Even though the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 had to be cancelled, some of its entries have climbed their way up national and international music charts. This has us wondering: which Eurovision songs made the biggest impact on the charts in the history of the Contest?
The songs that were to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 had all been chosen by the time it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of them, like Italy's Fai Rumore with Diodato, The Mama's Move or Lithuania's On Fire were big hits in their national charts, while took flight in the international charts after the broadcast of Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light and other special programmes.
Among them has been the Icelandic entry, Think About Things by Dađi Freyr, that has made it to the most charts, including a #1 at home in Iceland and a peak of #3 in Ireland. It has also entered the Swedish and UK Top 40.
More recently, there has been even more Eurovision in the charts: the soundtrack of the Netflix film Eurovision Song Contest, the Story of Fire Saga has entered the album charts in many European countries, Australia and the United States, and some of the songs like Double Trouble and Husavik have also made it to the singles charts. The Song-Along, featuring several former Eurovision stars alongside the cast, has been watched more than 3 million times on Youtube:
Most entries performed in Eurovision reach their national charts at some point, with several of them becoming big hits. The first winner which we can consider an international hit is the French song Tom Pillibi, performed by Jacqueline Boyer in 1960 which entered the charts not only in France but also in Germany and the UK. In Spain, it reached the top of the chart.
Other songs became international hits despite not winning the Contest, like the runner-ups to ABBA in 1974: the 3rd place entry I See A Star by Mouth & McNeal from the Netherlands or the song that came second, Si by Gigliola Cinquetti from Italy. They both entered the Top 10 UK singles chart, proving that regardless of the voting, any entry can become a chart success.
Focusing on some of the Eurovision songs that did best over the years, we decided to make our own chart: The Top 10 biggest Eurovision chart hits!
In the 1950s, the Eurovision Song Contest was starting its road to becoming the popular international event we know and love, and the Italian Sanremo Festival, from which the Contest was modelled, had already produced big domestic and international hits. It's biggest? It is 1958 winner Domenico Modugno's Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu, otherwise known as Volare.
In 1958, the song became the Italian entry at the Eurovision Song Contest held in Hilversum, where it was performed twice, but not because it won: the song was performed first on the night but a broadcast failure meant that it could not be heard in some of the participating countries, so Domenico had to perform it again at the end of the presentation of the songs.
Even if it didn't win Eurovision, Volare started its path to international success soon after, being released internationally and becoming something of a Summer hit. It entered most European charts, including The Official UK Singles Chart where it peaked at #10, and it was the second song ever to top the then-new Billboard Hot 100 in the US. After 5 non-consecutive weeks at the top, it became Billboard's Song of the Year and it went on to win Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the first Grammy Awards.
It's estimated that all versions of the song combined have sold in excess of 22 million copies. Not bad for a Eurovision song that didn't win the competition! The entry effectively launched Domenico Modugno's career and one year after, in 1959, Domenico Modugno came back to Eurovision with the same formula: his winning Sanremo song, Piove (Ciao Ciao Bambina), which was also a successful song in the international charts and, despite reaching 6th place this time around. Today, it is Eurovision's second-biggest chart hit of the 1950s. Modugno made a third Eurovision appearance in 1966 when he came last (!) with yet another international chart hit: Dio Come Ti Amo.
Talking about launching a career, we move on to 1974 when a certain foursome from Sweden won the Eurovision Song Contest. ABBA had their big national breakthrough the year before and it was thanks to their participation in the Swedish national selection, Melodifestivalen 1973, where their song Ring Ring placed 3rd but topped Swedish charts and entered other European ones.
They had to wait one more year to go to Eurovision, but it was worth the wait. Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Anni-Frid changed their name to ABBA and won Melodifestivalen 1974 with Waterloo which went on to win Sweden's first victory in the Eurovision Song Contest. It was then released to worldwide acclaim, topping most European charts and even entering the US Top 10.
Being one of the main chart hits of all the winners of the Contest and launching ABBA's path to chart domination, Waterloo is generally considered the biggest hit to come out of the Contest and it even won the vote at the 50th-anniversary show Congratulations in 2005 as the best song in the competition's history. Volare came second.
PUPPET ON A STRING
Many of the Eurovision winners of the 1960s found chart success at home and abroad. For example, the first Italian winner, and yet another Sanremo champion, 1964's Non ho l'età by Gigliola Cinquetti, topped the charts in Italy and France and even entered the UK singles chart in its original Italian.
The following winner was another big hit, Luxembourg's 1965 entry Poupée de cire, poupée de son by France Gall. The song peaked at #1 in France and Norway and in the more exotic French Canada chart. It even hit the Japanese Top 10! But the 1967 winner did even better, topping almost every chart it entered.
Puppet On A String, performed by Sandie Shaw, became United Kingdom's first winner and a big global smash with sales in excess of 4 million, the biggest selling Eurovision winner at that time. It went to number 1 not only in the UK but in many other countries like Germany and Argentina!
WHAT'S ANOTHER YEAR?
Should it be What's Another Year? or Hold Me Now? Our famous double Eurovision winning performer, Johnny Logan scored 2 massive hits with his winning songs for Ireland. In 1980, What's Another Year? surprised fans and media when it received the highest number of points in the voting, surpassing the pre-favourite, Germany, which had still to win for the first time back then. Germany had to wait for their victory a bit longer, but Johnny's success was immediate: What's Another Year? topped the Irish and UK charts, as well as Belgian, Portuguese, Israeli and Scandinavian ones. In Germany and Switzerland, it peaked at #2.
7 years later, Johnny Logan entered and won the Eurovision Song Contest again with Hold Me Now. The music charts had been quiet regarding the Eurovision winner in the previous 4 years, but Hold Me Now set them on fire again, reaching the top in Ireland, Belgium and Israel and hitting number 2 in the UK, Germany, Sweden and Norway. Even if it was chosen as 1 of the Top 3 best Eurovision songs in the Congratulations show in 2005, in the charts, the winner of his 2 songs is definitely What's Another Year?
OOH AAH... JUST A LITTLE BIT
One of the Eurovision songs that made everybody dance in the 1990s was the United Kingdom's entry in 1996. The Australian artist Gina G represented the UK in Oslo that year with the pop stomper Ooh Aah... Just A Little Bit which quickly became a favourite to win the competition. In the end, it didn't happen: Ireland won and the United Kingdom finished in 8th place.
In the charts, however, it was a different story: the song topped the UK Singles chart and spent a total of 27 weeks there, making it one of the biggest hits that year and even that decade. It also made it to Number 1 in Israel and to the Top 10 of most European charts.
The Eurodance smash started to conquer the world, including in Gina G's native Australia where it peaked at #5. In the US, it peaked at #12, spending an amazing 30 weeks in the Hot 100. Ooh Aah... Just A Little Bit was even nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording. It is without a doubt one of the most popular non-winning Eurovision entries of all time.
Sweden won the Eurovision Song Contest for the 5th time in 2012 in Baku, something that had been predicted by fans, press and bookmakers since Loreen's Euphoria won Melodifestivalen. A recipient of critical acclaim, it received the maximum '12 points' from 18 countries, a record in the history of the Contest.
Euphoria quickly climbed the charts all over Europe, but it didn't leave them so quickly. It was a number 1 hit in its native Sweden, Germany and, at least 15 other countries, topping Billboard's Euro Digital Songs chart. The song remained in the charts well after the summer, eventually making it into the Year-end charts of several countries, including Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Finland.
Selling over 2 million copies and becoming one of the most streamed songs of the Contest, Euphoria was certified gold, platinum or multiplatinum in over 12 countries, making it the most successful Eurovision song of the past decade.
SAVE YOUR KISSES FOR ME
In 1976, the Eurovision Song Contest took place in The Hague, where a British pop group called Brotherhood Of Man opened ...and closed the Contest! Song number 1, Save Your Kisses For Me, came from the United Kingdom and proved to be an instant hit as it won the competition that year.
The song went on to top the UK charts for 6 weeks, becoming the best selling single of the year with over 1 million records sold, but its success didn't stop there: it went on to top many other countries' charts, including France, Spain and the Netherlands. In the United States, it topped Billboard's Easy Listening chart and peaked at #27 in the Hot 100.
A worldwide hit, Save Your Kisses For Me has sold in excess of 6 million sold copies and to this day it remains one of the biggest selling Eurovision Song Contest winners which Brotherhood Of Man still perform on stage.
MAKING YOUR MIND UP
The 4th UK Eurovision winner was also a massive chart success. Yet another foursome, formed just for the occasion, won the Contest in 1981: Bucks Fizz. Their unforgettable dance routine, including one of the most iconic costume changes in history, accompanied the lively rock song, Making Your Mind Up, in Dublin.
The public was just as impressed as the juries: soon after their victory, Bucks Fizz led many of the European charts. Making Your Mind Up was number 1 in the United Kingdom for three weeks, becoming one of the biggest hits of the year there, as well as in the other 7 countries where it topped the charts. The song went on to sell more than 4 million copies.
Bucks Fizz's Eurovision victory launched their career: they became one of the top-selling groups of the 1980s, scoring other hits such as The Land Of Make Believe and My Camera Never Lies.
Another song which didn't win the Eurovision Song Contest but won the love of record buyers is Cliff Richard's Congratulations. Hotly tipped to win the Eurovision Song Contest 1968 in London's Royal Albert Hall, it ended second to Massiel from Spain, who won the competition with La, La, La, only one point ahead.
Congratulations was conceived by the winning team of Puppet On A String to try to secure a second consecutive victory for the UK and was performed on stage by one of the top stars at the time. That didn't quite happen: the song came second, but nevertheless became a hit all over Europe, topping the charts in several countries including the UK and Spain.
Its international success went beyond the European borders, entering the charts in the United States, Canada, South Africa and Australia, where it peaked at number 4. Congratulations was the title of the 50 years of Eurovision anniversary show in 2005.
Sir Cliff tried his luck at Eurovision again in 1973 but was beaten by both Spain and Luxembourg this time, placing third in the voting. The song, Power To All Our Friends, was another big hit for Richard hitting #1 all over Scandinavia, the Netherlands and also in Malaysia and Hong Kong! In the UK charts, it peaked at #4 and it made the charts in Australia and New Zealand as well.
...AND MANY MORE HITS!
As we've mentioned, Think About Things is the 2020 Eurovision song that has made it to more international charts, although nowadays that streaming services like YouTube prevail, others, like Little Big's Uno, are arguable as, or more, successful. Uno has become the most-watched video ever in our official YouTube channel, surpassing 2018's winner Netta's Toy from Israel.
Since 2000, an official Eurovision compilation has been produced, first on CD, and now for streaming platforms. In 2017, it was even released on a limited vinyl edition. These albums have consistently made the charts in the countries where released, often topping Compilation Charts.
In those years, many of the songs were chart hits in several countries, like the winners of 2000, Olsen Brothers' Fly On The Wings Of Love, 2003's Every Way That I Can by Sertab, 2005's My Number One with Helen Paparizou and 2006's Hard Rock Hallelujah by Lordi.
Since the new services came in to play, participating songs are available right after they're performed in the shows, making it easy for viewers to purchase or listen to the songs they liked best. That has helped several Eurovision songs enter charts around the world in recent years, like winners Alexander Rybak with Fairytale and Lena with Satellite, which made #3 and #1 respectively in the European Hot 100. This trend can also be seen with non-winning songs like Verka Serduchka's Dancing Lasha Tumbai. Interestingly, 2014 was one of the most popular years for Eurovision songs in the download charts, with more than 10 entries making it to those lists.
The best example is Calm After The Storm, which The Common Linnets took to second place in Copenhagen. The song was a Top 5 hit in many European charts eventually peaking at #4 in Billboard's Euro Digital Songs chart.
The winner in 2015, Heroes by Måns Zelmerlöw, peaked at #6 in the same chart while Sweden had the most popular chart song in 2016, Frans' If I Were Sorry peaking at #12 in the European Billboard digital chart. Belgium's Blanche reached #15 in the continental chart with City Lights in 2017 and Germany's entry in 2018, Michael Schulte's You Let Me Walk Alone, was certified gold in the Netherlands.
Two of the most recent chart successes of the Eurovision Song Contest have been the runner-up songs in 2018 and 2019. Eleni Foureira's Fuego was a Summer hit from the Mediterranean beaches of Cyprus, Greece and Spain to the Northern coasts in Scandinavia, while Mahmood's Soldi became the most-streamed Eurovision song ever on Spotify after it was number 1 in the charts in Greece, Israel, Italy and Lithuania.
Who will follow in the footsteps of our last winner, Duncan Laurence from the Netherlands? His song Arcade peaked at #2 in Billboard's Euro Digital Song Sales Chart. Will one of the entries in 2021 do one better?