The weirdest Eurovision acts of all time
Gorilla suits, an out of tune turkey and helium inhalation for starters...
Many people think that Eurovision is totally bonkers, camp nonsense. They would be right. That’s why the grand final is the best day of the year.
But, the best Eurovision acts are also a visionary mix of weirdness, creativity, musical talent and outrageousness. Or to put it simply, they’re WTF. Look beyond the glitter and gorilla suits (more on that later), and Eurovision is the perfect intersection of music, high-art… and pure ‘WTF?’ material.
As the world’s greatest song contest comes to Liverpool this weekend, what better excuse to explore the most beautifully baffling acts Eurovision has ever bestowed upon us?
From the awful to the iconic, and from the high-art, to the possibly just a bit high, we present to you: the most WTF Eurovision acts of all time…
The weirdest Eurovision acts of all time
1. Cha Cha Cha (Finland, 2023)
It’s metal. It’s techno. It’s cha-cha-cha. And it may well win Eurovision 2023. Shirtless, green bolero-wearing Finnish rapper and singer Käärijä’s head-banging track is as WTF-inducing as it is an endless earworm, with audiences from across Europe cha-cha-chanting its lyrics at full volume during every performance. Self-described by the man himself as, “It’s crazy, it’s party!” this fusion of banger, ballroom and builders’ pallets is Eurovision at its finest
2. We Are Slavic (Poland, 2014)
Amid the raucousness of Eurovision, finally, some high-brow culture: an ode to the ancient Slavic methods of butter churning. One of Poland’s most memorable performances, the entry saw models in low-cut milkmaid costumes taking to the stage to nobly show us how it’s done. The education was appreciated by Europe, naturally. So much so, that the UK even placed it first in the user telephone vote. A country that appreciates culture.
3. Dancing Lasha Tumbai (Ukraine, 2007)
Some singers perform at Eurovision. And some simply are Eurovision. Verka Serduchka may not have won the competition, but the Ukrainian drag queen won something more important: our hearts. A Eurovision icon, Ukraine’s entry gave us everything we could ever want from the contest: a dance banger, incredible Christmas-tree-topper styling and the popstar mashup of Elton John meets Dame Edna.
4. Party for Everybody (Russia, 2012)
Before 2012, the Eurovision song contest severely lacked two things: 1) grandmas and 2) live baking. Thankfully, Everybody Dance brought a gang of partying babushki to the show to a rapturous reception: the act came finished second only to Sweden’s Loreen and “Euphoria,” one of the biggest hits the show has ever produced. Luckily for Loreen, who returns to rep Sweden again this year with anthemic, “Tattoo,” this time, her biggest competition won’t be there - after making Europe fall in love with them, they left competing behind to fulfil their dream of building a church.
5. Divine (France, 2008)
In many competitions, inhaling a chemical mid-performance would be an instant disqualifier - but not at Eurovision! In this rather WTF-act, which also happened to feature a useful golf buggy, singer Sébastien Tellier inhaled a helium balloon during the song, taking his voice, and the act, to a whole new level. Literally.
6. Hard Rock Hallelujah (Finland, 2006)
One of the most memorable Eurovision winners of all time, iconic heavy metal band Lordi brought the “arockalypse” to the contest and cemented metal’s rightful place in Eurovision alongside pop in the contest as the first rock band to win the competition. Finland doing metal, of course, does not prompt a “WTF” - the country knows how to rock harder than any other. Eurovision winners in full Lovecraftian monster regalia, though? That’ll do it.
7. Mama ŠČ! (Croatia, 2023)
No, you haven’t had one too many schnapps. Already a vintage Eurovision year, 2023 also brings us Croatian artistes Let 3, with an anti-war messaged madcap military chant, complete with rocket launchers, which is more catchy than it really has any right to be. The undies-stripping finish really seals the deal on this WTF-insta-classic.
8. Flying the Flag (UK, 2007)
The UK has produced some of the greatest musical acts in history, so it’s an achievement that we’ve also sent arguably more certified turkeys to Eurovision than any other country, too. And Ireland once sent a literal turkey. Amongst the most painful is Scooch, who performed the innuendo-laden cabin crew cheesefest, “Flying the Flag”, stroking a bottle of Bucks Fizz and uttering immortal lines such as, “Would you like something to suck on for landing, sir?”.
Not only did it prove the UK is both the horniest and most unsexy country in the continent, but also that crafting camp pop is a delicate artform. It’s possible not just to miss the landing, but send it hurtling to earth in a flaming fireball. The only bigger WTF comes from the fact that the UK has done even worse since.
9. “Irelande Douze Pointe,” (Ireland, 2008)
Speaking of turkeys, here’s your man. While Dustin The Turkey, a celeb TV host in Ireland, will go down in history as the only turkey to ever perform at Eurovision, this game performer’s ability to draw gasps of “WTF” started before the competition itself: when he was selected in the televised contest to represent his country, the audience booed, while singer and panellist Dana Rosemary Scallon described the puppet’s win as a "mockery of the competition". Despite overcoming the controversy to perform at the semifinals, the ear-splitting “Irelande Douze Pointe" only got a total of 22 points, and not, as it attempted to manifest, douze pointe from every country - meaning it did not qualify for the grand final. A peckin’ shame.
10. "Occidentali's Karma" (Italy, 2017)
Italy’s 2017 entry to the competition was intended to give a deep criticism on the Western appropriation of Eastern religions, referencing Marx, materialism, and human evolution from apes, drawing particular inspiration from the 1967 book, “The Naked Ape,” by ethologist Desmond Morris. Instead, we all watched and said, “HEE-HEE-HEE-WE-LIKE-MAN-IN-FUNNY-GORILLA-SUIT!” To be fair, as Graham Norton said from the commentary box at the time, “If you’re going to get someone to dress as a gorilla, at least get a decent outfit. That looks like a couple of old car seats sewn together.”
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