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(R): from Rapsodia to Ryder
KEY: Winner Runner-up Third-place Top 5 Debut Entry Host Entry Last Place Nul Points

RAPSODIA (song) Italian entry, Malmo 1992: 4th place (111 pts)
The Contest is renowned for its appeal to gay men, as is the career of one Judy Garland.

Never before or since have the two concepts dovetailed with such precision as with the Italian entry of 1992. The late (but not at the time, obviously) Mia Martini rasped her way through this number, looking not unlike Ms Gumm at the wrong end of her career - in fact, a bit too close to the very end of her career - sequins and all.

How Mia's voice held up for the whole three minutes is a testament to her pluck, determination and 24 carat showbiz bollocks, but it's obvious that it's the whole 'what's really going through her mind when she's singing this..?' that holds the appeal moreso than the song.

The complete Euro tragedy in three minutes. Oh, 'tis but a drag queen's wet dream for the taking.

RENATO (singer) Maltese entry, Stockholm 1975: 12th place (32 pts)
Anyone who has witnessed Renato's performance for Malta in 1975 will appreciate that the only way his entry in this encyclopaedia could be written is with the help of Janet and John's Rhyming Dictionary:

If you have a sad beard
And you look quite obviously weird
Don't cry, don't get up and leave
Just try tassling your sleeves

Just say this bearded weed'll
Stand there and look just like Jeremy Beadle
Singing a well dodgy song
Malta! Where did you go so eff-ing wrong?

I think from this you'll learn
Throw your ideas back in the churn
Your singers have had too much sun
Go and lie down, 'til about '91.

RETOUR (song) Swiss entry, Amsterdam 1970: =4th place (8 pts)
Henri Des, who sang this for the Swiss as the second song of the Seventies (how alliterative) has a problem with his centre of gravity.

This is clearly evident by the need to stand on one leg and touch his nose during the perfromance of Retour. Or perhaps he is trying his best not to get his full face into shot as he is so ashamed to be singing such turgid rubbish in front of millions of viewers.

As we all know, Retour did not win the 1970 Eurovision Song Contest - Dana did that - but Switzerland still attracted many tourists that year to sample on Toblerone, fondue, and deep-friend cuckoo clocks. Thank you to the Swiss Tourist Board for sponsoring that last sentence. I just got me a Toblerone.

RIMI RIMI LEY (song) Turkish entry, Kiev 2005: 13th place (92 pts)
Ffnarr...! Pfff.... *snigger*. Do I really have to write something halfway sensible about this one?

Oh, OK then.

Sorry, I can't. *Snigger* Pfff... Ffnarr!

RIJEKA BEZ IMENA (song) Bosnia-Herzegovinan entry, Helsinki 2007: 11th place (106 pts)
Quite possibly the dullest song ever to open a Eurovision Song Contest, and also the first since 1974 to feature a solo female vocalist dressed as a toilet roll cover.

This sort of song surely ticks all the boxes for those who love anonymous weak-as-water balladry, but isn't going to fill many dancefloors.

Thankfully, Rijeka Bez Imena has found life outside the Contest as a cunning tool by that Supernanny woman to send unruly children to sleep in less than two minutes.

RINGE DINGE (song) Dutch entry, Vienna 1967: =14th place (2 pts)
It was a ringe-dinge-dinge-ding, ring-dinge-dinge-dinge-ding start to the 1967 Contest when Therese Steinmetz had the viewers reaching for their philosophy manuals with this little beauty.

Although Ringe-Dinge redefines the term onomatoepaic, it was almost ignored by the juries, with only the UK and Ireland giving it votes.

Therese had her revenge by recording a bitter follow-up single called All the Countries Which Took Part in The 1967 Eurovision Contest Are Rubbish (Except the UK, Ireland and Holland).

Atomic Kitten have just recorded it as the B-side to their farewell single (Not Ringe Dinge, the follow-up song with the long name).

RIKKI (McSinger) British entry, Brussels 1987: 13th place (47 pts)
Share-dooz! Walkin' bee-hind me... or words to that effect anyway.

Until very recently, the opening line to the most unsuccessful UK entry ever. I have to confess, Eurolovers, I'm struggling to find something interesting to say about this overly earnest piece of gospel-pop.

So, we've had Vikki, Rikki, and now, Nikki. The odds of Tricky one day representing the UK grow ever shorter.

RITA (singer) Portuguese entry, Riga 2003: 22nd place (13 pts)
Old Skool may very well have found a niche in European Clubland in 2003, but alas, Eurovision never looks kindly on somebody impersonating the Class of '93 ten years hence.

Rita did have very nice hair, a fine set of lungs and a song which the juries would have had a mass knicker-twisting session over but these days it's all about a crowd-pleasing gimmick-added tune to shoot you to the top of the scoreboard.

Luckily, Rita does have a second career to fall back on. She runs a newsagent in Lisbon with her cousin, Mavis Guerra, and says "Now listen here, lady." in a deeper voice than usual whenever female customers annoy her with callous loose comments over people she considers close friends.

ROCK BOTTOM (song) British entry, London 1977: RUNNER UP (121 pts)
Lynsey de Paul and Mike Moran didn't have quite so many tragedies as Forbes from Sweden in 1977, even if they did try to convince Europe they were poorly done to.

There are many things to recommend this song. Firstly, it's not all that bad (in a Noel Coward - Carole Bayer Sager hybrid type way). It was an innovative way of presenting a song (which probably explains its high placing), but best of all, you can change the hookline to 'Dot Cotton' when you're watching EastEnders for, ooh, seconds of fun...

ROGER (singer) Swedish entry, Stockholm 2000: 7th place (88 pts)
Europe never realised that Grizzly Adams was Swedish. Especially the Europeans in Sweden.

Roger's tao for success is clearly explained by the man in the Ikea advert who shows his eagerly keen members of staff the many symbols of mystical power he has scrawled over his body. Big Chief Pontare keeps all his clothes on on stage of course, but he is proud of the miniature Yoko Ono he had a team of Dutch scientists grow for him in a microbiology centre in Stockholm, and she accompanies him on every performance with her bat-and-ball-on-a-piece-of-elastic and heavily insulated legs. A bit like the real Yoko Ono then.

ROLLO & KING (duo) Danish entry, Copenhagen 2001: RUNNER UP (177 pts)
The extremely surprised-looking man on guitar and his younger co-singer are a fine example of how to get close without actually biting the cheroot off that ESC cigar. To wit:

  • a) Represent the country where that year's contest is staged.
  • b) Sing extremely near the end (last, if necessary).
  • c) Bring a girlie-girl in halfway through to keep the momentum up.
  • d) Perform a song that wouldn't get a very good reaction if it wasn't the host entry.
  • e) Make sure that you're definitely representing the country where that year's contest is staged.
  • Of course, this seems like a recipe for certain victory - but this only works for countries with orange in their flag in years when Estonia don't win. How Rollo and King must be kicking themselves now for not realising this, but hindsight is a wonderful thing

    ROMANCA (song) Croatian entry, Belgrade 2008: 21st place (44 pts)
    Until 2008, the oldet person ever to enter Eurovision was 106-year-old Willeke Alberti for the Netherlands in 1994.

    Willeke's record still stands however, as 75 Cents, the frontman of the Croatian entry is only about 70.

    The man who seemed to spend three minutes getting more and more in a really big strop about something did not endear himself to the televoters and wound up in 21st place on the night.

    Tragically, what viewers never realised was that the elderly rapper is actually a jolly, happy-go-lucky type, but had lost his bus pass on the way to Zagreb Airport on the day the Croatian delegation left for Serbia.

    All he had thought about throughtout Eurovision week was having to pay full fare on the bus home when he returned to Croatia and he didn't think he had enough change on him. As we say, a tragic tale.

    ROMANIA (nation) First entry: Istanbul 2004. 0 0 1
    Europe were a bit baffled that Rome's National Indoor Arena was entering Eurovision just one year after Italy had toddled off, almost for good.

    Someone then helpfully explained that the nation responsible for Dracula was entering the contest for the first time and any confusion was soon cleared.

    Roma NIA has now entered the contest numerous times, improving heavily as it progressed. Of course, hopes were high that Paula Selling would bring glory to the nation with Step Back in 2000, if only a mysterious Russian record executive by the name of 'Alsou' hadn't arranged for Romania-wide release of the single shortly before Millennium Eve.

    RONNIE (singer) British entry, Luxembourg 1962: =4th place (10 pts) ; London 1963: 4th place (28 pts)

    For every Udo Jurgens who wins on their third successive attempt, there's a Ronnie Carroll who can't escape their own little Euro-plateau.

    Finishing fourth for the UK in successive years (1962,1963) Ronnie realised he was on to a loser (take heed of this concept, Mr Seigel) and took his big cheesy grin away from the Eurovision arena on a more permanent basis.

    He stood as an Independent Candidate in the 1997 General Election, but he didn't get in. Bet he came fourth in the poll.

    RONNIE (conductor)
    He wielded a brolly to conduct the entry not far above this one, and held the baton for countless other Brit hopefuls, but one can't escape the fact that Ronnie Hazlehurst was the biggest jinx EVER for the UK entries: he never conducted a winner. He came within 1% of victory in 1988 but, oi, Hazlehurst! A miss is as good as a mile.

    This was not despite many efforts to change his fortune. In 1974, Sven-Olof Walldoff dressed as Napoleon to conduct the winning Waterloo, so Ronnie decided to conduct that year's UK entry Long Live Love dressed as a bottle of Long-Life Milk. The BBC took him away under sedation seconds before Olivia took to the stage and Nick Ingman stepped in to lead the orchestra. Pher-yewee.

    ROUNDER GIRLS (group) Austrian entry, Stockholm 2000: 14th place (34 pts)
    They certainly were. Austria's 2000 entrants have now sparked off a trend among future ESC participants.

    If the Spice Girls ever represent the UK, they will become 'The Emaciated Girls, plus a Blonde One Who's Shaped like a Real Woman'. If Aqua sing for Denmark they will go by the name of 'The Crap Boys (and Girl)' whereas B*Witched will perform for Eire as 'The Not Revealing their Real Ages Girls'.

    It's a good job Sixchix never did get through the British heat, as their new name would have taken up three sides of foolscap.

    RUI (singer) Portuguese entry, Jerusalem 1999: 21st place (12 pts)
    Pher-yewee. Latvia's last minute withdrawal in 1999 let Portugal enter Jerusalem via the back door. What better way to show their gratitude than with a man who looks as if he wants to play lead in Jesus Christ Superstar (and if you enjoyed that joke, go to MARC where you can enjoy it all over again) and is an authority on the air Rickenbacker.

    Funny how only France voted for him.

    RUNAWAY (song) Estonian entry, Tallinn 2002: =3rd place (111 pts)
    Not to be confused with the mammoth Del Shannon hit from 1960, this song was originally going to be sung by Estonia's 2000 entrant Ines and was a direct piece of advice to the country's womenfolk on what they should do whenever they see Tanel Padar approaching.

    Of course, things change and when Swedish singer Sahlene stepped into the singing boots in time for the Eurolaul, the sentiment of the song's title had changed to the type of victory Estonia had expected to acheive in the Song Contest two years running, but joint third is nothing to be ashamed of and the post-national final remix did give this song the extra oomph it was lacking beforehand.

    We should really be relieved the song was never called Flyaway, otherwise R Kelly really would have had a good call for plagiarism.

    RUSLANA (warrior songstress) Ukrainian entry, Istanbul 2004: WINNER (280 pts)
    Lost in the wilderness for centuries (well, about 10 minutes, really), the permanently leather-clad Ruslana heard her nation's cry for Eurovision success and duly obliged by venturing into the wilds and using only the materials she could find close at hand, shaping them into a three-minute anthemic sort-of noise which dancers could be carried in the air to.

    Once the song had been whittled from twigs, wiped with leaves, and stuck up a bear's bottom for half-an-hour, Ruslana did venture forth to the gladiatorial arena of Istanbul, where she did battle with the Grecian god Sakis of the Wonder Woman Dancing, Zjelko of the Very Long Intro and Ludwig of the Crap Name and Pants.

    Ruslana did beat them all, and on returning to her homeland, did grasp the soil of the mother country and kissed it with both lips.

    After that, Ruslana did go for a long lie down, as she had kissed the soil near Chernobyl, and had started to grow another nose.

    RUSSIA (nation) First entry: Dublin 1994. 0 2 2
    There are many types of Russian women.

    Some wear dresses that just can't decide if they're a ballgown or a sarong and others confuse microphones for a large shot of Smirnoff, particularly at the close of a song. Then there are those who dress like Victoria Posh-Beckham-Spice and sing like Britney Spears. These are all preferable to the fourth variety however; a woman who looks a bit like a bloke and sings songs to volcanoes.

    RYDER (group) British entry, Bergen 1986: 7th place (72 pts)
    Undoubtedly unique as the only group to have synthesized the sound of a pair of warthogs making love as the intro to an ESC entry, Ryder were the UK's entrants at Bergen in 1986 with Runner in the Night.

    Ryder were specifically designed as a Bon Jovi for OAPs, but they never really got off the ground. Err... err... Oh, I hate trying to write stuff about the ESC in the 1980s - it's definitely the decade that blandness remembered. If anyone can find anything vaguely interesting to write about this group, then please e-mail me at Thank you.

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