Alexander Rybak joins a short list of artists that have won the Eurovision Song Contest and return to the contest to reclaim their title. Statistically however, a second victory for Rybak is unlikely, states Dennis van Eersel in this editorial.
What’s there left be the won for Rybak? The biggest ‘Fairytale’ achievement of his career has already happened in 2009, winning the Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow with an overwhelming 387 points.
I am not saying that not winning in 2018 will erase this great performance, but losing face is always a danger. “That’s How You Write A Song” is a feel-good uptempo song that the line-up of 2018, especially the second semi final, needed. I could see it do well in the field of 2018, but win it all?
Let’s look at the past. Which former winners have returned to the contest in recent years, and how did they do?
Lena Meyer-Landrut, another top-10 for Germany
Talk about guts! After winning the Eurovision Song Contest 2010, Lena returned to the contest on home soil exactly one year later. She showed a whole different side of herself, in a sexy performance of ‘Taken By A Stranger’.
Lena reached another top-10 for Germany, and we have seen in recent years that this is not easily achieved. Of course, “Taken by a Stranger” scored not even close to a victory like the year before. However, Lena deserves more credit than she gets for her Eurovision achievements.
Niamh Kavanagh, making Ireland proud again
Ireland did not qualify for the final two times in a row, and the last time they were in the final, they finished in last place with Dervish. 1993-winner Niamh Kavanagh came back to the Eurovision Song Contest in 2010 and restored Ireland’s faith in the contest by bringing them back to the final.
In the three years after Niamh’s 23rd place in the final, Ireland kept on qualifying for the big night on Saturday. However, the last couple of years it has become a bad streak of results again. Maybe they need another former winner to return again to finally reach the final again?
Dana International, the biggest failure of a former Eurovision winner
Ouch! This was painful. Not only to everyone’s ears, because vocally Dana International was terrible in 2010. But the timing of a comeback by a circus act could not have been worse for Israel. Eurovision started to get more and more serious and focused on good musicians. And then Dana comes back with ‘Ding Dong’, which failed to qualify.
A gimmick which worked back in the televoting time in 1998, could not stand the test of time. It is nice to see that Israel now, after having searched for a couple of years, seems to be a structural finalist at Eurovision again.
Charlotte Perrelli Nilsson, saved by the jury
Eurovision 2008 had a strange voting system, with the comeback of jury voting. They only had the power to hand out one wildcard though. And surprisingly, this went to Sweden’s Charlotte Perrelli. The song ‘Hero’ did not get enough televotes (12th place) to make it to the final where it eventually finished in 18th place.
How different this was in 1999, when Charlotte Nilsson conquered Jerusalem and won the contest in Israel in a convincing manner.
Carola, a fan favourite delivered
Another Swedish winner returned two years earlier. Carola sang ‘Invincible’ in Athens ’06. But she did not turn out to be invincible. Despite being a fan favourite and very high in the bookmakers predictions, she came in fifth place.
Of course, this is still the best performance of a former winner in recent years.
Johnny Logan, the exception to the rule
So, why don’t I say another win for Rybak is impossible? Because there is one big exception to the rule that a former winner will not do it again at the contest. And that exception is called Johnny Logan. Do we even need to embed his performances? I think not.
Everybody knows his Eurovision anthems ‘Hold Me Now‘ and ‘What’s Another Year‘. However, the contest in 1980 and 1987 can not be compared to the current contest. More and stronger competition, more musical diversity. Doing what Johnny did back in the 80’s, it is statistically very unlikely that Alexander Rybak will do that in Lisbon.