Eurovision’s Star-Studded Showstoppers: Iconic Acts and Artists

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It’s that time—the world’s campest and most prestigious international song competition is once again on the horizon. This year’s event will be held in the United Kingdom in Liverpool, the city of The Beatles, and no doubt patriotic songsters across Europe and beyond will be eagerly backing their favourites to win. At present, oddschecker, which compares odds on the contest, has Loreen of Sweden with her hit ‘Tattoo’ as the favourite to win, but nothing is ever certain in this long running institution. 

Eurovision is often the launchpad for new stars, as relatively unheard of artists can suddenly find themselves strutting their stuff on stage, live before a televised audience of some 161 million people. Though, not infrequently, seasoned stars and musical icons will wade into the fray, hoping to represent their country in this one-of-a-kind event. Below we’re going to take a look at some of the most memorable performances by legendary performers.

Lulu – Boom Bang-a-bang (1969)

Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie, better known as Lulu, is one of the most famous singers and all-round performers to emerge from Scotland in the 20th century. She rose to prominence in the 1960s, with her first hit – 1964’s ‘Shout’ – which showcased her powerful and charismatic vocals. The track peaked in the top ten and made her a household name overnight. 

What followed was a long and prestigious career in which she explored diverse musical genres including country, soul and disco and worked alongside big name stars such as David Bowie and Elton John. In 1969, Lulu represented the United Kingdom with the song ‘Boom Bang-a-bang’. The song was awarded 18 points, which resulted in a four-way tie with Spain, the Netherlands and France’s entries, the first and only time this has happened.

ABBA – Waterloo (1974)

One of the biggest selling groups of all time, ABBA’s iconic disco tracks and flawless songwriting made them a force to be reckoned with in the 70s, when, at the height of their powers, they were turning out hit after hit. Of those, Waterloo, their 1974 entry on behalf of Sweden, was an instant success that catapulted them to a flawless contest victory.

Celine Dion – Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi (1988)

In 1988, Celine Dion was already a best-selling artist in her native country of Canada, though this was nothing in relation to the fame and success that would follow her in the wake of her historic Eurovision win on behalf of Switzerland. While contestants typically hail from the country they represent, there is no strict rule preventing someone from a different nation from submitting a participant entry. 

This is how Dion, who has no connection to Switzerland what-so-ever bar sharing the French language, found herself on the stage in Dublin that year singing ‘Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi’, which translates to ‘Don’t Leave Without Me’. The song swept the contest, with Dion’s powerhouse vocals bowling over its international spectatorship. Dion’s biggest chart hit would come in 1997 when she sang the theme, ‘My Heart Will Go On’ for James Cameron’s record breaking blockbuster, Titanic.

Olivia Newton-John – Long Live Love (1974)

No country has ever been so keen to put forth their top-tier star power like the UK. Following in the footsteps of Lulu and Cliff Richard came the late, great, Olivia Newton-John in 1974. One might suppose, however, that were she to have competed at a later date, she would have represented Australia instead. 

In 1974, Newton-John was in her ascendancy having put out her first feature length LP ‘If You Love Me, Let Me Know’ that same year, and was well on the way to cementing herself as one of the biggest stars of the era. All told, her musical career saw her achieve 15 top-ten singles, 5 of which went to number one, with 1981’s ‘Physical’ arguably her best known. Newton-John is also warmly remembered for her starring role in the biggest selling musical of all time, Grease. She ultimately finished fourth in the contest itself, with the grand prize going to ABBA.