Sixty-four acts have won Eurovision, but only a fraction have gone on to top the charts across Europe (and beyond). ABBA did it in 1974 with their song “Waterloo” peaking at #1 in 10 countries, including the United Kingdom, Ireland and Belgium. Sadly for Spain’s Salome — who won Eurovision in 1969 — “Vivo Cantando” didn’t chart at all. As we count down the days until the next national selection season, let’s have a look at some of the best and some of the worst performing winners.
“Ein bißchen Frieden” — Germany 1982
At the start of 1982, Germany’s best result was second place, which they had achieved two years running. Enter Nicole, a 17-year-old high school student with a guitar, singing ‘A Little Peace’. She scored 161 points, setting a record margin of victory that wouldn’t be beaten until 1997. She managed to top the charts in eight countries, including the United Kingdom, Norway and her home country Germany.
“Euphoria” — Sweden 2012
Sweden was the hot favourite throughout the contest, and Loreen did not disappoint. Serving minimalist woman-on-box realness, she scored Sweden’s fifth win and their first of two in this decade. Her electro dance number charted in 33 countries, reached #1 in 18 of them, and became the UK’s most downloaded Eurovision song of all time, setting the bar very high for future winners. Another consequence? More and more contestants from outside of Sweden have turned to Swedish writers for their Eurovision entries.
“Puppet on a string” — United Kingdom 1967
The 60’s was a decade of ballads at Eurovision — until Luxembourg’s France Gall won in 1965 with “Poupee de cire, poupee de son”, after which the majority of winners were up tempo. Sandie Shaw was the first to follow with her upbeat number “Puppet on a String,” which became the contest’s first big charter. Shaw’s ditty peaked at #1 in eight countries: Austria, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom, and was the biggest selling single of the year in Germany.
Not as lucky…
“Ne partez pas sans moi” — Switzerland 1988
Despite going on to achieve worldwide fame in the years after her victory, Celine Dion did not chart well with her winning song of 1988. In fact, it wasn’t even released in the UK or Ireland, and only charted in five countries, achieving #11 in Switzerland — its highest position anywhere.
“1944” — Ukraine 2016
Jamala, the most recent winner, finished second with both the juries and the televoters with her heartfelt performance of “1944”. Her passion, however, failed to translate into chart success. She reached #2 in her home country, but didn’t enter the Top 10 anywhere else.
“I wanna” — Latvia 2002
Latvia’s only winning song to date was a commercial failure, with Marie N’s salsa-style ‘I Wanna’ only charting in Belgium, where it reached #15, which may have been down to her memorable striptease-like performance rather than the song itself.
Sometimes non-winners have better luck on the charts than the songs and artists that beat them.
“Nel blu dipinto di blu” — Italy 1958
Domenico Modugno’s 1958 entry finished third, despite not being broadcast in all countries due to a transmission fault. It was later renamed “Volare”, and went on to become one of the most popular Eurovision songs of all time and one of the few Eurovision songs to chart in the United States, peaking at #1 there, #2 in the Netherlands and Norway, and #10 in the United Kingdom. It’s been covered by numerous singers, including David Bowie, Il Volo and Louis Armstrong.
“Ooh aah… Just a little bit” — United Kingdom 1996
The United Kingdom’s high-energy, aerobics-friendly entry was tipped to do very well, but finished a disappointing eighth in the final. Even so, Gina G’s dance track became the fourth most successful Eurovision entry on the US charts, earned a Grammy nomination for Best Dance Recording and cracked the Top 10 in seven countries, becoming a commonly heard track in clubs and bars across Europe.
Which songs have surprised you by their performance (or underperformance) on the charts after Eurovision? Let us know in the comments box below.