The Eurovision Song Contest is a joyful festival of camp and everyone’s favourite display of European talent and insanity – and we can’t deny that the madness is usually the best part. Looking back over the years there’s been costumes that would make Madonna blush and nonsensical lyrics that would put the Cocteau Twins to shame. And with this year’s contest on the way, we’ve rounded up some of the most outrageous, career-defining and bizarre moments from Eurovision history. And don’t forget to join LOTI A.M.C to play our Eurovision game and potentially win big.
In 2006, Lordi gave us all something we never knew we needed – scary corpse/orc monsters performing a song fit for Guitar Hero 3. They won that year, of course, and they deserved it for the keyboardist alone.
Now one of the world’s biggest musical groups, with hundreds of millions buying their records, multiple movies – and now holograms of their younger selves – ABBA’s first exposure to the mainstream was at Eurovision in 1974. They won with a performance of ‘Waterloo’ and became undoubtedly the biggest success to ever come out of the competition.
On the other end of the spectrum, the UK’s 2003 entry Jemini has gone down as the most spectacular failure in the competition’s history. With their out-of-tune performance, Jemini were the first UK competitors to land the dreaded ‘nil points’ and they broke up as a group shortly after.
Lithuanian entry LT United took their daily affirmations and turned them into Eurovision gold in 2006. You’d think declaring themselves the winners at least ten times during their song, aptly named ‘We Are the Winners’, would have some subliminal effect on the voting countries. Sadly for Lithuania, it did not.
Ukraine really hit the nail on the head with drag queen Verka Serduchka’s performance of ‘Dancing Lasha Tumbai’ – isn’t this exactly what you imagine when you think of Eurovision? Shockingly, they didn’t win. Recount?
According to his 2000 Eurovision song, Stephen Raab is the “sensational supersack of German television” (?). His performance of ‘Wadde Hadde Dudde Da’ came complete with cowboy hats, platform shoes and nonsensical lyrics – if that’s not supersack, we don’t know what is!
Conchita’s win at Eurovision 2014 has been praised as not only a victory for Austria, but for diversity and tolerance in Europe. Unlike previous drag competitors on Eurovision, Conchita’s performance was designed to be much more subdued and serious and she ultimately became an LGBTQ+ icon across Europe.
The vivid and catchy performance of ‘Toy’ by Israeli entrant Netta landed the win in 2018. The neon pink, walls of lucky cats and chicken noises all make for a memorable moment.
Dustin the Turkey
Despite still holding the most wins in Eurovision history, Ireland has been on a losing streak since 1996. This streak was helped along by entering chart-topping musician and UNICEF Ambassador Dustin the Turkey who unfortunately didn’t make it past the semi-final in 2008.
Another who didn’t make it past the semi-final in 2008 was Estonia with their performance of ‘Leto Svet’ by the group Kreisiraadio. This is a tough one to explain… basically it’s a group of men in primary coloured suits doing some very low energy choreo while women in bikinis dance around them and they sing a song with lyrics like “potatoes, beans, onions, lobster, that’s enough”. Make sense? No? Don’t worry about it.