There’s a rule amongst Eurovision fans that returning artists never do as well the second time around. But Johnny Logan famously proved this wrong, so there’s always the hope that a returning artist can use their experience to deliver a better performance. 2016 saw seven artists return to the Eurovision stage. Let’s see how they fared.

7. Iceland: Greta Salóme “Hear Them Calling”

2012 result: 20th in final
2016 result: 14th in semi-final

Greta had placed 20th in 2012 with her song “Never Forget”, performed with another returning artist, Jonsi. Things were looking up for her comeback, as “Hear Them Calling” was a solid favourite with fans, critics and bookies. But it wasn’t to be. “Hear Them Calling” shockingly placed only 14th in the first semi-final, the worst placed returning artist this year. But as Greta proved at #Wiwijam, she’s still an incredibly talented and much loved performer.

6. Montenegro: Bojan Jovovic (Highway) “The Real Thing”

2005 result: 7th in final
2016 result: 13th in semi-final

As part of the boyband No Name, Bojan Jovovic placed 7th in 2005 with “Zauvijek moja”. Drafted in to beef up Highway’s sound 11 years later, history did not repeat. Despite placing 10th with the jury vote, Highway did not manage to qualify for the final, placing only 13th overall.

5. FYR Macedonia: Kaliopi “Dona”

2012 result: 13th in final
2016 result: 11th in semi-final

Kaliopi’s mighty performance of “Crno i belo” in 2012 was a huge fan favourite and earned her 13th place. But her more subdued “Dona” was not as successful, just missing out on qualifying for the final in 11th place from semi-final two.

4. Bosnia and Herzegovina: Deen (Dalal & Deen feat. Ana Rucner and Jala) “Ljubav je”

2004 result: 9th in final
2016 result: 11th in semi-final

Deen made his Eurovision debut in 2004, performing “In The Disco” which placed ninth in the final. But he didn’t have the opportunity to see if his collaboration “Ljubav je” would do better. It narrowly missed out on qualifying for the final, managing a close 11th in the highly competitive first semi-final.

3. Malta: Ira Losco “Walk on Water”

2002 result: 2nd in final 
2016 result: 12th in final

Ira Losco had the most on the line, having placed 2nd in 2002, with her song “7th Wonder”, which narrowly missed out on the win by only 12 points. The teen of 2002 returned as a mother-to-be in 2016, delivering the gospel-tinged “Walk On Water”. But despite ranking 4th from jury scores in the final, the song was not a hit with the general public, ranking only 21st and giving Ira an overall 12th place for her comeback.

2. Lithuania: Donny Montell “I’ve Been Waiting for This Night”

2012 result: 14th in final
2016 result: 9th in final

Donny was another member of the class of ’12, where “Love is Blind” placed 14th in Baku. After making it through Lithuania’s gruelling 10-week national final, Donny showed up in Stockholm with an impressive on-stage somersault and scored 9th place in the final. Along with Poli Genova, Donny is one of only two returning artists to achieve better than their previous score.

1. Bulgaria: Poli Genova “If Love Was a Crime”

2011 result: 12th in semi-final
2016 result: 4th in final

A fan favourite with her rock song “Na inat” in 2011, Poli Genova was undoubtedly the most successful returning artist, placing 4th with her very popular “If Love Was a Crime”. Not only did it do better than her 2011 song by qualifying for the final — only the second of Bulgaria’s 10 entries to qualify — it proved to be popular with both juries and viewers, earning it 4th place overall.

Poll results

In a recent Wiwi Poll, we asked who your favourite returning artist was. The winner was Poli Genova, topping the poll with 28%. The ranking roughly follows the overall results,  but with the one exception of Greta Salóme, whose shock non-qualification surprised many.

  1. Bulgaria: Poli Genova with “If Love Was A Crime” (965 votes, 28%)
  2. Malta: Ira Losco with “Walk On Water” (869 votes, 25%)
  3. Iceland: Greta Salóme with “Hear Them Calling” (695 votes, 20%)
  4. Lithuania: Donny Montell with “I’ve Been Waiting For This Night” (390 votes, 11%)
  5. FYR Macedonia: Kaliopi with “Dona” (324 votes, 9%)
  6. Bosnia & Herzegovina: Deen with “Ljubav Je” (120 votes, 4%)
  7. Montenegro: Bojan with “The Real Thing” (50 votes, 1%)

Who was your favourite returning artist? Should artists be allowed to return to Eurovision? Share your thoughts below!

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#Justice4Margaret
Guest
#Justice4Margaret

Bulgaria — My favorite song of the year. So much charisma, such a simple yet well-staged performance, and a deserved 4th place. I loved “Na inat” as well in 2011. Malta — The song was extremely generic (written by Swedes after all) and it was obvious it wouldn’t leave the audience very impressed. Lithuania — Surprise surprise! I thought he would do Love Is Blind numbers (~15th) but his charisma sent him to the top 10. I’m very happy for Lithuania, usually an underdog country. Iceland — Poor her, the song has a very contemporary sound and the performance is… Read more »

oooops
Guest
oooops

I forgot to thank Azerbaijan for not televoiting political in semifinal 1. They did place Armenia 14th. Just before Iceland, Montenegro, and their last-placed Finland.

cheesecake
Guest
cheesecake

I predicted Poli and Greta to do better and Donny to place again somewhere in the middle.

The Brightest Falling Star
Guest
The Brightest Falling Star

@ct_greece

Anyway, leave it…

The Brightest Falling Star
Guest
The Brightest Falling Star

@Linnea

Because it was just a generic pop song and nothing more. However, the live performance elevated it.

Linnea
Guest
Linnea

I think Lithuania and Bulgaria was really the two dark horses of this year. It’s kind of funny that nobody, including the bookies, had counted out Lithuania in the competition, and then what happens… Lithuania managed to end up 9th in the grand final. That is what i call a real success that nobody could see coming. I always loved the song and Donny’s performances. But It still blows my mind that the bookies ranked it so low, 20 out of 26 in the grand final. Why did nobody believe that Lithuania whould do well in ESC ? I don’t… Read more »

Linnea
Guest
Linnea

According to me Lithuania should have ended up in top 5 this year 🙂

Linnea
Guest
Linnea

Donny made it to top 10! I’m so happy 😀

Vogzal Odessa
Guest
Vogzal Odessa

Just a word or two on each of the returning entries: Iceland I grew to appreciate the effort they put in their performance but my main issue with the song is bad lyrics. They tried to be “spiritual” but they only managed to be annoyingly puerile and extremely repetitive. ‘I hear them calling me, I hear them whispering” – to me it feels like Beavis&Butthead teenagers trying to write meaningful poetry. Bring Johanna back!!! Bulgaria Just like with “Say Yay”, there is a pronounced mass-tourism feel to this song which I really dislike. But Poli seems to be a fun… Read more »

ct_greece
Guest
ct_greece

@ denis If Donny was american instead of lithuanian, the whole world would be talking about him. As it is, he is not and the world’s loss is the ESC’s gain. Everything about that performance was flawless, from his vocals to his moves and expressions. That is the power of a true performer – being able to lift a rather average song through the sheer power of his charisma. I did not expect much from him before the lives, but I always try to keep an open mind to ehat a performance actually brings to the table compared to my… Read more »

Denis
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Denis

If we are going to speak about bland then Lithuania should top the list. How that generic bland song with a bland performance managed to be top 10 is beyond me. The song is a MF reject, and it showed. If it competed in MF it wouldn’t even make Second chance round. The performance wasn’t that good either. A for Malta being jury favourite, well it was a typical jury song.But was it that good? The reason it didn’t do to well was like always Malta is one of the least interesting countries in the contest. How many of their… Read more »

The Brightest Falling Star
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The Brightest Falling Star

@ct_greece

I partially agree with you but you are exaggerating, don’t you think? Also, “catchy” and “generic” are two terms with a totally different meaning so I don’t see a reason why I can’t say that a generic song is also catchy. Why not looking these words up in the dictionary before saying whatever comes to your mind just because you would like to contrast my opinion? I’m saying it as a piece of advice 😉

ct_greece
Guest
ct_greece

@ brightest star The reason Malta is ignored by the public is that they have been one of the least interesting countries in terms of the musical output they send to the ESC – in fact the same kind of drab, bland, sugary entries that usually win them the JESC. Or are we supposed to believe that they send masterpieces EVERY SINGLE YEAR but they never register with the public? I am sorry but I can’ t think of a single maltese entry those past 8 years that deserved such lavish treatment from the juries. And what does it even… Read more »

Dez
Guest

1. Bulgaria — hands down will always be my favorite. There are a few songs at Eurovision that get my instant attention from the get go, and I’m glad Poli got the revenge she deserve. She’s the only artist to occupy my number 1 spot in an annual top TWICE 2. Malta — Okay, Ira couldn’t do much on stage because of her pregnancy, but I’m sure it’s not the main reason why televoters didn’t vote for her in droves. 3. Lithuania — Yes, Donny was in my top 10, but I never suspected that he would do this well… Read more »

Words of Wisdom
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Words of Wisdom

I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds it VERY SUSPICIOUS that the juries rank Malta every single year way higher than they deserve. Something is not right here. I seriously still can’t believe that Malta was ranked 4th (!!!) with the juries in the final this year. There was nothing special about the song or the performance and Ira sang off-key for most parts of the song. Something is very wrong here. Maybe the juries are bribed or something? I don’t know what it is, but this just ain’t right. As for Lithuania… it really didn’t deserve to… Read more »

The Brightest Falling Star
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The Brightest Falling Star

@Darren

Well, what you just said is true but I think that this year they did well mainly because of their entry.

Darren
Guest
Darren

@Jpod
You are only doing well because your new, and the EBU is acting like there was no ESC before Australia.
Give it a few years, maybe even after a victory (which will happen) and Australia will then be outside the top 10, while the EBU focus on their new bff United States.

The Brightest Falling Star
Guest
The Brightest Falling Star

@ct_Greece

Malta doesn’t do well with the televote because they usually send entries which don’t appeal to the public. For example, this year they had a very catchy song but it was just too generic to stand out and the staging was bland (of course there is an exception, as you may already know the televote and the juries liked them equally in the final of 2013). Also, they don’t have countries to vote for them (but the main reason they often don’t do well with the televote is the one mentioned above).

The Brightest Falling Star
Guest
The Brightest Falling Star

@Robyn Gallagher

You’re welcome and I understand you 🙂

Kinuyo
Guest
Kinuyo

Poli’s song was good but her bubbly personality is what got me! I loved Donny’s performance. A much better song than in 2012. Iceland’s song looked more interesting than it was. I expected more from it. The chorus kind of looped and didn’t really go anywhere for me. I can’t really fault the vocals or enthusiasm of any of the returnees though.

Stan
Guest
Stan

I think Greta missed out by the staging… It’s so dark, and even when there is light, she’s standing in the shade. Overall, it looked a bit messy. I think the projection stagings can be spectacular, but the ones from this year weren’t as good as Mans’s who managed to be on spot all the time and still look relaxed. Poli deserved a few spots higher, i think. I’m not a fan of al the vocal drama on spot 1 and 2. I hope we don’t see more of that next year. No need for 1986 with a giant mushroom… Read more »

El Rosario de Raquel
Guest

Tanta adulacion a Ira Losco.
..desafino como una loca.

El Rosario de Raquel
Guest

Tanta adulacion a Ira Losco.
..desafino como una loca

Ern
Guest
Ern

Poli had a great comeback! Great job!

Lanti
Guest

There was also Johannes Nymark (of Lighthouse X) who sang backing vocals for Emma/Italy in 2014.

jPod
Guest
jPod

Our “unnecessary” presence in the contest has been well-received by a lot of people. At least my country knows how to bring its A-Game to the contest. I mean, 5th in 2015 and 2nd in 2016? I guess we must be doing something right that most countries aren’t…

Laburnum
Guest
Laburnum

Lithuania was the most successful Baltic country this year… omg how???

ct_greece
Guest
ct_greece

Poli and Donny were, along with Zoe, by far the most charismatic performers this year. They both brought life into their songs and, I have to say, before the contest I did not expect it from either of them. Experience does pay after all. Kalliopi was among the best singers this year, hands down. Too bad she didn’t make it, but at least she gets the consolation that it was close. Greta on the other hand is the absolute opposite of Poli snd Donny: Totally uncharismatic. She built a very extravagant show around hersef without possessing any star power to… Read more »

Darren
Guest
Darren

I’m so in love with Poli Genova after the 2016 contest. And for a gay guy, I’m finding this so strange 🙂
Bulgaria was my winner this year and I’m delighted with her 4th place. I will remain a Poli Genova fan and I am hoping that we will see her try Eurovision once more in the future, with a song equally as catchy as ILWAC or even better!

The Brightest Falling Star
Guest
The Brightest Falling Star

@Anthony

I just noticed that you still haven’t corrected the mistake about Iceland.

Riva
Guest
Riva

Oh I should agree with opinions about Donny’s relative success in final. Staging mantained the mood well even though I excepted more like Samra’s act to help it.

karminowe.usta
Guest
karminowe.usta

In my opinion:
1. Iceland
2. Bulgaria
3. Montenegro
4. Bosnia and Herzegovina
5. Lithuania
6. Malta
7. Macedonia

Dan
Guest
Dan

@Mr.D – lol, when were Highway ever “fan favourites”? Most fans thoroughly disliked The Real Thing (I like it though).

Ben Rafter
Guest
Ben Rafter

Poli was favourite but still not over Greta…..

#Justice
Guest
#Justice

I can’t believe Greta had the lowest position of the returners! Even Serhat did better than her. It upsets me. She wrote her own song and gave us magical, unique performance, with all the birds. The song had beautiful meaning and Greta was shining on stage. I thought she was the 2nd best of her semi-final.

What is wrong with this world?

Graph
Guest
Graph

@Osterrike

You made a good point; trying to be ultra-Eurovision does not pay off anymore. Juries slammed the “made-for-Eurovision” songs in 2015-2016, and televoters are not as receptive to them as they used to be.

Ron
Guest
Ron

Lithuania was saved big by the staging. It was the most memorable staging of the night in my opinion. Loved the Bulgarian song, but was disappointed by the show and that awful dress. Malta had a great song, and I love Ira but the staging lacked. Overall,

1. Lithuania
2. Bulgaria
3. Malta

Lily
Guest
Lily

I think that all of them ,except for kaliopi and montenegro, had better songs than their first appearence. Iceland had approximately the same level . Lithuania deserved the top 10 because it had great stage performance and beautiful song. the same for bulgaria for the top 5. Malta deserved to be at least at the top 10. It was sooo amazing! How could the televote ignore it like that? I know she didnt move a lot on stage but thats because she is pregnant!!!! Iceland was TOTALLY ROBBED!!!! Bosnia had a good song but there were much better ones. The… Read more »

The Brightest Falling Star
Guest
The Brightest Falling Star

@Anthony

You’re welcome. I would also like to say that I love Slovenia in the contest too, they always send amazing songs, yet they are underrated.

Riva
Guest
Riva

Still the 14th place for Greta is a shock.

Anthony Ko
Editor

@The Brightest Falling Star

Fixed. Thanks for pointing it out! 😉

Thiefo
Guest

Moral of the story is to come back with a better song

Mark
Guest
Mark

Moral of the story is to never make a comeback

The Brightest Falling Star
Guest
The Brightest Falling Star

yourself*

The Brightest Falling Star
Guest
The Brightest Falling Star

My top 7:

1. Iceland
2. Bulgaria
3. Bosnia and Herzegovina
4. FYROM
5. Malta
6. Lithuania
7. Montenegro

Greta from Iceland was once again criminally underrated, Poli from Bulgaria finally got what she deserved, Bosnia and Herzegovina and FYROM were underrated, Malta got what they deserved, Lithuania was overrated and Montenegro was a little bit overrated too.

@Mr.D

If you think that Montenegro was a fan favorite, then you are probably lying to yourslef 😉
(I think that they were actually the least favorite of the fans this year)

The Brightest Falling Star
Guest
The Brightest Falling Star

@Robyn Gallagher

Great job but I noticed some mistakes:
Mistake 1: “Hear Them Calling” placed 14th in the first Semi-Final, not “Never Forget”.
Mistake 2: Kaliopi competed with “Crno i belo” in 2012, not in 2013.
Mistake 3: Bojan represented Serbia and Montenegro as a part of “No Name” in 2005 (obviously not in 2015).

Maru fr
Guest
Maru fr

Can you write article which is called: “Whom we want to see at Eurovision again”? 🙂

Österikke
Guest
Österikke

Poli Genova would have won in 2011, 2013 or even last year with this great dancy track. So modern and cool. Greta Salome was vocally flawless, but if she meant to do well in Eurovision she should not have written a song that sounds like it ticked all the Eurovision formular boxes and she should not have reminded viewers and juries of Loreen and Mans Zelmerlöw by her performance. Furthmore, her projections did not work to well for her. In SVT preview show she was put dead last by the panel, so bad things were already bound to get delivered… Read more »

Joanne
Guest
Joanne

D.O.N.N.Y!!