(And I’m back from an exam-induced hiatus.)
What better way to celebrate this milestone than by paying homage to May’s most exciting international event? No, not my birthday (on Monday) – the Eurovision Song Contest!!
I have limited sympathy or time for people who complain about Eurovision. Complain away about the number of boring ballads, for sure – but oh, you don’t like it because it’s rigged/people vote for their neighbours/it’s not about the music/it’s got loads of stupid novelty songs?? Wow! I hope you put some oven gloves on before you served me that hot take!!
In advance of this year’s contest in Sweden, here are some of my personal favourite songs from the last 10 years of Eurovision:
1. Dancing Lasha Tumbai – Verka Seduchka (Ukraine, 2007)
What should have been the winner of the best Eurovision in my lifetime: this manic party anthem. What actually won: a really boring Serbian ballad. FFS, Europe. Maybe we should leave you.
2. Party For Everybody – Buranovskiye Babushki (Russia, 2012)
It’s a group of grannies from an obscure Russian village singing to millions of people about how they want to have a mad but inclusive night out. #SquadGoals
3. It’s My Life – Cezar (Romania, 2013)
At the time, this was just jaw-droppingly hilarious. Rewatching it, it actually takes a hell of a lot of skill to be able to sing in falsetto… not that the judges thought so, as they knocked it from 7th in the televoting down to 13th on the night. Oh well. Let’s go back to the hilarious bits of it, which are: basically everything, especially the bit where the dancers appear and that one in the middle starts doing ballet. Incredible, and vote-worthy.
4. Push The Button – Teapacks (Israel, 2007)
Israel. Singing about terrorism. Let’s just leave it at that. (Possibly the catchiest song ever written about terrorism, though.)
5. We Are The Winners – LT United (Lithuania, 2006)
While unfortunately not a prophetic title, LT United’s bold grab for votes was pretty genius. They finished a respectable 6th, had 14-year-old me corpsing with laughter, and had us singing it around school for the next week.
(Honorary mention to Daz Sampson’s 2006 entry for the UK, the truly dreadful ‘Teenage Life’. My dad actually bought the single and still plays it in the house sometimes. I can sing large chunks of it from memory. This is why I need to move out.)
6. Run Away – Sunstroke Project + Olia Tira (Moldova, 2010)
Everyone loves a bit of aural sax.
7 .Moustache – Twin Twin (France, 2014)
Eurovision 2014 was one of the least enjoyable to watch. Everyone was losing their minds to a distinctly meh ballad by Conchita Wurst, and their blood flow to Poland’s cynically sexualised milkmaids to make up for the fact their song was dire, and worst of all, undoubtedly the best song on the night finished last. France – usually fond of dreary ballads – went upbeat, ridiculous and actually kind of topical, pillorying the (thankfully dying) trend for hipsters to sport excessive facial hair. It finished last, obviously. #NeverForget
8. Flying The Flag – Scooch (UK, 2007)
2007 was a humdinger of a Eurovision year. The third and final 2007 entry on this list is the most British piece of camp since… no, I literally can’t think of anything as unabashedly innuendo-laden, cringeworthy and lacking in self-awareness as this incredible bit of trash. These are all good attributes though. “Would you like any nuts with your meal, Sir?” “BLOW into the mouthpiece.” It’s absolutely terrible, 25 years out of date, finished second from bottom, and I love it.
9. Divine – Sébastien Tellier (France, 2008)
Don’t pretend you’ve never wanted to drive a golf buggy onto the Eurovision stage while a group of backing singers dressed like you, in suits and beard weaves (maybe this is what inspired Tyra Banks to get one of the male models an appalling beard weave in Series 21 of America’s Next Top Model), croon away. It’s a surprisingly decent song too. Obviously, it finished way down the table.
10. Pokusaj – Laka (Bosnia-Herzegovina, 2008)
OK, so most of the other songs are memorable for being attention-seeking. Pokusaj was different. Bosnian Helena Bonham Carter and Bosnian Tim Minchin*’s live singing starts out a bit weak, but stick with it. It explodes into life with the chorus, and the singers look like they’re having the best fun ever.
Laka were so infectiously happy, and Pokusaj such an irrepressible banger, that not only did me and my friends Grace and Sophia love it forever and vote for it several times, but we actually knocked over a three-seater sofa while rowdily cheering the song receiving 12 points from someone. If I actually cared about where songs finished, I’d probably have an embolism that it only finished 10th. But I don’t. Laka, you were the best.
(*If Tim Minchin had ever produced any musical output that wasn’t unfunny and shit, that is.)
And some of the winners that have actually been pretty good…
11. Hard Rock Hallelujah – Lordi (Finland, 2006)
Finland stuck to its strength – heavy music – and became surely the most unlikely, but memorable (apart from ABBA), Eurovision winners ever.
12. Fairytale – Alexander Ryback (Norway, 2009)
He’s kind of a smug bastard, in hindsight, but big Al’s fast fiddling fingers gave us a jaunty tune which made you want to do the Norwegian equivalent of Riverdancing.
13. Satellite – Lena (Germany, 2010)
I remember nothing about 2010’s Eurovision apart from Sax Guy and this song, a chirpy pop number that was number 1 in a zillion countries before the contest aired and, obviously, stormed to victory. I don’t like it as much as I did at the time, actually, but it might be because I’ve just been listening to some of the other classics on the list. It’s hard to live up to the likes of Scooch.
14. Euphoria – Loreen (Sweden, 2012)
It’s not often that a legit club banger actually wins Eurovision, but this one did. Unlike some of the other songs, this still stands up to scrutiny – despite my little brother being so obsessed with it for 6 months afterwards that I have heard it many, many times more than any of the other songs featured.
And a bonus track from Junior Eurovision…
15. Zo Verliefd – Laura (Belgium, 2009)
Although she has an arguably stronger voice than most singers at adult Eurovision, Laura’s song starts out fairly unexciting, before she kicks it up a notch with an upbeat pop chorus. Just as you’re getting into it, she starts yodelling. It’s fucking brilliant (as are her amazingly, creepily cheerful teenybopper friends on stage). There should be more yodelling at Eurovision.