200 days to the Grand Final of Eurovision 2017! Some bits of Eurovision news today: Slovakia confirms they won’t be participating next year (they haven’t taken part since 2012) and Moldova confirms that they are taking part, bringing the number of confirmed countries to 41. Moldova haven’t missed a Eurovision since their debut in 2005.
While Eurovision season has indeed begun, news will be quite intermittent until we hit the Christmas period when it will pick up a lot of pace. In the meantime, I’ll be posting up lots of Eurovision content. Today, we’re looking at the top 10 countries by average finishing position in the Grand Final. I haven’t included countries that have not competed in less than 5 finals, and I haven’t included semi-final performances, just how the countries have performed in the finals. This does include countries who no longer compete in Eurovision (or at least haven’t competed for some time). Some familiar or expected countries in this list, as well as some surprises!
They’ve not performed at Eurovision since the early 90s, but Luxembourg were a major Eurovision force in their time, winning an impressive 5 times. Not a single one of their winning singers was Luxembourgish, maybe not surprising in a country with a population of half a million people, of whom only just over a half are Luxembourgers. They’ve had 4 French winning singers, and 1 Greek. Here’s one of my favourites who I’ve had the pleasure of seeing at both the London Eurovision Preview Party and Eurovision’s Greatest Hits (the 60th anniversary show).
Quite a surprising entry, and the only country without at least one win to its name amongst this top 10. Armenia is one of the most recent countries to enter Eurovision, with 2006 being their firsr year. They missed one year when the contest was hosted in Azerbaijan, their bitter enemy, but in the other ten contests they have entered, they’ve made the grand final 9 times, and have consistently finished high in the table. I’ve selected their best performing song (from 2008) as it’s my joint favourite Armenian entry, finishing 4th.
8. United Kingdom
The presence of the UK in this top 10 may come as big surprise to those that have only watched the contest in the past decade, but for the greater part of the contest’s history, the UK consistently finished in the upper reaches of the final placings. Between 1957 and 1981, they only finished outside the top 5 on three occasions, and until 1999, were only outside the top 10 on two occassions. Add in the 5 wins and record 15 times as runners up, it has counterbalanced the woeful (Jade Ewen and Blue excepted) finishing positions since 2003. Here is the first of those 5 wins…
Like the UK, Ireland is a former Eurovision superpower who has fallen on harder times in the last 15 years. Poor results in recent years can’t wipe out the 7 wins (4 of them in the 1990s), which still puts Ireland at the top of the most wins leaderboard (though Sweden are chasing hard now!). From 1996, here’s their last winning entry.
Sweden are the Ireland of the early 21st century, though the first of their 6 wins came back in 1974 with Abba. Since then they have one once in the 1980s, twice in the 1990s, and twice in the 2010s. As well as those wins, they have finished in the top 5 23 times in their 56 appearances. More wins and high placings seem destined to come as they have found a formula that is hard to beat and Swedish songwriters and producers are eagerly sought by other countries seeking to emulate their success. Loreen scored their 5th win in 2012 with the highest score achieved by a Swedish winner.
Like their neighbours (and enemies) Armenia, Azerbaijan is a newcomer to Eurovision, first entering in 2008 but has taken the contest very seriously, throwing resources into songwriters, producers etc. in a bid to win, which they duly did in 2011. Their hosting of the contest was not without controversy with human rights concerns and forced evictions caused by the new stadium built for the show, but Azerbaijan look like they will remain a force at Eurovision for the forseeable future. Here’s the winning song that took the contest the furthest east it has ever been, in Baku on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
If the UK was the most consistent country in 1960s to 1990s, then it is Russia who has taken up the baton since the early 2000s. They have just the one win, but multiple results in the top 5, including four runners up spots. Love, hate or fear Russia, they always put in a strong effort, although the songs preaching peace and love to all may stick in the craw to those in eastern Ukraine, in Syria or gay people in Russia itself. Dimo Bilan, their 2008 winner is however proactively pro-gay rights and has been quite vocal about it. Here he is with his 2006 song which came 2nd, but I prefer it to his winning song actually!
The highest placing in this top 10 for one of the big 5 (well France, Germany and Spain didn’t make the top 10 in fact, in spite of France’s 5 wins…), Italy missed the contest between 1998 and 2011 but took up where they left off, consistently finishing in high positions and rarely finishing low down. Surprisingly, they only have two wins, but I think they are overdue another win. There is little footage of the 1964 contest but enjoy these colourised images and video fragment of their dreamy sounding first win that year.
You can’t help but enjoy Ukraine’s contribution to Eurovision and this placing is a reward for bringing us some of the craziest staging and catchiest songs since their debut in 2003. Two wins and two runners up placings in just 13 years have hoisted them high in the average final positions. Unlike their giant neighbour Russia, Ukraine doesn’t have a large diaspora to boost them in public voting (or the fear factor!) so you have to admire the way Ukraine has gone about it (Verka Serduchka, semi naked silver clad Roman centurions, hamster wheels, an 8 foot giant to name just a few famous moments!). Here we go with the win in 2004 that kicked off their success – Xena Warrior Princess, Ukrainian style – sound those battle horns!
And the winner is…. Monaco!
I bet that isn’t who you expected to take the top spot, but the stats don’t lie. Between 1959 and 1979, they secured a win and multiple top 5 placings, giving them the best average final position in grand finals. Monaco made a return to Eurovision between 2004 and 2006 but couldn’t make it out of the semi-finals, those were tough times for the microstates when the voting was 100% televote and there was only 1 semi-final, it weighted the voting far too much in favour of certain groups of countries. Still, luckily for Monaco, those semi-final failures don’t count in this countdown so I will leave you with their 1971 winner – a French singer of course! And it’s a Eurovision classic 🙂
Do let me know what you make of this top 10 in the comments or what your favourite songs are from these countries.