Eurovision: All-Time Favourites
April 24, 2019
Whether you’re a superfan or find it the ultimate cringe-fest, there is no denying there are some absolute gems to have come from Eurovision. It is the official singing contest of which you can never tell what’s going to happen, as there are pretty much no rules as to what or who you can enter.
Although there’s a ‘Euro’ in the name, Australia is still allowed to enter, and as far as we know, Brexit won’t affect our partaking in it. Whether that’s actually good news or bad news is personal opinion, I reckon.
I’m all for Eurovision. It’s a laugh, if nothing else. The unpredictability of it is what makes it great viewing. In the run-up to the 2019 Song Contest, I’ve picked out some of the most weird and wonderful performances of bygone contests. Before you bet on Eurovision this time, spare a moment for either your jaw to drop or your shoulders to start bopping.
First up is the Ukrainian entry from 2007. Verka Serduchka is a drag performer who created the first post-Soviet woman persona. For us, or me at least, as a young viewer, I was mainly taken in by the tinfoil-esque outfits and garish music. There does actually happen to be some deeper-rooted political and societal influence in the characters and whatnot, but to be honest, the only words I understood were 7, 1 and 2 in German.
If you haven’t heard of this act before, you need to the clip below from Eurovision 2007. It will brighten up your day ten times over. You might even understand it more than I did.
It’s camp, it’s lively and it’s an absolute disgrace that Verka only got to second place that year. On the plus side, the song “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” was dubbed the ‘best song to never win Eurovision’. So that’s something, I guess.
This lot need no introduction. ABBA are undoubtedly one of the most popular groups of all time, and almost certainly the most successful act to come out of Eurovision.
Back in 1974, ABBA, so-named because of their initials, represented Sweden in the contest with their song ‘Waterloo’. They brought Sweden its first-ever win and shot themselves to the dizzy heights of fame. Not forgetting all of the ‘Mamma Mia’ films which followed decades after they won Eurovision.
Proof that while there’s often a load of weird acts, occasionally there are some wonderful ones which make the competition worthwhile.
I mean, where would we be without ABBA? I guess it’s a big old Thank You For The Eurovision Song Contest from both us and them.
Right, this one is plain obscure. Imagine the characters from one of those computer games with gremlins, give them musical instruments and your mental image will probably depict Finland’s 2006 entry, Lordi.
They are a heavy metal group whose song was called “Hard Rock Hallelujah”. It’s safe to assume that, while a couple of acts have attempted, Lordi was the first metal band to win the Eurovision Song Contest in its 60+ year history.
At first glance, it is freaky. If you think about the quality of their whole-body costumes and make-up efforts, though, it’s pretty impressive.
Here’s a fun fact for you: the Guinness World Record for the most people singing karaoke at the same time was broken by Lordi the year following their win. Over 80,000 people sang the contest-winning song in Helsinki, proving that they’ve got some very loyal fans.
Our second drag artist to make a lasting impression is Conchita Wurst, who represented Austria in the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest.
Standing out in a solo performance to contrast with the busy group performances, Conchita’s performance was powerful with just some sparkles on the screen behind her.
Usually, the camp-ness of Eurovision is thrust in our faces, but with the bearded lady Conchita, it was a serious performance with true effort put into the song, the message and everything that went with it.
Memorable, for sure, with a strong message around gender and being different.
They say that anything goes at Eurovision, and that is absolutely true. Where else would you hear a bird’s squawking throughout a song with the dancers doing a chicken (or maybe even a turkey) dance, and the singer and her crazy big eyes hitting random buttons on some DJ pads? Exactly.
Representing Israel in 2018, Netta gave one heck of a performance of ‘Toy’. We’ve got references to Pikachu and Pokemon with some Japanese and Hebrew phrases worked in there too. I think it’s a double whammy with some of the phrases which sound like the noises she’s dancing to.
Long story short, it’s mad. But it’s great. Netta won it for Israel last year, proving that bizarre poppy tunes are always going to have a place in the Eurovision-lovers’ hearts.
Dancing Grannies to us, but in Russian, they’re called “Buranovskiye Babushki”. This obscure yet endearing act brought us six elder Russian ladies in a surprising act.
At the start, some of them put some cupcakes in an oven and the six of them were huddled up singing something in traditional dress. Then it kicked in. They all got into a line for the chorus of “Party for Everybody” in which they’re bopping on the spot with big smiles on their faces, swinging their arms around.
Absolute sweethearts, it was an unsuspecting act full of enthusiasm and pure joy.
The dancing grannies came a fantastic second place in 2012. It turns out that the group formed to raise money for the rebuilding of their local church. The winnings that they got from their runner-up position went straight to the church rebuilding fund. How cute!
Some other highlights for various reasons include Dustin the Turkey, who was Ireland’s entry in 2008. A puppet turkey whose song was “Irelande Douze Pointe”. Subtle. About as subtle as his blatantly obvious puppeteer. They basically took the mick out of both Ireland and Eurovision and frankly, it was shocking.
Memorable, but shocking. The turkey didn’t make it past the semi-finals, unfortunately.
We’ve had some catchy songs as well. The likes of Loreen’s “Euphoria” which was actually quite a hit after she represented Sweden in 2012. Let’s also take a moment to remember our homegrown entry, Scooch, who portrayed a cabin crew singing “Flying the Flag” back in 2007. They had an air of Steps about them. Think of that what you will.
What about this year?
For the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, we’re headed over to Tel Aviv to see who can top the table this time on the 18th of May.
Finland has only gone and got Darude! Yes, Darude as in “Sandstorm”. He’s partnered with another artist and they’re currently sitting middle-ground in the Eurovision odds, but having had a listen, it could be a bit of a banger.
After the joy of Verka Serduchka, we won’t be seeing a performance from Ukraine this year, as they’ve recently pulled out over politics with Russia.
There are quite a few upbeat tunes this year, and many of the performers have come from shows like The X Factor or The Voice in their own country. Albania’s entry is actually a coach on The Voice Albania – does that mean it’s the equivalent of us having Tom Jones or Olly Murs sing for us?!
Well, we did have Blue in 2011, so we had our fast-track to success and they only came in 11th place.
Malta has got quite a funky entry, which is very poppy and could do well in our charts, to be honest. Ireland’s entry is better than Jedward.
The Netherlands and Russia are currently the favourites in the 2019 Eurovision odds to win, and these have more toned-down entries than some places.
All we can do now is sit back and examine the odds, have a listen to what we’re up against, and get some popcorn for the show.
Here are your 2019 Eurovision betting odds
Laura has been sharing her opinions on all kinds of popular culture for over a year, with a strong focus on great music and questionable TV. A massive Geordie who has a love of all things Newcastle United, when she isn't sprinting across the Tyne Bridge to St James Park, we normally find her in-front of the TV watching Shrek, Coronation Street or Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway.