The below editorial features the opinions and views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of #escYOUnited as a whole, Eurovision or the EBU.
Take your minds back to 1997. Okay, for a large percentage of ESC United readers, you’d have to picture what nothingness looks like, but bear with us. Bill Clinton is President, Tony Blair is Prime Minister, and never mind your Animal Crossing: New Horizons island as you have a Tamagotchi to raise!
And as Congressman Bill Barr initiated articles of impeachment against President Clinton in late 1997, a familiar synth-heavy ditty was playing in the clubs (if you could ever figure out how to dance in your JNCOs) and finally leaving the Billboard Hot 100 – the United States’s main music singles chart – after spending 30 weeks there. And once Gina G’s “Ooh Aah… Just a Little Bit” left the Billboard Hot 100 in the Fall of 1997, no song that was ever performed at Eurovision since then would grace the American main singles chart.
Until today. On April 13, 2021, Duncan Laurence’s Eurovision 2019 winning ballad “Arcade” snuck in and hit Number 100 on the Billboard chart, the first Eurovision song to enter in almost 24 years and the first Eurovision winner to enter in 45 years. Laurence joins an elite club – as of today, only 11 performers and songs that were performed at Eurovision have entered the Billboard Hot 100. And we’re going to look at them today.
To be clear, four versions of Vicky Leandros’s Eurovision 1967 winning “L’amour est blue” (“Love is blue”) hit the Billboard Hot 100, including Paul Mauriat’s version staying at Number 1 for five weeks in 1968, but sadly not her own version, hence her omission here. Similarly, Eurovision 1964 2nd placed Matt Monro (“I love the little things”) does not qualify despite charting at Number 23 with a cover of Udo Jurgens’s 6th placed Eurovision 1964 entry “Warum, nur warum” (“Walk Away”).
Additionally, though Lordi and Netta hit various Billboard Charts after their wins (Mainstream Rock and Dance, respectively), their entries to did not hit the main Billboard Hot 100 chart.
But in ascending order (at least for now), here are the eleven Eurovision entries that also charted on the United States’s Billboard Hot 100.
11.) Duncan Laurence – “Arcade” – The Netherlands – 2021 – Number 100 – Eurovision 2019 winner:
It’s been almost two years since his victory at Eurovision 2019 with “Arcade,” but recently Duncan Laurence’s management team has started a slow, but sure, campaign in the United States, culminating last week with an appearance on The Ellen Degeneres Show. Now despite the host’s own scandal – i.e. half of Hollywood’s technical and production crew seemed to come out to declare her a bully – she still has enough pull to get the housewives of America to turn on their Spotify and give a featured artist a listen.
After a couple weeks on the Adult Contemporary charts and the Bubbling Under 100 charts, “Arcade” finally broke through today. Given the slow burn feel of “Arcade” on American social media, don’t be surprised to see this slowly rise up. Who’s to say the small town Dutch boy can’t conquer another big arcade?
10.) Cliff Richard – “Congratulations” – United Kingdom – 1968 – Number 99 – Eurovision 1968 Runner-Up:
The United States has had an odd relationship with Cliff Richard. While Laurence’s marketing appears smart when it comes to introducing him to the United States, Richards’s management seemed intent to bungle his attempts at the charts there.
Richards’s first hit was “Living Doll,” which hit Number 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959, but thereafter his management seemed unsure how to position him. Given he was not shy about expressing his Christian faith, he was sort of positioned as a clean version of the British Invasion bands. As rock kids in the ’90s had parents telling them about Jars of Clay being a wholesome alternative to Alice in Chains, so Richards was the wholesome antidote to The Beatles and Elvis Presley.
That strategy had mixed results. While racking up chart-topper after chart-topper in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands, the hits were intermittent in the United States. By the time Cliff Richard – controversially, if you believe the conspiracy theory that Spain’s despot General Franco rigged the voting – came in 2nd at Eurovision 1968 with “Congratulations,” he had not had a charting Billboard Hot 100 song in four years. “Congratulations” popped in at Number 99 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 1968.
Richards’s Eurovision 1973 effort “Power to all my friends” almost made it to the Billboard Hot 100, falling short at Number 109, but Richards did finally have a golden period in the United States with the Adult Contemporary crowd in the late ’70s with a few Top 40 Billboard Hot 100 hits (“Devil Woman” hit Number 6) and the early ’80s.
9.) Domenico Modugno – “Piove (Ciao, Ciao Bambino)” – Italy – 1959 – Number 97 – Eurovision 1959 6th placed:
This is not Domenico Modugno’s only entry in this list, so we’ll keep it brief here. But for a couple years in the late ’50s and early ’60s, Modugno could do no wrong with an American audience as he rode the Italian-American crooner craze to hit after hit. “Piove (Ciao, Ciao Bambino)” was a more dramatic romantic ballad than his more whimsical big hit, and shortly after winning Sanremo in 1959 and coming in 6th at Eurovision 1959, it snuck into the Billboard Hot 100.
Curiously, shortly after their almost successful charge at Eurovision 2015, Italy’s popera trio Il Volo recorded their own version.
8.) Mary Hopkin – “Knock, Knock (Who’s There)” – United Kingdom – 1972 – Number 92 – Eurovision 1970 Runner-Up:
As with Laurence, Welsh singer Mary Hopkin’s “Knock, Knock (Who’s There)” was released two years after her entry at Eurovision 1970, where she came in 2nd. Making it to Number 92, this would be Hopkin’s last ever US hit as she withdrew from the music industry shortly thereafter, returning intermittently after having a family. She is still active in 2020, releasing two albums: “Another Road” and “A Christmas Chorale.”
Unlike Laurence, though, Hopkin had name recognition in the United States already as she scored a Number 2 hit in 1968 with “Those were the days,” based on a melancholic Russian folk song by Boris Fomin and Konstantin Podrevsky.
7.) Ronnie Carroll – “Say Wonderful Things” – United Kingdom – 1963 – Number 91 – Eurovision 1963 Runner-Up:
Unfortunately for Northern Irish crooner and all-round maverick Ronnie Carroll, his runner-up at Eurovision 1963 would also be his only entry into the Billboard Hot 100, coming in at Number 91.
Carroll’s music career quietened down in the mid-60s, working on cruise ships and making occasional appearances on television variety shows. Carroll was then involved in screwball politics after socializing with the likes of comedian Peter Cook, starting the Rainbow Alliance in the late 1970s, with its lone (serious) platform over the years being government devolution. Not that the party and the main idea died down, as comedian and former Mr. Katy Perry himself Russell Brand toyed with the idea of running for mayor of London under that banner.
Carroll’s life itself ended with an absurd headline he would have appreciated – given his disdain for British politicians and parliamentary procedure, Carroll died the day after registering for a by-election, and in a move that he would have found funny, he was still ruled to be a valid candidate.
6.) New Seekers – “Beg, Steal or Borrow” – United Kingdom – 1972 – Number 81 – Eurovision 1972 Runner-Up:
Another song with similarities to Mary Hopkin – a British act that came in 2nd at their Eurovision with a song that peeped into the Billboard Hot 100 due to their having an already built-in American fanbase.
Every Gen-Y hipster resuscitated “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” in 2015 when the Mad Men finale aired, showcasing their Number 7 charting folk song inspired by a Coca-Cola commercial in 1970.
The New Seekers kept charting in the United States until 1974, though they did keep charting occasionally in the United Kingdom and Ireland through to 1980.
5.) Brotherhood of Man – “Save Your Kisses for Me” – United Kingdom – 1976 – Number 27 – Eurovision 1976 Winner:
Like Mary Hopkin and The New Seekers, Brotherhood of Man rode onto the Billboard Hot 100 on the back of an earlier hit they had in the United States. Unlike the two previously mentioned runners-up, they actually won Eurovision and cracked the Top 40, being only one of four Eurovision tracks that FM radio nerds like The Professor of Rock Adam Reader would have been told about on Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 show.
Brotherhood of Man hit the United States at the same time as the United Kingdom, with “United We Stand” landing at Number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1970.
After a few fallow years, Brotherhood of Man entered A Song for Europe 1976, beating out Co-Co and Hazell Dean. After winning Eurovision 1976 with “Save Your Kisses for Me,” they would continue to have hits in the United Kingdom (including the Number 1 in “Angelo”), but their 27th place on the Billboard Hot 100 would be their last hit in the United States.
4.) Gina G – “Ooh Aah… Just a Little Bit” – United Kingdom – 1997 – Number 12 – Eurovision 1996 8th Placed:
This is the lowest placed Eurovision song (8th) to make it to the Billboard Hot 100, making this perhaps the most unusual entry. We can speculate why – female fronted Hi-NRG dance hits like this were trendy in the United States at the time – but you can argue that the United States appreciated Gina G’s “Ooh Aah… Just a Little Bit” a little bit more than the Europeans did, especially given the length of time this song spent on the chart (30 weeks).
And until today, this was the last Eurovision entry to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. Though often dismissed as a “One Hit Wonder” in the United States, she technically had a second in late 1997 with “Gimme Some Love” coming in at Number 46.
Gina G tried to go back to Eurovision, coming in 5th and last to Javine at Eurovision: Making Your Mind Up in 2005 with “Flashback.” Javine’s “wardrobe malfunction” angered the usual pearl clutchers, but still enough to beat out Gina G and tabloid fixture Jordan (aka Katie Price).
3.) Mocedades – “Eres tu” – Spain – 1974 – Number 9 – Eurovision 1973 Runner-Up:
Spain’s Mocedades landing in the Top Ten in the United States was as unusual and unexpected as their placing second at Eurovision 1973. A folk group from Basque Country were an unlikely hit at Eurovision, and an even more unlikely chart-topper in the usually Spanish language averse Billboard Hot 100.
Mocedades were a prolific band, coming out with an album a year from 1970, and this had the affect of slowly building two fanbases among two usually disparate fanbases: with Bakersfield, California having a huge Basque diaspora as well as a huge country scene, fans of both Latin music chart music and country began following “Eres tu” in 1974, creeping up two different Billboard charts (Latin and Country) to combine with a Top Ten finish on the Hot 100 chart.
Sadly, Mocedades never hit the Billboard Hot 100 again, but remained popular in Spain and Latin America. “Eres tu” is also a routinely covered song, with country and Latin acts aplenty giving their tribute, from Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis, Charo, Luis Miguel, Il Volo, Perry Como and Petula Clark.
2.) ABBA – “Waterloo” – Sweden – 1974 – Number 6 – Eurovision 1974 Winner:
Apart from maybe North Korea, was there a spot on the planet where this was not a hit? ABBA became massive in Europe after their sensational Eurovision 1974 triumph, and it was not long thereafter that they struck the United States.
While their debut was not as instantaneously big in the United States, you can argue that ABBA’s impact on the United States over the long term was bigger than in Europe, raking in many Top Ten hits and millions from your chardonnay chugging office manager for repeated live viewings of Mama Mia.
Still, ABBA hit the ground running in the United States and never looked back, with another 15 Billboard Hot 100 Top 40 hits under their belt.
1.) Domenico Modugno – “Nel blu di pinto di blu” – Italy – 1958 – Number 1 – Eurovision 1958 3rd placed:
We covered this one in some detail, if you want to hear more about the 3rd placed Eurovision entry that became the Song of the Summer of 1958 and scooped up many an American music industry award, including some of the very first Grammy awards.
It was a staggering success in the United States, riding the Italian-American crooner craze to the top, remaining at Number 1 for five weeks. Though ABBA had the best post-Eurovision career in America overall, Modugno had one summer at the top. For one American summer, the skies were blue and Modugno was flying high.
Does it matter to #YOU that Duncan Laurence has cracked the Billboard Hot 100? Do #YOU want ESC United to look at Eurovision artists who hit other Billboard charts? Let us know in comments, on social media, or in our forum.