After 2020 let us down, 2021 will definitely be a year of high notes. Israel’s entrant Eden Alene will make sure of that, as her song “Set Me Free” features the highest note in the contest’s history. During her first rehearsal, the Ethiopian Israeli hit the whistle note on four different occasions. And she’s repeated the feat during subsequent rehearsals since. So, now, we think it’s safe to assume that on 18 May Eden will break the record for Eurovision’s highest note, set by Maja Blagdan on 18 May 1996, exactly 25 years ago.
Until 2021, only ten people (all women) managed to reach the difficult sixth octave on the Eurovision stage. On the night of semi-final one, Eden will attempt to hit the highest note within that octave — the nearly-impossible B6.
But before Eden takes the stage to make her record official, we count down the ten highest notes in Eurovision history (including the new title-holder). Being the showy and flashy show that it is, ESC has known many high notes during its history. As a result, not all of them could get on the list. This is why we will start our countdown by naming some impressive notes that didn’t make the cut.
Top 10 Highest Notes in Eurovision History
Some (p)opera songs in Eurovision just went higher and higher and higher, but not all of them went high enough to hold a candle to Miss Alene. Malena Ernman’s “La Voix” (Sweden 2009) includes a long and impressive C6 note, as well as a brief D6, the highest note in the song. “Zero Gravity” by Kate Miller-Heidke (Australia 2019) features the slightly lower C#6. Another popera high note, a B5, can be found in Malta’s 2004 entry “On Again… Off Again”.
A5 notes can be heard in Eugent Bushpepa’s “Mall” (Albania 2018 — the highest note ever sung by a man at the contest), Elhaida Dani’s “I’m Alive” (Albania 2015), and Srbuk’s “Walking Out” (Armenia 2019).
Additional songs that featured long and powerful fifth octave notes include Sweden 2013 (Gb5), Romania 2013 (G5), Spain 2014 (E5), Spain 2012 (C#5, brief D5), and Ukraine 2006 (C5). Spain’s Blas Cantó sings a G5 note in his 2021 entry “Voy a quedarme”, which is within striking distance of Eugent’s note but isn’t enough to break the record for the highest male note.
10. Paula Seling & Ovi – “Playing with Fire” (Romania 2010)
Over a decade ago, Romania levelled their best result of all time with this banger of a duet. In the lead-up to the final chorus, Paula Seling holds a powerful three-second E6, making it to 10th place on this list. Notably, in 11th place is a different note by Seling — her much longer D6 note in Romania’s 2014 entry “Miracle”.
9. Justyna – “Sama” (Poland 1995)
Back in 1995, Justyna Steczkowska brought avant-garde to Eurovision for the first and arguably only time ever. Her Björk-ish track was full of highs and lows, featuring one remarkable high at the 2:24 mark. Stezkowska holds an E6 note for six full seconds, outlasting Paula Seling’s 2010 note.
8. Rona Nishliu – “Suus” (Albania 2012)
Seeing that Rona Nishliu only placed eighth on this list may come as a surprise to some of you. Her very brief F6 note has a whistly clarity that can make it seem a bit higher than it actually is. But it is still extremely difficult to hit. Nishliu’s emotional singing earned her a place in the top five — which Albania has yet to top.
7. Jamala – “1944” (Ukraine 2016)
The only winner on this list, Jamala’s “1944” has a powerful climax that ESC fans will remember forever. The instruments and backing vocals kick in. A golden tree rises from the ground. Jamala goes into the final refrain in full force. Many Eurovision fans say that’s when Jamala won Eurovision 2016 — and it’s also when she sang an F6 note and made it onto this top ten.
6. Elina Nechayeva – “La forza” (Estonia 2018)
In 2018, Elina Nechayeva was one of the early favourites to win Eurovision. Her perfect Italian and crystal clear vocals gave the song a massive fanbase, and rumours flew around about the song featuring the highest note in Eurovision history. It never held that record, but it does feature an F6 note, and it’s the highest of all three F6’s — lasting almost six seconds.
5. Monica Aspelund – “Lapponia” (Finland 1977)
Now it’s time for an oldie! Finland’s 10th-placer from London 1977 featured a G6, which long held the all-time record. Despite the performance not being completely stable, Monica Aspelund showed great ability in managing to reach this note. It helped her achieve an uncommon top ten result for her country, including douze points from Ireland
4. Kaliopi – “Dona” (North Macedonia 2016)
In 2016, after failing to qualify every single year from 2008 to 2015 with the exception of 2012, North Macedonia decided to try and send their 2012 representative Kaliopi to Sweden. Her emotional ballad didn’t manage to qualify, but did get the Balkan nation their best non-qualifying result in seven years. It also ended with one of the most difficult notes ever heard at the contest, a G6, which is the highest ending note in a Eurovision song to date.
3. Kaliopi – “Crno i belo” (North Macedonia 2012)
Oh, yeah, that’s not all of it. Back in 2012, when Kaliopi carried her country to their only final in an 11-year period, Kaliopi went even higher. Two minutes into her hard rock tune “Crno i belo”, the singer let out what might be the most impressive note ever sung at the contest to date. With an A6 scream, her voice created artificial harmonies below and above the note which seemed to make it sound like she’s hitting three notes at once.
2. Maja Blagdan – “Sveta ljubav” (Croatia 1996)
When Copenhagen hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 2014, they premiered a segment titled Eurovision Book of Records. They took a trip down memory lane, looking back at the records of the song contest. Maja Blagdan’s soulful piece originally included a G6 note, but at the end of the live performance, Blagdan overshot the note and briefly reached a Bb6 (incorrectly officially listed on Eurovision.tv as a Bb5). While probably unintentional, the note has officially held the record for the past 25 years. “Crno i belo” holds the record when comparing studio tracks only.
1. Eden Alene – Set Me Free (Israel 2021)
1/4 of a century to the day after Maja Blagdan delivered the highest note in the history of the contest, Eden will attempt to break the record during semi-final one of Eurovision 2021. Her B6 is only a half-step higher than the highest note a singer has ever hit on the biggest stage in Europe, but this one is definitely intentional. On the 9 May rehearsal, the Israeli representative hit the note without fail four times. There is also a video showing her nailing her Mariah/Ariana style notes in Ein Gedi. So, we have reason to believe that on Tuesday, Eden Alene will put her name in the Eurovision Song Contest history books.
This list was compiled with great help from Gabriel Greenwood, B.M. (Belmont University), singer-songwriter, arranger, voice teacher, and Eurovision fanatic.
What do you think of the list? Do you think Eden will break the record? Sound off in the comments below.