As I noted the other day, although I only recently started watching ESC when it first became OFFICIALLY available in the US when Logo broadcast it in 2016 (I was hooked INSTANTLY!), I’ve been aware of it for a long time, thanks to my natural love of music.
The Eurovision Song Contest is a strange little show – there’s nothing quite like it anywhere else in the world, at least not until the American Song Contest premieres in 2021. It pits country against country in a battle of musical supremacy.
With so many countries participating now – it’s now in the 40-45 country range each year, with several more eligible who aren’t involved – there’s BOUND to be strange entries…but let’s face it, ESC EXCELS in “strange”…
Strange, however, does NOT always mean bad – one of the strangest acts in history WON the ESC in 2006 – Lordi‘s “Hard Rock Hallelujah“. It was the first metal song to win the contest, and the first contemporary Christian-themed song to win, but you’d never know it by the band, whose members were dressed in elaborate prosthetic make up, many of them looking like they came up from the depths of hell. It remains a Eurovision classic, one of the most popular winners of all time, and holds a Guinness record for the most number of people singing the song together, which it has held since 2009.
I already showed you Lordi’s video and two other weird and wonderful ESC classics, Verka Surducha‘s “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” (Ukraine, 2007) and Cezar‘s “It’s My Life” (Romania, 2013) on my 2001-2015 favorites list, so I won’t include them here. But there’s PLENTY more where those came from – there’s NO shortage of weird, freaky, and sometimes outright HORRIBLE songs that countries have submitted as their official entry. I have a list of over SIXTY songs I could have used here – I’m narrowing it down to just a few for this list – some of them are goofy, some of them are…um, UNIQUE…yeah, that’s the word I’ll use…and some of them are just downright HORRIBLE. And a few of them finished inexplicably HIGH on the list – a couple of them actually WON. So we’ll save some of them for next year…
Several countries went through a period of several years of weird songs, most just outright “WTF?” type songs, but several countries in particular have either made weird a true artform, or have been multiple “offenders” – Lithuania STILL hasn’t found a winner, despite their 2006 entry (see below) – they are the last remaining Baltic state that hasn’t won ESC at least once (they could have come close this year, given the inexplicably HUUUUUGE fan support for their 2020 entry, the absolutely GAWD AWFUL “On Fire” by The Roop); Latvia had a bizarre sense of humor during their first decade of participation, at least up to and before I started watching in 2016, when they seem to have finally gotten the message and submitted some pretty decent songs; and Ireland, who having WON the contest SEVEN Times is the all time Eurovision champion, and SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER…and fate has punished them HORRIBLY for 2008, 2011, and 2012 – they’ve only made the finals TWICE since then, and the top ten not at all. France, Israel, Moldova and Montenegro have also had their share of truly bizarre entries. Granted, some of the songs are SPECIFICALLY designed to be out there. Several songs have political or satirical meanings. And there have been two periods in the 21st century – 2006-2009 and 2013-2016 – where weird utterly ran rampant throughout the entire contest. Most of what you’ll see on this list comes from the post-2000 era, but we’ll start off with three tunes from the Classic days. For the record, I’m NOT ranking these – they are in chronological order. I can’t rank them – it’s just too PAINFUL….heh heh heh..And so I present to you the Weirdest, Wildest and sometimes Worst songs ever to grace Eurovision…
As always, all the videos worked when I checked them this morning on PC – your dongle, smartphone, tablet or other source may vary!
And AWAAAAAY WE GOOOOOOO!
“Dschinghis Kahn” – Dschinghis Khan, (West) Germany 1979 – 4th
Completely historically inaccurate but elaborately costumed and performed with vigor, this song extols the virtues of the legendary Mongol warrior Genghis Khan, and not only was it a huge fun and goofy favorite at ESC for it’s weird and wonderful vibe, it became an honest to goodness hit in a good deal of Europe and Asia…
“Euro-Vision” – Telex – Belgium 1980 – 17th
One of the earliest songs to take pokes at the entire concept of ESC, the first to mention it by name in the lyrics, and according to Telex singer Michel Moers specifically designed to come in LAST in the contest (it didn’t – Portugal’s entry finished lower that year, which he was disappointed by), the first fully synth-pop-punk entry into the contest nevertheless holds a spot to those who dearly love the weirdness of it..and is still one of their best known songs today
“Making Your Mind Up” – Bucks Fizz – United Kingdom 1980 – GRAND CHAMPION
In all fairness, this isn’t a bad little ditty, and it launched the group into major stardom in Europe for a few years, even managing to hit the lower reaches of Billboard‘s Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary U.S. charts on the odd occasion with different releases. What is wonderful here is the utter hilarious….EVERYTHING…the clothes…the hairstyles…the (snicker, snicker) DANCING…BWAAAHAHAHAHAHA! And it won for a reason – it was the absolute best of what I personally think was the WORST year over all for ESC entries – nearly every other song just SUCKED EGGS in 1981…
“S.A.G.A.P.O.” – Michalis Rakintzis – Greece 2002 – 17th
This song finished alarmingly high, but it shouldn’t have been a surprise – it has the classic makings of a weird entry – crazy costumes, lyrics that made almost no sense, and a singer who couldn’t carry a tune to save his life…it’s horrifically bad and hilariously funny at the same time…and that “password” he keeps mentioning is the actual Greek word S’agapo, which is apparently “I Love you” in the language…well, that’s great because…(wait for it)…it’s ALL Greek to me….(RIMSHOT)
“Boonika Bate Toba” -Zdob Si Zdub – Moldova 2005 – 6th
OH MY GOD! How did this horrific entry – the first of TWO visits to Eurovision over the years from this band, with equally horrible songs – finish so damn high? As an American, I think the satirical part of the song is probably lost on me, but it sure charmed the hell out of ESC audiences that year…damned if I can figure out WHY, though…
“No No Never” – Texas Lightning – Germany 2006 – 15th
Another example of a great song that’s made strikingly weird not because of the song, but WhO is doing – yes, whenever I think of “shit-kicker” music, I always naturally think of Germany…WTF? As their name implies, the band pulled this straight out of the Texas-Oklahoma area where even today (2020) a good many local bands still perform country music in the old cowboy look as a tribute to the old-tyme classic country music (1920s-1950s, before the style known as “countrypolitan” took off in the early to mid-1960s in the U.S.), and to their credit, they pull it off brilliantly – the song is great, and the look is SPOT ON…but for Eurovision, in 2006, it definitely WAS strange…
“We Are The Winners” – LT United – Lithuania 2006 – 6th
Gotta love Lithuania…they will try ANYTHING to land that first Grand Championship, even declaring themselves the winner before the shows even get started…heh heh… this delightful little comic number highlights the overall wonderful ABSURDITY of what Eurovision represents in the modern musical era…still important to the countries who do participate, and to the countries that ultimately win. Easily the best of their several attempts to use funny and weird stuff to break through, although they WEREN’T actually THE winners that year, this song made them winners (and favorite underdogs to the ESC fandom) every year since, no matter how crappy the songs get…
“L’amoure a la Francaise” – Les Fatal Picards – France 2007 – 22nd (tie)
2007 was THE all time heights for weird and goofy ESC Entries, possibly triggered by Lordi‘s win for “Hard Rock Hallelujah” in 2006. And again, it’s not JUST the music per se but the PERFORMANCE that truly makes this song goofy. I don’t speak French but I’ve been told this song is a comical swipe at french stereotypes when it comes to love, and the fans it has are rabid for it. But generally, it didn’t do that well, and tied with another song (see below) , languishing near the bottom of the performances that year…
“Push The Button” – Teapacks – Israel 2007 – Semis 24th
Um, WHAT? WTF is this? Performed in a mix of Hebrew, English, and French, this song is literally ALL OVER THE DAMN ROAD, with nearly a DOZEN tempo and feel changes, and the almost screamcore-like rant of the title being repeated multiple times throughout the song, getting louder and louder each time. I understand that Israel is always worried about potential nuclear war (this song is said to reflect that feeling about Iran), and rightfully so, but couldn’t you have come up with something a bit more palatable to those outside of the country? Just WOW…
“Vampires Are Alive” – DJ BoBo – Switzerland 2007 – Semis 20th
Another of the completely bugshit 2007 entries, this one is AWESOME! Well for me personally anyway. My wife takes issue with the title, and she’s absolutely correct about that – after all Vampires are NOT alive, they are undead – but this little gem is staged and performed BEAUTIFULLY…but given the overall competition that year, I’m not surprised it didn’t get out of the semis….
“Flying The Flag (For You)” – Scootch – United Kingdom 2007 – 22nd (tie)
I have to admit, this is the ONE song of all the various weird entries over the years that COMPLETELY MYSTIFIES ME. It’s NOT a bad song at all, it’s actually quite good, hella fun, and the performance is stellar – UK comedy troupe Scootch know how to do this sort of thing after all. But WHY? Why in the name that’s all that musically Eurovision-istacally HOLY would you send a song that pokes fun at the state of the British airline industry as your countries’ EUROVISION ENTRY? The UK has fallen on exceedingly hard times since the contest dropped the language rule in the late 1990s due to more countries speaking English as a second language. And I honestly don’t think ANYONE else in the world really cares about the UK Airline industry, do you? It’s entries like this that has helped keep the UK out of the top ten more often than not since the turn of the century…as wonderfully staged and performed as it was…it wasn’t going to click with ANYONE except UK natives…
“Day After Day” – Elnir & Samir – Azerbaijan 2008 – 8th
I don’t know where to start with this one – the performances are out of this world weird and fantastic, the song is at best pedestrian…but the STAGING is INCREDIBLE – as my DW pointed out to me, its depiction of good and evil is definitely something very cool. But man, those voices – the harsh, sometimes train-wreck juxtaposition of the two different types of lead vocals – one highly operatic (as in VERY high), the other mid-80s hair metal – just makes people scratch their heads, even if it IS fantastic to watch and look at…but not surprisingly, ESC fans loved every second of it…
“Leto Svet” – Kriestraadio – Estonia 2008 – Sems 1 #18
Ok, how do you make a Eurovision entry in the mid to late 2000s? You follow the “nonsense” rule. According to Wikipedia, this song is entirely made up of general words and phrases, mostly in Serbian, which have been strung together without regard for grammar or context. Kreistraadio is – why am I not surprised? – a COMEDY troupe, and the fact that Estonia thought enough of it to send it to the contest is frightening enough. Then to have the performers appear on stage looking like The Wiggles at age 50, flailing around and doing absurd dance moves…well…they didn’t make it out of the semis…what a shock…
“Irelande Douze Points” – Dustin The Turkey – Ireland 2008 – Semi 1 15th
Ireland, oh Ireland, how the mighty has fallen…and it started HERE, and would get worse a couple of years later (see below). Another country who decided to 1) send a comedy act to compete, in this case a popular TV puppet performer, and 2) poke fun at Eurovision’s revered “12 points” or “douze points” traditions in the process…well, Ireland began invoking the wrath of the Eurovision gods with this number, which was poorly performed, exceedingly BAD on the live stage, and just plain AWFUL…and the fact that it actually finished AHEAD of “Leto Svet” (see above) in the semis is somewhat telling of how bad THAT song was…but it wasn’t good enough to go anywhere…but the worse was yet to come from Ireland…
“Wolves Of The Sea” – Pirates of The Sea – Latvia 2008 – 12th
Another of those few songs that are so weird and wonderful, and yet extremely well-performed and cleverly staged to the point of getting deserved support from the fans, this intricately performed pirate number is utterly AWESOME, and quite honestly, I’m surprised it didn’t do even better than 12th place, given how everyone was into “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies at the time. Denmark would take a similar inspiration from Vikings – mixed with some “Game of Thrones” for good measure – exactly one decade later and ride “Higher Ground” by Rasmussen to the top ten (deservedly so), but Pirates of the Sea were there first…and it was GLORIOUS!
“Eastern European Funk” – InCulto – Lithuania 2010 – Semi 2 12th
OK, Lithuania – you had your fun with “We Are The Winners” (see above), now PLEASE STOP while you’re ahead! This number is utterly GHASTLY – the performance was terrible, the outfits utterly brain-busting, and the song was just AWFUL. No, thanks to the costuming, it was utterly PAINFUL…and it only gets WORSE when those plaid slacks come off…MY EYES MY EYES! NOOOOOOO!
“Ovo de Balkan” – Milan Stankovic – Serbia 2010 – 13th
This song did alarmingly well, a trend that was to continue over the following years, for a song that was just so vapid of any sensibility, and a singer who couldn’t make up whether he wanted to be sharp or flat at all times. And OMG that HAIRCUT…I didn’t think there could ever be a worse hairdo, but that would be proven wrong the following year…seriously, WHAT IS WITH YOU ESC FANS? Why did this inane piece of tripe do SO WELL? Yech…..
“Lipstick” AND “Waterline” – Jedward – Ireland 2011 & 2012 – 8th & 19th
Now we come to the reason why all time Eurovision champion Ireland is in Eurovision purgatory, and will remain there, apparently, for the future…FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER…In 2011, kiddies, Ireland decided to send a couple of young twin “singers” who had been on “X Factor” and who called themselves “Jedward” (for John and Edward, their real names), to Eurovision as their representatives. The twins were…um…bouncy, preening, fairly hunky, self-promoting, and dispossessed of ANY talent whatsoever other than jumping around like a electrified bunnies on crack. They were to “X Factor” what William Hung and Sanjaya were to “American Idol” around the same time – people who had NO BUSINESS finding actual fame from a so-called “talent” that just DIDN’T EXIST..and OK, maybe I’m being a little harsh here…on Sanjaya, who actually DID have SOME talent but had trouble finding it. And then…the utterly INEXPLICABLE happened – the twit twins caught on with those rabid ESC fans in Europe who adore awfulness, and their 2011 entry “Lipstick” became a HUGE hit on the Irish charts, and finished the contest in 8th place….WTF? Possibly one of the WORST entries in the history of the contest (and one of the reasons why American radio has generally ignored ESC entries deserving of US radio success – the last ESC song to chart in the US on the Billboard Hot 100 was TWENTY FOUR YEARS ago, in 1996…), with their hair lacquered up high (and in fact, according to the official Eurovision records, the highest hairdo ever seen on the show), in their sparkly sequined red band-major outfits with the dice-looking shoulder pads, the Eurovision gods were becoming ANGRY with the land of Eire for their misguided musical entry…and so…(continued below)
…Ireland looked up to the Eurovision gods and said “THE HELL WITH YOU!” and did the unthinkable – they sent the talent deficient twins BACK to Eurovision for the SECOND YEAR IN A ROW! This time dressed up in their tight little spacemen jiffy pop costumes, their hair not quite so high, still jumping and “dancing” like frogs standing on a hot plate, and with a SLIGHTLY better tune in “Waterline“, which actually had some clever and decent staging…it’s too bad it was for THAT ACT. Because IT WAS TOO LATE – the Eurovision gods looked down from nigh on high upon the clueless country – winner of SEVEN previous Eurovision contests including a three-year succession of them in the mid-1990s – and STRUCK THEM DOWN – the song barely finished in the top 20, and the country was told “Ye shall NEVER have another Eurovision top ten finish until you pay your penance for daring to defy the gods and twice subjecting the world to JEDWARD!” And so it has come to pass…not even Ryan O’Shaughnnesy‘s heartbreaking and wildly popular 2018 entry “Together” was able to overcome what shall be forever known from this day forth as “The Curse Of Jedward”…so OF COURSE they appeared on the “Eurovision Home Concerts” specials a couple weeks ago…what in the HELL did we do to deserve THAT? (and for the record…all of the above there is in good clean and somewhat sarcastic fun…ok, LOTS of sarcastic fun…but, let’s face it, Jedward makes it SOOOOO easy…)
“Eero Neuro” – Rambo Amadeus – Montenegro 2012 – Semi 1 15th
I don’t even know where to start with this one – mixing rap and satire with a little rock and roll on the side, his “humor” didn’t translate into “beat poetry” as I thnk he had hoped…it completely bombed and didn’t make it out of the semis. But I suppose you have to give him a point for originality…but for WHAT, i’m not quite sure…
“Party For Everybody” – Buranovskiye Babushki – Russia 2012 – 2nd
Had they not got caught in the explosive underbelly (as did ALL the songs in 2012) of Loreen‘s unstoppable monster “Euphoria” these elderly ladies from Russia may have won the Grand Championship. Performed in Udmurt and English, the eight ladies who made up the group sang about baking bread, and preparing for a party, lighting the oven to bake, kneading the dough, and spreading the tablecloth to serve…and in doing so won the hearts of ESC Fans worldwide. They defeated former ESC champion Dima Bilan in the Russian national finals to get into ESC, and ended with their highest position since Bilan’s win with “Believe” three years earlier. And as wonderful as it is, you can’t help it – it’s HARDLY the kind of song you’d expect to even QUALIFY let alone nearly WINNING the damn thing in this modern era of Eurovision…
“Who See” – Igranka – Montenegro 2013 – Semi 1 12th
Who told Montenegro that SPACESUITS would be the IDEAL costume for Eurovision? Why do I have a feeling that Rambo Amadeus (see above) probably had something to do with that, heh heh…and the song was just not very good either, unfortunately…
“Moustache” – Twin Twin – France 2014 – #26
OK, France sent to EuroVision – remember they AUTO qualify for the FINALS because of their “Big 5” status – a comedy song about moustaches…WTF? And against another almost unstoppable train that was “Rise Like A Phoenix” by Conchita Wurst? Were they INSANE? Yep, apparently….
“Cake To Bake” – Aarzemnieki – Latvia 2014 – Semi 1 #13th
Hookay…now we’re REALLY in “The Wiggles” territory with this little ditty about…baking a cake. I’m not kidding. This isn’t “The Great British Bake-Off” you know, guys…this is friggin’ EUROVISION….REALLY? Honestly sometimes I don’t think people in each country who pick these songs – internal selections or national finals – think these things through…yeaaaaahhhh….
“Hatrio mun sigra” – Hatari – Iceland 2019 – 10th
In 2018, Iceland sent a very nice, very poetic, and DEADLY BORING political-oriented song about the European Immigration Crisis, “Our Choice” by a young singer named Ari Olafsson, to ESC, where the fans, in no uncertain terms, kicked it to the curb, where it failed to get a single point from the televote and didn’t make it out of the semifinals. So what did the country decide to do? Swing 180 degrees around the other direction, sending a EuroDance screamcore hate fest instead. Hatari is a great act, but let’s face it, the peace-loving, nation-uniting Eurovision was NOT the place for this song – with its bondage-oriented visuals and lyrics from a song whose title translates in English to “Hatred will prevail”…it’s hardly the kind of sentiment Eurovision wants around…but the fans sent it to the finals. where it finished tenth…WOW….
“Telemoveis” – Conan Osirus – Portugal 2019 – Semi #1 15th
Everything Hatari managed to do for Iceland, Conan Osirus wasn’t able to pull it off for Portugal – this oddball middle-eastern flavored satire about cellphones (CELLPHONES? REALLY?) had a cult following, but it’s shrill, often off-putting vocals and key changes just didn’t work…and thankfully, the finals were spared this oddball kabuki-theater-emulating performance art-inspired entry…
We’ll have a few more in the future – and believe me there’s PLENTY more where these came from – but for now…..as Porky Pig used to say…”T-t-that’s All, Folks!”
Join eCinemaOne, The Kirkham Report, and Planet BiblioMusica over the next week as we go full blown Eurovision Song Celebration!
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