The list of countries that are yet to win the Eurovision Song Contest is still long, though Portugal fell off the list with their first victory last year. Can any of the 20 remaining countries make it this year? We take a look at their best and worst results.
When Salvador Sobral took home the trophy in May 2017, he wasn’t just securing Portugal their first Eurovision win. He also left another country, Cyprus, as the country with most participations without a victory.
Though Malta debuted 10 years before Cyprus, it is currently Cyprus that holds the less nicer record of most appearances without a win. For the Greek language island, the number is 34 appearances while it for Malta is 30, which it also is for Iceland. Those three countries have been now waiting than most others. Where Iceland and Malta both have two second places as best result, Cyprus has however never finished better than a fifth place.
In the video below, take a look at the best and worst (according to results) from the 20 countries still to win the Eurovision Song Contest. The article continues after the video.
Five countries with less than 10 appearances
Among the countries without a victory, we find five “newer” countries that have taken part 10 times or less; Australia (3), Czech Republic (6), San Marino (8), Montenegro (9) and Georgian (10). Of these, San Marino and Czech Republic only made it to the final once, and both finished in the bottom. Montenegro qualified twice, and have a 13th place from 2015 as their best result. Georgia made it on seven out of 10 attempts with their best result being two 9th places. Australia is in a whole other league than the other non winners. As a special guest, they were automatically qualified for the final in 2015. On their other two participations, they easily qualfied from their semi-finals, and came second and 9th in the final.
Countries like Slovenia and Croatia have also been waiting quite a long time with 23 appearances each. They are followed by Poland with 20 participations, and Romania and Lithuania who each have taken part 18 times. Slovenia have never finished better than a 7th place, which they achieved twice. Croatia however have two fourth places as their best result.
Romania twice coming third
Poland had a fantastic debut coming in second in their debut year in 1994! Since that time, Poland has however never again went home with a top 5 result. Romania have twice ended third, and with a few other good years, fans have been expecting them to soon win. It’s different for Lithuania. Despite a 6th place from 2006, very few expect much from the country that have quite mixed results in terms of qualifying for the final, and once even left with no points at all.
With 17 appearances, FYR Macedonia is also still waiting for their first win. They have a 12th place as best result, and as such never tried to finish in top 10. The same doesn’t count for Hungary. They have acieved both 4th and 5th places, but in 15 attempts not yet won. Albania and Belarus follows right after with 14 appearances each. Albania finished 5th in 2012, which is their best result. Belarus has a 6th place as best result, which is also the only time they were in top 10.
Moldova best result in 2017
Three more countries yet to win are Moldova, Bulgaria and Armenia. Moldova achieved their best result last year when SunStroke Project returned to the contest, blew everyone away and came in third. That’s Moldova best result in their now 13 participations. Just before Moldova in the scoreboard was Bulgaria. That second place is the best result so far for them. They have participated 12 times, made it to the final three times, and finished in top 5 all three times. Armenia with 11 participations are more successful than most other countries, despite not winning yet. They only missed the final once, and finished in top 10 seven times, with a 4th place secured twice, as best result.
You might also be interested in our article about the six countries hoping to reach the final for the first time in quite a while, or the five that never failed to qualify for the final.
In just a few days time, the ESC Insight team will be touching down in the beautiful Portuguese capital of Lisbon to bring you two weeks of extensive coverage from this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. We’ll be delivering in-depth articles, rehearsal coverage, podcasts, travel guides, this very newsletter and much, much more.
Here’s your guide to the members of our core team who’ll be on location this year, and what they’re planning to produce for you…
Ewan returns with the almost-legendary “Hello, Internet!” to bring daily coverage from the heart of the Eurovision Song Contest to the four corners of the continent and beyond on ESC Insight’s daily podcast (which this year looks like a big, rather comfortable, orange sofa). Expect interviews, rehearsal reviews, chat, and more on the podcast – which will also go out on radio stations around the world with the help of Radio Six International. His pre-Contest favourite didn’t make it out of the National Finals, it ran out of metaphors…
Ellie is in Lisbon to voyage to the alternative heart of the Song Contest. Whether it’s tracking down the technical team, asking non-Eurovision related questions to Eurovision artists or escaping the Press Centre to get a true taste of the city, she’ll be making audio features, writing articles and appearing on the rehearsal news podcast. She enjoys long walks on the beach, screamo and doing the dance moves to ‘Hvala Ne‘.
Lisa-Jayne joins us directly from a whirlwind trip to Australia where she has been accompanying Slavko on a mini tour of the Aussie preview parties, so most likely she will be seriously jet-lagged and in need of a gin & tonic! She will be reporting daily for Radio Six International’s news bulletins and also has a very exciting, special project with Ewan that we’re not allowed to tell you about just yet.
Her pre-contest favourites include Israel, Bulgaria and Finland but as always Lisa works her own version of Eurovision Maths and she currently has 8 songs in her top 3!
John Egan joins us on the ground in Lisbon covering the rehearsals and looking at the mad maths of the Eurovision. If France, Estonia or Ireland lift the trophy he will be pleased.
John Lucas is joining Insight on the ground for the fourth year running. He will be keeping the ESC Insight social media channels updated, overseeing the newsletter and contributing blog posts and podcast content throughout the fortnight. His pre-Contest favourite this year is Finland – and anyone caught using the F-W word in his presence will be on the receiving end of a very hard stare…
In addition to the core team, we’ll also be hosting special guest content from a variety of friends and fellow journalists, plus invaluable contributions from the members of our team who couldn’t make it to the live event this year. So keep reading, listening and sharing to make sure you don’t miss a thing.
Got something you’d like to see us cover over the next two weeks? Feel free to let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best…
Elsewhere in this week’s newsletter, Portugal’s national broadcaster RTP unveils some ambitious coverage plans for their first ever hosting, preview party season ends on a high note in Amsterdam and Madrid, and Estonia’s Elina Nechayeva gets some good news about her ambitious stage dress…
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Vikings don’t need electric instruments to make aware of themselves. That can be heard on the new acoustic version of this year’s Danish Eurovision entry “Higher Ground”.
Rasmussen will represent Denmark in Lisbon – first in the semi-final on the 10th of May and then hopefully in the final Saturday the 12th. Compared to the Danish final, a whole new group of “vikings” to accompany him on stage has been chosen.
The four vikings are Daniel Firth, Gustav Emil Bresler, Jesper Paasch and Mads Engelhardt – and they can be heard on this newly released acoustic version.
The representatives from Norway and Germany respectively that they know the songs from their Eurovision competitors. While Alexander Rybak added his very own violin touch to five entries, Michael Schulte sang a medley of nine of this year’s Eurovision entries.
By interaction on the pre- party tour, on their social media and even through homages that some pay to others, Eurovision participants usually only show healthy competition and no big rivalry. In the past few days, Alexander Rybak – Norway’s representative – and Michael Schulte, this year’s German act, have proved that.
Through YouTube, the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest winner uploaded a video of what he called an “Eurovision 2018 Violin Jam”. In this compilation of moments, Rybak played the violin to five of this year’s competing songs: The Netherlands, Croatia, Portugal, France and Australia. In the comments of the video, Alexander stated: “Some Eurovision songs are so irresistible for the violin that I can’t keep my hands off them.” In the same comment, Rybak asked the viewers to let him know which jam they liked the most.
Going acapella, Michael Schulte, this year’s Germany representative, covered nine of this year’s competing songs. Maybe to avoid singing in a foreign language in fear of getting the words wrong – something Saara Aalto wasn’t scared of – Michael decided to only cover songs in English: his own, Bulgaria, Austria, Australia, Sweden, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland and, of course, Israel.
There wasn’t much to indicate that 1998’s Eurovision Song Contest would be one of historic proportions.
One could argue that the world’s favourite Song Contest was in the midst of a terrible slump. Viewing figures were falling across the continent and the Contest hadn’t produced a major hit since Nicole’s ‘Ein Bißchen Frieden’ six years previously. Thanks to Johnny Logan’s second Eurovision victory (with ‘Hold Me Now’), RTÉ would be hosting the Eurovision for only their third time. Just as in 1981, the Simmonscourt Pavilion would be the venue used to stage the live show.
As the results came in, two countries with very different Eurovision track records battled for the title. Switzerland’s 1980s Eurovision entries either did very well (five top five results with one winner) or badly (five outside the top 10). Meanwhile the 80s were an era when the United Kingdom did consistently, if not overwhelmingly, well: one winner, four other top five results and only one song that did not place in the top 10. 1988 would be a battle between a country whose recent Eurovision fortunes had been something of a roller coaster versus another that did consistently well.
The Duelling Reboots
The UK found a consistent level of success with acts who had limited previous chart success. In Dublin, Scott FitzGerald carried the Union Flag. His Eurovision entry, ‘Go’, was written Julie Forsyth, who also sang backing vocals onstage in Dublin. FitzGerald was the epitome of a one hit wonder whose duet with Yvonne Keeley ‘If I Had Words’ had made it #3 in the UK charts in 1978. Eurovision 1988 represented a chance to showcase himself on one of the biggest musical stages in the world, a second chance at stardom.
Scott FitzGerald and Yvonne Keeley – ‘If I Had Words’ (Source: YouTube/belkin59)
Switzerland would be represented by a rarity: a teenager in need of a comeback. Céline Dion was a local celebrity in (French) Canada when one of her singles became a massive hit in France.
Céline Dion – ‘D’amour ou d’amitié (Source: YouTube/Ina Chansons)
‘D’amour ou d’amitié’ earned a gold record in France, something no other Canadian artist had achieved by that point. The lyrics were written by Eddy Marnay, who had also penned the lyrics for Frida Boccara’s Eurovision (co)winning ‘Un jour, un enfant’. Dion and Marnay would work together through her teen years, with edgy and hip songs like ‘Mon ami m’a quittée’ (My Friend is Gone) and ‘Tellement j’ai d’amour pour toi’ (I’m So in Love with You). Songs like these gave Dion the sort of catalogue that little girls and grandmothers loved, but not anyone else. Dion never had a big hit in France after ‘D’amour ou d’amitié’ and her cheesy chart toppers in (French) Canada were drying up by the late 80s.
It was time for a reboot. Starting with this gem:
Céline Dion – ‘Lolita’ (Source: YouTube/CelinedionGR1)
This is indeed the heartwarming song about a teenager girl imploring her older lover to help her lose her virginity – or she will find someone else to do it. Let’s just move on to the results…
The Scores On The Doors
It’s worth remembering that in 1988 we were still a decade ahead of any significant public input to determine a Eurovision Song Contest result: juries determined the winner. Delegations seeking the win worked along those lines, trying to send entries that would inspire support among music and media professionals. Which, it should be said, did not exactly produce a series of winners (or entries) that fired up the European singles charts of the 1980s (or indeed the 90s).
Overall, the best description of the 1988 scoreboard would be flat. There were only seven points between the third and seventh ranked entries. At the other end of the results table there were five very lowly ranked entries that earned between zero and ten points (sadly, Austria received the dreaded nul points). The average score per country for the winner was only 6.85 points our of a possible 12. Despite there being two entries finishing well clear of the rest, this was not a year with a landslide result.
In fact, there was a lot of love for a lot of entries. Ten of the twenty-one entries received at least one douze points. Five countries – Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Luxembourg, and Yugoslavia—each received three top marks; each also ended up in the top six.
But the Contest demands a winner. 1988 was no different.
Scott FitzGerald – ‘Go’ (Source: YouTube/escbelgium4)
With only three juries left to report, the United Kingdom had a fifteen point lead over Switzerland…
France blanked the UK and gave the Swiss a single point, cutting the lead to 14 points…
Portugal gave the Swiss twelve points, but the UK only three: now the lead was down to five points…
The Yugoslav jury, not known for voting reliably for either country, gave the Swiss six points, and a lead of a single point. Any score for the UK and Fitzgerlad would win… Seven points to the Netherlands… Eight to Germany… Ten to Norway…
Then the camera crew sprinted away from the UK delegation to the Swiss, Fitzgerald knew it was over, and the final twelve points went to France.
‘Ne partez pas sans moi’ beat ‘Go’ by a single point, on the last jury.
Céline Dion – ‘Ne partez pas sans moi’ (Source: YouTube/juan8969)
We should acknowledged that neither entry was a hit. ‘Go’ didn’t manage to make the UK top 50; Dion’s entry only managed 11th in the Swiss charts. Yet there is some irony here: Dion did ‘go’ on to bigger and better things, ‘leaving without’ FitzGerald.
Scott FitzGerald never had another hit. Céline Dion, of course, became a global superstar within a few years of her Eurovision victory. She’s currently 11th on the all-time global music sales list. All the acts ranked ahead of her started out in the anglosphere. Her album ‘D’eux’ remains the best selling French language album in history.
And that’s how you reboot a career.
Fast forward to 2018. Ki Fitzgerald, Scott’s son, member of Busted who have had eight top 10 UK singles including four number ones, is a strong music producer and songwriter working in LA and London. He’s also the co-author of Saara Aalto’s ‘Monsters’. Hoping, no doubt, to finish a place better in Lisbon than his Dad did in Dublin.
Unfortunately Bosnia and Herzegovina won’t participate in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest due to financial difficulties with the broadcaster, which almost shut down in recent years as a result of large levels of debt. We take a look at six songs, which however could have represented the country.
All of the songs listed below are released after the 1st of September 2017, and as such live up to the rules of the Eurovision Song Contest. We sincerely hope to see Bosnia and Herzegovina return to the contest very soon.
Ilma Karahmet – Zaledi Grijeh
Ilma Karahmet is a big upcoming star on the Bosnian music scene. She became famous back in 2013 when she took part in the first season of X Factor Adria – the Serbian version of The X Factor franchise. At that time she was only 13 years old. ZalediGrijeh is Ilma’s third single after she previously released Sjeti Se (2014) and Ne Zovi MeTugo (2017).
Laka – Lizalo
Laka needs no introduction. Back in 2008 he represented Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Eurovision Song Contest in Belgrade and finished 10th in the big final. In the following years, he released his second studio album Stvorenje (2010) and a number of singles such as Poželjenje, Mačko, Gasovi and Malokrvna. Laka still performs together with his sister Mirela
Božo Vrećo feat. Vasil Hadžimanov – Ko Li Noćas Miluje Ti Kosu?
Božo is a unique singer who is credited for the revival of sevdalinka – a traditional genre of folk music from Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is an androgynous singer – sometimes performing as a man, sometimes as a woman – which is breaking down deep prejudices. Božo hopes that he through his musical performances also can be a voice for LGBT rights in the Balkans.
See alsoWatch the high quality videos from Eurovision In Concert 2018
Letu štuke – Supermarket
Letu štuke is a rock-punk band which was formed in 1986 in Sarajevo. The lead vocalist and guitarist in the band is Dino Šaran, who composed the song ThunderAnd Lightning(Munja i grom) that represented Bosnia and Herzegovina at the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo.
Emina Tufo – Zadnji Zagrljaj
Emina is 23 years-old. She reached fame back in 2012 as she made the final of the Bosnian talent show Zvijezda možeš biti ti (You Can Be a Star). Tufo was one of the favourites to win the Serbian talent show Zvezde Granda (Grand’s Stars) three years later, in 2015, but the singer surprisingly chose to leave the contest due to disagreements with management of Grand record label regarding the contract issues.
Armin Muzaferija – Biću Tu
Armin started his music career in 2000. He has participated in many music festivals in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as in Croatia, where he accomplished some remarkable results. In 2007 Armin went to the University of Cambridge in order to improve his English. He has recorded two studio albums – Još te volim (2009) and Na srcu potpisan (2015). Recently he told to Bosnian TV-station N1 that he would be honoured to represent his country in the Eurovision Song Contest one day.
Which of these songs do you think could have secured Bosnia and Herzegovina the top result in case of the Balkan country’s participation in Lisbon? Please vote for your favourite in the poll below: