Countless singers want to sing at Eurovision, but they have to get noticed first. One way to get the neccessary attention is to take part in a talent show, such as Star Factory, The Voice, or Idol. No matter how insignificant you are on your show or how hilariously bad you do, people may just remember you enough to give you the honor of flying the flag for your country. Let’s take a look at some alumni who have made the transition.

Beth (Spain 2003)

Before Beth was chosen to represent Spain at Eurovision 2003, she was a contestant on the second series of “Operación Triunfo”, the original version of the Fame Academy franchise. She only came 3rd, but nonetheless the public felt she was worthy enough to fly the flag for Spain in Latvia. And they were right: she managed to get a very respectable 8th place with her upbeat Latin number “Dime”. Here she is covering another Eurovision star—Bonnie Tyler.

Javine (United Kingdom 2005)

Girls Aloud was one of the most successful girl bands of the 21st century. Even after their demise, it’s still hard to credit that they were created on a reality show – Popstars: The Rivals. Each week a selection of young hopefuls battled it out for a place in the group but only five could make the cut. Javine came 6th. Ouch! However, by 2005 it seemed that she would get her sweet revenge, when she was selected as the UK’s Eurovision entry, with “Touch My Fire”. But any hopes of outshining Cheryl and Co. were quickly dashed when she burned out in 22nd place.

Shiri Maimon (Israel 2005)

In 2005, Shiri Maimon impressed a lot of viewers with her incredible voice, but it wasn’t the Eurovision Song Contest where people got to know her first. In 2003, Shiri entered Kokhav Nolad, the Israeli version of Pop Idol, where she came in second. She later coached a Filipino immigrant and lesbian caretaker to victory on Israeli X Factor.

Kalomira (Greece 2008)

Watching Long Island-native Kalomira perform in the Greek reality show Fame Story is exactly how a Eurovision fan would expect it to be: Kalomira sang an upbeat song and did a ditzy little dance. It brought her major success as she won season 2. This launched her massively-successful career in Greece and Cyprus with numerous studio albums and television appearances.

Maria Haukaas Storeng (Norway 2008)

In 2004 Maria (then known as Maria Haukaas Storeng) auditioned to become the new Idol in Norway. She had an impressive jury audition, and eventually finished in sixth place. Four years later, she entered Melodi Grand Prix, won the national final, and went to Belgrade. She did a little better than she did in her Idol adventure by placing fifth in the Eurovision final.

Alexander Rybak (Norway 2009)

Two Eurovision winners from the 21st century started their careers in a talent show—and Alexander Rybak is one of them. He earned the highest score in Eurovision history, but his adventure on Norwegian Idol didn’t go nearly as well. He made it to the semi-finals, but didn’t manage to make it to the final 12. Perhaps he should have pulled out his fiddle a bit sooner…

Jedward (Ireland 2011 & 2012)

They’re the best known twins in Eurovision history (sorry Anastasiya and Maria Tolmachevy, but it’s true). The hyperactive brothers were a pleasant surprise for a lot of Eurovision viewers, even if a very vocal minority could not stomach them before they got there. One of those people is Simon Cowell. Simon met John and Edward when they auditioned for the X Factor UK in 2009—talking in unison and ad nauseum the whole way through. They seem to have taken a cue from Dolly Parton: The higher the hair, the closer to heaven…

Dina Garipova (Russia 2013)

Dina was the first winner of The Voice in Russia. She auditioned in 2012 and only one judge pushed the button. But this Russian singer of Tatar origin, who hails from Zelenodolsk, eventually won the hearts of both the jury and the public. She reached the final without ever having to be saved from the bottom spot.

Margaret Berger (Norway 2013)

In 2013, Margaret was one of the favorites to win the national final in Norway. With her hip-hugging mermaid dress and electropop number “I Feed You My Love,” she sashayed past Adelén and eventually placed fourth in the Eurovision final. Nine years prior to that she cut her teeth as a contestant on the second season of Idol. She lost in the semi-final to Maria Haukaas Storeng and was sent packing, but she eventually received a call-back and won the wildcard. At the age of 18 she made it to the final and finished second, making her an almost-Idol

Conchita Wurst (Austria 2013)

In 2007 Tom Neuwirth had not yet created the character of Conchita Wurst when he took a chance on the Austrian show Starmania. He finished second to Nadine Beiler, who would later sing for Austria at Eurovision 2011. That same year Tom re-entered showbiz, but now as Conchita Wurst—a character he perfected during nights as an underground burlesque performer. This video shows his performance in the final of Starmania. Even though he doesn’t have a beard and long hair, you can hear and see the Conchita in the performance.

So, if you want to be a Eurovision participant, enter those contests and you may just wind up in the Top 5 of the grand final. You don’t even have to win. From The Voice to Idol, the winner doesn’t always take it all…

34 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Juliet96
Juliet96
6 years ago

Wow, that was a really nice article!
Was nice to find out how many ESC-contestants actually took part in talent shows, not just the ones mentioned in the article, but also in the comments…Even though, and I find it quite a curious coincidence, the one I was thinking about from the beginning wasn’t remembered by anyone in the comments…I’m talking about Roberto Bellarosa, the belgian singer in 2013, who was the winner of the first season of “The voice Belgique”

Judith
Judith
6 years ago

Interesting little thing: A total of three participants from “Starmania” season 3 were at Eurovision: Eric Papilaya (2007), Nadine Beiler (2011) and Tom Neuwirth (Conchita Wurst – 2014).

Also: After that Goldfinger performance the host said: “Tom on behalf of her majesty … but you’d probably rather play the Bond-Girl”

Youngman
Youngman
6 years ago

Cleo was in THE X FACTOR POLAND

Albertine
Albertine
6 years ago

Dilara Kazimova (Azerbajan) and Mariya Yaremchuk (Ukraine) were on the Voice in Ukraine.
Serebro’s soloist Elena Temnikova was on Star Academy in Russia (2003) and she came 3rd
Anastasiya Prihodko was on Star Academy in Russia (2007) and she won

Deven O'Kearney
Deven O'Kearney
6 years ago

Ruth Lorenzo was on X Factor UK in 2008. She came 5th and Eoghan Quigg from Eurosong (IRELAND) came 3rd.

Ranting Ruby
Ranting Ruby
6 years ago

Wait! There’s more! Come with me back into the bowels of Eurovision History, when OLIVIA NEWTON JOHN represented the UK in 1974 … Olivia got her start in showbiz by winning Aussie talent show “Sing, Sing, Sing” hosted by Johnny O’Keefe!! Yowser! Where does it end????

Deven O'Kearney
Deven O'Kearney
6 years ago

Alexander Rybak on Idol looked like Devon Bostick (He’s in Diary of a Wimpy Kid.).

Rashad
Rashad
6 years ago

I’m surprised Safura is not on the list. She took part at a talent show some years ago from her Eurovision appearance. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=a6UcJb54AuM

River
River
6 years ago

Ruth Lorenzo really should be included, she blew the country away singing for survival with her rendition of Purple Rain on X factor (UK) 2008.

Deven O'Kearney
Deven O'Kearney
6 years ago

Hi Harry Quinn, Darren, Easpag, Mickateriyan and RyanIreland So yeah, the letter to Michael Kealy regarding Eirevision is finished. Which means, all I have got to do now is print off my work over in my Dad’s house (I don’t have a printer here in my Mum’s), send it off to RTE and then I am finished and jetting off to Torremolinos next Thursday. Hopefully when I get back from Spain on the 12/7/2014 there will be a letter in the door with my name on it. I am confident that if and when Eirevision goes on the air that… Read more »

BIONDA
BIONDA
6 years ago

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tj2re74KmKA&index=24&list=RDQGfat8Cm1QY#
And of course the winner of xfactor greece in 2009.
Loukas Giorkas, the participant of Greece in Eurovision 2011 with watch my dance.

marinek
marinek
6 years ago

DON’T FORGET NIKOLAS RAPTAKIS FROM FREAKY FORTUNE (GREECE).HE WAS PARTICIPATING IN X FACTOR SHOW WITH A BAND BACK TO 2009.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfh5C48CKgM
AND A NEW SONG FROM FREAKY FORTUNE.I CAN’T WAIT FOR THEIR VIDEO.PLEASE RELEASE IT!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESkUzZ8v5E4#

Deven O'Kearney
Deven O'Kearney
6 years ago

Hi Harry

As part of my project (Which I started LAST YEAR), I have watched shows like Melodifestivalen and Dansk Melodi Grand Prix to analyse their methods. But I have also watched some episodes of The X Factor UK as well to see if I could get some inspiration there as well. But I have made something of my own creation while drawing in some of their elements.

Ali Nella Houd
Ali Nella Houd
6 years ago

Aline Lahoud (Lebanon 2005, withdrawn) was in France’s ‘The Voice: La plus belle voix’ in early 2014, though eliminated at the end of the initial battle round.

Harry Quinn
Harry Quinn
6 years ago

Deven I’m really looking to see if aspects of your proposal are taken on by RTE! Coming from the generation, like yourself, who hasn’t seen a successful Irish entry, we need to change that! 🙂

Many
6 years ago

Yes, as Ranting Ruby wrote, Jonathan Cerrada won the first season of “Nouvelle Star” (French Idol) and Amandine Bourgeois (France, 2013) also made it in 2008: http://youtu.be/qlLHZ9oi9lA

And Natasha St Pier (France, 2001) was a judge on the second season of “The Voice” in Belgium.

Robyn Gallagher
Admin
6 years ago

I’m going to join in and say that Loreen really needs to be on this list. She’s almost unrecognisable as the girl auditioning for Idol, compared to the fully fledge pop icon who won at Baku.

Ron
Ron
6 years ago

Great post!

Ranting Ruby
Ranting Ruby
6 years ago

Wow, Dina Garipova has such a lovely voice!

Two more – Jessica Mauboy (Australian Idol – came second) and Jonatan Cerrada for France (Idol, I think) in 2004. Hop to it, Denise: chapter 2 is ready and waiting! LOVING this stuff – it’s so good to see that everyone has to start somewhere!!!

estonian
estonian
6 years ago

Let’s talk about Estonian entrys
2009 – Sandra Nurmsalu, talent show “2 takti ette” 4th place
2011 – Getter Jaani – Estonian Idol season3 4th place
2012 – Ott Lepland – Estonian Idol season3 WINNER
2013 – Birgit Õigemeel – Estonian Idol season1 WINNER
it’s a shame that Idol winners Ott and Birgit are not mentioner here!!!

Tha
Tha
6 years ago

Some Eurovision stars from Estonia participated in talent shows too, like Birgit Õigemeel, Ott Lepland and Getter Jaani.

Zac
Zac
6 years ago

Ivi Adamou and Eleftheria Eleftheriou also participated via X Factor Season 2, as well as the Moje 3.

Deven O'Kearney
Deven O'Kearney
6 years ago

@Mickateriyan, Easpag, RyanIreland, Padraig, Darren Hi guys, so listen. I am now onto the letter part of my Eirevision odyssey. It is all so exciting. I am closer to my idea potentially becoming a reality. I want RTE to hire world renowned songwriters such as Elton John, Andrew Lloyd Webber (It’s my time) and Max Martin (Who has written songs for KATY PERRY, TAYLOR SWIFT, MAROON 5, BRITNEY SPEARS and JESSE J) but as well as that, there will be the usual Brendan Graham and Fredrik Kempe (Look at their track records in Eurovision.) Do you guys think that my… Read more »

David
David
6 years ago

U have missed the greatest of them all. Loreen, she made it to the Top3 of the first season of Swedish Idol.

Lalala
Lalala
6 years ago

*Conchita was participating in 2014 not in 2013

Franco
Franco
6 years ago

Cleo on the polish X-Factor, way before shaking what her mama gave her:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJCn7H3lPXc

DR
DR
6 years ago

In the UK you can maybe include Jade Ewan and Josh. They were found in a talent show format, rather than a normal national song selection.

However the reason we only have talent show drop-outs, and unknows, is because no one in the mainstream industry wants to help promote british music on the european stage. They don’t seem to care about how we look in europe.

William Lee Adams
Admin
6 years ago

If we’re nice perhaps Denise will write a second one about Ten More Stars Who Found Fame on Talent Shows

Deven O'Kearney
Deven O'Kearney
6 years ago

Sakis Rouvas hosts the X Factor in Greece and Loukas Yiorkas won it in 2008.

Deven O'Kearney
Deven O'Kearney
6 years ago

Most of the Eurovision stars that have been on reality shows have come from the X Factor. Well, it does have Louis Walsh and Gary Barlow called Rylan too Eurovisiony. Here is a list of Eurovision stars who started out on The X Factor: 1. JEDWARD (UK) 2. Basim (Denmark) 3. Marco Mengoni (Italy) 4. Andy Abraham (UK) 5. Ruth Lorenzo (UK) 6. Alexey Vorobyov (Russia) Here are a few Eurovision stars who did not participate in The X Factor, but are involved somehow: 1. Aram MP3 (Armenia. Host) 2. Ronan Keating (Australia. Judge) 3. Emmy (Armenia. Judge) 4. Andre… Read more »

Huh
Huh
6 years ago

You would all be surprised to see how Loreen looked like during her Idol days. Check out her Youtube video where she sings “Where Do I Begin?” and prepare to feast. your. eyes.

Deven O'Kearney
Deven O'Kearney
6 years ago

Waylon was on Holland’s Got Talent 2008 and came 2nd. Loreen was on Swedish Idol 2004 and came 4th. Robin Stjernberg was on Idol 2012 and came 2nd. Andy Abraham was on The X Factor UK in 2005 and came 2nd. Marco Mengoni won The X Factor in Italy. Conchita’s best friend Ruth Lorenzo was on The X Factor UK in 2008 and came 5th. The same with Eoghan Quigg, who came 3rd. Basim was on The X Factor Denmark in 2008 which was hosted by Lise Ronne. Aram MP3 hosts The X Factor Armenia. Alexey Vorobyov was on The… Read more »

Tony
Tony
6 years ago

Why you ignored Loreen?
She was 4th on Swedish Idol first season!

Also Robin was runner-up on Swedish Idol 8th season

Rosa and Ramon from Spain (2002 and 2004) were also on Spain’s Star Academy as first season winner and third season runner-up