Language police slam ‘English’ Eurovision song

Spain's national language academy isn't happy that the country's song for the 2014 Eurovision contest contains English lyrics.

Language police slam 'English' Eurovision song
Should Ruth Lorenzo sing Spain's Eurovision entry Dancing in the Rain entirely in Spanish? Screen grab: YouTube

Spain's normally reclusive Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) has taken the unusual step of talking popular culture.

Based in Madrid, the institution charged with safeguarding the Spanish language usually limits its complaints to thorny linguistic matters.

But RAE president José Manuel Blecua recently wrote to Spanish national broadcaster RTVE to express his "concern" about English lyrics in the country's 2014 Eurovision entry Dancing in the Rain.

The power ballad — to be performed by Ruth Lorenzo — contains both Spanish and English lyrics while the chorus is entirely English. 

In his letter, Blecua stressed the RAE "wanted to be discreet" but couldn't ignore "a situation like this" given that Spanish has over 500 million speakers worldwide, sources told Spanish news agency EFE.

Those same sources said the academy president had sent the letter after several Latin American countries queried the song choice.

It is not yet clear whether Lorenzo will sing the song in English, in Spanish, or in a combination of the two.

Three versions have apparently been recorded, according to Spain's ABC newspaper.

But one thing is clear: the multilingual version of Dancing in the Rain has been a great success in Spain.

Lorenzo, a former UK X Factor contestant who has lived in both the US and the UK, beat out four other hopefuls at the recent national finals with the song, with both professional judges and viewers giving her the thumbs up.

The song also topped the iTunes charts in Spain.
The use of English as a lingua franca is common at the Eurovision Song Contest, and Dancing in the Rain is not the first Spanish Eurovision entry to include English lyrics.
In 2007, D'Nash performed I Love You Mi Vida while Rosa López sang Europe's living a celebration in 2002.
The 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark on May 10th.

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Five fantastic facts about Spain in Eurovision

As the Eurovision final approaches it's time to swot up on some facts about Spain's history in the most celebrated singing contest in the world. From false starts to Franco, here is The Local's list:

Five fantastic facts about Spain in Eurovision
Arguably Spain's feakiest Eurovision act, Rodolfo Chikilicuatre, dancing the Chiki Chiki. Screen grab: YouTube

1) False starts

Only three times in the 60 year history of Eurovision has an act been allowed to start their performance again and two of these were Spanish. 

In 1990 Spanish sisters Azucar Moreno (Brown Sugar) opened the show and it was memorable for all the wrong reasons. The backing track was not started in time so the sisters came out onto the stage only to look at each other in confusion before storming off stage. They did eventually reemerge and managed a respectable fifth place with their flamenco-inspired song, Bandido. 

Ten years later another Spanish act had to perform again after his performance was disrupted by a notorious Spanish streaker. Daniel Dignes was halfway through his song Algo Pequeñito when Jaume Marquet Cot, better known as Jimmy Jump, stormed the stage.

2) A little help from Franco

Massiel, who beat none other than British crooner Cliff Richard to win the 1968 Eurovision Song Contest with her snappily titled hit La, la, la in which she repeated the word 'la' no less than 138 times.

But suspicions arose that Massiel had received support from a rather unlikely Eurovision fan, none other than Spanish dictator, General Francisco Franco.  A 2008 Spanish documentary claimed Franco bought votes so Spain could win Eurovision, thus improving the country’s image abroad. He promised to buy other countries’ television programmes if they voted for Spain. The claims were rubbished by Massiel, who said she won because her song was better. 

3) One hit wonders fail to make a comeback

Remember The Ketchup Song? The nauseatingly unforgettable hit played none stop during the summer of 2002 and went on to be, amazingly, one of the biggest selling singles of all time. Well, the group behind the hit, Spanish sisters Las Ketchup, decided to enter Eurovision in 2006 hoping to replicate the success of their earlier condiment-based tune. Unfortunately, by 2006 European audiences preferred masked Finnish trolls (Lorde) than Europop stars and Las Ketchup came in 21st place with their song Un Blodymary. 

4) Champions of nul points

Spain has the dubious honour of being one of the countries to receive the most nul points in the history of Eurovision.

Nul points hall of fame: 

1962: Victor Balaguer – Llámame (Call me) 

1965: Conchita Bautista – Que bueno, que bueno (How good, how good) 

1983: Remedios Amaya – ¿Quién maneja mi barca? (Who is sailing my boat?) 

1999: Lydia – No quiero escuchar (I don't want to listen) 

5) Freaks and gimmicks

Every country occassionally disregards singing ability and submits a “comedy” entry and Spain is definitely no exception. 

Baila el Chiki Chiki from a man toting a fake Elvis quiff, lenseless glasses and a kiddie's plastic guitar, has to be one of the strangest songs in Spain's, if not Europe's, Eurovision history.