We’ve already had a look at some of the better entries Eurovision has thrown out over the years, but what of the truly awful ones? Well, matters of personal taste apart, it can be devilishly tricky to spot which is which in such a strange environment.
But here’s five songs which are not going to be played at anyone’s wedding, or used in a TV drama to soundtrack a dramatic montage, any time soon.
Odd Børre – “Stress”
Let’s start with a rave-up from the grave-up. The year is 1968, Norway are as yet an untested pop force in this era of flower power, the Paris riots, Vietnam demonstrations, “Helter Skelter” and offensively frilly shirts on men. It was in many ways a stressful time, so it’s a very apt song title for the astonishingly named Mr. Børre. And what a delightful ADHD, Austin Powers-with-a-stammer affair it is. Part whimsy, part steam-hammer. Still, at least it’s not Børring.
PingPong – “Sameyakh”
For hubris, it’s kind of hard to top someone singing a long, unpleasantly droney and out-of-tune “ohhhh” and then yelling “BE HAPPY!” That’s like being ordered to smile after having one of your front teeth removed. Israel clearly did not realize quite how unhappy their 2000 entry was making everyone. Even better, the performance is topped with one of the many people in the band yelling “PEACE!” just as the music stops. Which is, oddly enough, exactly what I was thinking at the same moment.
Paul Harrington & Charlie McGettigan – “Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids”
It’s a long-standing tradition that the winners of last year’s competition have to host this year’s event. That way one country doesn’t always get lumbered with the sweeping up afterwards. Now, that’s fine so long as no one wins two years in a row, otherwise you’d end up with some kind of national fake tan shortage or something. It was Ireland’s (mis)fortune to win in 1992 AND 1993, and had to host the entire event two years on the trot.
This situation was roundly mocked in the comedy TV show Father Ted, where the Eurovision panel picked the worst song they could find — a ditty called “My Lovely Horse” — so’s to avoid hosting a third time. This preposterously cheesy ditty is the song the song Ireland put forward in reality. And naturally it won. A lesson for us all there.
Krassimir Avramov – “Illusion”
You’d think one preposterously over-dramatic singer would be enough for any song, wouldn’t you? Even Meat Loaf knew to get out of the way when it was Cher’s turn to sing, after all. Sadly, Bulgaria’s 2009 entry did not obey this basic pop rule, and… well the results weren’t wonderful.
Now, I’m reliably informed that the studio version of this song is a lot better than this unwinning performance. But that might be like finding out that curdled milk is slightly nicer to drink if you add a clove of garlic. It’s still a profoundly unpleasant experience.
Scooch – “Flying The Flag”
Well, where to start with this one? It was the UK’s entry in 2007, it features a former UK pop group, and it might just be the most very horrible thing to have ever been made by anyone ever.
The problem, apart from the unrelenting awfulness, is that it has no idea of what kind of a thing it is. Is it a patriotic song? A sexy air-hostess song? A love song? It can’t be all of these things, unless a new nation state had emerged in a low-cost airport, made up of soft-porn stars, and they wanted a national anthem. Suffice to say this was another year we did not win. “Going The Away” would’ve been a better title.
So there we have it. Five songs, each in their own way brilliantly terrible, but not terribly brilliant. Proof that Eurovision is the last refuge of rogues and scoundrels…and Scooch.
On the other hand, this entry from France’s Sébastien Tellier (2008) is a properly amazing pop confection, albeit one performed in such a way as to guarantee it can’t win on the night. But it doesn’t seem to be different in any quantifiable sense from the other five in our list, which is weird. Speaking of weird… check out those backing singers!