Eurovision 2021: From ABBA to Zagreb - Every song contest and winner since 1956

Ahead of the 65th Eurovision song contest in Rotterdam, we look back at the previous events, remember the winners and unearth some fascinating facts.

By Katie Archer Published: 21 May 2021 - 6.20pm
Getty Eurovision Conchita Wurst

Eurovision is back! After the contest was cancelled for the first time ever in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, Europe (and Australia) are now pulling out all the stops to try to win the 2021 crown.

Over the years, Ireland, France, Luxembourg and Sweden have topped the leaderboard a number of times – but who were the winners year by year?

Here’s the definitive list of all the Eurovision Song Contest winners and some fascinating Eurovision facts for every year since the competition began in 1956.

Eurovision 2021 - Everything you need to know

1956 Lys Assia – Refrain (Switzerland)

The contest’s first ever winner was Swiss, a fitting coincidence as the first ever Eurovision was held in Lugano, Switzerland.

Lys Assia went on to have a long-running association with Eurovision and even appeared as a guest at the 2015 contest when she was 91.

1957 Corry Brokken – Net Als Toen (Netherlands)

Dutch TV presenter and singer Corry Brokken triumphed in the second contest, which included entries from just 10 countries and took place in Frankfurt, West Germany.

1958 Andre Claveau – Dors, Mon Amour (France)

Year three was the first time that Eurovision was held in the home country of the previous year’s winner, and set the tradition for the reigning champions to host, with the Dutch town of Hilversum doing the honours.

46-year-old Claveau would remain the contest's oldest winner until 1990.

1959 Teddy Scholten – Een Beetje (Netherlands)

When Teddy Scholten won with Een Beetje in Cannes, she made The Netherlands the first country to win Eurovision more than once.

1960 Jacqueline Boyer – Tom Pillibi (France)

Jacqueline Boyer Getty

The Netherlands declined to host the contest for a second time in three years, so Jacqueline Boyer’s victory took place in London which was the substitute host city.

1961 Jean-Claude Pascal – Nous Les Amoureux (Luxembourg)

Back in Cannes for the second time, Eurovision 1961 was won by comedian Jean-Claude Pascal, a triumph which kickstarted Luxembourg’s illustrious history as competition winners.

1962 Isabelle Aubret – Un Premier Amour (France)

France chalked up a third win in neighbouring Luxembourg. Encouraged by her success, Isabelle Aubret went on to compete in the French Eurovision heats right up until 1983.

1963 Grethe and Jorgen Ingmann – Dansevise (Denmark)

France were unable to fund another turn as host so London stepped up again. This was the first time a duo had won rather than a single singer, with the trophy going to married couple Grethe and Jorgen Ingmann on behalf of Denmark.

1964 Gigliola Cinquetti – Non Ho L’Eta (Italy)

In Copenhagen, Italy chalked up their first win through 16-year-old Gigliola Cinquetti, who, with a song appropriately titled 'I'm Not Old Enough', remained the youngest Eurovision winner until 1986. 

1965 France Gall – Poupee De Cire, Poupee De Son (Luxembourg)

Luxembourg returned to their winning ways in Naples with a victory for 17-year-old France Gall, singing a tune penned by French musician Serge Gainsbourg which she later recorded in German, Italian and Japanese. Gall went on to become an icon in her native France until her death in 2018.

1966 Udo Jurgens – Merci, Cherie (Austria)

Austrian winner Udo Jurgens performed his song partly in German and partly in French - two of the official languages of host Luxembourg. Over his career, he sold more than 100 million records.

1967 Sandie Shaw – Puppet On A String (UK)

Sandie Shaw Getty

More than a decade into Eurovision and having hosted the contest twice already, the UK were finally named winners in Vienna.

However, Sandie Shaw later wrote in her autobiography that she hated Puppet on a String from start to finish, saying she was “repelled by its sexist drivel”.

1968 Massiel – La, La, La (Spain)

Spain got their first win in 1968 when Massiel’s La, La, La beat Cliff Richard, singing Congratulations, to the title in London.

1969 Frida Boccara – Un Jour, Un Enfant (France);
Lenny Kuhr – De Troubadour (Netherlands);
Salome – Vivo Cantando (Spain);
Lulu – Boom Bang-A-Bang (UK)

Lulu and Eurovision winners Getty

The 1969 contest in Madrid has gone down in Eurovision history as the only time there was a tie – between no fewer than four countries. There was no provision in the rules for a tie and so all four singers were declared the winners.

However, it was a good year for the UK, as we got our second win, this time from Lulu.

1970 Dana – All Kinds Of Everything (Ireland)

Ireland's record number of Eurovision wins (seven in all) began with Dana's victory in Amsterdam in 1970.

She later went on to serve as an MEP and ran unsuccessfully in two Irish presidential elections.

1971 Severine – Un Banc, Un Arbre, Une Rue (Monaco)

Monaco picked up their only win to date in 1971 as Dublin hosted the contest for the first of a current record six times. 

1972 Vicky Leandros – Apres Toi (Luxembourg)

As tiny Monaco was unable to provide a venue or the staging props needed to host, the contest headed to Edinburgh. Winner Vicky Leandros is actually Greek, but brought home the win for Luxembourg having previously represented them to fourth place in 1967.

1973 Anne-Marie David – Tu Te Reconnaitras (Luxembourg)

Luxembourg won on home soil in 1973, becoming the first country to win the contest outright two years in a row.

They were represented by French singer Anne-Marie David, who went on to sing for her home country in 1979.

1974 ABBA – Waterloo (Sweden)

ABBA Getty

One of Eurovision’s most famous hits won the contest in 1974, sung by one of the contest’s most famous ever acts – and the first group to win.

Their win actually took place in Brighton, which hosted the show on behalf reigning double-champions Luxembourg.

1975 Teach-In – Ding-A-Dong (Netherlands)

A group was at the top of the points table again this year – this time, Dutch band Teach-In were flying their country’s flag in victory in Stockholm.

1976 Brotherhood of Man – Save Your Kisses For Me (UK)

Brotherhood of Man Getty

The UK picked up a third win in 1976 when Brotherhood of Man’s Save Your Kisses For Me finished top of the pile in The Hague.

The catchy, cutsie tune still one of the biggest-selling Eurovision winning songs ever and shot to No.1 in charts across the world, even becoming the group’s only US hit, where it reached a respectable No.27 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1977 Marie Myriam – L’Oiseau et L’Enfant (France)

It may seem like ancient history in Eurovision terms, but this 1977 hit was actually France’s last win. It was also the fourth and last time the contest was held in London.

1978 Izhar Cohen and the Alphabeta – A-Ba-Ni-Bi (Israel)

Izhar Cohen got Israel’s first win at the contest, but it was not without controversy in Paris: when the voting made it clear that Israel were heading for the top prize, many Arabic broadcasters stopped airing the show.

1979 Milk and Honey – Hallelujah (Israel)

Israel were on a role as the decade drew to a close, winning again in Jerusalem with group Milk and Honey singing in Hebrew.

1980 Johnny Logan – What’s Another Year (Ireland)

Ireland had waited a while for their second win, but this victory in The Hague marked the beginning of the country's Eurovision glory years.

This was the first of Johnny Logan’s two wins and he is still the only act to have enjoyed two victories.

1981 Bucks Fizz – Making Your Mind Up (UK)

Bucks Fizz Getty

Probably the most famous of UK wins, the song Making Your Mind Up is remembered just as much for the dance routine as for the tune.

Even though the group gave an off-key performance on the night, their infamous skirt-rip routine proved so popular that it has been copied by other Eurovision entries, including Latvian winner Marie N in 2002. 

Bucks Fizz went on to have three UK No.1 singles and are still performing today, albeit as two different groups - three of the original members now tour as The Fizz while the fourth, Bobby G, retained the Bucks Fizz moniker.

1982 Nicole - Ein Bißchen Frieden (Germany)

Jan Leeming hosted the contest in Harrogate, which saw 17-year-old Nicole pick up Germany’s first win with A Little Peace, a prayer for international harmony.

Having originally performed her song in German (according to the contest's linguistic rules) Nicole added French, English and Dutch verses to her triumphant reprise at the end of the night and went on to record the song in nine languages including Spanish, Polish, Danish, Hungarian and Russian.

1983 Corinne Hermes – Si La Vie Est Cadeau (Luxembourg)

Luxembourg were back on form once more in Munich with French singer Corinne Hermes bagging their fifth victory – although to date, it was also their last.

1984 Herreys – Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley (Sweden)

Ten years after ABBA's triumph, Sweden hit the top spot again, the prize going to Herreys, three brothers who later became the first western pop group to be invited to tour behind the Iron Curtain in the Soviet Union.

1985 Bobbysocks! – La Det Swinge (Norway)

Until Bobbysocks! grabbed their country's first victory in Gothenburg, Norway's biggest contribution to Eurovision was to have received the dreaded 'nul points' a record three times. The duo continue to perform together and one half of the pair, Hanne Krogh, is currently touring Norway with another Norwegian Eurovision winner, Alexander Rybak.

1986 Sandra Kim – J’Aime La Vie (Belgium)

Belgium achieved a Eurovision rarity when they managed to go from last place the previous year to winners in Bergen in 1986 thanks to Sandra Kim. At just 13 years of age, Kim is likely to remain the contest's youngest winner unless current rules, which require participants to be at least 16, are changed.

Kim's win was not without controversy. In the lyrics of her song, 'I Love Life', she claims to be 15, but when her true age was revealed runners-up Switzerland petitioned unsuccessfully to have the Belgian entry disqualified.

In 2020, Kim, as Koningin (the queen), won the first series of the Belgian version of The Masked Singer.

1987 Johnny Logan – Hold Me Now (Ireland)

Johnny Logan Getty

Johnny Logan got his second victory for Ireland at the 1987 contest held in Brussels. He is stil the only performer ever to win twice and achieved the rare double of both writing and performing the winning song - only Bjorn and Benny of ABBA had achieved this previously. 

1988 Celine Dion – Ne Partez Pas San Moi (Switzerland)

Yes, that Celine Dion – before she was famous, the pop superstar launched her career at Eurovision.

Dion is Canadian, but sang in her native language French on behalf of Switzerland and won by a single point ahead of Britain's Scott Fitzgerald in Dublin.

1989 Riva – Rock Me (Yugoslavia)

Pop rock band Riva achieved Yugoslavia’s only win at Eurovision just two years before the country was torn apart by civil war.

They were from Zagreb in what is now Croatia, and took the contest back to their home city the following year.

1990 Toto Cutugno – Insieme: 1992 (Italy)

Eastern Europe's first Eurovision came at a time when the region was undergoing vast political change, but the winner was an old face as Italy notched a second win. Singer Toto Cutugno is better known for his worldwide hit L’Italiano.

1991 Carola – Fangad Av En Stormvind (Sweden)

In Rome, Sweden made it a trio of wins courtesy of one of their most popular performers, Carola. In 2006, and by now an established star, Carola had another shot at Eurovision, finishing fifth, and in 2021 will appear again to deliver the marks of the Swedish jury.

1992 Linda Martin – Why Me (Ireland)

Ireland's 90s stranglehold on the competition began in Malmo with Linda Martin’s winning entry, which just happened to have been written by two-time winner Johnny Logan. Michael Ball finished runner-up to Martin for the UK.

1993 Niamh Kavanagh – In Your Eyes (Ireland)

It was Ireland’s year again when Niamh Kavanagh held onto the title for her home country.

Host Millstreet remains the smallest place ever to have held the competition, the Green Glens Arena venue boasting a capacity of 8000, more than five times the County Cork town's population of 1500.

1994 Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan – Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids (Ireland)

It was back to Dublin in 1994 but the result was the same, Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan securing an unprecedented third win in a row for the Emerald Isle.

1995 Secret Garden – Nocturne (Norway)

It was a rare year that Ireland didn’t win in 1995, with Norwegian duo Secret Garden crowned champions in Dublin instead – although their line-up did include an Irish violinist.

1996 Eimear Quinn – The Voice (Ireland)

Order was restored by 1996 as Eimear Quinn won for Ireland again, with Oslo winning song The Voice coming from the same songwriter as the country's previous winning entry, Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids.

1997 Katrina and the Waves – Love Shine A Light (UK)

Katrina and the Waves Getty

British-American band Katrina and the Waves, best known for their 1985 hit Walking on Sunshine, ended the 16-year wait for a UK win with an overwhelming 70-point victory in Dublin in a contest co-presented by Boyzone singer Ronan Keating.

It was to be the last UK victory for some time, and it's now been 24 years since the UK last won at Eurovision, by far our longest stretch without a champion.

Years later, singer Katrina Leskanich told Metro:  "It was such a feel-good, lighters-in-the-air, cheesy number. It would have been embarrassing for it not to win. It had 'I am a winner' written all over it.”

She also called Eurovision “a joke”, so despite being our last winner, it doesn’t sound like the group are Eurovision super fans.

1998 Dana International – Diva (Israel)

Dana International Getty

Dana International is one of the contest’s most famous winners thanks to catchy song Diva that is well remembered by many a Eurovision fan.

Terry Wogan and Ulrika Jonsson hosted the event from Birmingham's National Indoor Arena.

1999 Charlotte Nilsson – Take Me To Your Heaven (Sweden)

Sweden were back on top again by the end of the decade – Charlotte Nilsson won her place representing her country by performing the song in Swedish, but sang it in English on the night in Jerusalem.

2000 Olsen Brothers – Fly on the Wings of Love (Denmark)

Danish winner The Olsen Brothers had formed their first band, The Kids, in the sixties and were a warm-up act for The Kinks at the beginning of their career. Their victory occurred in Stockholm.

2001 Tanel Padar, Dave Benton and 2XL – Everybody (Estonia)

'Everybody' was an apt name for this winning song from Estonia, which saw a singer and a hip-hop act from the country team up with a musician from Aruba to get the most votes in Copenhagen.

2002 Marie N – I Wanna (Latvia)

The first Eurovision to take place in a Baltic state - the Estonian capital Tallinn - saw a win by another of the ex-Soviet trio, Latvia’s only winning act paying homage to Eurovision giants Bucks Fizz by including the famous skirt rip in the performance.

2003 Sertab Erener – Everyway That I Can (Turkey)

As reigning champions, Latvia got to host the contest just three years after joining the Eurovision line-up.

Riga also became the scene of Turkey’s only ever victory.

2004 Ruslana – Wild Dances (Ukraine)

Ruslana really is something of a Ukrainian hero – not only did she lead the country to their first win in Istanbul, she was also named the People’s Artist of Ukraine and has served as an MP.

2005 Helena Paparizou – My Number One (Greece)

Helena Paparizou may have grown up in Sweden and launched her music career there, but as she was born to Greek parents, brought Greece a taste of the Eurovision success her home country was famous for in Kyiv.

2006 Lordi – Hard Rock Hallelujah (Finland)

Lordi Getty

Finnish metal band Lordi made unlikely Eurovision history in Athens, becoming the first group of their kind - and the first Finns - to win at the contest, with an act which included monster masks and horror elements.

2007 Marija Serifovic – Molitva (Serbia)

Marija Serifovic, who won in Helsinki, was Serbia’s first, and to date only, Eurovision winner. Her song Molitva was the first winning track to be sung entirely in the victor’s native language since Dana International’s Diva.

2008 Dima Bilan – Believe (Russia)

Russian singer Dima Bilan went one better than his 2006 second place Eurovision entry by securing the top spot for his country in Belgrade.

2009 Alexander Rybak – Fairytale (Norway)

Even more memorable than the points-record win for elfin Norwegian violinist Rybak was the controversy around the 2009 contest being held in Moscow.

Latvia and Georgia originally refused to participate, and while they did change their minds, Georgia later withdrew after being banned from performing their thinly-veiled political statement song We Don’t Wanna Put In.

2010 Lena – Satellite (Germany)

Lena launched a hugely successful music career on the back of her Eurovision win in Oslo, proving that many countries see the contest as a much more prestigious honour than the UK have often done.

2011 Ell and Nikki – Running Scared (Azerbaijan)

Azerbaijan brought home the win in 2011 from duo Ell and Nikki – although Nikki actually hails from Enfield in London.

2012 Loreen – Euphoria (Sweden)

By 2012, it was high time we saw another Swedish win. This time it was the turn of Loreen, who found fame after taking part in TV singing contest Idol 2004 and won with catchy dance-pop track Euphoria. The contest trod new ground again, Baku's Crystal Hall having been completed just a month before Eurovision.

2013 Emmelie de Forest – Only Teardrops (Denmark)

Only Teardrops enjoyed moderate success in charts throughout Europe after Denmark’s win in Malmo, but more memorably singer Emmelie de Forest made an odd, now discredited, claim to be the great granddaughter of King Edward VII.

2014 Conchita Wurst – Rise Like A Phoenix (Austria)

Conchita Wurst Getty

One of the best known and best-loved winners ever to emerge from Eurovision was Conchita Wurst, a drag queen whose anthemic song Rise Like A Phoenix captured the hearts of voters across Europe when it triumphed in Copenhagen.

2015 Mans Zelmerlow – Heroes (Sweden)

Back to Sweden once more, where another Idol alumni was crowned winner in Vienna – this time it was Mans Zelmerlow, who found fame in the 2005 series of the reality singing contest.

2016 Jamala – 1944 (Ukraine)

Offering something a little different to the usual love songs and ballads, Jamal’s 1944 told the story of the deportation of the Crimean Tatars, including her great-grandmother who lost her daughter on the way to Central Asia.

The Stockholm winner was rewarded with the title People’s Artist of Ukraine for her efforts.

2017 Salvador Sobral – Amar Pelos Dois (Portugal)

Back in Kyiv, Portugal’s first Eurovision victory was a family affair as Salvador Sobral sang Amar Pelos Dois, a song written and composed by his sister Luisa.

2018 Netta – Toy (Israel)

Netta Getty

Netta was already a huge star in her native Israel by the time she represented them in Lisbon, having won popular interactive reality singing contest HaKokhav HaBa.

2019 Duncan Laurence – Arcade (Netherlands)

Dutch singer Duncan Laurence rose to fame on The Voice of Holland, but when he won Eurovision in Tel Aviv he had no idea that he would unwittingly make contest history.

As 2020’s competition became the only one ever to be cancelled, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, Laurence is the only Eurovision only champion to have reigned for two years with the same song.

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