Eurovision Song Contest: 10 star-making performances, from Abba to Celine Dion

Eurovision Song Contest: 10 star-making performances, from Abba to Celine Dion
The coronavirus pandemic put a dampener on the longest-running international TV music competition last year. And this year, despite the Ukraine war looming over proceedings at the annual Eurovision Song Contest, the beats, kitsch and glitz are back.

Set to be held in Turin, Italy, the 66th annual contest, which was cancelled in 2020, will begin with two semi-finals on Tuesday and Thursday, followed by the grand final on Saturday, May 14. A total of 40 countries will compete this year, with Russia barred from the competition following President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Italian host broadcaster Rai announced that the trio of singer Laura Pausini, presenter Alessandro Cattelan and pop star Mika will share presenting duties.

Italian rock band Maneskin, who triumphed at the 2021 contest, will perform during the ceremony, delivering a live premiere of their new single Supermodel.

Ukrainian folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra, have been tipped by bookmakers to win, with their rousing song Stefania, while Italian acts Mahmood and Blanco, who will be performing the song Brividi, are second favourites.

Originally created to promote tourism, the contest features industry experts, as well as viewers from each participating country casting a number of votes for contestants. The song that receives the most points after every country has voted is named the winner.

The European Broadcasting Union, which organises the spectacle, says the event draws a television audience of about 200 million each year.

Here are 10 memorable performances over the years, from Abba to Celine Dion.

Richard was already an established pop star when he was chosen to represent the UK at the contest, held at London's Royal Albert Hall. Although he didn't win, coming in second place to Spain's victorious entry, Richard's song became a massive hit. He represented the UK again in 1973 in Luxembourg, performing the song Power to All Our Friends, which also became an international hit. Richard, now 81 and one of the biggest-selling artists of all time, finished third that year.

Like Richard, Scottish singer and actress Lulu already had a Billboard hit when she was chosen to represent the UK at the contest in Madrid. But Boom Bang-a-Bang, which won the contest that year – although it was tied with entries from Spain, the Netherlands and France – would become one of the most memorable songs of her career.

Lulu, who was once married to Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees, went on to have a successful career in both music and television in the 1970s, and famously made a comeback in the 1990s with Take That's No 1 hit Relight My Fire.

Lulu, now 73, last toured along with Take That in 2019 on their Greatest Hits tour. A former professional footballer, Iglesias released his first album in 1968 before he represented Spain in the 1970 contest, held in Amsterdam that year. Although he finished only fourth with his performance of Gwendolyne, Iglesias would soon see his fame spread across Europe, with No 1 hits in Germany, Italy and Spain following soon after.

Iglesias, now 78, moved to the US in Florida in 1979 and released his first English-language hit that year. The father of pop star Enrique Iglesias is still one of the biggest-selling Latin singers in history.

Undoubtedly one of the most successful music acts to come out of the Eurovision Song Contest, the foursome didn't even qualify for the national competition in 1973. But the upbeat Waterloo, from their second album of the same name released the following year, proved to be hit, going on to bring home the prize for Sweden, the country's first win.

One of the most commercially successful pop acts of all time, Abba had many chart-topping hits from 1974 to 1983. In 2005, a poll to mark the 50th anniversary of the Eurovision Song Contest named Waterloo the best song ever in the competition.
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