DENMARK (BEST: WON IN 1963, 2000 AND 2013)
Denmark had a fair record in the early years capped by their 1963 victory, however their broadcaster then decided to withdraw from the contest for 11 years, and it was not until the 1980s that Denmark got into it’s stride with a string of great results based upon simple catchy pop songs. Things went a little awry in the 1990s, but the start of the new millennium saw the Danes with the very best results of all. However this was not to last, and was swiftly followed by disasters in 2002 and 2004. However the Danes spectacularly returned to form at the start of this decade, capped by a third triumph in 2013.
ESTONIA (BEST: WON IN 2001)
Estonia’s dreadful start in 1994 did not thankfully set a pattern and each year from 1996 to 2002 they performed well, capped by taking the crown in 2001, the first win by an ex-Soviet republic. However, after a top three result on home soil their form dipped alarmingly come the semis era. Fortunes have recently improved with three top-seven finishes in the last decade.
FINLAND (BEST: WON IN 2006)
Poor old Finland (they used to say!). Apart from a few good results in the early 70s and again a decade later their record is riddled with disappointment, and before 2006 they still had to to “finish” (sorry) either in the top five or ahead of the UK. They also lie equal third in the number of “Nul Points”, just one behind Austria and Norway. All that changed in 2006 as the monster outfits and fireworks of “death-metal” band Lordi captured huge media attention and swept all before them in Athens, a whole forty-five years after the Finns first try. Since then however they’ve fallen back to a mixture of DNQs and low final places.
FRANCE (BEST: WON IN 1958, 1960, 1962, 1969 AND 1977)
How the once mighty have fallen! France’s record throughout the 50s and 60s was exemplary, and after a brief blip in the early 70s (ironically enough when Monaco and Luxemburg were winning), they returned to contention in the latter half of that decade. The 80s was a very average decade after what had come before. The 90s saw the French experiment with several different musical styles foreign to Eurovision ears, and after two second places, performances gradually tailed off as the 90s progressed, the latter half of the decade being an absolute nadir for this great Eurovision nation. Consecutive top five finishes in the new millennium were brighter times but France’s fortunes have fallen right away since, with three consecutive bottom-three places for one of Eurovision’s giants. Having said that the Spanish and the Brits have kept them company lately. In 2009 they brought in a huge star, Patricia Kaas, and were rewarded with their first top ten result in seven years. In 2014 this proud Eurovision nation finished bottom of the pile for the first time, however 2016 saw their best result (sixth) for fourteen years.
GEORGIA (BEST: 9TH IN 2010 AND 2011)
In 2007 Georgia became the latest ex-Soviet republic to join Eurovision. Gladys Knight and rainy nights were not involved, but they obtained a very respectable result from one of many dramatic divas that year, that was slightly bettered by their second entry. Despite some doubts after the war in South Ossetia, they submitted a song for Moscow in 2009 called “We Don’t Wanna Put In” (!). This was deemed unsatisfactory by the European Broadcasting Union and as they refused to alter the song, they sat out the 54th contest, only to return to their best results the next two years. Fairly reliable qualifiers, they’ve not cracked the top ten since 2011.
GERMANY (BEST: WON IN 1982 AND 2010)
One of the seven founder countries in 1956, Germany (or more correctly, West Germany as it was then), had a very average Eurovision record until the start of the 70s when they achieved three consecutive 3rd places. There followed a brief spell of poor form before gradually building through the late 70s and early 80s to their only victory in 1982. Apart from the two contributions from Wind, they were unable to maintain this standard for the rest of the decade. The early 90s saw even worse results (with one exception) until comedian Guildo Horn’s participation in 1998 lifted German interest and German results also, until the disastrous 2002 entry bombed against many predictions. The erstwhile composers Ralph Siegel and Bernt Meinunger returned in 2003 with a mid-table entry beloved of gay line-dancers, and Stefan Raab’s protege did OK in 2004 but the next year saw Germany at the very bottom of the pile.
2006 and 2007 saw Germany send critically acclaimed and big selling songs, but while these weren’t enough to counter the tide of political voting, at least they fared slightly better than the other “big four” members. Oslo 2010 saw Raab return with a wildly successful selection series that launched Lena Meyer-Landrut and “Satellite”, a huge hit in Germanic countries before the contest and a clear winner on the night. Lena returned a year later to give Germany the first of two more top tens however they would occupy last place on the scoreboard in both 2015 and 2016.
GREECE (BEST: WON IN 2005)
Greece made a bright start at Eurovision in the mid 70s with some very respectable results. The early 80s saw only intermittent participation and some poor results when they did bother to compete. The late 80s and early 90s saw a string of solid (if unspectacular) results before fortunes waned again. The new millennium has, however been Greece’s finest era at Eurovision with two top three results followed by victory in the 50th contest and seemingly a regular place in the top ten, helped in great measure by a combination of competent performers and a healthy ex-pat phone vote. That being said, the last five years have seen a marked demise with just one top-ten and even two DNQs, unimagineable a few years ago.
HUNGARY (BEST: 4TH IN 1994)
Hungary made a dramatic start to their participation (their 1994 contest final debut song achieved top marks from the first three juries!) but were unable to sustain that kind of success in subsequent years. After a seven year break they returned to the contest in 2005 and fared reasonably well since, including their second-ever top five in 2014.
ICELAND (BEST: 2ND IN 1999 AND 2009)
Iceland struggled in their early years before achieving a strong 4th place in 1990. Their results then tended to mid-scoreboard, until 1999 when they came very close to their first victory. After that their results plummeted despite some critical acclaim, until 2009 when they achieved a second runners-up spot a decade after the first. In the 50/50 era they have been reliable finalists until the last four years when they’ve fallen far short in the semi.
IRELAND (BEST: WON IN 1970, 1980, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994 AND 1996)
What can one say about Ireland? After a solid start in the 60s with a string of male balladeers, they took the crown in 1970. The next few years rather surprisingly saw them mid-table, but they rallied again in the late 70s and achieved five consecutive top 5 finishes, headed by Johnny Logan’s first win in 1980. With very few exceptions they remained competitive nearly every year for the next decade and a half, and their three consecutive wins and four out of six will surely never be surpassed. This kind of dominance couldn’t last forever, and the approach of the millennium saw a less successful Ireland who in 2001 suffered the indignity of relegation after a bottom 3 finish unthinkable just a few years previously. This infamy was repeated three years later when only the UK vote saved Ireland from a big fat zero, even with a song written by Westlife’s Bryan McFadden. It took Brian Kennedy to restore them (briefly) to the top ten before folk group Dervish landed Ireland’s first ever last place in 2007. If it was any consolation, they were joined at the foot of the Helsinki scoreboard by France and the UK, the other two most successful countries in contest history. A puppet in 2008 gained loads of publicity but few votes. A couple of muppets did rather better three years later but Ireland would fail to qualify four years in a row until fortunes were restored to a degree in 2018. .
ISRAEL (BEST: WON IN 1978, 1979, 1998 AND 2018)
As members of the European Broadcasting Union, Israel became the first country outside of Europe to enter the contest in 1973 and made a competent but unspectacular start. All that would change in 1978, as they took two consecutive crowns and placed in the top two for four out of six years (and in one of the other years they didn’t even compete!). By the second half of the 80s the glory days had passed but Israel generally finished in the top half of the table. In the 90s their participation was patchy, but who can forget Dana International’s triumph in 1998, although more recent results had not been particularly overwhelming, until Netta Barzilai swept all before her to win Israel’s fourth title in Lisbon.
ITALY (BEST: WON IN 1964 AND 1990)
Many of the very early Italian entries were plucked from the famous San Remo song festival and were big international hits without being successful at Eurovision, so their 1964 victory was long overdue. After that their fortunes went off the boil before rallying in the early 70s. Another barren period followed until their fortunes rose once more in the mid 80s. They won the first contest of the 90s and scored solidly until 1993. After the 1997 contest they went AWOL for fourteen whole years. On their return in Dusseldorf they were welcomed back as the prodigal, both by the EBU (giving them automatic entry to the final by turning the Big Four into the Big Five) and the voters as they swept to runners-up position. Since then they have quite often wiped the floor with the old Big Four.