Top 20 Best Eurovision Performances

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Top 20 Best Eurovision Performances

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Joe Shetina
These are the most iconic Eurovision performances of all time! For this list, we'll be looking at the most memorable showings from the international song contest's stage that struck a chord with audiences and critics alike. Our countdown includes “Only Teardrops”, “Making Your Mind Up”, “Fly on the Wings of Love”, “Rise Like a Phoenix”, “Euphoria”, and more!
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Top 20 Best Eurovision Performances


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Best Eurovision Performances.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most memorable showings from the international song contest’s stage that struck a chord with audiences and critics alike.

Does this list deserve douze points? Let us know in the comments below!

#20: “Only Teardrops” (2013)

Emmelie de Forest from Denmark
A good Eurovision performance needs the right combination of good songwriting, memorable staging, and catchiness. That’s certainly what Denmark’s victorious 2013 entry gave us. Mixing catchy flute-driven hooks, a rousing drumline, and the angelic voice of Danish vocalist Emmelie de Forest, “Only Teardrops” has an ethereal quality to it. And it’s only made more mythical by de Forest’s woodsy costuming. The track seemed to be a favorite before it took the stage on Grand Final night, with the Swedish audience cheering before it even began. So it was no surprise when it took first place and became a hit on the European charts.

#19: “Nel blu, dipinto di blu” (1958)

Domenico Modugno from Italy
This Italian tune has taken on a life of its own since its appearance on the Eurovision stage in 1958. But the original performance of “Nel blu, dipinto di blu” better known as “Volare,” was given a grand, sweeping performance by Domenico Modugno. Granted, American crooners like Dean Martin have arguably cemented the song’s place as a classic. But it was Modugno’s silky vocals and commanding stage presence, backed by that swinging orchestra, that launched it into the cultural stratosphere. What’s most shocking is that, despite its status, it only placed third at the contest. Sometimes, losing is winning.

#18: “Satellite” (2010)

Lena Meyer-Landrut from Germany (leena myer LAHND-root)
By 2010, Eurovision had become a show known in large part for its gimmicks and outlandish staging. That’s probably why this German performance was so refreshing. For one thing, its sound felt very at home among contemporary pop numbers. What’s more, the pared-back staging, featuring only lead singer Lena and her backup vocalists, was a far cry from the spectacles we had grown accustomed to. Viewers could just focus on the music. So naturally, the bubbly track about all-consuming love did very well with the Eurovision juries and audience, giving Germany its second win in the contest’s history.

#17: “Making Your Mind Up” (1981)

Bucks Fizz from the United Kingdom
This winning entry from the UK isn’t necessarily the most lyrically complex song, but it sure is a crowd pleaser. A cheesy parade of colorful outfits and bouncy choreography, Bucks Fizz’s performance of “Making Your Mind Up” might not be a masterpiece from a vocal standpoint. But the performance is still beloved by Eurovision fans, and it’s easy to see why. However, it’s most notable for the racy costume change that takes place roughly halfway through the song. Though considerably tame compared to more recent entries, this was an iconic moment for the contest, and paved the way for many future tearaway reveals.

#16: “Molitva” (2007) (MOLIT-vah / MOLE-IT-vah)

Marija Šerifović from Serbia (maria share-EE-fo-vitch sherry-fo-vitch)
“Molitva,” which translates to “prayer” in English, is a soaring ballad, belted gloriously by Serbian singer Marija Šerifović. She and her backup vocalists are surrounded by evocative red lighting throughout the song, and their voices blend together beautifully. Even if you don’t speak the language, the performance is sure to give you goosebumps. It’s a relatively simple showing, but an incredibly powerful one. The 2007 competition was Serbia’s first Eurovision outing as an independent nation, and “Molitva” actually won the contest. But anyone who’s watched Šerifović’s performance knows that it wasn’t just a case of beginner’s luck!

#15: “Hold Me Now” (1987)

Johnny Logan from Ireland
As of 2021, Ireland still holds the Eurovision record for the most wins for a nation, with seven in total. Three of those are due at least in part to the incredibly talented Johnny Logan, who could be considered the Meryl Streep of Eurovision. After bringing home the win for Ireland in 1980, he won again at the 1987 contest in Brussels. “Hold Me Now” is a deliciously ‘80s ballad about lovers going their separate ways. Logan’s gentle voice soars during the choruses, hitting quite a few impressive notes. And the heartbreaking lyrics set the entry apart, making it an unforgettable showing on every level.

#14: “1944” (2016)

Jamala from Ukraine (yuh / juh-MAWLLA MALLA)
Ukrainian singer-songwriter Jamala’s entry in the 2016 contest caused quite a bit of controversy before it was even sung on the Eurovision stage. Indeed, Russian critics contended that the song violated contest rules about political lyrics. “1944” describes the Soviet Union’s deportation of Crimean Tatars during the 1940s. And the way it features regional folk instruments and vocal styles invokes a time, place, and feeling of sorrow for what was lost. Jamala feels every word of the song, which was written in both English and Crimean. To say it’s a stirring performance is a massive understatement. The final vote came down to a nail-biting showdown, with Ukraine edging out Australia and Russia for the win.

#13: “Sound of Silence” (2016)

Dami Im from Australia (dawmmy im)
Australia did so well in the contest when they competed as special guests in 2015 that they were invited back as official participants in 2016. Little did anyone know that they would be among the ones to beat when the votes came in. Dami Im’s rendition of “Sound of Silence” brought the house down in Stockholm. The elaborate digital stage show that accompanied Im’s performance only added to the song’s message of long-distance love in the time of digital technology. Ukraine ultimately won the contest, but Australia’s entry was a testament to what innovative staging, powerhouse vocals, and a truly outstanding song can do.

#12: “Save Your Kisses for Me” (1976)

Brotherhood of Man from the United Kingdom
Quartets were big at Eurovision for some time. And Brotherhood of Man didn’t disappoint with this very cute, very whimsical song at the 1976 contest in the Netherlands. “Save Your Kisses for Me” is told from the point of view of a man leaving the person he loves before heading to work. And while it initially sounds like he’s singing to his partner, we learn at the end that the sweet words are directed toward his kid. Infectious and cheery, the performance is a longstanding favorite for Eurovision viewers. Its breezy appeal was exactly what the juries were looking for too, and the song nabbed the UK’s third win at the contest.

#11: “Dschinghis Khan” (1979) (jingis khan)

Dschinghis Khan from Germany
Sometimes, there really is truth in advertising. The German disco group Dschinghis Khan entered the 1979 contest with a song called, wait for it, “Dschinghis Khan.” And get this, it was all about the historic Mongolian warlord himself. This number debuted when the show wasn’t as elaborately staged, so most members of the band did their choreography and singing from behind microphone stands. The sole exception was the singer playing Genghis Khan, who spent the entire song twirling, strutting, and dancing around the stage. While the song came in fourth place at the end of the night, its memory lives on forever.

#10: “Arcade” (2019)

Duncan Laurence from the Netherlands
Even if you know next to nothing about Eurovision, you may have heard this next track. “Arcade” won the contest for the Netherlands in 2019. But its impact persisted beyond that, and it entered the US Billboard Hot 100 in 2021. When Dutch singer-songwriter Duncan Laurence performed the song in Tel Aviv, he was seated at a piano, silhouetted by meditative blue graphics. It was raw, emotional, and incredibly poignant. You couldn’t help but be transfixed by the vulnerable showing. Laurence and his smoldering looks to camera won over the crowd, home audience, and juries, earning a whopping 498 points.

#9: “Ne partez pas sans moi” (1988)

Céline Dion from Switzerland
Before she was an international singing sensation, Céline Dion was famous for being a Eurovision champion. Ignoring the fact that Dion is famously Canadian and not Swiss, her entry gave the country its second win at the contest. And it gave everyone something to talk about. Though the outfit places the performance firmly in the late ‘80s, there’s no denying Dion’s one-of-a-kind voice is as timeless as ever. She sails over the melody with unparalleled power, grace, and poise. It’s no wonder she went on to become a huge star. Her win was hard-fought, as Switzerland defeated the United Kingdom by a score of 137 to 136 that year, but it was incredibly well-deserved.

#8: “Fly on the Wings of Love” (2000)

Olsen Brothers from Denmark
Who doesn’t love a good underdog story? Few expected the Olsen Brothers from Denmark to get far in Eurovision’s 2000 edition. They were among the oldest performers in the lineup that year, and their song was arguably the most old-fashioned. Yet they won the whole thing. Something about a retro pop-rock single featuring two middle-aged brothers strumming their guitars and singing about a great love really struck a chord. Their joy at performing is evident, and the Stockholm audience’s reaction spoke for itself. Many Eurovision fans still know the lyrics to this day, and will sing along if given the chance!

#7: “Heroes” (2015)

Måns Zelmerlöw from Sweden monce zelmer-lev
Måns Zelmerlöw began his performance of the winning 2015 entry, “Heroes,” sitting on a bench in a casual shirt and leather pants. But once he began interacting with the animations appearing on the screen behind him, the Swedish singer kicked things into high gear. Featuring all kinds of timed effects, Zelmerlöw played to multiple cameras throughout, and never missed his mark. In doing so, he sold this uptempo pop hit with all the energy and charisma of a superstar. The degree of difficulty on display is much higher than we’re used to seeing, yet Zelmerlöw makes it look easy.

#6: “Fairytale” (2009)

Alexander Rybak from Norway (REE-bok)
Between that adorable smile and those killer violin skills, Alexander Rybak pulled all the right strings at the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow. The musician got the victory for Norway with 387 points, a record back then. When you watch him, it’s not hard to understand why. “Fairytale” is a sweet and inoffensive song about a long lost love, and his delivery is filled with gusto and charm. Rybak’s enormous talents are on full display, and it’s a blast to see. But the unsung heroes of this Norwegian fairytale are the traditional dancers who are absolutely killing it on stage beside him. That’s a winning combination if we’ve ever seen one!

#5: “Rise Like a Phoenix” (2014)

Conchita Wurst from Austria con-CHEETA voorst / voo-erst
Sometimes the best way to win is to defy expectations. Austria’s 2014 entry certainly did that. With its sweeping orchestral sound and thrilling buildup, “Rise Like a Phoenix” has more in common with a James Bond theme than a traditional Eurovision ballad. And its singer, Conchita Wurst, is the real star. In a field crowded with gimmicks, dance routines, and men running in oversized hamster wheels, Wurst dared to simply stand on stage and belt. Armed with well-timed fire graphics and a powerful voice, the singer won the Eurovision trophy, making headlines in the process. The audience’s overwhelming response is the cherry on top of this sensational performance.

#4: “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” (2007) law-shah toom-BYE

Verka Serduchka from Ukraine VYARE-kuh sare-DOOCH-kah
“Dancing Lasha Tumbai” is a frenetic song written and performed by Ukrainian drag artist Verka Serduchka. The performance finds Serduchka twitching and dancing about the stage in shimmering silver, having a grand ole time. It’s full of whimsical accordion hooks, a mish-mash of lyrics in many different languages, and an inexplicably amazing energy. The song managed to place second overall in the 2007 competition, and for many Eurovision fans, it’s become a beloved favorite. The madness of “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” is hard to understand and impossible to forget. It’s hypnotic. It’s ridiculous. It’s peak Eurovision.

#3: “Hard Rock Hallelujah” (2006)

Lordi from Finland
Heavy metal might be big in Scandinavia, but it’s not usually what you find on the Eurovision stage. Not until Lordi invaded, anyway. The monstrous band rocked the Athens audience at the 2006 contest with their “Hard Rock Hallelujah.” These rockers were showmen from the start, outfitted in demonic prosthetics and masks. But when frontman Mr Lordi unfurled a gigantic pair of wings and his battle-ax microphone stand started spitting fire, no one else stood a chance. Finland broke its decades-long dry spell with this performance, which brought them their first ever win in the contest.

#2: “Euphoria” (2012)

Loreen from Sweden (lore-IAN)
“Euphoria” is an appropriate title for this Swedish winner from 2012. The way the track builds on its beat and its synth notes before launching into the chorus is the stuff Europop dreams are made of. Loreen’s soaring vocals are impressive on their own, but even more so when you consider the amount of movement incorporated into the staging. Her choreography is conceptual and interpretive, with falling snow and a dueling dance partner helping to set the mood. The song became a huge hit all over Europe, and this euphoric performance is a big reason why.

#1: “Waterloo” (1974)

ABBA from Sweden
When ABBA took the Eurovision stage in 1974, it was a game changer for Sweden – who had never won the competition – and for the entire contest. Believe it or not, bold looks and choreography weren’t exactly a standard part of Eurovision performances at that point. But as soon as the song’s conductor came out in his Napoleon uniform, the audience knew this next entry was something different. This infectious rendition of Eurovision’s most famous song may not be intricately staged, but it features incredible harmonies, outrageous fashions, and the birth of a soon-to-be classic. The performance is often imitated, but it can never be duplicated.
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