Nemo's “The Code” as a Nonbinary Anthem

There's a song that stole my heart and has been living in my head rent-free for the last few weeks. Before hearing it, the thought “enbies should pick their anthem” had never really occurred to me – but now I can't think of a better contender to that title than “The Code” by Nemo.

Nemo is a 24 year old nonbinary rapper, singer and musician who will be representing Switzerland in the Eurovision Song Contest 2024, next to three other countries represented by amazing nonbinary artists.

(Yes, I know that Israel taking part in Eurovision is a scandal, and I hate that too. But this is an article about queer joy, not about them – please go be angry at Israel and EBU somewhere else.)

Nemo uses they/them pronouns in English, but in their native German they prefer to be referred by name, without pronouns.

“The Code” is a song about discovering their identity as a nonbinary person; about the struggles of the process itself, but more importantly about the reward that's waiting at the end of this road: being free from the cishetnormative expectations of the society, finally breaking its “code” and being able to be truly oneself. It's a beautiful and powerful song, definitely an earworm, definitely very challenging vocally. And its lyrics are speaking to my enby soul:

Welcome to the show, let everybody know
I'm done playin' the game, I'll break out of the chains

I, I went to hell and back
To find myself on track
I broke the code, wo-o-oah

Somewhere between the 0s and 1s
That's where I found my kingdom come

And while I've been in love with this song ever since I'd first heard it, it was only when I watched their performance live a few days ago that I realised we're witnessing something huge. Nemo is not just fabulously nonbinary on that stage. They're flawless. No note is too high for them, no beat too fast, not a single thing is off. They're impressive as fuck!

And now they're gonna be bringing that majestic queer energy to the biggest music stage in Europe! In May hundreds of millions of people around the world will see their unapologetic gender-bending beauty, their powerful message about transcending restrictive social norms, and their flawless execution.

You can see that Nemo really feels that song deep in their soul. It's not a just banger produced to make money – it's personal. It's a song they believe in and a song they're singing from their heart. Here's what Nemo had to say after the performance:

All of myself is in this song and when I perform it I become one with it. I don't even really know what's happening the 3 minutes just rushed by. It's amazing to be allowed to perform this song live and that you all are enjoying it so much is even better. [credits for translation]

Nemo is one of the favourites to win the ESC – and I hope y'all can see why! “The Code” is a beautiful song, interesting musically, challenging vocally, with lyrics relatable to so many marginalised people, and with a powerful message. When somebody asks me, what it feels like to be proudly nonbinary – now I can just show them Nemo's performance. That's how. That's the power of rejecting patriarchy. I can barely imagine how many people questioning their gender will see that performance and see themselves in it, will find the power to discover their identity and to proudly be themselves.

There are many amazing songs by nonbinary artists about their experience of gender – but “The Code” is the one that stole my heart. It checks all the boxes. And in my humble opinion, it absolutely deserves to be called the anthem of our community.

A photo of me

About the author

Hi! I'm Andrea (they/them). I tell computers what to do, both for a living and for fun, I'm also into blogging, writing and photography. I'm trying to make the world just a little bit better: more inclusive, more rational and more just.