Eurovision Songs You Need To Know (2006 – 2017)

 

It is that month of the year again. The Eurovision season has begun. I remember that ever since 2006 I have been watching this big ol’ European glitter party. When I was younger I used to beg my parents to let me stay up late during this one week in May and they did. You see, to you 2006 sounds like an oddly specific year, but to me a lot happened in 2006. Eurovision-wise; I don’t really remember anything else from 2006. It was the year Armenia[1] first participated and Lordi won by singing “Hard Rock Hallelujah”. It was also the year I got my first crush. Remember Dima Bilan? Maybe not, but I do. You might also wonder: why up until 2017? I like to be surprised during the semi-finals instead of knowing every song by heart already prior to those semi-finals. I have no clue about what this year’s songs are going to be like.

Let me guide you through the past 11 years of Eurovision. Not all songs I’m going to mention are necessarily good songs, but I enjoy them and they are kind of iconic. I won’t be able to discuss all the songs I consider gems, so I’ve made a playlist with hopefully all amazing songs from the past years. There is no particular order to this compilation. The headings will be enough to understand. Buckle up, because you are in for a ride.

The winners

Each year obviously has a winner. I don’t like every song that has won[2], but some of them are actually pretty cool. The already mentioned winner from 2006, Lordi, is one of those cool songs. 2008 gave us the love of my life for a second time in a row. Dima Bilan won by singing “Believe”. Honestly, I prefer “Never Let You Go” from 2006 (which made Dima come in second, by the way), but “Believe” was a great song, too. After pretty boyo Dima came pretty boyo Alexander Rybak in 2009, who stole many hearts with his violin and dreamy eyes while singing “Fairytale”. Skipping ahead a couple years, we arrive in 2014: Queen Conchita Wurst. Controversies, as Conchita is a drag singer, but what a voice. “Rise Like a Phoenix” is such a powerful song. I can’t help but scream along when I hear it. In 2016, Jamala blessed us with “1944”. You can’t imagine how much I love that song. It is so emotionally loaded and Jamala sung it straight from the heart. Just thinking of the song makes me cry. I actually did cry when Salvador Sobral won last year with “Amar Pelos Dois”. True story. I was rooting for both Jamala and Salvador the past two years and let me tell you I regret nothing. Right there are two of my favorite Eurovision entries and I really want to thank both of them for blessing the continent (and Australia) with these masterpieces. Speaking of winners, we can’t forget about our friends from Lithuania, LT United. In 2006, they sang the song “We Are The Winners” and you know what? It was a joke of a song, but they came in 6th (!!!) with it. True winners, am I right?

Barbara Dex Awards

Can’t write about winners without mentioning these awards, can I? Ever since 1993, Eurovision fans vote for the worst stage outfit of the year. Barbara Dex was the first winner in 1993, hence the name of the award. That’s what I would call goals. Some Sona5winners of this award do deserve a mention, that’s why they get this special section here. Most importantly, Verka is on this list. I get it, ‘tinfoil’ isn’t really the best material to make stage outfits out of. But it’s fun. It’s different. It’s Eurovision. 2009 gave us Zoli Adok. Zoli had rip-off outfits during the performance. They didn’t look that great, if you ask me. Didn’t make a great impact either, because I had kind of forgotten about it. Milan Stankovic the following year wasn’t that bad, if you ask me. The song, “Ovo je Balkan”, is pretty cool, and Milan doesn’t look that weird. He just had bleached hair and long bangs. Rona Nishliu winning the award in 2012 is kind of odd, too. I guess people were weirded out by the hair and cape. You should give the song a listen, though. “Suus” is so emotional and beautiful and downright winner material. It’s a shame she came in 5th that year. But hey, we got “Euphoria”, right? Moje 3 deserved winning the award in 2013. All I could think while watching it that year was: Why? Just, why? Roos pointed out to me that they are kind of like Katy Perry meets Megan Trainor and I have to agree. I have another why regarding Slavko Kalezić winning the award last Sona6year. Why was he the worst dressed? Don’t tell me it was his long ass braid. His braid could have saved Eurovision last year. Triana Park, who came in second[3], looked far more hideous than Slavko. It was close, though, since Slavko won by getting 13 more votes. I’m salty anyways.

Everything else I’m salty about

Let me start with the ones who were left to die in the semi-finals. First off, I really want to scream at everybody who didn’t see the potential Uzari and Maimuna had in 2015 with “Time”. That gem didn’t make it into the finals and I am still so mad about it. Especially considering the fact that in 2015, the bottom four countries were the host country and 3 out of the 5 big-5 countries. Such a sad loss. Teapacks’s “Push The Button” from 2007 was such a creative and ingenious song, but alas, they didn’t make it to the finals either. Maybe because people thought it was too political. I mean, singing about launching bombs isn’t really the most child-friendly topic, but the performance was quite explosive. Explosively fun. Try to rap like that yourself. In 2016, Jüri Pootsmann’s masterpiece “Play” was didn’t get the recognition it deserves and Serhat’s “I Didn’t Know” didn’t make it either. Honestly, I get that some people might have been creeped out by this bald man with an eye patch singing, but why would this handsome young man who sang something that fits right into any other James Bond movie not sing during the finals? I loved both of them, but especially Serhat. Serhat had this old aura around him, while the song had such a great disco vibe. It was different. Speaking of different, 2008 gave us something very different. Dustin The Turkey-different. “Irelande Douze Pointewas a horrible song, honest to god, but damn it was different. A fun song. It was a singing turkey. Sadly enough, some people don’t like fun songs. Slavko Kalezić and his fun song “Space” failed to reach the finals last year. Trackshittaz’s “Woki Mit Deim Popo[4]”, an upbeat rap song sang by an Austrian duo filled with fun energy (and pole dancers) didn’t make it in 2012. I always get up and dance when this song comes on, because it has such a nice beat to go crazy on. Bless Youtube for making it possible for us to relive those beautiful, beautiful songs. Please do, you don’t want to miss out.

Now, where there is a winner, there is also a runner up. I’ve complained about Dima Bilan not winning in 2006 above, but he kind of redeemed himself two years later so I guess it’s fine. Besides, Lordi did deserve to win that year. 2007 blessed us with the best, truly best, song of the whole of Eurovision. Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about Verka Serduchka’s “Dancing Lasha Tumbai”. Verka came in second in 2007. I am completely shaming you if you don’t know this song. Verka truly won Eurovision as a whole with this song. It’s beauty, it’s grace, it’s perfection. I’m not saying “Moltiva” wasn’t a good song, I’m just saying that I would’ve loved it if Verka had won. 2008 gave me some salt with the victory of Dima. Ani Lorak, representing Ukraine (just as Verka and Jamala), came in second with “Shady Lady”. You see, my boy Dima won, but Ani was so good that I almost hate Dima for winning. 2010 had maNga singing “We Could Be The Same” and coming in second place. They weren’t close or anything, somehow Lena had managed to conquer all the hearts of Europe, but I do believe that “We Could Be The Same” was a lot better than “Satellite”. Both, however, don’t come anything close to Safura’s “Drip Drop” from that same year.

The ones to sing along to

Let’s start this one right of the bat with “Dancing Lasha Tumbai”. If we are friends, I’ve probably sung this one multiple times in your presence. Whether it’s May or December, I’m always sieben sieben alulu sieben sieben eins zwei-ing. Another gem I’ve mentioned before is “Rise Like a Phoenix”. Screaming along with Queen Conchita is a real sport and I really recommend it. No list is complete without Koza Mostra and Agathon Iakovidis’s “Alcohol Is Free” from 2012 or Freaky Fortune and RiskyKidd’s “Rise Up” from 2014. Both songs are amazing to go crazy on. Just jump around, dance, scream, sing. They are perfect. And very Grecian, so don’t hesitate to drink along while listening. It’s free. Elaiza’s “Is It Right” from 2014 is a nice one to sing along to, too. It was Germany’s entry, by the way, so it’s kind of a big deal that it’s this nice to sing along to considering their prior acts. Another favorite of mine is Nadav Guedj’s “Golden Boy” from 2015. Speaking of 2015, “Golden Boy” was actually, if I’m being honest again, one of the only songs I like from 2015. 2015 was tragic. I blame Australia for that. I drove my friends mad the three weeks after Eurovision that year, because I just couldn’t stop singing it. Truly Israel’s Justin Timberlake. 2011: Jedward vs Eric Saade. I remember this fight that was going on on Twitter at the time between the fans and you know, I’m on team both. Jedward’s “Lipstick” and Eric Saade’s “Popular” are so energetic. Songs that wake you up. Songs that 2011 needed.

The Big 5

There they are, the five countries we[5] are all mad at because they usually end up at the bottom. Let me explain: each year, there are five countries who automatically enter the finals because they are the five biggest financial contributors that make this big ‘ol party happen. They basically pay for their fixed final spot. Their songs aren’t always that good, though. That’s fine, we don’t need pure gems to make it to the finals. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think they don’t try, I just think that sometimes they are better off sending in nothing. Just sometimes.

Let’s start with Spain. Remember “The Ketchup Song[6]? Why am I asking, you probably do. It’s by Las Ketchup (haha, funny) and Las Ketchup actually participated in Eurovision. What. A. Surprise. Las Ketchup participated in 2006 and sang the song “Bloody Mary”. Yes, there is an ongoing theme here and it’s tomatoes. 2008 Spain gave us Rodolfo Chikilicuatre’s “Baila El Chiki Chiki”, which is kind of a satire. It’s a fun song, it’s one of the few songs I remember from 2008. I just remember this one in a very specific context. I was at a birthday party. Give it a listen, you will enjoy it. Maybe even sing along. Manel Navarro sang “Do It For Your Lover” in 2017. It’s more of a beachy song with Manel looking like a surfer boy. It’s adorable and you won’t be able to get it out of your head. Maybe that’s why he ended up in last place.

You see, this is where I wanted to recommend you something from Germany, but I only have one song that is worth listening to and I’ve already mentioned that one. I’m not a fan of Lena, but she won, so maybe you might be? She’s not on my playlist, though. Elaiza is. I just love singing along to “Is It Right”. Give it a try.

Let’s talk about the United Kingdom. Especially about their 2007 entry. Scooch sang “Flying The Flag” and for some reason they got 19 points that year, making them shared 22nd with France. They wouldn’t have ended up anywhere higher anyways, but Scooch did not deserve those 19 points. Their singing was off and their stage was hideous. It was so British that I just have to mention it. There are a couple innuendos in there. My ears hurt when I listen to “Flying The Flag”, but it’s just too funny not to watch. Luckily enough, Blue did get rightful recognition for “I Can”, the only other song from 2011 I really liked. Your typical boyband sound. Can’t wait for someone from One Direction to participate in a couple years. I bet it’s going to be Harry. Or Liam. Or both of them. Zayn wouldn’t do it, though. That I’m sure of.

Sweet Italy. I have nothing to say. Not one of their entries from the past 11 years is worth talking about. Maybe last year’s monkey, but that would really be it. I’m sorry.

I actually have a couple entries from France I want to talk about. Les Fatals Picards’s “L’amour à La Française” is one of them. This one is from 2007. I don’t really know where or how to start explaining this song. It’s like Les Fatals Picards were high during this performance. In a good way. There is a cat on stage. This is the song that came in 22nd together with Scooch, by the way. I guess that says enough. Jessy Matador hit us with a real summer hit in 2010 when he sang “Allez Ola Olé”. An easy breezy beautiful song. Very summery. Actually ended up 12th, which is quite high for a country from the big 5. TWIN TWIN’s “Moustache” from 2014 was a fresh song to hear. Got two points, but hey, that’s at least something, right. France itself is a big thing in Eurovision, as everyone should know. Douze points, am I right? Dustin The Turkey did a shout-out to this with “Irelande Douze Points”, but some countries even go as far as singing in French[7].

The try-hards

Eurovision knows two countries who do everything, but really everything, to get that win. Or almost win. Or top 5 spot. Two countries who take this whole party a little bit too seriously. I’m calling you out, Sweden and Russia. There is nothing wrong with trying your utter best to get a win, but it gets kind of really boring. I loved Dima 10 years ago. Serebro did great in 2007. “Song #1” is a good song, different, fun. Serebro looked kind of punk. Not as different and fun as “MiMiMi[8], but hey, Serebro was still young in 2007. Anything else from Russia after 2008 was so generic. Everything besides the grandmas from 2012, of course: Buranovskite Babushki’s “Party For Everybody” was fun and not boring. Everybody loves a group of grandma’s performing on stage without breaking a hip. That’s just sweet and endearing to see. Sweden, then, is like Russia’s annoying little sister who always wins the argument. Or the better twin. Or the favorite grandchild. In the past 11 years, Sweden has won twice. Twice!! And not once was the winning song one of my favorites for that year. I’m not hating on Sweden’s entries or anything, I’m just telling you my opinion. I am, however, hating on all entries with Swedish producers. That’s a thing. Sweden obviously knows the secret formula for a Eurovision win and everybody wants in on it. Stop doing that, please. Don’t kill originality and heritage and emotional ballads and shiny things. Make Eurovision fun again.

All the emotions

Some songs just make you feel so damn emotional that it just hurts. I cry like seven times when watching Eurovision because of this. Let me walk you through those emotions. 2017 gave us Joci Pápai’sOrigo”. You know, that weird Hungarian guy with that one dramatic female dancer singing in Hungarian. I love “Origo”. Artsvik’s “Fly With Me” is another one of those amazingly produced songs that just didn’t get the recognition it deserves. Her vocals are so damn strong it messes with me. Gabriela Gunčíková was robbed in 2016 when “I Stand” ranked 25th. Yes, you read that correctly. I’m shaming everyone for letting her down like this. Go listen to “I Stand”. In 2015, we had Elina Born and Stig Rästa sing “Goodbye To Yesterday”. I love this song. It’s simple and real. It’s not your typical love song. It screams emotion. Aminata’s “Love Injected” from the same year totally swept me off of my feet. I was rooting for her so bad. It’s an epic song and Aminata’s voice has such a grand range. It’s so versatile. If you ask me, she is the real winner of 2015. Aram MP3’s “Not Alone” from 2014 is another one of those emotionally loaded songs. You can hear so much pain in his voice (and see in his face, man he looked tired as hell), and he again proves that you don’t need a whole circus in order to put on an amazing performance. I’ve told you about Rona Nishliu, haven’t I? Let me tell you more. “Suus” was performed in 2012, in Albanian and it so beautiful you will see angels when listening to the song. I swear, you will. Rona has a special gift and she shared it with us and I am really happy she did. Let’s talk about 2010 for a bit. Boy did Europe fuck up in 2010. Safura came in 6th with “Drip Drop”, which is a shame. She should have won. Say it with me. Safura should have won Eurovision in 2010. Her voice sounds so genuine and her dress has lights. Actual working lights. She put down a real emotional performance. The same goes for Alyosha when she sang “Sweet People”. I get goosebumps every time I listen to this song. The message is so real. Her voice is so real. Give it a listen and you will understand. While you’re at it, also give a listen to Harel Skaat’s “Milim”. His voice is so powerful. It’s a shame his live performance wasn’t the best, but the studio version is just as sad. In a good way. I genuinely sob every time I hear this song. And most importantly: let’s not forget Sopho’s masterpiece “Visionary Dream” from 2007. This was Georgia’s first ever entry and every time I hear this, I just feel cleansed and proud and motivated and inspired. It makes me genuinely happy, which is rare when it comes to Eurovision songs.

Now, that’s quite a list, isn’t it? I have probably failed to mention a lot more songs that are worth mentioning, but you see, it’s hard to cover them all. From 2006 to 2017, 487 songs have been performed at the contest. This year, another whopping 43 countries are participating. Tune in on 8, 10 and 12 May to see who will be the winner of the 63rd edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, because the only way you can really appreciate Eurovision is by watching Eurovision. Until then, please enjoy this Eurovision entry by Father Ted.

Endnotes

[1] This again might seem as a really specific country, but I am Armenian so it is kind of not that specific for me.

[2] I like songs that have a unique charm, that’s why the more generic poppy songs are not among my favorites.

[3] As in the next worst dressed person, not second in the actual contest. Hell no.

[4] The title has nothing to do with the police but everything with shaking your ass.

[5] Maybe you didn’t know yet but you hate them too. I have decided.

[6] Not a Eurovision song, but that popular childhood song. Asereje.

[7] I’m ignoring Switzerland and Belgium here since a variety of French is spoken in both countries.

[8] This isn’t a Eurovision song, again, but that one annoying meme song from 2013 that drives everyone crazy. Serebro really made it after Eurovision, as you can see. Real memes.

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