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  • Writer's pictureSamuel Lee

Non-citizens who have represented the host country at Eurovision

Every year at Eurovision, the host country's entry is one of the most anticipated.

Pundits and fans alike speculate who is best placed to perform on home soil, and fulfil the unlikely feat of bringing the contest back to the same country the following year.

For Eurovision fans and spectators from the host country, the home entry brings an added layer of national pride, and almost automatically receives the biggest applause on the night of the contest.

This is why there is often an added layer of intrigue when the artist representing the host country at Eurovision, does not originate from there.

This has occurred this year, with Norwegian twins Marcus & Martinus set to represent Sweden at this year's contest, after winning Melodifestivalen.

Despite the fact their song 'Unforgettable' was written by Swedes, their Melfest staging was arranged by Swedes, and Norway has often been described as the country most like Sweden, the fact the twins are not Swedes has attracted much comment from many Eurovision fans (including this guilty author).

This got us at Aussievision thinking: what other host country entries throughout Eurovision history have been performed by a non-citizen?

Our criteria for which artists qualified for this list is if they did not hold citizenship of the host country when they represented them. So Olivia Newton-John for example, who represented the UK when Eurovision 1974 was held in Brighton, is not included. Even though we Aussies like to claim her solely as one of our own, she was born in Cambridge, England and therefore has had British citizenship her entire life. Interestingly she did not become an Australian citizen until 1981.

So without further ado let's see who made the list!

Michelle Torr (Luxembourg 1966)

Country of Origin: France

Result: 7th out of 18 participants

This year Luxembourg will return to the contest after a 31-year absence and will be represented by a Luxembourgish native Tali with 'Fighter'. However, throughout its Eurovision history Luxembourg has rarely sent a homegrown contestant, which makes sense for a micronation with a present-day population of ~640 000.

When France Gall, who hails from the country of her birth name, gave Luxembourg its second victory with the revolutionary 'Poupée de cire, poupée de son', producers at RTL Luxembourg (the country's Eurovision broadcaster) turned to another Frenchwoman Michèle Torr to perform for the host nation.

Her song 'Ce soir je táttendais' ('Tonight I was waiting for you' in English) finished mid-table, though it did receive top marks from the Swedish jury. Michèle would go on to represent another micronation, Monaco, at Eurovision 1977 where she would finish a respectable fourth.

Marty Kristian of The New Seekers (UK 1972)

Country of Origin: Born in Germany, Raised in Australia

Result: Runners-up out of 18 participants

The New Seekers were put together by founding member of the original The Seekers Keith Potger in 1969. However, unlike the original Australian band, this group was based out of the UK.

They represented the UK on home turf at Eurovision 1972 in Edinburgh with the song 'Beg, Steal or Borrow'. The UK had finished fourth at Eurovision 1971 but after the countries that finished in the top three (Monaco, Spain and Germany) refused to host, the BBC picked up the honours. Edinburgh was a surprise choice of venue, but chosen in deference to the Scottish singer Lulu who had won the 1969 contest in a four-way tie. The honour of hosting the 1970 contest was given to one of the other winners the Netherlands.

The line-up of The New Seekers for the Eurovision broadcast consisted of Even Graham, Lyn Paul, Peter Doyle, Paul Layton and Marty Kristian. It was the latter who fits the criteria of this list.

Marty actually has an Australian connection. He was born as Martins Vanags in Leipzig, Germany to Latvian-born parents in 1947. He immigrated to Melbourne, Australia with his mother in 1950. In the 1960s he performed throughout Australia and the UK, before meeting Keith Potger in London. The rest as they say is history.

Peter Doyle of The New Seekers (UK 1972)

Country of Origin: Australia

Result: Runners-up out of 18 participants

The Eurovision 1972 line-up of The New Seekers also had another Aussie connection in their midst. Peter Doyle was born in Melbourne in 1949. He started his singing career at the age of nine, appearing as a regular for several years on a children's television show called Swallow's Juniors.

Since then he has an extensive music career, particularly in Australia, joining many bands, and having several solo singles that reached the top 40 on the Australian charts.

In 1970 he joined The New Seekers on the recommendation of Melbourne radio DJ Stan Rolfe. He sang lead male vocals on 'Beg, Steal or Borrow', whilst his girlfriend at the time Lyn Paul sang the lead female part. Through his participation, Peter became the very first Australian citizen to compete for any country at Eurovision.

Peter left The New Seekers in 1973 due to financial reasons. He worked in the UK until 1981, before continuing his musical career in Australia. Peter passed away from throat cancer in 2001, aged 52. He will be remembered, not only for his extensive musical career, but also for putting Australia on the map in the Eurovision world.

Anne Marie David (Luxembourg 1973)

Country of Origin: France

Result: Winner out of 17 participants

Another Luxembourg contest and another Frenchwoman would represent the host nation. Anne-Marie David had previously tried to represent France at Eurovision 1972 with 'Un peu romantique'.

France's rejection was Luxembourg's gain, with RTL selecting her to represent the micronation on home soil with 'Tu Te Reconnaîtras' ('You will recognise yourself' in English).

On the BBC broadcast, legendary commentator Terry Wogan described to British viewers that whilst Anne-Marie was tipped to do well, Cliff Richard with 'Power to all our Friends' and Spanish band Mocedades were the bookies' favourites.

However in the voting Anne-Marie pipped both of them by a handful of points, thereby setting many records. Luxembourg became the first country to win back-to-back in its own right (Spain's victory on home soil in 1969 was shared with three other nations).

Anne-Marie David won with the highest percentage of possible points at 80.625% (gaining 129 out of a possible 160 points), a record that is still held today. Most importantly for this article, she is still the only non-citizen to win Eurovision for the host country.

Since the contest and particularly in modern times Anne-Marie has been a passionate ambassador for Eurovision, and in particular Luxembourg's return to the contest. 'Tu Te Reconnaîtras' remains a Eurovision evergreen, and is loved by many members of the Aussievision team.

Sahlene (Estonia 2002)

Country of Origin: Sweden

Result: 3rd place out of 24 participants

Swedish singer Sahlene represented Estonia on home soil in 2002 with the song 'Runaway'. Initially the song was supposed to be performed at Estonia's national selection Eurolaul by well-known Estonian singer Ines.

She had represented the country at Eurovision 2000 and finished fourth with 'Once in a Lifetime.' However, Ines pulled out at the last minute. When the composers of 'Runaway' were unable to solicit another Estonian singer to perform the song, they turned to the Virgin Records Sweden roster.

The lucky singer who received the call-up was Sahlene. She had only two weeks to rehearse 'Runaway' before the Estonian national selection, and won. At the Eurovision contest she finished a very respectable third, which is still Estonia's second-best result to date.

Sahlene would set the blueprint for Swedish singers representing Estonia at Eurovision. Sandra Oxenryd would later sing 'Through My Window' for the Baltic nation in 2006, whilst Victor Crone would perform 'Storm' in 2019. Sahlene herself would later return to Eurovision several times as a backing vocalist, including when our very own Dami Im performed 'Sound Silence' in 2016.

Anna Vissi (Greece 2006)

Country of Origin: Cyprus

Result: 9th place out of 37 participants

Ok this one is a bit contentious given Anna has resided in Athens since the age of fifteen. But Anna was still born in Larnaca, Cyprus, and we cannot independently verify if she has Greek citizenship. So we decided to put this queen on our list just in case.

One of the region's most successful artists ever, Anna has competed at Eurovision three times. She represented Greece with 'Autostop' ('Hitch-hike' in English) in 1980, and finished 13th. In 1982 she competed for her home country Cyprus with 'Mono i gapi' ('Only Love'), which placed fifth and is still Cyprus' second-best result to date.

2006 would see Anna represent Greece on home soil with 'Everything'. Despite being one of the bookies' favourites she came ninth, but delivered one almighty solo performance.

Anastasia Prikhodko (Russia 2009)

Country of Origin: Ukraine

Result: 11th place out of 42 participants

It may seem bizarre now but Russia's 2009 Eurovision entry on home soil was not only performed by a Ukrainian, but also featured predominantly Ukrainian lyrics. Anastasia Prikhodko hails from Kyiv and has a Russian father and Ukrainian mother.

Whilst children of Russian nationals are eligible for citizenship of their parent's country, it appears Anastasia has never obtained a Russian passport.

After disagreeing with the rules of the Ukrainian Eurovision national selection, Anastasia applied for the Russian final. She was added to the competition as a last minute finalist with the song 'Mamo' ('Mum' in English), which caused consternation amongst her competitors.

This intensified when she won the selection, with the runner-up declaring a song in Ukrainian could have nothing to do with Russia. Nevertheless, Anastasia still performed on the stage in Moscow, delivering an incredibly powerful and haunting performance.

Anastasia's participation is even more remarkable when considering that after Russia invaded Crimea and eastern Ukraine in 2014, she refused to ever perform in Russia again. She later became a politician.

Jeangu Macrooy (Netherlands 2020 & 2021)

Country of Origin: Suriname

Result: 23rd place (in 2021) out of 39 participants

Jeangu Macrooy hails from the South American country of Suriname, which previously was a colony of the Netherlands. He moved to the Netherlands aged 20 and has been living their ever since.

He was initially selected by Dutch Eurovision broadcaster AVROTROS to represent the host nation at Eurovision 2020 with 'Grow'.

However, after that contest was cancelled by COVID, Jeangu was selected again to represent the Netherlands in 2021, this time with 'Birth of a New Age'. This contains lyrics in Sranan Tongo, an English-based creole language from Suriname.

Unfortunately, 'Birth of a New Age', did not do well at Eurovision, receiving no points in the televote in the final, and only 11 points overall.

Marcus & Martinus (Sweden 2024)

Country of Origin: Norway Result: TBD out of 37 participants

As we have previously reported, Norwegian twins Marcus & Martinus will fly the Swedish flag in Eurovision 2024. Norwegians have represented Sweden before, including ABBA's Anni-Frid Lyngstad in 1974 and Elisabeth Andreasson as part of Chips in 1982.

Both women are Eurovision winners (Elisabeth won for Norway as part of Bobbysocks in 1985), so the twins join great company.

Can the twins join Anne-Marie David as a non-native who has won on home soil? History tells us it is tough, and bookies currently don't believe so. However their staging is undoubtably captivating, and a lot can happening up until May.

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