10 of the most memorable Eurovision performances ever
By: Rachel Read
July 8, 2020
With the Will Ferrell-Rachel McAdams Netflix film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga taking the world by storm, a large swathe of the Internet is only now discovering just how amazing Eurovision is.
Started in 1956, this international competition rounds up around forty (mostly) European countries to create and perform three-minute songs at a spectacular annual extravaganza, with all the respective countries voting to crown a winner.
Having produced stars like ABBA and Celine Dion, the contest has become ever more show-stopping over the years, with countries turning to everything from suggestive milkmaids and baking grannies to rapping astronauts and a man running in a hamster wheel to stand out.
With Eurovision Asia in the pipeline, there’s certainly a lot for Asian countries to live up to – and we’ve rounded up some of the most memorable Eurovision performances of all time as proof (and no, we won’t be playing Ja Ja Ding Dong!).
Hard Rock Hallelujah – Lordi, Finland
Did you know Finland has more heavy metal bands per capita than any other country in the world? Well, now you do. No Eurovision list is complete without Lordi, Finland’s head-banging winners from 2006, and the country’s first-ever Eurovision champions. These guys came to rock, and rocked hard, complete with thrashing guitars, ridiculous puns (kudos to “day of rockening”) and more crazy monster costumes than Lan Kwai Fong during Halloween.
Dancing Lasha Tumbai – Verka Serduchka, Ukraine
The birth of a legend… 2007’s runner-up Verka Serduchka might just be the most iconic Eurovision performance of them all. Picture a sequin-clad, bosom-patting drag queen beamed in from outer space, backed by wildly gyrating dancers sporting sprayed-on Bacofoil shorts, spouting lyrics that make little to no sense whatever language they’re in, all to a whirling accordion hook practically machine-designed to take up permanent residence in your brain, and you’re only half-way to experiencing the utter insanity that ensued. Now that you’ve heard it, prepare to find yourself chanting “Eins, zwei, drei!” at life’s most inopportune moments.
Fuego – Eleni Foureira, Cyprus
Bringing the diva to our list is Eleni Foureira, rumoured to be the inspiration behind The Story Of Fire Saga’s Eurovision temptress Mita Xenakis. Featuring a barely-there outfit, expertly executed choreography, eyebrow-singeing levels of pyrotechnics and enough immaculate hair flips to make Beyoncé proud, Fuego came second in 2018.
Toy – Netta, Israel
Eleni was pipped to the post by Israel’s Netta, one of the contest’s more, ahem, eccentric entries. A blistering ode to female empowerment that features an array of weird clucking noises and dancers busting out more bonkers variations on the funky chicken than the entire Bluth family in Arrested Development, this may well be the only Eurovision song that namechecks both a Pokémon and Donald Trump in its madcap lyrics.
Rise Like A Phoenix – Conchita Wurst, Austria
Rocking a beard and skin-tight sparkly gown like it’s no big deal is Eurovision icon Conchita Wurst, who took the title in 2014. Channelling strong “Skyfall” by Adele vibes, epic ballad “Rise Like A Phoenix” is essentially the James Bond song that never was, complete with bombastic orchestration, super-dramatic staging and a killer smoky eye situation.
Euphoria – Loreen, Sweden
Loreen’s techno-dance rave from 2012 is one of the most-streamed Eurovision tracks of all time, and for good reason – it’s a stone-cold banger. Her unique look and dance moves (has her crab scuttle across stage been patented as a Fortnite move yet?) further cemented the clubtastic Euphoria as a Eurovision classic and, along with Netta and Conchita in this list, nabbed her a cameo in The Story Of Fire Saga’s incredible song-along scene; all together now… “Euphoria-a-a-a-a-aaaahhh”!
Hey Mamma – Sunstroke Project, Moldova
This Eurovision performance has it all – microphones disguised as flowers, quirky on-stage costume changes, an oddly hypnotic waggly leg dance move, a sassy violinist, and a singer who bears an uncanny resemblance to Draco Malfoy. But most importantly, it features the return of the man the Internet christened Epic Sax Guy, who originally went viral at 2010’s contest. Moldova wisely learnt from the mistakes of that year, namely: too much singing, not enough sax. This time, Epic Sax Guy was put front and centre, and given a total earworm of a riff to blast out again… and again… and again. He came, he saw, he saxed it up; Epic Sax Guy, we salute you.
Yodel It! – Ilinca ft. Alex Florea, Romania
May we present you with the yodel-rap mash-up you never knew you needed? You’re welcome.
Wild Dances – Ruslana, Ukraine
If in doubt, stick a horn on it. That’s the philosophy of Ruslana’s winning entry from 2004, which features an unforgettable horn intro that leads into pounding tribal beats, primal calls to the wild, skimpy leather costumes and a performance that’s at least 80 percent equal-opportunities hairography. Dothraki never sounded so good.
Sound Of Silence – Dami Im, Australia
Yes, definitely-not-part-of-Europe Australia has somehow become part of Eurovision, *shrug emoji*. We’re not entirely sure how that happened, but frankly, we’re not complaining if they keep sending songs this good. 2016’s runner-up Dami Im wisely side-steps wacky dance routines by simply having a nice sit-down on a sparkly box, and hits all her high notes in this soaring power ballad with consummate ease.
Bonus: Think About Things – Daði og Gagnamagnið, Iceland
Whilst Eurovision 2020 ended up being cancelled, we can all agree that Iceland’s Daði Freyr and his band Gagnamagnið were the real winners. Led by a long-haired, long-limbed electropop genius, dressed in matching green jumpers adorned with cartoon versions of themselves, perfectly executing a TikTok-bait dance routine and wielding keytars that they then pretended to play like saxophones, Daði and friends were so defiantly uncool, they somehow became the absolute epitome of cool.
All performed with tongue very much in cheek, Think About Things is a total synth-packed stomper, has won high-profile fans in the shape of Russell Crowe and Jennifer Garner, and will hip-thrust its way into your brain within seconds. And yes, you can now buy your very own version of the jumper on Daði’s website.