It is just slightly over a month since we saw Portugal finally take its first taste of Eurovision glory and we are still delighted with the victory. However, we felt it was a good idea to look back and see who, since the contest began, can be considered amongst the best winners ever. So, without any further ado, off we go and we start with…
12. La, la, la – Massiel – Spain 1968
If Massiel had been told just a few months before the 1968 edition that she would deliver Spain’s first victory at Eurovision she would have not believed it. This entry was destined to Joan Manuel Serrat, who was then barred from entering the contest by the dictatorship as he wanted to sing in Catalan. Massiel entered as a replacement, and boy was it the right decision. Her performance is memorable because of the strength of her voice but also because of the impossible-to-forget lyrics. With time, this victory has been surrounded with controversy as it was alleged that the regime in Spain actually bought the contest, and many claim that 1968 should have seen the UK lift the trophy. For me, it is beyond question that La, la, la is light years better than Congratulations and so it makes it to number 12 of the list.
11. Satellite – Lena – Germany 2010
Lena’s victory was very important, since after many years of not seeing any non-Scandinavian, Western European country win the contest it had started to seem as though the diaspora and neighbourly vote would make it impossible for countries like Germany to win. Enter Lena. She delivered a very simple performance of an extremely catchy song and captivated Europe, storming to a victory that would have seemed impossible to most pundits. The victory share since then has been a bit more balanced, and countries from all over Europe are scoring high, giving back credibility to the voting altogether. So for her and her song’s own merit, and for significance to the contest, Lena makes the list at number 11.
10. Rise Like a Phoenix – Conchita Wurst – Austria 2014
When Conchita was internally selected to represent Austria after having ended as runner up in 2012, it seemed hard to believe that Rise Like A Phoenix would end as the winner in Copenhagen. To many, her appearance would mean that voters in more conservative countries would reject the act. That appreciation couldn’t have been more wrong, as Austria ended up receiving points from almost every country, including a staggering 13 douze points. The song itself is fantastic, bringing a 007 vibe to the contest, and her performance both on the semifinal and the final was sublime. And for that, we include Conchita at number 10 of our list.
9. Insieme: 1992 – Toto Cotugno – Italy 1990
This may seem a bit left field, but I’ve always felt it was a bit underrated as a great winner. I love the celebration of Europe coming together under the European Union and having one of the many political songs to sneak through and make it to the big Eurovision stage. At a time when it may seem as though Europe and the world are drifting apart, it’s great to remember that there was a time when coming together was celebrated, sung about, and awarded with the biggest prize in the contest. Toto Cotugno takes position number 9!
8. Non ho l’età – Gigliola Cinquetti – Italy 1964
And right from Italy’s second winner we move to the first. Non ho l’età is a giant on its own merit, having been recorded in many languages other than Italian and becoming a hit pretty much everywhere it was released. A Eurovision classic that delivered Italy their first victory with the sweet rendition by Gigliola telling the object of her affection that she was not yet old enough to love him. Those were simpler times. And with the masterful deliverance of her entry, Gigliola also makes our list at number 8.
7. Dors, mon amour – André Claveau – France 1958
The early days of the contest also produced some fantastic gems. France’s first victory is one great example, with André Claveau’s sublime performance of this wonderful song. The lyrics are inspired, the music is beautiful, and all these years later it still is one of the best Eurovision entries of all time. With that sweet voice and effortless charm, who wouldn’t want to sleep wrapped by Andre’s sweet voice. Bravo, la France!
6. Why Me – Linda Martin – Ireland 1992
Ireland remains the holder of the record when it comes to number of victories. I would argue that many of them were wildly undeserved, but not the first of their 90s hat trick. Linda Martin owned that stage, her song is amazing, she performed it impeccably and deservedly took the crown in Malmö. Funny that next time the contest was held in Malmö Ireland finished last in the final. But back to 1992! Linda’s heartfelt performance was all it took for Ireland to take its fourth victory. And this is probably the best of all their winning entries. Linda Martin is our number 6.
5. 1944 – Jamala – Ukraine 2016
This victory was surrounded by controversy, with many claiming that this overtly political statement shouldn’t have sneaked through to the contest. I, for one, celebrate that it did and that the powerful message that Jamala wanted to sing about was able to see the light. She delivered one of the most heartfelt performances I remember watching, leaving her heart and soul and leading Ukraine to their second victory, much to the dismay of those who predicted Russia to win a landslide victory. But it was not to be and Jamala and her flawless performance of a masterpiece song are the ones we will remember and that made it to our list at number 5.
4. Vivo Cantando – Salomé – Spain 1969
1969 was a strange year that delivered four winners due to the lack of tie-breaking rules. Four countries lifted the trophy but hands down Spain was the absolute best amongst them. This is so wonderfully camp that it’s hard to believe that it’s only from the 60s. And Salome gives her heart and soul, singing and moving that wonderful outfit like no one else possibly could. This song is happiness, life! Summer! Spain! Hard to overlook when looking at the lucky ones that have ever been able to lift that trophy. So, Salomé is fourth in our list… hey!
3. Waterloo – ABBA – Sweden 1974
ABBA is to pop what water is to life. Everything! The legendary group was on its way up when they delivered the first win for Sweden. Waterloo remains one of the best known Eurovision entries of all time and it really is one of the biggest classics of the contest. No list of winners would be complete without having the real Swedish royalty, and so ABBA make our list at number 3!
2. Amar Pelos Dois – Salvador Sobral – Portugal 2017
Good things come to those who wait. And boy, did Portugal have to wait for a victory at Eurovision. Fortunately for them, it came with a song that indisputably conquered the hearts of juries and televoters alike, delivering the biggest Eurovision victory margin of all time. Amar Pelos Dois is a musical masterpiece, the lyrics are an inspired poem, the music is sublime. Salvador delivered every rendition of the song differently, showing that every time he was feeling the song deeply and resulting in a simple, honest performance, full of charm and impossible to beat. And thus, the most recent winner of the contest storms into our list at number 2.
1. Euphoria – Loreen – Sweden 2012
Without a doubt, at a time when the reputation of the contest was starting to rebuild and more people would think of it as more than a bunch of freaks singing the exact same song year in, year out, Loreen gave Eurovision its biggest reputational boost possibly since ABBA (thanks, Sweden!). Euphoria broke with every pre-conception of what a Eurovision entry should sound and look like (I still get murderous thoughts every time I hear “this doesn’t sound like Eurovision” about any song, really) and easily conquered Baku. Euphoria went to become a hit and played constantly in Europe and beyond. It probably is the most recognised Eurovision entry since, well, ABBA and for that, Queen Loreen and Euphoria top our list as the best winner in the history of the contest.
What do you think? Do you agree with our list? Are there any winners that we left out that should have been there?