Nul points! The best of the worst of Eurovision

#2 Valentina Monetta rehearsing for the 2017 contest.
#2 Valentina Monetta rehearsing for the 2017 contest. Copyright Thomas Hanses
Copyright Thomas Hanses
By Emily Commander
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There are the winners, yes, but many of us watch Eurovision for the losers. Sit back and relax as Euronews takes you on a whistlestop tour of some of the worst offenders against taste and good sense.


It is a fine line that separates fame from shame at Eurovision. As we await 2018's offerings, here is a countdown of the top 10 songs from past contests that we remember for all the wrong reasons.

10. The perils of giving up the day job

Gunvor sings "Lass Ihn" for Switzerland in 1998

Before Eurovision, tap-dancing Gunvor divided her time between two jobs: the Air Force Ministry and as a waitress in a cocktail bar. Upon being selected to represent her native Switzerland, she quit the former, only to score the dreaded "nul points".

The resulting negative press coverage led to her depression, and her career took a detour into work at a circus, before she moved on to release a series of music CDs for children.

Despite this unexpected turn of events, however, she retains her cheerful optimism and indomitable spirit. Although Eurovision may not have been the global success she dreamed of as a child, she says "to this day, I still receive autograph requests from all over the world. I still perform on TV, radio or at corporate and private events as weddings, birthday parties etc. I am so thankful."

9. It never sounded very good

Josh Dubovie performs "That Sounds Good to me" for the UK in 2010

It is a familiar tale. Josh Dubovie was a rising star and his Eurovision conquest looked set to make his fame... except that he was saddled with the singularly uninspiring "That Sounds Good to Me" by Pete Waterman, which sounded anything but. Nobody was impressed, and Josh Dubovie scored just 10 points, which is almost worse than scoring nothing at all.

Like Gunvor, the fallout from his Eurovision performance did him more harm than good. He had to change his name to Josh James because of all the negative press coverage, and his 2013 career relaunch lasted for less than a year. But it seems he's found a new calling, having since set up a new company called Canadabis, which combines his love of Canada and, yes, cannabis.

8. Making a mockery of things...

Peter Nalitch performing "Friends Lost and Forgotten" for Russia in 2010

He may have come 11th in 2010, but other contestants were quick to spot a bit of bloc-voting in Peter Nalitch's favour. How on earth did he do that well?

Peter Nalitch makes Russians laugh by singing in a broken English accent and employing deliberately poor editing techniques. Nobody in the West seemed to find it very funny, though.

7. The original nul-pointer

Jahn Teigen sings "Mil etter mil" for Norway in 1978

"Mil etter mil" is legendary in Eurovision history for several reasons, chief amongst them that it was the first song to score "nul points" under the scoring system introduced in 1975. It was an offering from Norway, the country that has more zero scores than anyone else. Despite this, its performer, Jahn Teigen, seems invincible. Not only was his career unharmed by his spectacular defeat, but he went on to represent his country twice more at Eurovision, coming 12th in 1982 and 9th in 1983. He was even made a Knight First Class of the Order of St Olav in 2011.

There's so much wrong with this song that it's difficult to know where to start. Is it the red trousers? The outsized gold flower? The braces? Perhaps it is the sunglasses in the middle of a darkened hall? No, spectacular though all these errors may have been, it's the almost-hysterical delivery that earns "Mil etter mil" its place in our Eurovision Hall of Shame.

6. "Very, very ethnic"

Remedios Amaya sings "¿Quién maneja mi barca?" for Spain in 1983

If ever there was a forum for expressing ethnic cultural identity, Eurovision was it. Though even Terry Wogan, the UK Eurovision commentator who has weathered more than his fair share, could not prevent himself from describing Remedios Amaya's performance as "very, very ethnic".

Sitting at the intersection between flamenco and rock (who knew there was one?), her song featured some startling lyrics, like "your mother's braids, tell me who braids them?", all performed whilst wearing a curtain-like dress and no shoes. The audience seemed somewhat perplexed when she had finished: the applause was less than rousing, which should have warned Spain that the song was on its way to scoring nul points.

5. Resigned to their fate

Lazy Bums sing "Shir Habatlanim" for Israel in 1987

The Israeli culture minister in 1987, Yitzhak Navon, threatened to resign if Lazy Bums performed their song (which translates as "The bums' song") at Eurovision. Needless to say: they did, and he did not.

There is plenty in this song to make a culture minister cringe. Natan Datner and Avi Kushnir are comedians rather than singers, and they talk rather than sing. Dressed as the Blues Brothers, they blundered tastelessly around the stage. None of this prevented them from coming eighth, however, even scoring a respectable 73 points. Who said that culture ministers knew anything about culture?

4. Motherhood and apple pie

Toto Cutugno sings "Insieme 1992" for Italy in 1990

It may be cringeworthy, but there are times when Europeans must look back longingly at 1990, when Toto Cutugno could sing with such fervour about European integration. "Insieme 1992" was written by this white-suited performer to commemorate the signing of the Maastricht Treaty that would occur two years' later, and he sang it with touching sincerity.

Nearly three decades ago, his message gained traction with Eurovision voters, who awarded this passionate advocate of the EU first place... where did it all go wrong?

3. Off key

The UK's Jemini stuggle through "Cry Baby" in 2003

The song itself was not too bad, but Jemini's performance on the night was dismal and painfully out of tune. A dodgy sound system and block voting have been blamed for the failure, but most people would concede that Jemini's "nul points" was roundly deserved.

2. "If you wanna go to my house, click me with your mouse"

San Marino's Valentina Monetta sings "The Social Network Song" in 2012

Originally conceived as a song about Facebook, Valentina Monetta's 2012 offering fell foul of Eurovision rules banning product placement and its title was hastily changed to "The Social Network Song" in the run up to the contest. The problem was that most of the original lyrics rhymed with "Facebook", and expunging all reference to Mark Zuckerberg's brainchild somewhat spoiled the effect. Thank goodness that the immortal line "if you wanna go to my house, click me with your mouse" still worked.


Needless to say, Valentina Monetta did not make it to the final in 2012. Indeed, "The Social Network Song" was just one of four attempts she made to get there. In 2014 she finally made it through. Her 2017 offering had no luck, however.

1. No illusions

Krassimir Aramov from Bulgaria performs "Illusion" in 2009

You don't need me to explain why Krassimir Aramov's "Illusion" tops the table of Eurovision songs that we wish we did not remember. Just watch the video. But remember to don your earplugs first. This is not so much singing as screaming of a migraine-inducing variety. And Aramov's falsetto is, well, incredible.

Bafflingly this little number scored as many as seven points in the 2009 semi-finals. Which just goes to show that there is no accounting for taste.

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