Top 10: Most controversial songs in ESC history

So after James’ amazing Top 30, I’ll bring you back to the top 10s and this countdown concerns all the controversial songs that were ever entered (or about to be) into Eurovision. I think it’s fair to say that the Contest has had its fair share of controversy, both in the voting and in the songs themselves, as well as the odd stunt, but which of the songs that have at least tried to be sent to the Contest is the most controversial of them all? Well keep reading to see who made the cut!

Is Silvia Night the most controversial artist at ESC?
Is Silvia Night the most controversial artist at ESC?

Now, there have been countless songs over the decades that have caused some form of controversy. But with the songs in our countdown, they are what we believe to be the most controversial songs possibly because of the singer, the lyrics, because of something that happened during the performance or maybe even what the song led to after it was performed (I’m not giving away anything!), so that’s why these ten songs are worthy holders of their place in this top. If you think we’ve missed a song, be sure to let us know when you’re finished reading the article. Okay? Great, let’s get started!

10 – Nina Morato – “Je suis un vrai garçon” (France 1994)

Nina Morato, the ‘real boy’, kicks off today’s countdown and a few of you are probably thinking: “What is she doing here?!” Well ‘Je suis un vrai garçon’ is pretty controversial for the time it was performed. First of all, a woman singing that she’s a real boy.. not very conventional in the early nineties. Maybe she was trying to be the human female embodiment of Pinnochio? But as well as that, the lyrics do include the French equivalent of ‘fuck’. Now I’m not sure if Nina was the first artist to indirectly swear at Eurovision, but she was definitely a very – how shall I put it – ‘out there’ artist for the time she entered Eurovision. Nowadays, the song has nearly been forgotten, but it’s still a favourite between both James and I, because it was so great… and controversial.. You get the idea though!

9 – Sverre Kjelsberg & Mattis Hætta – “Sámiid Ædan” (Norway 1980)

Ah yes, the hydroelectric power plant song! Sverre and Mattis has already featured in out WTF top, but now, it’s making another appearance in this top. The song is pretty controversial, seeming as it’s been inspired by the movement of the Sami people up in the north of Norway (wow, there are people who live there?!) as well as that hydroelectric power plant. So, the subject of the lyrics would have probably been considered taboo, and yet it went to Eurovision anyway. This wasn’t the first time that a song concerning very political songs were entered into the Eurovision, as you will find out as you go through the countdown. Nonetheless, it’s still a pretty catchy, yet weird and controversial, song and because of this, they’re our #9!

8 – Silvia Night – “Congratulations” (Iceland 2006)

Silvia Night probably had the most media attention in the run up to the Contest in Athens; not just because of her song, but because of her antics on stage and remarks towards to other contestants. Of course, the song was to match the character of Silvia as a self-obsessed bitch (let’s be honest here – she was!) who thought she was the centre of the universe and the fans absolutely hated her and you can hear the uproar of boos once she had finished singing. But let’s not forget the other, probably more significant reason she was controversial. Not only was she up her own arse in her song, but when she was on stage rehearsing the song, she was insulting the crew and when she had a press conference, the press were told not to make eye contact with her. As well as that, when she failed to qualify for the final (BIG surprise there!), she probably had the biggest and best tantrum that’s ever been caught on camera. I’ll let this video back up my points, but let me just say that Silvia is more of a ‘slut’ than Carola. So she obviously deserves a spot in this top 10 because of all her bitchiness on and off the stage. Controversial? I think so.

(Of course we are talking about the character Silvia Night, and we aren’t hating on Ágústa Erlendsdóttir, the woman who plays the character. In fact, she plays the character very well, so to quote the original song: “Til hamingju!”)

7 – Sandra Kim – “J’aime la vie” (Belgium 1986)

This little lady almost didn’t feature in the top 10 if it wasn’t for James, but looking at the reason she was so controversial, I can now agree with him. Sandra Kim was only 13 years of age when she won Eurovision all those years ago in 1986 and apparently this was a huge deal back then, even though the year before, in 1985, Denmark did recruit vocalist Søren’s 9-year-old to sing in the Contest. I find it humourously ironic that Sandra is singing about how much she loves life and her life has only just begun! It’s as if she was pretending to be a forty-something-year-old, which would be very silly to be honest. Nowadays, now that a rule has been brought in that the singers have to be 16 or over, I don’t think we’ll ever see another Sandra Kim (unless they lift the rule; in which case, we might!), and that makes her memorable.. and controversial of course.

6 – Krista Siegfrids – “Marry Me” (Finland 2013)

There’s no doubt in saying that we’ve documented Krista Siegfrids very well here at ESC Views, but she’s been found on this top because of that fantabulously devilish lesbian kiss. Of course, you guys all know about Russia’s anti-LGBT laws and seeming that the whole country managed to see two women kissing on live TV, I would personally find that a little awkward. But even though it was aimed at Siegfrids’ native Finland to legalise same-sex marriage, it managed to create a huge amount of controversy across Europe when it came to the touchy subject of homosexuality. Now that China’s going to be watching the Contest minus that kiss, it’s a little sad, because I guess that’s just a little too hardcore for them to see that on the first time they see the Contest. Nevertheless, Krista’s still a babe in our eyes and even though she’s split opinions everywhere, she’s an *amayzin* woman to us! Ding Dong! You go girl!

5 – Mariza Koch – “Panagia Mou, Panagia Mou” (Greece 1976)

Greece returns to the Eurovision after a one year “break” and sends this song – em.. awkward! ‘Panagia Mou, Panagia Mou’ talks about the Turkish invasion of Cyprus two years before and to be honest, I’m not sure how it managed to even get into the Contest. First of all, it’s not a great way to welcome yourself back into Europe’s most viewed TV show : ‘Hey everyone, Greece is back! And we’re returning with a song about Turkish people invading Cyprus! Hope you’ve missed us!’ As well as that, it possibly pissed off quite a lot of people across Europe and this was kinda echoed by the fact she came 13th out of a field of 18. So if you are planning to send a song that wants to be controversial, make sure people like it.. and it actually goes to the Contest, although there are some examples that defy these rules (Once again, I’m not saying anything!), but in the case of Mariza.. NO BABY, NO!

4 – Paulo de Carvalho – “E Depois do Adeus” (Portugal 1974)

‘E Depois do Adeus’ is one of the most politically controversial songs in the world full stop and not just the Eurovision world. Why you ask? Well, the song was one of two signals that started the Carnation Revolution in Portugal.  The song came joint last on the night in Brighton (he’d never hold a candle to ABBA), but three weeks after the Contest, the song was broadcast at 22:55 (10:55pm) on a radio station and in doing so, it was used as a signal to mobilise the rebels into. Of  course, the song itself isn’t very controversial, but it did inevitably start a revolution – about as controversial as you can get. It’s not the first time Portugal has sent a political song to Eurovision *ahem* A Luta É Alegria *ahem* but ‘E Depois do Adeus’ is so far “the only song to start a revolution”, to quote John Kennedy O’Connor. Emm.. congratulations?

3 – t.A.T.u – “Ne ver’, ne boysia” (Russia 2003)

Russia probably caused the most controversy in the Contest in 2003 when t.A.T.u were selected to represent them in Russia. First of all, if you’ve ever seen the video for ‘All The Things She Said‘, they were portrayed as a pair of singing Russian lesbians – obvious “OOH CONTROVERSIAL” moment (even though the entire thing was a publicity stunt come up by their manager)! So: this all happened in the months leading up to ESC 2003, and obviously, everyone was like “OMG WHAT IF THEY KISS ONSTAGE”, and this worry was increased by the fact they hardly turned up to any of their rehearsals, meaning we couldn’t get a clear idea of their planned performance; it was all up in the air. In the end, of course, the performance was very. very tame, and tuneless so it was all a big fuss over nothing, but it caused a whole lot of controversy in the run-up to the contest and because of that, they are our #3.. good place for them!

2 – Dana International – “Diva” (Israel 1998)

Another Krista-esque story, Dana International caused major controversy for not only being the first transgender to enter the Contest itself, but also the first transgender to win it. To go over Dana and her poses, there are two ways of looking at it. Of course, at that time we were still all familiarising ourselves with the whole LGBT situation, so when she won, there was almost an outcry as she was “different” to everyone else. But on the other hand, this was a huge achievement for people in the LGBT community at the time and this could have been a motivational tool for some to come out or something (I don’t know people’s life stories). Either way, Dana gave us one of the most feminist songs ever. The song was basically an ode to powerful women in history, both real and mythical – Cleopatra, Aphrodite, Victoria. But this was a significant win because a transgender won. Like Krista, I say to Dana International, Ding Dong! You go girl too!!

So, you’ve seen 9 of the most controversial songs in Eurovision’s history, but our #1 is so controversial, it had to be withdrawn from the competition:

1 – Stephane & 3G – “We Don’t Wanna Put In” (Georgia 2009 – well, almost)

GIMME SEXY AAH! This has to be the most controversial song in modern times in Eurovision. When the war with Russia ended in 2008, Georgia decided not to take part, but inspired by Bzikebi‘s win in the Junior Eurovision in Cyprus, they change their minds and chose to take part in Eurovision 2009, but of course, they weren’t gonna go lightly and they sent this bomb. I don’t know about you, but James and I absolutely love it! Of course, the song made international headlines as it was a satirical song about the way Putin’s name is pronounced and they way they say “put in” – “poot een”. Obviously, the song never went to Moscow (although if it was, I’d bet Vladimir Putin would be really pissed off) and therefore, we didn’t exactly see ‘We Don’t Wanna Put In’  where we should have, but like I said, it gained worldwide attention just because of the lyrics. Just shows you how controversial things can get here! Anyways, congratulations to Stephane & 3G for winning ESC Views’ “Best Controversial Song in ESC history”, but who do you think should be the winner?

Your views:

What’s the most controversial song in Eurovision’s history in your opinion?

Does our top 10 match your own?
Does our top 10 match your own?

Nick van Lith from the Netherlands: I think Greece 1976 was pretty controversial… the song about Turkey invading Cyprus.

Jack Cuffe from the United Kingdom: I think the most controversial song will be Austria next year!

Michael Romano from Australia: “We Don’t Wanna Put In” definitely. How many other Eurovision entries have made worldwide headlines like this one has?

Dave Töper from the United States: I agree, it’s Georgia…

So many fans are agreeing that ‘We Don’t Wanna Put In’ is indeed the most controversial song in Eurovision’s extended history, although Nick also said that ‘Panagia Mou, Panagia Mou’ is also poignant. Jack Cuffe makes an interesting point about Conchita Wurst. He’s already caused so much controversy and there’s almost no doubt that when he takes to the stage in Copenhagen, he will be one to watch for controversy! So what do you think of our top 10? Who should be and who shouldn’t be there? Feel free to tell us what you think below!

4 thoughts on “Top 10: Most controversial songs in ESC history”

  1. Obviously you’re not getting the point behind Silvia Night. She was a character, not an actual person. Also, wouldn’t have put Marry Me that high, and Sí (Italy 1974) could definitely have replace France 1994, Norway or Israel. Otherwise quite an interesting Top 10 and an interesting topic to discuss.

    1. Thanks for your comment Hendrik!

      Yeah I see where you’re coming from, but I also did point out we were talking about the character, not Ágústa herself. Of course, it was all to do to with the character, but they were still pretty controversial publicity stunts. And thanks for your opinions! Glad to see you enjoyed them 🙂

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