XTRA Debate: The pride and shame of taking part in Eurovision

Many of us fans would dream of taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest. Only a tiny percentage actually gets to live their dream. To me, as a fan, it is hard to imagine why some artists don’t look back with pride at their Eurovision adventure. This debate is there to take a look at those artists who look back in pride, but also at those who try to hide their Eurovision experience, for whatever reason it might be.

The pride of taking part

Every year, countries get to send one artist off to the Eurovision Song Contest. That one artist then has the responsibility to defend his or her country to the best of their ability. Some of them do well, others don’t. But some artists take enormous pride in having represented their countries at the Eurovision Song Contest. Below, you can find some examples of those who leave no opportunity unused to proclaim how proud they are of their Eurovision experience.

Trijntje Oosterhuis – Failed, crushed, but proud

She might not be the first name to be expected here, but credit where credit is due. Trijntje Oosterhuis became the laughing stock of the 2015 contest in Vienna. Her low-cut dress, followed by her parachute suit did not go down well with the fans and the voters. To be frank, neither did her staging or her song. She became the only Dutch entrant so far not to make the Grand Final in the post-Anouk era.

One could’ve imagine Trijntje Oosterhuis, a woman with a successful career, looking back at Eurovision and thinking to leave it out of her biographies and interviews. Instead, as soon as she landed on Schiphol Airport after her semifinal failure, Trijntje encouraged other artists to take part in the event.

Trijntje Oosterhuis took enormous pride in having flown her country’s flag. Despite not making the final, she was proud to have been on that stage. She saw it as an honour and it didn’t affect her career whatsoever.

Måns Zelmerlöw – From Eurovision to other jobs

Pride is a good feeling, I’ll admit. But there’s more to be won from the Eurovision Song Contest. Måns Zelmerlöw won that same contest Trijntje Oosterhuis failed at, in Vienna back in 2015. He however turned Eurovision into a prime feature on his CV.

As the winner of the contest, he managed to get a good couple of hosting jobs. He hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 2016 together with Petra Mede, a job for which he received a good amount of praise. As well as the big contest, last year, he hosted the United Kingdom’s national final Eurovision: You Decide.

Måns Zelmerlöw has turned himself into a Eurovision icon. He is the positivity people wish for from Eurovision. His winning song probably won’t top many ‘Favourite winner ever’ polls or feature in a recap of Eurovision’s Greatest Hits, but Måns Zelmerlöw himself will.

The shame of taking part

Sometimes, Eurovision just doesn’t quite turn out the way you expect it to. You were happy to be on that big stage, but afterwards, it’s not exactly a topic you bring out at parties. The actual event was fun, but let’s just forget it ever happened afterwards. Some artists have used this approach, but why?

Glennis Grace – Kyiv in… Russia?!

I’m Dutch, so the examples from my home country are the most obvious ones I could take here. And when I think about people being more ashamed than anything of their Eurovision adventure, Glennis Grace is the most prominent case to pop into my head.

Aside from her America’s Got Talent, Glennis Grace has never been one to look back at Eurovision with pride. She, as a then unknown singer, took part at the Eurovision Song Contest 2005 in Kyiv. Her Whitney Houston inspired song My Impossible Dream failed to make it to the Grand Final, at that moment the first ever Dutch song not to feature on a Saturday night. Soon after the contest, Grace didn’t take her defeat graciously. She lashed out, saying that talent was not recognised and stated that she would never do it again.

Okay, so she didn’t want to do it again. That is, of course, fine. But if we look at her website, we see that it says:

In 2005, Glennis Grace takes part at Eurovision in Kyiv, Russia.

That’s right, that is the only mention of Eurovision Grace makes on her website. And when she was asked last month about a potential Tel Aviv return, her reply wasn’t ‘No’, but ‘No no no no no’. It clearly was not the first time Glennis Grace has shown her shame of having taken part in Eurovision.

Brendan Murray – The poor old plumber

This case has puzzled me the past few weeks. Former boyband idol Brendan Murray has taken to the stage of X Factor UK. The young Irish singer has quite a bit of experience: Decent success with Hometown, a performance in front of over 150 million people. You can’t quite say he’s a newbie or an amateur in the business.

Yet, at X Factor UK, he is described as a… plumber. He told everyone his boyband story, but missed out the tiny detail that he, as a solo singer, had already performed in front of millions at Eurovision. Did he skip it on purpose?

Pride, shame, but why?

We’ve now seen four singers with their own stories regarding Eurovision. I think Trijntje Oosterhuis shows us that not only those with success look back with pride. As a Eurovision fan, I find it incomprehensible that artists would try to hide their Eurovision fame.

In the case of Brendan Murray, I see why, though. There is a story he wants to tell: From the heights of fame with a band to an X Factor audition as a solo artist. It is a better story if you leave Dying To Try out, but is it just as truthful? I think not.

Pride or shame, whichever artists end up with, Eurovision is always part of a story. That story can be filled with joy, hope and positivity or with humiliation and despair, but it is always a story worth telling. I hope that in future contests, every artists, those with 500 points and those without a single one, look back in pride for having represented their country at the Eurovision Song Contest. The contest deserves it.

How do you feel about the pride and shame artists might have? Let us know!

Nick van Lith

I'm one of the founding members of ESCXTRA.com. Eleven years after the start, I'm proud to say that I am now the Editor-in-Chief of this wonderful website. When I'm not doing Eurovision stuff, you should be able to find me teaching German to kids... And cheering on everything and everyone Greek, pretty much. Pame Ellada!

Comments on XTRA Debate: The pride and shame of taking part in Eurovision

  • http://eurovisionthroughtheages.blogspot.co.uk Martin

    Us UK fans are used to our singers attempting to obliterate Eurovision out of their history too – Michael Ball, Jade Ewen and Andy Abrahams rarely mention it anywhere in their promotional material and Josh Dubovie even changed his name in an attempt to escape his ESC past!

  • Paula

    I could understand Josh or Andy being hurt of being at the very bottom, but Jade? She was Fifth, better result for UK in ages before and after her.

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