Ah the Eurovision Song Contest. An annual display of the continent’s good, bad and ugly. From nul point scoring disasters to 12 point triumphs – we look back…
1. Lulu: ‘Boom Bang-A-Bang’ – 1969
In 1969, 21 year-old Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie, better known by her stage name ‘Lulu’ represented the UK, singing the song ‘Boom Bang-A-Bang’. The song was written by two then-unknown songwriters, Bernie Taupin and Elton John. Lulu won the Eurovision Song contest, and the song was a hit all over Europe, kicking off a career which has spanned almost 50 years, and has included multiple number one songs, and a Bond theme. Interestingly, there were three other winners that year. Spain, the Netherlands and France all scored the same number of points as the UK, and in the sixties there was no tie-break rule, so all four nations were declared winners.
2. ABBA: ‘Waterloo’ – 1974
It is traditional that the winners of the previous contest host the following competition, however after Luxembourg won in both 1972 and 1973, they declined to host the competition a second year running. As a result, the BBC agreed to host the Contest in Brighton, and it was there that ABBA made history. Representing Sweden, the famous foursome broke onto the international stage with their winning song ‘Waterloo’. They went on to become one of the most popular recording acts of all time. Fun fact – The Wombles were the interval entertainment!
3. Bucks Fizz: ‘Making Your Mind Up’ – 1981
In 1981, the pop group Bucks Fizz won the Contest on behalf of the UK, the country’s first win in five years. Midway through their song ‘Making Your Mind Up’ the male members of the group whipped off the skirts of their female counterparts, revealing mini skirts underneath. Though the band didn’t achieve long-term success, the skirt moment became one of the most memorable and defining moments in the Contest’s history. The voting that year was particularly memorable for its closeness, with the UK. German, France, Switzerland and Ireland all in the lead at different points.
4. Remedios Amaya: ‘Who Sails my Boat’ – 1983
In 1983 two countries achieved ‘nul points’ status. Both Spain and Turkey shared the bottom spot, but it was Spain’s Remedios Amaya’s offering of ‘Who Sails my Boat’ which has become known as one of the worst songs ever. The confusing flamenco-rock tune included bizarre lyrics, such as ‘your mother’s braids, tell me, who braids them?’ and the suggestive ‘whatever you ask of me, I’ll give it to you.’ The main singer also bemused the audience by singing barefoot.
5. Celine Dion: ‘Ne partez pas sans moi’ – 1988
Pre-Titanic, Celine Dion was relatively unknown, when she represented Switzerland at the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest singing ‘Ne partez pas sans moi’. While Dion hails from Quebec, Canada, the song was written by a Swiss composer. Celine won the Contest, narrowly beating the UK’s entry Imaani. Since the Eurovision Contest, Dion has gone on to sell over 200 million albums worldwide, and is one of the most popular female recording artists of all time.
6. Tor Endresen: ‘San Francisco’ – 1997
A third eventful year in Dublin – in 1997. English group Katrina & The Waves took home the title with their song ‘Love Shine A Light’. But it was Norway’s Tor Endresen with the disastrous ‘San Francisco’ which joined the Eurovision Hall of Fame for all the wrong reasons. Achieving ‘nul points’. Norway is the country with the dubious distinction of having the most ‘nul points’ performances in the Contest’s history.
7. Ping Pong: ‘Be Happy’ – 2000
Described by Sir Terry Wogan as ‘Spice Girls meets the Pet Shop Boys’, Israeli technopop group PingPong earned just seven points, coming dead last, and finding fame as one of the worst songs of all time on Eurovision. Their song ‘Be Happy’ was accompanied by equally bizarre choreography.
8. Jemini: ‘Cry Baby’ – 2003
Despite making it to number 15 in the UK Charts, Britain’s entry Jemini’s performance of their song Cry Baby was so off key that it was painful to watch. They scored ‘nul points’, and to add insult to injury, their dressing room was broken into and vandalized while they were on stage. After Eurovision the group were dropped by their record label, and their debut album was never released.
9. Lordi: ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’ – 2006
Arguably the most controversial winner, Finland’s Lordi appears as frequently on ‘worst Eurovision song’ lists as it does on best ones. Dressed in ghoulish make-up, which made them look like the living dead, Lordi were the first ever heavy metal act to win the Contest with their song ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’. They scored 292 points, and Finland even sold a special brand of soda in their honour after their win.
10. Buranovskiye Babushki: ‘Party for Everybody’ – 2012
Though they only came second, Russian entry Buranovskiye Babushki won the hearts of viewers all over Europe with their song ‘Party for Everybody’. The six Urdmurtian grandmothers performed a song about being happy and partying, and used their prize money to build a church.