Top 10: Worst winners in ESC history

Today sees the first of the negative top tens in the ‘Top 10’ series and in this countdown, we’ll pick out our least favourite winners that have taken part in Eurovision since it began. Now, you may find some of the choices controversial, but for us, they are literally the worst  winners in Eurovision history… but which one is the worst of the worst? Well keep reading to find out!

Was Ell and Nikki the worst winner Eurovision has ever seen?
Was Ell and Nikki the worst winner Eurovision has ever seen?

Like I said at the start, you may find some of our choices in the countdown quite controversial, but these are, according to us, the worst winners that ever graced the stage of Eurovision. If you find any of our choices offensive or anything like that, feel free to let us know by commenting at the end of the article and we’ll try and justify ourselves. Right then, let’s go!

10 – Lordi – “Hard Rock Hallelujah” (Finland 2006)

Lordi kicks off our top at number 10 for a number of reasons. First of all, congratulations to the Finns who eventually managed to win the Contest and finally break their curse that lasted a mere 45 years, but they could have done it with a better song. Don’t get me wrong, ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’ was a great song and the performance was great, and Mr. Lordi even got a spot on out hottest guys top, but the song was definitely the last thing you’d expect to win Eurovision! Personally, I’m not a fan of rock or metal or whatever you want to want to call it (I’d only really listen to it if it was like Leave Me Alone, which is like the best host song ever.. well maybe just as good as ‘Taken By A Stranger’, but you get the idea!), so to me, it really surprised me when Lordi won., whether it was of disgust or not is still yet to be answered.

9 – Udo Jürgens – “Merci, Cherie” (Austria 1966)

From a horrible song with a great performance to a brilliant song with a horrible performance. Is it just me or did you kind of just start to drift off and fall asleep during “Merci, Cherie”? I know this is Austria’s only winning song so far and it was performed in a very *performance restricted* era, but he could have spiced it up just a little bit! The song is amazing like I said, but the performance was just so boring and after a while, I did find myself having to move on with the show because I just couldn’t put up with it anymore. Now, if Udo adapted it slightly and sang it like Anke and Stefan or have some woman adoring him by the piano a la Petra, he would definitely have not been in this countdown, but one can dream, eh?

8 – Bucks Fizz – “Making Your Mind Up” (United Kingdom 1981)

Bucks Fizz: our most memorable outfits in Eurovision history, and now our eight worst winner in the Contest. The UK had much to offer, and they obviously did if they won, but the performance was just a cheese-fest and to what goes to Eurovision in the modern times, it’s just really cringy . As well as that, the song hasn’t aged so well and when you go to listen to them, it just sounds so badly dated and that’s not what you’d like a supposed ‘golden oldie’ to end up as. So as much as we love Bucks Fizz and that simply fantabulous removal of some clothes (I’ll let you watch the video and see for yourself), the song is just a big No No* and that’s why the group are our #8 in this countdown. (*Lerika quote not intended!)

7 – Herreys – “Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley” (Sweden 1984)

Herreys were those guys who wore those weird golden shoes right? Of course they are! I find it horrible that one of the few years Ireland sends a song I actually like (you wouldn’t believe how much I hate most of Ireland’s songs), Terminal 3, don’t the Swedes go and win the competition with a song that I would say shouldn’t have even gotten into the top 10, and James can back me up on this! The song is just so bad, it’s beyond words and those boots as well are just… why are they even there?! I just think that Ireland deserved to win in 1984 and then the Swedes go and steal the trophy. I think maybe there should be a recount.. just kidding, but for us, Herreys are just..ugh. Can we move on please before they sing it again??

6 – Marie N – “I Wanna” (Latvia 2002)

Marie N, the only Latvian to ever win Eurovision, gave us a song that couldn’t be more associated with the Contest. Of course, the performance was memorable for the amount of clothes that she took off, but we have remember that this is a SONG contest, not a stripping contest (well… you COULD say that a couple of artists have competed on that level as well on a musical level). The song is just really cheesy and I’m just surprised it won. Okay, yes, it’s catchy but after the actual Contest, the song was a complete failure in the music charts and it only charted at #15 in Belgium; it didn’t even chart in the country it won the Eurovision for! I don’t know exactly how Latvia managed to win, but one things known; ‘I Wanna’ is on this countdown.

5 – Johnny Logan – “What’s Another Year?” (Ireland 1980)

This could be the most surprising choice we picked, but we’ve only put Johnny in for the pure fact that we despise the song. ‘Hold Me Now’, of course, is the better song he sand and ‘Why Me?’ doesn’t really count as it wasn’t him that sang it, that job was left to Linda Martin. But ‘What’s Another Year?’ is the worst song he ever sent because the song is just so dull and boring. Now some may say it’s one of the best songs Ireland ever sent to the Contest, but for us, we just find the song really annoying. The performance was just really bare and really just quite dull on stage. For me, I’d have preferred if another country won instead of Ireland, because we didn’t really deserve that win (okay, shoot me now!) Sorry Johnny, but it had to be said!

4 – Toto Cutugno – “Insieme: 1992” (Italy 1990)

‘Insieme: 1992’, Italy’s second ever win at Eurovision.. not a very good one if I say so myself. The song is supposed to be a huge stadium anthem that everyone waves their hands in the air and everything like that, but to be honest, it just ended up like a bland piece of forgettable rock in a year filled with great entries. I mean, look at Yugoslavia, Spain, Portugal, all brilliant entries; then Italy comes along and tries too hard to be an anthem and ends up winning the whole thing, even though it was incredibly forgettable. Italy, you had so many other opportunities to win, but you had to do it in that year, didn’t you? Well, at least you won before you abandoned us for nearly fifteen years.. only to come back to the competition and finish in second place!

3 – Paul Harrington & Charlie McGettigan – “Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids” (Ireland 1994)

Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan have got to be the only winners that only won because of another person.. or more precisely, Riverdance. The only reason they actually did so well was because of the way us Irish showed we can move our feet without moving our arms and not because of the actual song. Speaking of, the song was just so boring and forgetful! I’m sure if Riverdance wasn’t the interval act, then Ireland wouldn’t have won Eurovision for the third time in a row and we would have been heading to Warsaw in 1995, thanks to Edyta Górniak. To most people I know, they absolutely despise this song and to be honest, fair play to them! Seriously, Europe?! There were so many other songs that could have done well. Not cool.

2 – Ell and Nikki – “Running Scared” (Azerbaijan 2011)

When Azerjaban Azerbaijan bought won the Eurovision in Düsseldorf, it would be safe to say that there was complete and utter outrage among fans and to be fair, I wouldn’t blame them. I never liked Ell and Nikki and wasn’t it nice that the first time I actually went to see Eurovision, it was won by the one entry we all didn’t like (you’ll see that later on in the article). The song is just so lifeless and all that moving around the stage and the fireworks just add to the confusion as to what the song is actually about. I am actually disappointed with Europe now (again!) for letting that song win; have you not seen Eric Saade or Mika Newton?! It was just a real mess on stage and the fact that it won is, what we believe, the result of a lack of judgement by the public..What were you thinking, people!?! At least our #1 is even worse than those two!

1 – Dima Bilan – “Believe” (Russia 2008)

Dima Bilan has to be the least deserving winner of Eurovision of all time. Okay, Russia put on a spectacular show the following year and probably gave us one the best stages the world has ever seen, but the way they managed to actually get that is just horrible. ‘Believe’ is actually worse than the song he sang in Athens two years before, ‘Never Let You Go’, so when it won, I was just left in shock. More than likely, he actually managed to win because of that pesky little ice skater and the guy playing the violin; best way of using the stage ever, right? WRONG! As well as that, he robbed the victory from Ani Lorak who CLEARLY deserved it more than Dima did. Ani was the fan favourite and were it not for those voting patterns, she’d have been almost guaranteed a victory and we’d have returned to Kyiv in 2009. Shame on you Dima Bilan, you stole a victory from someone who is way better looking than you. But congratulations for being ESC Views’ Worst Winner in ESC History!

Your views:

What would you say would be the worst winner in Eurovision history?

Does our top 10 reflect your own top?
Does our top 10 reflect your own top?

Jack Cuffe from the United Kingdom:  It’s got to be Azerbaijan 2011. It wasn’t a bad song but there were so many better songs that year… It’s Azerbaijan’s worst song, in my opinion.

Anthony Ko from Slovenia: 2001 no doubt. It haunts me today!

Shaun Underhay from the United Kingdom:  Alexander Rybak for me. Can’t for the life of me understand how it was the most successful winner in Eurovision history. Molitva and I Wanna have also gotta be contenders too.

Aydin Agayev from Azerbaijan: 2006 the worst can not be worse than that!

As well as the views mentioned above, Azerbaijan 2011 was mentioned more frequently than most other artists, but other artists that received mentions included the Olsen Brothers (2000), Riva (1989), Séverine (1971), Dave Benton and Tanel Padar (2001) and Niamh Kavanagh (1993). But what we’d like to know is who do you think is the worst winner? Be sure to tell us what you think by commenting below!

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Would it work… if the UK went Eastern?

Well this doesn’t happen often! In this new series, we’ll look forward into the future and analyse the probability of a country (or indeed, countries) doing better if they use a certain technique. The first of these articles takes us to the UK, who’s known to have a tendency to stay away from Eastern sorts of music… but would they get a better result if they sent a song with more of an Eastern European feel to it? In other words, would it work if the UK went Eastern?

What can the UK now do what Javine couldn't?
What can the UK now do what Javine couldn’t?

The Eurovision is known for both its ethnic Eastern sounds as well as the modern techno-beats of the West, but from time to time, the two styles are merged in a song that’s sent to the Contest and that song normally does quite well. In the case of the UK, however, it couldn’t be any more wrong. In 2005, the United Kingdom sent Javine to represent them in Kyiv, with ‘Touch My Fire’, a song that had a very Turkish sound to it (I guess it could be likened to Düm Tek Tek in certain ways), but it also had , to quote British commentator Terry Wogan, “very British writhing and squirming”, which at the time could have been the perfect combination for a win, but it obviously didn’t please Europe and it flopped, finishing in 22nd place.

Now, dance routine and hot drummer boys aside, the song was actually not that bad, but at certain points during the performance, her vocals were anything but pleasing. I mean, listen to that last note at around 3:36 in the video; all I can say is ‘NO, BABY NO!’. Looking back on the performance now, however, one may think that maybe the UK were trying to hard to appeal to a more Eastern European audience and to be fair, it made them look a little desperate. The UK is now no longer sending songs such as ‘Touch My Fire’, which could be one of the biggest mistakes they’ve made. Compared to what it was in 2005, Eastern European and Balkan-esque music is now what most young people are listening to (a point that I made when I was debating who to send for Romania) and now that times have changed, maybe trying the technique again could get the country a better placing. The best possible act that could showcase this would be this group. Guys, meet Sam and the Womp.

The band and, indeed, the song are that sort of artist that you would stereotypically associate with Eurovision (Samantha Ross from escinsight said that Sam and the Womp was a combination of “Ovo je Balkan” and Lena), but they have the potential to place high for many reasons:

  • ‘Bom Bom’ became a hit across Europe and also charted in North America and Australia, and it’s been used in TV shows across the world
  • The band would appeal to a young audience because it’s what most young people are listening to nowadays
  • The song is insanely catchy and you’d easily find yourself singing the song without realising it
  • The song fuses Western beats with Balkan trumpets and so on, so it would definitely appeal to the Eastern European countries

I’ve always pictured Sam and the Womp singing a song like this at Eurovision and if ‘Bom Bom’ was eligible (it was released before September 1st 2012) and it actually was sent to represent the UK at Eurovision, I can see it placing really high with all the graphics on the backdrop and the audience just going crazy, all the while the band giving a simply energy-packed performance. If the UK was to send something like this, it would definitely work as it appeals to all sorts of people from both ends of Europe, so it would be the best possible choice to send them if they want to try the Eastern beats technique again… or is that just me?

Your views:

Do you think it would work if Britain incorporated more Balkan style sounds into their future songs?

Do you think the UK should include more Eastern sounds in the future?
Do you think the UK should include more Eastern sounds in the future?

Anthony Ko from Slovenia: Sam and the Womp might not go down well with the juries though.

Ricardo Stour Delarentis from Spain: It would work with televoting, specially having such a hot member but juries would have killed their chances.

Susan Mathieson from Canada: It has horns… now that’s usually a good sign!

Michael Romano from Australia: Actually I really do think that they have a chance with Sam & The Womp, they’re music is catchy and will appeal to eastern countries which is vital for UK to do well. 

So the fans are saying that the band would be a great way of using Eastern beats, but they would flop with the juries. That being said, they do love a catchy song (*ahem* Satellite, Euphoria *ahem*), so whether they would get a good place or not would be anyone’s guess. So, what do you think? Should the UK go Eastern next year and send something like Sam and the Womp or just stick to what they’ve been sending in recent years? Feel free to let us know by commenting below!

Top 10: Best backdrops in ESC history

Another Friday evening, and we have another ESC Views Top 10 for you guys! Tonight, I will be tackling something a little less controversial than last week, and looking more at the aesthetics of the contest rather than actual entries: yes, I’m counting down what we consider to be the best backdrops in Eurovision history! Got any stand-out candidates in mind? Read on to find out if they’ve made the cut!

Will Flor-De-Lis' infectiously colourful backdrop be today's winner?
Will Flor-De-Lis’ infectiously colourful backdrop be today’s winner?

So, as is to be expected with a countdown on this kind of technology-dependent subject, all of our top 10 entries here are pretty recent. That is simply owing to the fact that the advent of more advanced stage designs and the increasing use of LCD screens over the years has led to a rapid increase in the complexity and spectacle within the realm of possibility for a Eurovision backdrop. Rewind to 1990, and to a modern audience, the high-tech screens set up in Zagreb look like nothing more than a tacky 80s theme night at your local bar, or at best, the paraphernalia of a hire DJ at a low-budget wedding. But back then, that was top-of-the-range, boundary-pushing stuff.

With that in mind, we have looked specifically at the contests from 2006 onwards when shortlisting our top ten here. Whilst there have been notable instances of interesting backdrops before Athens, it was the Greek stage design which first allowed for the kind of elaborate projections which have made it into our list. Finland elaborated on the concept in 2007, with the first stage to revolve around a major LCD screen providing each act’s main backdrop, and since then, it has pretty much become a staple of the competition! So, from the multitude of impressive backdrops we have seen since then, which ten performances have been lucky enough to make it into tonight’s countdown?

10 – Hanna Pakarainen – Leave Me Alone (Finland 2007)

As mentioned above, Finland pulled out all the stops when they hosted the contest back in 2007, and whilst pretty much everything about the show holds a special place in my heart (owing to the fact it was my first live ESC, if you didn’t already know) the one aspect of Helsinki which to this day hasn’t been beaten in my eyes.. is that stage. The Finns certainly showed it in its best light for their own entry’s performance too – revolving around a projection of Hanna’s tattoo and alternating flashes of isolated blues and fiery oranges, the backdrop here really encapsulated the anger and frustration within the song’s lyrics and suited the genre down to a T. If only it had resulted in a higher placement for this fantastic song *sigh*.

9 – Filipa Sousa – Vida Minha (Portugal 2012)

Whilst technically brilliant, the Baku stage divided opinion when its aesthetic merit was concerned; with a number of fans finding it so vast that the performers were simply lost on it. However, the 2012 Portuguese entry was the one performance where the backdrop managed to work with the stage design in order to not only emphasise that aspect of the sublime, but also capitalise on it. Using the truly beautiful imagery of Lisbon, the team behind Filipa Sousa managed to produce a breathtaking yet understated stage show, which – in conjunction with the fado instrumentation – underlined the message of the song, by having Filipa appear as a tiny speck on the Lisbon skyline, quietly, yet flawlessly singing out into the night. And unfortunately, I don’t think many viewers really “got” that. 😦

8 – Nelly Ciobanu – Hora Din Moldova (Moldova 2009)

From something subtle and understated, to what was arguably the most energetic, full-throttle, gloriously mental three minutes on the Moscow stage: the fantabulous Nelly Ciobanu. The backdrop consisted of a series of geometric patterns – which actually resembled the detailing on the Belarussian flag, anyone else see that? – which incorporated the gyrating figures mirroring the movements of her live hora dancers on the stage. The whole thing came across as very authentic, down to the adorable stitching effect on the backdrop which was replicated in the performers’ costuming. The song itself was one of my absolute favourites back then – and still is to this day – and it came across even more effectively live, thanks to the backdrop.

7 – Yohanna – Is It True? (Iceland 2009)

Forever remembered as “the one with the bog brush dress”, Yohanna managed to grab Iceland their best result to date, with an impressive 218-point second-place showing in Moscow. Now, the stage that year was just stunning in so many ways, but in this performance (and also the Estonian performance of “Randajad”) the backdrops highlighted both its epic scale and its potential to create a really intimate feel. The genius here is how much it changes, without you even realising it. I mean, take the beginning. Yohanna, awful dress aside, appears to be singing against a dark and somewhat underwhelming landscape shot. You focus initially on the song, because there’s nothing else to distract you. And then, you get drawn into it. You appreciate the beauty of the melody, the simplistic nature of the backing, the soft power of her vocals… and then you suddenly realise that this magical song is being sung against a completely different backdrop. There are clouds. There is a moon. And, one by one, a ghostly ship, a dolphin, stars… they all make their appearances with the effect of simply supporting the aesthetic of what has become a sublime viewing experience. It serves the entire purpose of a backdrop, then, in that you hardly realise it is there, but it brings a whole other dimension to the performance.

6 – Sopho – Visionary Dream (Georgia 2007)

Back to that amazing 2007 stage now, and the one performance which really made it shine was the début entry from Georgia, Sopho’s brilliant “Visionary Dream”. As if the sword-dancing and stick-on-tattoo antics on stage weren’t enough, the backdrop – whilst being somewhat unexplainable – was just mesmerising. A colourful bohemian montage of ever-changing faces, white handprints and psychedelic spinning flowers, the projection didn’t keep still for a moment, and the splashes of blue and red brought even more power to the imagery. The song, which was already strong enough on its own, was taken to another level by how memorable it’s backdrop was.

5 – Nina – Caroban (Serbia 2011)

Ahhh, Düsseldorf. There were no less than seven entries from 2011 which we were considering for inclusion in this countdown, and the lovely Nina from Serbia has ended up as one of the lucky ones, charting here at #5. And why? Well just LOOK AT THAT BACKGROUND! I doubt there was ever a better-executed “concept performance” in recent years at Eurovision. And what I mean by that, in this case, is that every single aspect of the performance was an authentic and original reconstruction of the sixties, done in a modern way. That psychedelic backdrop is perhaps the crowning glory of the entire performance. Described at the time as resembling “a fallopian tube” by the fabulous Elaine Dove – of eurovisionireland.net – the concentric circles which form the backbone of Nina’s stage show were emulated in the costumes and the accessories of the performers, as well as in hippy colours on the screen. What more could you want from a sixties throwback, ey?

4 – Gianluca Bezzina – Tomorrow (Malta 2013)

One of the most inspired decisions of the 2013 contest was undoubtedly Malta opting to use the official lyrics video for “Tomorrow” as the backdrop for the song in Malmö. A gesture like that encourages the viewers – and perhaps more importantly the audience in the arena – to sing along… and let’s face it, it’s that kinda song, isn’t it. I’m pretty sure that the “oh-oh oh-oh time to follow her tomorrow” was being tunelessly repeated in households across Europe by the end of the second chorus. And, its surprising top ten showing definitely indicates that the decision paid off for them – through clever manipulation of the backdrop, they turned what could have been a dull and forgettable acoustic number into a charming and memorable stadium anthem. Congratulations PBS!

3 – Anastasiya Prikhodko – Mamo (Russia 2009)

The dark, mysterious and downright brilliant “Mamo” has already featured in the upper reaches of one of our top 10s before, based purely on the merits of the song. However, on that occasion, we didn’t discuss the song’s performance, and that in itself is worthy of note. For the home entry in 2009, Russia threw out the rulebook on how to stage a Eurovision entry, and instead decided to present to us all the versatility of their stage, and the almost unnerving technological prowess they had accumulated. This all came to a head with the song’s backdrop, consisting entirely of Anastasia Prikhodko’s face, apparently miming the song’s lyrics, but – startlingly – appearing to grow older as the music progressed. Whilst the real-life Anastasia was still belting out the song (dressed in her best shower curtain, naturally…) her 70-year-old projected self, white-haired, age-spotted and wrinkled, was reduced to tears on the screens. Powerful stuff. And all a little bit weird, really. But powerful. Very powerful.

2 – Flor-De-Lis – Todas As Ruas Do Amor (Portugal 2009)

From the disturbing antics of “Mamo” to another of the stand-out performances of Moscow 2009: the absolutely adorable presentation that year from Portugal. Flor-De-Lis came to Moscow with a strong catchy song, and from the moment the performance started, you couldn’t help but smile. Rays of yellow, pink and green struck out across the LCD screens, with little cartoon clouds rising joyfully in the song’s introduction. Like something out of a Super-Mario game, the stage floor was coloured green, and the smiles and energy of all six members of the band were truly infectious. Lead singer Daniela Varela gave a truly amazing vocal performance, leaving everyone watching in no doubt that the Portuguese delegation were having an absolute blast on stage, and that they were sending a truly deserving entry to the contest, with a stellar presentation to match! Indeed, two years later in Düsseldorf, Anna Rossinelli adopted a similar concept in her backdrop, but we felt that Flor-De-Lis did it a whole lot better, hence their inclusion as our second place!

1 – Paradise Oskar – Da Da Dam (Finland 2011)

Only very slightly ahead of Flor-De-Lis in this particular countdown, we have a similarly adorable performance, although executed in a completely different style. The song itself is so simple, and in essence, so is the staging and the backdrop. Boy alone with guitar. Cute face, cute melody, cute lyrics. The message behind it was featured blatantly in the lyrics – “going out in the world to save our planet” – therefore, you’d imagine that the projection of some kind of planet would be only logical, yes? Now, I’m not often one to get sentimental about this kind of thing, and I have no idea why, but with this performance, the moment when that earth appears behind him is truly, truly magical. The backdrop is stunning, but the camera work itself is just beautiful; zooming out steadily, as the globe rises and the figure of Mr. Oskar appears to shrink, silently affirming the message that no matter how small we feel, we are all capable of making a difference. And, as if on cue, that’s the precise moment where he reaches the “da da dam da da dam” section of the chorus, and the entire Esprit Arena just joins in. Effortless. Amazing. Inspired.

Congratulations to Paradise Oskar, who now has the title of “ESC Views’ best backdrop in ESC history” to add to the rather disappointing 21st-place from the 2011 contest. He’s our winner, but would you agree??

Your Views:

Which would be your most memorable Eurovision backdrop?
Which would be your most memorable Eurovision backdrop?

Marcus Fuchs from Germany: For me it was Poli Genova – great visuals!

Vesa Pöllänen from Finland: Paradise was great. Me like 🙂 from my home country

Teresa Varela from Portugal:  Portugal 2009!! FLOR de LIS 🙂

Robbert Landegent from The Netherlands: The Jedward backdrops

Alongside the other opinions mentioned here, we also had a lot of support for Yohanna’s backdrop, the suggestion of both Lena and Anouk, aswell as agreement with our third placed song “Mamo” and our number one choice of Paradise Oskar. Therefore, it would seem that the most iconic backdrops of recent years are widely accepted and hopefully well represented in tonight’s compilation – but if you disagree and think we have missed out an absolute highlight, then please do not hesitate to leave your thoughts below!! 😀