Minor and major at Eurovision 2018 – which countries follow the winning key?

Different music and different keys. Eurovision offers a bit of everything, but what’s the most popular formula – and which of the 2018 entries have the biggest chance based on the key? We take a closer look at minor, major and 4 chord.

Songs in the major key usually sound very happy and positive, while the minor key represents sad or even depressive mood. But it is not only about that. It is in the chords and different tones used throughout the song. Those happy and sad rules are just a small help. You may find some videos on YouTube with the major songs turned into minors and vice versa. We take a closer look at the past ten winning entries.

Eurovision Winners 2008 – 2017

If we divide those songs into groups of major and minor keys, the latter is slightly bigger. Half of the songs are in the minor key – Believe [A minor] (2008), Fairytale [D minor] (2009), Only Teardrops [A minor] (2013), Rise Like a Phoenix [D minor] (2014) and 1944 [G minor] (2016).

4 out of the rest then belong to the major key – Satellite [D major] (2010), Running Scared [C major] (2011), Heroes [C major] (2015) and Amar Pelos Dois [F major] (2017). The last mentioned also represents the only winner in the last 10 years that is not sung in English, but in the national language.

And then there is one that has the verses in the minor key, while the refrains modulate into the major. That is Euphoria [D minor / A major] (2012). This is actually very often, so some of the songs even they may be mentioned as one or the other, may, in the end, be this kind of mixed keys.

Eurovision 2018 participants

Now let’s sort the representatives that will soon gather in Lisbon to face each other into those categories:

Major key – Albania, Australia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Iceland, Romania, United Kingdom.

Minor key – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine.

Mixed – Croatia (verses and refrains minor / bridges major), F.Y.R. Macedonia (verses minor / refrain major), Malta (verses minor / refrains major).

As a fun fact, among those 43 entries are some songs that belong to the category 4 chord songs. It means that those songs use only, or mainly, 4 chords during almost the entire song – Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Lithuania, Malta (refrains), Moldova, Poland, Portugal (only 3 chords are used), Slovenia (bridges), Ukraine (refrains).

It is clear that minor keys are the majority – 30 out of 43 equals almost 70 %. Also, most of the winning songs from last decade were in minor keys, so this step is quite obvious. Maybe this is also caused by the fact, that minor keys are more popular among the audience. Is that how you should write a song? According to Alexander Rybak and his two entries (and one of them a winner) in the minor key, it may be the winning formula.

Please, also take into consideration that with some songs, it can be hard to tell if the song is in the major or minor key. So some of the above are based on a qualified guess.

Below you can watch a recap of the best and worst songs from the 20 countries that are yet to win the Eurovision Song Contest.

Read more in the news archive

Liked what you've read? Subscribe to our Eurovision news!