Eurovision Song Contest

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Europe's most dubious cultural legacy.

Drag acts and bad acts,
and Terry Wogan's wig!
Mad acts and sad acts,

It was Johnny Logan's gig!
Irlande Douze Pointe, Ireland's entry to the 2008 contest. "Sung" by Dustin the Turkey, a puppet.

Nul points!

For anyone who is in interested in seeing just how weird and eccentric the European continent can be, this is the show to look at first.

The European Broadcasting Union operates a network known as Eurovision, which is primarily used to distribute coverage of special events (such as sporting events, the Pope's Easter Mass, etc.) throughout its member broadcasters. It produces very few programmes in its own right, but this is far and away the best known. So much so, in fact, that most Britons at least would be quite surprised to learn that "Eurovision" could refer to anything but the Song Contest.

The contest has run since 1956 and was quite well-respected in its early years, with established artists such as Cliff Richard and Serge Gainsbourg taking part and others such as Dana and Sandie Shaw launching successful careers off the back of the show. The original idea was to foster post-WWII European unity and showcase the varied musical talent that Europe had to offer. What's interesting to note that this contest is open not just to "European" countries, but to all countries with members in the EBU, which, also includes Israel, Turkey and some North-African and Middle-Eastern countries. With the contest taking a credibility dive in the 1970s, the last band to successfully launch an international career from the show were ABBA, who won in 1974 with "Waterloo", though several acts have remained popular in their own countries after entering the show.

These days, Eurovision is split into two main camps. The first is the Eastern and Central European countries, who generally take it fairly seriously, seeing it as an important marker of new-found independence. The winner hosts the next show, which can do wonders for the tourist industry in obscure cities (though the contest itself can be ruinously expensive to host). Entries from Eastern and Central Europe are generally rock-ballads with some sort of ethnic tinge to them. The second major group is the Western countries that made up the "traditional" entrants to Eurovision before Communism fell in the early 1990s. They tend to view the contest as all rather silly, camp fun, and enter either novelty acts, drag queens or camp pop (or sometimes both together) -- then grouse about political voting when they don't win.

The format of the show has changed over the years, but remains broadly the same: First a series of songs is performed, then voting takes place to determine a winner. The votes from each country are "telephoned" (now shown by live feed) in to the studio one at a time, providing dramatic tension. The traditional way to start this is to say "Hello, [host city], this is [capital of particular country] calling".

Songs must be original, no more than 3 minutes long and contain some lyrics (no Instrumentals). Between 1974 and 1998, songs had to be sung in one of the official languages of the country entering. However, this rule was removed after a long string of wins by Ireland, who were felt to have an unfair advantage by being one of only three countries able to sing in English (which was rapidly becoming the lingua franca of Europe).

Before 1997, all voting was done by panels of expert judges. However, following accusations of "political" and "bloc" voting, public phone votes were introduced. Some have argued that this has only made it worse (particularly as emigrants can vote for their home country -- La Pologne, douze points!); the UK's nul points in 2003 was alleged to be because of their recent invasion of Iraq (although the real reason was probably Jemini's horrifying off key singing), and by 2007, the bloc-voting had become so prevalent among ex-Soviet and ex-Yugoslav countries that Malta fixed their votes in protest. The situation in 2007, followed by a similar (but less prevalent) repeat in 2008, prompted the EBU to change the voting rules to a hybrid system reflecting jury votes and public votes, which contributed to levelling the contest for Western countries from 2009 onwards.

The 2008 contest was won by Russia, in a contest that was accused to contain a large amount of political voting (most of the other former Soviet states giving Russia 12 points), the British entry coming last (jointly with Germany and Poland, not coincidentally two other countries that rarely benefit from political voting) and several entries in the weird category. The Irish entry -- and I am seriously not making this up -- was a puppet Turkey Vulture that is actually an extremely famous (children's) television character in Ireland, who had released six albums and recorded with Bono and Bob Geldof. He won the national "Eurosong 2008" contest by public voting, much to the dismay of people who wanted to bring a serious contestant to Belgrade. He failed to get through the semi-finals, being booed before even starting their performance. There are many who believe that he wasn't even the most embarrassing entry they ever sent. The Latvian entry had pirates, Azerbaijan had thong-clad succubi, and France had noted electronica artist Sebastien Tellier perform alongside female backing singers that performed with fake beards. See below for Bosnia-Herzegovina and Spain's entries.

The 2009 contest was won by Norway by a country mile, beating Lordi's previous record of 292 points by nearly a hundred (although still not the record in percentage terms - 387 out of a possible 492 isn't as good as 164 out of a possible 204, as achieved in 1976) A fresh change from the usual status quo of Western countries being near the bottom end of the table, changes in the voting system allowed songs to be judged more on their merit rather than the country of origin, and boy, did they. The UK got their best score in twelve years, 173 points, finishing fifth (the fact that the song was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, who also played the piano, arguably helped). Compare that to their previous appearances, having not finished in the top half since 2003. The finalists were mostly singers, with Norway winning by virtue of a violin.

The 2010 contest was won by Germany (their first win since 1982[1]) and was the first "Big Four" winner since the United Kingdom thirteen years previously. Their song, "Satellite" by Lena[2], was already a hit single across the continent in the weeks leading to the contest, and its popularity sustained it through to the Final night. The UK came bottom and the Spanish got to do their song again after someone invaded the stage.

The 2011 contest was won by Azerbaijan after a rather narrow vote where they were firmly placed second or third for the first half and where the top four were switching around up until the last vote -- at one point, even the UK was on top for all of sixty seconds. The finale had gotten an unusually strong selection this year with up to five or six favourites - but Azerbaijan was barely a blip on the radar. The performances in the finale included a unicycle, sand art, exploding glass and a pair of hyperactive Irish twins whose hair became a running joke when the votes were to be cast.

Sweden, by and large the fan favorite, took the title for the fifth time in 2012 with 372 points and a 113 point lead over Russia, not quite beating Norway's 2009 record. Loreen's performance was notable for eschewing the usual elaborate stage show and bright lighting and going for darker lighting, an understated outfit, and more restrained choreography that invoked martial arts. Many other countries also went for more understated shows; Ukraine and France stood out as having the most elaborate stage shows in the final. 2012 was also notable for the top 3 countries (Sweden, Russia, and Serbia) earning their positions largely without the aid of bloc voting; Sweden and Russia both got points from 40 of 42 countries, and Serbia got points from 30 of 42. Albania achieved their best-ever result, 5th place with 146 points as well as 2nd in the 1st semifinal; Norway saved the United Kingdom from last place, making for Norway's 11th last place result in the entire history of the contest.

See also the Wikipedia article.

In 2007, the Eurovision Dance Contest started, essentially featuring a lot of people from the Strictly Come Dancing franchise. Few of the freestyle dances had the supposed national connection and about a dozen involved the removal of clothing. The first winner was Finland, with Poland winning the 2008 contest.

Tropes used in Eurovision Song Contest include:
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: The definitive recurring element in entries, the last chorus of a song often cranks up a key or two. Why? Because they can. This is often combined with any of the following:
  • Switch Into English: Even if you start singing in your native Bulgarian or Hebrew, switching into English for the final chorus (or for every chorus) will guarantee international appeal. Also known as Gratuitous English. Compare International Pop Song English.
    • Averted for most of Eurovision's history (from 1958 to 1972 and from 1977 to 1998) because each song had to be sung in the country's language. The winners would often, however, reprise their songs with a Switch Into English. This trope was played most spectacularly by Nicole's Ein bißchen Frieden for Germany in 1982 when she sang in German, French, English, and Dutch, eliciting an applause at each switch.
    • Israel's entries have a weird on-off kind of thing for this. Boaz Mauda's entry, "HaEsh B'Einaiyich" was half-Hebrew, half-English and placed 9th. Shiri Maimon's entry did that, too and it nearly won. David D'Or's "L'haamin", though, didn't even make the finals. Izabo's "Time" also has a language switch, switching from English to Hebrew in the chorus rather than the verse.
    • The "native-language-only" policy was cancelled in 1998 because of a massive streak of winners that were either in English (Ireland winning in 1992, '93, '94 and '96, plus a United Kingdom victory in 1997, with Ireland finishing second) or had as little text as remotely possible (Norway in 1995 and Israel in 1998). Since then, the only winner not sung in English was 2007's "Molitva" from Serbia.
    • Played disappointingly straight in 2011, where the grand majority of songs were partially or completely in English. 2011 was also notable for being the first time that nobody sang in French (save for one sentence in the chorus of Evelina Sašenko's entry for Lithuania, "C'est ma vie", the rest of which was in English.).
      • This is even stranger considering not only was it the Lithuanian entry that used bits of French, but to top it off she's actually ethnically Polish.
  • Intentional Costume Malfunction: Ever since Bucks Fizz won the contest in 1981 with a dance routine involving the girls whipping off their skirts to reveal shorter skirts underneath, the on-stage striptease has become a standard ingredient (4 out of 25 finalists in 2008, plus Serbia's show opener).
    • t.A.T.u. threatened to go all the way in 2003. They didn't ultimately, sang badly and Turkey won. This was the year where the UK ended up with no points whatsoever.
    • While not a striptease per se, Germany tried to get the male vote in 2009 by including burlesque model Dita von Teese. It didn't work, and they finished twentieth out of twenty-five.
    • In 1985, the Swedish host Lill Lindfors lost her skirt when it snagged on some scenery. This was quickly revealed as intentional when she unfastened part of her top to make a dress.
    • 2010 and sparkle short shorts. Unfortunately, this was from guys and did not help matters.
  • Elaborate Stage Show: This has essentially become more important than the song itself.
    • In fact, aversions of this will nearly always hit a soft spot among certain fans of the contest, who have seen it all when it comes to Elaborate Stage Shows. France 2009, Belgium 2010 and (not to the same extent) Italy 2011 are the most recent examples.
      • 2012 largely averted this: most of the entries (including Sweden, the winner) opted for more reserved clothing and limited and simple choreography, if they used it at all.
  • Predictable Voting: There are only three things certain in life: Death, Taxes, and Greece and Cyprus exchanging maximum votes at Eurovision - provided they are allowed to vote for each other.
    • Don't forget the obvious Scandinavian block votes, Turkey getting the 12 points from the Netherlands and Germany as lots of Turkish immigrants live there, and the Eastern European block.
    • The Irish douze often goes to Lithuania, with Poland and Latvia not far behind (again, due to immigrants).
    • Sure there's issues between most countries in the Balkan region and amongst the former Soviet countries, but the one time they can count on one another is when they need Eurovision votes.
    • Ireland usually gets a high vote from the UK, helped by the many Irish in Britain and the fact that Northern Ireland is part of the UK. In return Irish almost always give a few points to the UK, though generally fewer than the other way around.
    • Malta normally gives twelve to the UK, and in 2007 admitted they fixed their results as a protest against bloc voting.
    • Spain and Portugal usually interchange high votes and, since Andorra's first appearance, both countries receive the highest votes from this little principate.
    • This problem seems to have finally been ended with the 50/50 split of votes (a professional jury counts for 50% and the popular vote counts for 50%) in 2010.
      • You still can check if you know the border countries of the one giving the votes by saying who gets the maximum votes.
      • In fact Spanish long-time commentator José Luís Uribarri became famous for announcing the votes from each country before the jury actually told the results (and he gets them right most of the time). People enjoy it especially when he fails. This is one of the main reasons Spaniards don't take the contest seriously anymore.
    • Another pair of countries that exchange maximum votes predictably has arisen in recent years: Turkey and Azerbaijan. Similar to Greece and Cyprus, this is in large part due to the cultural connection between the two.
    • On the flip side of this, there are also countries who won't give each other the time of day, much less points at Eurovision. The classical example is Greece/Turkey; another that has arisen in recent years is Armenia/Azerbaijan (although, rather surprisingly given the history of the two countries, Turkey and Armenia are not averse to giving each other a few points)
  • Questionable Choreography
  • Tourist Office Inserts: Between each song (to give the TV audience something to look at while the set is being changed), the next act are shown in a silent vignette enjoying the delights of the host country.
    • Serbia did something slightly different in 2008, with performers in the colours of the next performing country's flag
    • In 2010 a clip from the next act's home country was shown instead.
    • In 2011, the vignettes showed people from the next performing country who live in Germany enjoying famous German sights.
  • Interval Act: while the panels were deliberating or the phone votes are coming in, an interval act is arranged. This used to be very dull until in 1994 the Irish hosts gave the world "Riverdance" and launched Michael Flatley's career. Following that, each subsequent host has tried to up the ante and hopefully launch another international hit. None have yet succeeded.
    • 2010 had a flash mob as part of its interval.
  • Ralph Siegel -- aka Mr. Eurovision. He has written a whopping nineteen songs that participated in the Contest, ranging from Nicole's 1982 German winner "Ein bisschen Frieden" to Montenegro's 2009 song "Just get out of my life", which failed to qualify for the finals.
  • Terry Wogan -- For viewers in the UK (and many in Ireland and some other European countries, where British TV channels are commonly available), an integral part of the experience was the dry, acerbic commentary by veteran radio presenter Sir Terry Wogan who openly mocked the hosts, the costumes, the songs, the Tourist Office Inserts, the Interval Act. He generally seemed to spend the contest getting progressively more squiffy on Bailey's, so tends to become more and more entertaining as the evening draws on. The worse the contest, the quicker it happens. He was once banned from Denmark for referring to their hosts as "Doctor Death and the Tooth Fairy". Commentated the show in 1978 and from 1980 to 2008, where he left due to being unhappy with the political voting and the UK's lack of effort. He has since been replaced by Graham Norton, another sardonic Irishman.
  • Bad hosts: It must be tradition for the hosts to fill the competition with bad, bad jokes, poor acting and worthless delivery. Not helped that they are speaking in English, not their first tongue (unless Ireland have won ... again).
    • First played horribly straight in the semifinals of 2009, and then completely averted in the final. It was a good year.
  • Over-enthusiastic other hosts: Finland's "Eurovision's biggest fan" took the proverbial biscuit. Serbia had some ridiculous woman in a square in Belgrade (this was during other countries' ad breaks) and some woman who reminded this troper of Avril Lavigne in "The Green Room".
    • For the record, the said "biggest fan" was a comedy actress whose thing is to play a hyper naïve,simple-minded blonde with pieces of sharp sarcasm.
    • During the voting in 2006, the Netherlands' spokesperson Paul de Leeuw seemed to ignore the live element of the show, unsubtly hitting on the male host and giving out his mobile number on live TV before proceeding to name the country awarded 12 points. Terry Wogan called him an "eejit" in his commentary.
Tropes used in Eurovision Song Contest include:
  • Action Girl - Every now and then, but the clearest example is Ruslana, the winner in 2004.
  • Ascended Fanon: In 2008, a popular late show in Spain presented the comedian Rodolfo Chikilicuatre singing, in his own words, "the most ridiculous song it is posible to sing". He actually got to go to Eurovision. Enjoy.
  • Ambiguous Gender - Serbia's entries in 2007 and 2010.
  • Audience Participation - 2010 Eurovision's Flash Mob.
  • Bald of Awesome: Steve Bender from West Germany entry in 1979, Dschinghis Khan.
    • The dancing bald guy in Lithuania's entry in 2006.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty - "Nul points"
  • Butt Monkey - The U.K. seems to have this status as of late.
  • Camp - Several dozens of acts. Likely at least a dozen of them every year.
  • Catch Phrase - Douze points! Twelve points goes to... (SIC) Royaume Uni dix points!
  • Curb Stomp Battle - Lordi, a silly curiosity act, positively annihilated the competition as the votes came in in 2006, getting top-level votes (usually 8-12 points) from almost every country.
    • Make that the highest score in Eurovision ever, at 292 points. Both rounds.
    • And they have now been beaten by Norway with 387, a country famous for having the highest number of nil points results.
    • Sweden didn't manage to break Norway's record, winning with 372 points in 2012, but the Swedes do sit comfortably in second place in this regard.
  • Deadpan Snarker - Terry Wogan
    • Wogan has since been replaced by Graham Norton, who proudly continued the tradition of snark in 2009 and 2010 (including snarking over his own interview during half-time). This troper was certainly amused.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In 2009, 43 people on Azerbaijan that voted for Armenia were interrogated by the National Security forces and suggested to be "a potential security threat".
  • Dreadful Musician
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first Contest in 1956 was mostly broadcast for TV and radio, though mostly for radio as television was an expensive luxury back in the mid-50's and had 7 countries (there were more planned, but they didn't get the paperwork done in time) providing two songs each, presumably to pad it out. There was one winner - Switzerland, who didn't win again until Celine Dion gave them a hand - and everyone else came "second", with the point allocation being secret.
    • Also, one song was just some guy whistling to a band.
  • Estrogen Brigade Bait
  • Europop - Although it's more of an example of how weird Europop can get.
  • Even Evil Has Standards - Played straight with the songs that were booed by the audience.
  • Watch It Stoned
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles - Lithuania's 2010 entry that features sparkle shorts.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning
  • Fan Service
  • Forgotten Theme Tune: The 1968 winning song used to have lyrics, but they were censored. The chorus ended up being: "la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la."
  • Funny Background Event: This.
  • Girl Next Door - Lena Meyer-Landrut, the winner of Eurovision 2010, may or may not be trying to invoke this with her style of dress (if not her songs). It works for some.
  • Golden Snitch - has been known to happen in the national selections, notably the Ukrainian entry in 2005. Having played out the preselection over the course of 15 knockout rounds, the broadcaster bizarrely added Razom nas bahato, an anthem of the previous year's Orange Revolution, as a "wildcard" entry in the final. It won the vote (and promptly had to be rewritten to remove the political content, in accordance with Eurovision rules).
  • Gratuitous English - Many acts, the French alone have never sang in a different tongue other their own.
    • Which, alas, is no longer true as of the 2008 contest. "Divine" by Sébastien Tellier was actually sung in English. And the 2007 entry from France was in Franglais, a creole-like mix of the two languages (which was strange and disorientating to French and British viewers alike).
      • The Spaniards have not sung in English. Yet.
        • We have not sung a full song in English. And pray that we don't.
      • This actually happened before 2008--in 1993, France sent "Mama Corsica", which was sung in both Corsican and French. Only once has France sent a song that contained no French whatsoever: we had Amaury Vassili with "Sognu" in 2011, which he sang entirely in Corsican.
    • The Portuguese lasted longer than the French in staying in their native tongue. Their entry in 2003, "Deixa-me sonhar (só mais uma vez)", was the first of four entries to be sung partially in English; every other Portuguese entry has only been presented in Portuguese.
  • Guilty Pleasures
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes
  • Long Runners
  • Missing Episode: The 1964 ESC has either been lost or shut away, depending on who you ask. The most prevalent theory is that the Danish broadcaster taped over or lost their only copy. Video of the winner's reprise exists, as does audio of the whole show. The first (1956) contest is also lost, although there is newsreel footage of the winning song and an audio recording (with 20 minutes missing) also exists.
  • Mood Whiplash: In 2000 the Dutch live broadcast was stopped halfway through. A fireworks storage had gone up in flames, so those watching the dopey-happy show were treated to a special bulletin of an entire city block having been incinerated.
    • The rest of the European watching public learned about this from the Dutch spokeswoman - that fireworks explosion was the reason that the Dutch had to give the points by jury that year.
    • In 2012, Albania was allowed to delay their broadcast of the first semifinal (in which they were performing) and only use jury votes due to a serious bus accident which had occurred the day before and led the government to declare a day of mourning on the date of the semifinal.
  • Nice Hat: Did you see the HUGE hats that the 2011 Moldovan performers wore?!
  • Panty Shot - If the show includes a recap of memorable moments from past contests expect at least a few of these. Mostly when someone tripped or suffered a Wardrobe Malfunction.
  • Poe's Law: Dustin the Turkey, singing a deliberately terrible dance song about how terrible Eurovision has gotten and how Ireland have gone from being the group-to-beat to being also-rans. It might have gone over a little better if the lyrics had been a little more coherent and had Dustin had a less annoying voice. Most people thought it was simply a shit song.
  • Real Men Wear Pink - France's 2007 entry, Amour a la Francaise by Les Fatal Picards.
  • Refuge in Audacity
  • Rule of Three - 2011 had three judges. The result? Three consecutive reminders that you cannot vote for your own country.
  • Rummage Sale Rejects
  • The Scapegoat - People from the UK tend to blame the poor scores their songs generally receive on politics. This can at times take on an edge of Hypocritical Humour, since the UK is also notable for not taking the contest particularly seriously, as can often be reflected in the entries they submit.
    • The Swedes are even worse. Every year has sparked an outcry against political or bugged voting and since we started to slip form getting to the top five every year to finally being eliminated in the semi finals, a demand to boycott or shut down the entire competition has become something of a tradition. Mind you that we're talking about the biggest newspapers here, not just individual grumbling.
      • Fast forward to 2012, and Sweden finally gets his wish.
  • Scenery Porn: There is a lot of gratuitous tourism adverts for the host country.
    • Azerbaijan combined this with Food Porn in one of the pre-performance vignettes in 2012.
  • Serious Business - For the Swedish Media at least.
  • Shout-Out: A presenter noted in 2011 that the voting process was "the same procedure as every year." The reference probably flew over the heads of the British though.
  • Silly Love Songs - Extremely numerous!
  • Sitcom Arch Nemesis - Greece versus Turkey for example.
    • A country that doesn't make it to the finals will usually feel better about it if their rival doesn't make it either.
    • Notably, Armenia pulled out of the contest in 2012 because it's being held in Azerbaijan, it's arch-rival (partly in protest of ceasefire violations in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, partly because of the strong possibility that whatever performer it sent to Azerbaijan would be in great danger).
      • Look at Disproportionate Retribution entry to see why their worries were a valid concern.
  • Sixth Ranger - There's an awful lot of these due to the number of countries increasing.
    • An awful lot is a bit of an understatement. In less than 20 years the number of countries that have participated has more than doubled. Of the 26 countries that have joined in the last 20 years, the vast majority hadn't taken part before because they hadn't existed beyond being parts of Yugoslavia or the Soviet Union.
  • Small Name, Big Ego - Russia's Alexey Vorobyov accused Sweden's Eric Saade of being a cheap rip-off of him. Despite not being famous in Sweden(he wouldn't have heard about him), having Swedish dancers, an Swedish choreographer, and a Swedish songwriter..
  • Spin-Off - There have been two major spin-offs of the competition. Firstly, there's the Eurovision Dance Contest, which was essentially a pan-European version of Dancing with the Stars (especially in the 2008 edition, which switched to celebrity/professional pairings, much like said show). It did not fair well at all; only two editions occurred (2007 and 2008, both hosted by the BBC in London and Glasgow, Scotland). A 2009 edition in Azerbaijan was planned, but the entire idea got canned due to a "serious lack of interest." Thankfully, Azerbaijan did get to host the real thing.
    • And then, there's the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. Going meta, it originated as a junior spin-off of Denmark's Dansk Melodi Grand Prix competition, which then gained a spin-off of its own known as MGP Nordic (held between Denmark, Norway and Sweden in 2002). The success of this then expanded the idea into a pan-European version, much like its adult counterpart. However, MGP Nordic did return from 2006 to 2009 when the Nordic countries jointly pulled out due to allegations that the JESC was treating contestants unethically.
      • Each country who participates starts with 12 points already instead of 0 in the voting, just to keep the kids happy. In 2011, an Australian presenter delivered the free twelves to go around. Why? Rule of Fun.
    • In 2005, German comedian, musician and Eurovision veteran Stefan Raab started the "Bundesvision (Federal Vision) Song Contest" featuring contestants representing the 16 German states. So far, all five winners were already very big in Germany - three rock and two reggae acts, actually.
  • Springtime for Hitler - Since the nation whose entrant wins has to host it the next year at its own expense, an undertaking that might oblige less prosperous countries to sell their national monuments on eBay, it's probable that many of the participants aren't playing to win.
    • In 1972 Monaco was unable to host due to lack of resources, so the contest was held in the UK instead.
    • Actually, since Sweden withdrew from the 1976 competition in fear of winning and having to host the Contest again, the rules changed so all participants have to pay an entry fee which goes to the hosting country.
    • Norwegian state broadcaster NRK had to sell its broadcast rights to The World Cup in order to finance the 2010 edition of the event in Oslo.
    • Parodied in an episode of the defining Irish comedy show, Father Ted, where Ireland deliberately had Ted and Dougal represent Ireland in the Eurovision with their terrible song My Lovely Horse, in order to save on the costs of having to host it again (the episode itself having been aired during the 90's, when Ireland won the contest more frequently).
  • The Mean Brit - Terry Wogan
    • Sir Terry is Irish, although he did commentate for Britain.
  • The Movie: The Junior Eurovision did get a documentary about it, "Sounds Like Teen Spirit: A Popumentary"
  • Waistcoat of Style: Alexander Rybak, the winner of 2009, so much that sometimes it seems he doesn't own any other clothes.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Seriously, Lena is the most Cockney-sounding German ever.
    • Justified, her English teacher had a hard Cockney accent that stuck.
    • This Trope comes up a lot in the contest when non-native English speakers try very hard to mask their accents.
  • Widget Series - The commentary in the UK and Ireland is very British.
    • In Ireland we just have Marty Whelan, a radio DJ from the stone age who just won't go away.
  • Witty Banter - Particularly painful when the ones doing it are expressing themselves in a tongue which is not their native one and are not gifted at acting. One notable example of this was when Ukraine hosted it, and the most internationally famous locals they could dredge up were the Klitschko brothers (a pair of very good boxers)
    • Once, there were rhyming couplets.
  • Word Salad Lyrics

For parodies of the contest, see Inept Talent Show Contestant.

References in other media:

  • In a 1970 episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus a sketch involving policemen morphs into the Europolice Song Contest, which is won for Monaco by Inspector Zatapathique with "Bing Tiddle Tiddle Bong", which mocked then-current entries like Massiel's "La La La" (1968) and Lulu's "Boom-Bang-a-Bang" (1969). In Monty Python's Big Red Book (1971), this was expanded into a four-page features - including notes - about the song, which here was credited to "Les Deux Hommes Célèbres". The top entries after Monaco were given thusly: 2. "Si si boing bang" (Italy); 3. "Nein Bong über tiddle" (Germany); 4. (equal) "Bang bang bang bang" (England), "Ay ay ay ay" (Ireland); "Och och och och" (Scotland), and "Oy oy oy oy" (Israel); 5. "Post coitum omnia animal tristes est" (France); 6. "Ding ding a dong" (Sweden). A mere four years later, in 1975, the group Teach-In won the real Eurovision Song Contest for the Netherlands with "Ding-a-Dong" (original Dutch title: "Ding Dinge Dong").
  • Father Ted has an episode where Ireland, desperate to lose so they don't have to host the contest again, select the title character's song 'My Lovely Horse'-a really horrible song-as their country's entry. For once, the Springtime for Hitler plan worked: it bombed.
  • Scandinavia and The World has done three comics on Eurovision: one for the 2009 contest, where Denmark beats up Sweden for not giving him points, and Norway beats up everyone else because he won, one of a party held between the Nordic states where Finland (dressed up as Mr. Lordi) tries to stab everyone, and one for the 2010 contest, where Germany crushes everyone with a satellite.
  • The BBC's The Culture Show once got Neil Hannon to lightly take the piss out of the contest by breaking down the formula for a successful entry and then write his own mock-entry, "Trafalgar" -- which was pretty good, actually. For the record, the key four elements he identified as being important were: (1) A good beat; (2) Frequent key changes; (3) Generally incomprehensible gibberish or random selections of words for lyrics; and finally, in light of Ireland's frequent victories in the contest, (4) A generous helping of Celtic-inspired schmaltz.

Neil Hannon: By the nineties, we were so successful that rivals were unashamedly nicking our patented Irish mysticism... It is now rendered mysterious, like a mountain stream flowing across an ancient Irish bog.

    • This was not Hannons first attempt at a Eurovision song. He wrote the music for the aforementioned Father Ted episode, not just the "catchy" version of My Lovely Horse, but also their arch-rivals overblown points magnet. He appears in the background of said acts choir (in the center of the back row) and also sings the nonsense, "Swedish" lyrics of the original. His band, The Divine Comedy, later released it as a B-Side.
  • In the days before the internet most Americans knowledge of Eurovision was Benny Hill's parodies of it.
  • There are a lot of Axis Powers Hetalia fanfics focusing on ESC 2010 on
  • It's Only TV But I Like It, one of The BBC's less well known comedy Panel Games, had a round where the panel was shown three countries' Eurovision entries from the past and had to guess which one got 'nul points'. The round was titled "Let's All Laugh At Foreigners".
  • The Red Dwarf novel Better Than Life has the planets' governments voting on which planet will become Garbage World, using a system clearly based on the Eurovision Song Contest. Earth gets nul points.

Notable Offbeat Eurovision Entries:

  • Germany's entry in 2007, Frauen Regier'n Die Welt. A swing song featuring a big band, real instruments, and Roger Cicero, a singer with a genuinely good voice (this Troper bought his albums on the strength of this song, and doesn't regret it). It even had a Switch Into English!! Naturally, due to it not being cheesy Europop, it went down like a lead balloon, finishing a lowly 19th.
    • Italy's 2011 entry, Raphael Gualazzi's Madness of Love, is in a similar musical style (if quite a bit more uptempo). Counter to expectations, it finished second and actually won the jury vote.
    • For a more successful unusual entry, take a look at the German 2000 entry - Wadde Hadde Dudde Da. The mere fact that it finished 5th is either proof of Stefan Raab's absolute awesomeness or the joke value of the entire show. To make it short: he competed with what was virtually a Voice Clip Song about a woman asking her dog in baby speech "what have you there" with full-on Narm Charm and made it work.
  • The 2007 Serbian entry, Molitva. Ignoring the factor of political voting, it won the competition despite featuring a homely lead singer, no revealing costumes, no dancers, no pyrotechnics and no gimmicks of any variety.
    • Although viewed in another light, many people inferred a tale of lesboromanticism from the performance.
    • What's interesting to note are people's reactions to Marija Serfovic's gender (female, but it took this troper a while to figure out she wasn't a little boy), and then in 2010 Serbia send an even more gender bamboozling entry by the name of Milan Stankovic. Despite that incredibly effeminate appearance, yes, that's a man.
  • Lordi, Hard Rock Hallelujah. Imagine a Finnish version of GWAR. And they won... with the highest point total ever at the time. Plus, that got Finland's first win at Eurovision.
    • Extra notable because the band never actually took off their costumes, or at least, not where anyone could see. They were even seen lounging by the pool in full monster regalia.
    • Part of Lordi's success could be attributed to Moral Guardians mounting a campaign to get them banned from entering the contest. It backfired spectacularly.
  • Boonika Bate Doba/Grandma Beats The Drum. With grandmother on stage.
    • In a similar vein, Romanca, featuring 75-year-old-rapper "75 cents."
      • Which isn't excentric Europop in English but a nostalgic ballad in Croatian. The old man's narration (not rap) is a bridge.
  • Dschinghis Khan, "Dschinghis Khan". 1979 West German entry (with Jerusalem as the host city). Imagine a German lovechild of ABBA and the Village People. That pretty much describes them. They went on to become a supergroup. See the video here. Their other hits include:
    • "Moskau." The unofficial song of the 1980 Olympics at Moscow. This subject of Memetic Mutation thanks to YTMND and one very, very unique dance - based on traditional Russian folk dancing, believe it or not. Please enjoy.
    • "Rocking Son of Dschinghis Khan." The dance and lyrics of this song must be seen and heard to believed. Watch this here.
    • Dschinghis Khan song changed Jewish weddings forever when an Israeli songwriter added Hebrew lyrics and the song become known as "Yidden." It has since became a standard for Jewish weddings.
    • Interestingly enough, some thought the song to be inappropriate. Think about it: Germans singing about Jenghis Khan in Jerusalem... And somehow, they got away with it.
  • Sophie & Magaly, Le Papa Pingouin. Luxembourg's 1980 entry. It's a song in French about a penguin with wanderlust and features a grown man and backup signers in penguin suits.
  • Verka Serduchka Dancing Lasha Tumbai, runner-up of the 2007 contest. Must be seen to be believed.
  • The 2008 Bosnia & Herzegovina entry, Elvir Lakoviæ Laka - Pokusaj. Knitting brides and lyrics that translate like "We wasted many years lying on our backs eating bananas."
  • The 2008 Spanish entry, Baila el Chiki Chiki is a parody of the reggaeton music genre, sung by an actor in an Elvis wig whose character started as a sketch in a comedy TV program, and with a toy guitar providing musical highlights. After not having won Eurovision since 1969, the Spaniards just can't take the contest seriously.
    • The chorus, Perrea! Perrea! translates, roughly, to Be lazy! Be lazy!
    • By the way, the dancer that falls over and in general messes up the choreography? Don't worry about her, it's all part of the show.
      • On the other side, the guy that jumped the stage in the 2010 contest was definitely not part of the show. When we don't send a joke entry on purpose, the joke jumps at us. The guy is called "Jimmy Jump" and apparently was already famous for jumping sports events around Europe.
  • In 2006, Lithuania entered We Are The Winners, a cheesy football chant which basically just consisted of 6 middle-aged Lithuanian men (most of whom were not even musicians, but newsreaders and TV presenters) bellowing "We are the winners of Eurovision!" into a megaphone. Although it was only the fourth Eurovision entry ever to be booed while performing, it managed to come 6th with 162 points, and the president of Lithuania is reported to be a fan, inviting the band to his offices for a private performance.
  • On a tamer note, E Depois do Adeus, the Portuguese entry for 1974, was famously used as a secret signal for the start of the Carnation Revolution, a coup d'etat that overthrew Portugal's fascist regime in 1974. The song won second-to-last on the contest.
  • Leto Svet. Estonian comedians parody the contest with a deliberately So Bad It's Good entry, complete with Special Effects Failures and Word Salad Lyrics in three languages.
  • Britain resurrected camp pop collective Scooch for the 2007 contest (the one Terry Wogan famously didn't announce had been chosen as Britain's entry). The bridge of the song is a sexualised aircraft safety briefing. And it was one (male) group-member's exclusive task to stand at the side of the stage making smutty, airline-related innuendos such as "would you like to suck on something before landing?" and "salted nuts, sir?"
    • The commentator in the Finnish broadcast made a Freudian Slip which may or may not have been intentional:

And next we have Britain performing their song Flying the Fa- I mean Flag.

  • Finland in 2008 with Terasbetoni, a Power Metal band.
    • Earlier still, Nightwish entered the contest with "Sleepwalker" in 2000 (which is fairly atypical of their style, but worth a mention regardless). They won the public vote, but the jury eventually decided on Nina Åström.
    • Black Metal band Keep of Kalessin tried out to represent Norway in 2010 (though again the song they entered, "The Dragontower", was not typical of their style). They came in third place, and Didrik Solli-Tangen was selected to represent Norway.
  • Norway in 1978 received zero points with Mil etter mil by Jahn Teigen, who sabotaged his own entry with affected vocals and stage antics because he disliked the song's brassy arrangement. His squawk at 1:30 sounds like a climaxing Muppet. Despite its utter failure at the contest, Mil etter mil wound up dominating Norway's charts and Teigen released it in an album titled This Year's Loser.
  • Norway in 1995 won with Nocturne by Secret Garden, a slow Celtic-flavored piece with only thirty seconds of song. The rest is a lengthy, gorgeous violin intermezzo that has little in common with Eurovision's usual pop ballads and dances.
    • Ten years earlier, The Bobbysocks gave Norway its first victory with Let it Swing, a rocking tune with throwbacks to both 80's and 50's music, that is one of Norway's most recognizable songs, even to this day.
  • Sanomi, Belgium's 2003 entry, was the first Eurovision song to be sung in a fictional language.
    • Belgium tried the fictional language again 5 years later which resulted... in a worse result. They didn't get out of the semi-finals. What the entry O Julissi did accomplish was dressing the lead singer of Ishtar in a swirly dress that evoked Campino sweets.
  • As already mentioned, Alexander Rybak's Fairytale. On the national charts it went on to cause a large portion of Norway to absolutely loathe it on account of over-exposure, or
  • Telex's Euro-Vision, Belgium's 1980 entry. Telex - a quirky synthpop band known for not taking themselves seriously - they obviously didn't take the contest seriously either: "We had hoped to finish last, but Portugal decided otherwise." They finished 3rd last. Not that that prevents them from having towels around their necks and singer Michel Moers from throwing confetti on himself. Moers also snaps a tourist photo of the audience at the end. It's probably the first song in the final where Eurovision itself is the subject. And definitely the first song to be performed on synthesizers.
  • In 1977, for reasons unknown to history, Austria selected Schmetterlinge, a left-leaning folk-rock band who hated Eurovision and all it stood for, as their entrants. Their song was "Boom Boom Boomerang," an acerbic parody of the sort of inane "Schlager" entries with nonsense lyrics that were popular at the time. The more coherent lyrics of the song suggested that such songs were only written to increase record company profit margins. The performance was rather unforgettable, too.
  • Iceland's 2006 entry, Congratulations. The performer (a fictional character, no less) was, for lack of a better word, a Troll, and the whole act was one big joke at the expense of the competition. The song is hella catchy, though.
  • For ESC 2009 in Moscow, Georgia sent a song titled We Don't Wanna Put In. The entry was disqualified.
  • On a slightly different take of Take That from a former Soviet Republic, Lithuania's 2010 entry , "Eastern European Funk", once you get past the catchy tune and sparkle shorts uses lyrics that calls out Europe on its views of Eastern Europe.
  • The Moldovan entry for the 2010 contest Run Away experienced Memetic Mutation with its hip thrusting saxophone player's choreography becoming Epic Sax Guy. Achieving the dubious status of internet celebrity
    • The 2011 contest, from the makers of Grandma Beats The Drum: a tale of dunce caps and unicycles, titled So Lucky.
  • France's entry in 2009, Et s'il fallait le faire by leading chanson singer Patricia Kaas. Three minutes of one woman in a black dress singing, with barely any light or stage show (watch until the end for a bit of dancing, though) and no other people on stage. Only finished eighth, in what might have been a case of Too Good For Eurovision.
    • See also: the French entry in 2011, Sognu, a very beautiful Groban-esque piece sung by Amaury Vassili, a young opera singer. Finished in 15th place.
  • For the 2012 edition, San Marino tried to send 37-year old Valentina Monetta with the song "Facebook Uh, Oh, Oh". However, they ran into two little problems: Firstly, everyone thought it was awful or reminded them too much of Rebecca Black. Then, they got in trouble for mentioning a brand name. They have edited it to be in compliance though, renaming it "The Social Network Song (Oh-Oh, Uh, Uh, Oh)"
  • Austria in 2012 has "Woki Mit Deim Popo", whose original performance featured women in bodysuits with glow in the dark booty, and people commenting on YouTube producing disturbing mondegreens involving "poo-poo." Their performance got toned down for the first semi-final (but now also had LED lighting on the backup dancers and singers). Yet somehow, their song managed to leave the audience speechless, and not to advance.
  • Russia in 2012 sent Buranovskiye Babushki, six grandmothers from Udmurtia (near the Urals) in traditional dress, who pantomimed baking buns onstage and then sang "Party for Everybody". Amazingly, they came second.
  • The Russia entry in 2012 was not the only memorable one. Turkey's won't be easily forgotten, especially by those that love shipping characters.
  • Montenegro in 2012 with Euro Neuro, sung by Rambo Amadeus, a self-confessed 'media manipulator'. It didn't make it to the final. The performance features evil villain laughter, rhymes taken from a dictionary and it makes fun of the poor economical situation within the EU.