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Eurovision: The most memorable performances in the song contest's history

From Abba to Celine Dion

Conchita Wurst representing Austria at the Eurovision Song Contest
Conchita Wurst won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2014. (AFP via Getty Images)

Eurovision has had a long and celebrated history; it has delighted audiences, shown global unity in difficult times, and even created superstars in its own right.

The song contest is back once more, and with the grand final set to take place in Liverpool on Saturday, 13 May all eyes are on this year’s candidates to bring their best, show stopping performances and avoid hearing the dreaded words: “nul points.”

Read more: How many times has the UK won Eurovision?

But before the glitz and glamour of this year’s event kicks off, it seems fitting to look back at the competition that first began in 1956 and the most memorable moments of the past 67 years of Eurovision.

Abba — Waterloo | 1974

Swedish pop group Abba, performs during the the Eurovision Song Contest 1974  on February 09, 1974 in Brighton with their song Waterloo. Abba won the Eurovision Song Contest in England with
Swedish pop group Abba, performs during the the Eurovision Song Contest 1974 (AFP via Getty Images)

If any performance proved the global impact of Eurovision it would be Abba’s star-making appearance at the song contest with their song Waterloo in 1974.

The Swedish quartet had only been a band for two years at the time, but their performance on Eurovision cannot be forgotten for how it cemented the group’s legacy for years to come.

Read more: When is the Eurovision 2023 final?

When you think about Abba now it’s hard to imagine that they were a little known pop group when they stepped out onto the Eurovision stage for the first time, but it’s true.

Abba were crowned the winners at the time, and the group gained worldwide recognition overnight thanks to their performance.

Conchita Wurst — Rise Like a Phoenix | 2014

Conchita Wurst representing Austria performs 'Rise Like a Phoenix' during the second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 in Copenhagen, Denmark, on May 8, 2014. The grand final will take place on May 10, 2104. AFP PHOTO / SCANPIX DENMARK / NIKOLAI LINARES +++ DENMARK OUT +++        (Photo credit should read Nikolai Linares/AFP via Getty Images)
Conchita Wurst representing Austria performs Rise Like a Phoenix during the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 (AFP via Getty Images)

In 2014, Conchita Wurst became a worldwide sensation when she took to the stage at Eurovision as Austria’s representative with her song Rise Like a Phoenix in 2014.

The singer — whose real name is Thomas Neuwirth — gave a moving rendition and the decision to rely on minimalistic staging proved to be the right thing to do as it highlighted Conchita’s vocals, which are some of the best to ever be seen on the song contest.

Lordi — Hard Rock Hallelujah | 2006

Athens, GREECE:  Finland's Lordi performs the song 'Hard Rock Hallelujah' during the 51st Eurovision final song contest at the Athens Olympic Indoor Hall, 20 May 2006. The 51st Eurovision song contest, the continent's annual ode to glitz and extravaganza, began in Athens on Saturday night with 24 countries vying for the title that carries the right to host next year's event. AFP PHOTO / Aris Messinis  (Photo credit should read ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Finland's Lordi performs the song 'Hard Rock Hallelujah' at the Eurovision final in 2006. (FP via Getty Images)

One would be hard pressed to find a performance with quite the same shock factor as Finnish hard rock band Lordi, who won Eurovision in 2006.

Read more: Who is Mae Muller? UK's Eurovision 2023 entry revealed

The group, who wear elaborate costumes and make-up to look like monsters, were huge hits at the song contest with their metal anthem.

Verka Serduchka — Dancing Lasha Tumbai | 2007

HELSINKI, FINLAND - MAY 12:  Verka Serduchka performs her song
Verka Serduchka performs her song "Dancing Lasha Tumbai Danzing" at the finals of the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest. (Getty Images)

Verka Serduchka’s performance of Dancing Lasha Tumbai is perhaps one of the most memorable Eurovision entries because of how truly it represents the camp and over-the-top nature of the song contest.

Representing Ukraine in 2007, Verka — whose real name is Andriy Mykhailovych Danylko — dazzled fans of the show with her amusing star-spangled performance, though ultimately Verka came second to Serbia’s Marija Šerifović.

Loreen — Euphoria | 2012

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 08: Loreen, representative for Sweden, performs during the first dress rehearsal for Semi Final 1 of the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 at M&S Bank Arena on May 08, 2023 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)
Loreen, representative for Sweden, performs during the first dress rehearsal for Semi Final 1 of the Eurovision Song Contest 2023. (Getty Images)

In 2012, Swedish singer Loreen gave a sensational performance of her song Euphoria and she quickly became one of the most beloved singers in the contest’s history.

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Loreen has returned to Eurovision this year in a bid to win a second time with her new song Tattoo, and the singer is already tipped as the favourite to succeed.

Alexander Rybak — Fairytale | 2009

LISBON, PORTUGAL - MAY 12:  Alexander Rybak representing Norway performs at Altice Arena on May 12, 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Pedro Gomes/Getty Images)
Alexander Rybak representing Norway at Eurovision in 2018. (Getty Images)

In 2009, Alexander Rybak wowed Eurovision fans with his rendition of Fairytale on behalf of Norway, which became one of the most beloved performances in the song contest's history.

Rybak’s catchy tune and trust violin saw him become crowned the winner of that year’s show, and he made history by earning an impressive 387 points.

Bucks Fizz — Making Your Mind Up | 1981

'Bucks Fizz', winner of Eurovision Song Contest 1981   (Photo by Sobli/RDB/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
Bucks Fizz performing at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1981. (Getty Images)

Who could forget the UK’s most iconic Eurovision winner, Bucks Fizz? The pop group made a name for themselves after giving an upbeat performance of their song Making Your Mind Up.

While not the last time that the UK were crowned the winners at the song contest, it is certainly one of the most memorable moments for the group’s energetic dance moves and fun costume changes.

Celine Dion — Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi | 1988

Eurovision Song Contest Winner Celine Dion of Switzerland on stage in the RDS, Dublin, 30/04/1988 (Part of the Independent Newspapers Ireland/NLI Colection). (Photo by Independent News and Media/Getty Images)
Eurovision Song Contest Winner Celine Dion of Switzerland on stage in Dublin, 1988 (Independent News and Media/Getty Images)

Celine Dion is, of course, a music icon but her career reached the starry heights it now has because she performed at Eurovision in 1988 on behalf of Switzerland.

The singer gave a stunning rendition of the French-language song Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi at the event, her performance captured the hearts of viewers around the globe and also saw her be crowned the winner.

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