The 15 best Eurovision songs of all time, ranked in order of cheesy greatness

17 May 2021, 14:43 | Updated: 19 May 2021, 12:28

Eurovision stars
Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

Eurovision Song Contest has given us some of the world's greatest pop anthems and will hopefully more hits will emerge at the contest's 2021 Grand Final in Rotterdam on May 22.

From ABBA to Bucks Fizz and beyond, the Eurovision Song Contest has thrown up some true pop classics over its 60+ year history.

QUIZ: Take on the ultimate Eurovision trivia test

We've ranked the very best Eurovision tunes ever made, to make for a perfect Eurovision lockdown party playlist.

  1. Lulu - 'Boom Bang a Bang' (UK, 1969)

    Pop legend Lulu took on the Eurovision challenge in 1969, having already become an international star by this point.

    Back then, it was possible for joint winners of the competition, and Lulu had to share with three other entries (Spain, France and the Netherlands).

    It reached number two in the UK, and was later the theme tune for sitcom Him & Her.

  2. Dana International - 'Diva' (Israel, 1998)

    Dana International broke boundaries as a transgender winner in 1998. Her incredibly catchy tune was the last winner to be sung in a language other than English until 2007.

    The selection of her song caused huge controversy around conservative groups in Israel at the time, that on her arrival to perform in the UK, police escorts and security were needed.

    And we'll never forget her changing outfits into a special Jean Paul Gaultier feather number to accept her prize from Terry Wogan.

  3. Bucks Fizz - 'Making Your Mind Up' (UK, 1981)

    Read more: The mind-boggling history of Bucks Fizz

    UK entry Bucks Fizz followed the four-piece formula of ABBA and Brotherhood of Man before them, but with an added twist: removable skirts!

    The group took home the prize in 1981, and became of the biggest pop acts of the early '80s.

  4. Cliff Richard - 'Congratulations' (UK, 1968)

    The pop prince was so close to fulfilling his Eurovision dream in 1968, and we're still quite amazed he didn't win.

    Cliff Richard finished second, losing to Spain's 'La, la, la' by just one point. However, 'Congratulations' went on to become a far more successful hit around Europe.

  5. Conchita Wurst - 'Rise Like a Phoenix' (Austria, 2014)

    Austria had to wait over 50 years to win Eurovision for the second time, when drag queen Conchita took the crown.

    Her selection proved controversial, and attracted criticism from conservative groups, particularly in Eastern Europe, highlighting the continent's regional divide between east and west when it comes to homosexuality.

    After her triumph, Conchita became a gay icon, resulting in invitations to perform at various pride parades, the European Parliament and the United Nations Office in Vienna.

  6. Alexander Rybak - 'Fairytale' (Norway, 2009)

    Norwegian artist Alexander wrote this brilliant song, which scored the most points of all time (at the time).

    Thanks to his trusty violin and bushy eyebrows, Alexander's track was a hit around Europe, and crept into the UK top 10 in 2009.

  7. Katrina and the Waves - 'Love Shine a Light' (UK, 1997)

    Read more: Where are Katrina and the Waves now?

    The UK hadn't won the competition since 1981 (back when it was actually possible for us to win), but Katrina and her Waves surprised us all by taking the crown in 1997.

    The British-American band were best known for their hit 'Walking on Sunshine' 12 years before, and so were a somewhat strange choice, but it worked.

    The positive anthem worked with audiences around Europe, giving the UK its most recent win.

  8. Gina G - 'Ooh Aah... Just a Little Bit' (UK, 1996)

    Unknown Australian singer Gina G was selected to represent the UK at the '96 contest, with one of the nation's best ever entries.

    However, it amazingly didn't perform that well on the night, only finishing in eighth place.

    See more: Where is Gina G now? Eurovision singer's age, songs, and family revealed

    Despite this, Gina G scored a massive number one with the song in the UK, and it even reached number 12 in America.

  9. Lena - 'Satellite' (Germany, 2010)

    German singer-songwriter Lena Meyer-Landrut scored a big success with his winning entry in 2010, going to number one in six countries across the continent.

    It was the first victory by one of the 'Big Four' nations since the UK in 1997, and finished ahead of its nearest rival by over 70 points.

  10. Brotherhood of Man - 'Save Your Kisses for Me' (UK, 1976)

    Who can forget the sight of Brotherhood of Man's white and red jumpsuits with matching berets, standing still and singing with very minor arm and leg choreography. Easy, but darned effective.

    Brotherhood of Man swept the board in 1976, and acheived one of the best-selling Eurovision hits of all time, and the biggest ever in the UK.

  11. Loreen - 'Euphoria' (Sweden, 2012)

    This marked one of the first times where a winning Eurovision song transcended the competition. Even if you didn't have a clue what Eurovision was, this song would have comfortably existed without it.

    The Swedish entry received the highest number of maximum points of any entry in the contest's history, with 18 countries giving the song their top marks. It also reached number three in the UK charts, a rare feat for a Eurovision song in recent years.

  12. The Olsen Brothers - 'Fly On the Wings of Love' (Denmark, 2000)

    Veteran folk rock duo the Olsen Brothers came out of nowhere to win the Contest back in 2000, back in a time where you were unlikely to hear the songs until the night itself.

    The song used a healthy dose of autotune (thanks, Cher) and the catchy song sums up cheesy pop that could only exist at Eurovision.

  13. Mans Zelmerlow - 'Heroes' (Sweden, 2015)

    Just three years after Loreen, Mans won it for Sweden again with this incredibly catchy and anthemic electropop tune.

    Mans had tried twice before to represent the nation, and finally succeeded with this winning song.

    Thanks to very clever electronic floor lighting choreography, the song was a massive success on the night, and across Europe for months after.

  14. Domenico Modugno - 'Nel blu, dipinto di blu' (Italy, 1958)

    Arguably the most successful song in Eurovision history, this Italian ditty only came third at the time in 1958.

    However, it later sold 22 million copies around the world, and was covered by countless artists (often using the shortened title 'Volare'), from Dean Martin to David Bowie.

  15. ABBA - 'Waterloo' (Sweden, 1974)

    Read more: ABBA's greatest 20 songs ever, ranked

    Could it be anyone else? This was arguably the moment where Eurovision became truly mainstream, and proved it could create international superstars overnight.

    ABBA triumphed in Brighton in 1974 with this brilliant song, and the rest is pop music history.

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