Europe Shine A Light – The Top 10 Most Infectious Eurovision Songs Ever

17 May 2020

It should have been the grand final of the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam. Instead it was Eurovision: Shine A Light – a tribute to the songs and artists that would have been seen on stage had the event not been cancelled due to the COVID-19 (Wuhan Coronavirus) pandemic. The biggest light that shone proved to be on Rotterdam itself. Just as Europe and much of the world is beginning to open up after lengthy lockdowns, Rotterdam was confirmed to be the host of Eurovision 2021. Not just confirmed, it was boldly declared in the announcement video, “we will make it happen, we will open up”. In a worst case scenario that COVID-19 is still a problem that would prevent crowds, it would seem the European Broadcasting Union and the Dutch organising team are intent on some sort of event.

Europe Shine A Light - Top 10 Most Infectious Eurovision Songs Ever

As for the Shine A Light show itself, it was a dreary event. While the pandemic obviously meant some sensitivity was required, surely a show that provided fun, vitality and escapism from the depressing situation many people find themselves would have been of much greater benefit. Instead of shining a light, it cast a wide, dark shadow. We suffered through Johnny Logan and friends making What’s Another Year sound like a year too long, Mans Zelmerlow torturing us by turning Heroes into an endless drone, and I don’t know what the hell last year’s winner, Duncan Laurence, was doing plodding away on the piano to something so insipid and weak. Only Netta, performing her new song Cuckoo, made for interesting viewing. While we wouldn’t expect a raging party happening, song choices and arrangements could have been more uplifting.

Interspersed between the various song performances were snippets of the 41 songs of this year’s cancelled competition and greetings from each of the artists, together with footage that looked likely from the postcards that would have been used at Rotterdam 2020. Thankfully the best was saved to last with a rousing rendition by all artists of Love Shine A Light – the Eurovision 1997 winning song by Katrina & The Waves for the United Kingdom.

When Eurovision got cancelled, I thought about the situation, about the music, and about the qualities in music that raise our spirits, and provide us comfort, joy and warmth. One of those qualities is undoubtedly the infectious nature of many songs. Classic songs like these act like a virus too, so it was obvious: The Top 10 Most Infectious Eurovision Songs Ever. It should be remembered in times like these that not all infections are bad. Indeed, the joy and wonder of the Eurovision Song Contest is the many infectious songs it brings. What defines an infectious song? It’s one that’s catchy and immediately seeps into your consciousness, and it stays there.

There’s no cure for the best infectious songs – they will live with your forever – and that is the basis I formed the criteria of finding the most infectious songs ever: 1) Instant appeal, or the infection level; 2) Widespread appeal, or the infection rate; 3) Long-term appeal, or the infection legacy. Each song is scored up to 3 points for each criterion. Suffice to say, recent songs would struggle with infection legacy and only one managed to be among the final top 10 considerations.

Of these three criteria, only the infection rate is objective, that being the success of the song, and it’s based on roughly finishing top third in the grand final to get 3 points. In years with semi finals then qualifying for the grand final is always 2 points. The other two criteria are purely my feelings: how I felt at the time, and how I feel now. I built the initial list of candidates by scanning entries for each year and picking all those I remembered with instant appeal. It’s only since 2002 I have an intimate knowledge of Eurovision shows, therefore most entries are since then. I listened to them all again, and that’s when the initial cull was made. Then I’d score them for each criterion to help rank and cut the list further. The final trim and ranking was based on extra listens, and the personal infection level and legacy took priority over the Eurovision result.

The Top 10 Most Infectious Eurovision Songs Ever

10 Norway 2005 – Wig Wam – In My Dreams (9th)

Infection Level: 2
Infection Rate: 2
Infection Legacy: 2

This was the one I really struggled with and it was one of three contenders for the final spot (see below). The legacy was the problem. I listened to it, marked it. Listened again, unmarked it. Listened again, posted it. This was over a few days so was one of the later decisions made. Unlike most of the others, the infection level is not consistently strong all the way through. It’s mostly the chorus, and thankfully Wig Wam hit you with some of it at the start. That then gets you rocking and shouting the rest of the song. Come on, Come On, Come On, Love is all over me!

09 Estonia 2000 – Ines – Once In A Lifetime (4th)

Infection Level: 1
Infection Rate: 3
Infection Legacy: 2

A tricky one because I’d forgotten much of this Eurovision held in Stockholm, only acquainting myself with this song when coming across it several years later. I was instantly hooked and became more enamoured with it when seeing Ines pop up on Estonian TV doing reprisals here and there. It’s been forever in my mind ever since. Ines almost couldn’t compete on Eurovision night due to a heavy cold (perhaps a coronavirus?) knocking her flat. She got drugged up sufficiently and finished fourth. Her boyfriend of the time, Tanal Padar, second from right on backing vocals, would win Eurovision for Estonia the following year with Dave Benson performing Everybody.

08 Spain 2012 – Pastora Soler – Quedate Conmigo (10th)

Infection Level: 2
Infection Rate: 2
Infection Legacy: 2

Ballads can be infectious, and this was one that surprised me when listening again. I initially picked it out simply to be polite, and respectful, thinking perhaps it had waned over the years. Think not, it still sounds as grand and warm as it ever did.

07 Lithuania 2005 – Laura & The Lovers – Little By Little (25th SF)

Infection Level: 3
Infection Rate: 0
Infection Legacy: 3

I simply love this song, and still do. There’s something so infectious about the music, the melody and Laura’s smoky voice that for some reason escaped just about everyone else. It finished last with 17 points (8 from neighbour Latvia, 5 from Ireland and 4 from the UK) in the single semi final of the day so if I didn’t get the strong infectious feeling I always had when listening to it, it was gone. In fact, listening to it again made it a certainty.

06 Denmark 2010 – Chanee and N’evergreen – In A Moment Like This (4th)

Infection Level: 3
Infection Rate: 3
Infection Legacy: 1

This was a certainty, even when I was considering a Most Infectious list. Right from that initial and familiar rhythm, the infectious level builds and builds, right into the big chorus. Upon listening again I was surprise the infection level dropped a bit. It’s more familiar feeling of a pleasant infection now, not something that still exists.

05 Belarus 2007 – Dmitry Koldun – Work Your Magic (6th)

Infection Level: 2
Infection Rate: 3
Infection Legacy: 2

All my initial memories of this came from the CD. This was the period when I’d listen to all the songs this way to become acquainted with them before watching the broadcast. The internet was still mostly dial-up and youtube was only fledgling, so access to national finals and preview videos was limited. The song’s held firm all through the years and was another certainty in this top 10.

04 Katrina & The Waves – Love Shine A Light (1st)

Infection Level: 3
Infection Rate: 3
Infection Legacy: 2

The second song that was always on my mind for a list like this, and it’s a poetic that it was integral to the Europe Shine A Light tribute show. In 1997 it was the era you’d hit Eurovision cold – no preview video or audio – so being an infectious song was paramount to being remembered. The UK hadn’t won in years as well, especially with some really strong entries, and this was the year they really trumpeted their chances. It proved a non contest in the end with a whopping (for the day) 227 points awarded – 70 points ahead of second. Listening again it didn’t quite feel the same. That could be because I’ve heard it so many times. I even own the CD single of it when I found it secondhand in a record store about a year later. Currently this song is ninth in my Top 10 Best Ever Eurovision Songs.

03 Russia 2014 – Tolmachevy Sisters – Shine (7th)

Infection Level: 3
Infection Rate: 3
Infection Legacy: 2

This was my instant favourite of 2014 and that stuck throughout, and it still does today. I especially love the epic music interludes, the complimentary voices of the twins, and they’re telling all the world to show some love. When you’re talking about Europe Shine A Light, this is the sort of shine you expect. Shine finished ahead of Love Shine A Light simply for the reason its infectious legacy is a bit greater.

02 Estonia 2013 – Birgit – Et uus saaks alguse (20th)

Infection Level: 3
Infection Rate: 2
Infection Legacy: 3

Oh Birgit. I’d seen her before in Eesti Laul and liked her, and once I saw this pop up on youtube and listened to it, I was in love. I watched Eesti Laul live the year before to see my favourite Lenna Kuurmaa finish second, and I was ready and willing to be up at 4am in Australia to do it again for Birgit. She didn’t let me down, narrowly winning the super final against Grete Paia, who’s also become a favourite of mine. At Eurovision I was ecstatic Birgit made the final, especially as she pointed out at the press conference Estonia didn’t have friends (like neighbours Finland and Latvia) in her semi final for free points. That led me to buy her albums, including Uus Algus, which I can only say hit me like no other album before it. I wasn’t even sure to consider Birgit here due to excessive bias. I listened to the song again and, bang, that infection level was still there, and that’s all that ultimately matters.

01 Iceland 2003 – Birgitta – Open Your Heart (8th)

Infection Level: 3
Infection Rate: 3
Infection Legacy: 3

It’s a very similar situation with Birgitta as it is to Birgit, except the instant love came from Eurovision itself. Birgitta was first up at Riga 2003 and, to me, the contest was over. Such a bouncy, happy, uber infectious song, with some delightful harmonies and structurally is just about perfect. Whenever I’m reminiscing over old Eurovision songs, Open Your Heart always gets a play. This one song turned me into a Eurovision junkie. Her band, Irafar, I bought their CD – the first ever overseas online purchase I made – and I’d get the CD single to Open Your Heart, which had the original Icelandic version on it and the video. Also, I’d buy the official Eurovision CD of Riga 2003, and Tallinn 2002 while I was at it. Of course, when I ever played that Riga 2003 CD, Open Your Heart would get an extra listen or three. To me it’s the quintessential, infectious Eurovision song, and is currently my second favourite Eurovision song ever.

Rotterdam 2020 – The Fab Five! All Songs Reviewed and Ranked
Rotterdam 2020 – The Mini Preview – Semi Final Favourites, Predictions & Betting Odds

Top 10 Best Ever Eurovision Songs
Top 10 Best Ever Semi Final Losers
Top 10 Best Ever National Final Losers

Just missed

Estonia 2017 Koit Toome & Laura – Verona (score 3/1/2)
Norway 2008 Maria Haukaas Storeng – Hold On Be Strong (score 2/3/1)

Strongly considered

Cyprus 2016 Minus One – Alter Ego
Azerbaijan 2016 Samra – Miracle
Denmark 2009 Niels Brinck – Believe Again
Albania 2009 Kejsi Tola – Carry Me in Your Dreams
Netherlands 2007 Edsilia Rombley – On Top of the World
Belgium 2006 Kate Ryan – Je t’adore
Estonia 2006 Sandra Oxenryd – Through My Window
Switzerland 2005 Vanilla Ninja – Cool Vibes
Bosnia and Herzegovina 2005 Feminnem – Call Me
Cyprus 2002 One – Gimme
Estonia 2002 Sahlene – Runaway

Others considered (*shortlisted)

2019
*Belarus Zena “Like It”
San Marino Serhat “Say Na Na Na”
Netherlands Duncan Laurence “Arcade”
*Norway Keino “Spirit In The Sky”
2018
Switzerland ZiBBZ “Stones”
Moldova DoReDoS “My Lucky Day”
2017
*Greece Demy “This Is Love”
Romania Ilinca ft. Alex Florea “Yodel It!”
Italy Francesco Gabbani “Occidentali’s Karma”
2016
*Moldova Lidia Isac “Falling Stars”
*Russia Sergey Lazarev “You Are the Only One”
*Poland Michal Szpak “Color of Your Life”
Bulgaria Poli Genova “If Love Was a Crime”
2015
Norway Mørland & Debrah Scarlett “A Monster Like Me”
Slovenia Maraaya “Here for You”
2014
Estonia Tanja “Amazing”
Israel Mei Finegold “Same Heart”
Ireland Can-Linn feat. Kasey Smith “Heartbeat”
*Romania Paula Seling & Ovi “Miracle”
France TWIN TWIN “Moustache”
2013
*Azerbaijan Farid Mammadov “Hold Me”
Iceland Eythor Ingi “Eg a lif”
*Russia Dina Garipova What If
2012
*Latvia Anmary “Beautiful Song”
*Cyprus Ivi Adamou “La La Love”
Netherlands Joan Franka “You and Me”
Estonia Ott Lepland “Kuula”
Lithuania Donny Montell “Love Is Blind”
2011
Hungary Kati Wolf “What About My Dreams?
*Azerbaijan Ell & Nikki “Running Scared”
Slovakia TWiiNS “I’m Still Alive”
*Sweden Eric Saade “Popular”
Israel Dana International “Ding Dong”
Romania Hotel FM “Change”
*Spain Lucia Perez “Que me quiten lo bailao”
2010
Moldova SunStroke Project and Olia Tira “Run Away”
Serbia Milan Stankovic “Ovo je Balkan
Paula Seling and Ovi “Playing with Fire”
2009
*Andorra Susanne Georgi “La teva decisio (Get a Life)”
Israel Noa and Mira Awad “There Must Be Another Way”
*Ireland Sinead Mulvey and Black Daisy “Et Cetera”
*Norway Alexander Rybak “Fairytale”
*Azerbaijan Aysel and Arash “Always”
2008
*Andorra Gisela “Casanova”
Sweden Charlotte Perrelli “Hero”
Georgia Diana Gurtskaya “Peace Will Come”
2007
*Cyprus Evridiki “Comme ci, comme ca”
*Iceland Eirikur Hauksson “Valentine Lost”
Ukraine Verka Serduchka “Dancing Lasha Tumbai”
2006
*Slovenia Anzej Dezan “Mr Nobody”
*Sweden Carola “Invincible”
2005
Denmark Jakob Sveistrup “Talking to You”
*Russia Natalia Podolskaya “Nobody Hurt No One”
2004
Denmark Tomas Thordarson “Shame on You”
*Albania Anjeza Shahini “The Image of You”
*Turkey Athena “For Real”
2003
Malta Lynn Chircop “To Dream Again”
*Netherlands Esther Hart “One More Night”
*Sweden Fame “Give Me Your Love”
2002
United Kingdom Jessica Garlick “Come Back”
Switzerland Francine Jordi “Dans le jardin de mon ame”
*Malta Ira Losco “7th Wonder”
*Lithuania Aivaras “Happy You”
2001
*Greece Antique “(I Would) Die for You”
1999
*Sweden Charlotte Nilsson “Take Me to Your Heaven”
1998
Israel Dana International “Diva”
1996
*United Kingdom Gina G “Ooh Aah… Just a Little Bit”

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