The UK may have a love-hate relationship with the rest of Europe when it comes to the Eurovision Song Contest (mainly we think they love to hate us) but we’ve certainly had our ups as well as downs. Sure, we haven’t won in a while. But, when we did win, we stormed it, usually with songs that have gone down in UK music history. Here, in no particular order, we look at our favourite winners (and those who didn’t quite get to the top) over the years.
Javine – Touch My Fire
She may have narrowly missed out on a place in Girls Aloud on Posters: The Rivals, but Javine Hylton makes our list with her Turkish-tinged entry to the 2005 contest. She brought dancers, she brought drummers, she brought the house down but sadly didn’t bring the title home; Touch My Fire came 22nd and only received a measly 22 points.
Jade Ewen – It’s My Time
What’s that? You need a hit written? Call Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Diane Warren. And that’s exactly what we did in 2009, resulting in Jade Ewen’s epic ballad, which became the UK’s most successful Eurovision entry since 2002 by coming fifth. Thanks to Lloyd-Webber (who also played piano for Ewen on the night) the song has more than a hint of musical theatre about it and Europe lapped it up. Bravo! (P.S If you fancy a chuckle, skip to 1.04 for an awkward collision between Ewen and an over-zealous violinist. Gold.)
Precious – Say It Again
Armed with one of the best key changes in 90s pop (say it, say it, say it, say it…Say it A-GAIN!) these five sassy girls placed 12th in 1999. Featuring a pre-Atomic Kitten Jenny Frost, Precious, and their song Say It Again, sadly didn’t win but will always have a special place in our pop nostalgia. Cue perfectly precise, 90s dance routine.
Molly – Children Of The Universe
Taking her rightful place on the list of UK Eurovision divas, Molly Smitten-Downes dropped the surname to attempt to take the top spot in Austria in 2014. One of the firm favourites before the final, she lost fair and square to one of the most famous entrants in the contest’s history, Conchita Wurst. In any other year, Molly would have stood a good chance of glory but Conchita came along at a special time in history and pipped her to the post.
Brotherhood of Mann – Save Your Kisses For Me
Dressed like the love child of Agnetha from Abba and John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, Brotherhood of Man’s performance was deliciously 70s. Makes perfect sense though, as it was way back in 1976 when the four-piece won the contest for us with Save Your Kisses from Me. The song hit Number One in the UK two weeks before the contest and remains the entry with the second most votes ever and the biggest-selling Eurovision winner ever.
Jessica Garlick – Come Back
In 2001, Jessica Garlick made it to the final 10 in Pop Idol. A year later, the Welsh beauty was representing her country in a very different contest. Come Back is the type of big ballad you would expect from a Pop Idol winner, never mind a runner-up and it certainly struck a chord with Europe; Garlick came joint-third.
Katrina and the Waves – Love Shine A Light
Cementing her place in Eurovision history, and a gig at Pride events across the world ever since, 1997 saw Katrina and her eponymous Waves storm to victory with Love Shine A Light, a, quite frankly, inspiring power ballad. It became the band’s biggest success since Walking On Sunshine 12 years earlier. The singer said about the song, “For Eurovision you need a song with a universal message, lighters in the air, Coca-Cola, heartwarming positive ‘all-unite’ message and I think that’s what ‘Love Shine a Light’ says and I’m just lucky that I’m the one that gets to sing it.” *Tears*
Gina G – Ooh Aah…Just A Little Bit
The UK has always had a special relationship with the land of Oz, which is why in ’96 we called upon Aussie songstress Gina G to sing for us. Not only did she sing, though, she danced her arse off like it was the last rave on earth. The performance tapped into the 90s dance culture and I defy anyone to sit still when they hear the opening to the track, which gave Gina G a UK number one. Oh and try to stop yourself from singing a long. I DARE YOU.
Lulu – Boom Bang A Bang
One of the most successful female singers of the sixties, Lulu is one of a handful of Eurovision competitors to continue a successful career post-contest. Her winning entry to the 1969 competition, Boom Bang A Bang, is like the little pop song that could; a gutsy, powerhouse of a track from the pocket-sized singer. To younger audiences, it is probably better known as the title song of the BBC sitcom, Him & Her.
Bucks Fizz – Making Your Mind Up
Blonde highlights. Detachable skirts for the ladies. White trousers for the men. There’s few performances more stereotypically 80s than this one from Bucks Fizz. Arguably the greatest, and campest, entry from the UK in Eurovision history, Making Your Mind Up has a special place in the hearts of Eurovision fans. A win for us in 1981, a win for fashion 4EVA.
The Eurovision Song Contest will be on BBC1 on May 14