Search

Is there a winning formula for Eurovision success?

The UK used to have a great record in the Eurovision song contest, as you can see at a glance in this Shooglebox gathering together every entry from 1956 to 2021.



In the 1960s and 70s the UK finished in the top four 17 years out of 20 and had three winning songs.


In the 1980s Ireland had a winning streak, but the UK still managed a huge win with Bucks fizz - Making Your Mind Up, and a handful of top fours. The 1990s saw Britpop success but - ironically - declining popularity in Eurovision. Katrina and the Waves gave the UK a win in 1997 with Love Shine a Light and the UK clocked up another three second placings.



But it was in the 2000s that the UK's fortunes really went downhill. Since 1998 the UK has only made the top 3 once - and in 2003 they hit rock bottom. Jemini's "Cry Baby" is the only song ever entered by the UK to earn "nul points". At the time some commentators - including Jeremy Corbyn - blamed the UK's close ties with the US and their involvement in the Iraq War for the dire result, although others blamed the song and technical issues in the performance.



Despite this, the UK is still in the top six countries on the leaderboard - for now - due to historic success. Ireland have won Eurovision seven times, Sweden six times, and Luxembourg, France, Netherlands and UK five times.


Be a solo artist


Fifty out of the past 67 winners have been solo artists. In fact, big groups weren't even allowed to enter until 1971 when a change in rules allowed six performers on stage at once. Even then it wasn't until 1974 that a group took the Eurovision crown - that group was ABBA with Waterloo.


Be a female performer


The odds are firmly stacked in favour of female performances when it comes to winning - even if, as Conchita Wurst proved, it's a stage persona.


Sing in English


Almost half (46%) of previous winners have sung in English. You would think the Brits have the advantage here, but obviously it takes more than a command of English to win. In fact, you could argue that some winning song titles weren't in any language - yes, we mean you Boom bang-a-bang, Diggi-Loo, Diggi-Ley, and Ding-a-Dong!


Keep the song title short


Embers is a great choice of song title statistically. Song titles have been getting shorter and shorter and in the past 12 years nine of the winning songs have had been just one word long and two were two words long.


Chart success


Not winning does not always mean losing. Winning the Eurovision song contest doesn't always equate to chart success - and vice versa. Some Eurovision "losers" have gone on to great success - notably Gina G with Ooh Ah Just A Little Bit which finished 8th in Eurovision in 1996 but went on to be number one in the UK and enjoy global success.


You can watch all the previous Eurovision winners in this compilation put together by Eurovision from 2019 to 1956.



Judge for yourself and see if you can spot a wining formula in this Shooglebox of all previous Eurovision winners and all UK previous entries.





Shooglebox blog