Over the past 59 years, some Eurovision artists have made metaphorical love with the camera. Others have made you cry with their soppy ballads and wind machines, while others have made you dance with their cheesy (seriously, a massive pile of extra mature cheddar) pop. In honor of their greatness, here are ten artists that I believe fans around Europe would love to see take the stage again.
DANA INTERNATIONAL, Israeli diva and the winner of Eurovision 1998. Her performance in Birmingham wowed the crowd and caused a storm around Europe, and she remains one of the most popular winners even though she only won over the United Kingdom by six points. ‘Diva’ is a catchy pop song in Hebrew that even got a mention on Coronation Street in 2013. Dana returned to the contest in 2011 with a new song and a new Jean Paul Gaultier dress hoping for a second victory. Alas, she finished 15th in her semi-final. The diva had fallen at the first hurdle and fans were devastated. She once said she would return to the contest only if it were held in Germany or the United Kingdom. Now that she has ticked one country off the list could she bite back and redeem herself as a Eurovision champion?
In the odds before the 2009 contest, PATRICIA KAAS was a Top 10 favourite with her haunting ballad ‘Et S’il Fallait le Faire’. True to form she came eighth, bringing France back to the Top 10 for the first time in a while. These days France does not seem to take the contest as seriously as it once did, which could be down to the broadcaster or the lack of interest in the contest by the general public. Perhaps the only way of restoring faith is by sending the lady that delivered a mesmerising display six years ago. Madame Kaas is known to be a very private woman with platinum records under her Swarovski encrusted belt and if she submitted a song in the style of her previous entry it could be second time lucky for her.
In 1995 a song like no other won for Norway— ‘Nocturne’ performed by SECRET GARDEN. They’re a neo-classical instrumentalist duo comprised of Irish violinist Fionnuala Sherry and Norwegian pianist Rolf Løvland. The Eurovision golden rules state that songs must have vocals. So singer Gunnhild Tvinnereim joined them in Dublin to bring words to their instrumental ballad, which reminds me of a clash between a Celtic ballad and the Godfather soundtrack. Although not Norway’s most popular winner (that award obviously goes to Mr. Fairytale) it won comfortably with a 29-point margin over Spain. Secret Garden have gone on to release album after album over the last 20 years. A song like ‘Nocturne’ could bring the contest back to Oslo/Bergen or to another place like Arendal (only because it sounds like the place in Frozen!).
ANOUK was rumored to be the Dutch entrant for the first 13 years of the 21st Century and then lo and behold it actually happened in 2013. Although there had been talks in previous years with the rock chick they had always fallen through so we got treated to the delights of Sieneke, De Toppers and Joan Crawford Franka (sorry it must be the eyebrows). When Birds was submitted as the entry there was a mixed response with some saying it was a sleep remedy and others raving from the rooftops with the birds about it. She basically became a Saint when she brought Netherlands back to the final for the first time in 2004. Even better than that she reached eighth position in the final. However, with her apparent enemy Ilse DeLange achieving runner-up this year, no doubt Anouk and her fans want a return with Birds 2.0 to lift the trophy.
Belgium have only achieved one win, and that came with SANDRA KIM in 1984 when she was only 13 years old. These days she would have been confined to the junior contest, but the rules were a little more laid back in the 80s. ‘J’aime La Vie’ was a song about loving life and Sandra certainly did that when she won it with 176 points. Having achieved two last places and eight semi final eliminations since then, I think it’s time Belgium brings Sandra back with her bright pink bowtie. Maybe we could have Sandra Kim ft. Urban Trad? Someone give them a call. Just don’t let Kate Ryan find out…
Dancing Queen VERKA SERDUCHKA is my number one guilty pleasure act, and as 2007 is the first contest I watched I will always remember when this silver goddess confronted me with stars and accordions! Verka is a well-respected singer, TV host and activist in Ukraine. Bringing home second prize with her ‘Dancing Lasha Tumbai’ gave her something extra to be respected for. Controversy was caused by the lyrics ‘lasha tumbai’ which sounded similar to ‘Russia goodbye’, but Verka says it actually means ‘Mongolian goats milk’, which I am yet to taste. Hitting #28 in the UK charts she stormed around Europe with confidence, touting up an impressive 235 points in Helsinki. With cameos in the 2010 and 2014 contests it shows the character is still in the contest’s mind and fans would no doubt rejoice if she returned with her mother for a crack at winning the gold. Fingers crossed!
Polish songstress EDYTA GORNIAK was Poland’s debut entrant in 1994 with the song ‘To Nie Ja!’ which translates as ‘That’s Not Me’. It was the first occasion the Polish language had been heard on the grand Eurovision stage. With 166 points it came in second, losing out to a little song about rock and roll kids for Ireland. Twenty years later and Edyta still has the best placing for her country who, let’s face it, haven’t had the best of entries lately – I don’t need to mention The Jet Set or Magdalena Tul do I? Forty-one-year-old Edyta has a voice that has been compared to that of Mariah Carey so maybe if she came back you could close your eyes and pretend you’re listening to the superstar herself! Plus I’m just a little curious to see what a Polish Eurovision would be like. There have been rumors that the Polish broadcaster have her on their wish lists every time they enter so maybe if they push a little bit more we could see Ms. Gorniak fly the flag in Vienna…
Queen KALIOPI of FYR Macedonia brought the small country into the final in 2012 for the first time since 2007 with the beautiful Balkan rock ballad with attitude ‘Crno I Belo’. And that screech she does towards the end of the song – superb! It was enough to wipe away memories of her disastrous entry in 1996 with ‘Samo Ti’ that did not even get through the Ljubljana qualifying round. Loved throughout 2012, she emerged a fan favorite. Everybody loved her. And then in 2013 Queen of the Gypsy music Esma undid her hard work with the constant ‘le le le le’s’ leaving FYR Macedonia in the semi for another year. Tijana did not do much better this year, even if she had a much better song. I send a call to Kaliopi to consider a return to the contest to get a win for her country so we can all go to Skopje and drink mastika all night long.
We’ve been waiting… such a long time… but whats another year if JOHNNY LOGAN finally decides to return? With three wins sewn up (well if you count Linda Martin, now famous for her tirade at Billy McGuiness on the Late Late Show). The fact that the current national final format does not work cannot be any more clear – the small stage, the lack of good lighting and sound quality, and the overall quality of songs, so if RTE decide they actually want to win maybe they can call up Logan. Can-Linn ft. Kasey Smith disappointed many this year with the non-qualification but could the voting public or juries really stop the self confessed King of Eurovision from the crown once more? If that doesn’t work just send Linda and Billy, there’d be no need for pyros with the amount of fireworks already between those two!
The good thing about Melodifestivalen is that nobody can seem to keep away from it for more than a few years after attending Eurovision e.g. Charlotte Perrelli (1999, 2008, 2012), Carola (1983, 1991, 2006) and Fame (2003, 2004) amongst others. We’ve seen acts from other countries such as Elisabeth Andreassen and Helena Paparizou participate and no doubt they will be back one day, and good luck to them. But the one act from Sweden that should have the full fanfare, red carpet, doves being released and a crowd of cheering spectators along the road to Eurovision is 2012 winner LOREEN. Yes, many may think this is an obvious choice and I agree. But nobody can question her powerful voice, her presence on stage and her beauty, plus the activist side of her career. Song after song has matched up to Euphoria and she most certainly has the power to return to Eurovision one day and do just what Johnny Logan did in the 80’s. I predict her to be the first female ESC return winner…obviously if Lys Assia doesn’t get there first.