XTRA Debate: What determines a Eurovision ‘legacy’?

Who, what, when, where and how is a legacy formed?

There are only a few hours of 2018 left. In some nations within the Eurovision family (good morning Australia!) 2019 has already commenced. While we reminisce over the good, the bad, and the ugly that the last 12 months has brought to us individually, it also gives a moment to reflect on the Eurovision Song Contest. We celebrate the addition of 43 new songs, countless national final entries. However, some acts and songs stand out above the rest. An untouchable, legendary status.

However, what makes these performances so legendary?

As I’m writing this, a proportion of the ESCXTRA team are glued to some form of device to follow along with the live results of the ESC250 countdown. We are showing our delight at songs that scored well, did not rank as highly as we suspected. There have definitely been a few surprises! Anecdotes for staging ideas or initial reactions. It’s like a jumbo-packed, all-day Eurovision event through decibels and pixels.

The simplest, but cheapest answer

From a clinical, common sensical viewpoint – all songs are within the Eurovision legacy. There is only one entry from Spain that performed on the Kyiv stage in 2017, for example. Each song that competes, qualifies or even flops contributes to the rich tapestry of the ever-growing Eurovision bubble.

However, that doesn’t really address the question at hand. Though a good starting point, it doesn’t dig deep enough.

Winner winner chicken dinner!

The next obvious starting point is a Eurovision winner. There is certainly more success in using this as a criteria. Winning the most amount of points, or the highest margin. Scoring by the highest number of countries or the highest proportion of points available. There are many configurations of how we frame a ‘winner’.

Winning acts that have used the contest as a platform to get their voice and talent internationally recognised or solidify their home success. ABBA, Celine Dion – the list goes on.Of course, you can’t expect every winner to gain the same level of success post-contest. Genres, the song and sadly even language has a contribution to crack a global market.

Netta is obviously the latest example, debuting into the US billboard charts earlier in the year. However, given the long career of the artists mentioned above, it would be a bit unfair to immediately judge Netta by ‘success over time’. It’s been less than a year since Lisbon 2018, so clearly Netta (or any 2018 act for that matter) has not had the time to create a long-standing legacy, just yet. Though, I’m sure 2019 and the years to follow we will be seeing a bit more of the clucking queen.

Speaking of winner – have you seen our latest winner from the ESCXTRA Awards?

Viral success

Some songs may not necessarily fare so well on the scoreboard, but become a part of the internet’s psyche. Moments that are captured into the contest, and become mutated into countless memes. Obviously, the inclusion of the word ‘internet’ gives a soft time-frame of these viral incidents. I have probably seen thousands of ‘EPIC SAX GUY’ memes… but precious few from an older edition of the contest. That isn’t to say they don’t exist, of course, but they don’t nearly gain the same level of traction as more modern counterparts.

Who can forget this GEM from Lisbon that has been used in countless forms.

#ESC250 – Eurovision Top 250

It would make sense that beyond the charts of the mass market, it should be the fans who dictate a Eurovision ‘legacy’. The growing group of people who tirelessly support each act every year both during and after the contest. Musical differences aside, we embody and act upon the unofficial constitution of the contest. Uniting cultures and languages for a common united goal. Songs from all countries from all years, in a 12hr friendly fan favourite fanfare.

Jury voting
We may need a bigger scoreboard…

Eurovision Top 250 is a perfect opportunity for fans to come together to form a homogenous collective voice. That said, like any regular vote the results are fluid. We already know, for example, that winner Dima Bilan has slipped 56 places. Next year he could gain 70 places or even win the whole thing. This fluidity is absolutely essential. It would be ridiculous and questionably undemocratic to strike a song because of its success or failure.

Whatever happens to Loreen and ‘Euphoria’ tonight, she certainly will have made history. Winning 7 of 10 Top 250 votes, it is inconceivable that such a feat will be topped anytime soon.


This piece has looked at several different approaches to break down what is or could be meant by a Eurovision ‘legacy’. One overarching theme throughout all four is consistency. That seems to be obvious, and it is to an extent. Competing in the Eurovision Song Contest could be a component of this, Johnny Logan being a prime example. Winning the contest no less than three times as a singer or songwriter, his involvement with Eurovision dominated the late 80s and early 90s. However Logan isn’t the only artist to have competed four times…

Calling San Marino?

Valentina Monetta, usually found musically paired in a Eurovision context with songwriter Ralph Siegel. The latter penning no less than 24 songs to the contest. The duo have become almost synonymous with San Marino’s Eurovision journey. Consistent fan favourites including the odd guilty pleasure, could it be that Valentina is the true Eurovision legacy?

What criteria do you think makes a Eurovision legacy? Is there anything I haven’t covered? Let us know in the comments or on social media @ESCXTRA!

Comments on XTRA Debate: What determines a Eurovision ‘legacy’?

  • Paula

    Legacy is probably more about the charisma and the presence of the artist, more than the quality of the song of their final position on the board. Think in Valentina as an example, she’s been on the contest four times and each time she’s been received with warmth by the public. Not because her statistics, but we like her as a person.

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