10 Best Host Nation Songs
It has been a running joke that the host nation of Eurovision always sends an ok or bad song to ensure they don't have to host and pay for another contest.
Though in the rich 60+ year history of Eurovision some hosts have delivered us some fantastic songs. This year Kobi Marimi with 'Home' will represent Israel, will he go down as one of the best host nation songs? Time will tell... In the meantime we've put together our 10 favourite host songs:
10. Sahlene - Runaway (Estonia 2002)
Swedish singer Sahlene represented the Baltic nation in 2002 and almost won them the crown for a second straight year when finishing 3rd. Originally, Estonian singer Ines was meant to perform the song at their national final but withdrew just a few weeks before the contest. Sahlene was brought in as a last minute replacement and went on to book her ticket. Sahlene has also graced the Eurovision stage as a backing vocalist for 'Take Me to Your Heaven' (Sweden 1999), 'Desire (Malta 2000), 'Sound of Silence' (Australia 2016) and will back up Michael Rice this year with "Bigger than Us'.
9. Anastasia Prikhodko - Mamo (Russia 2009)
Ukrainian singer became only the second non-Russian entry to represent Russia when the hosted the contest in Moscow in 2009. As expected it didn't go without drama. Anastasia had already been disqualified from the Ukrainian contest for singing a different song at the semi final stage of the contest. She went on to win the Russian selection (where accusations of vote rigging occured) and performed the song in both Ukrainian and Russian. The song finished 11th and is often remembered for the striking backing video showing Anastasia grow from a young woman to a babushka before our eyes.
8. Cliff Richard - Congratulations (UK 1968)
One of the biggest world artists to compete at Eurovision, Cliff finished runner-up at the competition when hosted at the Royal Albert Hall in London. He lost out by a single point to Spain's song "La, la, la' and we don't think poor Cliff is quite over it yet. Allegations of vote rigging by Spanish dictator Franco have dogged the Spanish win and a documentary in 2008 seem to suggest it happened. The reality is we'll never know and if you're going to rig a contest you did a ~remarkable~ job to win by just one point. Regardless the song itself was a cracker (for 1969) and it deserves it's place a top host nation song.
7. Anne-Marie David - Tu te reconnaîtra (Luxembourg 1973)
French singer Anne-Marie represented the successful Eurovision nation of Luxembourg after they won the contest in 1972. In a tight three-way finish she edged out Spain's 'Eres Tu' (which went on to be a global smash hit including Top 10 in the US) and UK's entry by Cliff Richard (yes bless him he tried again) 'Power to All Our Friends' to win the contest. Anne-Marie went on to represent her native France in 1979 finishing 3rd.
6. Athena - For Real (Turkey 2004)
The year was 2004, Turkey were hosting Eurovision for the first time after winning with 'Everyway That I Can'. Ska-rock was big and Turkish band Athena brought this high energy crowd pleaser to Istanbul (a great example of how to highlight the crowd as part of your performance). They went on to finish 4th which is still the nation's 4th best result of all time. (Note: we disagree strongly on this, if it was up to one of us this would be top 3...)
5. Niamh Kavanagh - In Your Eyes (Ireland 1993)
Niamh delivered this effortless and powerful vocal at the 1993 contest in what was the 996th time Ireland won and hosted in the 90s. The contest is a classic for many reasons, firstly Millstreet, a town of only 1500 people, was chosen to host the contest in an Equestrian centre. Many nations made their debut including Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (whose entrants had to escape gunfire to even make the contest). The song quality was great and Ireland edged out the UK's 'Better the Devil You Know' to take out the contest. A deserved winner in a classic year.
4. Salomé - "Vivo cantando" (Spain 1969)
After winning controversially the year before, Spain backed up their 1968 with another win in what was the year of the 'four way tie'. France, UK (Lulu) and Netherlands shared the crowd with Spain. Salome is often remembered for her striking dress and dance moves. The who outfit weighed 14kgs and was made of small chalk blue porcelain cylinders. It was accompanied by three 1kg necklaces lent to her by Franco’s wife. It was an iconic look and performance and goes down in our history books as a bloody great host song.
3. "Tajči - Hajde Da Ludujemo (Yugoslavia 1990)
Yugoslavia was the first 'Eastern' nation to win the contest when 'Rocky Me Baby' took out the crown in Switzerland. The following year when hosting in Zagreb, they brought out one of their biggest pop songs and were a favourite going into the contest where she finished in a credible 7th place. Two years late signalled the last entry for Yugoslavia as war broke up the country and also cut short Tajči's pop career.
2. Imaani - Where Are You Now (UK 1998)
Birmingham 1998 was the last time the UK hosted the contest after winning with "Love Shine a Light' in 97. They almost did the double with Imaani losing out to Dana International by just 6 points. 'Where Are You Now' was a well produced modern (for its time) song, that went top 20 in multiple countries and it was unlucky not to win the contest. We think it's a bit of an forgotten classic. Enjoy!
1. Anna Vissi - Everything (Greece 2006)
A 49-year-old classic pop diva singing a power ballad with a wind machine and iconic key-change? This is EVERYTHING we love about the contest. Greece were THAT nation of the 2000s and when they hosted the didn't muck about sending one of their most iconic performances. It what was a quality year Anna finished 9th place (her second top 10 after finishing 5th for Cyprus in 1982). We know this isn't everyone's cup of tea but it's easily our combined top host song of all time.
Honourable mentions to:
O Jardim (Portugal 2018)
Soldiers of Love (Belgium 1987)
You (Sweden 2013)
Oro (Serbia 2008)
Rock Bottom (UK 1997)