IT TAKES TWO (TRIES) TO TANGO! | The biggest ESC glow-ups of the decade by artists who gave it another go


Hey you – it’s me again. Please excuse this being the second time I’ve started a post Kate Miller-Heidke style…not that you’d remember, when it’s been SO BLOODY LONG since I last made an appearance on my own site. If you follow me on all the standard socials (which you definitely should if you’re not already) you’ll know I’ve been working behind the scenes for a few months giving EBJ the most extreme of makeovers. I mean, if this blog were a person it would have had more plastic surgery than the entire Kardashian-Jenner family combined.

I decided to do this for a few reasons. One, because I felt like things were getting stale in the aesthetics department and I wanted to upgrade pretty much everything. Two, because ICYMI, Eurovision By Jaz turned 10 in July (!!!) which is about 50 in blog years. So this was my gift to myself.

It’s taken this long to get things off the ground because I’ve been working around my day job + a very dramatic year, and being a Virgo I can’t settle for anything less than perfection. But at long last, I’m all done and ready to provide you with non-stop Eurovision rankings, reviews and requests direct from Down Under. That’s basically more of the content you know and (hopefully) love accompanied by a brand-new logo, overall look and (hopefully, again) air of professionalism. I hope you like the changes! If you can’t spot them, you’re probably on your phone right now, so be sure to check out the desktop site if you get the chance. And while you’re at it, visit my new About page to uncover my deepest, darkest secrets (not really, but it is informative) and find out how to submit countdown topic/song review requests. I want this 2019-edition EBJ to be more collaborative than Ye Olde EBJ, so let me know what you’d like me to cover and your wish will be my command. Unless you want me to discuss why Petra Mede is an overrated host, in which case I will point-blank refuse and question your sanity.

Right. Now that I’ve word-vomited my heart out, let’s get on with Today’s Post™. I have heaps of fun stuff planned for the rest of the year and beyond, but I thought it was fitting to start afresh with something makeover-themed. So let’s talk about some of the Eurovision acts who have popped up twice in recent history and done better – in one or more ways – the second time around. Coming up: my personal top five. Prepare to share yours in the comments! 

Before I get started, here are a few rules of play. What’s more exciting than that?

  1. Artists had to have returned to the contest during the 2010s, but they could have participated for the first time in a different decade (á la *spoiler alert* Feminnem). One day I might look at earlier returnees, but it’s all about the 2010s right now.
  2. I only considered acts that came back in the same capacity – so you won’t find Tamara Todevska or Nevena Božović, who returned as soloists, on this list. You might find a certain trio, however, who took a featured artist along for the ride originally but came alone on try no. 2. I’m the boss round here and I can use a loophole if I want to!
  3. Nope, that’s it.

Keep reading to see who I think levelled way up when they made their ESC comebacks – and vote for your fave of the five at the end.


#5 | Feminnem, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Call Me in 2005 + Lako Je Sve in 2010

Is it a hot take to say that 2005 Feminnem were not my cup of tea? Don’t get me wrong, I love a good girl group – and outfit-wise, these three made the Frocky Horror Picture Show that was Non-Stop the following year even more terrifying. I also loved their energy and enthusiasm on that first trip to Eurovision. But Call Me was dated even 14 years ago (14 YEARS! SAY WHAT?!?) and fell kind of flat for this Eurofan. Fast forward five years and Feminnem had a) swapped out one member for a new, equally attractive face, and b) swapped stale schlager for a beautiful Croatian-language ballad that I was obsessed with at the time. My love for Lako Je Sve has faded a little bit since, but I still give regular props to the girls for maturing their sound between contests. Speaking of props…I mentally remove that tacky high school prom heart from the end of their performance to keep things totally classy.


#4 | Valentina Monetta, San Marino

The Social Network Song in 2012 + Crisalide (Vola) in 2013

Let’s be honest, ANYTHING would have been an improvement in the wake of The Facebook Social Network Song. If Valentina had stood on the Malmö stage and flossed her teeth for three minutes to the dulcet tones of a highly unskilled bagpiper, I would have breathed a sigh of relief. Fortunately San Marino set their standards much higher than that with Crisalide, which did what Beauty Never Lies would do (albeit more successfully) in 2015 and changed genres two-thirds of the way through. I don’t adore this song, but for me it remains the strongest that ValMon has ever packed in her Eurovision suitcase. And considering its quality/performance in one of the 2010s’ weaker contests (in my opinion, of course) I’ve always felt like it should have been her qualifier. It did come pretty damn close, finishing 11th in SF2…and it’s worth a Soldi clap-clap for leaving all things cringeworthy behind in Baku.


#3 | Donny Montell, Lithuania

Love Is Blind in 2012 + I’ve Been Waiting For This Night in 2016

Okay, so this list is supposed to be about musical and/or performance and/or results-related glow-ups…but is it my fault that, in 2016, Donny Montell Neville Longbottomed harder than anyone had before? Neville Longbottom himself aside, obviously. Donny might have been Mr. Personality at his first ESC – and he pulled off a crystal-studded blindfold both literally and figuratively – but he wasn’t the kind of guy you’d race to swipe right for on Tinder etc. Four years later, different story. Donny 2.0 had the same sparkle and showmanship, plus highlights in his perfectly tousled hair and a physique that screamed ‘I have a gym membership and I use the crap out of it!’. I was lucky enough to witness this transformation in the flesh, but managed to avoid rushing the stage and running my fingers through that highlighted hair before being dragged off by security. PS – IBWFTN was a step up for Donny song-wise too.


#2 | Poli Genova, Bulgaria

Na Inat in 2011 + If Love Was A Crime in 2016

As if I could do a countdown like this without Poli on it! Poli-ease. The first time we saw this kickass lady at Eurovision, she presented us with a P!nk-worthy pop-rock track that many Eurofans think should have qualified (me included). Sadly, she missed out, finishing in a 12th place that was within mere points of 11th (Belgium) and 10th (Moldova). But justice would be served in Stockholm five years on. If you want to make a successful contest comeback you’ve got to outdo yourself, and that’s exactly what Poli did with If Love Was A Crime. Hello, iconic banger that will have a home on ESC party playlists for the rest of eternity! What turned a DNQ into Bulgaria’s best result ever (for a year) was a slick, insanely catchy song; flawless vocals (including those of backing singer Cesár Sampson); a cool costume choice feat. a hi-tech reveal; and simple but bang-on staging. I really miss Bulgaria, and this is partly to blame.


#1 | Sunstroke Project, Moldova

Run Away in 2010 + Hey Mamma! in 2017

Questioning why I’ve put these guys above Poli in terms of glow-ups, when they qualified on their original try and she didn’t? The reason is ‘Because I felt like it’, with a side serving of ‘This one was more of a jaw-to-the-floor shock’. Alongside featured artist Olia Tira, the Sunstroke Project just scraped into the 2010 final and didn’t do much once they got there. When they were chosen to represent Moldova again after a sizeable gap, my expectations weren’t exactly sky-high (even though I loved Hey Mamma! and couldn’t wait to see Epic Sax Guy back in action). But boy, did this song get the treatment it deserved. Using wedding dresses as costumes in a way that actually worked without it being dismissed as a cheap gimmick was amazing enough – but everything else about this second Sunstroke entry was equally fun-tastic. This is the Moldova I – and apparently a lot of other televoters – love most.



There you have it – those are my picks for the 2010s Glow-Up Hall of Fame. Which one of the five is your favourite?




If I missed out on mentioning someone you’d choose, I want to know who. Let me know down below!



Until next time,

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