Eurovision has been around for 60 years, and yet it sometimes feels like it’s brand new. The years go by oh-so-quickly and what we think only happened recently is actually further back in the past than we imagine. Here are ten iconic ESC moments from yesteryear.

1. It’s been 20 years since Ireland last won the Eurovision Song Contest

Ireland still holds the record for the most wins in the ESC history, but it has actually been 20 years since we saw Eimear Quinn take home the last trophy for the emerald isle in 1996. Who would’ve thought?!

2. Croatia, Bosnia and Slovenia debuted as independent countries 23 years ago

The year is 1993. The location is (as usual) Ireland. For the first time — after the breakup of war-torn Yugoslavia — Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Slovenia appear as separate and independent countries on the Eurovision stage. I can’t even…

3. Even more debuts 22 years ago

Following the breakup of the Soviet Union and the end of the Warsaw Pact in the early ’90s, a whole lot of new countries were able to join the EBU and enter Eurovision. In 1994 Russia, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Estonia and Lithuania finally debuted in the contest. It’s only been 22 years, but who’s counting, really?

4. Malta re-entered the contest 25 years ago

Malta has been around forever, right? Wrong! The small island took a 16-year break, from 1975 to 1991. So roughly 67% of today’s ESC fans (bogus statistics from the top of my head, should not be taken seriously) weren’t even born when Malta became an everlasting part of Eurovision… again.

5. Dana International happened 18 years ago

Wait, what? The Diva’s victory is old enough to buy alcohol? Why, yes it is! Dana International stormed on stage in Birmingham in 1998 and secured Israel its third victory, along with being the first transgender singer to enter and win the Eurovision Song Contest. BAM!

6. Luxembourg departed 23 years ago

Luxembourg might be one of the smallest countries in Europe, but it was a foundation country of Eurovision, winning the contest five times. But sadly in 1993 it said farewell to the Eurovision, with their last entry being Modern Times with “Donne moi un chance”. Luxembourg is sorely missed still today, and faithful ESC fans still await their return.

7. The Eurovision world saw its first semi-finals (and Zeljko Joksimovic) 12 years ago

These days, we can’t imagine Eurovision without the three-night festival of semi-finals and then the grand final. But that form was first introduced to us in 2004, along with this Serbian dude named Zeljko, who, since then, has been dubbed by many as Mr Eurovision.

8. The Olsen Brothers took Europe by storm 16 years ago

In 2000, no one gave Denmark a second look. Just a couple of old guys, playing guitars and singing about older women? Lame! But how the tables turned during Eurovision week. Suddenly all eyes were on the charming brothers, and they destroyed their competitors and took home Denmark’s first victory in 37 years.

9. Its been 31 years since Lill Lindfors shocked Europe by tearing off her dress

“Just thought you should wake up a little bit”. Immortal words by the hilarious Lill Lindfors, who presented the contest in Gothenburg in 1985. She walked on stage and “accidentally” tore off the bottom half of her dress, only to replace it by another half, tied to her shoulders. Good one, Lill. Old but still gold.

10. France hasn’t won the contest in 39 years!

What is up with that? Marie Myriam sang her way to victory all the way back in 1977 and brought France its fifth victory to date. Thirty… nine… years! Isn’t it time for France to shine again? Methinks so!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yq3prvZf7UQ

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WTF
Guest
WTF

@Marc: Should have been only 21 years, really. Anabel’s “Vuelve conmigo” has to be the best entry the Spanish have ever sent, and also my favorite ESC performance all-time… 1995 was a very strong year, otherwise, but Spain put in the kind of performance not even Secret Garden deserved finishing over, simply put.

Marc
Guest
Marc

err.. y’know we spaniards haven’t won for 47 yrs?

El Rosario de Raquel
Guest

Zagreb 1990 “Azucar Moreno”…lol

Sonn Männ
Guest
Sonn Männ

@Andy B

I was asking this to myself some days ago. Which are the longest winning droughts at this moment?

Spain since 1969 (four 2nd places since then) 47 years
The Netherlands since 1975 (one 2nd place since then) 41 years
France since 1977 (two 2nd places since then) 39 years
Belgium since 1986 (one 2nd place since then) 30 years
Switzerland since 1988 (no 2nd places since then) 28 years
Italy since 1990 (one 2nd place since then) 26 years

David Who
Guest
David Who

@Mana: Oh wow, thanks for that link. Great vocals from Gabriela, although she needs to count the beat to stay in time a little better. x

someone
Guest
someone

Portugal never wins :))
But a portuguese wins eurovision, thank you Marie Myriam! 🙂

Charles
Guest
Charles

So it’s been 18 years since Eurovision came out of the closet turning the gala into a Saturday night gay club circus aided by almost intentionally mockery-made songs. Music has gotten better recently .. though the circus still screams with the monkeys and all the clowns: Hi Russia? Enjoy your “focus on me” show?

Pollaski
Guest
Pollaski

It’s been 13 years since I became aware of this contest’s existence.

“The hell? Renaissance fair rejects singing in a made up language? The f*** is this?!”

Luckily I gave it a chance- originally I was more intrigued by the aspects of the competition itself, but the music’s grown on me.

Andy B
Guest
Andy B

Well, Spain hasn’t won in 47 years, that’s even more crazy:)

Ana
Guest
Ana

O, yes, I catch it :). Thank you very much, Robyn :).

Mana
Guest
Mana

@georgekirkas

You’re welcome 🙂

georgekirkas
Guest
georgekirkas

@Mana

Thank you very much for the link! Gabriela is awesome live! She is now in my top 10 for the first Semi-final and I hope that she will bring her country in the Grand Final for the first time! (This is easily their best effort ever) Best of luck to Czech Republic!

jmflo
Guest
jmflo

One huge moment in ESC history was the 1991 drama when 2 countries (Sweden and France) ended with the same score !
https://youtu.be/rQDm9f3KXO4

Ricardo
Guest
Ricardo

This is such a cool article. .nice one Kristin! more like this please!

Chupacabra
Guest
Chupacabra

Remember my first ESC, our TV still black and white, 1976, enchanted by different languages, un deux trois, Austria got fourth, Kisses got saved by UK. In the 80ies, felt ashamed by most of Austrian entries, but most countries also sent horrible music. One of my Favorites was Spain’s nillpointer in 1983. 1995 was astonishingly strong. DK, SLO, NL, UK and AUT really good. Never mentioned openly that I watched ESC due to fun of observing jury block voting and escape to happy childhood. Kind of guilty pleasure or Masochism, coz usually the entries I disliked won. Starting 2008, there… Read more »

Mark
Guest
Mark

I remember back in 1998, when I was 12 years old, Dana said,
“wow, after 20 years the Orthodox will die, they will die, they will never sleep again peacefully and calmly”
Now it’s been almost 20 years since SHE won?! I can’t believe it. Today at 30, I really do feel old, ha.

Michael
Guest
Michael

I was born one month before Israel’s victory in 1998, so I have memories after 2007.So basically ? haven’t lived any of these moments. Wow I can believe I’m eighteen!!!!!

Mana
Guest
Mana

OT: Czech republic – first live performance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Pe9bB_tiWo

Österrike
Guest
Österrike

France actually won the contest of 1991

Stan
Guest
Stan

@OR Dana International is amazingly far out of key 😉

CookyMonzta
Guest
CookyMonzta

Fortunately France is looking very good on the bookies’ boards (and on my scoreboard) right now! Paris or Nice had better brace themselves if their long slumber ends next month.

Mark
Guest
Mark

Zeljko is over rated. All his songs suck ass.

Robyn Gallagher
Editor

Ana: Are you talking about the line “Denmark’s first victory in 37 years”? That means they hadn’t scored a victory in the previous 37 years. Their first one was in 1963, 37 years before their second one. 🙂

Ana
Guest
Ana

I think there is a mistake. Olsen brothers took the second eurovision victory for Denmark, not the first one. Am I right?

OR
Guest
OR

Dana interntional is amazing!!

Stan
Guest
Stan

Thanks for posting Fridirika… So beautiful

Ben Rafter
Guest
Ben Rafter

You should do more of these lists!

David Who
Guest
David Who

Oh, and who could forget Maja Blagdan from Croatia in 1996?! She burst out an off-the-scale high note in the middle of her ballad like she was having sone kind of fit!! And then she went into improvised dance moves. Unfortunately the audience tried very hard not to laugh, but eventually cracked up in the third minute when she did that high note again at the end… http://youtu.be/c8ypXogV9LI

David Who
Guest
David Who

I remember Eimear Quinn in 96. We were in Norway because Secret Garden had mezmorized us the year before, and we were all thinking “surely not Ireland AGAIN?!” But then Eimear started singing and the contest was over – she was obviously the winner. My best memory of that year came during the results, when the Norwegian presenter got on the video call to Sweden and accused them of not giving Norway their fair share of points over the years – oooh, cold! 🙂

Bis
Guest
Bis

I vividly remember Iceland’s debut at Eurovision in 1986 – thirty years ago 😉