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  • Writer's pictureDale Roberts

The winning artists who missed Eurovision on their first attempt

Some Eurovision winners are lucky enough to take out the crown at their very first attempt.

Some have multiple performances on the Eurovision stage before winning, while others spend years slogging their way through national finals before ultimately tasting victory.

We look at some those artists who didn't win their national final on first attempt/s before going on to take out the Contest.

Jamala (Ukraine)

2016 winner

Before Jamala broke Australian hearts in 2016, she attempted to represent Ukraine at the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest.

After qualifying through the heats and semi finals, Jamala's song 'Smile' finished 3rd in the original final of Evrobachennya 2011 - Natsionalyni vidbir.

Original final I hear you ask? Yes... there was controversy. After juror doubts and concerns over televote rigging a second final was to take place. However before it did, Jamala withdrew believing this would also be rigged.

Måns Zelmerlöw (Sweden)

2015 winner

Not the first Swede to appear on this list, before he won the contest with 'Heroes', Måns attempted to represent Sweden on two occasions.

Competing in the notoriously hard to win Melodifestivalen, he finished close to the top both times.

His song 'Cara Mia' finished 3rd in 2007 losing to The Ark and their song 'Worrying Kind', while 'Hope and Glory' finished 4th in 2009 behind Malena Ernman and 'La Voix'.

He would go on to host Melodifestivalen in 2010, write a song in the 2013 (which made it to Andra Chansen) before going on to finally win in 2015, eight years after his first attempt.

Conchita Wurst (Austria)

2014 winner

Conchita took out an iconic victory at the Eurovision 2014 Song Contest with 'Rise Like a Phoenix'.

But it wasn't the first time she tried to make it to the Contest.

In 2012 she took part in Österreich rockt den Song Contest with the song 'That's What I Am'. She made it all the way to the Superfinal in a head-to-head battle with Trackshittaz and their song 'Woki mit deim Popo' losing by the tightest of margins - 51% to 49%.

If she had won in 2012, perhaps we would never have had the iconic moment of her 2014 victory.

Loreen (Sweden)

2012 winner

The year before she would win with one of the most popular Eurovision songs of all time, Loreen failed to win Melodifestivalen 2011.

In fact... she didn't even make the final. Her song 'My Heart is Refusing Me' made it through to the second chance Andra Chansen round but didn't get through to the Grand Final.

Loreen would have another attempt at Eurovision in 2017 with 'Statements', which also (controversially) fell in the second chance round.

Linda Martin (Ireland)

1992 winner

Linda Martin won the 1992 contest with the Johnny Logan penned 'Why Me'.

Before winning, she had already finished 3rd at Eurovision in 1984 (with 'Terminal 3'), but it's her SIX national final attempts before she won the Contest that we'll touch on.

Linda was part of a group called 'Chips' that attempted to make Eurovision four times, with their best placed finish 2nd in 1976 with 'We Can Fly'.

  • 1976: Chips – 'We Can Fly' - 2nd

  • 1977: Chips – 'Goodbye Goodbye' - 4th

  • 1978: Chips – 'Happy Days' - 4th

  • 1982: Chips – 'Tissue of Lies' - 8th

As mentioned she won national selection in 1984, but would also return in 1986. 1989 and 1990 finishing 4th, 6th and 2nd respectively. Full results:

  • 1986: Linda Martin – 'If I Can Change Your Mind' – 4th

  • 1989: Linda Martin – 'Here We Go' – 6th

  • 1990: Linda Martin & Friends – 'All the People in the World' – 2nd

A huge effort and a deserved winner!

Carola (Sweden)

1991 winner

Carola had already performed at Eurovision in 1983 finishing 3rd, but because this "failed" attempt was before her win, she sneaks into this list.

The year before she won Eurovision, she finished runner-up at Melodifestivalen with 'Mitt i ett äventy' (In the Middle of an Adventure).

She would win Melfest the following year and give Sweden their third Eurovision victory.

Elisabeth Andreasson (Norway / Sweden)

1985 winner

Before winning the 1985 Eurovision Song Contest with Hanne Krogh as 'Bobbysocks' and their song 'La det swinge', Elisabeth Andreasson had attempted to make the Contest a number of times.

In 1981 Elisabeth was part of a duo with Kikki Danielson called Chips. They finished runner-up at their first Melodifestivalen attempt with the song 'God morgon' before winning the following year with 'Dag efter dag'. They would compete at Eurovision in 1982 finishing 8th.

She returned to Melfest in 1984 as a solo act finishing 6th with 'Kärleksmagi'.

Elisabeth would win Eurovision the following year after taking out the Norwegian national final Melodi Grand Prix.

She would also go on to compete at Eurovision two more times, in 1994 finishing 6th and in 1996 finishing as runner-up.

A legend of our Contest.

ABBA (Sweden)

1974 winner

Before winning Eurovision in 1974 and going on to be global superstars, ABBA (or Agnetha, Anni-Frid, Björn & Benny as they were known at the time) entered Melodifestivalen in 1973.

Their song 'Ring, Ring' (performed in Swedish) could only manage to finish (a distant) 3rd. The song however was a success on the charts in Sweden, reaching no.1. It also charted in Europe but had limited success elsewhere. A re-released version in 1976 made it no.7 on the ABBA-mad Australian charts.

So there you have it, some of the winning entries had to overcome National Final failure to make it through to Eurovision and ultimately take out the crown.

Could we see this from an Australian artist? Electric Fields, Sheppard, Casey Donovan or Jaguar Jonze perhaps? Time will tell!

Are any of these national final songs your favourite of all time? Vote in our National Final Countdown - a chance to have your say on the Top 100 national final songs ever. Details here:


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