How to be a Eurovision winner

Five tips for acts serious about being crowned champions of the most important pan-European singing competition... in May...

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Such a diverse range of acts have triumphed across the 55-year history of the most coveted prize in live, televised, semi-professional, pan-European competitive music that even I can’t provide you with an absolutely surefire winning formula. What I can do is remind you of some of the key elements that have clinched it for performers in the past. Here are five very different, but equally successful, strategies employed in the hunt for European glory…

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Use Sex

More sex please, we’re British! Yes, team UK can be proud to say it was at the vanguard of spicing up Eurovision when, in 1981, one half of Bucks Fizz whipped the skirts off the other half. It was an inspired move: the judges had no hesitation in Making Their Minds up – they wanted to see Cheryl and Jay’s legs again and the only way to ensure that happened was to vote United Kingdom. Since then, we’ve had belly dancers, hip- and bosom-thrusters (2:25) and a woman dressed like Xena: Warrior Princess, but until someone dares to include pole-dancing in their performance, The Fizz will remain the kings and queens of Eurosex.

Use fear

Finland’s 2006 entry Lordi took to the stage dressed as orcs/the undead/undead orcs, their lead singer wielding a giant axe (and I don’t mean a guitar), and played thrash metal at an audience more used to Eurodance and ballads. The implication was clear – vote for us or we will kill you. And just in case the judges were too terrified to remember who’d sung Hard Rock Hallelujah, the head orc wore a top hat emblazoned with the Finnish flag. Orcs abroad, eh?

Use folk

With more and more Baltic nations seemingly taking part in Eurovision, it’s no surprise that the folk factor has increased. But the most successful use of violins and polkas (whatever they are) came from Norway. Alexander Rybak’s 2009 winner Fairytale notched up the highest score in the history of the competition (387 points), the biggest margin between first and second place (169 points) and received the top mark of 12 points from 16 of the 41 countries. The moral of this story? Wherever you come from, in the end we’re all just folk…

Use nonsense

“La, la, la“ sang Spain’s winner Massiel in 1968. “Ding-a-Dong” countered The Netherlands’ Teach-In, seven years later. “Diggi loo, Diggi ley” threw down Swedes Herrey’s in 1984, raising the BS bar to a level not reached by any Eurovision victor since.

Beg for votes

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Russia’s 2008 winner Dima Bilan spent half the song on his knees. Really, Dima, begging for votes is just embarrassing – then again, what else can you do when your song has no tune? If there was any justice in the world (or at least Europe), Believe would have received a special award for being the most boring Eurovision winner of all time.