Least Successful Eurovision Comeback of all time

Our beloved Eurovision Song Contest celebrated its 61st edition in 2016. That means 61 years of history of the world’s largest music competition. For some artists, one attempt is enough. For many others, the urge to return to the Eurovision bubble leads them to give it a second (or even third) go. We recently discovered the most successful comebacks of all time. Today we take turn things upside down and look at the least successful comebacks in Eurovision history, based on how far acts fell in the rankings on their return.

In these 61 years, there has been 169 occasions when an artist has returned to the competition at least once in a later year. Of these 169 entries, 58 improved on their previous result, nine equalled their previous result, and a massive 102 failed to do better on their next attempts. Ouch.

For the purpose of this exercise, we decided to include all artists from 1956 to 2016 that have only ever competed as the main performer in their country’s act. This means we have excluded artists who returned as backing vocalists (e.g. Iceland‘s Hera Bjork), artists who returned as musicians (e.g. Albania‘s Bledar Sejko), and artists who previously competed in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest and later returned to the adult contest (e.g. Russia‘s Tolmachevy Sisters). We also based the results on rankings, and not scores.

THE LEAST SUCCESSFUL COMEBACKS OF ALL TIME

1. Dana International (Israel) – Eurovision 1998 to 2011

The legendary Dana International from Israel remains one of the most celebrated Eurovision winners ever. The first out-and-proud transgendered person to grace the stage — and win — Dana turned her 1998 entry “Diva” into an LGBT anthem and set the benchmark for a progressive Europe. Unfortunately Miss International could not match the success of “Diva” on her return to Eurovision in 2011. Her song “Ding Dong” failed to make the final, placing a dismal 35th out of 43 countries. With a fall of 34 rankings, Dana International’s comeback is the least successful of all time.

2. Edsilia Rombley (The Netherlands) – Eurovision 1998 to 2007

Another breakout star from Eurovision 1998 was Edsilia Rombley from The Netherlands. After placing a respectable fourth with her song “Hemel en aarde” and giving The Netherlands their best placing since their win in 1975, she was invited back to participate in the 2007 contest in Helsinki. It had been two years since The Netherlands had made the final…and she made it three in a row. Edsilia placed 35th out of 42 countries — a fall of 31 places — thus making her the second least successful Eurovision comeback of all time.

3. Selma (Iceland) – Eurovision 1999 to 2005

It had been a slow build for Iceland at Eurovision until 1999, where Selma burst onto the stage with her catchy pop tune “All Out Of Luck” and brought home a very respectable second place behind fan favourite Charlotte Perrelli from Sweden. Selma decided to return to the contest in Kyiv in 2005 with her song “If I Had Your Love”. Unfortunately Selma failed to make the Grand Final, placing 16th in the semi and 30th overall out of a field of 39. Slipping 28 places, Selma is the third least successful comeback of all time.

4. Bojan Jovovic of No Name and Highway (Montenegro) – Eurovision 2005 to 2016

Back in 2005, the country then known as Serbia & Montenegro took to the stage for the second and last time as a united nation. The Balkan powerhouse opted for Montenegrin band No Name, of which Bojan Jovovic was a part. They had big shoes to fill after the success of Zeljko Joksimovic in 2004. Their song “Zauvijek moja” managed a comfortable seventh place. Bojan then decided to return to the contest this year in Stockholm as a part of Highway for Montenegro. Their song “The Real Thing” failed to qualify for the final, placing 13th in the semi-final and 32nd overall. Thus making Bogan’s return the fourth worst in Eurovision history with a drop of 25 places.

5. Elitsa & Stoyan (Bulgaria) – Eurovision 2007 to 2013

Fifth place in the least successful Eurovision comebacks of all time belongs to the same country with the most successful comeback. Bulgaria was still a relatively new country to join the contest back in 2007 when Elitsa & Stoyan stormed Helsinki with their ethno-pop track “Water”. They got Bulgaria to the final for the first time and finished a commendable fifth place, which was unbeaten until Poli Genova claimed fourth in the contest this year. Elitsa & Stoyan returned to the contest in 2013 with their song “Samo shampioni”, but failed to make the final, placing twelfth in their semi-final and 29th overall. Their slip of 24 places round out the bottom five comebacks in Eurovision history.

What are your favourite and least favourite Eurovision comebacks of all time? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Jonas
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Jonas

Yeah, that’s a good methodology.

If we were to do this with songwriters, I wonder who’d come out on top (or bottom). It is after all a song contest. Johnny Logan would likely win in this category too, I imagine – one second place finish followed by two wins.

Pollaski 3: Rise of the Machines
Guest
Pollaski 3: Rise of the Machines

Good premise and write-up, although I heavily disagree with the methodology. As others have noted, its simply inaccurate to use ranking position slips as a metric, because the number of contestants has fluctuated so widely over time (and even in the last fifteen years) that its impossible to use it to come up with a truly difinitive list. I’d have gone for percentile adjustment- simply the number of other acts a particular artist finished ahead of that year, gauging percentile on the simple formula Percentile = ((n-p+1)/n)*100 n= number of countries participating p= place of entry in question. Ergo, Dana… Read more »

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

Ding Dong was undoubtedly lackluster in the studio version, but on the night Dana delivered a fantastic display of personality and stagecraft, she owned the screen and the audience loved her – she should have at least qualifed, I think.

Alenn
Guest
Alenn

I loved “Diva” when i first heard it and it continued to be my guilty pleasure for many years, but I’m getting tired of it and I now I actually prefer “Ding-Dong”!

Steve
Guest
Steve

I actually liked Dana’s song “Ding Dong” – just as much as I despise her winning song which I could never stand (but I know I’ll probably be one of the only ones here feeling that way).

oli
Guest
oli

Selmaaa <3
All out of luck is one of my all times favourites

Nitzan
Guest
Nitzan

Yes, Dana’s comeback was wrong in so many ways. It’s a shame because she still was so relevant musically, a hit factory, but THAT song was nothing like her typical music, so lame and dated. Rumors were that because Dana was in financial distress, she chose “Ding Dong” because she wrote it herself and took an unknown guy to do the arrangement – only so she could collect the royalty fees without sharing. I still hope to see her competing again on the ESC stage one day, but with the right song this time.

Alenn
Guest
Alenn

Now, what’s left to know are those few acts who equalled their previous result, apart from the obvious one (Mr Eurovision)!

Alenn
Guest
Alenn

Great work, once again! I had totally forgotten about Bojan Jovovic! However, I think you should make a special mention of Charlotte Perrelli. She was a hot favorite to win again in 2008, yet she came really close to bringing Sweden its first ever disqualification (13th in semi-final, only qualified as ‘jury wildcard’ by that year’s rules). Talk about comeback failure!

Kris
Guest
Kris

Make a list of least successful Eurovision winners of the 21st century

William Lee Adams
Admin

@Avstrya Indeed, Thomas’ fall was bad — from 5th to 22nd. But that’s only 17 rankings. All of the acts above fell by at least 24 rankings. Eurovision is so harsh sometimes!

Avstrya
Guest
Avstrya

This List does not cover 60 years, only recent years. The biggest failed comeback I remember would be Thomas Forstner’s in 1991

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

In terms of early winners, Jean Claude Pascal’s return twenty years after his 1961 win saw him sink ten placings, so that would exceed Corry Brokken’s descent.

Polegend Godgarina
Guest
Polegend Godgarina

@Jonas – girl, no. Selma flopped TRAGICALLY and ain’t no two semi-final system would’ve saved her Icelandic weave. Europe was all out of taste in 2005, I swear. Making Latvia pass and not Iceland…

Polegend Godgarina
Guest
Polegend Godgarina

I demand justice for Selma. How couldn’t “If I Had Your Faith” be as successful as “All Out of Prayers”? Both are flawless. Europe must’ve been deafened by Angelica Agurtrash’s vocals performed prior to Selma back in the 2005 semi.

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

Selma most certainly should have qualified – I always feel bad for acts like her that probably would have qualified under the current two semi-final system. In 2005, the previous year’s top ten automatically qualified (ridiculous!) so that robbed poor little Selma of her due.

I know I am being incredibly nitpicky, but the contest started in 1956 – so this year is in fact its 60th anniversary.

Nick
Guest
Nick

I think Elitsa & Stoyan shouldn’t really be considered as unsuccessful since they were #6 in the televote and really popular, but just the juries ended up destroying their chances.

Pollaski
Guest
Pollaski

Selma began a Eurovision tradition in Pollaskiland, where Pollaski falls in love with the Icelandic song and then stares in disbelief as it fails to qualify.

Ya’ll are jerks to Iceland.

Roelof Meesters
Guest
Roelof Meesters

Zauvijek moja was remixed for Love Love Peace Peace <3

Sam
Guest

I think Corry Brokken going from winner in 1957 to last place in 1958 should be up there, too, but the game’s a bit different with 10 contestants vs. 43. 😉

jjajaj
Guest
jjajaj

What about Chiara (2009), Charlotte (2008), Ich Troje (2006) 😛