Eurovision is here! It’s a well known fact that I adore the yearly song contest, the most hilarious, ridiculous and downright fun night in the musical calendar. Some of the biggest artists in the world made their name on Eurovision, Celine Dion, Cliff Richard, Lulu and of course the legends of Eurovision ABBA are just a few of the hundreds of well known acts to emerge. The late 00s may have seen the emergence of block voting and European politics rather than being a true song contest, but the last few years have seen some major European hits emerging once again.
Here’s the 10 songs/performances I remember the most fondly from the last 21 years of Eurovision. Be sure to follow me on twitter at @Atkins_Sam during this year’s show to hear what I think.
10) Be My Guest – Gaitana – Ukraine – 2012 – 15th – 65 Points
Kicking things off is one of the best entries from last year’s contest. This one sticks out for me not for the song, which has the usual Eurovision feel good vibes, but for the performance of singer Gaitana on the night. Unlike most of the female performers who play up the sex appeal, she’s just having a big load of fun on stage, and it’s truly infectious. The way she delivers the vocals with a laugh rather than a smirk is refreshing too.
9) Satellite – Lena – Germany – 2010 – 1st – 246 Points
Winning the competition for Germany back in 2010 Lena went against the current standard for a Eurovision winner. It wasn’t a dramatic power ballad, or an eastern influenced dance track. Satellite is just a cute pop song from a cute young singer, one catchy enough to stand up outside of Eurovision. This crossover appeal has become the norm for the competition now. This was also the song that proved that one of the Big Four could win Eurovision after all. Germany have a strong chance for another win in 2013 too.
8) Ooh Ahh… Just A Little Bit – Gina G – United Kingdom – 1996 – 8th – 77 Points
The song you can thank (blame) for my Eurovision obsession is this, a ridiculously camp and infectious song that sounds just as amazing nearly 17 years on. I was hooked on this song as a kid, we are talking my pre-Take That days too, and it probably explains a lot about how I ended up this way 17 years later. I mean look at that performance, who wouldn’t develop a lifelong connection with Eurovision when Gina G is representing your country with that!
7) Cvet Z Juga – Alenka Gotar – Slovenia – 2007 – 15th – 77 Points
The only completely non-English entry on my list, this track from 2007 became an early favourite for me and my brother. The song is amazing in itself, the opera vocal over that rolling dance beat is brilliant, but it’s all about Alenka Gotar’s performance on the night. That moment where she reveals her light up hand is Eurovision magic, something I’ve remembered ever since. It’s moments like that when a great song becomes a great Eurovision song. Also be sure to check out the studio version here, the note she hits at the end is more ridiculous than your could ever expect.
6) Work Your Magic – Koldun – Belarus – 2007 – 6th – 145 Points
There’s something horribly creepy about the way singer Koldun performs Work Your Magic, but it only makes me love this song more. It’s just naff enough to make it a perfect Eurovision track, near painful lyrics throughout the verses being so cringy it’s even harder to hate. The dancers in the performance made it even more memorable for me too, the choreography being as overwrought as Koldun’s dramatic faces to the camera. A modern Eurovision classic.
5) Je Ne Sais Quoi – Hera Björk – Iceland – 2010 – 19th – 41 Points
Now this is Eurovision, europop in it’s purest form Je Ne Sais Quoi is exactly what I want to hear when I tune in every year. It’s so easy to enjoy this song, the opening smashes of synth to that epic key change at the end. Hera Björk is one of my favourite performers on this list too, shes so content in just standing there and belting out a huge dance track. The look she gives the camera on her first line is both hilarious and endearing, definitely one of my favourite Eurovision entries.
4) Shady Lady – Ani Lorak – Ukraine – 2008 – 2nd – 230 Points
I’m pretty sure Shady Lady would appear on any list of Eurovision entries from the last decade. Robbed of a victory from that awful ice skating number from Dima Bilan of Russia, this was supposed to be Ukraine’s second win. It’s the Nicole Scherzinger debut solo single that never was, just camp enough to stop it from becoming too sexy for Eurovision. From the very start as those boxes light up to reveal the dancers lurking within you know this is much more than a typical female solo entry, Shady Lady is definitely one of the best 2nd place entries in recent memory.
3) This Is My Life – Euroband – Iceland – 2008 – 14th – 64 Points
If you notice a similarity to their entry from 2010, it’s obvious to see that Iceland recycled this incredible track from 2008 for the competition 2 years later. This Is My Life screams Eurovision. With a chorus that includes the lyric ‘All through the years, blood sweat and tears, hopes and my fears’ you really can’t get much cheesier and much more Eurovision. The duo performing it is what has it so high on my list though. These guys perform it with everything they have. The way the guy pumps the air during his opening verse, the amazing moment as the girl appears from nowhere to start singing, the slide towards each other with an ‘Oh!’. The best moment for me is that turn into the camera after the middle 8 for a final explosion of synth, they are loving every second of being on the stage, something many Eurovision entrants could learn from. Imagine if this had been a UK entry, from H & Claire. The thought alone is a bit much for me.
2) Euphoria – Loreen – Sweden – 2012 – 1st – 372 Points
What can I say about Euphoria that I haven’t already said here, here or here? In my lifetime I can’t remember a Eurovision song making such an impact in the UK, in fact not even the 1997 winner Love Shine A Light could go higher in the UK charts than Euphoria did. The last year I have heard it on just about every night out I’ve been on, a song that has left a lasting impression so long after that initial performance. What a performance too, vocals as crazy as her dancing, there hasn’t been and never will be a winner like it again. Loreen is properly brilliant, by Eurovision or any standards. So what could have beaten such an incredible song?
1) Wild Dances – Ruslana – Ukraine – 2004 – 1st – 280
Though I said earlier that you can blame Gina G for getting me into Eurovision, this winner from 2004 is probably the true culprit. I own this song on CD…I really do. I remember buying it in HMV with my pocket money just after Ruslana won the contest, can you imagine them stocking something like this now? Wild Dances is a tune and a half. The chants of ‘Hey!’ throughout against the tribal drums is like a call to arms for Euro fans. It doesn’t matter that I have no clue what she’s going on about, much like a great Shakira song, you are missing the point if you care about the lyrics. 9 years on I’m still in love with Ruslana and Wild Dances, or Xena as she would be referred to for most of those years. It’s the winner I have remembered the most fondly since being a Eurovision fan, the performance never failing to make me smile.