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…