While Eurovision is a massive sensation across the globe, Americans don't typically pay too much attention to the long running song contest. But with the new Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams driven comedy
Eurovision dropping on Netflix, it's time for the U.S. to start celebrating the competition that's helped launch some of the most internationally renowned musicians of our time. Curious about who's come out of the competition? Here's all the famous people who've participated in the Eurovision song contest.
The crown jewel of past Eurovision winners is ABBA, the band that went on to inspire one of the greatest musicals (and subsequent films) of all-time:
Mamma Mia! Some of the other famous prior performers are multi-talents, like Olivia Newton-John, who's known for her starring role in Grease just as much as she is for her vocal chops. But they're far from the only international talents to get their start at the competition. Read on for more about Eurovision's biggest stars.
Back in 1988, long before "My Heart Will Go On", Celine Dion was a little-known French-Canadian 20-year-old singing on behalf of Switzerland. She won the contest by a single point, and went on to become one of the best-selling female singers in the world.
Grease star and pop singer resided in Australia, she was born in Britain, and represented her country of birth in the 1974 contest with "Long Live Love". Unfortunately that's the same year ABBA competed, but Newton-John came in a respectable 4th place. It's extra remarkable considering Newton-John didn't like the song herself at all. "Once a week you sing on TV...and people would write in and vote for the one they wanted. So the people voted this one," Songfacts quotes the singer as saying. "I wanted this other song called 'Angel Eyes' to win, that I loved, it was such a beautiful song, anyway, it didn't win. So then I had to go sing it for the country, not liking it, which wasn't easy."
A younger generation probably knows his equally famous son Enrique Iglesias better, but back in his heyday Julio Iglesias was every bit as well known, and as of 2018
remains the highest-selling Latin music artist worldwide. He got a big boost from his 1970 Eurovision appearance, where he sang "Gwendolyne" on behalf of Spain and snagged the 4th place spot.
The band is best known for their intensely chipper 1985 hit "Walking on Sunshine", so imagine the surprise of audiences at the 1997 Eurovision contest when the group won the contest for the UK with "Love Shines A Light". And it wasn't a fluke; they won by a then-record margin of 70 points from Ireland's runner-up.
The raspy voiced Welsh singer, best known for hit singles like 1983's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and 1984's "Holding Out For A Hero", represented the U.K. in 2013 with "Believe In Me". The judges apparently did not, as Tyler came in 19th out of 26 participating countries. "I'm sure a lot of people will be disappointed on my behalf but
I have really enjoyed my Eurovision experience," Tyler told The Guardian. "I don't feel down and I'm ready to party."
Okay, this one's a little bit misleading. Back in 1973 Enya was in folk group Clannad with her siblings. They competed in the lead-up contest to represent Ireland in Eurovision with "An Pháirc", but lost to the band Maxi and their song "Do I Dream?" They came in 10th.
The long-beloved singer was absolutely humiliated in the 2012 competition, coming in second to last just above Norway, a country notorious for getting zero points. Many questioned the wisdom of sending a septuagenarian whose main hits were decades ago, a seeming mistake the U.K. repeated in 2013 with Bonnie Tyler, though it worked with 1997's Katrina & the Waves. "I've had many highs in my career and Eurovision has been a wonderful experience," Humperdinck told The Guardian. "
I did the best for my country, the rest was out of my hands."
You probably know her best as Colin Firth's romantic interest Aurélia in
Love, Actually, but the actress is equally known for her musical talents. In 1996 she represented home country Portugal with "O meu coração não tem cor" (My Heart Has No Color) and came in a respectable 6th place.
And finally, the poster children for Eurovision fame. ABBA rocketed to international acclaim after their 1974 song "Waterloo" won Eurovision for Sweden. The group went on to become one of the most popular recorded acts of all time and remains insanely popular to this day, with their jukebox musical
Mamma Mia! the 9th longest running in Broadway history, and spawning its own popular run of movies ( a third of which is potentially in the works).