There are now less than 50 days until millions of people flock to bars, crowd around sofas and attend horribly clichéd European parties for the 61st Eurovision Song Contest being held in Stockholm
This year, competition looks more fierce than ever, with 43 countries competing. Europe might have to add several quotation marks on it soon regarding the ever-expanding roster, that stretches far beyond the continent’s geo-spatial limits, but we love it more for it all the same. Especially as this years motto of unity for the contest is “Come Together”. No doubt the show will end with an exciting climax (I’m not even sorry) with the new voting system in place.
At HISKIND we adore Eurovision, but before we dive into this years contest, let’s look back at past shows and highlight some of the best songs that couldn’t quite take the Eurovision crown.
Rhythm Inside – Loïc Nottet/Belgium (4th Place)
A viral video shared more than 12 thousand times with a voice that stops you dead in your tracks, Sia herself called his efforts “incredible”. Loïc’s talent and tone is nothing short of legendary. “Rhythm Inside” is a moody brooding record that would not be out-of-place on Lorde’s next album.The studio version send chills, but the live performance is where it really shines with Loïc letting rip and unleashing his full vocal range.
Calm After The Storm – The Common Linnets/The Netherlands (2nd Place)
Probably the most Radio 2 friendly song ever to be conjured up in existence, Eurovision punters thought this lighthearted country/folk record would trouble no-one, being forgotten and left behind in the semi’s. On the night, the Common Linnets made sure they wiped the smugness off everyone’s faces with an emotional and electric performance that ultimately won over the entire continent. A classic example of how the staging is as important as the song itself, the performance was to only be pipped by Conchita herself.
Alcohol is Free – Koza Mostra feat. Agathon Iakovidis/Greece (6th Place)
Throwing Middle of the road pop appeal out the window, Greece’s delegation decided the best way to make an impact in 2013 was to sing a song about its own fiscal mismanagement and sovereign debt crisis through the use of a ska band wearing kilts and a man sporting a marvellous mustache and a tiny guitar.
It’s totally hilarious, but more importantly, pure unadulterated joyful fun, in a time of dire circumstance. This Eurovision was one of austerity, bucking the trend of Azerbaijan by slashing the budget. Many delegations were also unable to independently fund their own participation with hosts Sweden having to step-in. “Alcohol is Free” is a song that still probably plays somewhere in Mykonos in a bar at happy hour with drunk tourists slurring out the chorus together, proving that Eurovision is a cultural treasure that can never be allowed to end.
Quédate Conmigo – Pastora Soler/Spain (10th Place)
Back in Baku, a strange and mysterious land, the contest was staged with an eye-watering £53 million budget. It seemed almost in vain for anyone else to complete as the contest was practically over before it began. Loreen’s “Euphoria” resulted with bookies refusing to take bets on the song for it’s near certain prediction it would steal the show (as it rightly did, earning the famous “douze-points” from a record-breaking 18 countries).
Combined with a Spanish finance minister pleading for her not to win because of Spain’s disastrous economy, Pastora didn’t stand a chance, what a pity too, because this song was in a league of its own. A dramatic, exhilarating song crescendoing into her belting out that note at 2:15 which can only leave you picking up your jaw from the floor. Forget the Spanish football team winning the UEFA championship that year. All the national pride you could ever need is encapsulated here in this three-minute triumph.
Honourable mentions: Russia
Popular – Eric Saade/Sweden (3rd Place)
Sometimes Eurovision gets it wrong, really really wrong. Toddlerface and Primark J. Lo from Azerbaijan won the contest back in Düsseldorf with a song which had as much charm as Michael Gove. Suddenly 40-odd countries had to make the trek to Baku, as soon as they could all locate it on a map
Sweden wasn’t perfect, Eric Saade’s vocal ability is questionable, similarly the lyrical content could have been strung together by a 6-year-old, but dammit, it’s over-dramatic, gimmicky and so over-the-top camp that it’s damn near iconic. Anyone who has a trace of self-respect knows this scandi-pop was the true winner of Eurovision 2011.
Dancing Lasha Tumbai – Verka Serduchka/Ukraine (2nd Place)
Tell me you didn’t squeal with excitement when this song made a cameo appearance in Melissa McCarthy’s and Jason Statham’s 2015 movie Spy
How could we leave out The epitome of Eurovision kitsch? It was almost banned from the contest entirely when the phrase “Lasha Tumbai” was a subversive way of saying “Russia Goodbye” given the certain tense political situation at the time. The Ukrainians exclaimed their disbelief and said it was rather the Mongolian word for “milkshake” in a spectacular display of complete and utter total bullshit.
Luckily with no Mongols nationals to hand, the performance went ahead uncensored. With arguably the best use of an accordion ever to date, Its gaudy, incredibly camp and sticking two fingers up at Russia in the process. It’s everything we live for in Eurovision.