CHART SPECIAL: With an annual TV audience of over 100 million viewers worldwide it’s no surprise that the Eurovision Song Contest has had a strong impact on music charts across Europe and further afield.
One of the earliest Eurovision chart juggernauts was in 1958 when Domenico Modugno represented Italy with Nel blu dipinto di blu, later retitled Volare. Despite coming third, Modugno went on to enjoy a number one hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 even winning two Grammy awards. Volare has of course become a much covered standard with Dean Martin’s version being perhaps the best known.
It’s impossible to talk about Eurovision chart achievements without mentioning ABBA who have sold over 380 million records worldwide, a total which continues to rise. The band’s 1974 winner Waterloo shifted almost six million copies, showing the power of Eurovision exposure in the seventies. The Swedish quartet achieved a total of nine UK number one hits but surprisingly managed just one chart-topper in the US, where Dancing Queen shimmied to the summit.
The UK has won the contest five times and three of those songs have made it to the top of the Official UK Singles Chart. Sandie Shaw’s 1967 winner Puppet on a String added to her previous two chart-toppers (There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me and Long Live Love.
Meanwhile, Brotherhood of Man won the 1976 contest with Save Your Kisses for Me which remains Britain’s best-selling Eurovision single. The foursome went on to top the charts again with Angelo and Figaro.
And of course there is that other triumphant four-piece Bucks Fizz. Not only did their 1981 winner Making Your Mind Up zoom to number one but they also enjoyed two further chart-toppers with The Land of Make Believe and My Camera Never Lies. In fact, the Fizz registered a highly impressive total of 13 top 40 UK hits during the eighties.
However, the other two UK winning entries oddly missed out on pole position in the charts. Lulu’s Boom Bang-a-Bang reached number two in 1969 while Katrina and the Waves peaked at number three with Love Shine a Light in 1997.
It’s not always the winning that counts when it comes to British entries and the charts. Coming second with Congratulations didn’t stop Cliff Richard from reaching the summit in 1968. Meanwhile, Ooh Aah… Just a Little Bit finished only eighth in 1996 for Australian songstress Gina G but still became a UK number one and US smash. The song even gained a Grammy nomination in the Best Dance Recording category.
Interestingly, only one British entry has been a top five hit at home in the 21st century. That honour goes to Scooch’s Flying the Flag (for You), although it fared less well on the night placing joint second from last in 2007.
However, with last year’s Swedish winner Euphoria by Loreen reaching number three in the UK and topping charts across Europe, it seems that Eurovision still has the power to generate an international hit today. It will be interesting to watch how the charts fare this weekend, following the event on 18 May.
Words: Russell Iliffe, PRS for Music