Last week — on October 10 — we stumbled across a confessional YouTube video from the UMK 2017 contestant Emma. The “Circle of Light” singer spoke bravely and boldly spoke about her struggles with depression, which resulted from a difficult performance at Finland’s Eurovision selection and unkind words found online. Coinciding with World Mental Health Day, her video gave us tingles and reminded us of the importance of staying positive and remembering your worth — whether you’re facing self-doubt, financial woes, the death of a relative, relationship troubles or bullies and trolls projecting their insecurities on you.

It’s an incredibly timely message. In September the British think tank IPPR revealed that suicide rates among UK university students had reached an all-time high. And earlier this year the journal Psychiatric Services published a startling paper that found more Americans suffer from stress, depression and anxiety than ever before. It’s a pattern repeated across many countries and one thought to have intensified partly because of social media, where people have a habit of comparing their real lives to the highly curated lives of others. The rise of online bullying doesn’t help. At the end of last year, UK charity ChildLine — which helps children facing online abuse — reported an 88% increase in reported incidents. And as all of us know, abusive behaviour isn’t limited to children. Adults have a habit of hiding behind their computer screens and letting rip, too. The sad reality is that many people wallow in their own toxins and put other people down as a sport. It’s attention-seeking at its worst.

To all of our readers and YouTube viewers, we want you to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel — even if you have to squint really hard. A better day may seem distant and elusive, but we can all take small steps to push through whatever troubles and hiccups we face. It’s not easy and some of you will no doubt face challenges that friends and family cannot fathom. But music is therapy — and Eurovision songs are frequently the perfect medicine, if only for a moment.

So, with love and our best wishes, we are happy to share the wisdom of 10 singers from the world of Eurovision. Read on and let there be light!

Nathan Trent — “Running on Air”

So often in life you have to fuel your own journey. Try something new and people may doubt you, ignore you or even laugh at you. And then as you move toward your goals the cycle starts again with people trying to bring you down or stop your momentum. More often than not it means you’re doing something right, so don’t let their internal issues trip you up. Austrian singer Nathan Trent knows all of that and proved it with his sweet Eurovision 2017 number “Running on Air”. The emphasis here is on running. Let the others stop and talk. You have places to go.

“Running on Air” lyrics:

Hey now, if you push me down I’ll get up again
Hey now, if you let me drown I’ll swim like a champion
I’m sure, there’ll be good times, there’ll be bad times
But I don’t care…’cause I’m running on air

Conchita Wurst — “Rise Like a Phoenix”

In their attempt to gain self-esteem, or sheerly as the result of a damaged heart, haters try to bring others down and want to make people question their chosen paths. The great irony is that their hate actually has the opposite effect of driving people forward. All that negativity flowing from them can become a source of fuel. This shouldn’t be a revelation: Just ask Taylor Swift (“Shake It Off”) or Beyoncé (“Survivor”).

No Eurovision artist conveys that sentiment better than Conchita Wurst. Initially mocked as “the Wurst decision for Austria,” she held her nerve, continued to do her thing and walked away victorious. As Tyra Banks once said on America’s Next Top Model, the opposite of love isn’t hate. It’s indifference. By booing and jeering and spewing acid, Conchita’s detractors just added more wind to her sail. Danke schön.

The lyrics of “Rise Like a Phoenix” make that abundantly clear. Conchita may have been burnt, but she rose from the ashes. So thank you so much for being her flame.

“Rise Like a Phoenix” lyrics:

You wouldn’t know me at all today
From the fading light I fly
Rise like a phoenix
Out of the ashes
Seeking rather than vengeance
Retribution
You were warned
Once I’m transformed
Once I’m reborn
You know I will rise like a phoenix
But you’re my flame

Maria Haukaas Storeng — “Hold On Be Strong”

Love kills…over and over. And while relationships may end, you, my friend, should and will go on. It’s an idea that Norway’s Maria Haukaas Storeng gave rhythm to at Eurovision 2008, rocketing all the way to fifth place. Clearly aware of how tough break-ups can be, she sings that love “can make you depressed and angry.” But she also knows that loneliness is temporary and that it’s important to put yourself out there so you can come into contact with people who care — be they friends or potential romantic partners. So don’t sit at home and mope for too long. By holding on and being strong, you can improve your day-to-day and ultimately enrich your life. Long story short: Life is better when you let people in.

“Hold On, Be Strong” lyrics:

But there’s always someone out there who’ll be there for you
There is always someone out there who’ll care for you
There’s always someone out there who’ll be true, true, true
Hold on, hold on, be strong

Helena Paparizou — “Survivor”

The act of persevering usually involves holding on. But sometimes that means letting go, particularly in matters of the heart. In her Melodifestivalen 2014 song “Survivor”, Sweden’s Helena Paparizou reflects on her “instinct to run” and the fact she failed to do so in the past — even though her man’s love “is the killing kind.” Well not this time. She has a reckoning with herself and realises it’s time to say Bye, Felicia!

Her song seems to tackle romance. But you could apply the basic themes of walking away and growing stronger to a number of scenarios — from real life friendship to more tenuous online connections. You are what you eat…and you’re also what you absorb from your environment. Sometimes it’s important to walk away from people who drain you of energy or who project negativity and bitterness into your atmosphere. Unfollowing and unfriending shouldn’t be seen as an act of war — it’s merely putting yourself first and creating an environment where you can flourish. Ultimately you have to take care of yourself first.

“Survivor” lyrics:

Just call me a survivor
Have to be a fighter
Gonna let you go, let you go
Just call me a survivor
Such a strong desire
Gonna let you go, let you go

Julia Samoylova — “Flame Is Burning”

Eurovision performances aren’t judged merely with the ears — they’re judged by the eyes and the heart. And that might explain why Julia Samoylova’s “Flame Is Burning” burns so bright, despite the decidedly vintage sound (and the geopolitical spat that led to her ban). Nodding to Soviet-era pop, the video is tender, breezy and stirring — an ode to perseverance and hope that Julia embodies so well. Tell her she can’t be a singer because of her wheelchair? She goes on Russia’s version of X Factor and wins over a nation with her talent. The unfortunate situation surrounding her planned participation in 2017 only helped her star rise higher. Hard work pays off — so long as you keep your inner fire burning.

“Flame is Burning” lyrics:

After the night there’s a light
And in the darkest time a flame is burning
It shines so bright

Deep in the night love is alight
And in the dark a flame is burning
A flame is burning

Ruth Lorenzo — “Dancing in the Rain”

Sometimes problems come in twos….or threes and fours. Like when you split from your long-term partner and lose your job while at the same time dealing with a broken foot and the debt collector. You may feel like you’re stuck in a storm and being drenched by the rain. But before you reach for your umbrella, cue Spain’s Ruth Lorenzo, who took the rain (the rain…the rain…) and used it as inspiration for a glorious Eurovision performance in 2014. Hitting her high notes and mixing pop with a dose of opera, she won over millions of fans en route to a Top 10 finish for Spain — all the while working slicked back, water-drenched hair. When life gives you rain, don’t worry about getting wet. You will dry off one day — and you might just stumble upon a few brilliant ideas in the process. Trauma hurts, but it’s invaluable.

“Dancing in the Rain” lyrics:

So, live
Like you’ll never stop
Take this chance
And give it everything you’ve got
Come on and let the rhythm drop
We’re dancing in the rain
Dancing in the rain

Ace Wilder — “Don’t Worry”

At Melodifestivalen 2016 Ace Wilder sang of several petty problems: cold coffee, old cars and slow wi-fi. It was amusing. But the fact remains that on a bad day little things like that can really add up and leave you feeling blue. A bit of positive thinking and repetition can go a long way in helping you get your happy back — and you don’t have to repeat namaste. Try “Don’t Worry” instead. This mambo-esque number gets in your ear and starts to loop rather quickly. Fake it till you make it? Better to take it until you feel it — it being those carefree, “Don’t Worry” vibes. Good luck!

“Don’t Worry” lyrics:

Just when you think it can’t get any worse
Dressed as a clown you show up drunk and high
In church

I’m not a preacher but I’m tellin’ you
It’s gonna be ok
Just hurry up and wait

Don’t worry it’s alright
Don’t worry it’s alright
Don’t worry it’s alright

Barei — “Say Yay!”

Barei’s staging at Eurovision may have underwhelmed many, but that doesn’t take away from her feel-good studio track that never failed to make me smile or bob my head. Barei, an independent artist, had to do so much by herself before securing the Eurovision bid. And then she got it through sheer grit, determination and, of course, talent.

Turning away from broken mirrors and diving into her own struggles, Barei brings perseverance to life with this uplifting dance number. Her vocals carry passion and power and, supported by ample bangs and clangs, make me say yay while pumping my fist and shaking my tail. The lyrics are at times cringeworthy, but she ropes me back in with a simple and uplifting chorus that could motivate the most down-trodden soul. It’s a fun and catchy song with a great message: If you fall down, get back up again.

“Say yay!” lyrics:

Come on and raise your battle cry
You are the one who never dies!
Hurray sing it lalalala!
Go on singing lalalala!
You keep on climbing over hills
Right now you’re following your dreams!
Hurray sing it lalalala!
Hurray!
SAY YAY YAY YAY!

Tamara Gachechiladze — “Keep the Faith”

Self-belief is important — and it’s something that our favourite divas have in abundance. From Sabina Babayeva to Lindita Halimi, these ladies know they’ve got the talent. They’ve also got the drive and the will to be heard.

And so it goes for Tamara Gachechiladze — aka Tako — who sang of keeping the faith in her Eurovision 2017 song. From the very first note she makes it clear that you need to write your own story, even as detractors try to shape your narrative. “Who told you to hide behind the veil?” she asks. “Who told you to get out of the way? Don’t you let them steal your dreams. Feel the courage, spread your wings and breathe.”

So when Tamara was disqualified from Eurovision 2009 as part of Stephane & 3G she didn’t roll over and stop singing. She got better — not bitter — and kept on slaying. Now a household name in her native Georgia, Tamara keeps bringing it by believing in herself. We believe in her too.

“Keep the Faith” lyrics:

Who told you that I reached that point of no regrets?
Who told you that my life is a book of fairytales?
I have lost many times
But I’ve never lost my hope
Keep the faith
Keep the faith
Remember you are not alone
Hold my hand and come along

JOWST — “Grab the Moment”

People talk. And when you put yourself out there people talk even more. Amid all the voices you hear, the most important one is your own. You’ve got to focus, cut through the noise and remember what you want and are willing to work for.

JOWST and Aleksander Walmann get it. The “voice” they sing about in “Grab the Moment” could represent many things — from their own self-doubt to negativity from the outside. But they also know you just have to squash the drama and seize the day. As others marinate in negativity and bitterness, you can just get on with your work and with taking risks. And if you have any time, you may just want to say a prayer that your detractors find peace and turn to the important work of addressing their own issues.

“Grab the Moment” lyrics:

I’m gonna kill that voice in my head
I don’t care about falling
I’m gonna grab the moment

What Eurovision songs inspire you during difficult times? What music has helped you through break-ups, deaths, illnesses and social media non-sense? Share your thoughts below. We’d love to read them. 

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Axxl98
Guest
Axxl98

I also love “Victory” by Aderet (Kdam 2013). The English lyrics might be corny (I have no idea about the Hebrew) but who cares? It’s still a very positive, optimistic song that can lift you up.

#JusticeForNano
Guest
#JusticeForNano

I feel personally attacked that Hold On isn’t here. I mean “You gotta have the patience and believe you gotta make it gotta hold on.” How does that not drive away the darkness for one.

Liam Lindsay
Guest
Liam Lindsay

William there are several songs you left out: United Kingdom (2014) Molly Smitten Downes – “Children of The Universe” This song about inclusion and unity is an anthem for any underdog who has been put under the foot of prejudice, homophobia or just hate/discrimination in general. Overall Finish 17th Ideal Finish 4th (Sorry Aram MP3) Israel (2011) Dana International – “Ding Dong” I mean, how this didn’t make the final and Estonia did still to this day baffles me #Shook. Overall Result 15th SF2 Ideal Result Top 10 Denmark (2011) A Friend In London – “New Tommorow” This song to… Read more »

Axxl98
Guest
Axxl98

You forgot Dana International’s “Ding Dong”. I know people made fun of it, for obvious reasons, but, sexual jokes aside, it’s a very uplifting song with inspirational lyrics (And if you have a dream of your own, don’t be afraid to go on with your heart…) I think it’s worth a place in the list.
Another song that always lifts me up is “1 Life” (Belgium 2004). And it has a very nice anti-racist message (We’re not the same but so much alike, you are my brother, my sister tonight…)

Joanna Holman
Guest

Maria Olafs’ Unbroken is still one of my top picks when I need some strength

Mark
Guest
Mark

I only like three of these songs.Can anyone guess which three I’m talking about?

Nancy G
Guest
Nancy G

“Don’t Worry”, “Survivor” and “Grab the Moment?”

brunowskii
Guest
brunowskii

What a really nice post ;-)) It’s incredible the power that Eurovision has in bringing us good feelings, expectations and a nice mood… totally agree with these songs (specially from Nathan’s… an injection of pure vibes). I’d only include Zoë’s Loin d’ici (for the song and for all the imagetic representation)…. And I’d like to thank u all people too… you are like a second family to me…I can’t have a day without passing here 😉

Coriolan
Guest
Coriolan

Agree with you, many say that ESC is just Eurotrash, and junk music, or fast food music, but what matters is what it brings to persons life. Positivity, Optimism, Color, Hope, ESC brings that, so why should we care about the genre as long as it brings happiness. IMO most songs from ESC should be included in this list (even 1944), because ESC makes our lives happy.

Polegend Godgarina
Guest
Polegend Godgarina

Whew, Hold God Be Strong stil goes OFF almost ten years later. I even have her album from that year, a collection of R&Bops.

Micha? P
Guest
Micha? P

The title just screams for Tolmachevy Sisters and “Shine”! It’s quite surprising it wasn’t mentioned.

Jo
Guest
Jo

I Know Running on Air is quite cheesy, but it makes me feel much better. The last two years have been tough to me, but music helps me a lot.

Natalia Cruz
Guest
Natalia Cruz

i never comment on posts anywhere because there are elements of the eurovision fandom that are, as you say, toxic. fans who think they know everything. fans who think their taste is the best, etc., etc. thankfully i never feel that here. it’s like a real family or community that has fun and laughs and loves, and this article proves that again. thanks for reminding me of some songs i had forgotten too 🙂

Jo
Guest
Jo

You’re right. Eurovision 2017 was particularly “toxic”. They are still bashing entries on Twitter. Hopefully, that will stop and they will learn the true meaning of the ESC.

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

“Rise Like A Phoenix” helped me to understand what my best friend was going through as she started transitioning from male to female. The song brought us closer together, and it also gave her great hope. We will forever be greatful for that song.

Second to that, “Grab the moment” works for me as a song that inspires self-confidence. And then “My heart is yours” (Norway 2010) most accurately reflects my feelings for someone in my life, so that feels good. 🙂

Thank you William for the post. x

pasi
Guest
pasi

I would say Lena – Satellite! It always makes me happy when I listen to it. 🙂

Hiro
Guest
Hiro

When I first saw Conchita’s semi final performance of Rise Like A Phoenix, my tears won’t stop. I thought it’s not just an anthem for LGBT, but more importantly for someone who being left out by everyone (mainly society). I personally attached to this song. Along with Rise Like A Phoenix, my lists are: 1) Hero by Charlotte Perelli 2) Good Enough by Anica Milan and Kimmo Bloom (UMK 2016) << I'm still crying when I listened to that song, mainly when they sang 'you're better than just good enough' 3) Crisalide by Valentina Monetta << personally when I feel… Read more »

Elmar
Guest
Elmar

Thank you guys so much for this article. It’s amazing. As a gay guy who lives in a homophobic society the life has been really hard for me ever since I realised about my sexuality. It sucks because you’re even afraid to tell your parents about it and they are the ones who love you the most. Thank God, I have some friends who support me in this journey and ofc I love Eurovision community with such brilliant people like William, Deban and all others. I love your positive energy in your videos and articles, keep up the good work.… Read more »

Ugnius
Guest
Ugnius

Well, by reading comments one starts thinking that there are not so little up-lifting songs in Eurovision ! 🙂 But I wonder why nobody mentioned Mariette’s Don’t Stop Believing, which is the most powerful to me

Kermit
Guest
Kermit

How can you NOT mention Icebreaker???? Sorry, but that’s a bad outmitting 😉 It’s a wonderful song / lyrics about strenght, powerm empwering, faith and courage. Beautiful melody and lyrics. Esp. how the lyrics / emlody fits together in the different parts…Way better than the likes of “Rise Like a Phoiniex”! 🙂

Auld Noerd
Guest
Auld Noerd

Emma’s own song ‘Circle of Light’ to me belongs to that list. I’ve been listening to it when the going is tough since UMK and if you read through the comment’s to her video you’ll see several first hand accounts about others doing the same:

“I just set the speakers louder and louder and I feel that “I’m safe in the circle of light and nothing bad will never cross the line””

Robyn Gallagher
Editor

I agree with this! “Circle of Light” feels like a protective talisman. Let the good pop shield you from badness! 🙂

Niki
Guest
Niki

Honorable mention:
BeatreeS – “Fighter” (Belarus 2015)

Marco
Guest
Marco

Great article!!

#pioneer
Guest
#pioneer

There should be mentioned as well Pioneer (Hungary 2016), it just soooooooo fits here with its lyrics…

sarmi
Guest
sarmi

Quote – “What if the kid you bullied at school, grew up, and turned out to be the only surgeon who could save your life?” – Lynette Mather

Ananas
Guest
Ananas

That’s a great list! But I have some other propositions:
– Poland: 2015, 2016
– Romania: 2017
– UK: 2009, 2011
– Malta: 2015, 2013 Brooke Borg (both 2016 and 2017),
– Norway: 2011
And probably a lot of others 🙂

Gorilla716
Guest
Gorilla716

I absolutely love Hold On Be Strong! (even though it is a bit dated and cheesy) It’s my favorite song from 2008 and it probably would have done even better had the juries been in place that year.

Hrvatska
Guest
Hrvatska

Conchita Wurst Rise Like A Phoenix <3 very emotional message in people world <3

Nancy G
Guest
Nancy G

Love this SO much! I have been the victim of online bullying. A guy I know put a post up about me (with lies of course) and then his friends started talking trash too (none of these guys even know me). That is straight-up bullying. But you know what? The joke is on them. Their lives must be kind of sad if that is how they spend their free time! Anyway, thank you for this — i needed it today as (separately) I just came out of a three-year relationship 🙁 But I’m going to play Helena 🙂

Coriolan
Guest
Coriolan

Nancy G stay strong, or you don’t even need to be strong, you are the right and beautiful one, you don’t even need to spend your energy on staying strong. In a modern world, good people are by your side, and those who are not…they exposed themselves, good to know who they are.

Blackquill
Guest
Blackquill

So many songs from MF and you managed to forget “Hold On” by Nano.

“You gotta have the patience
And believe you’re gonna make it
Gotta hold on
I know you’re tired of surviving
But you gotta keep on trying
Gotta hold on”

Robyn Gallagher
Editor

I love this post! This year has been tough for me in a few different ways, but it’s just nice to have the wiwi and Eurovision community to make everything just a little bit lovelier! <3