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Best Eurovision Songs: 30 Unforgettable Performances
List & Guides

Best Eurovision Songs: 30 Unforgettable Performances

From landmark LGBTQ+ entries to wild costumes and perfect pop, the best Eurovision songs offer irresistible moments of joy.

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Since the first Eurovision Song Contest, back in 1956, the competition has provided an arena for the best (and sometimes worst) that pop music has to offer. In the world’s most famous song contest, nations across Europe – as well as a few outside countries – submit their best tracks to find the best of the bunch. The competing artists often resort to cheesy lyrics, silly costumes and outlandish gimmicks in their performances, and politics often leads to some tactical voting – but that’s all part of the fun. Irresistible and unforgettable, our best Eurovision songs revisit the finest moments in the competition’s six-decade history.

Best Eurovision Songs: 20 Unforgettable Performances

30: Lordi: Hard Rock Hallelujah (Finland, 2006)

Perhaps one of the most unconventional Eurovision winners, Finnish heavy metal group Lordi took the world by storm with their 2006 entry, Hard Rock Hallelujah. Performing in their iconic masks and costumes, the group not only preserved their anonymity, but also scared children around the world. The outfits – just as fitting for a horror movie as they were a kitsch song competition – added to the over-the-top nature of the group’s entry, which may not have met all the normal tropes of the best Eurovision songs, but nevertheless provided an entertaining and extravagant show, proving that heavy metal can be melodic, and that Eurovision isn’t only for pop music.

29: Eimear Quinn: The Voice (Ireland, 1996)

Irish songwriter Brendan Graham has form when it comes to writing the best Eurovision songs: in 1994 he penned Charlie McGettigan and Paul Harrington’s winning entry, Rock’n’Roll Kids, and in 1996 he followed it up with The Voice. A more overt Celtic-inspired folk ballad laden with woodwinds, this entry was sung with exquisite beauty by Eimear Quinn from the ANÚNA chorale. Discovered by Graham when the songwriter saw her perform at Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral, Quinn evokes the same angelic air of ethereality that you’ll find in the best Enya songs, using beautiful fiddle sounds in a way that would make The Corrs proud. Rounding off the 1996 Eurovision contest with 162 points, The Voice marked the seventh and (currently) final time Ireland has produced a Eurovision winner.

28: The Olsen Brothers: Fly On The Wings Of Love (Denmark, 2000)

As two of the oldest performers to enter the Eurovision Song Contest, in the year 2000, The Olsen Brothers defied the odds with Fly On The Wings Of Love, representing Denmark with an acoustic-led pop ballad featuring the occasional flurry of wistful pan flutes. Seemingly inspired by Cher’s use of autotune on her 1998 hit, Believe, the siblings even toyed with a vocoder-style effect towards the song’s sweeping closure. Perhaps more memorably, Fly On The Wings Of Love peaked at No.9 in the UK in 2003, courtesy of a dance remix by XTM and DJ Chucky, with guest vocalist Annia. Winning the 2000 contest with 195 votes, Fly On The Wings Of Love was later named as one of the best Eurovision songs at the Congratulations gala in 2005.

27: Cliff Richard: Congratulations (UK, 1968)

After successfully winning 1967’s Eurovision Song Contest with Sandie Shaw’s Puppet On A String, songwriting duo Bill Martin and Phil Coulter worked with producer Norrie Paramor for Cliff Richard’s 1968 UK entry, Congratulations. The song went straight to No.1 in the UK before the contest even took place, selling one million copies worldwide and quickly becoming a huge international hit. As a clear contender among the best Eurovision songs that year, Congratulations was considered the odds-on favourite to win, and it led the way in votes for much of the contest before eventually losing to Spain’s La La La, sung by Massiel, by just one point. Remarkably, few people realise that the bassist on Congratulations was none other than Led Zeppelin>’s John Paul Jones.

26: Helena Paparizou: My Number One (Greece, 2005)

Combining the contemporary flavour of dance-pop with indigenous Greek folk sounds, My Number One was Helena Paparizou’s winning entry in 2005, marking the first time Greece ever won the Eurovision Song Contest. Throwing in everything from Cretan lyra licks to strummed bouzoukis, this genre-crossing mash-up was awarded 230 points and ushered an abundance of Hellenic motifs into clubland. Later peaking at No.8 on the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart, My Number One ranks among the best Eurovision songs for its successful fusion of Greece’s rich cultural heritage with international dance trends.

25: Johnny Logan: Hold Me Now (Ireland, 1987)

In 1987, Irish singer Johnny Logan decided to have another go at winning Eurovision for his country, with the lush piano ballad Hold Me Now. He’d already been a winner before, in 1980, with What’s Another Year?, but Logan was visibly overcome with emotion when he won a second time, receiving 172 points for Hold Me Now. “I still love you, Ireland,” he declared, after struggling to reach the right notes during his final performance of the night. Having successfully performed the rare feat of winning Eurovision on two separate occasions, Logan went on to have a hand in writing Ireland’s 1992’s winning entry, Why Me?, sung by Linda Martin, further cementing himself as Eurovision royalty.

24: Måns Zelmerlöw: Heroes (Sweden, 2015)

Given their long-standing mastery of the pop music formula, you can never rule out Sweden when it comes to the Eurovision Song Contest. Måns Zelmerlöw’s 2015 entry, Heroes, was a David Guetta-esque serving of dance-pop that saw Sweden trounce every other country in Europe, winning the contest by a record margin of 149 points. Thanks to a memorable performance in which Zelmerlöw sang on a dark stage with a cartoon figure, Heroes’ electro-pop energy and arm-raising chorus truly earns its place among the best Eurovision songs.

23: Sergio Dalma: Bailar Pegados (Spain, 1991)

With over 77.3 million Spotify streams to date, Sergio Dalma’s 1991 Eurovision entry, Bailar Pegados – a perfectly pitched slice of canción melodica – has enjoyed a long-lasting legacy among the best Eurovision songs. Rippling with sun-dappled romanticism and Catalonian charm, the song gave the Spanish singer a commercial breakthrough with Hispanic music fans in the US, making history by peaking at No.6 on the Billboard Hot Latin Tracks chart. Almost 20 years after winning the contest with 119 points, Bailar Pegados was named by Televisión Española the best Spanish Eurovision entry of all time.

22: Duncan Laurence: Arcade (Netherlands, 2019)

Marking the first Eurovision win for the Netherlands since 1975, singer Duncan Laurence’s alt-pop ballad Arcade has taken on a life of its own. Recalling Ryan Tedder’s work for OneRepublic and Coldplay’s latter-day pop output, the song draws a melancholic analogy between the death of romance and losing a video game, and Laurence’s atmospheric vocal performance scooped a total of 492 points. To this day, Arcade still holds the record for the most-streamed Eurovision song of all time, picking up more than one billion plays across all platforms. With numbers like that, it more than deserves its place on our list of the best Eurovision songs.

21: Ruslana: Wild Dances (Ukraine, 2004)

A fierce and unwieldy highlight from the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest, Ukrainian singer Ruslana turned in a riotous performance with stage attire inspired the US fantasy TV show Xena: Warrior Princess. By fusing Xena’s bellicosity with elements of Ukrainian heritage, Ruslana romped to victory with 280 points – the first but certainly not the last time Ukraine would produce one of the best Eurovision songs. As an example of Wild Dances’ longevity, in 2008 the song was broadcast by Vladivostok FM, a fictional radio station hosted by a presenter voiced by none other than Ruslana herself, on the best-selling video game Grand Theft Auto IV.

20: Teach-In: Ding-A-Dong (Netherlands, 1975)

Dutch group Teach-In romped to victory in 1975 with Ding-A-Dong, a pitch-perfect performance of vote-winning schlager. Much akin to the Europop style that made ABBA a household name the year before, Ding-A-Dong hits you like a flood of endorphins. Full of nonsensical lyrics, it’s a positive and upbeat number that will instantly have you humming its tune like only the best Eurovision songs can. Though the band didn’t quite manage to sustain a career as long as ABBA, Ding-A-Dong proves there must have been something in the water in the 70s…

19: Mahmood: Soldi (Italy, 2019)

As one of the most-streamed Eurovision songs on Spotify, Italy’s 2019 entry, Soldi, by Mahmood proved that you don’t necessarily need to win the contest to make a big impact. Finishing in second place behind Duncan Laurence’s Arcade, Soldi was a pulsing mix of half-rapped verses that saw Mahmood toasting over a contemporary R&B beat, interspersing the song with claps to encourage crowd participation. Despite delivering one of the best Eurovision songs of all time, Mahmood hasn’t quite given up on his dreams of winning the contest – he returned in 2022, representing Italy alongside singer Blanco with the song Brividi. If the success of Soldi is anything to go by, there’s no doubting he’ll be one to watch in the future.

18: Conchita Wurst: Rise Like A Phoenix (Austria, 2014)

Austrian singer and drag queen Conchita Wurst became famous around the world after winning 2014’s Eurovision with Rise Like A Phoenix. Stylistically, the power ballad recalls classic Bond songs, while Wurst’s victory helped make the singer a global a gay icon. Using her newfound fame for a good cause, the singer brought attention to homophobia and legal restrictions on gay rights in many European countries.

17: Céline Dion: Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi (Switzerland, 1988)

Céline Dion’s Eurovision entry is a tad confusing, as the singer, hailing from Canada, performed Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi on behalf of Switzerland. But that doesn’t take away from the song itself. It wasn’t a commercial success, but Dion’s vocal talent is evident throughout, as she carries the tune with her incredible soprano singing. Her 1988 Eurovision win set her up for a hugely successful 90s, during which she would become a household name with such hits as My Heart Will Go On and The Power Of Love, but her Eurovision performance showed the world what she was capable of, gifting us one of the best Eurovision songs in the process.

16: Sam Ryder: Space Man (UK, 2022)

Among the best Eurovision songs at the 2022 contest was Sam Ryder’s electrifying entry, Space Man. The TikTok sensation from the UK turned in a stellar tour de force, showcasing a star-spangled vocal range that truly dazzled audiences across the continent. Sporting a flamboyant pearly outfit, Ryder secured the top spot for much of the evening until Ukraine’s Stefania, by Kalush Orchestra, pipped him to the post at the last moment. Nevertheless, Ryder’s awe-inspiring performance bucked his home country’s downward trend of middling entries, amassing an impressive 466 points – a vast improvement over the UK’s nil points the previous year. The way Space Man skyrocketed up the leaderboard left little doubt about Ryder’s innate star power.

15: Lena: Satellite (Germany, 2010)

With goofy turns of phrase seemingly inspired by British pop, Germany’s 2010 entry, Satellite, bopped its way to victory with 246 points. There’s an almost mambo tinge to the groove, much like Xenomania’s production on Alesha Dixon’s The Boy Does Nothing, but it was Lena’s affable persona that stole the show on the night, bewildering the judges with quirky lyrics that linger in the memory (“I even painted my toenails for you”). Naggingly infectious, Satellite deserves to enter anyone’s orbit as one of the best Eurovision songs.

12: Anne-Marie David: Tu Tu Reconnaîtras (Luxembourg, 1973)

Despite being one of the smallest countries in Europe, Luxembourg is no stranger to masterminding some of the best Eurovision songs. After winning the contest in 1972 with Après Ti by Vicky Leandros, they struck gold again for the second year running with French singer Anne-Marie David. A charmingly bombastic display of French pop at its most catchy, Tu Tu Reconnaîtras became the highest-ever scoring Eurovision entry at the time, and dazzled audiences with David’s star-making performance. The song even went on to become a notable chart success on the pop charts, reaching No.13 in the UK.

13: Emmelie De Forest: Only Teardrops (Denmark, 2013)

It’s always refreshing to see European countries give their folk traditions a pop makeover. In 2013, Emmelie De Forest represented Denmark at Eurovision, delivering a soaring ethnopop entry, Only Teardrops, which paired her crystal-clear vocals with trills of tin whistle and marching drums. Wistful and full of longing, it’s the sort of song that Eurovision was made for. After finishing in first place with 281 points and winning that year’s contest, De Forest’s song went on to reach No.15 in the UK and topped the charts in her native Denmark.

12: Sébastien Tellier: Divine (France, 2008)

Co-produced by Daft Punk mastermind Guy-Manuel De Homem-Christo, Sébastien Tellier’s entry for France in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest was an eccentric delight. Taking to the stage in a golf buggy emblazoned with a French-flag decal and backing singers appearing like bearded döppelgangers, the wacky pop maverick truly outdid himself with Divine, bringing a touch of Beach Boys-inspired whimsy to a mass audience. Surprisingly, however, the song finished in 19th place, receiving just 47 points in total. Divine has nonetheless stood the test of time and deserves to be reappraised as one of the most underrated entries among the best Eurovision songs.

11: Daði Og Gagnamagnið: Think About Things (Iceland, 2020)

Think About Things became one of the biggest tracks of 2020. With an infectious hook and bassline, the song immediately went viral on TikTok – and it’s still stuck in our heads now. Sadly, 2020’s Eurovision Song Contest was cancelled after the COVID-19 outbreak, so the track was denied its seemingly inevitable victory and official placement among the best Eurovision songs. Attempting to snatch victory from the jaws of technical defeat, Daði Freyr returned for the 2021 event with a brand new track as, due to eligibility rules, Think About Things couldn’t re-enter the competition.

10: Dana International: Diva (Israel, 1998)

Israeli pop star Dana International made history in 1998 when she became the first transexual singer to win Eurovision Song Contest, with her Eurodance track Diva. Her participation in the contest was widely controversial at the time, but Dana International took the stage in Birmingham, rocking the contest and the world, and forever cementing herself in Eurovision history. The song, sung completely in Hebrew, is a classic disco hit and a deserved winner with a memorable chorus and irresistible rhythm. The performance was divisive in Dana International’s home country, however, with many of Israel’s Orthodox Jewish community strongly opposed to its very existence, but Dana fought on and made history in a landmark moment for LGBTQ+ artists. It’s safe to say we have her to thank for Eurovision still existing today as an open, inclusive and safe space for all.

9: Alexander Rybak: Fairytale (Norway, 2009)

Alexander Rybak wowed the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest with his violin-infused pop-folk track Fairytales. The Norwegian singer won the competition with 387 out of a maximum of 492 points – the highest recorded score at the time – and it’s clear why. The captivating violin riff performed by Rybak throughout the track might not be the type of thing heard in most Eurovision-winning songs, but it sets the scene nicely, transporting the listener with visions of Scandinavian romance and lyrics inspired by Norwegian folklore.

8: Måneskin: Zitti E Buoni (Italy, 2021)

A glam-infused stomper mixing the attitude of 80s hard rock with the angular hooks of 2000s indie, Zitti E Buoni, by Italian band Måneskin, won Eurovision in 2021 by sheer force of will. With tattooed frontman Damiano David electrifying audiences with his flamboyant stage presence, Måneskin proved that a world reeling from COVID-19 was hungry for primal rock’n’roll. Ending up as the runaway victor that year, with 524 points overall, Zitti E Buoni set tongues wagging with David’s rap-inspired patter and its mesmerising funk-like groove, and will likely be remembered as one of the best Eurovision songs for years to come.

7: Julio Iglesias: Gwendolyne (Spain, 1970)

Nowadays, Julio Iglesias is rightly revered as one of the greatest singer-songwriters Spain has ever produced, having gone on to sell more than 150 million records worldwide and becoming the best-selling Latin male artist of all time. However, few people remember that Iglesias’ first-ever Spanish No.1 hit, Gwendolyne, was actually his country’s 1970 Eurovision entry, finishing in fourth place, with eight points. Named after his French girlfriend, whom Iglesias was courting during his time as a goalkeeper for Spanish football team Real Madrid Castilla, Gwendolyne sees the Spanish icon at the very start of his musical journey, turning a lovelorn gem of canción melódica into one of the very best Eurovision songs.

6: Loreen: Euphoria (Sweden, 2012)

Sharing a similar vibe to acts like Cascada, Loreen’s 2012 Eurovision winner channels the infectious dance-pop that took over the charts throughout the 2000s. Encapsulating everything that’s great about Eurodance, Euphoria also brought the positivity and optimism that’s usually prevalent in the best Eurovision songs. Loreen’s entry scored a total of 372 points and broke the record for having the most 12-point scores awarded by her competing nations, with 18 different countries giving her maximum marks.

5: Mocedades: Eres Tú (Spain, 1973)

Representing Spain in the 1973 Eurovision Song Contest, folk-pop group Mocedades were narrowly beaten into second place that year, missing out on the top spot by just four points. Lush and sentimental, Etres Tú almost feels like a Basque Country spin on The Beatles’ Hey Jude, enveloping the listener with a gigantic singalong chorus that warms the soul like a siesta in the Spanish sun. Despite losing to Anne-Marie David’s Tu Tu Reconnaîtras, Mocedades’ epic slice of canción melódica is still fondly remembered as one of the very best Eurovision songs. In fact, upon its release as a single, Eres Tú even reached No.9 on the US Hot 100, and Mocedades remain the only group to have a Top 10 hit in North America sung entirely in Spanish – a remarkable feat that’s yet to be bettered.

4: Frances Gall: Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son (Luxembourg, 1965)

Penned by the notoriously amorous French songwriter Serge Gainsbourg for Paris-born singer France Gall, this winning entry for Luxembourg brought a touch of yé-yé to Eurovision in 1965. Mixing chanson vocal affectations with an upbeat ditty inspired by British beat music, Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son – whose title translates as Wax Doll, Rag Doll – inspired a wake of toy-themed Eurovision efforts from 60s pop artists, including, in 1967, Sandie Shaw’s Puppet On A String. With its gleefully innocent and jazzy but child-like melody, Gall’s self-described “baby pop” struck the zeitgeist perfectly, going on to sell more than half a million copies in her native homeland following her much-deserved Eurovision victory.

3: Bucks Fizz: Making Your Mind Up (UK, 1981)

Making Your Mind Up is a quintessential Eurovision song. The 1981 effort from British pop group Bucks Fizz only nabbed the winning spot by a small margin of four points, but it has stood the test of time. The track was paired with simple yet light-hearted dance moves, but the routine also included a headline-grabbing moment in which the two male members of the group pulled off the skirts of the two female members, revealing short miniskirts hidden underneath. The unpredictable performance doubtless helped the group earn their narrow victory, setting a trend for artists eager to push boundaries in a bid to get attention.

2: Domenico Modugno: Nel Blu, Dipinto Di Blu (Volare) (Italy, 1958)

There aren’t many Eurovision tracks whose legacy overshadows the contest itself, but Domenico Modugno’s 1958 entry, Nel Blu, Dipinto Di Blu (often known as Volare), is widely respected outside of Eurovision. The track itself only ended up receiving 13 points at contest itself, placing third overall, but the song has gone on to become one of the most successful in Eurovision history. At the 1959 Grammy Awards, it won both Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year, making it the only foreign-language single to achieve this honour, as well as the only Eurovision song to ever win a Grammy. Modugno’s entry has since been covered by Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and even David Bowie – an honour not bestowed on many Eurovision entries.

1: ABBA: Waterloo (Sweden, 1974)

Was there ever any doubt over which track would top our list of the best Eurovision songs? ABBA’s iconic Waterloo was Sweden’s winning entry in the 1974 competition, propelling the group to worldwide fame as it topped charts around the globe. Infectiously catchy, Waterloo contains everything you’d want from a pop song – including a novelty mention of Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle Of Waterloo in 1815 – making it a sure-fire Eurovision success. It is also consistently voted the top Eurovision song of all time – and for good reason. Eurovision Song Contest would not be what it is today without ABBA; and ABBA might not be a household name if it weren’t for their 1974 win.

Looking for more silly costumes and catchy anthems? Check out the best darts walk-on music.

Original article: 5 March 2021

Updated: 14 May 2022, 7 May 2024. Extra words: Luke Edwards.

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