It’s the end of another year and therefore a time of reflection. The Eurovision Top 250 countdown returns once again tomorrow and we’ll finally know who the fandom voted this year as their favourite Eurovision entry of all time.
Perhaps the biggest question on everyone’s lips is, will Loreen top the ESC250 ranking for a seventh consecutive year? Or will another act finally knock the Swedish singer off the top spot and take home the gold medal.
Last year the “Euphoria” hit-maker earned a total of 6,991 points. That put her 2,550 points ahead of runner-up Salvador Sobral. Is that too big of a lead for anyone to catch?
Just like y’all, us here at wiwibloggs submitted our ESC250 votes for consideration and are eagerly awaiting the final result. But while we do, we thought we’d get the discussion started early by sharing who topped our individual lists.
But there’s one catch. “Euphoria” is out of bounds.
For the past six years, after the end of each countdown, there are those fans that slightly complain about the result continuously being the same. However, there appears to be no clear consensus on which act/song has both the quality and popularity to beat the Eurovision 2012 champion in this highly contested ranking.
Therefore, here are our picks for who should win ESC250 if Loreen wasn’t in the running. Does our fire burn for one song in particular? Or does the amazing diversity of the contest result in many different favourites? Read on to find out.
Poli Genova – “If Love Was A Crime” (Bulgaria 2016)
I always have a hard time trying to pick an all-time top 5 or top 10 because there are far too many flawless songs to choose from. However, I never struggle to pick an all-time top 1. Poli Genova brought absolutely everything and more to Eurovision 2016. The song itself is extremely catchy, never gets old and puts forward an important message that Eurovision’s large LGBTQ fanbase can get behind.
The performance is outrageous and Poli’s outfit has more lights than some Eurovision stages. It also managed to throw Bulgaria into the realms of Eurovision relevance — an impact with effects lasting until their withdrawal. Simply put, this song is the complete Eurovision package and is by far my favourite all-time entry (thanks in part to Sweden not sending “Statements”).
AWS – “Viszlát Nyár” (Hungary 2018)
My all-time favourite act is without any doubt AWS and “Viszlát Nyár”. I have never ever rooted for a song at Eurovision like I did for them. The whole thing is so authentic and honest, yet it is also a brutal force of nature, seasoned with musical quality.
Plus, given the boys are some of the nicest people on Earth, I think I’ve said enough.
France Gall – “Poupée de cire, poupée de son” (Luxembourg 1965)
This beautiful song is a cornerstone of Eurovision — it really changed the future of the contest. From an early age I was fascinated by the music of the past. When I started listening to every song that participated in Eurovision from 1956 onward, this immediately caught my attention. It is different, it is unique — there is not a similar entry in my opinion in the whole history of the competition.
It’s an irresistible crossover between classical and yé-yé music, a courageous entry ahead of its time. I MUST sing it every time I listen to it. The fact that it won in Italy, my homeland, makes everything even better. Oh, last but not least: I also have a fetish for small countries!
Ofra Haza – “Hi” (Israel 1983)
Despite the fact I am not a fan of anthems or songs with national narratives (in fact, I’m ‘anti’ nationalist), my favourite song of all time is “Hi” by Ofra Haza, who represented my homeland, Israel, back in Munich in 1983. The song deals with the revival of the Jewish people and their return to their land after many years in exile. It was performed in Germany approximately 40 years after the war, which added more drama to it.
But there are two other reasons why I like this song so much. Firstly, its vivacity, which stands in stark contrast to the history of our nation. Secondly, although it has a lot of “CH” sounds in it (“Hi, Hi, Hi…”), a consonant which is considered quite ‘rough’ for Europeans, it was positively received in Munich and finished second, only 6 points behind the winner of that year – Luxembourg. “Hi” is one of the most loved songs among Israeli fans and it doesn’t age.
Jamala – “1944” (Ukraine 2016)
There are dozens of different factors that come into play when tasked with choosing my favourite Eurovision entry of all time. The catchiness of the melody, the emotion conveyed in the lyrics, how well it translates to a live stage performance, and its relevance in modern culture are but a few of the numerous traits of a perfect Eurovision song.
Far too often, Eurovision entries attempt to tick all these boxes only to end up with songs that sound cheap, far too eclectic, and seem to be trying way too hard. But every so often, we’re graced with a song that not only meets, but surpasses the plethora of criteria that encompass the high standards of a Eurovision fan.
Jamala’s “1944” is one such song. It’s a song with power, passion, and raw unfiltered emotion that effortlessly balances a personal story and a local Crimean flavor with a universal and timeless message. In short, this Eurovision winner is three minutes of pure magic for which words simply cannot do justice. Art can never be truly perfect. But Jamala sure comes close with “1944”.
Jamala – “1944” (Ukraine 2016)
I’m not the sort of person to wear my heart on my sleeves. A song has to be extremely magical for me to connect to it on an emotional level. In the Eurovision world that song is “1944”. There has not been a single time over the past two years when listening to it where I haven’t had goosebumps and had to just take a moment before moving on with whatever else I was doing.
The rest of my ESC250 top 10 generally includes a number of killer upbeat bangers (think Norway 2012, Turkey 2009 and Armenia 2008). However, Jamala comes out on top for the immense passion and feeling she puts into the song, both in the studio cut and live performance. “1944” is more than just my all-time favourite Eurovision entry; it’s a song that has helped me to grow emotionally as an individual and to become the person I am today.
Cezar – “It’s My Life” (Romania 2013)
As if Dracula wasn’t enough to give the world, Romania upped the ante and presented us with an opera-matic, dub-stepping, musical character in the form of a cape-wearing, jewel-crusted Cezar.
Clearly robbed from victory in 2013, Cezar delighted us with his marriage of the unthinkable – Skrillex-type dub-stepping with hair-raising opera that would make even Eurovision queen Loreen squirm in her jumpsuit with the number of high notes executed. Coming out of a world of darkness, Cezar sings about seeing red in the form of love and how he would give it all to the one he desires.
Despite the flexibility of Cezar’s red hot dancers parading around him, this Eurovision performance is best remembered for introducing the world to Count Dance Dracula.
Lena – “Taken by a Stranger” (Germany 2011)
“Taken by a Stranger” is definitely my most loved song at Eurovision — and for many reasons. Firstly, the song itself is very jazz-electro and has a mysterious and gloomy vibe to it. Before 2011 and ever since, there has never been such a song competing. “Taken by a Stranger” stands on its own.
But the song wouldn’t be the same without Lena singing it. The German singer perfectly fits the song by singing it in an even more mysterious and arrogant way than it needs. Combined with the dark and edgy staging, the song just has to be my favourite of all time!
The Common Linnets – “Calm After the Storm” (The Netherlands 2014)
There are countless reasons why “Calm After the Storm” is one of the best packages ever presented at Eurovision. It’s the epitome of peaking at the right time: nobody cared about this song before arriving in Copenhagen and BAM! Ilse and Waylon brought charisma for ages and one of the best staging concepts ever.
As for the tune itself, I’ve been listening to it from the moment it was released and I have never gotten tired of it almost five years after. Add the great album they published shortly after Eurovision, plus all the drama that came afterwards between them. This is an everlasting song, for many good and saucy reasons.
Emmelie de Forest – “Only Teardrops” (Denmark 2013)
I’d never rooted for a song to win as much as this one, nor felt as ecstatic that it won. It’s pretty much a perfect combination not just for Eurovision, but for music as a whole. It’s got passion, charm, and beauty the likes of which we rarely see on stage. It has a mystical connection, but at the same time is extremely genuine and heartfelt.
It also has a sweet ethnic connection that we love from European music – a gentle recorder and a nice drum beat to take us to its northern connection. The fact that it was performed by such a young talented performer as Emmelie de Forest just makes the whole combination all the more magnificent.
It might not be the most iconic song in Eurovision history, nor the most celebrated winner, but it represents everything that I love about the amazing contest, and is shamelessly Danish. It will forever hold a very dear place in my heart.
Urban Symphony – “Rändajad” (Estonia 2009)
Every year watching Eurovision I looked forward to hearing the multitude of different languages that were on display, as it was not something that you got to experience very often. One entry that has stuck with me for years since originally being performed is Urban Symphony’s “Rändajad”. When I was younger I did not fully appreciate the majesty and beauty of this song. But having grown older I realise that I keep coming back to this song time and time again even to this day.
The Estonian language’s unique and beautiful tonalities give the song an air as though it came from a world other than our own, stealing your attention for three magical minutes. Sandra Nurmsalu synthesises something extraordinary with her wispy, ethereal voice and the subtle yet sophisticated staging back in Moscow created a moment in the arena that I will cherish forever.
Lena Valaitis – “Johnny Blue” (Germany 1981)
Motivational, emotional and inspiring. Those three words describe “Johnny Blue” at its best. The 1981 runner-up tells a tale about a blind boy, being bullied for his blindness by his peers and the neighbouring kids. While his bullies ask him questions like “What colour is the sun?”, Johnny Blue recognises that he won’t have a friend in them. Instead, he realises that his guitar is his only friend and he starts writing songs. Time will pass and Johnny Blue will become a famous songwriter, outselling stadiums.
What I liked so much about the song is the message of continuing with what you love and with what you’re good at even when others think you suck at it or make fun of you. In the words of wiwibloggs’ William: “If the world tells you no, you tell yourself yes”.
Paula Seling & Ovi – “Playing with Fire” (Romania 2010)
It’s really hard for me to pinpoint any song as a standout or a fav to dominate all. But in all these years, the duet of Paula Seling and Ovi is the entry that stood out the test of time. This was perfect then and it’s just perfect now. Addictive instrumentals, perfect chemistry, Paula’s high notes, effects on the right time, iconic staging… Everything worked on studio and on stage, and is of the few entries I’d argue for their victory over the eventual winner. Yeah Yeah, Playing this Fire! P.S: Paula Seling (in that perfect outfit) is the most attractive performer to ever be on the Eurovision stage. Bar none.
Blanche – “City Lights” (Belgium 2017)
The ESC250 is broadcast on the radio. And radio performances do not come with stage shows. As such I’ve got to make my decision based solely on the mastered studio cuts. And if there’s one studio cut that blew me away in the past decade it was definitely Blanche with “City Lights”. A purveyor of dark pop, Blanche puts her rich and melodic vocals to stellar use on the electro track, which was easily the best studio cut of the year in 2017.
Deliberately ignoring massive peaks and valleys, the song progresses in a linear fashion, adding dynamism through highly contemporary production that includes digital beats, electro-drumming and evolving rhythms. Such polished tracks can come off cold and sterile. But Blanche added warmth through her vulnerability and overt longing. There is pop music and then there is pop art, and this definitely belongs with the latter. It remains a go-to track for me when I’m stuck on the London Underground or on a plane. Love it!
There you go. Those are Team Wiwi’s favourite Eurovision songs of all time (1956-2018).
You can listen to this year’s ESC250 countdown live on ESC Radio tomorrow, 31st December, starting at 11:00 CET.
And remember, music is subjective. Eurovision is beautiful because of the diversity of acts/songs that participate. There is no wrong answer to the question “What is the best Eurovision song of all time?” (unless you didn’t vote, and then you have no right to complain about the result!).
So who did you vote for in this year’s ESC250? Do you think Loreen will hold on to the title once again? Or will another act take home the crown? Let us know all your thoughts in the comments section below!
Eurovision Top 250 Logo designed by Gerry Wouters for songfestival.be.