A definitive list of the best 5 Eurovision songs of all time
We all remember the glorious ‘so sh*t they’re good’ stinkers, but what about the songs that are actually, well, decent?
It’s nearly that time of year again: the time when we break out the beer and a bottle of wine, maybe order a cheap, greasy, yet utterly delicious takeaway and spend a Saturday night, when we should be in the pub, sat on the sofa, devouring some of the most glorious, unabashedly ridiculous Euro-pop you’ll ever feast your ears and eyes on.
All pretence aside, Eurovision remains not only one of the Ireland’s favourite guilty pleasures, but the entire continent has just as strong a love affair as ever with the camp, colourful and always comical competition.
The contest is returning with Eurovision 2023 this Saturday, May 13. Of course, we’re hoping for more entries like ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’ and ‘We Are The Winners’ but, occasionally, someone does drop an actual banger.
With that in mind, here are our ‘Top 5 Eurovision Songs of All Time’:
5. 'We've Got The World' – Mickey Harte (Ireland, 2003)
It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's ours. Playing on a constant loop in the Her offices (that's genuinely not a joke), the song slaps every time. There's just something about a Donegal man with a guitar and a dream that has a grip on us as a nation.
Mickey Joe may not have won that year in Riga but he certainly won our hearts, with the song reaching the number one spot in Irish charts and 11th in Eurovision.
4. ‘Euphoria’ – Loreen (Sweden, 2012)
This second selection is an example of when a Eurovision entry is so genuinely good that it transcends the contest itself and goes on to climb the charts purely on its pop prowess. ‘Euphoria’ by Loreen feels almost like throwback dancefloor filler that you’d expect to hear at holiday resorts in Benidorm or down your local pub where one of the neighbours DJs after midnight.
Tinged with a touch of cheese even predating the 2010s though it may be, it reached number one in seven countries, was Sweden’s highest-ever scoring song and the third-highest in the competition’s history. To be honest, you’d be forgiven for not realising it was a Eurovision song, as it easily stood on its own merit as a solid dance track.
Loreen is actually making a Eurovision return this year, once again representing Sweden in the competition. She’s currently the bookies’ favourite to take the crown in Liverpool on Saturday as well – but if she wins again, Sweden will be tied with Ireland for most Eurovision wins.
3. ‘Rise Like a Phoenix’ – Conchita Wurst (Austria, 2014)
Wurst by name but no means by nature. Conchita Wurst is, arguably, the most iconic among all the Eurovision winners of the past decade if not longer. The Austrian’s power ballad, complete with the fiery display itself, gave off truly triumphant vibes befitting of a Bond theme and in a contest where catchy pop so often wins the day, it’s nice to see raw singing talent rise to the top.
It was Austria’s first win in 50 years – just their second-ever – and cemented itself as one of the most memorable moments in the Eurovision Song Contest’s history. Wurst (real name Thomas Neuwirth) went on to become an LGBTQ+ icon, appearing at numerous pride parades over the years and even speaking to the UN on discrimination among the community.
While it may have been seen as a controversial selection in some countries with less progressive attitudes surrounding sexuality and gender, it marked yet another significant chapter in the competition’s history. Back in 1998, Israel’s Dana International became the first transgender woman to win Eurovision and like her, Wurst’s victory was also one for representation and equality.
2. ‘Think About Things’ – Daði Freyr (Iceland, 2020)
The winner that never was. We truly feel for Daði Freyr and his synthy alt-pop smash, ‘Think About Things’. Entered as Iceland’s song for Eurovision 2020, the song was destined for greatness, having already taken over the internet before it even came close to the business end of the contest.
As reported by the Evening Standard at the time, it racked up 8.1 million views on YouTube, 10.2 million plays on Spotify and TikTok and over 53,000 fan-generated videos prior to the competition; who knows how many more it has today (I can’t be bothered doing that much maths).
With 2020’s Eurovision Song Contest being cancelled, the irresistibly groovy Nordic number never got to reach the final and wear the crown we truly believed it was on course to earn. All that being said, we take it upon ourselves to crown it the official (unofficial) winner of Eurovision 2020 – you can’t stop us, so have that.
1. ‘Waterloo’ – ABBA (Sweden, 1974)
Last but not least, drum roll please (everyone reading does a drum roll in their head), we have our winners: who else but ABBA and ‘Waterloo’, truly one of the greatest, universally loved and utterly upbeat bops of all time. 1974 would not only go on to be the first of Sweden’s six wins but one of the most legendary tracks in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest.
Held in Brighton that year, at the peak of their powers, the Swedish supergroup entered what would go on to be a classic not only in the UK charts, but a pop music hall-of-famer throughout Europe and the US too. ABBA went on to launch a long and successful career that still survives today, with a long-awaited reunion sometime this year. Musicals and the Mamma Mia! films were spawned in their honour and Eurovision helped to launch them as one of the greatest pop groups of all time.
We had so many to choose from when we were nailing down our favourite five of all-time and we feel bad to have left so many genuinely good tracks out, but given the quality of this tune in particular, not to mention the heights they reached after becoming Eurovision winners, it wouldn’t have felt right giving it to anyone other than ABBA.
Past, present, future
But that’s just our list, the question is which entries do you think are the best Eurovision songs of all time and what are your favourite memories down the years? We’ve had plenty of fun looking back at the 67 winners and numerous other contestants in the competition history: it’s certainly fun to see what some of those familiar faces are up to now.