My Top 100 from 2001-2010
Happy New Year everyone! What better way to celebrate the new year than by looking back? Even though selections for this year are well underway (welcome back Italy, Austria, Hungary, and San Marino!), I thought that the ending of the New Millennium’s first decade deserved it’s own Top 100 list, so here we are. I am currently wrestling with YouTube to get the accompanying videos posted. I will add the links into this post as I get them posted. Secondly, as an act of consecration, I will be fasting from Eurovision for the next 36 days (think of it as kind of Lent come early). As such, this will be my last post until early February. But best believe that I will come back with my reviews and predictions for the all the countries that have selected artists up to that point, including a full write-up on Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2011. So, without further ado, here is My Top 100 Entries to the Eurovision Song Contest from 2001-2010.
100. Switzerland 2009 – Highest Heights performed by Lovebugs
A great rock song, it demonstrated that the Swiss are more than just makers of trendy ballads or vampiric dance songs.
99. Lithuania 2007 – Love or Leave performed by 4Fun
A song that really grew on me, Love or Leave tells a the story of a woman who is no longer wants to be in the yo-yo relationship she is in. Quite moving.
98. Switzerland 2008 – Era Stupendo performed by Paolo Meneguzzi
Despite a less than stellar performance (this will be a recurring element throughout this list), I still enjoyed this song from the first listening. I think Meneguzzi (on the studio version, at least) has the perfect voice for this song and the lyrics are pleasant.
97. Greece 2007 – Yassou Maria performed by Sarbel
What a fun dance number! I am a little ashamed to say that I actually know the entire choreography from the live performance. This song is simplistic and very entertaining.
96. Cyprus 2007 – Comme Çi, Comme Ça performed by Evridiki
I love this – a song performed in a non-national language that’s not English. 2007 brought three acts with this interesting characteristic and I commend Contest veteran Evridiki for doing such a good job and creating one of the biggest fan favorites of that year.
95. Ireland 2007 – They Can’t Stop the Spring performed by Dervish
This is a song best appreciated in its studio form; for one reason or another, the singer just didn’t seem to have it together on the night of the Final. Despite this, the song itself is a lovely display of Celtic folk tradition in a contemporary form.
94. Germany 2009 – Miss Kiss Kiss Bang performed by Alex Swings, Oscar Sings!
A truly appreciated both of Germany’s big band numbers from the past ten years (with 2007 being the other one), the thing that sets Miss Kiss Kiss Bang apart is perspective. 2007’s entry is the stereotypical, “I do what she says because I have to” type of song whereas 2009 brought us more of a “I do what she wants because she lights passions within me” piece. See the difference?
93. Israel 2003 – Milim Iaahova/Words of Love performed by Lior Narkis
Can a love song be chauvinistic; Lior Narkis seems to think so. Despite its unnecessarily sexed-up performance, this song still represents a successful implementation of a nifty idea. It’s a shame, in my opinion, that multi-language songs tend not to do well.
92. Turkey 2005 – Rimi Rimi Ley performed by Gülseren
The first cheerful song of heartbreak I’ve heard. She sings about how much she misses her love, and how she wants him to come back, but the song is up-tempo, bouncy, and Gülseren performs with a big ol’ smile on her face the entire time. It’s an interesting combination of melancholy and pep.
91. Romania 2007 – Liubi, Liubi I Love You performed by Todomondo
In my opinion, this is one of the most innovative songs ever to be on the Eurovision stage. You have a nice, simplistic verse translated into six languages, then stapled together so that those languages can be presented next to one another. The concept of each singer presenting a little of the culture of their language’s speakers is even better! What a great song, a great concept, and a prime educational opportunity.
90. Denmark 2002 – Tell Me Who You Are performed by Malene
In my opinion, this song is of the same caliber of Never Let You Go and better than Fly on the Wings of Love; however, instead of bringing Denmark more glory, she got last place! I think this is a beautiful song that is tastefully understated.
89. Georgia 2008 – Peace Will Come performed by Diana Gurtskaya
This is a powerful call to action with one of the niftiest costume changes in Contest history. Ironically, it would be “military aggressions” at the root of Georgia’s withdrawal the following year.
88. Poland 2008 – For Life performed by Isis Gee
When I get married, I think that this might be my wedding song. It’s a beautiful, heartfelt ballad (Gee wrote it with her husband in mind) that was admirably performed, twice!
87. Bulgaria 2009 – Illusion performed by Krassimir Assimov
An exhilarating popera entry from a countertenor who is able to not be creepy when he hits those ridiculous high notes. Unfortunately, he was sick during the performance and so his ill-equipped and overzealous backing singer had to fill in for a lot of what, on the recorded version, Assimov had sung. Though, I think this is a good example of an awesome song that, had it stuck to its studio version in competition, would have done a lot better. Instead, the backing vocals were overly emphasizes (above and beyond what was needed to cover for the sick Assimov) and destroyed a great song.
86. Switzerland 2010 – Il Pleut de l’Or performed by Michael von der Heide
I didn’t like this song much the first time I heard it, but it really grew on me. From the sung drum beats to the exaggerated slide to von der Heide’s overly-flamboyant choreography, it is just a fun song.
85. Russia 2006 – Never Let You Go performed by Dima Bilan
Once Mr. Bilan won in 2008, his runner-up performance in Athens was all but forgotten. But I think Never Let You Go is superior to Believe. While the latter was able to finally lift Russia to the Winners’ Circle with an inspirational message of believing in oneself, the Athens effort from 2006 is a haunting love song. The composers and lyricists were able to combine intimate lyrics with spine-tingling music. Unfortunately, the choreographer couldn’t come through.
84. Slovenia 2005 – Stop performed by Omar Naber
Another song with killer music, the composers were able to take a simple scale motif and turn it into a haunting melody. The lyrics are so-so and bit repetitive, hence, why it’s only number 84 on my list.
83. Bulgaria 2007 – Water performed by Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankoulov
One of the most inventive and creative entries in Eurovision history! Too bad the live vocals were not up to par. The performance was amazing though; they showed why they are Bulgaria’s top percussionists.
82. Spain 2005 – Brujeria performed by Son del Sol
Thanks to my blind stumbling around YouTube, this was the first Eurovision song I heard after watching ESC 2007. It’s a fast tempo, very-Spanish style entry from the Big Four country – I don’t know why it is so often forgotten when Spain’s recent entries are discussed.
81. Spain 2009 – La Noche Es Para Mi (The Night Belongs to Me) by Soraya Arnelas
What a great song from Spain! It’s a fun dance tune, but I think it suffered from trying to do too much. There was no need for the “C’mon and take me, c’mon and shake me”; there’s a pure Spanish version out there and that’s what should have been performed. And the intro at the beginning – why on earth would they mess with a song that was already popular? Had Spain left the song that won its national final alone, then they wouldn’t have earned one of the worst results of a song performing last in the running order.
80. Latvia 2009 – Probka performed by Intars Busulis
The best gag act in Eurovision history! It is musically intriguing, the lyrics tell an interesting story, and the staging is quite well done. This song suffers from being serious non-serious entry, fans just didn’t know what to make of it.
79. Latvia 2007 – Questa Notte performed by bonaparti.lv
Talk about popopera, I don’t know why Eurovision.tv heralded Sweden 2009 as the first popera on the Eurovision stage, 2007’s Slovenian and Latvian acts definitely came first. Anyway, this act brought a lot of class to the ESC stage and was beautifully performed by six very talented tenors. One more thing I love about this act, it was in Italian, even though it was from Latvia…beautiful (see entry #96 for explanation).
78. Croatia 2008 – Romanca performed Kraljevi Ulice & 75 Cents
Such a fun song. It took me a few times to understand the lyrics, but I think I finally understand the meaning of the song to be that love stories never change through time; that it is fact that people have fallen in love, are falling in love, and will continue to fall in love until the end of time. I also love the dancer and her beautiful dress.
77. Ireland 2010 – It’s for You performed by Niamh Kavanaugh
If all else fails, go back to you’re wheelhouse, or so must have gone the logic in Ireland in 2010. Kavanaugh, the second in the Emerald Isle’s historic three-straight victories in the 90’s, took us back to 1992 with It’s for You, a classic, Irish style ballad. Unfortunately, Europe was looking ahead, not behind, and the unthinkable happened – Kavanaugh (and her Irish ballad) ended up near the bottom of the scoreboard. It didn’t help that her vocals weren’t as strong as they were seventeen years before, but it was still a shock for me.
76. Norway 2008 – Hold On, Be Strong performed by Maria Haukaas Storeng
What a great message of hope for those of us struggling with loneliness. Though a little cheesy, it propelled Norway back into the Top Ten with a heartfelt performance.
75. Armenia 2008 – Qele, Qele performed by Sirusho
I will admit, I don’t love this song as much as I used to. I think seeing in the context of the Contest, and how of all the acts, it improved the most in terms of its performance from semi-final to Grand Final. I still think the lyrics are bit simplistic, but, gosh darn it, it’s such a fun song to dance to.
74. Albania 2009 – Carry Me in Your Dreams performed by Kejsi Tola
This song was immediately one of my favorites because it had one of the best translation jobs I’ve seen in the Contest, too rarely does a song keep so much of its original lyrics when translated into English. The song was inventive, but the performance and music video were quite lacking. I got the idea that the stage show was supposed to be a dream, but why was Tola wearing a tutu? I realize that she’s young, but come on, a lot more could have been done. And the music video, soooooo outdated! It was like something out of the 80s.
73. Slovenia 2002 – Samo Ljubezen performed by Sestre
Another song of hope, only delivered much more entertainingly. I enjoy this song, but it just doesn’t make a lasting impression when listened to.
72. Belarus 2005 – Love Me Tonigh performed by Angelica Agurbash
A love this song, it is ridiculously fun to sing along to and can provide a song for the intimate nights with the spouse. If only the vocal performance during the live performance wasn’t so…horrid.
71. Slovenia 2007 – Cvet Z Juga performed by Alenka Gotar
Of the four opera inspired acts I have seen on the ESC stage, this was probably the most well done musically. It has that classic, stereotypical spooky opera sound with the staging to go along with it. Not to mention that Gotar has an amazing voice. This, along with a few other entries in my top 100, suffers from the 2007 curve – Serbia’s victory set the trend for higher quality music, leaving songs that were vastly superior in their own time in the dust. Hence, two years ago, this would have been in my Top 20, and now, it is only number 71.
70. Slovenia 2006 – Mr. Nobody performed by Anžej Dežan
Slovenia has a way with music, another simple music motif turned into an intriguing and layered melody. And the lyrics told quite the story, from meeting to heartache. Oh, “tell me, who’s the lucky hero?!”
69. Greece 2009 – This is Our Night performed by Sakis Rouvas
One of many of the high energy dance numbers sent by Greece, not to mention a stellar performance to go along with it. I also like this song because it is so much fun to sing along to – it’s no surprise that this is one of my favorite Greek entries of the past decade.
68. Malta 2007 – Vertigo performed by Olivia Lewis
Probably the biggest sufferer of the 2007 Curve that resulted in so many of my favorite songs from Helsinki being pushed to the bottom of my playlists as 2008, 2009, and 2010 supplied superior musical quality. For the first year the Contest was in my life (essentially, up until the 2008 Contest in Belgrade) this was probably my favorite entry, even after I had retroactively watched 2004-2006 by the time the Contest was staged in Belgrade. Once I became more experienced with the Contest, I saw just how weak the lyrics and stage performance was for Vertigo. Unfortunately, its intriguing melody alone was not enough to keep this one-time favorite in my top 50.
67. Estonia 2010 – Siren performed by Malcolm Lincoln & ManPower 4
What a lovely throwback to the 80s! The song is lacks in lyrical complexity, it more than makes up for in sheer quirkiness of music and performance. Not that the lyrics aren’t worth merit, I definitely credited the duo for writing a song with as sophisticated a double entendre as Siren – you have the literal siren that sounds at various throughout the song as well as the figurative meaning of a siren being an alluring woman who leads men to their doom.
66. Macedonia 2005 – Make My Day performed by Martin Vučić
It’s about time a man made a song about standing up to a controlling girlfriend that is up-tempo and empowering. Vučić performs ableably and the music is textured enough so that its simplicity isn’t noticed. The reason I don’t rank this song higher is that it is generally forgettable, despite it’s infectious “Lej la, la la, lej la” refrain.
65. Germany 2010 – Satellite performed by Lena
In one of the most evenly matched Contests to date, Germany was able to pull off a decisive victory with Satellite. It’s a fun song that fits Lena perfectly. I definitely like this arrangement more than the original that Lena’s competitor sung – it sounds more genuine, like someone who’s only 19 would actually say these things to their boyfriend. I particularly love that Lena was an amateur and that she went from average high school student to international superstar over the course of six months – it truly inspires us all. With all that said, I don’t think this was the strongest song in 2010 and think that I can name at least four other songs of higher quality that competed, as well as about six songs that I liked better.
64. Russia 2001 – Lady Alpine Blue performed by Mumiy Troll
Many belie this song because of its nonsensical lyrics, but I find this song inexplicitly hypnotic. I don’t know quite know if it’s the music or the singer’s voice or just the way how everything comes together on this song – it’s just a captivating song.
63. Moldova 2009 – Hora Din Moldova performed by Nelly Ciobanu
I will spare you the details of how much fun I have singing and dancing to this song. It’ll suffice to say that this I think this is one of the most fun entries in the history of the Contest. And the staging was just adorable. I think I would rate this song higher if I could more easily distinguish between her Moldovan and English.
62. Norway 2010 – My Heart is Yours performed by Didrik Solli-Togen
This was a decent title defense effort, though I agree with a lot of the chatter online that says that the song may be better suited for a musical than a music competition. I also think the original arrangement during the Norsk Melodi Grand Prix was better, when it was just Solli-Togen and violins, and I think that this song fell into the trap of adding backing vocalists and a bigger instrumentation in order to make the song more ‟dynamic and dramatic.” I truly enjoy this song but think that the second verse could have been written better. As much as I hate to admit it, “I watch you at night” is not necessarily the best line to put into a love song.
61. Estonia 2004 – Tii performed by Neiokõsõ
Another captivating song without much reason to be. The style and staging are too close to pagan tradition for my tastes, but it’s a moving song nevertheless. The lyrics seem to take a generic message of feeling as if one lacks control over one’s own life and turns it into an homage to fate. However, because the song is such that it is a chant, it just comes off as five girls singing to themselves and not a real pop song.
60. Ukraine 2009 – Be My Valentine! (Anti-Crisis Girl) performed by Svetlana Loboda
This is the ultimate guilty pleasure song, something that you like but don’t tell others that you like it. It’s fun, it’s allows you to sing at the top of your lungs, and try to exude the power that Loboda did during her stage performance. The reason this song isn’t higher on the list is because of the lyrics. Aside from going “Boom” whenever a word couldn’t be thought of to fit into a line, the lyrics come off as “Be my valentine…or else!” Violence is never sexy.
59. Norway 2007 – Ven A Bailar Conmigo performed by Guri Schanke
The Spanish flair to this Norwegian entry is what initially drew me to this song. It’s fun to dance and sing along to and the lyrics make sense. I even liked the staging where the costume change did the ever-so-rare short dress to long dress change. This song is just so bubbly!
58. Belgium 2003 – Sanomi performed by Urban Trad
A historic entry for the Contest, this was the first (and so far, most successful) entry in a “constructed” language. I would argue that it’s one of the most important entries of the past ten years, if not in the history of the Contest (at one of the more historic Contests). It’s a very relaxing song to listen to and is a quintessential example of what Americans consider “trendy Euro music.” This is quite an enjoyable entry.
57. Armenia 2009 – Jan Jan performed by Inga & Anush
One of the more memorable stagings of an entry since the Contest started becoming more elaborate in its presentation. Despite the songs suspect lyrics, it is still a great dance tune and quite original. The songwriters were able to successfully combine traditional Caucasian folk elements with modern Western pop music (which I think is the reason why the sister pair was chosen). I thoroughly enjoy this song.
56. Lithuania 2010 – Eastern European Funk performed by InCulto
I think the theme of enjoyable, fun songs has been well established on this list. What sets this song apart is its ska sound, not something I would expect from Europe, let alone Eastern Europe. Not only that, the song’s quirky and clever lyrics, which narrowly slipped by the EBU censures, gives the song an esoteric spin.
55. Albania 2010 – It’s All About You performed Juliana Pasha
Talk about an unexpected power, Pasha really showed her pipes with this song. The song was well written, well composed, and, in its final form, well orchestrated. The addition of the background vocals was an amazing decision that greatly enhanced the entry and helped Albania continue its streak of making it into the Final.
54. Turkey 2008 – Deli performed by Mor ve Ötesi
This is a strong rock entry from Turkey and is one of the country’s rare Turkish-language entries since 1998. Not to mention, it’s quite fun to sing along to. Again, this is an entry with “interesting” lyrics, but the music and performance more than make up for this shortfall.
53. Lithuania 2001 – You’ve Got Style performed by Skamp
What a cool song. This retro entry just makes you want to throw on some bellbottoms and an applejack and hit the local roller rink! The song was well performed on the night; though, the stage was huge, so it is a little confusing as to why the band seemed to be crowding each other.
52. Greece 2003 – Never Let You Go performed by Mando
An awesome, R&B style song that should have done much better than it did. Mando has an amazing voice and this song was well suited to her. I can only say that the staging was quite boring, especially given the competition Greece stood against that year. Though, it’s important to note that Greece has since sent only titillating entries (save for 2006) since 2003 and have yet to fall outside of the Top Ten since 2003.
51. Belgium 2008 – O Julissi performed by Ishtar
Belgium’s second attempt with a constructed language, O Julissi is much more fun and entertaining than Sanomi, but a lot less successful. One thing that hurt Ishtar was the transition from the Belgian national qualifier (a small stage with a supportive audience) to the stage in Belgrade (a much bigger stage with a neutral audience). While they seemed to have gotten the crowd in Belgrade excited, the energy just didn’t seem to transfer to the television viewers. Not to mention, the lead singer got quite winded during the song, diminishing its effect. Despite all this, I still love this song.
50. The Netherlands 2010 – Ik Ben Verliefd (Sha-la-lie) performed by Sieneke
One of the most divisive songs from 2010, people either hated or loved this song; I fall in the latter camp. For starters, its the first Dutch entry in Dutch in ages. Secondly, it’s so infectious. Thirdly, it’s old-fashioned tune and staging set it apart from the competition, not disadvantage it. This entry was the most popular Dutch entry in a long time, both in the Netherlands and abroad, so something must have been done correctly.
49. Finland 2002 – Addicted to You performed by Laura Voutilainen
Another disco-esque song from the past ten Contests makes my list. This song is surprisingly soulful for any entry from the ESC, let alone from the land of hard rock, tango, and accordion folk. I’m quite “addicted” to this song.
48. Ukraine 2004 – Wild Dances performed by Ruslana
This song won the hearts of Europe with its electrifying performance and incredible musical arrangement (but surely not its lyrics). I was captivated from the very first time I watched the winning performance – and I am still held captive by this song.
47. Greece 2006 – Everything performed by Anna Vissi
A truly stirring song; I didn’t fully appreciate it until a few months after I watched the 2006 Contest. Vissi so poignantly transmits the heartache of the lyrics. The performance lived up to the level of drama that this song demanded. This is just a great song all around.
46. Israel 2008 – Fire in Your Eyes performed by Boaz
This is another song with a great musical arrangement and dramatic performance. The lyrics are a little confusing, particularly the few lines in English, but Boaz and his backing singers did such a great job of delivering the song that no one seemed to notice.
45. Croatia 2004 – You Are the Only One performed by Ivan Mikulić
In my opinion, Mikulić has one of the biggest notes of the decade during this performance. Who hasn’t daydreamed of singing this song to a special someone, especially those of us who don’t exactly have a long list of ex-partners? What really makes the song special is that, despite it’s lyrics, the music still has that former-Yugoslav sadness in it.
44. Armenia 2007 – Anytime You Need performed by Hayko
Another powerful ballad, I especially like the addition of the Armenian language lyrics thrown in at the end. This song had a flawless performance, with flawless lyrics, and flawless music – it’s so tender and genuine.
43. Croatia 2006 – Moja Štikla performed by Severina
Talk about fun songs, this has to be one of the most fun entries to date (not to mention one of the funniest). It perfectly encapsulates folk music with pop while delivering a message of empowerment while pulling off some incredible dance moves in crazy high stilettos. If you’re a woman and some undesirable guy starts to hit on you, make him tuck his tail and run by proudly proclaiming that, “Not a single blade of grass has grown where I’ve stuck my high heel!”
42. Bulgaria 2008 – DJ, Take Me Away performed by Deep Zone & Bathazar
Bulgaria is known for sending kind of off-the-wall, experimental entries, so who better to grace the ESC stage with a dance house track than the Balkan nation? Especially since it worked out so well for them the previous year. For as cool and inventive as the song was, I thought that the performance left something to be desired. But, this song is just so much fun to sing and dance to, it’s all right.
41. Belgium 2007 – Love Power performed by The KMG’s
When I saw this song live, I literally said, “What was that?!” The live performance is unforgettable, but not in a good way. When I listened to the studio version for the first time the following day, I automatically fell in love with the song. It’s light and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s the perfect fluff piece that, had it been executed properly, could have provided some break to the monotony of ballads and power ballads that flooded the ESC stage in 2007. Normally, I think the music videos for ESC entries are, well, lame – but this one is hilarious. If you have yet to see it, I suggest that you hightail it back over to YouTube to check it out!
40. Turkey 2006 – Süperstar performed by Sibel Tüzün
Talk about a song for seduction, if you weren’t the least bit melted by this sizzling song and Tüzün’s sultry performance, then you must not have been paying attention. One of the sexiest songs to grace the Eurovision stage and my music collection.
39. Ukraine 2006 – Show Me Your Love performed by Tina Karol
Not to often will I say that the live performance of a song is better than the studio version, but this is definitely the case. Free of the studio’s technology, Karol has a chance to really let her voice soar and bring a whole new power to the lyrics. The music is also well done; it’s always nice when an accordion can be worked in tastefully.
38. Switzerland 2005 – Cool Vibes performed by Vanilla Ninja
Lyrical issues aside, this song is great. From the soft oboe at the beginning to the ghouly backing vocals of the refrain to the timpani that sounds at the finale, this is a beautiful musical piece. Not to mention, Vanilla Ninja give an amazing performance of the song.
37. Estonia 2009 – Rändajad performed by Urban Symphony
I think this entry is an example of effective use of simplicity. The lyrics, the music, the performance, they were all very simple – but the song made a huge impact, both on the night and among fans. This is Estonia’s best entry, from a popularity standpoint and from a quality standpoint, thus far.
36. Slovenia 2001 – Energy performed by Nuša Derenda
This song is an effective dance tune (with dance being techno’s more pop-friendly brother), if only Slovenia had been able to make the piano fly like in the music video – it would have won for sure! I love the lyrics of this song and think that Derenda had a near-flawless delivery.
35. Israel 2010 – Milim performed by Harel Ska’at
One of the biggest travesties of the decade, if not the entirety of the Contest’s history, Milim should have been the winning entry at the 2010 Contest. I mean, c’mon, it is the first entry to win all three Marcel Bezançon Awards – doesn’t that count for something (I know it doesn’t)? This song is beautiful in every way. The lyrics have so much more meaning than the average run-of-the mill ESC song. The music is perfectly timed. And the Final performance was unbelievably heartfelt and genuine (yes, even the cracked note) – not to mention that Ska’at is easy on the eyes. There’s no reason why Skaat shouldn’t have been hoisting the crystal microphone at the end of the night.
34. Sweden 2008 – Hero performed by Charlotte Perelli
I want to start by saying that I like the idea of having the performance start in black and white, but, while the Melodifestelaven folks were able to effectively arrange this effect, those in Belgrade were not quite as successful. Issues with the performance aside, this is a quintessential Eurovision song, schaleger at its best.
33. Croatia 2010 – Lako je Sve performed by Feminnem
In my notes from the 2010 Edition, I say something along the lines of “One’s thing is obvious after that performance: Feminnem came to win.” Despite the results, I stand by that statement, I think it was one of the most perfectly executed, perfectly sung entries of the decade. This song achieves to delicate balances: it tells the rare “woman cheats on man and begs for forgiveness” story, and it is done tastefully and the music is dramatic without being melodramatic. Also, this is miles better than Feminnem’s other entry, Call Me (despite the latter’s built-in tribute to the Contest).
32. Portugal 2009 – Todas As Ruas Do Amor performed by Flor-de-Lis
I don’t have much to say about this entry, other than: What a sweet song! The lyrics to this song are just adorable and the music and performance fit them perfectly.
31. Turkey 2002 – Leylaklar Soldu Kalbinde performed by Beket Bengisu & Grup Safir
The refrain alone is enough to get this song on this list. The reason I have ranked this song so highly is because the way in which the music and the singer’s voice fit together; I think Bengisu’s deep alto is perfect for the arrangement of this song. I think that the arrangement also heralds back to the early 90’s, which fits impeccably with the style in which the lyrics are written.
30. Russia 2009 – Mamo performed by Anastasia Prikhodko
I am not quite sure why so many people disliked this song – it is a heartbreaking ballad that is painfully sung by Prikhodko, not to mention the nifty aging trick on the CGI screens. Speaking of a great use of the screens, the performance is staged in such a way that it’s almost as if a chorus of Prikhodko heads are singing, until the lights shine upon the backing singers.
29. Andorra 2006 – Sense-Tu performed by Jenny
There’s only one plausible reason as to why this song finished last, Jenny commuted a cardinal sin of European entertainment, BBWBS: Being Big While Being Sexy. In the US, the sizzling lyrics, the tantalizing performance, the epic music – this would have been a hit (if in English). This song is, by far, Andorra’s best entry to date.
28. Ukraine 2007 – Dancing Lasha Tumbai performed by Verka Serduchka
Probably the most fun song on this list, definitely something that catches one’s attention! It’s loud, it’s glitzy, it’s hilarious – one of the most well done gag acts in the history of the Contest and one of the most successful. The song is just so infectious, it’s impossible to resist!
27. Romania 2005 – Let Me Try performed by Luminiţa Anghel & Sestem
A powerful love song that helped bring sparks to the ESC stage, what’s not to love about this entry? Sestem’s music provides the ideal accompaniment the lyrics. You can feel the desperation coming through in the musical arrangement and in Anghel’s voice – flawless.
26. Iceland 2008 – This is My Life performed by Euroband
I liked this song a lot when I heard it for the first time during the second semi-final; I loved this song when I heard it at the Final. There was a tangible improvement from Thursday to Saturday, and it made the big notes seem that much bigger and the lights that much brighter. While I am a little dismayed that the English lyrics don’t really match the Icelandic ones, I still enjoy them and prefer their message to the song’s original one. I also love the dance beat that this song has.
25. Bosnia & Herzegovina 2007 – Rijeka Bez Imena performed by Marija
This is the song that introduced me to the soul stirring power of the former-Yugoslav’s heartbroken ballads. The lyrics are indomitable – “with this heartache I will die,” how powerful! The music seals the deal, though, not just creating an ebb and flow for the singer’s voice to follow, but doing so in such a way that draws the listener into the song as an undertow draws in a swimmer.
24. Ireland 2003 – We Got the World Tonight performed by Mickey Joe Harte
I will go to my deathbed saying that this song should have won the Contest back in 2003. It combines sweet lyrics with an unassuming melody – just a perfect meeting in the world of pop music.
23. San Marino 2008 – Complice performed by Miodio
If there ever was an epic pop-rock song to grace the stage of ESC, this is it. The boys of Miodio take melodrama to a whole new level with this song, but in a completely awesome way. The desperation and persistence with which this song is sung only make the words come alive that much more. I think it is also worth noting that the music, and how it kind of trails off at the end fit the song quite well.
22. Serbia 2007 – Molitva performed by Marija Šerifović
It was this song’s victory that made me fall in love with the Contest. Had Serbia not won in 2007, I probably would not have become the obsessed super-fan that I am now. I remember thinking halfway through Šerifović’s performance, “This Contest is over; she has just won it for Serbia.” It was the perfect song winning off of a perfect performance. The music was dramatic, the lyrics were personal and moving, and Šerifović’s ability to belt out the notes was unmatched, probably the clearest cut, and most deserving, victor of the decade.
21. Ukraine 2008 – Shady Lady performed by Ani Lorak
A former goodwill ambassador to the United Nations, Ani Lorak tore up the Eurovision stage unmercifully. She continued the Ukraine’s tradition of powerful divas with this stunning dance number. The lyrics are words of empowerment and the music makes the heart beat faster. While I think the staging could have been better, this song still wows listeners, even in its studio version.
20. Azerbaijan 2010 – Drip Drop performed by Safura
I really do think that Safura let her nerves get the best of her, especially on the Final night. Listening to her in the Azerbaijani national selections, she was amazing. Listening to her doing the promotional performances, amazing. Listening to her at the actual Contest…not so much. Pitchy performance aside, the song tells a compelling story and the music is properly arranged. The reason this song makes my top twenty is because of how dramatic it is, especially the bridge, “I don’t cry…And be lost in myself, again…”
19. Germany 2006 – No No Never performed by Texas Lightening
Apparently, this is the most popular German entry in Germany…and it’s quite understandable as to why. It’s a sentimental love song without being sappy, “My loves burns just like eternal flame, and you feel it when I’m calling your name.” It’s a wonder as to why this song didn’t finish better than it did. The reason this song is in my top twenty is because it’s easy to sing along to, the lyrics are deceptively simple, and the style is unexpected. Who would have thought that the Germans would send a country act?
18. Turkey 2009 – Düm Tek Tek performed by Hadise
“Can you feel the rhythm in my heart? The beat is going: Düm Tek Tek!” Come on, when a song pauses so that everyone can shout together it’s deserves to be in a Top 100. When that same song consistently delivers itself in a sexy package with a hot choreography, it deserves to be in the Top 50. When that same song has a killer dance beat wrapped up in an ethno-pop package, it deserves to be in the Top Twenty.
17. Iceland 2009 – Is It True? performed by Yohanna
Talk about deceptively simple, this song has a very basic melody with very basic lyrics, but it’s stunning. Yohanna’s performance is what knocks this song into my top twenty. The way how she belts out the notes and the way how the song builds and builds until that huge note third time through the chorus, “Is it true, Is it over? Did I throw it all awa…y?”
16. Portugal 2008 – Senhora do Mar (Negras Águas) performed by Vânia Fernandes
This song is impossible not to love. The performance of this song, particularly during the Semi-Final, was breath-taking. The fact that this was the first Portuguese entry to qualify for the Final since 2004 and remains one of the country’s most popular entries makes the song that much more remarkable. What makes this song deserve a Top Twenty placing for me is how dark the song’s music is and how the music helps paint the image of this whaler’s wife waiting on the edge of the sea for her husband to return. The winds, the waves, they’re all there.
15. The Netherlands 2008 – Your Heart Belongs to Me performed by Hind
At the time, this was my favorite entry from 2008 and remains as my favorite Dutch entry to date. The reason why this song is so good (other than Hind’s great voice and looks) is because this song grabs you from the first beat and doesn’t let go (literally, when she sings, “Your belongs to me,” she means it!). Unlike other dance-y pop numbers, this song steps above them with its intricate musical style. The musical arrangement harks back to almost, kiddie music (just look at the music video) while Hind’s voice and the lyrics provide a mature tone to the song. Well done Netherlands, well done.
14. Hungary 2009 – Dance With Me performed by Zolí Adok
Bet you didn’t see this one coming! This is in my top twenty because 1) it’s my favorite dance number from the Contest. 2) It’s insanely infectious “C’mon dance with me, make me lose my way! Dance with me, make my body sway…” Tell me the song isn’t now stuck in your head. 3) It’s just a sexy song (not the performance, but the music, the lyrics, the music video).
13. Serbia & Montenegro 2004 – Lane Moje performed by Žečjko Joksimović & The Ad Hoc Orchestra
This is the song that really defined the former Yugoslav countries’ heartbreak ballads. Molitva (SER2007), Lejla (BiH2006), Lijepa Tena (CRO2009), Rijeka Bez Imena (BiH2007), Oro (SER2008), etc… Lane Moje is in my Top Twenty because, while it may not have been the very first one of it’s kind, it certainly set the stage for all the ones that followed.
12. Serbia 2008 – Oro performed by Jelena Tomašević featuring Bora Dugić
This song is in my Top Twenty because the way how everything fits together. The circular motion of the music and the lyrics perfectly reflect the title Oro (a circular dance that has a unique variant in each Balkan culture). The way how the melancholy lyrics play off the affectionate good night wish, “Nuna ney…[Wake me on St. Vitus Day, to look at him again].” (translated from the original the Serbian lyrics) is genius. What a perfect title-defense effort and I hope that Serbia can find its way again (not that I dislike 2009 and 2010, but it’s no 2007 or 2008).
11. Norway 2009 – Fairytale performed by Alexander Rybak
Never before in history has a song so dominated the competition as Fairytale dominated the other 41 songs in Moscow. The song itself packages folk music in a nice, cute package, from the innocent lyrics (“But when I do, We’ll get a brand new start!”) to the bubbly backing singers’ “Duh, do, dah.” The fact that Alexander Rybak wrote, composed, and performed the song virtually all by himself (the first to do so and win, I think) top off the reasons as to how this song earned its way into my Top Twenty.
10. Hungary 2008 – Candlelight performed by Csézy
A song that could dominate the Adult Contemporary charts in the US if given the chance, Candlelight is a perfect example of what makes that genre so compelling. The lyrics, the music, the way in which they fit together to form this large, aural sweeping motion – it’s the utter definition of a romantic ballad. This earns a spot in my Top Ten because of how transcending the song is, no matter how many times I hear it – I’m transported to a romantic scene (“I will fly tonight, forever keep you in my heart/Make it feel so right when you love me by sweet/Candlelight, hold me till the morning shine/All my fears subside when I look into your eyes.”) Anytime a song can inspire such vivid imagery so consistency, it deserves a spot at the top.
9. Austria 2005 – Y Así performed by Global.Kryner
Before this entry, who ever would have thought of trying to meld Latin music with polka? This song is innovative and catchy, poppy yet intriguing, and has a yodeler! This song makes my Top Ten because of its effective use of polka (not an easy feat), its use of Spanish (“Bailar como Latina/El ritmo puro de la música alpina/Y así, y así /Y así baila la chica del Caribe”,) the unique story that it tells, and this is one of the most fun songs I’ve seen at the Contest.
8. Georgia 2007 – Visionary Dream performed by Sopho
Talk about epic entries! The performance (with those swords), the music, Sopho’s voice – this song is just so powerful! Everytime Sopho sings the words, “Sailing thorough my story! Sharing my history!” I’m just blown away. The reason this song is in my Top Ten is because it’s incredibly cathartic; every time the song explodes in musical array, I explode with it. It’s arranged in such a way that it always takes me by surprise each time that I listen to it.
7. Israel 2005 – Hasheket Shinish’Ar performed by Shiri Maimon
To those who regularly follow the blog, you know that I often invoke the name of Shiri Maimon when talking about “travesties” at the Contest; times when I so vehemently disagree with the results that I feel an injustice has occurred. There is absolutely no reason this song should have lost, especially to that Greek mess that was My Number 1. But the reason this song is in my Top Ten is because it is unbelievably stirring and heartbreaking – even before I knew what the lyrics meant. What makes the song even more astounding is that Maimon is generally a sexed-up pop singer, so she really steps out of her comfort zone and showcases her pipes. Lovely job!
6. Turkey 2003 – Every Way That I Can performed by Sertab Erener
Talk about a dominant personality! This is a Top Ten song because the lyrics are those of a heartbreak ballad, “I’ll cry, I’ll die, to make you mine again! I’m in love with you, I’ll do all you want me to…,” but it is delivered in an aggressive, powerful way – as if the man who broke Erener’s heart is the sorry one. It’s this contradiction that intrigues me so, that makes me love this song so much, and probably what helped Turkey win in 2003.
5. Moldova 2008 – A Century of Love performed by Geta Burlacu
A jazzy love song. I think the music video does a great job of showcasing why I love this song; it is effective and applicable at every level of a relationship – from puppy love to ageless romance. “This is all I mean, be my everything, and remember, our dreams together…” what beautiful lyrics. The music can take you to an intimate jazz lounge or a cozy night a couch with a that special someone. This is a Top Five song because I listen to it every day. I listen to it everyday because, to me, it’s a quintessential romantic song that should be a part of every couple’s soundtrack.
4. France 2009 – Et S’Il Fallait le Faire performed by Patricia Kaas
This is the ultimate love song – a tale of a love so fanatic, so impassioned that the singer is willing to do anything for her beloved, “Until being nothing more but the shadow of your nights/Until being nothing more but a shadow that follows you/And if it had to be done” (translated from the French lyrics). Not that I advocate for this kind of devotion, but Kaas so beautifully sings the song that it’s all right. Her vocals and her performance are breathtaking; there’s a reason why she won the Bezençon Artist Award in 2009. Another reason this song is in my Top Five, how unmistakably French this song is. In an era of the Contest when songs are starting to sound more and more like each other, this song sticks out as a distinct ethnic fingerprint.
3. Russia 2010 – Lost and Forgotten performed by Peter Nalitch & Friends
In my opinion, this is one of the most misunderstood acts out there. It’s a genuine heartbreak ballad delivered so painstakingly that it’s impossible to resist. Also, like many other songs from 2010, Lost and Forgotten is done in a style that harks back to an earlier time in music history, this time to the 1960’s. The reason I love this song so much that it’s number three on my list is because of how genuine the group delivers the song – from the woeful lyrics, “Would you believe, Lord of Mercy?,” to the simulated phone call, “ ‘What are you doing man?’ ‘I’m looking at her photos…’,” to Nalitch’s painful wail near the end of the song. From the first listening, this song touched me in ways that few have.
2. Sweden 2009 – La Voix performed by Malena Ernman
Popopera at its best. While I have all four opera-inspired entries on this list, this song blows them away with its clever lyrics and Ernman’s stunning performance. La Voix blows away the 98 preceding songs on this list because of its originality (it’s opera…from Sweden!), its musical arrangement (dynamics, texture, contrast!), and Ernman’s singing prowess that makes the song come alive. This song made an immediate impact on me, so much so, that I quickly was able to memorize it and have performed it on several occasions. Not to mention that this is, by far, the most popular song among those I introduce the Contest to. There’s something special about La Voix, and that’s why it’s number two.
1. Bosnia & Herzegovina 2006 – Lejla performed by Hari Mata Hari
Interesting, all three of the Željko Joksimović composed songs made my Top Twenty; that man is talented! I love this song so much; within three months, I had listened to it over 100 times, at least thirty more times than the next song, which I had for three years prior to adding Lejla to my music library. I love this song so much, I wrote and directed a short movie based upon it (can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEnGcdWi2xA)This song is number one on my list because it master’s each of the three things I look for in an ESC entry, lyrics, music, and performance. Lyrically, I was instantly moved by the sorrowful words, “Dove, my dove/Bring her tears instead of a song/I’m leaving, as if I’m guilty/For loving the one who I am not allowed to.” (translated from the Bosnian lyrics). Before I understood the lyrics, I understood the music. The music is so unbelievably fitting for this song – the music swells at the right moments, it pauses at the right moments, it suddenly gets loud and softens at just the right moments. The music is just impeccably timed. Hari Mati Hari’s performance is subtle yet makes a lasting impact. The stark white clothing against the black backdrop, the use of mixed sex backing singers, the way how they all come together at the end. The performance looks so effortless and is enacted smoothly. What really sells me is the end, everything comes together at the final line. The six performers walk forward in the a line during the last stanza to build up to the final line. In marching band, they will tell you that one of the most powerful motions a band can do is march forward in a horizontal line. Then the music drops out as the lead singer utters those most painful words, ‘For loving you…” all the pain and anguish the song talks about is summed up in those words. And then, those explosive final word, the name of the cursed beloved. The singer is left all alone, the music comes roaring back, and we hear the singer’s pained cry, “Lejla!” There’s has yet to be better entry to the Eurovision Song Contest in my opinion.