LATVIA (BEST: WON IN 2002)
Latvia were the last of the Baltic Ex-Soviet republics to enter the contest but made a huge initial impact in their short Eurovision history. A debut top three finish was immediately followed by what would have been a relegation from 2002 if Portugal had not withdrawn. Taking advantage of this unexpected opportunity they stormed to the title in Tallinn, then on home soil the pendulum swung back in the other direction with a second-last result in 2003, then non qualification in 2004. Fortunes were restored with a top 5 finish in 2005 making Latvia at that point arguably the most consistently successful of the “new” countries. Sadly since then it’s all gone a bit pear-shaped. The next three years were mid-table but from 2009 to 2014 Latvia DNQ’d including no less than three last places in the semi. The last few years have seen a revival in fortunes.
LITHUANIA (BEST: 6TH IN 2006)
It took seven years and three entries for Lithuania to establish some respectability with their 2001 entry (which went on to be used in a British television ad for a Manchester shopping centre). This rapidly evaporated a year later and overall Lithuania have been among the least successful of the ex-Soviet countries. A gimmick entry in 2006 gave them a brief taste of the top end of the scoreboard and since then, to be fair, they have maintained a solidly better record without setting the scoreboard on fire.
LUXEMBOURG (BEST: WON IN 1961, 1965, 1972, 1973 AND 1983)
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg was never shy to invite singers and songwriters from other countries to represent it, and this paid off mightily in the first half of both the 1960s and 1970s, although in both decades the latter half was less successful. The 1980s saw some sporadic excellence, including a fifth victory, amongst more mediocre results, but after Lara Fabian in 1988 they tailed off dramatically and have not competed since 1993. Their last two entries were characterized by women in plastic frocks singing in the Luxembourgish language, which may not have been a wise move after the glory days of France Gall, Vicky Leandros and Anne-Marie David.
MALTA (BEST: 2ND IN 2002 AND 2005)
The first two years of participation, Malta sang in Maltese with disastrous consequences, and were fortunate indeed that the voting systems then in place wouldn’t permit “nul points”. After one further attempt in English that was more successful, they took a sixteen year break from the contest. They returned in the early 90s and compiled a solid record throughout that decade at a time when only they, Ireland and the UK were permitted to sing in English. Regular top tenners, in 1998 Chiara (above) was still in contention for the prize with one set of votes to go, and seven years later joined the select club of artists who’ve finished in the top three in two Eurovisions. The subsequent contests saw a Maltese meltdown as the little island in the Med without neighbours and ex-pats struggled in modern Eurovision. Even Chiara’s third go in 2009 couldn’t get them back in even the top twenty, but 2013 saw their best result for almost a decade.
MOLDOVA (BEST: 3RD IN 2017)
This ex-Soviet republic made sure it got noticed on it’s 2005 debut by sending a rock song featuring a toothless granny on a rocking chair banging her drum. An immediate top six finish that they have had trouble matching since. After a run of being reliable mid-table finalists Moldova DNQ’d from 2014 to 2016 but a feel-good crowd pleaser from Sunstroke Project gave them their best result in 2017.
MONACO (BEST: WON IN 1971)
Monaco was generally a second chance for French singers and songwriters to participate at Eurovision, and perhaps not unexpectedly they had a very solid record at the contest throughout their original participation, a pretty regular fixture in the top half of the scoreboard. Despite three consecutive top four results in the mid Seventies, with a couple of years they had withdrawn, seemingly for good.
They made a brief return a quarter of a century later to a very different kind of Eurovision. Their chosen entries seemed to fail to grasp what now cut the mustard and after three dismal DNQs they again departed.
MONTENEGRO (BEST: 13TH IN 2015)
Montenegro participated twice in the contest during their alliance with Serbia as the last unified parts of former Yugoslavia and details can be found on the Serbia & Montenegro page. In 2007 Montenegro debuted in it’s own right, but struggled to make an impact. After three very clear DNQs they withdrew after 2009, but came for Baku 2012 after a three year hiatus to the same underwhelming response. At long last in 2014 a very traditional Balkan ballad did the trick and was backed up a year later.
MOROCCO (BEST: 18TH IN 1980)
Just one solitary entry and one place above bottom (it beat Finland).
NETHERLANDS (BEST: WON IN 1957, 1959, 1969, 1975 AND 2019)
The Dutch claimed victory in two of the first four contests but this was no warning for the disastrous decade they suffered in the 60s when they were consistently among the also rans. So it was somewhat surprising when they claimed one of the four first places in 1969. This signaled a sea-change in fortune over the next six years, culminating in their most recent victory in 1975. The 80s and 90s saw the occasional good (but not earth-shattering) result interspersed with mid-table mediocrity, and sometimes worse. The new millennium has seen the Netherlands, along with a number of contest stalwarts, struggle with the changes in the contest culture and voting. However the Dutch will always have a special place in Eurovision history. They sent Eurovision’s first bouncy winner (in 1958), the contests first black singer (in 1966) and stepped in to host the contest when Israel couldn’t (in 1980). 2012 saw the eighth consecutive DNQ for this proud Eurovision stalwart and supporter. A record for all the wrong reasons. But there was light at the end of the tunnel. Anouk returned them to the top ten in 2013 and a year later a very un-European country song beautifully presented secured their first ever second place. Five years later they claimed their fifth Grand Prix in Tel Aviv.
NORTH MACEDONIA (BEST: 8TH IN 2019)
Newly renamed, thankfully the “FYROM” days are over. On one infamous occasion a Cypriot spokesman dishing out votes had the nerve to call them “FYROM”, which got the booing it deserved. Their first three final entries produced rather mediocre results, however the expansion of the voting to all countries including non-finalists conspicuously helped them qualify from each semi-final from 2004 to 2007 without troubling the top ten on the Saturday. The advent of 50/50 voting hit them particularly hard until a national institution, cruelly denied in the 1996 qualifier debacle, restored their fortunes in 2012. However she was their only qualifying finalist in the eleven contests up to 2018. 2019 saw their best ever result.
NORWAY (BEST: WON IN 1985, 1995 AND 2009)
Norway flattered to deceive with a fourth place on their 1960 debut, which (with the exception of 1966 and it’s very partisan voting) was followed by a series of progressively worse results though the 60s and early 70s, culminating in the most celebrated “nul points” of them all in 1978. Ironically the perpetrator of that, Jahn Teigen, was responsible for lifting Norway up by it’s bootstraps in the early 80s and laying the ground for Bobbysocks astounding win in 1985. Norway continued to do OK (well in comparison to their past) through the late 80s, and after a brief downturn the mid 90s saw their finest set of results, four consecutive top six places. Recent years have seen a sprinkling of great shows, including two top five results topped by a third win in 2009, mixed with a few last places and DNQs to keep traditionalists happy. A fond look at Norway’s golden era of unappreciated and overlooked tunes can be found here.
POLAND (BEST: 2ND IN 1994)
Poland made one heck of a debut in 1994, as easily the most successful of the seven new “Eastern” countries that year, when they came a very strong second. However they could not maintain this standard in the years that followed. To be fair they have frequently sent a rock style song to Eurovision that hasn’t pandered too much to standard Eurovision styles of ballads and poppiness, and you have to give them credit for that. After six DNQs in seven years they decided to withdraw from the 2012 contest due to their financial commitments to the European football championships. Two years later they returned and 2016 saw their best result for over a decade, an eighth place on the combined results under the new scoring system.
PORTUGAL (BEST: WON IN 2017)
Portugal’s participation goes back to the early sixties but it wasn’t until the two man-per country jury system was used a decade later that their results began to improve, however it was soon back to meagre returns when the current voting system came in, with only the occasional foray into mid-table. The early nineties can probably be noted as Portugal’s finest era, with some cracking female solo ballads, but after more than half a century they had failed to crack the top five. The last decade has seen some dismal results. After Finland’s 2006 victory Portugal were by far the country waiting the longest for a win. In 2008 their fan-hyped ballad sailed into the final but once there fell short of expectation. They hadn’t featured in a contest final since 2010 and withdrew from the 2016 event. But come 2017 cometh the man. Salvador Sobral swept to a landslide win with “Amar Pelos Dois”.