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Best Eurovision Songs: 10 Contest Performances You’ll Never Forget
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List & Guides

Best Eurovision Songs: 10 Contest Performances You’ll Never Forget

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.

10: 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 a year later. 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 can’t re-enter the competition.

9: 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.

8: Celine Dion: Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi (Switzerland, 1988)

Celine 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.

7: 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.

6: 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.

5: 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.

4: 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.

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.

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