Take a look back at the competition’s most controversial moments.
By
Genevieve Dwyer

18 Apr 2016 - 7:22 AM  UPDATED 18 Apr 2016 - 7:22 AM

Since the 1950s Eurovision as brought together a wildly diverse group of different cultures and nations in celebration of all things camp and glorious.

 

Sometimes though, political tensions can bubble to the surface and make for some rather awkward moments as the various Eurovision contenders battle it out for supremacy.

 

Here's a look back at some of the competition’s most controversial moments.

 

Krista Siegfried – Finland, 2013

Krista’s famous on-stage lesbian kiss with one of her back-up dancers in protest to her country’s ban on same-sex marriage caused a major headache for the European Broadcasting Union with many of the more conservative European nations protesting in outrage. As Krista said though ahead of the finals, “It's live on TV, so nobody can stop me.” In the end, the kiss made the cut and Krista got to make her statement.

 

Verka Serduchka – Ukraine, 2007

 

Drag queen Verka Serduchka is also known as Ukrainian comedian Andriy Danylko. Not all from his homeland were happy with the selection of Andriy and his fabulous alter-ego to represent the country though, with one national Ukrainian radio station launching a campaign protesting his selection and even members of the Ukrainian parliament weighing in to accuse the character of Verka, "grotesque and vulgar."

With Verka/Andriy making it all the way to second place in the finals though it would seem that he got the last laugh after all!

 

Ilanit – Israel’s debut entrant, 1973

It was Israel’s debut entry in the competition and came the year after the horrific massacre of Israeli athletes by Palestinian militants at the Munich Olympics. Ilanit, therefore performed her entry 'Somewhere' under full security.

 

Valentina Monetta and ‘The Social Network Song’ – San Marino, 2012

The 2012 Sammarinese entry was originally called ‘Facebook Uh Uh Oh’ but this was modified after it was found to contravene Eurovision contest rules forbidding product placement. After being changed to ‘The Social Network Song’ the new version had all references to Mark Zuckerberg’s empire removed – which made for some odd lyrics that were still designed to rhyme with Facebook.

Note also, the colours of the performers costumes look remarkably similar to that of one specific social network…

 

Silvia Night ‘Congratulations’ - Iceland, 2006

 

Something of a wildcard entrant, Silvia Night is known as a fictional comedic character in her home country along the lines of Sacha Baron Cohen creation 'Bruno'.  She’s known for playing the diva and causing trouble  - for comedy’s sake of course. Unfortunately this didn’t seem to translate well outside of Iceland and she stirred up quite a bit of trouble in host city Athens with an on-camera expletive-filled backstage rant against her various fellow competitors.

Her song itself, ‘Congratulations’ didn’t really help the situation. Congratulating everyone for choosing her for the competition, because she’s the best, the performance featured her strutting in a feathered headdress, with thigh-high boots, all-pink everywhere and hot-pants wearing back-up dancers. The host nation didn’t see the funny side though and the audience gave quite the stony-faced reaction. With just 62 points it wasn’t enough to send her to the final sadly!

 

Ping Pong’s political statement – Israel, 2000

 

Political statements are strictly prohibited at the song contest that was originally conceived in the 1950s as a way to bring Europeans from all different nations together, united, after World War II. Potentially contentious lyrics or costumes are closely monitored so Ping Pong caused quite the stir when they finished their rather off-key performance by unfurling Syrian flags along with Israeli flags and calling for peace.

It later emerged that two of the group’s members were in fact journalists from an Israeli newspaper and the group confessed to entering the contest as a joke. Israel’s broadcasting authority renounced the entry.

 

Dana International ‘Diva’ – Israel, 1998

 

Clearly Israel is no stranger to controversy as this is their third mention in the list! The competition’s first ever trans winner, Dana International clearly stirred up more debate back home though than on the European stage that chose her as their winner.

Orthodox Jews and conservatives in her home country tried to prevent her from participating as they deemed it unfit that a transsexual should represent Israel. Dana got the last laugh though, performing in a stunning parrot-feathered jacket designed for her by John-Paul Gaultier, Dana took out the top prize and went on to release multiple albums becoming one of the most famous transsexual pop icons in the world.

  

Stephane and 3G ‘We Don't Wanna Put In’ – Georgia, 2009

 

As per the competition’s strict prohibition of political statements, Stephane and 3G’s disco-themed entry was banned from the competition altogether that year by an international panel of judges. With the contest hosted in Moscow that year, and relations between the two countries extremely tense, the song’s title and a number of the lyrics were thought to be quite a deliberate dig at Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin through the power of puns.

The European Broadcasting Union requested that Georgia either change the lyrics or select a new song. Denying that the song was political, and blaming pressure from the host-nation, Georgia refused to relent and subsequently withdrew.

 

Cliff Richard vs Spain, 1968

Nearly 50 years on, this year is still a source of debate and conspiracy theories after Spain took out the winning spot with the song ‘La La La’ by Massiel beating the hugely popular UK entry ‘Congratulations’ by British pop idol Cliff Richard.

A 1998 Spanish documentary titled 1968: I Lived the Spanish May alleges that Spain’s then-leader - fascist dictator Francisco Franco rigged the contest that year via a series of bribes so that Spain could claim all the glory and give their international image a much-needed boost.

"I've lived with this number two thing for so many years, it would be wonderful if someone official from the contest turned around and said: 'Cliff, you won that darn thing after all,'" a now ‘Sir’ Cliff told the Guardian in 2008.

 

Major Wardrobe Malfunction – Swedish host Lill Lindfors, 1985

 

What would a list of scandals be without a good ol fashion wardrobe malfunction? This one’s not too dissimilar from that infamous Janet Jackson moment at the 2004 US Superbowl either.

At first it appears to be a horrifying mishap when Swedish presenter Lill Lindfors is left in just her top and underwear after her skirt catches on the complicated set. It then appears though that the host is in on it, as the situation rather cleverly turns on itself. Watch above.

 

Stage invasion during Spain’s performance in the Final, 2010

 

Likewise, a list of scandalous moments wouldn’t be complete without a stage invasion, and this particular one, which took place during Spanish entrant Daniel Diges' performance of Algo Pequeñito, was rather epic!

Serial Spanish streaker/disrupter Jimmy Jump, joins in with the dancers, making it all the way to centre stage, waving his arms along to the music in front of singer Daniel, who stoically powers through, before being chased off stage by security guards. Watch the amusing clip above!

 

This year's Eurovision

Eurovision 2016 already has it's own politically controversial entry courtesy of the Ukraine's song this year, titled 1944. Performed by Crimean Tatar singer Susana Jamaladinova under the stage name Jamala, the song’s lyrics actually focus on Joseph Stalin’s mass deportation of 244,000 Crimean Tatars in 1944 – a tragic event that has been equated to genocide by the Ukrainian parliament.

Watch her moving performance of the song in that country's official video submission below:

It seems Russia was NOT happy about such a critical statement making it through and released several statements announcing their displeasure. Read more about the controversy below. 

Eurovision 2016 has already been rocked by a scandal thanks to THIS song entry by Ukraine
It wouldn’t be Eurovision without a scandal!

The Eurovision Song Contest will be broadcast on SBS’s Eurovision Weekend - Friday 13, Saturday 14 and Grand Final Sunday 15 May, 7.30pm on SBS, with LIVE early morning broadcasts from 5am on Wednesday 11, Friday 13 and Sunday 15 May.

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