Eurovision: The Top 10 Winners (and Their Songs)


The Eurovision Song Contest has been around for almost 70 years and in that time, a lot has changed. These days, most of the winning songs are in English and the winners tend to spread out with a lot of parity between participating European countries (and intercontinental, too).

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However, in the early days of the contest, this was less true. The top ten winners saw only three countries claim seven of those titles and not a single entry between 1956 and 1966 was in English. However, one thing has always remained the same: Voters can’t stand the UK. This is only a joke, of course, as the UK have won five times, the first in 1967. However, it could be a while before they reach six.

10 1956: “Refrain” from Switzerland

Lys Assia singing on stage

Like any great tradition, it took a while to discover the identity of Eurovision. At the very least, the first winner was great.

“Refrain” won the title for Switzerland, which also happened to be the host country. It was performed by Lys Assia and written by Géo Voumard and Émile Gardaz. And all in French, no less! He will always go down in history as the inaugural champion.

9 1957: Holland “Same as then”

Corry Bokken sings to string music

The next Eurovision winner (and also the first to start the tradition of the winner being the host of the contest next year) came from the Netherlands. Corry Brokken was the singer behind “Net als toen”, a Dutch ripper by Guus Jansen and Willy van Hemert.

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It was hardly a song with the same level of popularity and acclaim as the future winners, but was the first to set the mark for total points. It wouldn’t take long to smash that record, but “Net als toen” set the tone.

8 1958: “Dors, Mon Amour” from France

Andre Claveau on the phone

The first French song to win Eurovision and be from France was 1958’s “Dors, mon amour”. Translated into “Sleep, my love,” the song was a kind of classic lullaby and barely indicated the countryside and the bombast that most later he would come to define Eurovision.

Performed by André Claveau, who further established himself in French culture with the song, it was the first song sung by a man to win the contest. Credit, of course, is also due to Hubert Giraud and Pierre Delanoë, who wrote the melody.

7 1959: Holland “A little”

Teddy Scholten expects results

“Een Beetje” is the first song in Eurovision that hints what the identity of the contest would be. One that would be celebrated on Netflix by Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams, no less.

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The lyrics were a bit more innocuous than the previous winners and the music was faster paced. The energy of Teddy Scholten’s performance and the inherently modest nature of Dick Schallies and Willy van Hermet’s lyrics (their second win) proved that this was one of the most influential Eurovision songs to date.

6 1960: “Tom Pillibi” from France

Jacqueline Boyer smiles on stage

The Netherlands may have been the first country to win two contests, but France was there the following year. Thanks to “Tom Pillibi”, a song by a team of Jacqueline Boyer, André Popp and Pierre Cour.

In reality, Boyer was the youngest winner (at the time) of the contest and is still alive today. The French song was also the last to be performed during the contest, proving for the first time that recent bias could be at play at Eurovision.

5 1961: “Nous Les Amoureux” of Luxembourg

Jean-Claude Pascal crosses his hands behind his back in front of a microphone in a suit

It is not a recent bias to say that Netflix Eurovision Song Contest: The Fire Story Saga it was one of the most underrated comedies of this century. The movie could have “Nous les amoureux” to thank for that.

The Luxembourg song was sung by Jean-Claude Pascal and written by Jacques Datin and Maurice Vidalin. However, his lyrics and musical sensibilities have a direct line derived from them with the kinds of songs that are heard on the streaming service. Not to mention that the story told by the song is somewhat replicated by the characters of Ferrell and McAdams.

4 1962: “A Premier Amour” of France

Isabelle Aubret poses for album art

What a giant France was during that first decade. In 1962, the composer duo of Claude-Henri Vic and Roland Valade burst into the competition with the force of “Un premier amour”.

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The song was performed by Isabelle Aubret and was an instant sensation among voters. It’s still a decently loved song, even if it resides primarily in the Eurovision canon, as opposed to a true music hall of fame.

3 1963: “Dansevise” from Denmark

Danish jazz and pop guitarist Jørgen Ingmann and Grethe at the 1963 Eurovision Song Contest

After a series of French and Dutch songs that won the first seven Eurovisions, the Danes broke through in 1963 with the most points awarded to a winning song to date. A Danish ditty dominated, due to “Dansevise”, a delightfully delusional winner.

It was sung by Grethe and Jørgen Ingmann and written by Otto Francker and Sejr Volmer-Sørensen. The best part of the song? It came out almost 60 years ago, but it is still well loved and heard among the annals of Eurovision crowns.

two 1964: “Non Ho L’età” from Italy

Gigliola Cinquetti sings on stage

Many countries have never won Eurovision before, like Iceland. In those first ten years, Italy broke an early drought in 1964, which ended France’s streak “every two years.”

Italy took the lead thanks to Gigliola Cinquetti’s rousing rendition of “Non ho l’età.” It was written by Nicola Salerno and Mario Panzeri, becoming the first Italian song to win. It also erased the points record set by Denmark just a year earlier.

1 1965: “Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son” from Luxembourg

France Gall sings at Eurovision

1965, on the other hand, brought Eurovision back a second winner to close out its first decade since its inception. The mid-1960s may have been a great musical moment (British Invasion, anyone?), But it was probably no bigger in that realm for any country than it was for Luxembourg.

France Gall sang a super funny interpretation of the wildly silly lyrics put on the page by Serge Gainsbourg. It also saw a song with French lyrics win the contest once again (a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since 1988, however). It’s safe to say that love language was the main reason for those first ten years of Eurovision.

NEXT: 10 Reasons Everyone Should Watch Eurovision

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