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(V): from Van Eijk to Vrede
KEY: Winner Runner-up Third-place Top 5 Debut Entry Host Entry Last Place Nul Points

VAN EIJK (performer) Norwegian entry, Jerusalem 1999: 14th place (35 pts)
Leaving his wife without shoes, Stig Van Eijk sold his memsahib's entire footwear collection in order to fund his entry in the 1999 Melodi Grand Prix.

He won, and strangers arrived from everywhere to congratulate him with cigars for him to ignite; giving his light without clues.

He then went to Jerusalem to perform for Norway, but didn't do too well: Singing some sh*te gave him blues.

VANESSA (performer) Belgian entry, Jerusalem 1999: =12th place (38 pts)
"Here come the Belgians..," as Stuart Hall so often said on Jeux Sans Frontieres. And indeed, here they came again in 1999 trying to follow up one of their best showings in a long time. Brussels were playing it safe however.

They found an inflatable Eurovision entrant (which they christened 'Vanessa Chinitor') in a nearby mucky book shop and hid a tape recorder in its clothes to play Like the Wind, the song they would be sending to Jerusalem. This led to concerns as to how their creation could last out on stage for three minutes under hot lights - until someone came up with the clever wheeze of having a set of concealed tubes between Vanessa and the bloke playing the vase. His regular puffing provided the necessary wind to keep Vanessa going until the end of her song. Following her poor result however, she was then folded up and kept in a suitcase - where she remains until this day.

VANILLA NINJA (group) Swiss entry, Kiev 2005: 8th place (128 pts)
Handed to generations of Swiss schoolchildren on hot sunny days over the years, Vanilla Ninja is, of course, named after an ice lolly and has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the word 'Vanilla' has been embraced by the lesbian community.

This all-girl Estonian group sang the rather superb 'Cool Vibes' in Kiev, securing their nation a direct route to the 2006 final (we won't mention what happened there) with a song a bout a white tiger.

Yes, that's right. Apparently Cool Vibes is a tiger. Now, I know 'rock' is all about having a devil-may-care attitude, but would you stand in front of a large, presumably hungry, predator and shout "Cool Vibes! Why don't you kill me?"

Think I'd rather have an ice lolly.

The group has since adopted a group of pubescent reptiles, which they have christened 'Teenage Vanilla Ninja Turtles'. Smashing.

VANNA (singer) Croatian entry, Copenhagen 2001: 10th place (42 pts)
Uh, huh-ah, huh-ah, haaaaah... It's time to consider Croatia's effort for 2001.

Spurred on by her parents Lorrya and Mopeda, Vanna was keen as mustard to sing Strings Of My Heart for her homeland - and in English as well - you pioneering blondie bombshell, you.

The birth of her child two weeks before the show meant that Vanna's post-birth doughy stomach had to be heavily strapped in by Croatian telly execs just before she went on stage. She was ordered to keep extremely still during the performance, and deliver it with as little emotion as possible, in case the straps burst and rolls of fat appeared from every gap in her clothing. And Vanna, being the obedient girl she is, did exactly what they asked of her. She's such a star.

VERKA (singer) Ukrainian entry, Helsinki 2007: RUNNER-UP (237 pts)
Ukraine were set to have one of the most impressive first-five-results-in-the-Contest run when Verka Serduchka's daft little ditty about 'dancin!' looked set to scoop the trophy in Helsinki.

Unfortunately for the bastard offspring of Timmy Mallett and Su Pollard, a dumpy beauty from Serbia rained on his parade - and when you're wearing that much Bacofoil, you don't want to run the risk of getting rusty.

VESNA (singer) Croatian entry, Tallinn 2002: 11th place (44 pts)
Love is everything she wants, love is everything she needs, and if you don't come up with the goods sharpish, she's not adverse to giving you a crack over the head with her whip.

We're talking about Vesna of course, the stunning Croatian vamp with the astonishing double life.

When she isn't lustfully strutting down Estonian catwalks belting out soft-rock anthems she is in fact head of the Split Townswomen's Guild, a position which brings great responsibility. Why, just the very next day after her Eurovision antics, Vesna had to be on the first plane home in order to entertain the mayor in his parlour and get her big jugs out in time to man the lemonade stall at the local spring fete.

VICKY (singer) Luxembourgeoise entry, Vienna 1967: 4th place (17 pts) ; Edinburgh 1972: WINNER (128 pts)

Fresh from Luxembourg's Greek quarter, Vicky Leandros almost had an international hit with her '67 entry Love Is Blue, but every other recording artist in the world decided to record it instead, leaving her as an unfairly treated also-ran.

Vicky let her hair grow for five years and decamped to Edinburgh in order to get things right with Apres Toi, with which she breezed to the winning line.

She has spent the past 30+ years waiting for her homeland to realise they actually have a potential winner on their hands with her sizeable talent, but perhaps she hangs out at the wrong taverna.

VIRGINIE (singer) French entry, Athens 2006: 22nd place (5 pts)
Err, she turned up. Well done, love.

VISE NISAM TVOJA (song) Croatian entry, Riga 2003: 15th (29 pts)
The male backing singer who looked like a lion clearly thought he should be on lead vocal, but top marks for a pop song performed in the mother-tongue in these Anglovision days.

Claudia Beni and her backers must also take the award for the most pointless strip in Eurovision history. Whereas Danijela's loss of cloak marked Neka Mi Ne Svane's change of direction, th e ladies in this altogether more boisterous backing troupe merely pulled a tea-towel out of their cleavage when the song started getting a tad dull.

Claudia would have done the same, if only the towel would not have played silent witness to the copious amounts of false tan she had writhed about in moments before taking the stage.


VISIONARY DREAM (song) Georgian entry, Helsinki 2007: 12th place (97 pts)
Don't know why Sopho changed the title from My Story to Visionary Dream, as the former sits far more snugly within the song's lyrics, but there you go.

Surprising any punter who thought this former Soviet state would come up with something bleak and miserable for its Eurovision debut, the Georgians sent a Bjork-y type song, which perhaps has too much melody to find itself on the Icelandic tidge's discography.

Sopho just missed out on a place in the Top 10 once the voting was over, but she had already spent her time in Helsinki wisely. The singer made a fortune from gullible antique collectors in the British delegation by selling them any old tat from her suitcase, with the promise they were genuine Georgian artefacts.

VIVO CANTANDO (song) Spanish entry, Madrid 1969: JOINT WINNER (18 pts)
Following the nationwide lyric blight which struck Spanish shores in 1968, General Franco ordered Maria Jose De Cerato and Aniano Alcade to fit as many words as possible into the two-and-a-half minute host entry for 1969.

The song's tempo accelerated to such an extent by the final chorus that performer Salome was hospitalised with a dislocated jaw following the winning reprise in the Teatro Royal. She will now only perform the song if held at gunpoint, in case her mouth falls off. Hey!

VIDEO VIDEO (song) Danish entry, Harrogate 1982: 17th place (5 pts)
Far be it from me to suggest that the lead singer of Brixx has led a sheltered (perhaps boring..?) life, but would you be inspired to write a song after buying a video recorder? Still, I suppose it was all quite new and exciting in 1982.

However, it's certainly the only song ever written to mention Humphrey Bogart, Bjorn Borg and the recently married Charles and Di in its chorus. Hmm... perhaps that's a good thing.
Note: In the years following their nomination, Brixx were turned away from numerous Danish finals with songs such as 'Microwave, Microwave', 'Sinclair C5, Sinclair C5' and, of course, 'Inflatable Woman, Inflatable Woman'.

VIKKI (singer) British entry, Gothenburg 1985: 4th place (100 pts)
Much more important then the very racy lyrics of Love Is... (It's been a pleasant evening/but now she says she's leaving), Vikki Watson will forever go down in ESC history as being the performer whose hairdo inspired the archway in the Dublin '97 set.

VILI (singer) Slovene entry, Birmingham 1998: 18th place (17 pts)
Pony-tailed but proud, Vili Resnik turned out for Slovenia in 1998, perhaps just to show us that he has an extremely well-cared-for set of gnashers.

For some reason, Encyclopaedia Eurovisica can't do the accents above letters, but the song was called something like Naj Bogovi Slisijo which directly translates as 'I Can't Wait Until They Let Us Sing in English.'

Vili used to be in a band called Pop Scene, and were a major influence on Blur's early work. These days he is employed by Nusa Durenda to buff up her leather every other day.

VIP (group) Hungarian entry, Dublin 1997: =12th place (39 pts)
Along with Sweden's Blond, VIP were the other boy band present at Dublin '97, but had significantly bigger collars.

The extremely catchy(?) Miert Kell Hogy Elmenj? is a textbook example of how to be a manufactured group of warbling youngsters.

Firstly, begin by sitting on barstools and look as if you're having a grrrrrrr-eat time on stage. Then sound a bit more earnest, in Hungarian. Then get off your stools in unison and walk towards the front of the stage to somehow be at one with your audience.

Then go back to the green room and find out that nobody was really all that impressed with your performance.Note: Unsubstantiated rumours suggest Paul Oscar's backing group was actually VIP in fishnets and long wigs.

VIVRE (song) French entry, Munich 1983: 8th place (56 pts)
Ooh, hark at France.

They couldn't be arsed coming to Britain for the 1982 Contest as they thought it would be rubbish (who told them?), but back they came, tail between their legs, as the first act onstage in Munich in 1983.

Guy Bonnet had already sung for his people 13 years earlier in Amsterdam and had brought his trusty piano along with him again (costing him a packet in excess baggage) to try and do a bit better.

He finished eighth, four places lower than previously and decided to stop in case it started a trend seeing him finish 12th, 16th, 20th, 24th and ultimately, 36th. He is now a tourist guide at the Louvre, hoping to earn enough money to pay for his piano to be flown back from Germany after all these years.

VODA (not fone) Bulgarian entry, Helsinki 2007: 5th place (158 pts)
The first Bulgarian entry to make it through to the Saturday night final, and Elitsa and Stoyan made one hell of a racket getting there.

In these days of backing tracks and things, Voda stands out as having the first live instrumentation at the Contest (the drums) for almost 10 years.

For the Bulgarian pair, all celebrations as the votes came in had to be out on hold, as their ears were ringing for around 24 hours, and had to be informed of the result by text on the Sunday morning.

VOTING (process)
The act of voting derives from the old Greek ritual 'Vou Ting', where people knock on their neighbour's houses and shower them with twelve pieces of gold (an act originally described by Greek philosopher Frankios Howerdos as 'a golden shower').

This tradition is known to recur throughout the continent (particularly in Scandinavia and the Eastern bloc) in early spring each year.

However, due to the fact the UK don't always return the garden shears they borrowed when they said they would, their Irish neighbours occasionally stay at home in a big huff and don't bother knocking..

VREDE (song) Dutch entry, Millstreet 1993: 6th place (92 pts)
You either love it or you hate it, but the Dutch entry of 1993 contains all the elements of the potential winner that never quite gets there (and these songs always seem to be from the Netherlands - how very odd).

Quite simply the cheesiest (and therefore, the best) dance routine ever seen on the ESC stage, Ruth Jacott and her scarily dressed, incapable-of-independent-thought backing singers/dancers have to be seen to be believed.

Of course, they do say the song's all about peace and love, but can we invite you to click into Guy Lingual from the main menu, who can tell you the real truth?

Encyclopaedia Eurovisica
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