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(A): from A Chaque Pas to Azucar Moreno

KEY: Winner Runner-up Third-place Top 5 Debut Entry Host Entry Last Place Nul Points

A CHAQUE PAS (song) French entry, Istanbul 2004: 15th place (40 pts)
With a waistline as unnatural as the spikes in his hair, Jonatan (that's French for 'Jonathan') Cerrada knew his 2004 entry was such a strong contender, he didn't need to worry about gimmicks.

Imagine his state of disgruntlement (that's French for 'a bit annoyed and concerned') when three strays from the 1986 Norwegian entry were woken from 18 years' cryogenic suspension to join him on stage, and Marie Line popped along to show off her new extra-long legs. All those distractions cost Jonatan (and France) the 2004 title, but let's consider the positives. Marie Line's new legs are super.

ABBA (group) Swedish entry, Brighton 1974: WINNER (24 pts)
An obscure group from Scandinavia who took advantage of the European Year of Rail Travel (1974) to claim victory with a song about a train station.

Nothing has been heard of them since.

ADDICTED TO YOU (song) Finnish entry, Tallinn 2002: 20th place (24 pts)

Right, don't tell anyone we told you, but you know that Laura Vol-au-Ventuition who sung for Finland in 2002? Well, it turns out she was only holed up in bed with a terrible bout of the snuffles and sweats the week before Finland's best songwriters were due to hand in their submissions for the national final.

Of course, Laura just wasn't up to writing anything down, but she had her heart set on representing her country in a blue blouse and white trousers, so she called one of her pals in to take down her dictated notes. Just before her mate arrived, she took an even worse turn and was so bunged up with all sorts of nasty stuff she just wasn't making any sense to anyone.

Anyrode, by the time her friend arrived at the house, the last thing on Laura's mind was writing a Eurovision entry, but obviously her pal wasn't to know that, so she sits down, with notebook open and pen poised ready to take down whatever Laura said to her.

So what's the first thing Laura says? Only, "Someone give me drugs 'cos I'm afflicted with flu."
Funny thing is, she was so bunged up, it didn't sound like that to her friend.
Note: As told over a fence between two women in a Helsinki suburb, just after they'd hung their washing out.

ADIEU (song) Norwegian entry, Harrogate 1982: 12th place (40 pts)

Norway's entry in 1982 was put together by some bloke who merged all the elements of the previous winning songs.

One can only assume that his LP of Eurochamps got stuck in the early 60s section, because if you listen to it hard enough, you'll hear no mention of historic battles, the picking of flowers whilst on the rebound, the removal of outer garments during times of indecision, biblically-oriented peace messages or a twist at the end when you find out that Anita Skorgan's only three.

No wonder it didn't win.

ADRO-DITE (group) Swedish entry, Tallinn 2002: 8th place (72 pts)

As anyone who has ever played computer game Wee Parappa the Rapper will tell you - don't get cocky, it's gonna get rocky.

Selected from the 1,000,003 songs in the 2002 Melodifestivalen group stages, quarters, semis and ultimate final, the three lovely ladies in shredded silver thought themselves un-topple-able on their way to the Tallinian podium with the disco-tastic Never Let It Go.

Armed with a very strong uptempo song and dressed as Destiny's Childs' grandmothers, Blossom and Co were doing great guns until they actually walked out on stage to perform.

It didn't matter though, as the way the middle one sang "We'll be shakin', SHAKIN'!!!" with such obvious gusto meant Glade were instantly on the phone asking her to front the next Shake 'n' Vac ad campaign.

AISTE (performer) Lithuanian entry, Jerusalem 1999: 20th place (13 pts)

Residents of the Bronx still talk of the day when some waif-like warbler from Lithuania turned up at one of their street carnivals to perform for the youth in the 'hood'.

It transpired that the talent agency dealing with the carnival organisers had misheard part of the original telephone conversation. The talent agency later apologised to the good folk of of the Bronx. They didn't realise it was 'Ice-T' they were really after.

AIVARAS (performer) Lithuanian entry, Tallinn 2002: 23rd place (12 pts)

Sometimes you can only ride that wave of good fortune for so long.

Once the Lithuanians had concluded their national final requirements, the group B'avarija were all set to scoot over the border to Tallinn as the nation's 2002 ESC representatives in Tallinn with the early 90s-ish anthem We All, and perhaps even stand a chance of scooting back over on May 26 with the trophy.

However, as we all know, We All had already been released in 2001 in the native tongue on the group's last studio album, so enter Aivaras, Lithuania's Song for Europe runner-up and his actually-quite-good-if-soppy lovesong Happy You.

Luck was certainly shining on the bearded, beatnikky one. Getting into the contest by the back door and singing in the last slot on stage - what could possibly go wrong?

Well, perhaps it was the charred haggis he wore on his head for the performance, the jumpers he and his backing singers wore which looked as though they came from the home knitwear stall run by the irritable veggie at Glastonbury, the step aerobics dance routine and Aivaras' weak vocal showing which planted him firmly into second-last position.

As we said, sometimes you can only ride that wave of good fortune for so long. Shame, as it's a good song.

ALBANIA (nation) First entry: Istanbul 2004. 0 0 0

As we all know, Albania was invented in 2002 by former Italian entrant Al Bano and Dr Alban, who sang "Wottizluv?? Bay-bee dohn hur' meeee..." about 10 years beforehand.

Singing had become one of the most popular pastimes in Albania by 2004, just behind begging and pickpocketing, so Al and Dr decided to put the country forward for that year's Eurovision.

They had a cracking start at the Istanbul patient that very year, with an up-tempo song about mental illness. The contest doesn't look to be heading for the Albanian capital just yet, but the government are preparing for every eventuality, and have had five tents sewn together and put somewhere safe in the town hall.

ALDRI I LIVET (song) Norwegian entry, Dublin 1981: 20th/last place (0 pts)

Poor Finn Kalvik. Not only was his pleasantly bouncy ballad completely overshadowed by the seminally non-subtle peformance of Bucks Fizz immediately after his turn at Eurovison '81, he didn't score any points either. Despite the single of Aldri I Livet being produced by Benny and Bjorn from ABBA (and featuring Agnetha and Frida on backing vocals), the juries weren't overly impressed.

Finn wasn't too bothered. He is now a witch doctor on one of Oslo's roughest housing estates and can often be seen walking the streets at night, completely naked, looking for Jahn Teigen's pub whilst sticking pins in his Bobby G voodoo doll.p>

ALE JESTEM (song) Polish entry, Dublin 1997: 11th place (54 pts)

In the year when Katrina and the Waves proved that you shouldn't necessarily take the studio release of a national entry as an indication of how you're going to sound on the big night, Anna-Maria Jopek did the same thing for Poland.

For just three minutes in 1997, Europe got a shufty at what a Polish folk club looks like; lots of fellas with long hair shaking about enthusiastically, an extremely mysterious-looking blonde doing the singing etc. etc. If it wasn't for the up-to-six-people-only on stage rule, then we'd have seen yet another faction of the Polish folk scene: lots of men in berets with goatee beards, all sat round one table and making a half pint of bitter last all night. Wooh, they're so beatnik-y.

ALENKA (performer) Slovenian entry, Helsinki 2007: 15th place (66 pts)

Alenka Gotar spent the first 20 years of her life down a mine in a sort-of-coaly bit of Slovenia, with only the fat operatic lady who sang with Magazin for Croatia in 1995 for company.

When the time came for the shrieky-voiced vocalist to rejoin society, she refused to part with the lamp which had been her guiding light through the twists and turns of the tunnels for so many years, even taking it on to the Eurovision stage with her, where she sang the only type of song she had ever been exposed to.

Although she didn't win, Alenka became one of the most popular contestants backstage in Helsinki when all the lights in the ladies' toilets blew.

ALF (performer) Austrian entry, Riga 2003: 6th place (101 pts)

We like Alf.

Probably the only singer at ESC 2003 to realise how spectacularly unimportant the entire event is, and should be treated as such, the Austrian god was rightly rewarded for his efforts.

Sixth place was Austria's highest in 14 years and all it took was a man who looked like he needed a wee throughout his performance with a pair of cardboard cut-outs behind him.

Oh, hang on, the woman in the red boa did actually move about a bit there...
Note: If anybody knows which area of Austria camels are indigenous to, please contact the present author.

ALL (song) British entry, Frankfurt 1957: 7th place (6 pts)

The UK's debut entry in 1957 was the shortest Eurosong ever, making this the one of the shortest entries in this ency

ALL NIGHT LONG (song) Danish entry, Belgrade 2008: 15th place (60 pts)
Denmark's foremost cocker-nee sparrah, Simon Mathew Lambeth-Walked his way out of the semi finals and into the final of Eurovision 2008.

In the weeks before his appearance in Serbia, Simon was mentored by that other authentic Londoner, Dick Van Dyke, in the ways of life in the British capital and how to speak like one of the natives.

Simon was so entranced by his teacher's teachings, that he spent most of rehearsal week trying to jump into graffiti on the Belgrade pavements and was arrested at three o'clock in the morning when trying to detach a horse from a children's carousel and ride off on into the night with Julie Andrews. This followed a four-hour police chase across the city's rooftops as a desperate Simon tried to find some chimney sweeps to dance with.

ALL OUT OF LUCK (song) Icelandic entry, Jerusalem 1999: 2nd place (146 pts)

Originally written as a wake-up call to Icelandic composers, who always waited until last thing before bedtime on Sunday before writing the songs for their national final (which were due to be handed in to their song tutors the following morning), resulting in missed alarm calls, hastily written tunes, and mad dashes to the Icelandic TV studios.

The singer, Selma, was worried that any mischief she may have got up to in a former life would catch up with her onstage in the holy city of Jerusalem, and so ordered her dancers to wear raincoats in case a plague of frogs should shower down on them during their performance. Hey yeah, hey yeah, oh yeah...

ALLA (performer) Russian entry, Dublin 1997: 15th place (33 pts)

Hastily dodging the 'You Haven't Got the Legs For That Skirt' Police on her way into The Point Theatre on May 3rd 1997, Alla Pugachova un-bashfully cocked a snub to all the other jailbait lovelies on stage that year. Aren't we the lucky ones.

She somehow persuaded ABBA's String Arranger to lead the orchestra (probably paying him with large sacks of potatoes), but it wasn't until after her performance of Prima Donna that an RTE technician tactfully explained to her that the 1897 Eurovision Song Contest was going on somewhere down the road, and she must have lost her way in her excitement.

ALLE MINE TANKAR (song) Norwegian entry, Millstreet 1993: 5th place (120 pts)

Funny one this.

It's 1993, it's Norway, it's the last song on stage, and on comes pop-tot Silje Vige to bring proceedings to an end with the somnambulist Alle Mine Tankar (All My Thoughts).

The band strikes up, and instantly you're sent to sleep by an almost inaudible, slightly dull verse, which certainly isn't going anywhere.

Cut to the crowd as the chorus (eventually) arrives and we can clearly see Silje's immediate family start clapping in time with the micro-chanteuse.

The song ends, the crowd at the Green Glens Arena almost lift the roof off and Norway finish fifth.

Why? And why isn't the fact she is a petrol distribution magnate mentioned anywhere in the lyrics, either?

ALMA LUSA (group) Poruguese entry, Birmingham 1998: =12th place (36 pts)

Following an interval act at their national final which seemed to tell Portuguese cinematic history in real-time, Alma Lusa were eventually despatched to Birmingham '98 with Se Eu Te Pudesse Abracar , despite it not winning much support from its national panel of past entrants (still, what do they know..?).

This Celto-fado looked and sounded promising after its performance on the night, but only the French seemed to get the point (shame). Still, all was not lost for Alma Lusa. A Hollywood producer, who just happened to tune in that night, was so impressed with Jose Cid's bowlhead haircut, that he was instantly signed up for the lucrative Portuguese remake of Dumb and Dumber.

ALS HET OM DE LIEFDE GAAT (song) Dutch entry, Edinburgh 1971: 4th place (106 pts)

Tailing Vicky, The New Seekers and Mary at the 1972 contest was Dutch duo Sandra Reemer and a bloke called Andres whose surname has no doubt never been officially released.

This unbelievably bouncy contest-rounder-upperer had the usually dour Edinburgh crowd clapping their bits off during the performance - unless they thought the Festival had started early and this was alternative Dutch comedy, but it finished a creditable fourth anyway.

Andres' pork chop sideburns went on to star in a meat marketing campaign, whereas Sandra would return to the contest under numerous names and hairstyles; Sandra Reemer in 1976, lead singer of Xandra in 1979 and Johnny Logan in both 1980 and 1987.
Note: Nah-na-na-na-nannah-na-na... that's all yu-kka-doo.

ALSOU (performer) Russian entry, Stockholm 2000: 2nd place (155 pts)

"Ah'll sue!" is what Britney Spears is rumoured to have said when she first saw and heard Russia's entry for Eurovision 2000. So did Marcel Marceau when he saw her backing dancers, but that's another story.

Alsou's Solo may have given Russia its best year by far, but she is perhaps best remembered as the performer who nearly fell out of her top the most times during the voting. She is building on her post-contest success, and her forthcoming singles have the working titles How Low? and Why Not a Bit Higher?

ALVEDANSEN (song) Norwegian entry, Athens 2006: 15th place (36 pts)

Well done to the Norwegians for their staggeringly original entry for Athens 2006.

They got Kate Gulbrandsen to dress in white and sing an ethnic ballad. Why hadn't anyone ever thought of doing that before? The song, of course, translates as 'Dance of the Elves', and pity the now redundant, slightly dyslexic, manager of NRK's wardrobe department who was set to send the backing singers out in rhinestone-bedecked white leather jumpsuits, massive greased quiffs and curled lips for the national final performance.

AMOUR ON T'AIME (song) Swiss entry, Harrogate 1982: 3rd place (97 pts)

In 1982, Arlette Zola was extradited to her native Switzerland from the US, where she had travelled to create the embryo of what would later become Run DMC.

Her foul mouth and frankly filthy behaviour proved too much even for the early exponents of rap culture, and in a 1988 interview, the one who wore the big Adidas trainers in the Walk This Way video said: "Do you know, I was most affronted by Ms Zola's behaviour.
"She ingratiated herself in our social circle and kept trying to make us find rhymes for rude words such as 'motherfucker', 'cocksucker' and 'espadrille' which certainly made me blush, I can tell you.
"In the end, we tricked her into getting on a plane for Switzerland by saying there was a national Alpen shortage and all her family were dying of starvation."

Not to be outdone by this fiendish trickery, Arlette took her self-penned tune Fuck Off, Motherfucker and directly translated it into French, the end result being Amour on T'aime, which finished third in that year's Harrogate-held Eurovision Song Contest.

ANDORRA (nation) First entry: Istanbul 2004. Never progressed from semi-final

The largest country in Europe, Andorra has three billion inhabitants and was the birthplace of the door.

Despite its size, the Andorrans have yet to proceed to the Eurovision final proper, but remain undeterred. Their plan for 2008 is for the delegation to murder all but nine of the semi-final entrants in rehearsal week, thus ensuring them a direct route to the Saturday night show. Perhaps they'll murder them with doors.

ANGEL (song) Icelandic entry, Copenhagen 2001: =22nd/last place (3 pts)

On special offer at Iceland in 2001 is two tricky for the price of one.

Now, not only can you enjoy the bit-dull Icelandic rumblings of a song called Brita, but also a more brightly polished one by the name of Angel.

The Queen of Hearts is advised to make the most of these jokers for as long as possible, as any interest the public may have in the song has a strict Best Before date of 12/05/01 (20:15hrs).

ANGEL (song) Maltese entry, Kiev 2005: 2nd place (192 pts)

Chiara? Angel? I'd like to see her f***ing fly...


ANJEZA (performer) Albanian entry, Istanbul 2004: 7th place (106 pts)

Surely the wisest thing for the object of the debutante Albanian entrant's affections to do is steer well clear of her.

Judging by the slightly manic look on her face as she performed The Image of You on stage of Istanbul, if I made her feel "a little crazy", I can imagine waking up the next morning beneath the supporting pillar of a new motorway.

ANNA-KARINE (performer) Nowegian entry, Brighton 1974: =14th/last place (3 pts) ; The Hague, 1976: 18th/last place (7 pts)

Busy, busy lady this one. Just as Diana Ross worked her way up from just any other member of the Supremes line-up to Little Miss Motown, this winsome valkyrie went from making up the numbers in the Bendik Singers (Norway '73 - see IT'S JUST A GAME), to assuming the full responsibilty of 'Anna Karine Strom and the Bendik Singers' in Brighton the following year, skipping a year to let her music mature, before returning in '76 as just 'Anna Karine Strom'.

Unfortunately, there the comparison to Ms Ross ends. Anna Karine Strom has never been arrested at Heathrow airport for attacking a security guard, is not idolised by Michael Jackson and his chimp, and has never wondered why fools fall in love. On the other hand, she has come last at the Eurovision Song Contest on two separate occasions, causing something of a chain reaction for Norway's subsequent musical fortunes.

ANNE-MARIE (performer)
Luxembourg entry, Luxembourg 1973: WINNER (129 pts) . French entry, Jerusalem 1979: 3rd place (106 pts)

This poor chanteuse is nationally confused. In late 1979, she planted a flag at the exact mid-point between France and Luxembourg (as the crow flies) and just stood there and waited for someone to come along and ask her to sing at the next ESC for them.

Unfortunately, the Franco-Lux border patrol tend not to send songs to the ESC, so she's still there waiting.

ANTIQUE (group) Greek entry, Copenhagen 2001: 3rd place (147 pts)

When Hugh Scully announced he would be hosting the 2001 Greek final, the result was a foregone conclusion.

The song Antique took to the Parken - Die For You - finished third, proving to be Greece's most successful placing ever. Helped in no short measure by the fact that Antique are her-yowge in Scandinavia, plus the big butch lady on backing vocals had promised to come round to some countries and 'have a word', if the votes didn't start going their way.

The only tragedy now surrounding the I Will Survive-esque number falls upon the bouzouki player. A squat team of Danish welders are still trying to free him from the stool he was wedged into moments before the performance started, and so far they've only got one of his hips out.

ANYTIME YOU NEED (song) Armenian entry, Helsinki 2007: 8th place (138 pts)

What do you do if your stage fright gets the better of you to the extent that you're stricken with the thrupenny bits?

Just ask Hayko, the nervous Armenian singer who was sure he wouldn't last three minutes on the Helsinki stage without following through.

To assist him, Armenian telly gave him a really boring song which didn't require an energetic dance routine, and a tree for him to nip behind if he got caught short.

On the night of the final, Hayko managed to persevere, but take a look at the branches of those trees and you'll see that rehearsals were a different story.

ARE YOU SURE? (song) British entry, Cannes 1961: 2nd place (24 pts)

1961. Surely third time lucky for the UK. They'd ditched the chirpy post-war stuff and gone for something which actually sounded like a pop song (it even got to number two in the charts).

The Allisons started well in the Cannes vote. Luxembourg (the eventual undeserving winners) gave them eight out of their ten votes, and it looked to be plain sailing. Unfortunately, the juries from France onwards had misheard the song's lyrics due to a technical fault. They believed that the brothers were warbling "Are You Insured? You'll be sorry." and so rushed off to check their policies, telling the jury spokesperson to just go for the song that was on before the UK.

"Are You Sure?" the collective spokespeople asked, but by then it was too late...

THE ARK (group) Swedish entry, Helsinki 2007: 18th place (51 pts)

The points they came in two-by-two for The Ark at Helsinki 2007.

Despite a rousing performance from skinny-balinky lead singer Ola Salo and his painstakingly beaded chest hair, the people who liked it clearly weren't the televoting kind.

Ola refused to take responsibility for the defeat and angrily fired ever memeber of the group, no choosing to perform as a solo act under the name The Dinghy.
Note: The disc Ola spun on during the instrumental break of this song was named third-greatest Swedish record of 2007 by OGAE International.

ARMENIA (nation) First entry: Athens 2006. 0 0 0

Well, those Armenians are girly musical swots, ain't they?.

Nobody had ever got through the semi-final from first slot in the draw, and fellow newbies Andorra and Belarus had never squeezed through to the final despite a two-year head start. Clearly, all it took to curry the voters' favour was to strap their singer into one of those hammocks you see on Channel 5 after 11pm and sing something unremarkable. In 2008, the Armenians plan to send Cher, wearing thumbscrews and a peep-hole bra.

ARVINGARNA (group) Swedish entry, Millstreet 1993: 7th place (89 pts)

In 1993, Take That were making their annual tour of Swedish Microbiology Centres.

Whilst touring the one in Stockholm, some scientists (from the Netherlands) secretly took a sample of skin from one of the members and cross-fertilised it with Herreys DNA in an attempt to create the ultimate Euro Boy Band.

This could have resulted in the most successful Swedish pop export since Europe, but the scientists unfortunately chose to take their sample from Gary Barlow, thus creating four ugly men who couldn’t dance.

ATHENA (rowdy ruffians) Turkish entry, Istanbul 2004: 4th place (195 pts)

By the time they finally hosted a Contest in 2004, the Turks knew they could take advantage of the voters sucking up to the host country and try something a little different.

So instead of floaty dresses and ethnic instruments, we got a punk band claiming that they wanted to "bring you up", resulting in hundreds of orphans from across Europe calling the band's management with their choice of bedroom wallpaper.

Once they saw the wide-eyed kiddywinks who needed their help, Athena's anarchistic hearts melted, and sent them all to Sertab Erener's house while they prepared for their next tour. Rock.

AUSTRIA (nation) First entry: Frankfurt 1957. 1 0 0

This is not quite Germany. In 1982, a confused Austrian jury thought they actually were German ergo unable to vote for Nicole.

It wasn't until Jan Leeming reminded them at the scoreboard who they actually were that they hastily allocated their neighbours a point. That is the official EBU explanation, yes, really.

Austria won in 1966 with Udo Jurgens' heartfelt plea for Tony Blair's wife to show leniency towards others (Merci Cherie), thus earning himself the distinction of being the only winner whose christian name sounds like another word for dog's jobbies.

AZUCAR MORENO (duo) Spanish entry, Zagreb 1990: 5th place (96 pts)

Otherwise known as 'Sugar err...Moreno', this stroppy pair got a right pair of titty lips on them in Zagreb in 1990, when they walked out on stage and saw Julio Iglesias mooning at them from the front row.

They left the stage in a big huff and wouldn't come out again until Julio was ejected from the building.

On their return to Spain they gained revenge on Iglesias by waving pictures of Toto Cutugno around outside his living room window, causing the leather skinned Grecian 2000-ed warbler to require intensive shock counselling for the next six months.

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