Top 10: Best host-country songs in ESC history

Hey everyone and welcome to another top 10! In today’s countdown, we’ll pick out the best songs a host country sent to the Contest the year they held it. Luckily, there weren’t as many songs we had to shortlist, as there were only 58 songs to choose from, but which of those 58 is the best? Keep reading to find out!

Is the first winner at Eurovision the best host-country song too?
Is the first winner at Eurovision the best host-country song too?

So, to not confuse anyone, the definition of what a ‘host-country song’ is that it’s a song Country X sends to Eurovision that is being hosted in Country X. Basically, it’s a song that represents a country on home soil. There were only 58 songs to pick our top 10 from this time, like I said at the top of the article, but of those 58, it was incredibly hard to put the ten in order. But enjoy the countdown for what it is and hopefully you’ll agree with who we’ve put in. Right, let’s get started then!

10 – Robin Stjernberg – “You” (Sweden 2013)

We’ll start the countdown with the most recent host-country song and that is ‘You’. Of course, if Robin didn’t make it through the Andra Chansen, which was a topic discussed by James thanks to the suggestion of one of our readers (yes we do take notice!), ‘You’ wouldn’t have been in Malmö and our favourite Swede with a quiff would be absent (and trust me, that would have been a big deal). The song was a very good song from the host-country and you could tell that even though the arena was downsized from previous years, the Swedish fans still came out in force to support their act. It’s pretty sad that it only got 14th place, but to be honest, it was going to look like a four-horse race with Denmark, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Norway anyway. At least he didn’t let Sweden down and now that cute little face of his can keep making music. Good job Robin!

9 – Niamh Kavanagh – “In Your Eyes” (Ireland 1993)

Of the seven times Ireland has hosted Eurovision, two of those times were won on home ground. Niamh was the first person to win on home soil since Milk & Honey and Gali Atarti won the Contest back in 1979 for Israel. ‘In Your Eyes’ was one of the standout songs for me in 1993 Contest and it was the deserving winner in Millstreet (even though the ‘arena’ looked like it could only hold the singers and the stage.. Greece’s NF in 2011 ring a bell?). I won’t go on too much about why I thought it won, but it was a good song that Ireland sent to represent them and when you look back on the performance, it really is a good show, but many fans (including our own James) don’t really think it was a good winner and hence, it’s mentioned in our worst winners article, but from a host-country perspective, it’s a good show!

8 – Salomé – “Vivo Cantando” (Spain 1969)

Another winner on home ground, this time in Spain back in the sixties. Salomé was representing her home country after Massiel won in 1968 and the following year that success was repeated and Salomé won! …Along with Lulu, Lenny Kuhr and Frida Boccara. Ooh, awkward! It’s been so long since Spain had a host-country song; in fact ‘Vivo Cantando’ is the only Spanish host-county song in the history of Eurovision… so far. The performance of the song was pretty energetic for a song in the sixties, and Salomé’s outfit was probably the first sight of fringe at Eurovision (of course it wasn’t Alyona Lanskaya fringe, but at least they were trying to make an effort). The energetic performance combined with a catchy song with four key changes (ValMon, eat your heart out!) gave us Spain’s best host-country song… and one of the best songs of the 1969 Contest.

7 – Ann-Marie David – “Tu te reconnaîtras” (Luxembourg 1973)

The third winner on home soil is that of Ann-Marie David of Luxembourg. Though the staging was rather cramped in 1973, but nevertheless, Ann-Marie gave a stunning performance of that power-jazz-ballad of hers. Her voice was perfect for the song and when she performed it (on Youtube of course, I wasn’t born then), I had goosebumps while she was doing her thing on the stage. The song really was a really good choice for Luxembourg and that was proven when she won in her home country, a mere four points ahead of Mocadades from Spain. ‘Tu reconnaîtras’ was a really good song from the host country and it didn’t surprise me when it won (although I would have liked Belgium to do a bit better than just last place!), so well done Ann-Marie, it was truly a magnificent song and I definitely recognise myself now!

6 – Jelena Tomašević – “Oro” (Serbia 2008)

Ah ‘Oro’, easily the one of the best Balkan songs that was ever in Eurovision and it won the top spot in our Balkan ballads top. The simplicity of the song and the dramatic story that unfolded on stage just gave us a very small insight into how much the song was filled with love. The supporters for Serbia absolutely went mad for Jelena after she finished performing and who could blame them? Serbia knows how to send a good song to Eurovision (well, that is for ‘Cipela’ and ‘Ljubav je svuda’) , so when they hosted the show in 2008, I was expecting them to pull out all the stops, which they did! Jelena finished sixth in the voting, but that was really good for a host country in recent times. However, for this countdown, she’ll finish sixth because as much as we love her, there are better songs to pick from, but well done for winning the Balkan ballads top.

5 – Elisabeth Andreassen – “I Evighet” (Norway 1996)

‘I Evighet’ is probably the best Norwegian host-country song ever. The performance Elisabeth gave was a little stiff, as you can probably tell (what she was doing with her hands, I have no idea), but the song definitely makes up for it. At the start and end of the performance, those Norwegians were cheering for their ‘home girl’ to quote Nargiz Birk-Petersen in 2012, but her song was really good. The fact she came second just showed that everyone else liked her.. just not as much as they liked Eimear Quinn, who is Ireland’s best winner in my opinion. Those panpipes that the guy was playing looked a little out of place, but they provided on the musical front, I’ll tell you that! At least Norway got 10 of their 76 points they had yet to receive at the time, thanks to Ingrid. But well done to Elisabeth for coming in a very respectable second place; the Norwegians were very proud of you!

4 – Anna Vissi – “Everything” (Greece 2006)

Anna Vissi, oh what can I say about her? She won our best key changes top and she is the best Greek host singer.. that’s because she is currently the only one who has taken that role! ‘Everything’ was one of the best songs that was in Eurovision in Athens (other great songs were those of Ukraine, Croatia, Norway, Sweden and Bosnia & Herzegovina) and in the various points of the performance where the audience was shown, all you could see were Greek flags! You could also hear the crowd singing along with Anna during the first chorus and this shows that everybody just loved her and the song to the point they knew every single word. So from a host-country view, she has been one of the strongest host-country singers and even though she only managed to finish in ninth place, everybody loves “EVERYTHING SHE DOES”. Sorry, I had to put it in!

3 – Lys Assia – “Refrain” (Switzerland 1956)

Oh the Golden Queen of Eurovision, Lys Assia! The quality of music was so different from the fifties compared to what it is now. The first winner of Eurovision also was one of the best host-country songs ever in Eurovision, as it was the first winner on home soil. Now it’s one of the most famous songs the Eurovision has ever churned out. Of course, as it was the fifties, there was very little movement and no props were allowed in the show, so the performance definitely revolved around the singer and the song, and that was a very good thing to start out with, because it meant that ‘Refrain’ would be the ultimate champion of this, the first ever Eurovision Song Contest. Sadly now, something like this woudn’t even qualify for the final or anywhere even near the Contest itself, so it’s very good that it won when it did. Well done Lys!

2 – Tajci – “Hajde Da Ludujemo” (Yugoslavia 1990)

The penultimate time Yugoslavia took part as a whole country, this song definitely was a bridge into what was to become the modern era of Eurovision. The stage was designed like a dancefloor and her song was very much disco-influenced, so it worked out quite brilliantly! If Tajci had won for Yugoslavia in Lausanne instead of Riva, 1) we wouldn’t be having her in this countdown and 2) something horrible probably would have been sent to Zagreb to represent the host country. The song is pretty catchy and the performance very eye-catching (I bet many people enjoyed it when she started to stick her ass out, but like Elisabeth, our #5, I have no idea what those hand movements during the performance were about!), so it was a good choice to send ‘Hajde Da Ludujemo’ to represent them and they finished in 7th place, a great placing for a song about going crazy!

So you’ve seen 9 of the best songs from a host country, but our #1 beats them all to it!

1 – Lena Meyer-Landrut – “Taken By A Stranger” (Germany 2011)

I was in the Esprit/Düsseldorf Arena when this was performed and woah, they fans just were crazy for Lena.. and to be honest, so was I. ‘Taken By A Stranger’ was a love/hate song; you either liked it or you didn’t. Let me tell you, the Germans were so proud of their Lena and when they picked ‘Taken By A Stranger’ to represent Germany, I was ecstatic! The performance was very enigmatic,; there was an air of mystery to her and those dancing sperm dancers of hers were just fantastic (I don’t know about any of you, but I know the dance routine.. am I a little sad? Probably..). This is what a host-country should send; a really good singer with a strong song and a memorable performance (Ukraine, you should be taking notes! ‘Raznom nas bahato’ definitely doesn’t fit that description!). The German fans came out in force for their girl and fair play to Lena, she finished just about stayed in the top 10, thanks to Latvia and now she’s the proud titleholder of ESC Views’ ‘Best Host-Country Song in Eurovision History’! Glückwunsch Lena!

Your views:

What would you say would be the best from a host-country in the history of Eurovision?

Is our top 10 accurate to your own?
Is our top 10 accurate to your own?

Angelos Noutsos from Sweden: Good songs from host countries… Tajci is unbeatable!

Nick van Lith from the Netherlands: That’s Anna Vissi for me. Anna Vissi is the best host entry ever, in my all time top 5. The pure expression of emotion and passion. Lena is a good 2nd, but Taken By A Stranger is no Satellite…

Nadine Glöck from Germany: 1. Latvia 2003, 2. Belgium 1987, 3. Greece 2006, 4. Estonia 2002, 5. UK 1977, 6. Yugoslavia 1990, 7. Germany 1983.

Shaun AB from Malta: I’d have to go for Azerbaijan 2012!

We have a huge variety of answers from the fans, ranging from ‘Rock Bottom’ in 1977 for the UK to ‘When the Music Dies’ in 2012 for Azerbaijan. As well these countries, we also had some mentions for ‘Take Him Home’ (Ireland 1988), ‘Never Ever Let You Go’ (Denmark 2001) and ‘For Real’ (Turkey 2004). But what is your favourite host-country song? Who would you add to or take away from the list? Feel free to let us know what you think by commenting below!

14 thoughts on “Top 10: Best host-country songs in ESC history”

    1. Thanks for your comment Paul!

      Well as much as it deserves to be there, there were 58 songs to pick from. If you half that, you have 29, which is still too many. ‘Congratulations’ was considered, but when compared to the rest, it just wasn’t strong enough to get in. ‘You’ only just managed to make it into the countdown, so it’s so hard to pick the people who will go in. But thanks for the opinion!

  1. I think there should definitely be a place for United Kingdom 1998 on this list imho – one of the best UK entries ever, and nearly bought it home again for the UK!

    1. Thanks a lot for your comment Phill!

      Yeah, the UK was actually going to go in, but we decided on Sweden 2013 instead. So the UK 1998 is sadly the 11th place.

      1. Good to know it was up there – I think some of the UK entries have a tendency to get overlooked, which is a shame for classics like Imaani.

      2. Yeah they tend to, but place and people change at the last minute. Hopefully, in the next top 10 we do, the UK gets mentioned! 😀

    1. Thanks for your comment!

      Haha well country music here is pretty here, but it’s mostly ethnic music as well as pop. You’ll have to pay more attention to the Eurovision in future!

  2. i don’t usually listen to country song but after referring your list i download to top 3 songs and now i can’t switch to pop music.

    1. Thanks a lot for your comment Miljan! 🙂

      Aww, well at least you enjoyed the countdown! It was a really fun one to write! 😀

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