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Best Eurovision Songs: 20 Unforgettable Performances
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List & Guides

Best Eurovision Songs: 20 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

20: 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.

19: 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.

18: 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.

17: 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.

16: 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.

15: 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.

14: 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…

13: 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.

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.

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: 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.

7: 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.

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. Extra words: Luke Edwards.

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