the only element of utter gibberish in the 2010 contest, with a song that declares "Badabadam badam badam - it's the sound of the year!"

More common themes are heartache ("oh, bring her back to me!"); the joy of making music ("just me and my guitar"); and existential angst ("the end is really near").

But there are still plenty of puzzlers hidden among the lyric sheets. Here are a few of the, ahem, highlights.


Artist: Lena
Song: Satellite

I went everywhere for you
I even did my hair for you
I bought new underwear that's blue
And I wore it just the other day


Artist: Eva Rivas
Song: Apricot Stone

I began to cry a lot
And she gave me apricots


Artist: Safura
Song: Drip Drop

Where have you been?
Why are you late?
You smell like lipstick again
Come on, answer my question!


Artist: In Culto
Song: East European Funk

Yes sir, we are legal, we are
Though we are not as legal as you
No sir, we're not equal, no
Though we are both from the EU
We build your homes and wash your dishes
Keep your hands all soft and clean
But one of these days you'll realise,
Eastern Europe is in your genes
Get up and dance to our Eastern European kinda funk!


Artist: Peter Nalitch & Friends
Song: Lost And Forgotten

(Singer A) What are you doing, man?
(Singer B) I'm looking at her photos. What should I do with them?
(Singer A) Drop them into the fire!
(Singer B) Oh yeah! I'm gonna burn 'em now!


Artist: Sieneke Peeters
Song: Ik Ben Verliefd

I've forgotten where I heard this song
In the summer sun
I believe it was with you there
On the beach in Lisbon
Or was it there that time in Paris
With a bowl of fresh mocha ice cream
Or could it have been with the two of us
Over the sea in that hot-air balloon...
It's also quite possible that I was on a plane to Oslo with you


Artist: Harel Skaat
Song: Milim

Tears of blood burning my throat
Scratched handle, fallen ceiling


Artist: Jesse Matador
Song: Allez! Ola! Ole!

Allez, allez, allez, allez
You need to dance
Everybody dance with me! Badamdam
It's the sound of the year
Danbadam badamdam
Everybody, danbadam badamdam


Artist: Aisha
Song: What for?

What for are we living?
What for are we dreaming?
What for are we loosing? [sic]
Only Mr God knows why
(But) His phone today is out of range


Artist: Milan Stankovic
Song: Ovo Je Balkan

Oh, Ljubica, Ljubica!
Your chest is tempting me
You kiss me so sweetly
You have no shame
Belgrade, Belgrade!
I'm so naughty
Not once, not twice, but three times!
Belgrade, Belgrade!
We kiss three times here

Lyrics for all 39 Eurovision entrants are available on the contest's official website . Translations for historical winners were provided by the Diggiloo Thrush fan site .

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