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Tuesday 21 May 2019

From Dustin to go go grannies - 8 most eyebrow raising Eurovision moments of all time

Dustin the Turkey takes on the Eurovision.
Dustin the Turkey takes on the Eurovision.

Vicki Notaro

Ah, the Eurovision. Who doesn’t love the camp, crazy spectacular that takes place every May?

We might pretend we don’t give a hoot about the show anymore because of block voting and bananas contestants, but secretly, every Irish person is hoping to reclaim the glory of days gone by, when we won pretty much every year and felt great about it.

We’re very rarely the best at anything, so it’s not surprising that those of us alive and kicking in the 90s would be ever so slightly thrilled at the notion of victory once more.

What started off as a rather calm little songwriting competition all the way back in 1956 is now a glittering, sparkling bonanza with high production values, pyrotechnics, oh, and countries who aren’t European.

This year, our very own Nicky Byrne of former Westlife and current 2fm fame failed to make it through to the finals. But while we love the great contestants, it’s the bizarre ones we remember.

So, with that in mind, here’s a look back at the most weird and wonderful Eurovision entrants ever…

1. The Turkey

By 2008, Ireland was sick of losing at Eurovision. On a dry run of 12 years after several years of glory, we were in a place where we just wanted to take the mick out of the entire thing. So we sent the finest bird this nation has ever known, Dustin the Turkey, to “sing” a song called Irlande Douze Points.

Irish people were divided, some delighted to be in on the joke with others mortified at making a mockery of the er, sacred institution. We didn’t win, but we did make our point. We think. 

2. Twin mania

We sent our own favourite set of identical twins, Jedward, in 2011 and 2012 and the lads did very well — shouldn’t we just send them every year? However, they’re not the zaniest double act ever to compete. No, that honour goes to Russia’s 17-year-old Tolmachevy twins, who sang while conjoined by their long blonde hair.

3. Bearded and Fabulous

Conchita Wurst also took to the stage for Germany in 2014, and her appearance caused a lot of controversy due to the Russian intolerance of homosexuality. A political year for Eurovision, the appearance of a bearded drag queen (not a transsexual, as many people misunderstood) riled the conservatives.

However Conchita’s stunning performance meant she defied the naysayers by winning.

4. Go, Go Grannies!

Peddling their own brand of “ethno-pop” these eight elderly ladies, the Russian

Babushkas, from remote Russia came second in 2012 with their song Party For Everybody. However, only six of them were allowed take the stage under Eurovision rules. One of the ladies,

Yelizaveta Zarbatova, has since passed away, and they spent any money they raised from their notoriety restoring a local church.

5. Viva La Diva

Eurovision has long been a massively gay-friendly event on the international stage, but the 1998 winner Dana International, an Israeli pop star, was the first transgender person to ever take home the crown.

Winning in Birmingham at a time when Eurovision was becoming even more popular, most of the focus of the world’s press at the time was on her sexuality.

However, most will agree that Dana won because her song, Diva, was quite simply an absolute club banger.

6. Monsters and Men

Who could ever forget the Finnish heavy metal band Lordi who won in 2006? The first rock group ever to take the title, their song Hard Rock Hallelujah was certainly catchy for its genre in a competition when most songs are pure pop. But it was the band’s appearance that jarred; they perform dressed as monstrous troll-like creatures wearing masks and costumes.

They’re currently recording their eighth studio album.

7. Legs Eleven

Now incredibly tame compared to the contestants of this era, in 1981 the British pop group Bucks Fizz scandalised millions when the female members’ skirts were ripped off by the guys mid-song. The scandal obviously worked in their favour though, as they won with their track Making Your Mind Up right here in Dublin. We do love a birra leg, wha’?

8. Lost In Translation

The Ukranian entry from 2007, Verka

Serduchka, might still be the most bizarre ever. Many Ukranians disapproved of the selection, and others pointed out that the title of the song Dancing Lasha Tumbai sounded very like “Russia goodbye” in the native tongue, something the performer disputed.

A mish-mash of several styles and languages, the song and performance have to be seen to be believed, so we suggest a YouTube…

Read more: Chill out you Eurovision detractors, it's only telly!

Ireland's other Eurovision entry - Aidan O'Connor gearing up for final as co-writer of Czech entry Eurovision – From Johnny to Jedward the top 12 best and worst Irish entries ever 


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