Before 'Euphoria' - the other winners of ESC250
Songfestival.be’s annual Eurovision Song Contest Top 250 countdown (AKA the ESC250) – as I’ve written before – should be held in almost the same regard as the Contest itself. Held on 31 December every year, it’s a major point of discussion and analysis for Eurofans.
Since 2008, fans have been entreated to list their top 10 songs from the entire history of the Eurovision Song Contest, awarding points in the traditional 12-to-1 style of the Contest. These votes are then tallied by organisers, a top 250 is established, and on New Year’s Eve, the songs are played in reverse order from 250th to 1st on popular online radio station, ESC Radio.
Where the Contests are the markers for songs in the years they compete, the ESC250 allows us to view the entire Eurovision song catalogue as one entity, one massive Contest, and to determine where all 1600-odd songs currently sit in the hearts and minds of our community.
It’s almost a kind of census. It can tell us, with a moderate degree of certainty, what songs currently get played at fan parties, what songs bring a cheer when they appear on ESC Radio, and the songs that will be belted out on roadtrips for generations. Of particular interest is the unperformed songs selected to perform at this year’s cancelled contest in Rotterdam, which the countdown’s organisers have ruled eligible for votes.
In a development seen as both deserved or slightly repetitive, depending on who you ask, Sweden’s Loreen has topped the chart eight times, with ‘Euphoria’ cementing its legacy as one of the greatest and most beloved Eurovision songs in the Contest’s history, if not the greatest of all time.
But which songs managed to top the leaderboard before the scuttling Swede appeared on the scene? In the preceding three editions of the ESC250 (no countdown was held in 2010), three different songs gained this honour:
Winner: Danijela – ‘Neka mi ne svane’ (Croatia 1998)
2019 placing: 91st
The Croatian crooner was the first to finish atop the 250-song countdown, finishing ahead of Anabel Conde's 'Vuelve conmigo' (Spain 1995) and Rita's 'Shara barkhovot' (Israel 1990). Danijela's entry has made every countdown since the inaugural one, and has never left the top 100.
Winner: Yohanna – ‘Is It True?’ (Iceland 2009)
2019 placing: 60th
The Icelander's ballad managed to crack the top of the countdown on its first attempt, just beating out 'Neka mi ne svane' and Turkey's evergreen 2003 winner, 'Everyway That I Can'. Yohanna's entry qualified for the countdown for the 10th consecutive time in 2019.
Winner: Željko Joksimović – ‘Lane moje’ (Serbia and Montenegro 2004)
2019 placing: 33rd
Despite choosing a new entry in 2009, 2011's ESC250 voters instead chose a throwback, with Željko's folksy 2004 number getting the nod. In doing so, 'Lane moje' narrowly beat out three hugely popular recent winners in Alexander Rybak, Helena Paparizou, and Lena, with Eric Saade's 'Popular' rounding out the top 5. This song too endures, having never finished lower than 34th in all 11 editions of the countdown.
So will 'Euphoria' top the countdown again, or will we be adding a new entry to this list next year?
Tune in on Thursday 31st December from 11:00am CET (9:00pm AEDT) on ESC Radio to find out.