Hello Dear Readers!
Well, with Netflix releasing its…. Eurovision-inspired movie; I thought, “What better time to counterbalance the image of ESC being a trashy, campy, dumpster fire?” Even more so now that the new executive supervisor, Martin Österdahl, has announced that he’s continuing the tradition of putting style-before-substance. But now is not the time for a rant (but there will be one – promise!).
Instead, since many Americans will be learning about Eurovision for the first time this week, I thought it would be a good idea to 1) remind folks of my Eurovision for Beginners, 2) remind folks of my Essential Eurovision playlist, and 3) create a Eurovision for Americans playlist highlighting the performing artists coming from the States, spent significant time in the US, or otherwise are American citizens regardless of where they spent their youth.
United Kingdom 1997 – Love Shine a Light performed by Katrina & the Waves
The only winning song to be performed by an American! Katrina, who is from Kansas, and the Waves are also known for their hit Walking on Sunshine.
Portugal 2017 – Amar Pelos Dois performed by Salvador Sobral
Sobral (and his older sister who wrote the song) spent his middle and high school years in Florida
Hungary 2014 – Running performed by András Kállay-Saunders
Saunders was born and raised in New York City before moving to Hungary, where his grandmother was, and began his music career.
Austria 2000 – All to You performed by The Rounder Girls
Kim Cooper of the Rounder Girls is from Long Island, NY.
Italy 1975 – Era performed by Wess & Dori Ghezzi
Before pursuing his music career in Italy, Wess spent his life in Winston-Salem, NC. in 2009, he passed away in his hometown.
Albania 2011 – Feel the Passion performed by Aurela Gaçe
After building her career in Albania, Gaçe spent the majority of 21st Century in the US engaging with the Albanian immigrant community.
Germany 2009 – Miss Kiss Kiss Bang performed by Alex Sings Oscar Swings!
Oscar Loya is a singer and thespian from California. Bonus American! Dita Von Teese joined Alex and Oscar on the stage in Moscow.
Yugoslavia 1990 – Hajde Da Ludujemo performed by Tajci
Tajci retired from music soon after her appearance at Eurovision and moved to the US where she eventually settled in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Greece 2008 – Secret Combination performed by Kalomira
Former prom queen Kalomira is from Long Island, NY.
Israel 2006 – Ze Hazman performed by Eddie Butler
Butler and his brother also were a part of the group representing Israel on home soil in 1999. Butler is from Detroit.
Cyprus 2020 – Running performed Sandro
Born in Germany, Sandro’s American citizenship comes from his father. Sandro represented the USA at the prestigious New Wave Festival in 2009.
Austria 2013 – Shine performed by Natália Kelly
While Kelly spent the majority of her life in Austria, she was born in Connecticut.
Poland 2008 – For Life performed by Isis Gee
Originally from Seattle, but now based equally in California and Italy, Gee represented the land of her ancestors.
Bulgaria 2018 – Bones performed by EQUINOX
LA-based producer and singer Trey Campbell and Flint, Michigan native & America’s Got Talent alum Johnny Manuel comprised two-fifths of the group EQUINOX.
United Kingdom 2009 – It’s My Time performed by Jade Ewen
The UK’s most recent foray into the Top Ten was, in part, provided by American lyricist Diane Warren.
Luxembourg 1979 – J’ai Déjà Vu ça Dans Tes Yeux performed by Jeane Manson
Manson, from Cleveland, OH, built a career as a model before entering music.
San Marino 2017 – Spirit of the Night performed by Jimmie Wilson & Valentina Monetta
Primarily an actor in musicals, Wilson is a Detroit native.
Slovenia 2013 – Straight into Love performed by Hannah
Hannah is from Fresno, CA, love took her to Slovenia, where her music career took hold.
Cyprus 2006 – Why Angels Cry performed by Annet Artani
Artani comes from America’s biggest city: New York, NY.
Sweden 2020 – Move performed by The Mamas
Member Ashley Haynes is from the US capital: Washington, DC.
Albania 2017 – World performed by Lindita
Lindita is from Kosovo, but moved to the US in 2013 and even took part in American Idol in 2016.
Serbia 2020 – Hasta la Vista performed by Hurricane
While none of the three singers in Hurricane are American, the group was formed in LA and remains based there.
Denmark 1981 – Krøller Eller Ej performed by Tommy Seebach & Debbie Cameron
Cameron comes from Miami, FL where she grew up and attended university before moving to Copenhagen.
Germany 2010 – Satellite performed by Lena
Another songwriter, this time Chicago-based Julie Frost, co-wrote and co-composed the only winning song – thus far – from the Big Five since the rule was instituted (she also wrote the 2012 DMGP entry Best Thing that I Got).
Additionally, I will be starting a series focused on American Eurovision media outlets and organizations, both those based in the US and those started by Americans in Europe. You can read the first entry which focuses on Eurovision Obsession, which you can consider an extended “About EO” page.
Many thanks goes to the WiwiBloggs article that served as the jumping off point for my research for this playlist.
Hello Dear Readers!
Trying to pull together more playlists (and potentially updating old ones). This playlist was inspired by one of my favorite podcasts, Hella in Your Thirties; the hosts advertised EO and promised to release playlists of their favorite Eurovision stagings. Interestingly enough, this will also be the first playlist to have a corresponding Spotify song list.
These will be twenty of the songs with the most dynamic, impactful, mesmerizing, and/or effective stagings (in my opinion, duh). A few things to note, because I anticipate this post seeing traffic mostly from the US, all songs will be 1998-2015 since the EBU started geoblocking the Contest in the Western Hemisphere starting with 2016. Check out the honorable mentions for a bonus ten songs from 2016-2019. Also, because this might someone’s entry point to the Contest, I’m going to eschew some of the zaniest stuff because 1) the Contest is so much more than that and 2) it’s not really all that typical anymore.
Once again, all the songs come from the Televoting Era (post 1998) of the Eurovision Song Contest. Not every featured staging will be over-the-top; sometimes, less is more. Not every song is one that I like, but every staging is one that is memorable. Enjoy!
View the playlist here: Eurovision Staging for the Uninitiated
Find it on Spotify
So, unexpectedly, lots of winners on the list (songs 1-6), runner-ups (7, 12, 26), and a slew of Top Tens songs (8, 10, 13, 15, 17, 18, 20-22, 25, 27, 28-30). You can also see the countries with lots of strong stagings – Sweden, Ukraine, Russia, Moldova – all legendary stage show makers. And yes, 2016 deserves four songs – and really deserves more – watch those three shows!
Latvia 2002 – I Wanna performed by Marie N
Ukraine 2004 – Wild Dances performed by Ruslana
Serbia 2007 – Molitva performed by Marija Šerifović
Russia 2008 – Believe performed by Dima Bilan
Sweden 2012 – Euphoria performed by Loreen
Sweden 2015 – Heroes performed by Måns Zelmerlöw
Azerbaijan 2013 – Hold Me performed by Farid Mammadov
Ukraine 2011 – Angel performed by Mika Newton
Moldova 2010 – Run Away performed by Sunstroke Project & Olia Tira
Belgium 2015 – Rhythm Inside performed by Loïc Nottet
Moldova 2013 – O Mie performed by Aliona Moon
Ukraine 2008 – Shady Lady performed by Ani Lorak
Belarus 2007 – Work Your Magic performed by Dmitry Koldun
Russia 2011 – Get You performed by Alexey Vorobyov
Sweden 2011 – Popular performed by Eric Saade
Croatia 2006 – Moja Štikla performed by Severina
Malta 2013 – Tomorrow performed by Gianluca
Bulgaria 2007 – Water performed by Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankulov
Iceland 2010 – Je Ne Sais Quoi performed by Hera Björk
Spain 2014 – Dancing in the Rain performed by Ruth Lorenzo
Honorable Mention: MANY MANY SONGS! But, these ten specifically for those in the Eastern Hemisphere or with a VPN.
Switzerland 2019 – She Got Me performed by Luca Hänni
Russia 2016 – You Are the Only One performed by Sergey Lazarev
United Kingdom 2017 – Never Give Up on You performed by Lucie Jones
Czech Republic 2019 – Friend of a Friend performed by Lake Malawi
Armenia 2016 – LoveWave performed by Iveta Mukuchyan
Australia 2016 – Sound of Silence performed by Dami Im
Hungary 2017 – Origo performed by Joci Pápai
Belgium 2016 – What’s the Pressure performed by Laura Tesoro
Moldova 2018 – My Lucky Day performed by DoReDoS
Australia 2019 – Zero Gravity performed by Kate Miller-Heidke
What are some of your favorite stagings from the Contest’s recent history? What about from the early years, when almost every song was a person standing alone on a stage with a microphone? Should I do another list of insane and bizarre stagings?
Hello Dear Readers!
As you know, one of the primary objectives of Eurovision Obsession is to help introduce new people to the ESC. To that effect,each year since 2013, I have been posting the notes that I originally crafted for my Eurovision parties introducing my American friends to the Contest. These notes include a brief history of the Contest, a brief explanation of its rules, highlights for that particular year, an explainer of Eurovision Week, and profiles of each competing country. Additionally, for the more obsessed, EO has been making quizzes on the website Sporcle since 2015 for those who want to test their knowledge.
Below, you will find the complete collection of Eurovision Write-Ups and Country Profiles published on this website as well as links to each Sporcle quiz EO has produced.
Eurovision 2020 – Rotterdam
Eurovision 2019 – Tel Aviv
*Some of the country profiles have outdated info in the brief histories, EO apologizes for the error.
Eurovision 2018 – Lisbon
No notes this year 😦
Eurovision 2017 – Kyiv
Eurovision 2016 – Stockholm
Eurovision 2015 – Vienna
Eurovision 2014 – Copenhagen
Eurovision 2013 – Malmö
Hello Dear Readers and Happy Eurovision Week!
Once again, I have created notes for y’all’s various Eurovision parties. This way you do not have to answer the same questions, over and over again.
First, we have the Notes! This includes a brief history of the Contest, a summary of the major rules, information about this year’s event, and what to expect from the show. Also, new this year, I have included brief summaries of each song.
Second, we have the traditional country profiles! A brief rundown of a country’s history, this year’s entry, and a little bit about the performing artist. All in alphabetical order (by country).
Enjoy!! I’m going to try to update them so you can have Grand Final versions.
*Editor’s Note: This version of the country profiles has some outdated info. EO apologizes for the error.
Hello Dear Readers!
Eurovision continues is reaching a wider audience than ever before! I’d thought it would be a good idea to create a quick reference post for newbies to the Contest. Here are the top ten things you need to know in order to understand and enjoy Eurovision.
1. The Contest began in 1956 in order to bring together war-torn Europe. Starting with just seven countries, the Contest has exploded as Europe welcomed new countries. There are a total of 42 countries involved in ESC 2017, spanning the continent and beyond.
2. The participating countries are randomly split in half based on their voting history and must compete in one of either two semi-finals. Ten songs qualify from each semi-final and meet the automatic qualifiers in the Grand Final.
3. The automatic qualifiers are the host country, which is the defending champion, and the Big Five. These are the countries with the five largest television audiences in Europe and pay the most to the EBU (the organization that runs Eurovision). These countries are: France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
4. The competitors are broadcasting companies (typically government-run) that select a representative to fly the flag. Countries can choose their entries any way they like. Some opt for a competition in which artists compete with songs, some choose an artist and song internally, and some do a combination of these things.
5. Songs can be in any language, but most choose English (or partially English) to broaden their entry’s appeal. Songs cannot have offensive, overtly sexual, political, or overtly religious lyrics. All lyrics can be found, in English and French, on the official website: eurovision.tv.
6. All performers (singers, backing singers, and dancers) must be at least 16 on the day of their first night of competition. No animals are allowed on stage. All music must be provided by backing track, but all singing must be done live. Songs must be no longer than three minutes.
7. Voting results are a 50/50 combination of professional juries and public vote (televoting). Each country provides a jury of five music professionals; they watch the second dress rehearsal (the evening before the televised show) and cast their votes then. Televoting occurs during the televised show during a fifteen minute window after the last song is performed.
8. Every competing country, regardless if they qualified for the Grand Final, vote for the winner. The results of the jury are revealed, country by country. The televoting is then revealed in ascending order, from least points to most points.
9. The winning song has the honor of being reprised at the end of the show. The winning artist gets a crystal trophy shaped liked a microphone. The winning composers and lyricists receive plaques. The winning broadcaster and country get to host the Contest the following year.
10. The Eurovision Song Contest is for EVERYONE. Despite the stereotypes, Eurovision is enjoyed by all kinds of people across the world and has the goal of uniting us ALL through music for one week a year.
Craving for more information about Eurovision? Check out my ESC Notes that give a look at the history, rules, and notable quirks about the Contest. They were written with a particular eye towards those new to the Contest.
Want more information specific to ESC 2017? My country profiles will satiate your appetite as they cover information for each competing nation – their history and the background of their competing artists.
Wondering how you can hear great hits from Eurovision’s past? I have assembled playlists capturing different elements of Eurovision. This includes an Eurovision for Beginners playlist with twenty of the most influencial and historically important entries of all time.
Last year during the Second Semi-Final, two great productions were made wherein hosts Petra Mede and Måns Zelmerlöw explain the Contest in fun ways.
Hyvää Paivää – hei rakas lukijat!
And Hello Dear Readers!
There’s been an uptick in readers from Finland — kiitos että luit! And thanks to all of you for reading, regardless of where you are from!
Last year, we looked at race at the ESC and I expressed my pleasure that we were seeing more and more minorities as lead performers, particularly folks of African and East Asian descent. This year, there continues to be some racial diversity, but not as much as there should be in my opinion. This year, Norway is represented by a Sami woman – Agnete. This is awesome and would be akin to a member of a Cherokee tribe representing the US or an Aboriginal singer representing Australia (which happened somewhat when DR had Australian pop star Jessica Mauboy perform during the interval act of the second semi-final in 2014). Native peoples are an integral part of a nation’s history, particularly in looking back at how these people groups were often mistreated, disenfranchised, and systematically destroyed. Having a first-nation person representing a country shows that steps, perhaps small – perhaps big, have been made and are continuing to be made to heal past wounds.
Australia is also being represented by a minority. While Im was born in South Korea, she spent the majority of her life Down Under, as her family moved to Australia when she was a child. Im has received backlash since she was named Australia’s performer. Much how many non-white performers and soccer players (read: footballers) representing European nations must deal with, from opponents and their own countrymen. While we celebrate the Contest’s ability to be inclusive of LGBTQ+ persons (particularly gay men), we must not overlook the very real racism that still exists. Does this mean that every contestant needs to be non-white, no. Of course not. Does this mean that hosts need to do the same mindless pandering to racial minorities as they do to gay men? Again, of course not (if anything, there should be less pandering). But it does mean that when race-based issues around the Contest occur, they need the same attention and discourse that comes when an LGBTQ+ issue arises. Likewise, fan culture needs to promote and encourage racial diversity (actually, fan culture does a pretty good job of forcing any non-white, unattractive non-gay man into the realms of invisibility, but that is a conversation for another time) and call out people when they are not. This includes not just around skin color, but ethnicity, national origin, and religion as well.
One country that has historically done a good job at bringing diverse performers to the Eurovision stage is France. They have been represented by persons and languages from across the French realm, including Corsica, Haiti, Congo, and Tahiti. This year, Amir takes the stage for his native France. His ethnic background is rather diverse, as his roots tie back to Morocco, Tunisia, and Spain as well as being ethnically Jewish and spending half of his life in Israel. Sandhja from Finland also has a multi-ethnic background, as her father is Finnish and her mother is Indo-Guyanan. Sandhja has often said that her identities, and the communities that they give her access to, inspire her music and performance.
So, once again, why do we care diversity, particularly ethnic and racial diversity, at the Contest? Because the ESC is for EVERYONE. Just like how gay male fans get excited when an openly gay performer competes (such as Hovi Star from Israel), how excited would the many more number of Europeans who are non-white be for ethnic minority performers? Those who feel like they belong to the broader community are more likely to contribute and otherwise actively participate in the community. Furthermore, when someone feels systematically excluded, it can lead to lowered psychological and physical well-being for individuals who feel marginalized. Additionally, these are the people who are most likely to violently strike out against society. We see this in the US with mass shootings, we see this throughout Europe with riots and the rise of neo-Nazi groups, and we see this in the Middle East with groups like DAESH/ISIS that specifically recruit those who are made to feel like outsiders and radicalize them to the point of striking out against those that ostracized them. Clearly, incorporating more minorities as performers won’t prevent or stop groups like ISIS, but it will make it harder for them to recruit.
And, you know, help the Eurovision Song Contest work towards its mission to unite Europe, if only for one night.
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Correction: Article has been updated to correct the spelling of Jessica Mauboy’s name and correcting the name Australia uses for its First Nations people. Eurovision Obsession apologizes for the error.
Hello Dear Readers!
So, I realized that I did not address the voting change to the ESC announced in February and, figuring that I want to help you make the Contest easier for others to understand, I thought that I would give a handy explanation of the changes.
What is NOT changing:
- The results will still be 50% voting and 50% juries. (Semi-final qualifiers and the winner are decided by combining the results of televoting – the votes of those viewing at home – and professional juries)
- Final jury results will still be determined by combining the the full rankings of each juror and awarding points to the top ten.
- Countries will still call in their votes in a predetermined order based on the results of the juries.
- Televoting – via phones and SMS – will still be collected in a 15 minute interval during the show and will determine fifty percent of the final scores’ value.
What IS changing:
- Instead of combining the a country’s jury votes and televoting, they will remain separate. This means that, effectively, each country is handing out points twice: to the top ten countries in the jury’s ranking AND the top ten countries in the televoting.
- The points being announced by each country will be purely from the juries. This is being done for several reasons.
- It means that the interval act can be shorter because the jury votes can be read while the televotes are calculated, cutting down the length of the show in hopes of returning it to the appropriated three hour running time.
- Since 2011, an algorithm (or formula) for determining the order of how countries gave their votes has been in place based on the results of the juries. This algorithm is designed to give the voting sequence maximum suspense and excitement.
- The televoting from all the countries will be combined and revealed en masse after the jury votes are given. They will be given in ascending order, so the country with the fewest points will be read first all the way through the country receiving the most points.
- This makes the voting sequence more exciting because we’ll see countries fall back down the scoreboard only to rise back up.
- This makes it much harder to predict the winner before voting is over.
- There will now be twice as many points available, essentially setting up all the old point total records to be shattered. This year, with 42 participants, there will be a total of 4,872 points available (as compared to only 2,494 last year under the previous system).
The biggest issue that people dislike is that the juries’ votes are being read as opposed to the televoting public’s votes. But, as mentioned above, the jury votes are already collected, so having them be the ones read for each country makes more sense from a practical, time-saving point of view.
The bigger question is what happens when either jury or televoting results are unavailable? We all know that some countries rely 100% on jury votes for assigning points (such as San Marino, which lacks the infrastructure to collect televotes). Others are forced to do this if there are irregularities found with their televoting (such as Moldova which often has issues getting enough people to televote). Conversely, some jury results are disqualified when their results appear to be suspect (as has happened with Azerbaijan and Macedonia in previous years). The new voting procedure indicates that an assortment of countries will be used to create a stand-in score for the missing points. How this amalgam score will be calculated, in terms of how stand-in countries will be determined and how many there will be, has yet to be revealed.
Additionally, information about tie-break procedures has yet to be released (as far as I know). Previously, in breaking a tie, the country with the higher total number of countries voting for it would be higher, after that, it was the country with more 12s, then 10s, etc. all the way down to 1s. For semi-finals, if there was still a tie at this point, the one performing earlier in the running order would move through. For the Grand Final, a tie would be declared. Under the new system, would the total number of countries be counted for each jury and televoting, or just total overall? When doing the countbacks (counting the number of 12s, 10s, 8s, etc.), is it by televoting or juries – or both? Will there be a new level added before a tie is declared (or we turn to the producer-determined running order, in the case of semi-finals) that gives the nod to the country with a higher televoting score? or jury score? This needs to be cleared up and publicized BEFORE the Contest. Time is running out EBU.
Overall, this is not a change to be afraid of. If you’re concerned or want to dive into the numbers, I point you to ESC Insight, were they break down the effects of the new system using numbers from past Contests. I look forward to seeing how the voting sequence will look this year!
Support ESC Obsession and my trip to Eurovision! https://www.gofundme.com/andretoeurovision
Hello Dear Readers!
As the summer begins, I thought it would be a nice idea to start building playlists to help you engage with the Contest and share your love with others. What better way to start this weekly tradition than with a rundown of twenty of the most influential songs from the history of the Contest, from 1956 to Today.
Find the playlist here: Eurovision for Beginners Playlist
But why did I select these twenty tunes? Each of these songs are an integral strand within the epic tapestry of Eurovision. Whether they changed the direction of the Contest, brought a new wave of interest and fans, or represented a broader change in European societies, each song has played a role in making the Eurovision Song Contest what it is today.
- Refrain performed by Lys Assia — Switzerland 1956
The first winner, the self-proclaimed “Mother of Eurovision” and ever tenacious Lys Assia represented her home country on home soil during the first ever Eurovision. She went on to represent Switzerland two more times.
- Nel blu dipinto di blu (Volare) performed by Domenico Modugno — Italy 1958
If not the most well-known and successful song to come from the Contest, it is among the top ones. Covered by some of the world’s most famous artists, translated into a multitude of languages, Volare continues to be performed to this day. It also remains a point of contention – to this day – throughout the ESC fan community that this did not win.
- Poupée de Cire, Poupée de Son performed by France Gall — Luxembourg 1965
Enter the youth movement. At the time, France Gall was the youngest singer to perform a winning entry and the song talks about her feeling like a “doll of straw” being contorted to appeal to a mass audience. A message that spoke to the youth of the 60s and continues to speak to hearts of those today.
- Waterloo performed by ABBA — Sweden 1974
Artists have become big years after the Contest, they have been big going into the Contest, but only one artist has ever become big as a direct result of winning Eurovision: ABBA. Entering the night as a Swedish pop group, ABBA became international superstars after winning the Contest in Brighton.
- Hallelujah performed by Gali Atari and Milk & Honey — Israel 1979
The third time a country successfully defended its title, Hallelujah is an anthem of peace that continues to be used throughout the continent to harken the need for love and understanding, Israel even had the singers perform it when Jerusalem hosted the Contest again in 1999 as a tribute to those who were being impacted by the Balkan War. The song remains a classic for hardcore fans and casual viewers alike.
- Making Your Mind Up performed by Buck’s Fizz — United Kingdom 1981
Eurovision has become synonymous with over-the-top, glittery, gimmicky performances for those who grew up or fell in love with the Contest in the Eighties and Nineties. This winning entry started that trend. Heads were turned when the guys ripped the girls’ skirts off to reveal shorter ones underneath: and thus, the ESC costume change was born!
- Ein Bißchen Frieden performed by Nicole — Germany 1982
Germany (or “West Germany” at the time) was one of the founding countries of Eurovision. It had competed in every Contest, but had never won. This all changed with the Ralph Siegel-penned entry performed by a 17 year old high school student. Not only was this Germany’s first win, but it set a record for point accumulation and margin of victory.
- Hold Me Now performed by Johnny Logan — Ireland 1987
Seven years after performing Ireland’s winning song in 1980, Johnny Logan returned to the ESC stage to represent the Emerald Isle with a song he coauthored. Logan was the first, and so far only, artist to be the performer for two winning entries. He picked up a third winner’s trophy as an author of the 1992 winner Why Me? This is also what sparked the Irish domination over the next ten years: five victories, a second place, and two other Top Ten finishes.
- Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi performed by Céline Dion — Switzerland 1988
Two years before her big break, Céline Dion was a rising star in the francophone (French-speaking) world and was asked to represent Switzerland. Not only is Céline Dion one of the biggest artists to compete on the ESC stage, she had one of the most harrowing victories, beating out the UK by only one point.
- Nocturne performed by Secret Garden — Norway 1995
Notorious for its lack for lyrics (only 24 words), Nocturne is the only non-Irish victory between 1992-1996. Despite this fact, it is known as the most “Irish-sounding” song to win the Contest – with the heavy emphasis on the violin and harp. It remains one of the most popular songs from the 90s.
- Just a Little Bit performed by Gina G — United Kingdom 1996
The only other non-winner on the list, this Contest classic is one of the most commercially successful ESC songs in history. Finishing a mere 8th, this song’s lack of a victory remains highly controversial. The song came into the Contest riding high in the charts and continued this dominance after the ESC. It is one of the most popular ESC songs from the 1990s and can routinely be heard on dance floors around the world. While many fans may disagree with placing this song amongst the company of others on this list, I believe that its unprecedented (and unmatched) commercial success throughout and beyond Europe helps it earn its spot among the top twenty.
- Diva performed by Dana International — Israel 1998
The first year in which televoting was used, Israel stormed to victory on the back of Dana International, a transgender woman who was known for her foot-stomping, club anthems. Not only did Diva bring a new genre to the forefront of the Contest, but it also brought to light an oft-ignored population. As a transwoman, Dana International became an icon, not just for transpeople, but for all members of the LGTBQ population across Europe. While there have been various drag acts to compete in the years since, Dana International remains the only transperson to compete.
- Fly On the Wings of Love performed by The Olsen Brothers — Denmark 2000
One of the biggest surprises to win the Contest, fewer entries had lower odds of winning than Fly on the Wings of Love. But, the song was an instant hit across Europe, endearing itself in the hearts of young and old across the continent. The song is often cited as one of the best to win, particularly in the 2000s.
- Wild Dances performed by Ruslana — Ukraine 2004
In its second year, Ukraine won the Contest with a foot-stomping dance track. This entry is important because it pushed forward two trends of the early 2000s: the rise of Eastern Europe and the increased importance of a catchy stage show. While Estonia and Latvia both won just a few years previously, 2004 saw a rise in the success of Eastern European nations as the Contest was larger than ever before with the advent of the semi-final, which eliminated the need for regulation and the all of Eastern Europe was able to compete simultaneously. Wild Dances is also infamous for being a fairly simple song that won due to its amazing choreography; inspiring acts that continually got more and more outlandish.
- Hard Rock Hallelujah performed by Lordi — Finland 2006
Breaking the records set by the United Kingdom in 1997, this song reached new heights in points acquisition and margin of victory. Hard Rock Hallelujah remains the most successful hard rock song and one of Finland’s twelve Top Ten placings, only finish in the Top Five. This entry broke the Contest out of the cycle of pop tunes and ballads that have dominated it for most of its history. Since, there have been a variety of rock songs as well as experimental entries.
- Molitva performed by Marija Šerifović — Serbia 2007
Not only was this the first winner that I ever saw, but Molitva represents a turning point for the Contest. It beat out zanier entries that, no doubt, would have been victorious just years before, setting the Contest on a track towards stronger compositions and lyrics while simultaneous scaling back the spectacle of performances. Not only that, but Molitva remains one of only two non-English songs to win the ESC in the televoting era (Israel 1998 being the other).
- Fairytale performed by Alexander Rybak — Norway 2009
The current record holder for total points accumulated and margin of victory (and, at the time, most 12pts and many other point records), Fairytale was written, composed, and performed by Alexander Rybak. The song went on to chart in almost every European country, reaching gold and platinum status in a variety of nations. It was the first winner to achieve major commercial success in the 2000s and helped to bring relevancy back to the Contest.
- Satellite performed by Lena — Germany 2010
Another song that raced up the scoreboard and European music charts. Satellite not only continued a trend of commercial success for ESC winners, but restored faith in the Contest for many in Western Europe who had figured no country in the west stood a legitimate shot at winning the ESC. This revitalized the Contest and the following year saw the return of Austria and Italy, the latter of which was returning from a 13 year absence.
- Euphoria performed by Loreen — Sweden 2012
The records mentioned above that Norway 2009 once held, those were broken by this entry – Sweden’s fifth victory: Euphoria. The song was known for the stunning performance, the easy to learn lyrics, and the choreography that Loreen performed on stage. Euphoria joined the ranks of the few songs to land on music charts outside of Europe and Australia since the 1970s, reaching the charts in throughout the Americas and a few countries of Asia and Europe.
- Rise Like a Phoenix performed by Conchita Wurst — Austria 2014
In a year in which political and economic turmoil could be found throughout the continent, a singer purporting to represent peace, understanding, and acceptance performed a song about rising up despite being hurt. While Rise Like a Phoenix did not have the commercial success of its most recent predecessors, it remains an anthem of rising above those that wish to do you harm, whether it be in relationships or in a society that wishes to tear you down.
Honorable Mention: Dansevise (Denmark 1963), No Ho l’Eta (Italy 1964), La La La (Spain 1968), the four winners of 1969, Ding-A-Dong (The Netherlands 1975), Diggi-loo Diggi-ley (Sweden 1984), Love Shine a Light (United Kingdom 1997), Sanomi (Belgium 2003), Tonight Again (Australia 2015)
What songs do you think are integral to Eurovision’s history?
Stay tuned next week, our playlist will be Eurovision for Anglophobes, a playlist of twenty of the best non-English language songs in the post-language rule era (1999 and onwards).