Camp has always been a part of Eurovision. Fans frequently have a taste for over-the-top performances, buckets of glitter and hot messes in general. And the 2000s brought many gems of that kind.
Throughout the years, many countries have fed us with kitsch staging and performances that inspired the lyrics of “Love Love Peace Peace”. Today we review some of those wonders. You may have forgotten of some of these delights, but isn’t the offseason a perfect moment to remember them?
Belarus 2005: Angelica Agurbash – “Love me tonight”
Ah, Belarus. Many years before this year’s dancer shot a rose through Alekseev’s hand, Minsk provided us with this wet dream of an oligarch. Angelica Agurbash had two dress reveals and all of the country’s 2005 gold production on her and her dancers’ outfits.
Baroque style didn’t only colour the costumes, as the song contained lavish lyrics like, “I seek your eyes to thrill me” and “I’ve got no hesitation, it’s my infatuation”. This queen and her spasmodic court sadly fell short of points to qualify. However, until Dmitry Koldun worked his magic, that was Belarus’ best result at Eurovision. Go figure.
Switzerland 2004: Piero Esteriore & the Music Stars – “Celebrate”
It’s always worth remembering that this won a national final with 12 acts. Never in the history of Eurovision was a song more worthy of zero points. Revisiting the Swiss act in 2004 is an act of martyrdom, except if you only watch for that glorious moment when the microphone gets sick of being yelled at and hits him in the face. Also, it’s a reminder of how no fashion trend from 2004 should ever come back.
“Celebrate” deals with two significant topics: celebrating, oh, celebrating because the world is a beautiful place — which may not always be true for everyone — and the idea of clapping your hands in order to have a wonderful time. However, if you followed all of Piero’s instructions and kept on clapping your hands as many times as he says, they would still be bleeding today, 14 years later.
Malta 2007: Olivia Lewis – “Vertigo”
Coco Chanel once said “Before leaving the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off”. Then Olivia Lewis came by and said, “You’re leaving that at home? I’ll take it for my Eurovision performance”. Malta embraced rococo in 2007 and packed their staging with everything they could find. Shirtless men with glitter on their faces that looked more like sweat? Yup. A gong? Yes, please. Golden fans? All of them! Tablecloths for the dancers to wave vigorously? Oh, yas!
No wonder the public left this gem 25th out of 28. Most of Olivia’s gimmicks had appeared earlier in the show: Moldova already brought a shirtless guy waving a cloth, Portugal had used the fans more graciously, Bulgaria put big percussion on stage, Albania had given lots of unwanted drama nine acts earlier and Montenegro’s backing vocalists also wore long baroque dresses. A literal case of “seen it all before.”
Portugal 2006: Nonstop – “Coisas de nada”
Here’s a bachelorette party that went on the rampage and ended up representing Portugal at Eurovision. These four ladies grabbed everything they could find in RTP’s wardrobe department and took to the stage in Athens promising to make us dance and smile. Isn’t this the ultimate cruise ship act?
“Coisas de nada” stands for ‘meaningless things’. The lyrics are not related to their costumes, but they could be. 2006 wasn’t a particularly great year for fashion, but Nonstop took things to the next level and they made Carola’s show, who came right after, look simple and tasteful in comparison. Note that Carola’s performance included white flags, lots of glitter and a lot of fan action.
Israel 2000: PingPong – “Sa’ me’ akh”
This was the first act of the decade, the century and the millennium. Hard to swallow, huh? Israel clearly didn’t want to host in 2001 after taking the job in 1999 and well… they made sure there was no way they could win. Hopefully this isn’t a prelude of what will happen in 2020.
The elephant in the room is that a lot of alcohol and several drugs were involved in this performance… unless Israel’s television motto for the year was “You too can take part at Eurovision!” Now seriously, it would be an absolute fantasy meeting these guys now and ask them about this. Is there any Israeli journalist with a lot of free time in the room?
Greece 2002: Michalis Rakintzis – “S.A.G.A.P.O”
Michalis asks us to “give the password” every time we need his love. Which is, of course, the first thing you’d want after seeing this performance. I’m sure those costumes are still at Saku Suurhall because no one has dared to clean them yet. The smell of sweat inside after a whole night must have been savage. Who in the Greek delegation thought that having the performers in costumes that made them visibly sweat was a good idea?
Before Greece became the land of shaking hips and Europop bangers, ERT had some very tough years. “S.A.G.A.P.O” is proof of that. Insanely repetitive, it felt as if Michalis wanted us to join a weird sect instead of allowing us into his robotic heart.
Bulgaria 2009: Krassimir Avramov – “Illusion”
Since their comeback, Bulgaria has emerged as a powerhouse of pop. However, there were dark years for BNT, and 2009 was the peak of that. As the lyrics say, “Wrong, it feels so wrong”. The “illusion” became a screamfest madness in which Krassimir disappeared and his backing vocalists took over the performance. All that paired with two dancers on stilts that were almost revealing too much throughout the song.
Is there any doubt why this song stayed in semi-finals? It’s a car crash the size of a cathedral. Theoretically, Krassimir is the singer, but then the three women start wailing and yelling louder and louder and actually acting like the stars, while poor Krassimir seems terrified to be on stage. And don’t even get me started on the wardrobe choices.
Norway 2007: Guri Schanke – “Ven a bailar conmigo”
Norway’s entry in 2007 is not that much of a disaster, but a recap of all the things your older relatives do that make you cringe. This is your aunty who started taking salsa lessons, and takes herself too seriously. It could also be the singer of a party band who’s had more to drink than she should have before going on stage and wants to make everybody dance at any price.
Much like Malta 2007, Norway was also beaten to the punch with their stage props. Because if your song is called “Ven a bailar conmigo” and two songs earlier Portugal sang “Dança comigo”, you may be very doomed. Also, two dress reveals. Angelica Agurbash already proved in 2005 that’s not a good idea. And for one, let’s not comment on the creepy dancers. Those facial expressions are anything but inviting.
F.Y.R. Macedonia 2000: XXL – “100% te ljubam”
I love this 100%. Broadcasters should be obliged to show this performance to their entrants every year to give them a self-confidence boost: you may not be the best singer, but you’ll never be as bad as these ladies. Is it possible that there’s not a single second in three minutes where they sing in tune? It is possible. And that must be cherished.
If Guri Schanke was your salsa aunty, here are your high-school mates trying to act cool at a late ’90s prom. Nothing to say about their coordination — that was totes on point — but the rest of it… heh. Also, I’ve always been intrigued about why a girl band made of four perfectly fit people are called XXL. Please explain.
Germany 2008: No Angels – “Disappear”
To conclude this list, here’s a trainwreck of colossal dimensions. The pre-contest favourites take the stage in Belgrade and… well. They slayed. Our eardrums, more precisely, they slayed our eardrums. They said they “want you here”, but oh gurl, nobody wanted you on the stage. What could have been a decent pop entry became a manual of what not to do at Eurovision.
“Disappear” was a continuum of missed camera cues, over-dramatic and over-aggressive dance moves, bum notes and one of the singers making up the lyrics at one point. Also, can we just point out the cape removal? Cristina Caramarcu is proud of them.
That was it. Ten gems of the 2000s just to remind you how Eurovision has changed through the years. It’s like a motivational phrase, but with Eurovision songs.
No matter if you feel like Krassimir Avramov, you can always become a beautiful Poli Genova or Kristian Kostov. Stay strong, withdraw for two years and hire Joanna Levieva-Sawyer and Sasha Jean Baptiste to help you get back up.
Who else would you have added to this list? Did we miss any other gem? Do you secretly love one of these? Tell us in the comment section below!