Eurovision: What Makes a Winning Song?
Updated: May 16, 2022
Over the last 66 years, countries around Europe have gathered once a year to take part in what is a truly unique competition: The Eurovision Song Contest. It may now be a household name, but when it started out in 1956, Eurovision had just seven participants: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Switzerland. Nowadays, around 40 countries in and around Europe compete fiercely for the prize, prestige, and the chance to host the competition the following year. To date, 27 countries have won the contest, but what makes a winning song? What are the most common topics? We decided to analyse the lyrics of every single winning Eurovision track to date (which is more than 15,000 words!) by translating them into English (if not already in English) and then reviewing the vocabulary choice. Read on to find out what makes a winning Eurovision song!
Winners of Eurovision 2022
The country with the most wins to date
The country with the most second place finishes
The country who finished last most often
Ranked: The Most Commonly-Used Lyrics by Eurovision Winners
Word Cloud: The Top 30 Most Common Lyrics in Winning Songs
Love Conquers All: Fun Facts About the Winning Songs
What makes a winning song? Love is the answer! By far the most commonly-used word in the winning songs is indeed love, which has appeared 148 times in winning lyrics since the contest began.
Eurovision may be famous for its pop anthems such as ABBA’s Waterloo, but the word rock has appeared dozens of times in winning songs (85 times).
Winning songs have typically been uplifting and focused on unity: terms like light, live, dream, and hallelujah all make the top 10 most commonly used words by Eurovision champions, while together, Europe, and peace are in the top 30.
Many Eurovision winners have been ruled by passion: heart, night, hero, beautiful, kiss, and lover are also all in the top 30 most common lyrics.
In contrast, winning participants have generally steered clear of negativity. The only words in the top 30 with more negative connotations are nothing (20 times) and alone (13 times).
How We Produced This Guide
We used the official Eurovision website to create a list of all the winning songs to date, and online lyrics websites to gather all of their lyrics. Next, using DeepL, we translated all the non-English language songs into English, and compiled their lyrics into one document. After this, we added the lyrics of all the winning songs sung in English. By having all the winning tracks alongside each other in one language, it was able for us to spot patterns across the songs.
Once we had all the winning song lyrics compiled in the same document in the same language, our team manually reviewed them to check for the most popular lexicon. This brought us to a shortlist of around 100 popular words. Then, using the statistical software R, we analysed the frequency of these 100 words across all the winning songs, making sure to avoid duplicates where a shorter word was also included in a longer word. Finally, we ranked them based on frequency. We excluded conjunctions, determiners and pronouns.